Monday 29 October 2012

Karnataka's Ramayana, unravelling the story of Lava and Kusha

The Valmiki Jayanthi is upon us and Karnataka has all the more reason to celebrate. This is so because the Ramayana came to be written near Bangalore. Another reason for cheer is that the Valmiki Ashrama, the place where Ramayana came to be written, the place where Seetha stayed after Rama banishes her from Ayodhya and the birth place of Rama’s sons Lava and Kusha are all at one place.
What is more important is that this place is just a hour away from Bangalore. I clocked this place as roughly 108 kms from Bangalore.
Located in Kolar district, this holy place is known as Avani. It is small village near Mulabagilu, which was once the provincial capital of the Vijayanagars.
Ten kilometers before Mulabagilu and on the Bangalore Tirupathi Highway, there is a small road going towards the left. A signboard  indicates Avani.
Travel for some time and you will come across a hillock. This is the place, where legend says, that the sons of Ram and Sita-Lava and Kusha-were born. This is called Valmiki or Lava-Kusha hill.
This hill has many small openings and caves. It is more than 3200 feet above sea level.
Lava and Kusha are twins and Seetha was pregnant when she came here. Rama had overheard a washerman scolding his runaway wife.  The washerman was heard saying that he is not Rama to take back a wife who lived with someone else.
Rama decided to pay heed to the words of the washerman and asks Lakshmana to escort Seetha out of his kingdom. During her wanderings, Seetha comes here and finds that there is Valmiki Ashrama here, She decided to stay on here and in course of time, she gives birth to Lava and Kusha,
There is s small cave where Seetha is supposed to have given birth to the twins. A pond nearby is the place where Seetha is supposed to wash her clothes.
There is a small niche on the rock near the cave where Seetha is supposed to have lighted a lamp. When you start climbing the hillock, you come across a rocky seat which is believed to be the exact spot where Rama sat.
There is s small enclosure where Lava and Kusha tied up the Ashwamedha horse that Rama had let loose.
There are temples dedicated to Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrujna here apart from a very ancient temple to Parvathi.
The temples were built by the Nomanba kings and subsequently renovated by the Cholas. In all there are 12 temples in the Ramalingeshwara temple complex.
The temple of Rama is also called Ramalingeshwara and in the background you can see the Valmiki hill. Rajendra Chola built the Ramalingeshwara Temple. There are many Shiva Lingas around the temple and on the Lava Kush hill.  There is a cave where Valmiki lived. Guides will show you the place where Valmiki wrote the Ramayana.
On top of the Valmiki hill, is a temple to  Seetha and Parvathi. Seetha worshipped the idol of Parvathi when she was pregnant. This temple is believed to be so holy that if women perform pooje as per the rituals, they are sure to  get children. My next article will deal with this temple.
This is also the place Rama and his brothers fought against Lava and Kusha and lost. Incidentally, the Mahabharata says this is the very  place where Krishna married Jambavati, the daughter of Jambavata.
There is also a temple of Sharada. With so many temples, Avani has earned the name of being the Gaya of the South.
If you are interested in history or adventure, there is no better spot to stay than Kolar. Visit Kurudamale where there is a mammoth idol of Ganapathi, Virupaksha Temple which is built on the lines of the Virupaksha Temple in Hampi, Narasimha Teertha the abode of Sripadaraja, Mulabagilu which has some ancient temples and Kolar which is famous for the temple of Kolaramma. 
You can stay either at Kolar or Mulabagilu to visit all these place. If you do not have time, you can cover the important temples in a day.
If you are travelling from Bangalore, leave early and visit Avani first. Climb the hill before the day gets hot, Then visit the other spots.
The road from Bangalore to Kolar is superb. However, the traffic leaving from Bangalore is maddening, Therefore, it is advisable to leave early. Do not worry about lunch. There are a lot of good eateries in and around Kolar and Mulabagilu. The Sripadaraja Matha also offers lunch but be in the matha by 12 noon to partake Theertha Prasada.    


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  3. djoklel@yahoo.com28 November 2013 at 05:54

    Very nice, thank you. I wrote a book in Indonesian about Lawa and Kusya (I Indonesiased the names) and people thought that the story was not an original Walmiki's story. Is that so? Is the story created AFTER Walmiki finished his story? Thanks,