Rain on the picture-post-card-perfect villages.
A calf in the dark red field with two cranes in attendance.
A group of Digambaras with nothing but a peacock feather fan in their hands.
A smiling Bahubali turned copper red with the offering poured on him.
Hundreds of intricately carved sculptures.
Two old ladies, who speak heavily Marathi laden Kannada, and share, with a couple, who speak heavily Tamil laden Kannada, some Jain rituals and the wonderment at the kings who built such exquisite temples, and their own blessing in being able to visit them and marvel at them.
Fields irrigated by Hemavathi and rich with rice, areca and sugarcane.
And the never ending Gods and Goddesses — Indra with his Vajrayuda, Saraswathi, Venugopala, Narasimha (in the act of ripping open the demon’s stomach to garland himself with the intestines), Mahishasuramardini with the cute buffalo-head at her feet, Varaha, Surya, Brahma (with and without beard), Shiva, Kali, Durga, Ganesha, and so many lions, elephants, horses, processions, swans, parrots, flowers, monkeys, crocodiles, and the latticed stone windows, and the inscriptions, and the intricately carved pillars and sthambas.
And men, and women, and children — who read the board asking them not to touch the panels, say among themselves, “Oh, how beautiful — all destroyed by invasions”, and pat them anyway with such (violent) love.
And the photographing videographing frenzy.
And the guides who promise so many details that the lay eyes miss, and light some of the panels, if and only if their trained eyes fall on them.
And so many peddlars of pictures, maps, distance charts, and bronze images!
It was a weekend getaway; it was a trip into the country; it was a journey to the ruins so that one may take off in a flight of imagination to a land and people who are so grand in their visions, so painstaking in their efforts, and so failed in achieving perfection, yet immortal for all their failings; it was a pilgrimage; it was a way of connecting oneself with the people and the land.
And, that was our trip to Shravanabelegola, Belur and Halebeedu.