Having done with Hampi the previous day, we were ready for some adventure. Pramiti, my daughter, was surfing the net looking for some pre-historic sites in Karnataka and stumbled upon one close to Hampi. The site was on a hill near a village called Hire Benekal, about 40 km from Hampi. The information we gathered was that a guide could be available at a guest house a couple of kilometers from the village, that it was a tough climb with rocks as slippery as butter, and rough trails with thorny bushes. I thought we could not do it without special equipment like ropes, machetes and climbing shoes. It was just not possible to procure these in Hampi. We deliberated and decided that the venture was worth a try anyway. At least we had our sport shoes.
We had an early breakfast and, carrying some boiled eggs and a loaf of bread which the hotel kitchen staff had kindly packed as an insurance against starvation, we drove to Hire Benekal. This being a small village in the hinterland of rural Karnataka, communication could be a problem as we could not speak Kannada and the villagers could not speak Hindi or English. We were right, of course, but finding morayare mane – as the site is called locally – was not a problem at all. The moment we entered the village and slowed down, the villagers started asking morayare mane? Why else would town folks visit this remote village?With gestures we were guided to a dirt track (just about fit to be called motorable) at the end of which, we were assured, we will find the guest house. What we did find was an under construction railway line. The track went under the rail line through an utterly slushy culvert. This was the journey’s end as far as the car was concerned. We were weighing options when two men approached us on a motorcycle. One got down and asked the obvious question, morayare mane? He was the guide. Leaving the car behind, we climbed the railway line, getting down on the other side, thus bypassing the impassable culvert. Our guide led us through a dirt trail, on to a rocky track which led to the pre-historic site.
Climbing at leisurely pace, we reached a rock formation and we had our first encounter with our early ancestors, the neolithic men. On the rocks a number of human and animal figures were painted.
Neolithic Art Gallery
Having seen the pre-historic art gallery, we proceeded to their burial ground. The locals call the graves samadhis. These graves, or dolmens, about 400 in number, are scattered all over the hill top. They are in different shapes and sizes according to their hierarchy
These are graves, not houses
Neolithics would lay their dead on the ground and cover the body with stones. This was not much of a protection. Beasts of prey and scavengers could easily get to them. Is this why nothing is found in the dolmens?
We noticed a couple of strange rock formations reproduced below.
Climbing down was a piece of cake and we were back to our car within three hours of having left. The climb, at times, was steep but there was no trace of thorny bushes or slippery rocks. It could be tricky for a beginner, I guess.
We went back to our hotel, had lunch and relaxed before going out again. This time, our target was Matang Parvat. This is actually a high, rocky hill which finds mention in the mythological epic Ramayana. In fact, this entire area was known as Kishkindha mentioned in Ramayana. Hanuman, the monkey god, is said to have born on another hill nearby and a temple there is dedicated to him. Not being of a religious bent of mind, we gave it a miss. The question that came to my mind is -did the diminutive neolithic man of the area constitute vanar (monkey) army which, led by Hanuman, invaded Lanka along with Lord Rama?
The climb to Matang Parvat was strenuous, more strenuous than the trek to morayare mane.
View from Matang Parvat
It was a most enjoyable and memorable experience for all of us. Looking forward to more trips like this.