Given a few thousands of years all man made things will go to dust and nature will reclaim its share. Cement, steel, art, metal none will survive. Oxygen, microbes, vegetation, animals, weathering will ensure things will return to their native state. Except may be gold, pottery, ceramics and even these will be ground and pounded by nature and mostly be assimilated. Big Stone sculptures may survive. Smoothed and weathered perhaps but they will stand. Our forefathers knew this ? May be, maybe not. But they did create marvelous structures, sculptures from rocks. These lived on when the people who made the structures and everything else they created died. These stones then declare the accomplishments and grandeur of the era lost. We living in the Deccan plateau are blessed. The hard granite formed by fiery earth gave the kings of this area enough to make a deep impression. Hampi, Belur & Halibidu, Aihole, Lepakshi.
You can see the result of vision of a king, blood and sweat of muscled sculptor and aesthetics of master craftsman hereabouts. Declaring the accomplishments and standing the test of time. Preserving the mega deeds of their heroes. They say the planets are formed from gas and dust. And this gas and dust came from a star’s core when it died. So creating monuments of accomplishments from a shining star’s remains makes sense.
Then there are accomplishments of human spirit. Not a representation, commemoration or a memorial of them but the actual deed. Those early nineteenth century races to north pole, south pole. Landing on moon. The work of single person(Jadav Peyeng) towards forestation in Assam. The story of Majhi the mountain man. These folks do these deeds that needs madness beyond passion. An unreasonableness that forms the core of their conviction that is raw, primordial, celestial but also so here and now. Like the Rocks that were remnants of stars. They set out to do things that opens the vistas in others minds. They inspire others to act. Like those big stone sculptures, their deeds get etched in our minds. One such nutty person I know is Esha Gupta. The girl with a motorcycle madness. She says she set out to prove a point to the world that India is OK and not as bad as made out to be. I think that is just an excuse so that we folks can relate to her. I think she, by following her raw instincts, is doing much more than that. She is seeding dreams in young riders. She is making it knowing and showing the raw india its people. And she is pushing the limits for herself, all the women and all the riders. To The Extreme. She is out to make a world record for single rider in a country. She has done 32,000 KM with in India starting on the republic day.
So what does one do, living in Bangalore, surrounded by the magnificent granite grand things surviving centuries and belonging to biking fraternity ? One goes to receive Esha at Lepakshi as she complete the epic journey. The place that throws a granite magic in a sleepy village. You are awe stuck the by the accomplishments past and the present. So it was not possible for me to refuse the BAC Saturday ride to Lepakshi.
On the said may morning, pre-dawn, my little beast gunned to life and carried a much clad me to the meeting point or the starting point of the ride. As the sun rose, I saw some familiar faces and a few new ones. Manjunath was there with a nice big smile. He was the coordinator and we fell into the small banter that a brotherhood does. The glean in the new faces was evident. I remember my first day with the group. Tense, excited, eager. These meeting are so fun. One talks about the past rides , the rides you missed and others had fun on and then nostalgia that is less than two years old. There is that that odd, much familiar and connected friend who is not been seen for a time and who has become a stranger. We talk about him and the events of his life. New riders ask questions or share their riding experiences. And then a long forgotten pal comes over and the hell breaks loose. Yes these waiting minutes are the glue that binds the group. Valence that keeps the fraternity strong. These nice thoughts were broken by a bombshell Manjunath sir threw at me.
Our lead for the day forgot to wake up on time and time was seeping out of our hands. We were to meet Esha and Ankit on the highway turn for Lepakshi ~7:00 and we were just waiting. So Manju decides I will be the lead for this ride, Ravi the long forgotten pal, the sweep and himself marshal. Now I been on rides and know the drill. Did a second lead cameo a couple of time but to lead score or so riders ? Tense. But with calm exterior said why not. So we briefed the group on ride rules, signals, safety and set out.
It is one thing to know how to do it and another thing to be doing it. Now I was to navigate the troop through the traffic that was sparse and building up. Anticipate a how a long tail weaves around slow moving trucks and fast overtaking cars. How to decide on single file or double file formations and maintain a speed that group can manage and yet be fast enough. I did it with few slips, tense nerves and muscles and ample help. Marshal would guide a little, the sweep came over to tell me when I was bit fast. The group stayed cohesive or so I hope.
Eyes were on the road calculating the best time and spot to effect the overtake or to give way to be overtaken. Eyes were also on the rear view mirrors looking out for the green tinged side lights of the sweep. Every curve and a downhill was such a sight of symphony. I say this in every blog, the sight of pearly switched on headlights on high beam of twenty bikes is hypnotic. The group seems to be together and not made of discreet riders. A simple set of rules making it an organism that is fluid, harmonic and one. We covered the high way in two file formation, we crossed the toll booths in single file. With slightly sore butts, weary sleep deprived eyes and high energy we reached the turn for Lepakshi.
There the convoy halted to wait. Bikes parked the group dispersed to a small tea stall. More of the group reminiscing and introductions to new folks happened. And then to massive relief the lead for the day joined us. We waited a bit more and then decided to go the APTDC restaurant near the Lepakshi temple and wait there for Esha. Geared up the group progressed with much gentler pace on the small village highway. The ride on national highways is about open roads, speed efficiency. We can do double file, be a little fast and yet safe and make good time. Smaller highways reduce the speed and increase the experience. Now your mind relaxes, muscles and jaw loosen and senses tingle. You collect the scenery , see life and you feel more. There is sense of freedom and looseness provides an opportunity to phase out into deep thinking. Reflect on life or just eat the second, experience the scenery. Nice empty clean roads, undulating terrain reminding one that this is the Deccan plateau where the molten earth poured out, created igneous rocks that the sculptors like so much.
The meditative ruminations were arrested by the sight of a bull. The Nandi, carved out of a single rock, with a folded leg, huge and dominating does that. And that is the mascot of Lepakshi, a place based on legends. The story is form Ramayana. Ravana abducts Sita and carries her off on his Puspak Vimana. While he is flying off Jatayu ( A big bird) intercepts and fights him. Ravana cuts off his wings and flies off to Lanka. Jatayu falls down at Lepakshi. Rama comes and consoles the bird and ask it to rise again. Metaphorically. So it is Le ( get up ) Pakshi ( bird ) in Telegu. Next to this granite but life like bull was our restaurant.
We reached the restaurant, parked and started with the mobiles, photos and selfies. Wify dear messaged to enquire about the ride but I had no signal. We made fun of the Airtel girl and her ads. And then Esha arrived. There was buzz at the entrance. When I met Esha it was so familiar like meeting a long lost friend. The connection was strong. She saw and said she expected to see me and then asked about Wify dear and dotty dear. World paused while we caught up. The awesomeness of her feat looked a human possibility. Here she was 32K done and smiling and joking as ever. Accusing us of having too much fun. Behind her, with his Buddha smile and all-knowing eyes was Ankit. Somehow the universe seemed more balanced with the brotherhood around.
We gobbled Idlies ( the chutney was good, Sambar had fire in it), Poories, Upma. Topped with tea/coffee and set out to check the temple out. In small groups in the midmorning sun we ambled across. The temple is photographers treasure chest. The carvings, sculptures, frescos play with light and tantalize the eye. One wants to re interpret the sculptures intent with ones own angles and frames. Most of us were not of that ilk. We were just looking to take our mug shots and paste them for the likes. So more selfies and groupies ensured. Went in and saw the main diety Veerabhadra.
And then went out seeking the hanging pillar. There in the courtyard on the left as you enter, the forth pillar in the second row. It hangs half a centimeter from the floor. It touches the floor only at one tiny spot but rest of it floats. Why and how they did it ? Now sure. It was fun passing a hanky underneath it , photographing the gap.
Few of us came out, and then waited for the rest – the photo queens and princes. Finally the group re grouped went back the restaurant. Esha kept talking of stories form her ride to the glued ears of eager bunch. The narrative was interrupted by Ravi the COE of Throttle. Sponsors for her ride. He explained about the company its global vision. It was ok, little salesy, but awright.
We took on final group pic with the Nandi and started the ride back. I was the second lead now and Eash the guest lead. I made the main lead little crossed by not knowing who it the actual boss and following the guest. But with no incident we reached the Nandi Upchar grah for lunch. I had to break early so left the group and rode back home.
The ride was an excuse, it was celebrating the accomplishment that was needed. One needs to have these big things to guide and motivate. One needs to see what 400 years back 2 brothers from Krishandeveraya’s time did and how magnificent is the temple. One need to meet someone who achieves what other do not even imagine and do it just because they can. That then inspires everyone to break their glass bubbles and dream. Just like this route map of the Esha’s 32,142 KM ride does: