A hot cup of steaming coffee drove away the last remnants of sleep as the walkers set off from their lodging at Sira. Today’s destination point is Javanagondanahalli or J G Halli, as it is more popularly known. The yatris set off to the North on AH 47. The road had many sections still under construction.
This highway has special significance—the Asian Highway 47 is a route of the Asian Highway Network, running more than 2,000 kilometers from Gwalior to Bangalore. The Asian Highway project, also known as the Great Asian Highway, is a cooperative project among countries in Asia and Europe to improve the highway systems in Asia. Agreements have been signed by 32 countries to allow the highway to cross the continent and also reach onwards to Europe. The planned network runs a total of 140,500 kilometers!
People have been regularly waking up as early as 3.00 am and the walk usually ends by 12.00 noon. The breakfast is usually around the 10th kilometre stage and there is a short break every 4-5 kilometers. There is a water-refilling vehicle that stops every 2 kilometers. A toilet vehicle is also traveling with them. There are two vehicles with the caterer - a large catering vehicle and a small vehicle for transporting food and water to the next point where required. They have been traveling with the walkers since they entered Karnataka and the team comprises a cook and three assistants. Breakfast is usually cooked early in the morning at the halting point and transported to the breakfast stop while the large vehicle moves to the next destination point and starts cooking lunch. Food served is hot and simple, usually rice-based dishes.
As the padayatra moves further away from Bangalore, walkers who joined them in Bangalore are leaving and the group is reverting to its regular strength, though small groups of new people come and go, every now and then. The long-term walkers have now settled down to their routine and generally walk in silence. It is the new walkers who feel the need to interact and share experiences.
The first break was at Manangi Thanda where the yatris refreshed again with another cup of coffee. Walking on, they stopped at Thavarekere for breakfast and set off again after having spent more than 30 minutes at the spot. An hour later, they had another short break at Ujjanakunte – another refreshment point. After an hour’s walk, Sri M and the walkers reached the outskirts of Javanagondanahalli. A satsangi, with a group of about 40 people, accorded a traditional welcome to Sri M. Walking on, they reached the village,and from here, the yatris were transported to Hiriyur for their stay.
Javanagondanahalli is a small village with less than 5000 people. Agriculture is the main sustenance and there are coconut groves all around. Sri M stayed in the house of a village elder – a satsangi’s relative.
The dusty road, with shops on either side, soon opens up to farmland as Sri M and the local community approach the village.The walkers had to go to Ranjith Lodge in Hiriyur, which is almost 25 kms away. After lunch and rest, the padayatris were brought back to Javanagondanahalli, to the residence where Sri M was being hosted. The house was set in very peaceful surroundings with a coconut grove all around.
A ‘harikatha’ was organized. It was sung by a senior artiste – S N Nagarajachar accompanied by the same tabla and harmonium artistes who had accompanied the previous harikatha recital a couple of days ago . The artiste sang ‘dasarapadagalu’ (works of Sri Purandaradasa) interspersed with a commentary about the meaning of the songs and relating it to experiences in everyday life. People from the village had gathered for the meeting which was held in the open space in front of the house.
There was no Satsang. The village elder at the house hosted dinner. The walkers had a long relaxed dinner in the open and boarded the bus back to Hiriyur only by 10.00 pm.