Saturday, April 18, 2015

Spellbinding nature, Dribbling rains: A glorious visit to Sigandhur Chowdeshwari Temple

25th October, 2014

Right Right, yelled the conductor; The gloomy malnad town turned further gloomy as the archaic Rajahamsa hitched, imbuing the atmosphere with dark reek of smudge, stenching the flavor of air, early morning. The morning in Sagar was gloomy, devoid of sunlight with soft drizzle sprinkling from the sky. I had to embrace an unusual weather in Sagar. The environment matched that of Monsoon season with thick clouds hovering around busy town. I had welcome call from mother saying it has been raining since morning in Udupi. Oh I see, the scene is created by low pressure in Arabian sea. Anyway, I had an umbrella as temporary shelter.

I have been longing to visit Goddess chowdeshwari of Sigandhur for quite few years. While we could not during our last visit to Jog Falls, this time I planned solo journey to the iconic temple. With my travel friends dispersing, I had no other option rather than opting for solo journey. Consequently, I decided to visit Sagar and from there plan accordingly. As a whole, no plan was executed except to visit temple somehow. The only plan was to book tickets to Sagar and from there spot a bus towards Sigandhur. The journey started at 10PM previous night and lasted till 6:30AM. The delay was due to long halt in Shivamogga bus stand. Anyway, I landed safely with unusual welcome drizzle. My first aim was to find a haven to refresh before resuming journey.

I enquired local on lodge facility but he conveyed shocking news that the most of the lodges would have been booked! This was mainly due to heavy influx of tourists to Sigandhur chowdeshwari temple. At first, I thought my plans were in disarray but still did not lose heart. As per his guidelines, I inquired in first hotel on availability of rooms. The lodge was closed and the caretaker was sleeping. I opened the lodge door and woke him up :). Fortunately, the room was available for refreshing :). Initially he bargained for Rs.300/- but I had counter bargain for my sojourn. Eventually we agreed on Rs.100/- and within an hour I was refreshed! I thanked him for the assistance with agreed upon money and left for breakfast. The hungry appetite was later filled with hefty breakfast comprising of idly, vada and dose. The final touch was as usual the tea which was required to keep me awake after the unfinished overnight slumber.

After brief wait for 15 mins, I boarded a government bus destined to Holebaagilu in private bus stop. In a moment, the bus was packed primarily with tourists. The bus leaves us at Holebaagilu and from there one has to bank upon the barge to cross the Sharavathi river backwaters. The distance from Sagar to Holebaagilu is 30kms and Rs.30/- fare. The road conditions are good with slight hiccups along few stretches. Overall it is wonderful journey with lush green paddy fields, intermittent water bodies, steady rain and not to miss the lovely canopy of western ghats. Watch out for adamant cattle :D especially buffaloes. They were desperately scratching against the stem of trees to get rid of irritation :). Some of them even do not move until vehicles near them. They were either acting as road dividers, barricades and even at some places, forest gates :). 45 mins later, we were in Holebaagilu and time to have boat ride B-). Even though I could not join parents this Deepavali, the spellbinding nature provided festive treat as I neared the banks of backwaters. Absolutely stunning nature with lovely backwaters filled with mangrove trees. I had to rush since a barge was in flight. It was raining too which cut down enthusiasm among the tourists. I did not grab any clips since it was raining (no risking this time). I whole heartedly enjoyed the serene environment with waving water. My umbrella was shared by 4 more people inside the barge and enjoyed friendly humorous chat. Oh yes, there are no roof since it creates a problem during gusty winds. This is generic purpose barge and transports everything including vehicles and cattle :).

There is painful story behind the sharavathi river backwater. This is not naturally formed backwater but rather by swallowing almost 1lakh acres of human habitat. The land was acquired to construct Linganamakki dam for power generation. Consequently, people lost their lands. The barge fee is nominal Rs.1/- per journey and make sure that you buy the ticket. The money, every year is distributed to the victims of project. The landscape, beauty of nature and joy is everything at the cost of painful story. My humble request to the readers to buy the ticket and help the affected.

After nearly 15mins of splendid journey in barge, we were at the other bank of backwater. I had a bad presumption that temple is situated right after crossing the backwater. Alas! one has to travel 6kms from here to reach the temple. Initially, I did not knew as how to reach but later realized the availability of tempo trax towards temple. It costs Rs.20/- head. Initially there was dearth of vehicles but later on, vehicles arrived in large numbers as sigh of relief. I boarded one of them and had chit-chat with co-passengers. Lot of humorous scenes erupted which kept us alive even in the dreadful journey. The roads were dilapidated and filled with slush. Few passengers were bargaining for Rs.10/- but please don't do it. It is unfortunate to see people squander money in cities on useless stuffs but can't spend a meagre amount. 15mins of journey on average surface, we are here at the temple and ready to seek her blessings. By the time, I reached temple, my shoes and pants were entirely painted with slush of red soil.

The maintenance of temple is below average and there was high possibility of slippages. Fortunately, the presence of dedicated footwear and luggage stands, keep your belongings safe. It was 8:45AM when I reached the temple. There was sufficient crowd and I had to wait for nearly an hour for darshan. The deity was beautifully decorated with flowers, adorned with ornaments with idol glittering from the  lighted lamp and reflection from ornaments. The disciplined dispatching of pilgrims inside the temple was one more positive factor. The devotees are divided into batches and each batches have designated area to stay. Once each batches finish the darshan, subsequent batches were allowed. This prevented stampede and everyone had sufficient time for darshan. I had my share of pooja with chime. The temple has extra three of them, of which one I grabbed one to chime in. After final prayer and blessings, I left the temple premises to claim my luggage. There is nothing much nearby except for temple shop. The crowd had increased and the queue had quadrupled protruding towards the exit. I was fortunate to have early darshan. Later on, the luggage keeper informed me to avoid navaratri & deepavali days and even to some extent fridays & weekends. One more time, walk along the slushy path, lead me to trax stand. By this time, entire shoe was mud pasted and it was looking as if I had just come back from ploughing paddy field!

On way back, traxes were in abundance & empty and yelling to grab passengers. Being alone, I caught up with a trax in flight and it departed early. 15 mins ON, I was on the banks of backwater with a barge waiting to fill up. It started to drizzle again after a period of break. Few minutes later, the barge was filled with few vehicles and it was time to depart to Holebaagilu. This time I covered camera with plastic cover and shot some videos. Umbrella added extra protection. I do have a rain coat but it requires little bit of preparation which I didn't do. It takes same time as forward journey and we reached the other side of bank where huge crowd was waiting for their turn to board. My initial plan was to catch hold of bus to Kollur from Sigandhur and later on travel to Udupi. However, I could not spot any bus and decided to board from Sagar. After exiting from barge, I was desperately hunting for bus towards Sagar to contend afternoon appetite. Fortunately, I caught hold of casual taxi towards Sagar. He was charging Rs.50/- but it was comfortable journey. On the way, we saw huge line of vehicles parked in Holebaagilu stretching over 2kms.

Taxi drive was smooth and at 12:30PM, I was back in Sagar. Due to Deepavali, majority of hotels were shut down while the operating hotels did not have meals :(. Finally, I had an average meal at Sagar KSRTC bus stand which is 500m away from private bus stand. The delay resulted in missing Mangalore bus scheduled at 1PM :(. The next bus would be at 2PM to Udupi. I held onto the bus comfortably and immediately fell asleep which lasted for an hour. The tiredness provided early sleep dose.

That is end of my short visit once again without any luxury. Candid travel is more than fun which gives immense opportunity to meet people of all sorts especially middle class people like me. I had chat with various people and had wonderful time with everyone. It teaches you some good aspects of life which I lack. One of my intention to travel on the similar lines is to learn from people and break shackles.

The bus towards Udupi was rolling along the hilly roads and breaking whenever required. The gorgeous stretch of malnad and coastal areas coupled with western ghats keeps you engaged in midst of bus journey. The stretch was covered with paddy fields, beautiful lakes, brimming rivulets and of-course the dense forests. The excitement was more when we reached Mastikatte where the river Varahi was ravishing to watch in middle of dense western ghats with clouds hugging the hills. I just wished if I had a private vehicle but was satisfied to view from eyes. After Mastikatte, it was none other than beautiful Baalebare ghat surrounded with dense rainforest with trees extending from 30-50mts. OMG! those were thick and high. Most of the stretch is concreted and in good shape. The only problem was, numerous hairpin bends along the ghat section. There is only a single water spot along highway. No stretch can match Shiraadi & Charmaadi ghat for presence of tons of water spots along the highway :). With Blueman's rainforest echoing in my ears, I enjoyed the ghat section to the fullest.

Barely 20mins of travel, we were Hosangadi which means end of ghat section. This was supported by gradual build up of sticky weather which is indication of approaching coastal stretch. The bus was meant to be "Non-Stop" service but it turned out to be "Non-Stop Stoppage" service. The frequency was significant past Siddapur :(. On the way, I observed the pinnacle welcoming the visitors to Kamalashile Temple which I wish to visit again. It started raining heavily after Shankaranarayana and later subsided. It was almost twilight as we reached barkur. 7:30PM, I was in Udupi and caught a bus to Kaup to reach my home. The arrival to home was welcomed by steady drizzle and teasers from father after seeing boot condition :). Next day, it was time to clean the filth from shoes and jeans.

Sigandhur has two routes. One via Holebaagilu (which I opted) and there is detour via Teerthahalli which I am not aware. The second route does not involve ride on barge (citation required). I strongly recommend the barge route because of spellbinding sharavati river backwater with mangrove trees. The other route involves more distance (almost double I heard). Signadhur is great place for a day. Even if you are an atheist, one can hangout in midst of beautiful nature and sharavati river backwaters.

Due to gloomy weather and steady rains, I could not snap much pictures. No panorama, no HDR, only a short video of boat ride and feeble snaps. Hope you enjoy. Timelapse was possible at many places but no time :). Especially, Mastikatte area provided perfect platform for beautiful timelapses with thick clouds, western ghats and varahi river. Nevertheless, I was contended with whatever I could achieve during this time.

PS: People lament when it rains during the excursion. Even I am no different since I cannot fiddle with lens ;). However, it is those droplets which transform the nature to plenitude of beauty. Sometimes it is best to enjoy with your eyesight more than mirroring the moments in camera and feel the serene nature. That's what I experienced even during barge ride. How beautiful was the onward journey without any gadgets while the return journey, I was only engaged in safeguarding the camera body to keep away from moisture rather than enjoying beauty of western ghats. Irony at the end is, rather than cherishing golden moments of nature captured by the eyesight, and storing in neural system, we brood over missed opportunities during the journey :)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A memorable trek to Kodachadri and Arishinagundi Waterfalls: Part (2) -- Ravishing Arishinagundi

02 Feb 2014,

Read Part-1 here

Early morning at 5:30AM, we woke up with windswept kodachadri piercing through hillocks from east with high velocity. After getting refreshed, we started our hike to Sunrise point with torch light. It was around 6AM we headed towards sunrise point. The trail gets very narrower in middle with appalling deep valleys on the other end. The mighty breeze tend to push you down the valley. One needs to be careful of the gravitating valleys as well as pushing breeze! A normal 20mins hike takes you to sunrise point where considerable amount of people were waiting curiously to greet the day's Sun. The scheduled time was around 7AM. Exactly around the time, here we watch sun rising from horizon slowly with bright red color. In matter of 10-15 mins he turned orange and later whitish which was normal Sun appearance ;-). We enjoyed few moments under sun and Rajesh asked us to enjoy for some more time to absorb Vitamin D from early morning Sun. After some more enjoyment under Sun we headed back to our base camp. We packed our belongings and ready for breakfast. Need for breakfast has to be communicated in advance during dinner time. We enjoyed two rounds of scrummy breakfast which comprised of Bansi Rava Upma with pickle and tea. After savoring breakfast, it was time to leave the basecamp. We bought few water bottles and bid adieu to the beautiful Kodachadri ranges. After expressing thankfulness to the priest, we left to Santosh hotel to progress our journey towards Arishinagundi waterfalls.



The time was 8:45PM. This time we did not dare to trek down along 80degree steep gradient rather opted the normal trail. We enjoyed those wild hens again and beautiful western ghats on the way with crest illuminated with magical light of Sun. 10AM sharp, we were in Santosh hotel and reached comfortably. Our guide was waiting to lead us to the waterfalls. We refreshed once more and packed food for lunch. It was 10:45AM when we started downtrek towards Arishinagundi waterfalls. The guide had a partner since he needed company along dense forest during return journey. We would be downtrekking to Kollur main road and hence he needed a partner to return to Santosh hotel. Previous day, Mr.Tangappan had informed forest officer at Kollur about our visit and the officer had given positive nod too. However, the communication line was broken on the day of our visit and we were sceptical to reach the waterfalls since we would be travelling on our own towards Kollur. If forest guards spot us, it would be daunting task to convince them since we did not have written permission. Also there was no mobile signal too to call forest officer. Anyways, the guide convinced that he would call forest officer again in middle and our journey would be smooth.

At the outset, it is a plain walk on road for 500mts and later deep jungles of Kollur. We were under the dense canopy of those tall rain forests covered in darkness despite being 11AM sunny morning. The guide informed that ever since the area has been declared as wildlife sanctuary, the trail to waterfall has been left untidy, and unclear deliberately to permit people only via Kollur. Also people visiting waterfall has declined drastically too! Earlier it was atleast 2 groups per week but now it has reduced to a group per month. We were the second batch of people they were guiding this year. It is impossible to trek along this path from Santosh hotel towards waterfall without a guide. All along the trek, we had nice chat with guide. One of the guide knew Kannada, Hindi and Malayalam language. More than anything, it was the lush green evergreen forests which attracted me every-time. Tropical rain forests have been of great interest for me since childhood days. Now time has arrived to enjoy them closely. The mellowing streams, squealing of million bugs, chirping birds, rustling of leaves and our conversations were the only sources of sound. The trail path is mostly steep descent and sometimes steep ascent. We had to cross two streams en-route of which for one we had to remove footwear. In one of streams, few leeches were trying to sneak into few of us. Fortunately, we noticed it early and moved away from them. The marshy regions along the path gives a feeling as how dense the canopy is. Despite 4months after subsiding of monsoon, some of the paths were still under moisture. We also had to jump along fallen wooden logs sometimes. The guides were easily gliding along the path with normal chappals :-). Even though it was downtrek, that was not easy. Phew .... We were holding a long twig to avoid slippery leaves fallen on the ground. After plenty of circus and workout, here we are at Jeep trail. A few mts of walk along the jeep trail, will lead you to descent point of waterfall. We were able to hear the sound of waterfall from the descent point itself!





Here comes the hard part :-). Even though the path is descent, the slope is around 70 degrees and one has to be highly heedful while managing the downhill. Sometimes we had to bend down to avoid the bushes and jump across fallen woods. The mud was very much slippery too! The only advantage was dense canopy of region which precludes the sunlight entering the ground. All along the descent we could hear energetic plunge of waterfall. After few more descent along narrow trail, its now time to climb and jump across the boulders. We had greater workout than previous day :D. Few more steps, here we are at the magnificent sight :-). The natural splendor none other than wondrous Arishinagundi Waterfalls. Wow!! What a beauty situated in mystical location of dense rain forests of Kollur. Absolutely spectacular nature plunging from height of 120feet into those deep pool of water. We were delighted and unable to control emotions which compelled us to cheer with enthusiasm :-). The time was 12:45PM when we reached the waterfall site. Rajesh was desperate to swim in the pool of this beautiful Turmeric pond and he did it too! Myself with help of guide crossed the stream to capture full glimpse of waterfall. Later we all enjoyed bathing in pond. The water was clean and ice cold :D. A healthy bath for 30mins relieved all our strain and we regained our energy too :-).
The pond has uneven landscape and turns deeper abruptly after few distance. It is advised that only swimmers need to launch into the pond. Even guides are not aware of the depth. After fun in water, we shared the lunch amongst ourselves and made sure that no waste is left out. We carried all our waste as before. Being in secluded location, the surroundings were spick and span! I am not sure as how the waterfall derived its name. A raw translation from Kannada to English gives it name "Turmeric Pond". It has two stages of plunge but the attractive is the first stage which is tallest. Here the water plunges to rocky surface later sliding towards the pond. After the pond, follows the second stage which is not of that height. May be during monsoon season or early days of monsoon retreat, the water directly dives into pool. We were satisfied viewing the larger stage and hence did not get down the second stage. The source of water is majestic Souparnika river itself along with many tiny streams. They weave to form the thunderous Arishinagundi waterfalls amidst the sublime western ghats. Later the Souparnika river flows along Kollur, teases Maravanthe beach near Kundapur eventually merging with Arabian sea nearby Shiroor. Not to miss, the breath-taking landscape of Maravanthe beach near Kundapur combined with Souparnika river is one of the natural marvel of the nation!

Arishinagundi waterfall is almost impossible to access during monsoon season mainly due to presence of leeches and torrential rainfall. Kollur is one of the highest raining place in Udupi district averaging around 6000mm annually. Also the streams will be brim, gushing with high velocity which makes it impossible to cross them too! From Kollur side, one has to cross few streams before reaching waterfalls which might be difficult task. Even along the valley, it requires crossing 2-3 streams before reaching waterfall. One of the guide highlighted that there will be sea of water thundering along the boulders which are visible now. Last but not least, the snakes :D. This region is home to wide variety of serpents especially King Cobras. It is not safe idea to venture this area during monsoon season due to said reasons. Fortunately we did not spot any snakes this time :-).

After lunch, it was time to bid an emotional adieu to beautiful nature at 2:00PM. At this time I remembered those wonderful narration in one of rainforest documentary "Tiny streams weave together to form the grandest of waterfall that roar like thunder" and felt it too! I remembered the chords of Andy Blueman's music Rainforest and appreciated his brilliance in transforming the ambiance of rainforest into musical notes. There is also good news that he will complete the music in near future too [desperately waiting :-)]. Lots of emotions running through me as the sounds of rainforest music echoes in my mind. With happy heart, we bid goodbye to the sight and started trekking upwards towards Jeep trail. The return path, we took the trail towards signboard. Last time our journey was crippled due to the presence of snake. This time myself and Rajesh were enthralled to complete the mission :-). As we walked towards the Jeep trail, we recognised the spot where snake had thwarted our journey. OMG, that was too close :-(. If at all snake wouldn't have been present, we would have made it quite comfortably! Nevertheless, it is forgotten story now ;-) after successfully reaching the finishing lane! Especially I was satisfied to view alluring waterfall after long wait of 3 years since I stumbled upon this sight.

The arduous part of our hike is the steep uptrek for 1km till Jeep trail. It was hard trudge for us climbing those hills. We were under prolific sweating and our clothes were once again washed in sweat. Many times, we had to rest in between. Nearly after 45 mins of steep uptrek, here we are at Jeep trail. The time was 2:45PM. Phew... That was too hard man :-). Now it was time to bid adieu to those lovely guides and move towards Kollur. One of the guide plucked dalchini leaves for us and its fragrance was mind blowing. As mentioned in my previous blog, the region is also home to nearly 64 types of medicinal plants and this was one of them. After saying goodbye to lovely and courteous guides, we started down trek towards kollur [I forgot to take their pictures]. The Jeep trail was repaired and hence no cluttered rocks this time! It was facile downtrek. We spotted a wild monkey too which instantly ran away from us. On the way we had apple and water with brief rest. Half way down, humid weather indicated that we were almost in sea level. 4PM sharp, we were in Kollur main road waiting for bus. No forest guards were spotted on our downtrek which cleared all our apprehensions. We did not spot a single bus for half an hour :-(. Even though the distance to Kollur was mere 2kms, nobody was ready to walk further due to humid weather :D. What a contrast! It was too cold at top and now it has turned completely opposite. Later we spotted an empty auto-rickshaw towards kollur for Rs.30/- and here we are in Kollur at 4:45PM.

Thats end of our mighty 25kms of trek for 2 days and literary journey for this post too! We were exhilarated to finish the trek without any hurdles. Ashutosh was so much enthusiastic to plan our next trek :-). Rajesh interfered saying it would require much rest before planning further. I was happy mainly because it was self organized and everything went smooth. We enjoyed the scintillating western ghats for 2 long days. This time we made it to Arishinagundi waterfalls even :-). We demonstrated team work very efficiently and everyone was diligent in their work. This would not have been successful without co-operation from everyone. Other than this, it was great tranquillizer in serene environment of beautiful rain forests of Kollur away from ruffled city life. As I mentioned in my earlier blog, passing along these forests filled with medicinal vegetation itself is free service for our lungs. The water in streams were pristine filled with natural flavours. Also presence of such exotic waterfalls makes western ghats an enticing place to explore and relax. The abundant nature provides yearning desire to explore such marvels which can never be subdued.

We found a room to refresh ourselves and were ready to visit Mookambika temple by 6PM. As indicated earlier, the humid weather enabled us to comfortably bath in cold water. We had darshan of goddess Mookambika and thanked her for smooth itinerary. The crowd was feeble may be due to exam season. We also relished laddus of temple and later on had light snacks and tea. Once we were done packing stuffs, we left the room by 7:30PM. We thought of having dinner in temple itself but it would start only by 8PM. Since bus was scheduled to depart at 8:30PM, we had no option than eating outside. We had light dinner and juice. Later we reached Kollur bus stand to board the bus. The bus arrived at 9PM, 30 minutes late than scheduled time. If at all this was known, we could have easily managed tasty temple food. Now its forgotten story again. Time to say goodbye to the temple town and western ghats once again. We had great time with lots of memories in bucket. After reaching Bangalore, it was time to clean filthy shoes and shabby clothes drenched in sweat :D.

What's up this time :-)

i) Two more panoramic shots

ii) A video of Arishinagundi Waterfalls

Related Blogs:

i) Arisen
ii) Heaven on Earth

A concluding note:

Do hear Blueman's Masterpiece (not yet completed) Rainforest. It echoes perfect ambience of rainforest with magical use of synths.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

ಹಳದಿ ಬಣ್ಣದ ನ್ಯಾನೋ

ಮೊದಲೇ ಚಂಚಲ ಮನಸ್ಸು, ಮಹಾನ್ ದೈವಭಕ್ತ ಜೊತೆಗೆ ಮೂಢನಂಬಿಕೆಯ ದಾಸನಾಗಿದ್ದ. ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಕಷ್ಟ ಬಂದರೂ ಅದನ್ನೆದುರಿಸುವ ಬದಲು ದೇವರ ಮೊರೆ ಹೋಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದ. ಬಂದ ಸಂಭಾವನೆಯೆಲ್ಲ ಹುಂಡಿ ಪಾಲಾಗುತ್ತಿತ್ತು. ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ದಿನದ ಬಳಿಕ ಮನೆ ಬದಲಾಯಿಸುವ ಪ್ರಮೇಯ ಬಂದಿತೆನ್ನಿ. ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಸಹ ಹುಂಡಿಗೆ ಹಣ ಸುರಿಯಲು ಮರೆಯಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಅಂತು ಇಂತು ದೇವರ ದಯೆಯಿಂದ ಮನೆ ಶಿಫ್ಟ್ ಆಯಿತೆಂದು ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ಬಾರಿ ಹುಂಡಿಗೆ ಹಣ ಹಾಕಿದ. ಹೊಸ ಮನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ನೆಲೆಗೊಂಡ ನಂತರ ಅಲ್ಲೇ ಪಕ್ಕದಲ್ಲಿದ್ದ ದೇವಸ್ಥಾನಕ್ಕೆ ಪ್ರತಿದಿನ ಭೇಟಿ ಕೊಡಲು ಮರೆಯಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಆರತಿ ತಟ್ಟೆಗೆ ದಿವಸ ೫೦ ರುಪಾಯಿ ಬೀಳುತ್ತಿತ್ತು ಸಹ. ಇದನ್ನೇ ಅಲ್ಲಿನ ಅರ್ಚಕರು ಗಮನಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಒಂದು ದಿನ ಅವನೊಂದಿಗೆ ಗುಪ್ತವಾಗಿ ಮಾತನಾಡಲು ಮನವಿ ಮಾಡಿದರು. ಮಾತು ಬೆಳೆದಂತೆ ಅರ್ಚಕರು ತಮ್ಮ ತಾಯಿಯ ಅನಾರೋಗ್ಯದ ದುಃಖ ತೋಡಿಕೊಂಡರು. ಅವರ ಆಪರೇಶನ್ ಗೆ ಸುಮಾರು ೧೦ಸಾವಿರ ಖರ್ಚಾಗುವುದೆಂದು ಮತ್ತು ಅದನ್ನು ತೀರಿಸಲು ಹಣ ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆ ಮಾಡುವ ಕಷ್ಟ ತೋಡಿಕೊಂಡರು. ಮೆಲ್ಲನೇ ಅವನ ಬಳಿ ಸಹಾಯ ಯಾಚಿಸಿದರು ಜೊತೆಗೆ ಆದಷ್ಟು ಬೇಗ ಹಿಂದಿರುಗಿಸುವ ಆಶ್ವಾಸನೆ ಕೂಡ ನೀಡಿದರು ಕೂಡ.

ಮೊದಲೇ ಯಾರೋ ಕಪಟ ಜ್ಯೋತಿಷಿ "ನಿನ್ನ ದಶಾಭುಕ್ತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಶನಿ ಅವತರಿಸಿದ್ದಾನೆಂದು, ಪರಿಹಾರವಾಗಿ ದಾನ ಧರ್ಮಗಳನ್ನು ನಿಷ್ಠೆಯಿಂದ ಕೈಗೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕಂದು" ಪಾಠ ಹೇಳಿದ್ದರಂತೆ. ಇದನ್ನು ನೆನೆಸಿಕೊಂಡ ಅವನಿಗೆ ಮೈ ಜುಮ್ ಎಂದಿತು. ಎಲ್ಲಿ ದಾನ ಮಾಡದಿದ್ದರೆ ಶನಿ ತನ್ನನ್ನು ಹಿಂಡಿ ಹಾಕುತ್ತಾನೋ ಎಂಬ ಹೆದರಿಕೆ ಅವನಲ್ಲಿ ಆವರಿಸಿತು. ಜೊತೆಗೆ ಅರ್ಚಕರ ಅಳುಮೋರೆ ಕಂಡು ಅವನಿಗೂ ಕನಿಕರ ಉಕ್ಕಿ ಬಂತು. ಹಾಗಾಗಿ ಅಳುಕಾದರೂ ೫ಸಾವಿರ ಮರುದಿನವೇ ಕೈಗಿತ್ತ. ಪೂರ್ತಿ ನೀಡಲು ಅರ್ಚಕರು ದಮ್ಮಯ್ಯ ಹಾಕಿದಾಗ ಅವನ ದಶಾಭುಕ್ತಿ ಮತ್ತು ಚಂಚಲ ಮನಸ್ಸಿಗೆ ಮತ್ತಷ್ಟು ಕನಿಕರ ಮೂಡಿತು. ಅಲ್ಲೇ ಪಕ್ಕದಲ್ಲಿ ಇದ್ದ ಏಟಿಮ್ ಕಡೆಗೆ ಧರಧರನೆ ಓಡಿ ಹಣ ಅರ್ಚಕರ ಕೈಗಿತ್ತ. ಅರ್ಚಕರು ಧನ್ಯತಾ ಭಾವದಿಂದ ಅವನಿಗೆ ತುಂಬು ಹೃದಯದ ಧನ್ಯವಾದವನ್ನರ್ಪಿಸಿದರು. ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣ ಅರ್ಚಕನಿಗೆ ಉಪಕಾರ ಮಾಡಿದ ಸಂತೃಪ್ತ ಭಾವನೆ ಅವನಲ್ಲಿ ಮೂಡಿತ್ತು. ವಾರದ ನಂತರ ದೇವಸ್ಥಾನದ ವಾರ್ಷಿಕೋತ್ಸವಕ್ಕೆ ಇವನೇ ಕೇಂದ್ರಬಿಂದು. ಮೂಟೆಗಟ್ಟಲೆ ಪ್ರಸಾದ ಕಟ್ಟಿಕೊಟ್ಟರು ಅರ್ಚಕರು. ತಾಯಿಯು ಆರೋಗ್ಯದಿಂದಿರುವರೆಂದು ಅರ್ಚಕರು ಅವನಿಗೆ ಸುದ್ಧಿ ಮುಟ್ಟಿಸಿದರು. ಅವನಿಗೂ ತಾನು ದೊಡ್ಡ ಕೆಲಸ ಮಾಡಿದನೆಂಬ ಹೆಮ್ಮೆ ಕೂಡ. ಅಂದು ರಾತ್ರಿ ರುಚಿಯಾದ ಪ್ರಸಾದವನ್ನು ತಿಂದು ನಿಶ್ಚಿಂತೆಯಿಂದ ಮಲಗಿದ.

ಒಂದು ವಾರ ಆಗಿರಬೇಕು, ತಂದೆಯ ನೆಪವೊಡ್ಡಿ ಮತ್ತೆ ಅರ್ಚಕರು ಇವನ ಬಳಿ ಹಣ ಯಾಚಿಸಿದರು. "ಎಲಾ ಇವನಾ! ಹಳೆ ಬಾಕಿಯೇ ಚುಪ್ತಾ ಆಗಿಲ್ಲಾ, ಆಗಲೇ ಮತ್ತೆ ಹಣ ಕೇಳುತ್ತಿದಾನಲ್ಲವೇ" ಇವನಿಗೆ ಆಶ್ಚರ್ಯದ ಜೊತೆಗೆ ಸಂಶಯವೂ ಮನೆ ಮಾಡಿತು. ಆದರೆ ಪಕ್ಕನೆ ದಶಾಭುಕ್ತಿ ನೆನಪಾಗಿ ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಕೊಡಲು ಮುಂದೆ ಬಂದ. ೫ಸಾವಿರ ಬದಲು ೨ಸಾವಿರ ಕೊಟ್ಟ. ಮನೆಗೆ ಬಂದಿದ್ದೆ ತಡ ಅನಾಮಿಕ ಕಾಲ್ ಬಂದಿತು. ಯಾರೋ ಮೊಬೈಲ್ ಕಂಪೆನಿಯವರು ಇರಬೇಕೆಂದು ಕಟ್ ಮಾಡಿದ. ಪದೇ ಪದೇ ಮೊಬೈಲ್ ರಿಂಗಣಿಸುವುದನ್ನು ಗಮನಿಸಿದ ಇವನು ಒಮ್ಮೆ ಕಾಲ್ ಎತ್ತಿಯೇ ಬಿಟ್ಟ. ಆಶ್ಚರ್ಯ! ಅರ್ಚಕರ ಕಾಲ್! ಅವರು ಮತ್ತೆ ದುಡ್ಡು ಕೊಡಲು ಅಳುಮೋರೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಫೋನಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಪೀಡಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಜೊತೆಗೆ ತಾಯಿಯ ಮುಖಾಂತರವೂ‌ ಅಂಗಲಾಚಿಸಿದ. ಇವನಿಗೆ ಕನಿಕರವಾದರೂ, ಧೈರ್ಯ ತಂದುಕೊಂಡು, "ನನ್ನ ಸಾಮರ್ಥ್ಯವಿಷ್ಟೇ" ಎಂದು ಹೇಳಿ ಫೋನ್ ಕೆಳಗಿಟ್ಟ. ಮತ್ತೆ ೪-೫ ಬಾರಿ ಕಾಲ್ ಬಂದರೂ ಎತ್ತುವ ಸಾಹಸ ಮಾಡಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಮುಂದಿನ ದಿನವೇ ದೇವಸ್ಥಾನ ಬದಲಿಸಿದ. ತನ್ನ ನಂಬರ್ ಇವರಿಗೆ ಹೇಗೆ ಸಿಕ್ಕಿತೆಂದು ಯೋಚಿಸಿದಾಗ, ವಾರ್ಷಿಕೋತ್ಸವಕ್ಕೆ ಸೇವೆ ಕೊಡುವ ಸಮಯದಲ್ಲಿ ನಂಬರ್ ನೀಡಿದ್ದುದ್ದು ನೆನಪಾಯಿತು.

ಸುಮಾರು ಒಂದು ವಾರ ಆಗಿರಬೇಕು, ದೇವಸ್ಥಾನದ ಮುಂದೆ ಹಳದಿ ಬಣ್ಣದ ಹೊಸ ನ್ಯಾನೋ ಕಾರು ನಿಂತಿತ್ತು. ಯಾರೋ ದೇವಸ್ಥಾನಕ್ಕೆ ಪೂಜೆ ಮಾಡಿಸಲೆಂದು ತಂದಿರಬೇಕೆಂದು ಭಾವಿಸಿದ. ಅದರ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಗಮನ ಕೊಡಲು ಹೋಗಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಅಂಗಡಿಯಿಂದ ಸಾಮಾನು ಕೊಂಡು ವಾಪಾಸ್ ಹೊರಡುವಾಗ, ಅದೇ ಕಾರು ಅಂಗಡಿಯ ಮುಂದೆ ನಿಂತಿತು. ಏನಾಶ್ಚರ್ಯ! ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ದಿನದ ಹಿಂದೆ ಅಳು ಮೋರೆ ಹಾಕಿದ್ದ ಅರ್ಚಕರು ಏಗ ತಮ್ಮ ೩೨ ಹಲ್ಲುಗಳನ್ನು ತೆರೆದು ಹಾಯಾಗಿ ಕಾರಿನಿಂದ ಜಮೀನುದಾರನಂತೆ ಇಳಿಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಮೊಸಳೆ ಕಣ್ಣೀರಿಟ್ಟವ ಈಗ ಕಾರಿನ ಮಾಲಿಕ. ಎಷ್ಟು ಜನರಿಗೆ ಹೀಗೆ ಟೊಪಿಯಿಟ್ಟಿದ್ದಾನೆಂಬುದು ತಿಳಿಯದು. ರೋಗಗ್ರಸ್ಥರೆಂದು ಭಾವಿಸಿದ್ದ ಅವನ ಪೋಷಕರು ಆರೋಗ್ಯವಂತರಾಗಿ ಹವಾನಿಯಂತ್ರಿತ ಕಾರಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಕುಳಿತು ಗತ್ತಿನಿಂದ ಹೊರ ಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಆಸ್ವಾದಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಆತ ಇವನನ್ನು ನೋಡಿಯೂ ನೋಡದಂತೆ ಅಂಗಡಿಯ ಬಳಿ ಬಂದರು. ಇವನಿಗೆ ಕ್ಲೇಶ ತಡೆಯಲಾಗದೆ, ಆತುರದಿಂದ ಮನೆಯ ಕಡೆ ಹೆಜ್ಜೆ ಇಟ್ಟ. ಮನೆ ಬಂದ ತಕ್ಷಣ ಇವನ ಹತಾಶೆ ಮುಗಿಲು ಮುಟ್ಟಿತು. ಇಷ್ಟು ದಿನ ಅರ್ಚಕರ ಅಳುಮೋರೆ ನೋಡಿದವನಿಗೆ ಇಂದು ಅಳುವ ಸರದಿ ಇವನದಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಹಳದಿ ಬಣ್ಣದ ಕಾರನ್ನು ಕಂಡು, ಹಳದಿ ರೋಗ ಬರುವುದು ಬಾಕಿ ಇತ್ತು. ಚೇತರಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಬರೋಬ್ಬರಿ ೨೪ ಘಂಟೆ ಹಿಡಿಯಿತೆನ್ನಿ. ಒಂದು ದಿನದ ಬಳಿಕ ತಾನು ಮಾಡಿದ ತಪ್ಪಿನ ಅರಿವಾಯಿತು ಎಂದು ಹೇಳುವುದು ಕೂಡ ಅಗತ್ಯವಿಲ್ಲ. ೧೨ಸಾವಿರ ಕೈಚೆಲ್ಲಿದ್ದು ಅವನಿಗೆ ಬೇಸರ ಸಂಗತಿಯಲ್ಲ, ಬದಲಾಗಿ ಅದು ಒಳ್ಳೆಯ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ಉಪಯೋಗವಾಗಲಿಲ್ಲ ಎಂದು ಚಿಂತೆ ಅವನಿಗೆ ಬಹಳ ದಿನಗಳ ವರೆಗೆ ಕಾಡುತ್ತಿತ್ತು.

ಊರಿಗೆ ಹೋದಾಗ ಪೆಚ್ಚು ಮೋರೆಯಿಂದ ಅಪ್ಪನ ಬಳಿ ಇರುವ ವಿಷಯವನ್ನೆಲ್ಲಾ ತಿಳಿಸಿದ. ಮೂಢನಂಬಿಕೆ ಹೋಗಲಾಡಿಸಲು ಅಪ್ಪ ಚಾಣಕ್ಯನ ನೀತಿಯ ಪುಸ್ತಕವನ್ನು ಮಗನ ಕೈಗಿತ್ತರು. ಅದರ ಒಂದು ವಾಕ್ಯ ಹೀಗಿತ್ತು "ನೀಚರು  ಉಪಕಾರ ಮಾಡಿದವರಿಗೆ ಪ್ರತ್ಯುಪಕಾರ ಮಾಡಬೇಕೆಂಬ ಭಯದಿಂದ ಶತ್ರುತ್ವ ಬೆಳೆಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಾರೆ". ಅದರ ಪ್ರತಿಯೊಂದು ಅಕ್ಷರವು ಅವನ ಜೀವನದ ಮುಂದೆ ಕಣ್ಣಿಗೆ ಕಟ್ಟುವಂತೆ ಪಾಠ ಹೇಳಿತ್ತು. ಅಂದೇ ಕಡೆ ಇರಬೇಕು ಮತ್ತೆಂದೂ ಯಾರಿಗೂ ಸಹಾಯ ಮಾಡುವ ಗೋಜಿಗೆ ಹೋಗಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಧೈರ್ಯದಿಂದ ಕಷ್ಟಗಳನ್ನು ಎದುರಿಸುತ್ತಾ ದಿನ ದೂಡಿದ.

ಹೇಗಿದೆ ಕಥೆ ಸುಮ್ಮನೆ ಟೈಮ್-ಪಾಸ್ ;). ಯಾರದೋ ಕಥೆ ಕುಮಾರನ ಬ್ಲಾಗ್ ಪೋಸ್ಟ್. ಸುಮ್ಮನೆ ಚಾಣಕ್ಯನ ನೀತಿ ಪುಸ್ತಕದ ಮೇಲೆ ಕಣ್ಣಾಡಿಸುವಾಗ ಥಟ್ಟನೆ ಬರೆದ ಬರಹವಿದು. ವ್ಯಾಕರಣದಲ್ಲಿ ಬಹಳಷ್ಟು ತಪ್ಪಿರಬಹುದು ಆದರೂ ಕಥೆಯ ಸೊಗಡನ್ನು ಓದುಗರ ಮುಂದೆ ತೋರ್ಪಡಿಸಲು ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಮಟ್ಟಿಗೆ ಯಶಸ್ಸು ಹೊಂದಿರುವ ಆಶಾಭಾವನೆ ಇದೆ!


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