Anjanadri Hill. It takes a while to climb up here, but the view makes it all worth it. I can see the hills, decorated with boulders and lush greenery. But I am here just to watch the sunset. The colors I see blends well to paint a breathtaking view. There are a lot of people here, most of them sitting atop a boulder like me, enjoying the same view I am. My thoughts wander to the times that have passed, to the history of the Ramayana, all those ages ago when Ajnana, a heavenly maiden who was turned into a monkey, found redemption here on this hill.
Anjana smiled as she watched the beautiful sunset. Her eyes went down to the baby she was holding and her smile widened. She had just given birth to him. After all those years of repenting, she was forgiven. The baby was proof of her redemption. Vayu, the wind god had told her that her baby would grow up to be a courageous, strong, intelligent, and kind man with the ability to fly. It all came to be true. An eternity has passed since that moment, history now remembers the baby by the name of Hanuman and the hill as Anjanadri Hill.
The next day I decided to take a coracle along the Pampa Sarovar, an enjoyable ride. Soon I got off with a glow on my face. The rocks here makes a wonderful place to sit down and contemplate the eccentricities of life. The lake offered a great company. If I knew its language, it would have mesmerized me with its magical tales. There was a boat with two men approaching.
Rama and his brother Laxmana waited patiently while they rowed along the Pampa Sarovar. Rama had only one thought in his mind: His beloved Sita, who had been kidnapped. By whom was a mystery. He began looking for Sabari, an old woman who was instructed by her Guru, Rishi Matunga, to wait for Rama and Lakshmana in the hermitage on the banks of the river. She was sitting on a rock eagerly awaiting their arrival. Humbly, she received them with her hospitality and advised them to head north to Rishyamukha Hill, and meet the one named Sugriva and his general Hanuman.
I decided to go to Rishyamukh next. Someone had mentioned it is another great spot to meet the setting sun. On the way, I stopped for some tea and I struck up a conversation with the owner of the Dhaba who asked me to change my plans and head for another pond known as the Sita Sarovar, then spend the sunset at Matanga Hill. Him being a local, I heeded his advice. Soon I reached the Sita Sarovar, small yet peaceful. It was a long walk so I decided to sit down rest a bit. I looked up at the sky and saw a huge eagle flying into a dark cloud.
Jatayu the Eagle Charged towards Ravana to rescue the beautiful Sita. He fought hard but Ravana was too strong. With the swing of his sword, he slashed Jatayu’s wing. The wounded eagle fell to the ground watching Ravana fly away with Sita. But the fight was not in Vain. While Ravana was busy fighting Jatayu, Sita managed to remove her jewelry and a piece of her Sari and throw it down so her husband Rama could find it.
Later, Rama and Lakshmana were traveling when they reached a pond to find a wounded eagle lying on the ground. Rama immediately recognized the eagle as Jatayu, the son of Aruna and the nephew of Garuda, a demi-god who took the shape of an eagle. They both rushed to help Jatayu, who was moments away from death. He used every bit of life he had to tell Rama of the things that happened and that it was Ravana who kidnapped Sita. Rama granted Jatayu Moksham thanked him for his help, and told him that his death will not be in vain. Rama and his brother continued his quest. He now had hope. The pond where Jatayu fell would later be known as Sita Sarovar.
I was not sure about my way to Matanga Hill. I asked the locals for help and one of them asked me to go to Sugriva’s cave, which was right next to the pond, and then head on to Matanga Hill so I would reach in time for the sunset. It was a cave made by huge boulders that were painted white. The rock inside had marks on them. I could not make out what it was but it seemed to attract the attention of a lot of people. I was not in the mood for dark and enclosed places so I decided to move on to Matanga Hill. It didn’t take long to get there but the climb was exhausting. I was in time for the breathtaking sunset. A beautiful way to close the day. I began admiring the beauty of the plains. Among many things, my attention was captured by two men running up the base of the hill.
Sugriva ran as fast as he could to escape his the fatal clutches of his brother. He was accompanied by his General, Hanuman. Both men reached the Matanga Hill and decided to remain there until they could devise a proper plan of action. He began recollecting the events that brought him such an ill fate. It was just an honest mistake, but his older brother, King Vali, would not accept it and wanted Sugriva’s head. Vali was indeed being unjust to his younger brother. The King chased Sugriva out of the kingdom. Matanga Hill was the only place he would be safe because the Rishi that once lived here cursed Vali from entering the place on account of disposing of the carcass of a daemon that Vali had killed.
The next day I realized I hadn’t gone to Rishyamukha Hill. I decided that this is where I would spend the evening. The sunsets of Hampi was growing on me. There were two other places on my agenda that day but I decided to push it to the following day and drive around Hampi instead. Come evening, I was at the Rishyamukha hill. It was a much easier climb than Matanga Hill. Though sunset was better at Matanga Hill, I didn’t care, this one was beautiful too. One of the men there had a strong build and was staring at something from the plains down below. Following his eyes, I saw two men making their way to the hill.
Hanuman Stood on top of the Rishyamukha Hill. His eyes keenly watching two men who happened to be approaching. He wondered if they were sent by Vali to kill Sugriva. Hanuman used his mastery in courtesy and etiquette to approach the two men and he was under the guise of a Brahmin.
They introduced themselves as Rama and Lakshmana. Hanuman’s knowledge and experience showed him that they were telling the truth. Soon, he became a follower of Rama and took them both to introduce them to Sugriva.
The following day, I made my way to the Kodandarama Temple. It was a grand temple fit for a grand ceremony. I could only hope to have seen one during its prime. I knew of only one ceremony that happened here, again, from the history of Ramayana. It was a Coronation
It was a grand celebration. Rama stood at the temple. He stood there watching the priest preparing for the ceremony. Everybody was Happy.
Rama thought of everything that had happened. He thought of how he agreed to help Sugriva defeat Vali in exchange for his help in rescuing Sita. He thought of how he killed Vali with his arrow while Vali fought Sugriva. And he thought of Vali’s final moments when he held Rama’s Hand and told him how he realized he was wrong in trying to kill his younger brother. He thought of Vali’s final request: To crown Sugriva the King.
The music had begun, all eyes were on Sugriva, the Coronation had begun.
As Rama’s thoughts went to Sita, he wondered
“Will good always triumph over Evil?”
My final day in Hampi, the clouds were dark and there was a drizzle in the air. I decided to ignore it as I made my way to the final location on my list, the Malyavanta hill. There was a peculiar structure on top. It was a boulder that looked like it was cleft in two and had a temple built into it.
The drizzle turned into rain, and I decided to stay under the shelter of these boulders till the sky cleared.
The monsoon had arrived. Sugriva was busy enjoying the pleasures of being a King. Rama was waiting patiently for Sugriva to honor their deal. The rains had pushed them to find shelter. Rama Shot an arrow into the sky with all his might. The arrow fell on a huge boulder and it was Cleft in Two. Rama and Lakshmana decided to take refuge here until the monsoon rains were done.
Later, Lakshmana paid a visit to Sugriva and demanded that he fulfill his Dharma by honoring his deal with Rama. Sugriva responded that he had not forgotten his duty and that the monsoon was not the right time to send his army to look for Sita. Once the monsoon was done, Sugriva kept his word and sent his entire army led by Hanuman to search for Sita.
Soon Hanuman came back to Rama with the news that Ravana held Sita captive at Lanka where he lived. Without any delay, Rama and Lakshmana left for Lanka with Hanuman and his army to rescue Sita.
The rain had passed, the clouds were clear, and I made my way back down. A walk down the history of Ramayana in Hampi is always filled with adventure, heroism, and romance.