"ಇದು ಚಾಮುಂಡಿ ಬೆಟ್ಟದ ಕಲ್ಲು, ತುಂಬಾ ಗಟ್ಟಿ ಸಾರ್." [Sir, this is Chamundi Hill Stone, very hard.] lamented the stone smith Gurumurthy. He had to be urgently summoned by contractor Vishakanta who was constructing a compound wall. An old grinding stone embedded was coming in the way. It was being built as part of a modest new house adjacent to our century old house, in the same plot. A dilapidated structure had been pulled down to make way. That grinding stone embedded in the ground in 1911 had to be taken out for disposal with debris.
It was in a room [also pulled down] that used to have a small [paddy] granary. Pounding of paddy used to be done on that stone which was a neat 22" square at floor level. But when the ground around was dug, it was a massive block of granite. Crowbars were tried to move it out, but they were just like needles! There was a smaller grinding stone, its sister, in the dismantled old structure. It was moved out with crowbars. [Picture below]
Grinding stones are considered as Goddess Lakshmi and so they are not broken. Decision for removal had been taken since it was not in use for 5 decades. We thought it would be a hindrance in the future. We did not want to damage the top portion, the 'sacred part', and respect the belief. To lighten the stone for lifting, slicing off the top portion was the best option for which Gurumurthy had come and agreed to do, for two thousand rupees! Quite high.
He banged and banged and banked on his experience, making holes to introduce shock and crack in the intended horizontal, through. From the sound, one could easily make out that the stone was really very hard. The stone broke 4-5 chisels, instead of the chisels breaking the stone!
This is a close-up of the broken chisel.
"Sir, in my long experience, I have not come across a stone this hard." he would say, wiping perspiration from his forehead as I stood watching in astonishment. Were the tools, skill and strength of the vaddas [stone smiths] better in those times, I wonder?
After many hours and hundreds of clink-clinks, the sound of the clink changed, much to his relief. But the crack went UP through the centre, instead of the intended line.
Left with no alternative now, Vishakanta [seen there] decided to break it into pieces and use them there for the foundation. It became inevitable.
Compound foundation work continued. I have preserved a small chopped piece of that block which is like a knife from the stone-age! Its hardness is very evident.
I wondered about the toughness of that grinding stone. But there was another big slab in the bathroom of the portion of the house [built in 1911] which we vacated to live in the other half following property division. It was a single large slab, but had a crack across it. No one knows how or when it had cracked. The new owner pulled down his portion and I was curious to know why we were unable to lift that large broken slabs for a new floor.
One broken half of that being lifted for disposal - almost as thick as the tyre there!
There was another biggie in what was the kitchen. The excavator attempted to lift it into the debris truck but it slipped off twice due to the weight.
So they left it there. See it in the background almost in line with our house wall. Pictured in 2013. Looks small in this fish-eye image.
There were also several long granite slabs in the form of benches and flooring. I am showing the biggies here because in 1911, I cannot imagine such huge ones being transported from a different place and only bullock carts were used. I assume the presence of huge boulders in situ.
I must tell a little about the amazing Chamundi Hill, which is just 3 miles from the house. Archaeologists have estimated it to have formed naturally 800 million years ago 'under very high temperatures', which is why the stone was so hard that it broke Gurumurthy's chisels. The hill has hundreds of huge boulders. We have heard that it used to be an active volcano when Earth was young.
Some boulder photos.
My cousin Santosh during our trip in 2008 on foot, climbing the 1000 steps.
Mysore view from anther rock-cliff.
Banyan tree growing between boulders.
Road from the southern side of the hill.
The Nandi Bull, 24x15 ft. monolith was carved in situ during the reign of Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar between 1659 and 1672. He was also instrumental in making the 1000 stone steps leading to the temple on top.
The climb to the top of the hill is by 1000 steps of granite.
They have engraved the number every one hundred steps, starting from zero.
On the way, we get this set of five steps carved from a boulder in situ. People call it as "Pancha Pandava Steps".
Looks like solidified lava. 800 million years old.
2008 image of the Nandi Bull.
Built during the reign of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar.
The Chamundi Hill was already famous in the 10th century as a divine location as Mahabala Parvata.
Hill as seen from our rooftop.
Rajendra Vilas on top. Communication towers.
Another view from our house top. Temple tower is seen to the right.
That grinding stone brought Gurumurthy, who also got a dream of mine fulfilled - a stone birdbath.
See an older post, if you like, here: [click]