Stories are journeys, and every journey is a story...stored in our memory to be recounted to those who are willing to listen.
A long pending desire to re-visit Hampi along with my children and the first stop was Chitradurga Fort. We were following the same route that we had taken around 12 years back. Back then was a different car, my mother in tow and as for me, the expectant mother of 5 months.
Nothing had changed, a sense of deja-vu prevailed and like a ghost that revisits its haunt, I stood at the exact spot we had taken a picture back then, and here it is for you to see;
I seriously believe the guides here need a crash course in storytelling. They just state facts, though that's impressive, I cannot connect with rocks and boulders and forts and structures if there are no stories.
Of course for all those who have visited Chitradurga, the story of Obavva Kindi will be familiar. It does take our fancy, to hear and see where this brave woman, wife of a soldier, single-handedly bashed the army soldiers of Hyder Ali's troop.
Story of Onake Obavva Kindi
Legend says that it happened during the time of Madakari Nayaka 1V, in the late 1700's. Hyder Ali and his army were gunning for an access into the Chitradurga fort and finally with some inside help, discover a small hole in the fort wall (used by the local curd seller to enter and exit the fort without walking all the way to the front; and the information supplied by a minister apparently to Hyder himself.) So a small troop is deployed to enter the fort through this hole.
Most guards were assigned small holes as living spaces and as you can see here below, this cave like space was were Obavva and her husband lived. This space was barely sufficient for the guard's family and the thinking behind this was that a guard had to be alert and vigilant and if he got used to comforts and luxury, he would not discharge his duty well. Not only was the guard required to keep a look out for suspicious activity, his wife and family members by virtue of relatedness were committed to safety and protection of the fort. So this sentry and his wife Obavva lived in a hole, and on that particular day, when the furtive group of soldiers from Hyder Ali's army were trying to enter through the hole, our Sentry/Bugler had just finished his afternoon duty on top of the hill and had sat down for lunch.
I imagine this short squat bulky guard sitting down for a meal of ragi mudde and pallya saaru, when hiccups must have broken that moment of prandial bliss. So Obavva who had forgotten to fetch water that morning would have picked up her pot and hurried out with an apologetic look towards husband who would have in all probability thrown a glare at her and continued to fill his pate.
Here is the residence of Mrs.Obavva! A hole is all they were provided.
So just as she walked back, sounds coming from a hole must have alerted Obavva. This resourceful woman, instead of scurrying back to call her husband the sentry on duty (again bound by a custom that a wife cannot disturb her husband when he is eating or sleeping), decides to equip herslef with an onakke (or ollakke as is known in Tamil), a sturdy wooden rod that is used for pounding rice into powder and goes to investigate.
To her shock and horror a turbaned head pops out of the hole and in a swift reflexive action, she brings the onakke down on his head and the man topples through dead. In this way, she whacks every head that came out of that hole. The legend says she killed 80 soldiers. Her husband finding his wife gone for a long time, comes out to see a massacre in progress. He quickly runs to his spot on the hill to sound the alarm, thinking his wife is in control; but unaware of one enemy soldier, hiding in the bushes. who quickly thrusts a knife through Obavva, finally halting the hand that had single-handedly stopped an invasion.
Here is where the little stream of water flows:
Here is the hole through which the enemy tried to enter:
So this hole was duly honored by the king and is now called Onakke Obavva Kindi.
A post-it to this story is another story...My daughter acted in a small skit where she played Onakke Obavva , and when we actually walked around seeing where this incident took place, I could feel a connect, as if something had compelled us to visit this place with her and to listen and experience a reality from another time, another space...
Has that happened to you ever?
Deja-vu, I think people call it...or is it rebirth???