I had never visited any tomb or monument [courtesy: my parents who barely ever made trips], as a child. So when I finally took off as a solo traveller to Coorg, I decided I should go see one. An hour’s drive from the Coorg O Farm Homestay in Chembebeloor later, I landed my big feet at the Gaddige Fort (Raja’s Tomb) in Mahadevpet.
I really hadn’t seen any other tombs to compare this nondescript place with. The old, yet, kind of pretty yellow buildings were rather common place, although I did note that they were built in the Indo-Saracenic or Hindu-Gothic style. Well, they certainly looked gothic, alright; I could almost hear Nagavalli’s haunting anklets to the male vocalist’s tha-jum-tha-jum beats, from the famed Ra Ra track of the Kannada film, Apthamithra.
Wondering where to start, I just walked on and found the main building (I figured that out because that was the only one with open doors; the others seemed locked away for good). Leaving my slippers outside, I walked up the few stairs and into the sanctum of ‘Raja’s Tomb’.
A black granite stone tablet lay resting against the wall, next to an archway leading to the heart of the tomb that lay in darkness and abandon; it contained the history of the tomb – nothing of much interest though. It just said that the 19th century King Doddveerarajendra lay buried there, as bones and dust, along with his wife (unnamed; shows the lack of importance and respect placed on women, back then), and his son, Chikkaveerarajendra. The two other buildings, that were on either side of this one, held the mortal remains of the king’s royal priest, Rudrappa, and the royal official Biddanda Bopu, who had died fighting Tipu Sultan, and Biddanda’s son, Biddanda Somiah.
The “tomb” was merely a concrete floor with an ornate lamp hanging over it from the ceiling. And that was it. That was the tomb. I realised that my mind playing the Ra ra, sarasaku ra ra track was more interesting than these “royal” remains. But when I got out of the building, I noticed a symbol etched at the top of the doorway. It was the Kannada letter for ‘v’. Apparently, this happened to be the King’s signature, something he had had inscribed on all the royal properties to mark his rule – an ancient logo, if you will.
The carvings made on this building were more interesting than the King’s royal remains. These certainly weren’t as refined as the famous temple carvings we have known, but they were kind of fantasy-oriented. Whether or not they depicted some mythical story, I do not know, but they sure got the attention of
the crazy fantasy fiction fan in me.
Of all the things I have seen and done (and I’m quite a boring person, really), this “royal” tomb, perhaps, deserves “the most boring” crown. As for the haunting danseuse, Nagavalli… she didn’t stop dancing in my mind that whole day…