After you are done visiting the Ramalingeshwara temple, you cannot miss the trek to Avani Betta. It is an easy trek- one that I could easily do in a saree!!
You can park the car on the road where you begin the trek. Just before the trek, there is a more recent temple in granite which houses some huge Shivalingas.
The steps are pretty easy to climb, however, it depends on your fitness levels. There is a railing on the side for assistance which ends when you reach the vast expanse which has huge boulders. The sight is so beautiful and the view of the village below is amazing too. The area is green and some lakes that can be seen all around.
These boulders in the Kolar belt belong to the Easter Dharwad Craton, which has been a relatively stable geologic terrain for several billion years. A Craton is the stable interior portion of a continent characteristically composed of ancient crystalline basement rock.
As we climbed up, we are told that this was where Sage Valmiki had his ashram. By the side we see a whole lot of small pebbles and stones stacked one upon the other. These are stacked by childless couples who come here to make a vow and pray. We meet a guide by the name of Venkatesh who took us around to explain the various caves and spots that are so closely linked with the events of Ramayana that happened after the Uttara Kandam chapter.
The first stop is the Valmiki Ashram. It is basically a cave and as you step inside you see an engraving representing Sita and on the right is an engraving of Sage Valmiki. It is believed that when Sita had a stomach ache, Valmiki has supposedly mixed some mud from this cave in some water to alleviate her pain.
As we move forwards in the trail, we arrive at the temple for Sita Mata where she has supposed to have lived and delivered her twins Lava and Kusha. The guide shows us a depression where she kept her vermillion and within the cave, he makes a hollow sound to indicate that embedded within the stones were copper urns that were used to boil water for bathing the twins. There are two lingas in this temple, each of which were worshipped by Lava and Kusha.
We move next to the Ekantarama Temple which also has a Shiva linga. Sita discovered a linga and Hanuman did the ‘pratishthapana’ in this temple. Close by is the temple for the Pancha Pandavas where in the Dwapara Yuga, the Pandavas visited and lived a part of the period of their exile. You can also find a giant rock is called the Thottilu Gundu which is close to the Ekantha Rama temple.
The next stop is the ‘Lakshmana Thirtha’. It is also called ‘Dhanushkod’. When Lakshmana came to leave a pregnant Sita in the woods here, she was extremely thirsty. With no water around, Lakshmana used his bow to pierce the Earth and this stream was formed.
All around you see are awe-inspring rock formations. One of them is the ‘Thottila Gundu’ where the cradle of the twins was supposed to be attached. Another is the ‘laundry basket’ that Sita used to keep and dry the clothes. After Sita went into the Earth, the laundry basket was closed with yet another rock and it indeed looked like a basket with a lid. Each nook and corner has a story and expressed the daily routine that Sita and her twin boys went through. Enroute is pond with some lilies floating in it.
Another steep flight of steps takes us to the hilltop that has the ‘Sita-Parvati’ temple. Sita wanted to worship Goddess Pavati and hence installed a ‘vigraham’ or statue of Parvati. At the back of the temple is the ‘Orallogudda’ boulder, where devotees can roll under and it is supposed to relieve body pains and other ailments. Then there is a boulder where the famous Ashwamedha Yagna horse was tied up by Lava and Kusha. For more on that story you could read my previous blog on Ramalingeshwara temples. There is a depression in the rock which is supposed to have made by the horse when it bit into it.
After Sita decides that her duties on Earth are over, she calls upon her mother Bhoomi Devi to take her away and the place where she is supposed to have been enveloped by the Earth is where the Sita Parvati vigraham is placed.
What I am not showing in this blog are some ugly spot caused by tourists who have left behind plastic bottles and packets. Also the place could do with some structure for tourism, guards and protection or else precious heritage could be lost forever.
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