Up at 4.30. Not sure when I did that last. Perhaps on my last trip in US when we went to Mount Greylock. Remembered those umpteen trips in US which necessitated such early-morning wake-ups!
Birds were chirping. Awakening. Telling World that Sun was rising. Air was full of pure ozonised oxygen. The drive was refreshing. Traffic was meager. Road was very good. The demise of my grandparents recently due to car accident has made me more conscious of speed. Maintained a steady 65-75 kmph. Remembered the 65-75 mph speed I used to maintain in US - much to the chagrin of my fellow-mates - after I got caught by cops at 87 mph and had paid $465!!
A good, pleasant drive. Bangalore-Mysore road now is two-lane. Most people follow lane discipline. Honking is a rarity. So, if we had good roads, with sufficient lanes, all provided by the Government, of course, would the citizenry stop honking? So, is it then, that the Government is to be blamed and not citizen for driving without discipline in the country? Remembered a board that the Traffic police had put up: When ants follow lane-discipline, why cant we humans?! Ants follow ants and all have same purpose and they don’t have horns! We have cars, autos, buses, trucks, motorcycles, cycles, scooters, vans, SUVs, tractors, bullock-carts, vegetable-vendors-on-carts, etc. Each has their own sense of urgency. Perhaps we humans follow lane discipline if we didn’t have a plethora of different-shaped vehicles. Or if our vehicles didn’t have horns. Or if we had enormous laned roads. And if pedestrians walked on walkable pavements. But then again, perhaps not, too!
Took a turn at Mandya. Next stretch of 50 odd kms was horrible! Sometimes mud, sometimes asphalted, humps, potholes, sometimes just stones! Bridges which could accommodate only one vehicle at a time. Crossing villages having dilapidated mud houses. If we saw 5-star hotels an hour ago, we could now see people in rags, yet content with their agricultural life. Am sure most wouldn’t know what a computer is. Half-dressed kids staring at vehicles as how we stare at spaceships in museums. Remembered something which I had read recently: Rich and poor live side by side in India. Like a man in rags with earphones from his cell-phone, listening to radio. That was a strange scene!
Villages upon villages scampered by as we bumped across the road, if you can call it that, at about 20 kmph. Lush greenery everywhere, rich due to the Cauvery river basin. Cow, pig, chicken – all running across the road. A herd of goats sitting idly in the middle of road; not even budging for a big bus; all drivers unwilling to disrupt the idle pleasantness, gracefully drove around them! As one of my US friend once remarked, its fascinating to see the varied culture in other countries, especially countries like India, China, South America, etc. Unlike in US, where villages, towns, cities are all stereotyped with standard chains of MacDonald, Subway, Burger King, Dunkin Donut and the same class of roads, buildings and what-not. Much too predictable, one could say.
Reached the place of destination after 3.5 hours of journey. Tiramkundlu Narasipura. A small quaint little village. Temples everywhere across the bank of two rivers – Kapila and Cauvery. The two rivers converging at this village and making a Y-shaped delta. Heavy rains over the season made the river seem full. Less than the previous week, though, when it was 6-7 feet higher. When it had washed away a local urchin by mere current. Whose body was not yet found till date. The local urchin who was liked by one and all in the temple premises.
A bath in a flowing river, to me, is always refreshing. Its like becoming pure all over again. With the temple, attached though to the river, being detached from rest of the village, hardly any vehicular noise could be heard. Under the big tree, on the platform, we sat for hours. A beautiful breeze played over us. It was the only thing we could hear while the river made its silent journey. Such places always, to me, bring tranquility to life. Remembered an almost similar setting at the temple of Tirukoillur.
Visited another temple nearby with Lord Shiva’s idol seemingly cut at the top. From which came a steady slow flow of water. Which is considered as a sacred offering and distributed amongst the devotees as theerth. With its own standardized religious and mythological story.
Temple activities being completed, we had lunch at 1. It was a long time since I had a direct lunch skipping breakfast. Once done, we then proceeded to Bannur. A nearby town which supposedly is the place where our centuries-old ancestor was born. A quick genuflection and we were on our way again. This time to Shivanasamudram. Although, actually it is Gaganachukki Falls where the scenery lies. A nice view of the water falls. Hundreds of vendors with their yummy eateries and the total lack of dustbins, I guess, contributed to the general unhygienic conditions all around. Well, this is the way we are! And of course, monkeys! My 2 year old cousin being fascinated by the herd of monkeys all around than the enormous waterfalls! Water, of course, can be seen in home. But not monkeys!
Proceeded from there on to Barachukki Falls. Even more splendid. A steep 100 step walk down to the base of the water falls to be splashed by the mist. Rapidly flowing water where a number of them enjoyed to their hearts content. Some could even go behind the falls and see through the natural curtain of water! We didn’t have that much time to enjoy but it certainly deserved a day’s trip.
Almost 5 sets of water falls, all almost of equal of width, it was heartening to see such beauty. Instinctively, a person who has been to US, remembers the Niagara. Although magnificent and too-good-to-see, it hardly offers the wholesome pleasure of actually standing beneath the water. Nor, did any waterfalls that I visited in US, as a matter of fact. Still, I must admit, Cave of the Winds at Niagara comes very close. Water there inherently is much too cold to perceive such enjoyment as what I now saw before me! People splashing about, some directly below the falls, enjoying the full force of hydrotherapy and kids yelping in joy! Remembered having read a study that said kids in India were the happiest in the whole world. I felt that it was a great and significant survey.
Alas. Time to go. Steep climb back up the steps. I generally don’t prefer to drive in the night in India. Inexperience of driving facing the oncoming traffic’s headlights on a road which doesn’t have a median makes me want to reach home by dusk. I haven’t driven at night in India for a very long time. But today was an exception. When the Cauvery displays its natural beauty in all its splendour, how can one refuse to stay for ‘a little more time.’ Finally bid adieu to the nice scenery comprising of mountains, river, bridges, hydro electric stations, etc.
Drive back on the same Mysore-Bangalore highway was just as good. Clocked a constant 70-75 kmph. A pleasant, non-competitive, non-adrenaline-rushing, speed. A speed of enjoyment. A speed of safety.
Reached home at 11. Had driven about 350 kms in all. Never had I driven so much before on a single day in India. And I wasn’t even tired…
As I snuggled in my bed, all that remained on my mind was the splendour of the Cauvery…