Standing tall on the lap of Wayanad, the majestic Banasura Hill looks like a grand old sire. Ancient yet young the hills are a visual treat during the bountiful monsoons. Adding charm and providing a perfect backdrop to the breathtakingly picturesque Banasurasagar Dam, the verdant hills take the name from a mythological character.
Banasura, a mighty king and a great devotee of Lord Shiva was the son of Mahabali a great king who ruled Kerala once upon a time. Banasura had a thousand arms and had the privilege of playing the mridanga when lord Shiva danced! His flawless devotion pleased Shiva and the asura was given a boon that he may be invincible! His power made him too arrogant and ruthless that even gods trembled with fear at the asura king’s might. Pride goeth before a fall, they say.
Banasura was basking in his glory. Meanwhile a chivalric romance was taking place in his palace. A handsome youth came in the dreams of the king’s beautiful daughter Usha and she was love smitten. Based on the details of Usha’s dreams, her friend Chitralekha a highly talented artist (as her name suggests) sketched the young prince in the dreams. The young man turned out to be Anirudha, Pradyumna’s son and Lord Krishna’s grandson.
Now the feminine heroism takes control of the chivalric plot. As asuras possess magical powers, Chitralekha could go to Dwaraka, Krishna’s palace and effortlessly abduct Anirudha to be with Usha. Soon the demon king got to know about the intruder in his palace and Aniruddha was made a captive.
His grandson’s plight made Lord Krishna furious, so along with his brother Balarama Krishna fought an epic battle with Banasura. Krishna couldn’t defeat the asura as Lord Shiva ws his protector, but later on both the gods came to a pact. Shiva requested Krishna to spare the life of his devotee and Krishna couldn’t reject this. (After all Banasura was the grandson of Prahlada, one of the greatest Vishnu devotees!) The asura apologised for his pride and in order to subdue the asura ego, Krishna severed all but four of Banasura’s thousand arms. Anirudha and Usha were happily married and Banasura went to the hills, paying penance, meditating and devoting his time to prayers.
The story remained in my head from an old Malayalam movie song that I watched as a child ( ‘Aromalunni’). The song refers to Usha, her dream, her close aid Chitralekha and Aniruddha. The highlight of a recent visit to Wayanad was undoubtedly the picturesque Banasura Hills and dam. The visit jogged my memories of that mythological story too. I hardly knew that the demon king is connected to a hill in Wayanad! Neither my family nor I expected the place to be so breathtakingly enchanting!
Who else could describe the magnifiscent hills better than Dickinson!
The Mountain sat upon the Plain
In his tremendous Chair —
His observation omnifold,
His inquest, everywhere —
The Seasons played around his knees
Like Children round a sire —
Grandfather of the Days is He
Of Dawn, the Ancestor –Emily Dickinson
The Banasura Sagar dam is Asia’s second largest earth dam and the largest of its kind in India. The dam is maintained as part of the Banasurasagar project by the government of India, providing irrigation, drinking water and electricity to the surrounding places. It is made of boulders and stones. With the majestic Banasura Hills in the backdrop the the dam provides a spectacular view. A piece of heaven that is dropped on to the lap of mother Earth.
The small islets in the reservoir add charm to the pristine and still waters around. Nature would have been so watchful to provide an ideal environment for Banasura to meditate, that even the lake, the hills and the forest went so quiet and calm that they continued being silent and serene till now! One feels that the silence and the tranquility that abound the lake and the hills has been there for thousands of years! You will be drenched in the blissful silence and the scenic beauty that surrounds.
A piece of heaven is dropped on to the lap of mother Earth!
The hills are alive with the sound of silence
In the mornings the lake is a large sheet of mirror. The highly reflective lake justifies Duryodhana’s confusion in the Palace of Illusions in Mahabharata. The divine architect Maya would have copied something similar to this! One gets confused where the thin line between the land and water is! Woods have a scent of their own; a delicious scent that you inhale deep to satiate your lungs. The tall trees sing silently all the time, the fallen leaves and ferns whisper. Towards the evening water is ruffled by gentle breeze and the ripples create amazing patterns.
A lone cormorant lost in thoughts
Nature stands still!
Time stands still as you sit gazing at the lake, absorbed and dissolved. You forget the word ‘haste’. The clouds come down to hug the mountains, wading birds come silently, goats and cows graze from morning till darkness falls and as the sun sets cicadas begin their choir in shrill rhythmic voice yet in harmony. When one group lowers their pitch, the next group starts the high pitched music. These songsters of the forest are incredible! I couldn’t resist posting a video!
A glance at the verdant hills
Cows and goats grazing in the idyllic setting
Gliding in the ripples caused by a gentle breeze is the Indian spot-billed duck
A walk at dusk
A grand finale to the day from the Cicada chorus!
Waking up to the dew drops on the leaves
Thanks to the beautiful Silver Woods that gave us a memorable vacation to be treasured forever! The memories of the tranquil and happy stay, the hospitality, the great food et al would stay fresh in our minds! Banasura hills beckon me again!
John Muir has summed it all up…
”Keep close to Nature’s heart and break clear away once in a while. Climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean”
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”