Sunday, November 1, 2015

The 'Black Scissors'

Till the 1980s, my main mode of transportation was my Robin Hood, my late uncle's, an English bicycle which he had bought second hand in 1958.  Even now I use it occasionally.  It has a Lucifer headlamp [Swiss] and a Miller dynamo.

One evening in the mid 1980s I was to watch some cultural programme in the workplace auditorium.  Before leaving, there was a loose connection at the dynamo terminal to be rectified.  I had stripped the wire, rectified the connection and  pedaled off happily whistling a song, unmindful of what I had done before leaving home in a hurry.

The dynamo ['bottle generator'!], lamp at work and my Robin Hood. 

I was about to enter the campus gate when I heard a very familiar metallic sound behind me as the bicycle wheel passed over a small dent.  Familiar, because it makes a noise when it is handled or dropped esp. on hard surfaces.  Sound of my favourite 'black scissors' on the road, there? Certainly baffled, I stopped immediately.  The thing had fallen to the ground from the 'carrier' behind the saddle.  Very miraculously, it had stayed put all the way up to this point, two kilometres, despite the several vibrations our roads offer cyclists!  To my great luck, it had got itself tangled firmly on the 'carrier' behind the saddle.  That was where I remember to have kept it after stripping the wire sitting near the hind wheel. The little thing 'knew' how much I loved it and never wanted to leave me, so it seemed to call my attention by falling with a tinkle!  It was quite unusual of me to have not kept it back its place on my desk after finishing the job.  

The overwhelming relief I got on finding it and that too in such a manner defies description.  But I must admit making some funny actions [no one was watching] before keeping it safe in my shirt pocket, in front of my heart, which I kept touching every now and then to reaffirm its presence while watching the cultural programme that ended at 9 pm.  I returned home and heaved a sigh of big relief!  And a lesson reminded!

It has always been identified as 'Black Scissors"  [ಕರಿ ಕತ್ರಿ].  Its colour, size and unappealing appearance is contrary to its performance and utility.  Earlier my father used to keep it safe in his drawer.  I have seen it all my life and been using for most part of it.  Since about 40 years it has been an invaluable tool on my desk and in my rough guesstimate it is with us for another 40, previously!   That is how old this heirloom must be!  It must always be handy near my desk. Always.  My furious side surfaces when I do not find it in its place when I require.  It HAS to return to its allotted spot.  Others at home know my furious side if they were careless, misplacing, searching and finding it back. The last thing they want to hear from me is "Who has taken my ಕರಿ ಕತ್ರಿ?

My ಕರಿ ಕತ್ರಿ can cut a thread, cloth, paper, cardboard, plastic and whatnot.  All my hundreds of paper clippings of photos of cricketers to make albums were done with it decades ago.  Only I can use this to strip electric wires.  I have even used it to cut thin metal sheets for various home projects, before a proper cutter came to me.

Only twice, in half a century, I have seen it being sharpened, by knife-smiths that came by the street. It seems to retain its sharpness for ever. Such is the quality of steel.  I could verify this from the little sparks that flew and the sound it made when the smith held the cutting edges against the grinding wheel.

It is manufactured by the "Diamond Scissors Co", imprinted on one side.....

......Meerut City on the other.

Meerut, I understand is a renown place for making knives and scissors, highly durable, with a 360-year old history! I also learn now that Meerut Scissors have recently earned a GI mark!  Geographical Indication.

This marvel scissors is a cut above the rest.
It will and shall never leave me!


Having just learnt about Meerut's fame, I now gather a few tailoring scissors at home to check. Indeed, they have the Meerut imprint!  Three of them, clearly.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Model T Ford Car of Mylar Rao

Many decades ago, owners of cars were recognized by their wheeled possessions! "Is it the one who has a car?"  The bicycle was a common mode of transport. A car at home reflected the elite status. Even before that, it was the bullock cart or horse cart.
(Do not forget to click on images to get a magnified view)

Going by the presence of my grand uncle's teacher peeping in the window of the bullock cart and my grand uncle himself [boy, left] in the horse carriage, I must strongly assume that these belonged to my great grandfather. The same bullock cart's window shutters were later fixed to a storage shelf which sits by my side!

Way back in the 1920s into the 1930s, my great grandfather, Mylar Rao who had risen to be an elite citizen had a car, a "Model T Ford".  He could afford a Ford!  Those were good days when a rupee could buy a lot and large joint families could run comfortably on a hundred rupee income, which was considered high.  Mylar Rao died in 1936 and I learn from uncle Sathya [his memories and hearsay from his young days] that later my grandfather Subba Rao continued to use the Ford for some time before disposing it off, for its frequent trouble and repairs.  Sathya recalls that Subba Rao had bought a dark green Morris - with a 'hand brake'.  He had to dispose it off as he could no longer afford to sustain.  A few things related to the Ford Model T and probably the Morris, still hang around. 

Operation Manual, with full details of parts!

In all probability, it would have been the model shown on top.

Parts description.

About the book, signature is of some Wajid, may be the mechanic, known to Mylar Rao.

The Shell can (right) was, repurposed for something else. The Mobiloil BB can had unused gear oil that had the most awful smell, having stored for decades!  I can show how bad it smells!  Such cans are listed as antiques and are sold online! 

In my great grandfather's diaries, I found these separate accounting entries for petrol purchases.  

Gallon measures.  1929.  Page starts with 3 rupees and 15 annas, for 3 gallons. 

Agent/Supplier's seal for receiving the money. 1930.  I learn that S.Vittal Rao & Son, Agents Messrs BEST & Co. Ltd. were the first petrol pump owners in the city. 

See that every 3-4 days petrol was bought.  1934.

More accounts, granduncle's signature for having paid. He would have driven the car!?  1934.

1936, February.  Another supplier, A.Gopalaratnam?  December that year, my great grandfather died.

Photo of my time.... look for the house in the background, which was originally the stables and motor shed. Uncle Sathya recalls the motor shed had GI doors actually where the door and window is and had a pit in the centre for cleaning. 
Later that portion which was at the back of the main house was sold off in the 60s. The stables housed the bullocks, cows and horses.  What life!

Old time cars were petrol guzzlers.  That was the best technology available then.
Maintaining cars have always been an expensive proposition.
Earlier models required much maintenance for wear and tear.

There is no record available as to where. when, how or for how much the Ford was bought.
My uncle Sathya says my grandfather did not drive much but had engaged a driver by name Thammaiah who in fact continued from Mylar Rao's time, driving the Ford.  When the family moved to another house in 1950, the Morris used to be parked in one Prof. Srikantaiah's house.  Sathya says, from here, my other uncle, young Kitti used to stealthily take it out to enjoy rides.  This worried Kitti's mother. Sathya also recalls that selling off the car was a problem because there were no buyers.  No one now can tell how he got rid of it finally. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Lighthouse at Surathkal

Port Cities and lighthouses go hand in hand.  Lighthouses are vital guides that facilitate night time navigation. The lighthouse towers in themselves have a beauty of their own, besides history, so much so that they have even become icons and graphics, not to speak of its own charm that has attracted people to them. Many countries have even featured lighthouses on postage stamps, including India.  The lighthouse on North Bay Island in Andaman Islands is featured on the backside of a twenty rupee banknote.  (Click on all images to enlarge)

We cruised past this, from a distance, last year.  The fixed window of our cruise boat was tinted blue. 

One of the most thrilling subjects captured by photographers and painters is of the rough waves in the seas splashing hard at the lonely lighthouses, standing on solid rock.

Web-grab image

Navigation itself is hundreds of years old!  Oldest existing lighthouse in the world is in Spain, The Tower of Hercules, dating back to the late 1st century!

Oldest Lighthouse, Spain.

Then there is a tallest lighthouse in the world, the tallest brick lighthouse, the tallest natural lighthouse and so on.  The Navigation Lighthouse is a great subject of interest in itself, ranging from its shape, location, robustness, optics, antiquity etc.  As such, it has always been visited by tourists.

I read that our Indian govt. plans to tap the huge tourism potential and make them full-fledged tourist destinations!  The Ministry of Shipping plans to draw tourists to the romance of lighthouses by developing 78 lighthouses and generate revenue from their adjacent open areas also.  A portion of the screenshot of press release:

From the first time I had climbed to the top of the Marina Lighthouse in Madras [now Chennai] in 1966, I've always loved it mainly for the panoramic view from that vantage point.  My memory of that lighthouse is rather jumbled, but I can still picture the scene that is impressed in my mind.  If I had the ability of 'Mandrake the Magician', [a famous comic series], who hypnotized the suspect and 'projected' his memory on a wall to 'see' the truth, you would see this - I was on top of the tower: There was the vast sea, the sandy beach and a road. It was Sri Murari Rao [grandfather's client] who had taken us to Madras in his car.

Recent image from The Hindu, of that place.

My next visit to a lighthouse came in Februray 1980 at Surathkal, close to the port city of Mangalore. I was with my college cricket team [for my first tour] to play the Inter-collegiate tournament hosted by KREC [Karnataka Regional Engg. College, now National Inst. of Technology].  One late evening, most of us made a visit to the Surathkal Beach.

Surathkal beach and lighthouse [web-grab]

It was a clean beach presenting a very peaceful ambiance.  Clean, probably because it was not yet frequented by too many visitors at that time. My impression was that lighthouses were old.  But this appeared simple and humble but not old. I learn now, that this was actually built as recently as in 1972.  Entry ticket to the top, reached by a flight of winding stairs, was fifty paisa, if memory serves me correct.  I vividly remember the beautiful optics of the beacon lighting system. A special powerful bulb was fixed in the centre, around which a large lens revolved 360 degrees at a set speed.  It was a very interesting mechanism.  The beacon beam flashing for a long distance at night was a thrilling sight from the town as well.  I was never tired of watching it.  I used to wonder how a neat beam was possible. Here, I found how the beacon light beam worked:

Am yearning to see another lighthouse, no one knows when that will come to fruition.

Friday, October 16, 2015

How I stumbled at Ravi, old mate

"Ravi" has always been my favourite name.  I have always wished it to be mine, so much so that on certain occasions I have even answered my name as "Ravi", of course where it has not mattered.  In Sanskrit, both names mean the same, 'Sun'.  No wonder Ravi is such a common name.  It may not be as common as 'Smith' in London's telephone directory!  This piece is about a dear friend of mine, one of the many Ravis in my list!

"H.R.Ravi" was my brilliant classmate from Class 1, up to 10, with the exception of a few when he studied in some other school.

Class 2 Photo - Me in front of Ravi, coincidence. Me, next to suit-boy Ramu.
{Click to enlarge all images}

My fondness for this fine fellow is from a young age.  Reasons may be for his brilliance, neatness, gentleness, his crop of hair, skill with drawing, handwriting and soft speech, to name some.  He was often a topper in class, shuffling with Zakir or Sujaya but I was never one that fought to dislodge any of them at the top which appeared to be way beyond my reach!  Only once in Class 4 or 5, my rank was 4th and that too in a class test.  I had literally ran home all the way with the report card in hand, in glee, to show it off!  The next highest I can recall was #12.

Many of us had exchanged little messages in our little autograph books when boys had to leave the "Christ the King Convent" after Class 7th. I remember having taken his in mine and he had written something like this (unclear recollection): "Forget me not.... HR Ravi". 

We found ourselves in the same class at "Sarada Vilas High School", for Class 8.  On many Saturdays Ravi and I used to play chess in our house and at times Gopi [another mate] would also join. The Saturday morning school closed at 11 am allowing us plenty of play time, homework, "afterwards"!  After Class 10, we separated for college and lost contact.  I had also lost my invaluable little autograph book at the very end of 10th.  In it were all the lovely words my little mates and teachers had written.  I miss this.

Ravi and I seemed to have a fine rapport. He was good in whatever he did. His Gandhi face caricature was highly impressive.  I can never forget how beautifully he drew it on the middle-school blackboard during the short period breaks.  I have kept imitating this all the way through!

Two pages from my wild sketchbook, 1983.  

CKC Alumni Meet, 2011. Ravi does what he used to do, same class room, 35 years back.

Around the mid 80s, I was on a stroll on Avenue Road in Bangalore, trying to locate uncle Chandu's office. League cricket had taken me there and I made use of the evenings to meet relatives.  A familiar face appeared to cross me.  I knew it was HR Ravi.  We stopped, exchanged excited and happy faces!  His home, an old one as I can recall, was a few feet away, upstairs, entry to which was not easy to locate as it was among the long row of shops in that busy road.  He took me in.

If my memory serves right, he was studying for a post graduation degree in medicine at that time. Such things are suited to people like Ravi's intellect!  I was really happy he was in the process of becoming a specialist-doctor.  We exchanged some school memories and then I left.  He had come down to the street on some errand which proved lucky to me to find him, but this luck ended there!  Mistake - not taking his address, to keep in touch further. So I lost him again thereafter.

Many years clipped past.  Ravi's welfare and whereabouts remained a mystery to me.  Each time I drew a Gandhi face in the sketch book, I remembered Ravi.  I could not think of any common friend to inquire.

Came 2004 September.  I was in Bangalore, again for cricket.  Our Guest House was opposite Manipal Hospital where we stayed for 4-5 days.  Each evening some of our team mates would go either to the telephone booth in the hospital premises to call our homes or to eat something in the adjacent canteen for a change.  Cellphones were slowly arriving at that time.  The telephone booth was attached to the hospital building.

One night, I was waiting for my friend using the booth.  Casually looking here and there in the eerie corridors of the huge hospital, a board showing "Dr.H.R.Ravi" caught my eye.  My joy knew no bounds. To me, there could be only one HR Ravi!  Immediately, I went to the inquiry desk and got his residence telephone number - landline of course.  I called from the booth the very next evening.  "Did you study at CKC in Mysore?"  I knew he would say 'yes'.  Hurray!  In turn, he was astonished the way I found him, yet again. In fact, in the preceding 4-5 years, I had hunted and gathered old mates back, after a gap of 30-35 years and in the next 5-8 years many got added, much to the delight of everyone and to my own satisfaction of seeing many old mates reunite.

With communication facilities expanding everywhere, we have since found it easy to keep in touch.  We have minded to do it, also with many of our mates from Class 1.

Dr.Ravi visits my home, 2008.

Ravi and I met on a few occasions thereafter, also visiting each other's homes.  He has earned great respect among his patients in various hospitals he worked as a surgeon.  Talented, intelligent and skilled as he is, it is no surprise he has earned a high reputation in his specialized profession now and it makes me proud to have him as a friend and having known him for this long!  He has not changed. He did not.

Some pictures and short notes:

2011 Alumni Meet, we meet the most feared Maths teacher. Ravi shows Sr.Prudentia her own signature/autograph he got in 1970. Rajaram, Ebby and yours truly look on.

Ravi shows the same to Miss Leela, the much loved Hindi language teacher. Her expression and mate Rajgopal's need no description

"How to be good". This is a book Ravi presented me in 1970. 

Though I lost the autograph book, at least his writing remains here in this book, on morals. 

Here is a sample of a couple of pages.  I must admit I have never read the book. May be if I had done so, the world would have seen a better person!  But I can guess why Ravi was so much better at that age and later became a respected surgeon, teacher, person.  It is my privilege to have known him. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tribute to Krishna Vattam

My father stopped when he saw his friend, a tall bespectacled man, walking in the opposite direction in the sparse crowd near the Dufferin Clock Tower. "This is Krishna Vattam, working with Deccan Herald" he introduced him to me.  My father was 'walking' the bicycle with me beside at that moment.  We had been to the market on one of the weekend morning trips.  This was in the early 1970s.  It was my first glimpse of Krishna Vattam, to the eye and the name to my ears.

We were getting Deccan Herald's sister in Kannada, "Prajavani", but I was not reading papers at that playful age. Years passed and we shifted over to Deccan Herald, also a popular English newspaper. I had started to browse some news or articles in addition to comic strips.  Seeing the name "Krishna Vattam" in print itself thrilled me, only because I had met the man.  In those adolescent years, I had no interest in reading the full content of his writings. But I had become aware of Vattam's reputation as a very good writer.

Some more years passed.  He was seen on the street or somewhere. I usually stopped to say hello. At other times, he would be on his blue Lambretta scooter, later replaced by a blue Chetak, which he used till his early 70s.  The warmth of the man and the affectionate smile that readily emerged from his mustached face was of a magnetic sort.  Like a password, I would introduce myself referring my father's name which he seemed to remember, among the thousands of his acquaintances. This happened many times.  The frequency led to a stage when he remembered my name, because my letters to the editor of a local paper were now appearing occasionally and as one would expect of a person of his involvement in the local affairs, would notice that column.

In the 80s, his house had become a very popular landmark, just off Jhansi Lakshmi Bai Road, adjacent to the Silk Farm on the road leading to Vidyaranyapuram.  If someone had to guide to a location in that area, "Vattam's house" was the index. Everyone seemed to know it.

After a long and very distinguished service he retired.  A few years later he joined as editor of a local eveninger, Mysore Mail which was located close to my house.  Occasionally I would go in there and say hello to him and to see the wrinkles on his face, which was wisdom personified.  They say each wrinkle had a story of its own and he was a man full of stories from his long experience.  In fact, as one would expect, he has put them down in many an article and a book.  I had not been aware he was a cancer survivor until I read an article he wrote in the local paper.  He was one Mysorean who knew the old city very well and a few times our discussions were about the heritage too. He was well versed in many subjects and his expression was crystal clear, his writing simple yet emphatically conveyed the purpose in full.

I had door crashed his house a few times whenever I went to the scooter mechanic 'Bogadi Srinivas' right opposite his house. One such turned out to be my last glimpse, last year.  He had breathed his last on July 27. The papers were filled with news and tributes. Just a month before this happened, his beloved granddaughter who lives on the other side of the planet had visited him. She had hinted me to go and meet him as he had been weak. But I was not destined to. The Krishna Vattam era had ended.

A certain G.V.Krishnan, a retired pressman had come to settle in Mysore.  It was he who brought us closer, through 'blogging'.  And it was through GVK I came to know that Lakshmi Bharadwaj, a young blogger, now already writer, was none other than Vattam's grand daughter!.  In one of my earliest mails Lakshmi wrote: "Sir, you know thatha? that's great! :-) He's really into journalism and he's the one who basically encouraged me to take to blogging, although he himself prefers to write for the papers more than to write for his blog!! :-)"  After a few years GVK left Mysore for Chennai. At a small farewell to him we gathered, including Vattam.  


We wait for GVK's arrival that evening.  He is holding Lakshmi's poem in praise of GVK which he read later.

I brought Vattam home on my scooter on the way before dropping him to his.  
No amount of tribute will do justice to a person of Vattam's stature, which was simplicity personified as well.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Jawa, My Ring Finger and 'Coolie'!

Jawa was a very popular motorbike manufactured in its factory in Mysore, under Czech collaboration.  
What has it got to do with my ring finger?  Do not be surprised if I tell it is a cricket match!
So those who know a bit of cricket will understand this write-up better.

An advertisement of the bike from the 60s.  [click to enlarge]
Even now, many fans have preserved them as vintage bikes long after the factory was shut. 

"Ideal Jawa" had a very fine cricket team with highly experienced and talented players.  My club The Mysore Gymkhana and "Jawa team" had good rivalry.  Some of the players were from our club. 

In 1982, precisely, 26th July, we were meeting each other at the historic Maharaja's College Ground.  My talent as a young all-rounder was on the up-rise and I was our team's No.3 in the batting order along with being an opening bowler. 

2009 photo of the same ground, which was a 'turf' in 1982. Same end batting on that day.

We were batting first that morning.  The pitch [playing area, also called the 'strip'] was unusually and undesirably moist.  We learnt that the groundsman had overwatered the previous evening.  Cricket and wetness are inimical.  Our opener David Purushotham struggled and succumbed soon, as it was difficult to bat on that 'spongy' surface with the ball playing tricks. I went in to bat and was beginning to get the feel of the wicket.  

Jawa's fast bowler Sridhar was bowling with good pace, from the southern end. I had glanced a boundary and was on 11.  His next ball was fast and pitched on a 'good length', in cricketing terms. I saw it clearly, prodded my left foot out to play the forward defence as I would, by habit and expected the ball to hit the bat. But instead of  the ball hitting my bat, it had stuck my 'bottom hand' glove [right hand] holding the bat.  The ball had taken off the surface more than it normally would, due to the slight wetness.  I ran a single writhing my right hand.  I knew something was really wrong.  Removing the glove and examining, I saw the ring finger in a weird position!  Our senior opponents feared a fracture.  Dinakar, 'retired hurt' 12, recorded the score book.  That was the end of the game for me.  I was very disappointed.

David took me on his scooter to the X-ray clinc, fingers tied together with a kerchief. Fracture was confirmed and the X-ray was taken to K.R.Hospital's orthopaedic dept.

Dr.Manjunath was on duty. After local anesthesia to the finger, he very skilfully joined the pieces back in position.  My middle finger and little finger acted as supports on either side and the three fingers were to stay plastered [not cast] together for 6 weeks. I was walking out of the hospital with a sling and was to be back in two weeks with another X-ray to see the progress. It was a good job he had done.

In recent years, I keep reading the news about one "Dr.Manjunath" of K.R.Hospital accomplishing some good things in the field of orthopaedics and I never stop wondering if it was the same person who had set my bone right.

After buying the prescribed medicines, David and I returned to the ground.  My eyes were closing on their own. I was very groggy from the injection, so I was dropped back home to be welcomed by my worried mother and aunt. I was to become a left hander for most things till that healed.  This handicap brought out my left-handed skills. I was brushing my teeth, combing my hair and washing my face with the 'odd hand'.  Scrubbing during bath and pouring water from the mug was yet another skill I got to exhibit on myself.  I had to use a spoon to have my food.  My pajamas had the thread belt and tying it was another challenge!  I could button my shirt with support from the handicapped hand.

The fracture was not a pain, but missing the Mysore Zone "Under 25" selection trials greatly was, because as I mentioned, my talent was blossoming at that stage.  The timing of this injury was hard to take.  The selection was taking place 3 weeks after my injury and I was watching it from outside with my slung right hand.  Cricket teaches us hard lessons on realities.  The groundsman's carelessness, Sridhar's pace and my bad luck merged to rule me out of the game for at least six weeks.  The batting gloves I borrowed from Girish Nikam [who was not playing in this] for this match also did not offer the expected protection.

I went to work and managed to write slowly with my two free fingers, the thumb and the index while the other 3 enjoyed the rest! I could draw money from the bank, return the thirty eight rupees David spent for my X-ray and medicines on that day.

On the same day my injury happened, another injury was making headlines - hindi movie hero Amitabh Bachchan's injury on the sets of the movie 'Coolie' at Bangalore University campus. It had shocked the entire country.  Such was his popularity and fan following. It was a miracle that he survived from the jaws of death, more than once. I resumed my cricket slowly and so did he to acting but it took him many months.

If the movie Coolie recalls Amitabh's accident, my finger fracture reminds me of Jawa through Sridhar!  I can still visualize that ball and still think how it had kicked up.  It took some confidence away from my batting for a long time and I guess Amitabh stopped making his own stunt scenes thereafter too.  This is one cricket match I will never forget.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Nandi Bull of Chamundi Hill

At the outset, see some of the very old and rare pictures [click on them to view larger] of the Nandi Bull on our Mysore's Chamundi Hill. The old images are gathered from the web, years shown on them were as in their websites. The colour images are taken by me.  The one of Dodda Devaraja Wadiyar was kindly shared by Sri Nagaraj Gargya.

Photo by William Henry Pigou.

Nandi Bull can be found in all Shiva Temples.  In fact, there is also a small cave temple, carved under an overhanging boulder, close to its left. Also, the Hill's original shrine is of Lord Shiva [Mahabala] but the temple of Goddess Chamundi became famous in the 18th century. 

Above: From the book in our library you will find mention as you scroll.  Notice electric light poles. See water in Doddakere in the background.

A Picture Card from Shanker and Co., famous photographers in the 40s and 50s.

From "Life" magazine - may be from late 60s.

Ah there, another boy is coming out under the Bull's leg!

This Nandi Bull is listed as one of the seven largest monolith Bulls in India. It was carved in situ during the time of Dodda Deva Raja Wadiyar's reign between 1659-73, situated in the range of the 600th and 700th steps.  Climbing up the 1000 steps [read my other post on the legendary steps, click] on the way to the top of the hill, this is a must-stop place. Nandi is the vehicle of Lord Shiva in Hindu Mythology.

Let me reproduce a portion from the book "Mysore City", by Constance E. Parsons, Oxford University Press, 1930:

The Sacred Bull
Descending (by the footpath) past the little lake of Herekere, constructed 350 years ago by Bettada Chama Raja Wadiyar V, you may reach the Bull in a few minutes.  (A motor road, branching off from the 'Douglas Rice Circle', also leads to it.)  Fashioned, says a legend, in one night, out of the basalt of the hill, this recumbent, colossal Nandi (the vehicle of Siva) was a gift of Dodda Deva Raja, who reigned from 1659 to 1673; a valiant and pious king, who defeated enemies on all sides of the little kingdom, which he greatly extended and which he divided into four equal parts; the revenues of which, it is said, he gave to Brahmins, to the gods, to charities, and of the fourth, spent half on jewels for his queens and half on his State and palace. 'Temples', says an inscription, 'he has made, he is making, and he will make.'  He built rest houses at intervals of a yogana on all the main roads of the State, and stone 'rests' - a horizontal granite stone, laid on two upright stones - on to which weary travelers could slip their shouldered burdens.

Over 25 feet long and 16 high, adorned with ropes, chains, bells and jewels of stone, the Bull - from the days when in England Cavelier and Roundhead fought for mastery - has lain, massive, calm, inscrutable; with  half-shut eyes which seem, in yogi fashion, to be closing in meditation.  The carving, declared by Mr.Rice to be 'in no way extraordinary,' is bold and by no means without beauty. It is neither coarse nor finicking, and nothing could be more suitable for its exposed position and the distance from which it must be viewed.

Nearby is a small lamp-post, erected by a European and lighted, as part of the daily ritual, by the Brahmin priest in charge.

This picture was shared by my friend Gowri which shows probably the same lamp-post mentioned in the book. It is the oil lamp.

Whenever we climbed the steps of Chamundi, we had to stop over at the Nandi Bull for worshipping it. The most thrilling 'ritual' we children used to perform as we circumambulated was to pass under the left leg, crouching.  It was done on the same platform where the statue sits.  The gap we passed through appears 'wide enough', but when you actually pass you have to squeeze yourself out!  I do not remember any superstition attached to this 'passing through ritual'. In recent years, the 'Bettada BaLaga group [ಬೆಟ್ಟದ ಬಳಗ] has prevented people from going on the platform itself by building a fence [notice it in the 'colour pictures']. 

See the picture below.  The lady is doing what many of us used to do.  Do you know who she is? She is none other than the wife of the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt!!   Eleanor Roosevelt.  [Click]  She is 68 years old at this time.  She toured Mysore in 1952. 

Two more pictures of her trip to Chamumdi Bull:

In recent times, the statue gets 'decorated' with all kinds of materials, flowers, cloth, ash.  The statue also gets anointment every year which 'tradition' was never done before.  It is beautiful without decoration and the paint on its eyes is not a good idea in my opinion. 'Feeding' the Bull was also a ritual some people did - fix a banana horizontally in the mouth of the statue to please the Lord. 

See the picture above and the one below [taken at night].  
Interestingly, I have taken these almost one year apart and from the very same angle!

A portion of the Nandi Bull is actually visible from our house top, far away. Can you see?

See the indicated white structure.  The telescope I had made in the 70s could focus on the Bull. [Click] 
Click on the image and focus your eyes. The back of the bull is seen.

This is the spot. Shops mar the sanctity of the spot.
Such a beautifully serene environ has become a victim of commercialization with too many vendors and shops selling various items like cane juice, tender coconut and whatnot. 

Some different views of the Bull.

Superstition is that when this Bull stands up and bugles, it would be doomsday. Another rumour is that the bull is 'growing' in size!  

These are from picture postcards from the 1980s. 

May serenity and sanctity return!

I wrote a post on the Hill's beauty and legend recently. Click here.