One peculiarity of being in Bangalore is each road going out of the city leads you to a different countryside after a journey of an hour or two (assuming you are not stuck in traffic jam). Last year around this time on an early morning I, with couple of friends took a road leading towards the Sun. Road leading to Kolar (Old Madras road) to be specific. As you move out of Bangalore and beyond Hosakote, countryside changes completely. Density of trees reduces, dry lands welcomes you. Further down the road, trees get replaced by boulders – heaps and heaps of boulders. Small hillocks scattered on either side of the road with more rocks than trees on them, but each one having their own story to narrate. Of so many hillocks we stopped at Avani betta near Mulabagilu for few hours. And we weren’t disappointed.
Avani betta, name because of the village Avani at the foot of the hill, has its roots linked to Sage Valmiki, Ramayana, and the legendary war between Rama & his sons Lava-Kusha. A legend says that sage Valmiki’s ashrama was at the same hillock and hence Avani betta is also called as ‘Valmiki Parvatha’. The story which is linked to Avani starts after Ravana gets killed and Rama & Seetha move back to Ayodhya. It’s said that the story after Seetha is sent out of Ayodhya to forest (referred as ‘Uttara Ramayana’ happened here) – birth of Lava & Kusha, defeat of Rama’s army by his own son & then the legendary war. For each place described in Uttara Ramayana there is an equally comparable place here in Avani betta – to name a few are the place where the horse of Ashwamedha yaaga was tied, place Seetha & her sons lived and the place where Seetha witnessed the war between her husband & her sons. The cave which is said Seetha gave birth to Lava and Kusha is considered as sacred. And now the cave is a huge ditch as every devotee who visits the place grabs a fistful of mud while leaving.
On top of the hill there is a small temple of Goddess Parvathi, which makes devotees & few monkeys are the only visitors to the hillock, barring people like us. Another common sight at this place is one gets to see stacks of small stones usually three in each stack. There is a general belief at this place that if the brides stack stones, the newborn baby will be a healthy one.
Though Kolar and surround area is dry and devoid of greenery, there are many interesting places nearby – Antaragange, Kaivara, Kurudumale, Markandeshwara betta – to name a few.