Prehistoric Anthropomorphic Statues of Kumathi and Hulikunte

Three years ago, I had an opportunity of staying in Bellary for a brief period of time during which my wife shared a few must visit places in and around Bellary. The list included pre-historic sites of Kumathi, Sangankallu and Kuppagal. But due to paucity of time, I could never make it to any of these places back then. However, we managed to visit a few of these places during our Dussehra vacation. Kumathi is one among the very few sites where anthropomorphic statues have been found. Anthropomorphic statues are statues resembling human beings and are associated with pre-historic period.
Leading the Way 
After a sumptuous meal at Nayakanahatti temple, we headed towards Kumathi which was about 30 km from Nayakanahatti. It took about 45 minutes to reach Kumathi without much hassle. As per the details given in the book, these statues were located in the farm of Sri K M Thipperudraiah. We reached Sri Thipperudraiah's house and on inquiring about the statues, his son and grand-daughter volunteered to guide us to this place. On reaching the farm, we were awestruck to witness these structures that resembled a scarecrow. Although 7 statues existed originally, sadly only 2 of them have survived, while the remains of the others are seen. Out of the two statues, one of them seems to bear feminine features with a narrow waist, while the other seems to represent a male, though unsure. These statues are believed to have been erected after the death of a king/leader/head of the tribe. The slab statues are tall  and carved out of locally available granite stone.
Is it A Bird or Female?
 Male  Anthropomorphic Statue
Tall Anthropomorphic Statue
Heading back to the guide's house, we confirmed about the route to Hulikunte and bade a good-bye to our guide. Hulikunte, an other anthropomorphic site was located about 12 km from Kumathi. On reaching Hulikunte, we were supposed to head towards Harijana Borakka's farm land where the statue was situated. Unfortunately none in their family were seen or heard and nobody around were willing to accompany us to the site. However, we met a person who was busy carving a farm tool out of wood and managed to strike up a conversation regarding the site. After much hesitation, he agreed to accompany us to the site. A 10 minute bumpy ride took us to the site and after we parked our vehicle, we had to walk about 600 meters through a groundnut field to witness the statue. These statues are locally known as 'Rakshasa Kallu' or demon stone. Only 1 out of 3 statues have survived here. The statue here is small in stature and less complex, compared to the statues of Kumathi. In both the places of Kumathi and Hulikunte, the statues were erected  inside a stone circle in a standing posture.The legend behind the statues goes this way. "There was a god-man named Byraweshwara and during his visit to the forest for hunting purpose, he met a few demons who troubled him much. Out of anger, he cursed the demons to turn into stones, which is why these stones bear the local name as 'Rakshasa Kallu' (Rakshasa means a demon in Kannada)". In Yarenahalli village of Molakalmuru taluk (Chitradurga), during the local festival of "Shri Ajjanamuni Veerachit Shri Kalabyraweshwara or Shri Nukanmale Siddeshwara", a folk art play portrays the story of theses statues although the reason behind why these statues were carved out and who carved them, still remains a mystery. These statues are being attributed to the megalithic period based on other evidences found here. Further research needs to be undertaken on revealing the mystery behind such structures and appropriate measures should be taken to preserve them for future studies. These statues are believed to belong to the last or final stage of the anthropomorphic culture and are considered to be the finest.
The Battalion 
The Site
Rakshasa Kallu
  While researching on Anthropomorphic statues, I came across an interesting article titled 'Anthropomorphic statues of South India'. Surprisingly, I read about a few other sites with such statues scattered across the states of Unified Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. It would be intriguing to visit these sites and know more about these structures. Our guides at Hulikunte were quite excited to know that we had come all the way from Bangalore only to see these structures. As we walked towards the site, we were accompanied by many others who were working in the nearby fields. An elderly person gave a much more interesting insight to the statues, although it seems that somewhere these stories are slowly vanishing in our fast paced materialistic generation. His enthusiasm made us feel proud in a sense that there are people who still strongly believe that such ancient structures possess magical powers and need to be preserved for further studies. We spent sometime conversing about the statues and also inquired about the presence of any cave paintings or dolmens around, as there were many hills surrounding this place. Though he replied with a negative response (or may be he was just not aware of its presence),  he informed us about the presence of a 7 tiered fort on top of the hill close-by. Since it was already late that evening and the chances of encountering bears during that period of the day were high, we decided not to venture to the hill top. He also added a list of places worth visiting nearby, but as time did not permit us, we assured ourselves to visit them some other time and with a lot of ifs and buts and doubt in mind, we headed towards our next destination of the trip.
Life Size Anthropomorphic Statue
Hills around the Site 
 References:
1. A book in Kannada titled "Hampi Parisarada Adhimanava Nelegalu" by Dr.L.Srinivas.
2. Journeys across Karnataka, a blog by Siddeshwara.

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Thipperudraswamy Mutta, Nayakanahatti

We reached Nayakanahatti and decided to visit the famous Mutta/shrine/temple dedicated to 'Lord Thipperudraswamy'. The temple being quite popular among the locals, always remains bustling with pilgrims. It is believed that Saint 'Rudraswamy' (original name of the Guru) did his penance in a mound of refuse and cow dung, thus gaining the title of "Thipperudraswamy". The prefix 'Thippe' is translated as refuse in the language of Kannada. It is said that he gained popularity after performing many miracles. The Ola-mutta or main temple is the place where he lived and met all the visitors. The guru is said to have entered jeeva samadhi (or live cremation) as per his wishes and hence was buried alive.
Thipperudraswamy Temple, Nayakanahatti
The Grand Rajagopuram 
The temple has a beautiful Rajagopuram (entrance) built about 250 years ago. There are two carved panels on either sides of the Rajagopuram. The left panel depicts a war scene between Lord Rama and the Demon Ravana. While  Ravana is portrayed beautifully with ten heads and twenty hands, on the panel top are seen soldiers with guns marching toward war. The right panel depicts a carving of Lord Hanuman's interaction with Demoness Surpanakha (Sister of Demon Ravana). The top panel here depicts the procession of the King and the queen. Both the panels are seen carrying  a  few erotic carvings.  The temple also houses a Shiva Linga installed by the Guru himself. One of the ceilings here has been carved beautifully and resembles an inverted flower bud. The outer walls of the temple carry numerous stucco figure which appear to have been painted recently.
War Scene Between Lord Rama and Demon Ravana
Interaction Between Lord Hanuman and Demoness Surpanakha 
 As Anna prasadam (religious offering of food after worship) is served here two times a day, we had an opportunity to energize ourselves so we could move on to our next with equal enthusiasm.
Carved Ceiling
Stucco Figures Carved on the Compound walls 
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Northern House Gecko

Northern House Gecko (Hemidactylus flaviviridis Rupell), a not so common gecko/lizard in the south of India was spotted inside the Lord Ramalingeshwara cave temple. We spotted three geckos, out of which the one closest to us was captured on camera. He was a lazy one and did not move an inch since the time we spotted him!
Hemidactylus
Northern House Gecko
Northern House Gecko

Shree Ramalingeshwara Cave Temple, Hosagudda Nayakanahatti

The priest was late as his vehicle was under repair and he had reached the cave temple by foot. We were glad that he made it just in time. We followed him to the cave temple and while he unlocked the door of the temple, he briefed us about this hill being called as Hosagudda (new hill) or Ramadurga hill. The Shiva linga here is believed to have been installed by Lord Rama during his journey from Ayodha to Lanka and hence the god is known as Shree Ramalingeshwara. Later, the Nayakas ruled this place and built the fort in order to protect this temple. Until recently, priest belonging to the royal family performed rituals and with his death the popularity of the temple declined.
The Ramalingeshwara Cave Temple
The Ramalingeshwara Cave Temple 
The current priest seemed genuinely concerned about his successor as this place no longer attracts people and hence maintenance of this temple may not be a viable option. While he got busy with the cleaning of  temple premises and preparing for the daily prayer rituals, we looked at the temple interiors and as usual were wonder-struck by the exquisite work on the ceiling of the cave temple about 12 feet above the ground. There are 6 sections of the ceiling with each being uniquely carved. The cave has a garbhagruha which houses Lord Shiva in the form of linga and a front porch. Inside the garbhagruha is a carving of Shiva linga with seven hooded serpent sheltering it.
Gajalakshmi
Explicit Carvings
Lord Hanuman
Pillar Head 
Kalinga Mardhana
 The front porch of the cave temple has 4 pillars which are carved to perfection. The ceiling sections carried some of the most beautiful carvings. The bird Garuda (a mythical bird also the carrier/vehicle of Lord Vishnu and his consort) is beautifully carved and is depicted holding a cobra in its beak and two young ones of the snake  by its feet. The opposite side of the same section carries a carving of another mystical bird with a unique beak which looks more like a merger of a lion face with an elephant trunk.The red ochre painting on these carvings gives it an extra rich look. We would have definitely missed out had the priest not made it before we left. We thanked the priest and continued our journey...
Garbhagriha Entrance 
Lord Ramalingeshwara
Ceiling Carving
Most Interesting Carving of Bird Garuda
Bird Garuda with its Catch
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Ramadurga Fort, Nayakanahatti

The Nayakanahatti fort was on our radar since the time we had visited Kanakuppa, but somehow we never managed to visit this fort. However, our recent Dussehra Festival vacation permitted us to visit this place in leisure. That Sunday morning, we started our 45 minute drive from Chitradurga to Nayakanahatti. It was a nice morning drive and cruising our way through the picturesque rural landscapes, we reached Nayakanahatti. There were no signs of any fort here but on inquiring with the locals, we were told about the presence of a  fort about 4 km from here. Following the given directions, we reached the village of Ramadurga and a fort was visible in the distance on a small hillock.
Fort Ramadurga, Nayakanahatti
Fort Ramadurga, Nayakanahatti 
As we drove closer to the fort site, we realized that most of the fortification remained intact. We started our ascent towards the fort and sighted 2 tiers of fortification, which is quite unusual with regards to the Nayakas style of architecture. Most of the forts built by them exhibit  3 or 7 tiers of fortification. This fort also lacks the complexity of the Nayakas style of architecture. The fort walls are built with neatly dressed stones arranged in layers. We reached a cave temple dedicated to Lord Ramalingeshwara (Shiva) which remained closed. Nandi (the Bull), the guard or protector of Lord Shiva is seen outside the cave. The idol of Nandi is very beautiful though the face appears to be damaged. A peep inside the cave temple seemed to have many surprises in store which made us feel bad about the temple being locked.
Road To Bliss
Crumbling Fort Walls
Neatly Dressed Up
 We entered the second tier of the fort and sighted two natural water ponds filled with clean and clear   water. The ponds together are known as Akka-Thangi honda. A little further are two artificial pits which were probably used for water storage. Although the fort did not have any additional structures, we found a big number of balancing stones belonging to the modern era. These stones are placed by the local people with a popular belief that the wish or desire of building their own house will be fulfilled if the stones remained intact in a balanced condition. We started our descent and while walking towards our vehicle met a shepherd who informed us that the priest opens the cave temple everyday by 9am and looked surprised as he hadn't turned up yet. Just as we were nearing our vehicle, an elderly person introduced himself as the priest of Ramalingeshwara temple.
Balancing Rocks 
Artificial Pond
Akka Thangi Honda 
Cave Temple
 PS: A new page has been added to our blog, which has a collection of our Vlogs. Click here to view.

Dolmen Circles of Doddamalathe and Sulimalathe, Somwarpet

  While passing by this site during one of our journeys, an ASI board  directing towards the Dolmen circle site caught our eye, however, due to lack of time we couldn't make it and the name was included in our to-visit list. After prolonged postponement, during our recent road trip, we made sure we visit this intriguing site of dolmen circles. As we were already  aware of its location, we reached the village of Doddamalathe, located off the Somwarpet - Shanivarsanthe state highway only to realize that we were familiar with the surroundings of this megalithic site, as we had visited the famous pilgrim center of Honamma temple situated very close-by to the site( Read here).
ASI Board
 The two hills here are named Gavi Betta and Morey Betta. While the former is quite popular among pilgrims, the latter is a megalithic site. We inquired about the route of Morey Betta and a few confirmations here and there lead us to the hill base of Morey Betta. As none were present in the hill surroundings, we had to explore the right route to the site and wasting no time, we went ahead. Fortunately, we climbed the hill in the right direction and very curiously looked forward at each and every step to see if the dolmens were visible. The dense grassland blocked our vision and after climbing a certain distance we reached the megalithic site. With great excitement, we walked ahead. An incomplete barbed wire fencing around the circumference of the site ensured against trespassers and taking the right entrance.
The Path 
The Megalithic Site
We sighted a number of  Dolmen circles or cairn circles at the site, out of which some being undisturbed by external elements stood in a good shape while the others were in a disturbed state. However, the Dolmen circles here are quite intriguing. Locally known as 'Pandavara Gudi', owing to a popular belief that these structures were constructed during the period of Mahabharata (the epic war of kurukshethra between the Kauravas and the Pandavas), these Dolmen structures are  commonly  associated  with Pandavas across Karnataka, except in a few places. We were able to identify two types of Dolmen circles here. The first type and the most common of all consists of small sized stones arranged in the form of concentric circles (around 2 to 4 in number) with the dolmen placed at the centre. The second type consisted of big standing stones or Menhirs around  the first circle of stones followed by smaller ones around the other circle. The former may have been that of common men while the latter may have been the ones of important people such as that of a king, a leader or their peers. The Dolmen typically had four vertical stone slabs with a big cap stone placed over them, with one of the vertical slabs housing a port hole. Some of them resembled anthropomorphic figures.
Dolmen Circle, Gavi Gudda in the Background
Notice the Stone circle with Menhirs around the Dolmen 
Dolmen 
 According to R A Cole (the then Superintendent captain of Coorg), these structures may have served as Altars or temples. Further investigations conducted by R A Cole and his team revealed pottery of miniature sizes, similar in shape to those found in the other Coorg cists. It also revealed an interesting gold coated copper disc, though the coating had peeled off in some places. This megalithic site is almost 3000 years old and has survived against all odds. Another interesting story associated with this place is that when people dug a basin for a lake (presently the Honnammana kere),  no water was encountered and water came in abundance only post human sacrifices to the goddess. These burials of the dead formed the Pandavara Gudi. This theory is far from being the fact but this place needs some kind of restoration and maintenance.
Stone Circle

Though the ASI website mentions of two dolmen circle sites here, namely Doddamalathe and Sulimalathe, the locals confirmed that the two together form one site. The megalithic site being surrounded by both the villages of Doddamalathe and Sulimalathe around its periphery, it falsely seems as though there are two different sites. 

References: 
1. "The Megalithic Culture in South India", a book written by B.K. Gururaja Rao 
3. Kodagu First

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