Day Trip From Bangalore - Hill Station Devanarayanadurga
This must be the fifth time I have driven to Devanarayanadurga. I love travelling there because not only is it scenic, it is just about 90 km from Bangalore which makes it an ideal day trip.
The Old Devanarayanadurga: Of 'Doors' and Stars and Snores
My first visit to this wonderful little hill station at an altitude of about 3,500 ft. was about 10 years ago when it was a desolate place with barely any visitors. In a way, I preferred it the way it used to be - uncluttered, unspoiled, not a vendor in sight and it seemed no one in the temple on top of the rocky hills either.
I recall prancing down the meandering roads leading to the summit with my friends, listening to the music of 'Doors' and then watching awestruck, the stars fill the skies as night enveloped us. I had never seen the stars so brilliant and so many before.
I remember too that crazy trip in my old Fiat when we got stranded for the night on the hill, having run out of gas. There were six of us packed in the car and getting to sleep wasn't easy. In the bright moonlit night, we hunted for a place ion which to sleep and came across a shallow cave of sorts near the temple (which seemed abandoned) on the summit and finding it uncomfortable, trudged up the hill to the temple precincts but this place perched on the edge of the hill with the valley yawning below was also inhospitable. And so back we went to the car and finally fell asleep somehow amid the snores of one of the guys on the backseat.
We did think of the possibility of wolves and robbers, but not seriously and the night passed quite peacefully. Early next morning, the guys helped me roll the car downhill to a gas station.
The New Devanarayanadurga
The Devanarayanadurga of today is quite quite different. Even the roads leading to it seem different for the nearby town of Tumkur has developed a lot by now. One passes through the same forested areas, but there are vendors of soft drinks and chips and coconut water and cucumber lining the 'stairway to heaven'. They overcharge their customers because after all, you're stuck on top of a hill somewhere and you reluctantly pay for that drink you're dying for. For the religious sort, there is another 'stairway to heaven' which begins much lower down and so has many more steps to climb. The more you climb, the more the merit, it seems.
Before going into the main temple on the summit, I was entranced by a priest within a tiny shrine just outside. He made a great picture. I offered him some money, he gave me some flowers and actually allowed me to photograph him. He told us the temple was closing soon and we ought to go in. There was a sacred tank with steps leading down to it nearby, its waters green with algae; monkeys strolled about, looking for tidbits from visitors and up on the other side of the tank rose a cliff topped by the shrine to Garuda, Lord Vishnu's vehicle.
Yoganarasimha is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu in his terrifying aspect.
We headed for the main temple. A man at the entrance anointed my forehead with sandalwood paste for a small fee. Within, I joined a queue that was heading into the dark and murky sanctum sanctorum gleaming here and there with brass carvings.
People were filing by the shrine which housed a black statue of Lord Vishnu, passing their hands over an oil lamp and smearing their foreheads with vermilion powder and some of them, offering cash to the presiding priest. Brass carvings of Lord Vishnu in all his avatars adorned the entrance to the shrine and even the threshold was ornate brass, which reminds me of the legend connected with Lord Yoganarasimha.
The Legend of Lord Yoganarasimha
The demon Hiranyakashyapa hated Lord Vishnu, but his son, Prahlad adored him, which of course Hiranyakashyapa could not bear. He tried to kill him several times, but Lord Vishnu always protected him.
So this demon prayed long to Lord Shiva, the granter of boons so that he would become invincible: he could not be killed by a human, animal, insect, worm or weapon. Neither could he be killed anywhere in the three worlds - the Earth, the Underworld or the sky. The boon was granted and he set out to destroy Lord Vishnu.
When he asked his son Prahlad about the whereabouts of Lord Vishnu, he was told that the Lord is omniscient. Pointing to a pillar in his palace, the demon asked whether Lord Vishnu was in there. When Prahlad answered that the Lord was everywhere, Hiranyakashyapa struck it with his weapon and out came Lord Vishnu in his terrifying avatar of Yoganarasimha (the term 'yoga' stands for Lord Vishnu's mastery over all forms of yoga). Thereupon, this fearsome avatar greatly feared by all, fell upon the demon, carried him to the threshold of the palace and rent him into pieces with his lion talons.
So you see, the talons are not weapons and the threshold belongs to no world. It is between the outside and the inside.
Devanarayanadurga- Nearby Attractions
At the base of the hill is the sacred spring Namada Chilume believed to have been created by Lord Rama in search of water on his way to Lanka. The arrow he had shot into the earth and given rise to this spring. Nearby there is a nursery of rare and endangered medicinal plants and a deer park. Near the government guesthouse you can see the dilapidated little house where the famous ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali used to stay.
Had we arrived there earlier we would have definitely stopped by these places. Well, there’s always next time.
Weather and How to Get There
In February, the weather is pleasant in Devanarayaradurga which is situated at an altitude of 3940 ft. We took the Nice Road from Bangalore which route may be a trifle longer than the usual 90 km. But it’s a great road where you can really indulge your love for speed and it joins with National Highway which is another great ride. There are patches of not-so-good roads as you near your destination but nothing you can’t manage and in fact they are widening the road en route. It is a very scenic drive as you get to about 10 km. from Devanarayanadurga. Read about my previous visit to this hill station in 2014.
© 2016 Anita Saran