In the morning, the walkers were transported by bus to Burujanaroppa—the starting point of the walk. They left soon after and walked to Chitradurga, an important historical city in Karnataka.The walkers traversed a distance of 24 kilometers, touching villages like Pallavvanahalli, Doddasiddavvana Halli and Kunchinganalu Halli and reached their halting point – Sree Muruga Rajendra Math at Chitradurga by 12.00 noon.
Today’s walk would be etched in many a memory for its inclusivity—breakfast at a trans-gender dhaba and an interaction with prisoners of Chitradurga District Jail being the highlights. After a short break at 6.30 am for a coffee, the padayatris led by Sri M reached Doddasiddavvana Halli, a tiny village.On the outskirts of the village,the Satara Dhaba is situated.
The vegetarian dhaba is unique as it is owned and run by transgenders, a highly marginalized section of society that usually ekes out a living mainly through alms. The dhaba is now owned by a local transgender who actually joined there as a cook when run by the previous owner. The transgender had returned to the village, tired of a tough life on the streets of Bangalore. A couple of years down the line, when the dhaba was up for sale, she bought it with a small capital raised by pledging a small piece of land that was inherited. Assisted by a team of transgenders from the former days, she leads a life of respect and helps her friends live with dignity.
The team at the dhaba was delighted to host the yatris and even more so when Sri M interacted with them. Sri M, while speaking to them said that their lives are very difficult and he understands it very well. He told them, as human beings, we are all one and they too are a part of this humanity. He added that they are welcome to join the yatra wherever and whenever they wished to join. It was agreed that in Srinagar, towards the end, a group would come and join the walk. Sri M gave his card and said that he could be called at any time if anyone from there wished to speak to him.
Walking on after breakfast towards Chitradurga, the walkers could see many windmills in the surrounding areas. The hilly regions of Chitradurga and surrounding area experience strong winds throughout the year making it a suitable place to set up wind mills and wind farms. There are many wind-based power plants located around Chitradurga and most of the hills are embellished with windmills, which is a common sight when one enters the city. The padayatra came across many such wind farms and what a surreal sight it was to see technology in action in vast tracts of barren land.
Sri M was welcomed by groups of local communities, greeting him with respect and also offering refreshments. The Chitradurga police too contributed by offering juice just before they reached Chitradurga.
The next stop was the Chitradurga District Jail. The police escorted Sri M into the jail infrastructure and facilitated an interaction with the inmates – both men and women, around 300 in number. He addressed them and said that their being inside the prison and others outside in the free world was only situational and only with the Grace of God. He said that now that they are with the jail, they should reflect upon the things they have done and ensure that it does not happen again. He said that usually everywhere he goes, he asks everyone present to join him and walk for as long as possible, five minutes, an hour, a day or even till Srinagar. But here in the prison, he said that he could not ask them to walk and so he requested them to pray for the Walk of Hope and its success.
Soon, the yatris reached the city of Chitradurga. Here, they were welcomed by a group of around by a group of around 40 and was welcomed with the beat of drums from a troupe. Chitradurga (a picturesque fort) is located in the valley of the Vedavati River. Chitradurga gets its name from Chitrakaldurga, an umbrella-shaped hill. It is replete with old stone structures and huge rock formations.
According to the epic Mahabharatha, this is where Pandvas traversed through while they were on the move after losing their kingdom in the game of dice. A man-eating demon named Hidimba and his sister Hidimbi lived in the forests on the hill. Hidimba was a source of terror to everyone around while Hidimbi was peace loving. When the Pandavas came with their mother Kunti in the course of their exile, Bhima had a duel with Hidimba in which Hidimba was killed. Legend has it the boulders were part of the arsenal used during that duel. Thereafter, Bhima married Hidimbi and they had a son named Ghatotkacha, who had magical powers. In fact, the boulders on which major part of the city rests belong to the oldest rock formation in the country. Chitradurga Fort was built between the 10th and 18th centuries by the kings of various dynasties during that period, which are Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, Hoysalas, and Nayakas of Chitradurga. After the Nayakas lost it to Hyder Ali in the year 1779, the fort was given its finishing touches by Hyder Ali along with his son Tipu Sultan. Eighteen ancient temples can be found inside this seemingly impregnable fort, known as ‘kallu kote’ (fort of stone) and also ‘ukkina kote’ (a fort of steel).Sri M was greeted by a group of 20 school children and also another group of 30 while they walked in the town.
Walking on, the padayatris reached the Muruga Rajendra Mutt. Sri Muruga Rajendra Math, or Bruhanmutt is about 3 km from Chitradurga. Bruhanmutt was built in honour of a renowned guru of the Veershaiva community, and houses the tomb of Immadi Muruga Swamy. This unique Lingayat Mutt dates back to the period of Shiva-Sharanas of 12 century A.D. The Math is engaged in propagating Basava dharma. The Murugha Vana in the premises of the Mutt is a beautiful botanical garden. A group of around 70 people and many children welcomed Sri M and the walkers to the Math. This was the halting and resting point of the day. Reaching here, the padayatris were assigned to large halls, 15 to 20 to a hall, where they rested after lunch.
The welcoming party consisted of senior officials of the Mutt and Dr. Sri Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru—the present pontiff of the Math. He succeeded Sri Mallikarjuna Murugharajendra Swamiji. Sri Swamiji spent time in training at different Maths, including Sri Murugharajendra Math at Haveri before being appointed the pontiff. Since then, he discarded rituals practiced in the Math that were inconsistent with the Sharana culture and Basava philosophy and switched over to active social service from simple religious ceremonies, giving a progressive outlook to the activities of the Mutt. The meeting was brief and in the meeting Sri M and the Swamiji spoke about various matters. Swamiji extolled the virtues of good works and said that India had a problem of too much talking and not enough doing. He said that we needed a work ethic without which India will never be able to rise from abject poverty. Sri M spoke on Walk of Hope and invited Sri Swamiji to join him for the walk, Sri Swamiji readily agreed and suggested that they go to the Chandravalli caves the next morning.
After Bengaluru, which the walkers had left almost 10 days ago, Chitradurga is the next big city. Tomorrow being a rest day, the atmosphere was quite relaxed. The padayatirs spent their time exploring the Math surroundings at leisure before turning in for the night after dinner.