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Siddharbetta (Hill of Siddhas)

We planned to utilize a weekend by visiting Siddhara Betta in Tumkur which is about 70 kms from Bangalore. Siddhar Beta, meaning "Hill of Siddhas" in Kannada, is the place where thousands of holy Siddhas did tapas and attained liberation. This place is believed to be still having Siddhas both in physical and astral form. Soon three of us met at a hotel in Tumkur.
The ashram at the foothills of Siddhara Betta
A quick breakfast, we went to the bus-stop and inquired for Siddhara Betta. We were told that private buses operate and there are few direct buses to there but if we wanted to immediately go then we would have to take the buses to Tovinakere and from there Siddhabetta was only 10 kms and there were many connecting mode of transport from there. We did so. Soon we were in a bus and on reaching Tovinakere, we got another bus to Siddhara Betta in 15 minutes. Reaching there, i was asked by someone earlier to go to an ashram at the foothills. We went to the ashram, a 10-min walk, and learned that the Swamiji who looked after the ashram was not in town. 
We were asked by the kind inmates to have food at that time or even anytime after we went up the hill and came down as food was available from morning to late at night for all who came in there. He told us it would be difficult to climb the hill after meals. This is a major boon to visitors because there is not full-fledged meals available in any hotels here. We thanked the gentlemen stating that we would come back and have. As we began our climb, loaded with mineral water, firstly the climb looked easy. But after a few hundred steps we could know that it is going to be something. As we reached a certain height we could see that this area was all surrounded by many hills. It was a beautiful sight looking at all the tall hills around but little did we know that the hill we were climbing was the tallest among all. We moved up.


As we climbed, we took breaks in between sometime to just sit and relax, sometime a little of meditation and sometimes just for a gulp of water. This area is very hot but as we went higher the hill was cooler inspite of the scorching sun. This hill was supposed to have been the once the meeting and meditating place for thousands of Siddhas and it is said 9000 Siddhas attained Nirvana (moksha). One will find a lot of people trekking up and down this hill for they go with the purpose of visiting the Siddeshwara Temple in the caves up in the mountain which has a pool of water, which is known for it's healing powers. Many visit here with religious sentiments and many visit here as a trip or trek with friends. There must be meditators too coming here for sadhana but may be on a very less percentage.

The greatest wisdom for a seeker visiting here would be to remain connected at all times by being in awareness so that every moment of the climb, stay and descent becomes meditative. With this awareness, one will notice that the climb becomes less difficult and moreover one can enjoy the subtle connections and mystical experiences. Moreover, one will be guided to the right place, person or spot where one is  'supposed to be'. Awareness at all times is very, very important for this. It can have miraculous results to the travel. There would actually be no need to 'hunt' for anything in here in particular for in fact, the entire hill is 'astrally' active. 

The rocks were very steep at certain places, but they were carved out in most places like steps along with side-railings for support to hold on while climbing. These rocks have flowing water at some places and can with slippery with haste. In rainy season, it sure is very slippery to climb. On every few stops during the climb, there are villagers selling fruits, juice and light snacks. One can find many beggars along certain sidetracks. Even walking in such a place can be meditation. 



Finally, we reached the top where there was a good amount of crowd where people sold lot of things, especially puja material. The cave entrance was prominent to the famous Siddheswara Caves and temple, but we had no idea of what it was and we kept climbing further up to the right side, which were now full of rocks. Making our way through the huge rocky pathway, we sat on a wide flat rock for a while looking at the glory of this place. There are lots of monkeys here.

We noticed that there were no crowd here; all had reached their destination a few meters below. We continued moving upwards not even knowing where we were heading to. 
All that we could see is a very narrow walking path that passed through tall thick grass and rocks, and often revealing flat spaces from where one could see the entire set of hills around, and soon everything would vanish as the path again narrowed through grass and rocks. It seemed endless and we had no clue where we were going (all covered in video below). As we reached on flat surface again, we noticed at the edge of the hill was a small space. Only three of us were around in this place. Approaching that location, it seemed to be a small shelter-like place covered by three huge rocks which had enough space for four to crumple and sit. The groove opened to another side which was a dead-end and a steep fall down the rocks down hundreds of meters. The view from here was a blessing (covered in video). Meditating in this groove can be a very good experience. 

Then, after we got up, we proceed further up following the trail. As we moved ahead, we saw one place with a deviated path with a house of bricks that were in ruins far away. It looked very, very old. We felt we should go there on our way back and so we continued walker further. After some more time of walking and climbing, we were surprised to know that we had reached on the top-most part of the sacred hill. It had taken more than an hour to reach here apart from the time we sat in meditation in different places. On the top-most part of the hill was a very huge flat rock, very large in diameter. From there we had a great view of the surroundings. At a distance we spotted very-ancient looking three small independent rooms built with stones, few meters far from each other. We walked to the first one and was surprised to find a small stone Shiva Linga with a small lamp lit in front of it. The place was very cool in temperature. The interiors showed traces of worships for generations together. The huge stone slabs made it clear that it was not possible for normal human beings to raise such heavy long slabs of stones to build this, and that too on the top of the hill. All holy Siddhas here were known to have worshiped Lord Shiva, and this ancient Shiva Linga hinted to be one of the places of tapas.
We then came out and went to look at the other two stone structures, but there was nothing in it but ruins. One of it showed traces of one part that had been used as kitchen. It certainly looked like a dwelling place of holy men that was now abandoned.

On our way down, we came across that path where we had seen the abandoned building. We had to deviate from the path to go down there. When we reached it, we found there was a destroyed old home of burnt bricks and mud. (covered in video) It seemed to have been destroyed by time. Looking carefully into it, there were traces of a kitchen in it. Next to it was a very small  house built with stones that had a door that was closed and on it was written "Guru Mane" meaning "Guru's Home" and next to it was written "Tapasvi Mandira" meaning "Temple of Sages" The door is not locked but was just latched from outside. A man while we were moving towards this direction a while ago had told us there is a place where anyone can sit and meditate. On opening the tiny room there was an asana made of grass and sticks. It also had a used lamp that was not burning but showed signs of recent use. This place could accommodate just one person to sit comfortably. We spent some time here. This particular location seemed to be a special place because this entire area was like a depression on this hill. It looked like a large pit and inside this huge pit were the ruined house, this small house of stones and in front of this small house was a large flat stone space. A little further was a large pond full of water. Looking closely at the pond showed many places of stones and spaces that were ideal to be used for tapas (austerities). This beautiful spot gives one an elated feeling. This entire huge pit were covered with trees and grass. (covered in the video). This pit looked exactly like a crater and who knows, it could be a crater. Moreover all the huge huge rocks on this hill looks like there was a volcano ages ago from where these rocks tumbled down. Today, the tumbling rocks stand entangled with each other thus creating crevices and large spaces ideal for tapas. In many places, these huge rocks seem to balance perfectly with each other and stand with each other's support and seems that if a huge man would pull just one rock, everything would just tumble down the hill.

From here, we climbed back on to the path where visitors walked and soon we were back in contact with the people moving all over the place. We then, moving ahead, reached the spot which is the destination of tourists and religious seekers. This is the main location of the Siddheshwara Temple and the healing waters. This also had entrance to large number of caves in which many yogis did their sadhana for years together. We were told to take a guide with us or there was a possibility of missing important places or literally getting lost in the caves. What is told to be caves is nothing but the spaces between these incredibly huge rocks but as one proceeds deeper into the space it gets darker and there was multiple twists and turns that one could keep wandering. We did not know whom to ask but as we moved ahead a man came walking along with us and spoke in Kannada stating that he would show us around. i was told earlier before coming to this place that a guide is a must to navigate in these caves or one could get lost or one could miss out the main spots needed to be seen. They charge between Rs.100/- and 200/-

The entrance to the holy temple and caves had crystal clear water flowing as though it was meant to wash the feet of those who went it. The water on this hill is very pure and is known for its medicinal properties full of healthy vital natural elements in it and also spiritually vibrant. The guide took us first to a dark space filled with lot of people and there seemed to be an arati going on. Reaching close to it, we found that this was the temple. There were no electric lights and the only visibility was a gas lamp lit in front of the big Shiva Linga. People made different offerings here and the priest was doing arati and puja for the devotees. In front of the Shiva Linga was a small natural water tank in stones which was filled with the holy waters. The guide told us that the Siddhas used water from here for worship. There were few very ancient idols also there, the most prominent being Lord Ganesha's. Then, the guide took us through a narrow dark passage. We had carried our torches and that came very handy here along with the torch of the guide. Everything from here was dark inside. He moved through various narrow spaces that needed climbing, sliding, crawling on knees, have steep navigations that required careful and slow maneuvering. He helped us navigate through these spaces, sometimes himself demonstrating techniques on foot placement and shifting body weight to narrow down into steep rock spaces. By now it was evident that there is no way one can come here without a guide for there are so many passages that one can literally get lost. We were the only four of us (physically) in that location at that time.

He stopped at certain locations to show us the well-known spots that some Siddhas did their tapas for years. He also showed us a space where there was a natural stream of water filled in a space from where the Yogis drew and used water. He then took us to one remote cave around which a wall was built with a door and two windows and it looked like a room, but it was actually the entrance to a cave, where even today a Siddha lives. The door was locked and outside was carved "Marul Siddheshwar Mutt" which means ashram. There was another such kind of cave with a door a little ahead. i asked the guide where was the Yogi and he said that during the day he goes away some unknown place during the day because of the disturbance of people there flocking for favours and comes back only in the night to meditate there. Moving further, he showed us more spaces and seats of Yogis. He added that even meditators come and sometimes use this place for their meditation. We asked if anyone can sit to which he said anyone can, but rarely does anyone use it.
An enclosure built now to a natural water resource inside the caves
Inside the caves another living cave space of a Yogi 
Marul Siddeshwar Mutt (living place of a Yogi)
Inside the closed cave 
A stone lamp used in those times
A natural water space inside the caves known for it's healing properties 
An earlier meditating space of Siddhas
An earlier meditating space of Siddhas
An earlier meditating space of Siddhas
An earlier meditating space of Siddhas
An earlier meditating space of Siddhas
An earlier meditating space of Siddhas
Finally, after spending a long time in these caves, we were brought out through another space by the guide. He showed us vines of wild grapes that were as thick as a coconut tree that twisted from the huge rocks above into the ground. These bore wild grapes during season. He also showed us many other trees like wild lemon and mango trees which all grew near the caves. He said these trees all yielded huge fruits during their season; it was obvious the fruits had to be huge looking at such huge trees. We were brought out through another exit than the one we had entered. These caves are such wonderful spaces of vibrant energy that must have been like heavens for yogis in those days far away from the hustle bustle of the world, an isolated hill full of deep natural spaces of rocky shelter of solitude and supply of wild fruits and fresh pure water. But what cannot be avoided at the same time is the obvious disturbance of energy due to today's noise, crowd, shops and pollution. But never-the-less if one truly seeks to find yet another place of solitude, one will surely find plenty of such places on this hill where one cannot be disturbed at all :) It was past 5 p.m. and we had to move back now, since we had to check-out our room and catch the 8 p.m. train to Bangalore.

We descended down the hill and no sooner we reached the main road, a share-auto was leaving and there was enough space for we three. This it was a bumpy ride of 9 kms to Tovinkere. We found the only hotel where only dosa was available. Quickly having it, we came out and there was a bus waiting to leave to Tumkur. We took this bus and going to our hotel, checked-out and headed to the railway station. The 8:30 p.m. Shathabdi took us to Bangalore by 10:00 p.m. From Bangalore we took our train to Chennai at 11 p.m. that  reached Chennai next early morning 5 a.m. We were now to head for the Sri Vidya Shivir in Chennai for the next 9 days.
Video clippings and pics of the entire tour






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4 comments:

  1. Thank you vey much for sharing the fruitful info. How much distance do we need to walk in the hills to reach the meditation place?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sir, it takes about 2-3 hours to reach the top with breaks. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sir, Can you give me the name of the guide who took you here. I want to go with my children is it safe?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sir, these guides are there near the entrance of the caves on the top of mountains. Yes, it is safe to go there with family as there are many families itself who come there for visiting the holy temple inside the caves on the top of Siddhar Betta. Love and light to you. Stay blessed.

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