FAMED OLD HILL-TOP TEMPLE

Excerpt: The main temple was not of big height but was wide in proportion and exuded sanctity and holiness. The path to the temple was by two dozen stone steps. (Reads: 29)

 

OLD REMINISCENCES–(4)

When I was postmaster at the paper pulp factory I visited with a postal friend a famed old hill-top temple. The temple was situated in most beautiful natural surroundings. The perennial Godavari river with its long and wide sand banks was a few kilometers away. We went to the temple on a Sunday on a beautiful January morning.  We heard that   film people  visit the place  to include the temple and the natural scenery  in their films. It was ten miles away from the factory village and was near a village post office under us and situated near to the national highway.

Once when I went on a short leave of one week a senior postal friend from a head account office in our postal district came to work in my place. I had to go to the district town on some personal work two or three times. The factory management  were really kind to provide free accommodation in their guest houses for postal and  bank officials visiting on  official work for small periods.Thus my friend could stay in the guest house all the week.

He was an assistant postmaster at a head accounting office . When I was at the district administrative office we used to talk frequently on phone on official work. He was to provide our district office statistics of the postal banking work. We used to have  long conversations and became good  friends. He was much attracted by my science knowledge. I too liked his knowledge of ancient Hindu philosophy and classical Telugu literature. At weekends he would come to the district town by train to meet with  postal friends. Many postal officials of city and nearby villages would usually gather at the head accounting office at weekends for a change. They would come to have a friendly chat with colleagues or to see some good Hindi film.

Towards the end of my leave I  suggested to my friend a visit to the hill top temple and he readily agreed . It was situated on the first hill of a forested hill range. The wide and perennial river Godavari was about three or four kilometers  away. There were green fields all around as far as eye could see.  There was a motorable road to the top of the long hill .But visitors like us preferred the  wide tree shaded simple road which went up to the top amidst beautiful scenery. It would be a highly enjoyable walking expedition under the jungle trees for both of us.

It is two decades ago that we went on this little expedition and  so I cannot  remember the  details . But my diary noting bring the scenes alive. My writing may also contain little inaccuracies. We started by bus early at 7 am after having breakfast at the company canteen .The branch post master  came to the bus stand and took us to his house and we had tea. The branch postmaster excused himself saying  he was very busy with his agricultural work.He said he would phone to the temple priest and that he would be very  helpful. We walked about half a kilometer on the road and then turned towards the high hills .There were some big trees  scattered at the foot of the hill . There were also many  trees which were long and lean  with straight trunks and had branches towards the top. It was most pleasant January weather. We could see the winding tarred road a little distance away. The wide dusty sandy path was  strewn with little stones everywhere. The sand and pebbles were surely brought by hill streams which tumbled down in rainy season from the distant high hills all through the rainy season. There was good tree cover and it was pleasant. I felt really elated to be going on such a nice walking trip up a hill path.

We chatted about many things. We talked about the postal department and about the nauseating regional politics. I started as usual a narration of  interesting events in international politics. Soon our conversation fell into the groove —our systematic continuing discussion on science and ancient Hindu philosophy. They were our favorite topics. My friend was a very spiritual type person . It surprised me to see that though he was not a science student he had a lot of general understanding of science. I could since a year  kindle in him  interest in physical sciences like physics and astronomy. Whenever he talked there was always a suppressed and subdued smile in his countenance. I respected his sensitivities and took care not to hurt him with too much of science .

As for myself I had many interests. I had great interest in English literature and English nature poetry.When I visit spots of  wild nature the beautiful descriptions of Nature by famed English poets always come to my mind. I greatly liked William Wordsworth’s views on Nature. His view was some what to the effect that Nature( the mountains, trees, forests, rivers ,lakes etc) are themselves a form of invisible god. From my diary notings about that trip I found that I repeated to  my friend the words of Rabindranath Tagore and John Ruskin. They said that  even a small leaf or blade of grass possesses  extremely great beauty and are really great works of god.

I recount many other things from the diary. It was a cool foggy morning resounding with bird song.Pencils of bright sunrays seemed to punch  holes in the thick high branches of the trees .  There were trees and trees. They were not big- trunked  forest trees  but  lean- trunked trees of medium height in infinite numbers. The wide path we traveled zigzagged  going sometimes  near to a high precipitous vertical side of the hill.  There were troughs and crests in the long dusty path. There was lot of bird noise and we forgot to talk for some time to hear the sounds of birds!

The path on the hill leading to the temple was surely trodden by generations of people. My friend and I  after talking a lot  soon became silent each being absorbed in his own thoughts. ( This is all as per my diary notings ). We reached the end of the wide long zigzag  path. We saw long stony stairs leading to a group of old temples under giant sized trees. The main temple was not of big height but was wide in proportion and exuded sanctity and holiness. The path to the temple was by two dozen stone steps. They were wide enough to permit  six to ten people to walk side by side.  We were surprised to see  two or three  giant-sized old  mango trees of unusual height a few meters away from  the temple. They provided a thick canopy of leaves. We were told that even in summer it would be cool under the mango trees.

As we reached near the temple we were entranced by the hill scenery around .The upper hills were thickly covered with dark green trees . The trees there  were not high but had thick green leaf cover. Perhaps the hill range here was a part of the faraway eastern hill ranges which spread along the eastern coast of India. I feel that over millions of years of geologic time some of the hill ranges are cut by the fast flowing flood waters of rivers. The flood waters carry  millions of tons of stony material which can cut mountains over long periods of time( millions of years).  There was also very thick vegetation in the deep trough-like valley connecting the temple hill with the higher hills beyond. It appeared to be short shrub-like vegetation. It was a beautiful sight for first visitors like me. The very thick and dense growth of  bushes made the valley look  dark green. It is said that the trough-like valley has many medicinal herbs.  The shrubs are watered at the bottom  by invisible little streams flowing down from the high hills throughout the year . There is a slight fragrant  smell hanging in the air.

There was another interesting thing. There was continuous  flow of crystal clear water into a  shallow platter-like depression on  the rocky  floor near the temple .  It was a circular depression of perhaps 20 or 30 feet diameter. It appears to be man-made and out of stone. The water is hardly a few inches deep. The water gathering here is crystal clear and fragrant . All people drink this very clean water and fill it in to their water bottles. We were told that small streams trickling down the hills throughout the year . At the base of the shrubs all the water streams merge and fairly good amount of water continuously trickles into the circular depression. The excess water flowing into the rocky depression then flows again into the shrubs. People do not like to venture into that thick vegetation for fear of the slipping into a mire.  We were also told that there is a  medium sized hydroelectric project in a distant portion of the hills. There is said to be a vast permanent lake formed by the waters of hill streams in the rainy season.There is said to be a direct path to that place from another side of the hills and that it is also a popular tourist site.

(PART-FOUR)

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