Hills around us

Hills and mountains are generally associated with spiritual and religious seeking, and there are places of worship on almost every hill in every part of the country. Personally, I’m happy to continue in ignorance of any supreme being, but I’ve always loved the hills and felt uplifted by the sight of them. Growing up all along the coast (my father was an engineer in the lighthouse department), the sea was equally a wonderful, awesome presence in my childhood. Still is, when I can get to it. Maybe the vastness and power of nature, and the realisation of our own insignificance soothes us because we spend most of our lives striving to be significant to others – I don’t know.

Living on the Deccan plateau now, where the eastern and western ghats begin to merge, we’re blessed with a rolling countryside and many little hills around us. Not so much with water bodies, though – we only have small lakes and ponds, and little monsoon streams. We live on one of several parallel ridges, altitude around 900-1000 metres, with hills all around. As our trees grow, though, they are cutting off our views. This was something we’d never thought of, but we’re now jealously guarding the unimpeded view to the west. If you’re building a house and planting trees, please keep this in mind! Fortunately for us, the distant views are still only a five minute walk (or a climb up to the roof) away. Each of these hills is a dear friend with a distinctive personality of its own.

The peaceful, whale-like Bettapalli hill, with a temple and a mosque on top
We call this one Surprise Hill because its existence is unsuspected from our side of the ridge. Our land slopes up to the top over a foot path and four gentle terraces. But when you get to the other side, wham! you see this wall of rock! It could equally be called Sunrise Hill because the sun rises over it.
The elusive and mysterious MalΓ© Madheshwara, which emerges from the haze once in a few months. It’s about 15-20 km from us as the crow flies, and can be seen only on a really clear day, and from certain vantage points. There are actually two MalΓ© Madheshwaras. The main one is across the Kaveri river from us – too far away to be seen, alas!
Devarabetta, twin hills with a well known temple atop. If I remember my geography right, these are exfoliation domes.
The ridge we live on culminates in Pandavar Malai, a hill with several ancient dolmens. It now also sports a somewhat incongruous new Hanuman temple with a yellow Chinese hat for a gopuram
This is the nameless ridge parallel to ours. We call it Lakshmamma ridge, after the intrepid woman who lives in a lonely house facing the forest beyond. She’s locally known as the amma who can face a herd of fifty elephants!
You can just see her house in this close up, to the right of the trees that form a natural topiary. What animals can you make out?
We call this nice, neat, conical hill Settipalli hill because it’s in the direction of that village, where we have some good friends.
Those distant blue hills are the Krishnagiri range, about 50 km to the south and east of us.

Quite by chance, I just came across this quotation from J Krishnamurti, which seems pertinent. “There is a delight in seeing something very beautiful. If you are at all sensitive, if you are at all observant, if there is a feeling of relationship to nature, there is a tremendous delight. Unfortunately, very few people have this relationship. They simulate it, but the actual relationship to nature is when you see something marvellously beautiful, like a mountain with all its shadows and valleys. Now see what happens: at that moment, there is nothing but that. That is, the beauty of the mountain, lake or single tree on a hill, that beauty has knocked everything out of me. And at that moment, there is no division between me and that – there is a sense of great purity and enjoyment.”

From Dialogue 7 with Allan W. Anderson in San Diego, 21 February 1974

22 responses to “Hills around us

  1. Lovely scribblings Hitha, i really enjoy reading about your times around your homes which almost look like escapades. And they most likely are. I will be blessed if someday I out of nowhere, start walking and exploring the hills of the Deccan plateau, that too in the monsoons, someday. Thanks for writing. And yes, much thanks for including the talk.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi. What you say about trees is true β€” when they grow tall, they can cut off your views of the surroundings. Also, as great as trees are, it’s not good to have them close to houses. Sometimes trees or tree limbs fall, and they can cause tremendous damage if they fall on a house. Anyway, I also want to say that you live in a beautiful region. Neil S.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the descriptions in your post! They pair beautifully with the photos. Such a wonderful reminder: to slow down, take a look, and appreciate what surrounds us. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Difficult to obliterate the self that’s been built up so painstakingly over so many years. Thankfully, nature does it for us every now and then.


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