Banavasi to Gerusoppa

Update to remove broken links. No other meaninful update.

Staying in Bombay for a year now, I have seen how Shivaji, and his heroic acts, are now a part of lore, and more so, a part of their core identity – Maharashtrian Pride. After visiting Banavasi, in the Kannada heartland tucked in the Western Ghats, I remembered the historical king whose introduction to me was through the glorious movie – Mayura. I guess he, and the story of his ascent to the Kadamba throne has enough heroics and romance about them to merit some place in the Kannada identity that many in Karnataka are trying to seek.

I have seen them (the many) taking resort in various symbols like Rajkumar (will come to this irony in a while), Kempe Gowda, etc. It’s also manifested in their (quasi-)hate for various other concepts like other regional languages, non-Kannada movies, BPO-IT-Mall culture, proliferation of non-Kannada speaking people in urban centers, etc. It’s lamentable that they haven’t used political and other related machinery to invoke Kannada pride in Kannada people by having other more meaningful symbols – Kannada literature, historical figures like Mayura Varma, classic Kannada movies, Kannada speaking intellectuals like Girish Karnad, etc. The irony I was reffering to earlier was that while they can have Rajkumar as a symbol for Kannada identity, they don’t look at the glorious characters he has played in Kannada Cinema. Also, again ironically, a popular Tamizh speciality restaurant in Bangalore goes by the name “Kadambam.” Hmmmm

Anyways, the Madhukeshwara temple at Banavasi felt great in spite of us not having a guide, and therby missing all the unique things that the temple has to offer tourists, Kannada identity seekers, or people who come there to worship. I will ensure that I won’t miss those again. On an aside – there was this “seve” that someone was having there, and during their lunch, we managed to get two glasses each of the fabulous tangy ‘n spicy Malnad drink: Mavinkayi Neergojju or AppehuLi.

Gerusoppa, popularly called Jog Falls, is now maintained by the grandiosely named “Jog Management Authority.” I guess its job is to ensure that the visiting area of an entire two square kilometers is clean, safe, and fun for visitors. That apart, the waterfall itself is quite spectacular. I will upload photos here once Nishant’s (analog) SLR camera rolls are developed. At 8 in the morning, the mist, the clouds, the overcast weather, the chill, the silence, the smell of water, the sound of birds, the rustle of leaves, echoes, the great view from the bridge before the falls, and of course, the light spray of rain now and then, made up for the lack of a gushing waterfall. Tragically, we just caught a small stream trickling down the massive wall of rock, but it was still worth the early morning drive. And of course, the drive itself is worth the …er….drive.

6 thoughts on “Banavasi to Gerusoppa

  1. I guess MAyura Varma deserves the same marketing effort if not budget that Alexander and Julius Caesar have managed to garner over the centuries in western entertainment.

    PErsonally, the rebel/leader/reformer in me has himself been as inspired by the urge of Mayura to be his own boss and the uplifter of his people, as has he been by the megalomania of the great Roman and the great MAcedon.

    I feel Mayura definitely befits the role of a cultural icon Karnataka and KAnnada fanatics long for. He’s got heroics, ambition, cultural identity, class, history, folklore and romance about him.

    But I hate to blame the ‘lame’ Kannada fanatics for their ignorance of history and other academic disciplines. KAnnada is suffering not because of the ignorance of the fanatics, it’s suffering because of the apathy of the enlightened. You spoke about Girish KArnad. I’m glad that he has done KAnnada proud with his work in literature and theater. But…try asking him to take up the cause of KAnnadiga cultural identity and you’ll find how eloquently our liberal/secular/intelectual KAnnadiga makes his escape.

    I have nothing against Mr. Karnad or the ‘Gnanapeethi’ as Ravi Belegere calls him. But I have lost hope that intellectuals, including myself, can do anything about our ailing language/culture/demography.

  2. Teju’s point here is in actual display here, especially if u are in UK or US, u are bound to meet a group of Tamizh’s (why the £$%% do they use that letter if its not in their dictionary…i dont have anything against them, just that it irritates me why u cant use something so common to sanskrit derived languages) or Telugites or more aptly called andhrites, cause i myself am an Telugite…but i hesitate to associate myself after seeing my own country folks living a hallucinating lifestyle without getting intoxicated.

    I certainly do envy how they make a “one goal” group in almost no time, and make it to point to see tamil or telugu movies, in a computer lab filled with multinationals who look at u as a trouble maker once u enter a computer lab, eventhough u vow not to have any allegiance with their cult, and when they find out that i am not watching live telecast of a new tamil or telugu flick or not listnening to meaningless songs and literally singing along with it, they pinch themselves to see if they are actually alive, some have come to me and checked if am allright, some have ran away thinkiing I may be a psycopath.

    But after a few harrassing months i started to debate why we kannadigas dont do that, or are we extra sane to be ultra urban and act matured or just that we dont have good movies being made to be proud off, or is rajkumar is all to kannada as an entity and movies as a medium for us lost souls.

    But then I came to a conclusion that movies or movie songs does not epitomise Kannada, yes it cetainly acts as a major catalyst for us spread our pride but its certainly not a point for others to laugh at us commenting on the appauling state of our movies.

    There has to be a revolution to revive our language rather than forcefully making us use it in unexplicable situations. On a more logical scene, we can ask people who know to speak kannada…actually speak it rather than thinking it as a disgrace. (which itself is a great disgrace)

    Sirigannadam Gelge.

  3. I’d like to draw this discussion to a different but somewhat connected issue in current affairs – The Attitude of the Indian

    English media.

    It’s no secret that the Indian English media panders to the tastes and sensibilities of the urban(e), educated middle class.

    Neither is the love of this media for so called secular and liberal ideals a secret. However, the hypocrisy displayed by this

    media in the Advani-Jannah issue left me wondering if this media is Indian in the first place. I had the rare opportunity to

    read almost every columnist’s opinion on this matter during my trip from Delhi to Bangalore. I was forced to conclude that

    the opinons of English media in India are painfully stereotypical and cliched. What was even more saddening was the eagerness

    of this media to be called secular even at the cost of being pseudo secular and betraying Indian and humanitarian values.

    The mainstream Indian English media unequivocally praised Mr. Advani for calling Mr. Jinnah a secular man. However it is not

    the praise that saddens me. It is the reason behind the praise that I find despicable. The media’s logic centered on the

    following modes of reasoning.

    1) Jinnah is a man hated by the RSS and other Saffron outfits. The saffron outfits are communal (non-secular) in nature. So

    Jinnah is a secular man and Advani has done a great job calling a secular man secular. This line of reasoning smacks of the

    simplistic beauty in arguments like “Enemey’s enemy’s is a friend”!

    2) RSS and Co are communal and so they don’t fit into a multicultural, modern India. The minorities hate the majoritarian

    idealogy of the saffron brigade. So, whatever is hated by the Saffron brigade in turn does well for multiculturalism and

    communal harmony!

    3) Advani is at loggerheads with the RSS, despite having been a poster boy of the . And again RSS is provenly a hateworthy

    entity. So Advani’s is a laudable act.

    I find it difficult to believe that the media is as poor at logic as it appears from the above modes modes of reasoning. It’s

    sense of reason seems to have been overcome by its desire to don secular apparel. My objection to this attitude of the media

    is simple. If you base your secularism on the communal foundations of extreme right wing organizations, how much more

    secular are you than them?

    Some of the newspapers wrote that Advani’s act was a brave effort to free the BJP from the shackles of the RSS. Freeing the

    BJP from the idealogical confines of the RSS may be a good thing for India, or atleast for the BJP. But, isn’t it also

    important to look at the modus operandi employed to gain this freedom. It’s good for a son not to be economically dependent

    on his father. But, should we approve of the economic freedom of the son if it happens to be gained by criminal activities?

    That’s precisely what is happening. Assuming the best intentions of Mr. Advani, he his trying to secure freedom from the RSS

    by praising an obvious villain of our country. And if the intentions of Mr. Advani are not as good as they are made out to be

    by the media, his act perhaps points to nothing holier than vote bank politics. Some papers said Advani’s was a great effort

    in promoting Indo-Pak friendship. Perhaps these papers have a highly limited vision of friendship in addition to their

    limited perception of secularism. Does anybody in the UK praise Hitler because they want better Anglo-German friendship?

    Let us try to analyza the credentials of Mr. Jinnah before going further. What kind of a leader was he to begin with? One

    story goes like this. A student of Cambridge university had presented to Mr. Jinnah, a vicious theory called ‘two nation

    theory’. The essence of the theory was that Muslims in India were economically and socially backward because they had been

    dominated by the Hindus. (May I ask, why the Muslims of Afghanistan were backward?) Mr. Jinnah had not accepted the theory

    because he was happy working with the Congress, which was led by high caste Hindus. Later when Mr. Jinnah was refused

    presidentship of the Congress, he found love for the two nation theory. If a rich, influential man thinks his personal

    political failure is because of his religion, can we call him a true leader, let alone a secular man? Before the decision on

    partition was taken Mr. Jinnah was offered premiership of India. Would a communal country offer its highest legislative post

    to a minority leader? Would a truly secular leader refuse the offer on grounds of an extremist theory like the two nation

    theory? However, I find all this acceptable. A political leader, secular or otherwise, has a freedom to set an idealogy for

    the group he leads. But, can we, as humans, condone the killing of close to a million people? The killing that has its

    origins in Mr. Jinnah’s fixation on a Muslim state? This million people included, Hindus, Muslims, Indians and Pakistanis. If

    Pakistan condones this killing and hails Jinnah as the father of the Pakistani nation, that’s not our problem. But we, as

    Indians, and more importantly, as members of the human race can’t afford to call this architect of communal genocide a

    secular man. Jinnah remains a narrow-minded, short-sighted, selfish demagogue, no matter what the VHP thinks of him. I’ve

    heard that a section of Shiv Sena admires Hitler for his far right wing idealogy. Tomorrow Bajrang Dal might fall in love

    with the far right wing attitude of Jinnah and might decide to ignore that fact that he was Muslim. Should that change the

    Indian perception of Jinnah?

    I don’t say that the media should be a neutral umpire. Politics is no cricket. The color the media takes is influenced by the

    political inclinations of its managers, employees and customers. Nonetheless, it’s time that the Indian English media stops

    engaging in self deception. It’s time that the media grows out of its narrow definitions of secularism and communalism.

    Finally, as customers of the English media, we have the right and the duty to be more discreet in consuming what we are fed.

    And we ourselves need to grow out of our archaic perception of secularism and liberalism. Secularism and liberalism are about

    going beyond, one’s religion, caste and other affiliations to get a bigger/unbiased picture of the world. They are not about

    being ashamed to belong to your community/religion. They are not about dubbing the extremists in the other side

    liberal/secular, just because the extremists on the other side are up against the extremists on your side.

  4. Great Thoughts Bro. I think over the time period, we have resorted to linking our identiy of being Kannadigas to so many different things that things that really matter to our identity might have gotten lost.

    But then again with such a big population there would be those – “many” who would still resort to the common symbols they can associate it with and then there are “others” who chose to go with Jog Falls, Banavasi, and so many glorius places and people of Karnataka to define some of our identity.

    I felt this is a hard topic for me to comment on as lot of it is something that I have gone through myself in different phases of life, like being a Rajkumar fan was my identity once upon a time etc….

    Anyways, good food for thought. Cannot write as much as Samba. :)) So, will stop here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *