To the west of Kolar town is a barrier of rocks called “Shatha Shrunga Parvatha” or the mountain of hundred peaks. An interesting legend dating back to the Mahabharatha traces its origin. It is believed that the Pandavas lived in these hills and that Kunti was once chased by a lion while she was carrying her son Bhima. A panic stricken Kunti is said to have fled leaving Bhima on the hill which crumbled under his weight smearing the landscape with countless rocks.
Towering mosaics of precariously balancing boulders stand out against the backdrop of the blue sky. A well asphalted road snakes up the steep slopes. A flight of stairs etched in stone and small mantapas by the wayside are the first indications that these rocky hills are home to a hidden heritage. The terrain appears hostile but there are seven villages behind this façade of stone. It doesn’t take too long for one to realize that these hills are blossoming with life. Kuppahalli, Terahalli, Shivagange, Paparajanahalli, Kenchegowdanahalli and Hosahalli are some hamlets nestled in the hills. I was pleasantly surprised to know that beans, toor, ragi, avarekayi (a pod), maize, greens and tomato are grown in the arable stretches of the rocky terrain.
Biking through bends and curves of the hills I reached Terahalli. Accompanied by the kids of the village I headed to the 13th century Dravidian style Gangadhareshwara temple. The temple which was built during the reign of the Gangas has an impressive gateway and is resplendent with many stone structures and intricate sculptures. One can see the carvings of saptamatrikas (a group of seven Hindu goddesses depicted together) at the entrance of the temple complex. While the pillared mukha mantapa is still intact, the kalyana mantapa is in ruins. I was told by the locals that the age old custom of an annual jathre (fair) at the temple still continues.
My next destination was a cultural organization called Adima in Shivagange. Adima promotes art and culture, specially focusing on revival of traditional forms of art. The concept was envisioned in the 1980’s when a group of about twenty five likeminded people decided to save one rupee each day for the cause. They did so for several years, meeting regularly to discuss their plans for setting up a cultural hub that would reach out to people from modest social and economic backgrounds.
Their dreams and ideas were moulded into reality when Adima was established on a small stretch of land purchased with the money that had accumulated over the years. Under the aegis of writer and lyricist Kotiganahalli Ramaiah, Adima is taking giant strides into the world of art and culture. In less than four years since its inception the premises of Adima has a library, a rehersal room, two dormitories and an office room. Locally available materials like creepers, bamboo, mud and used tiles have been extensively utilized in the constructions architected by Padmalaya Nagaraj, one of the pioneers of Adima who is a teacher by profession. Adima is ornate with beautiful murals and sculptures by John Devaraj, Gopala Kammar, Padmalaya Nagaraj and Venkatesh.
Hunnime Haadu, Chukki Mela and Gaddige Gaurava are some initiatives undertaken at Adima. In Kannada, “Hunnime” means full moon day and “Haadu” means song. On every full moon night, an ensemble of music, dance and drama unfolds in a natural setting under the star studded sky. Chukki Mela is an annual summer camp that aims to tap the creativity of young minds. Children are engaged in activities like clay modeling, painting, acting, dance and music. The activity camp which spans for over twenty days concludes with an exhibition on Buddha Poornima. Gaddige Gaurava is an initiative to recognize people who have excelled in various spheres of life. The reward is not a monetary benefit but a token of appreciation to boost the confidence of people whose accomplishments may otherwise go without being noticed.
There is concerted effort to revive traditions in all forms at Adima. They aspire to rekindle folk arts like dollu kunita, yakshagana, kamsale kunita, kolata and somana kunita. The food served is also traditional. The simple but healthy menu includes rice, sambar, chutney and ragi balls.
Ramaiah, the president of Adima has the support of locals, well wishers and volunteers who are standing hand in hand to reclaim space for tradition in this era of rapid globalization. The rocks and boulders of these hills resonate with the sound of music.
Kolar is connected by road and rail to Bangalore. There is a motorable road to reach the village of Shivagange. Shata Shrunga Parvata is on the outskirts of Kolar. Buses ply between Kolar and Shivagange. KSRTC has a special bus service from the Kolar Bus Stand to Shivagange and back for the people visiting Adima for Hunnime Haadu.
Antharagange which has a beautiful temple and perennial water source is a popular tourist attraction.
This article was published in The Deccan Herald on the 1st of September 2009. Below is the link to the online version of the article.