My parents migrated from Karnataka to Maharashtra long before I was born. I was born in Bombay (now rechristened Mumbai) and by the time I grew up, their visit to Karnataka became very limited. They were basically from North Karnataka and roots essentially trace back to Bijapur and Badami. Both towns are highly historical, so tracing my personal roots was nothing but a journey to trace the history of Karnataka, our nation and sub-continent.
Badami was the Capital of Chalukyas from 540 A.D to 757 A.D. But it’s roots date back to pre-historic times with references dating back to Ramayana and Mahabharata. It is famous for the historic caves. The Badami caves are very compelling. They are intricate, ornate and it is difficult to believe they are carved out of rocky hills. I was spellbound. The spell was probably cast by my nostalgia about childhood visits with my late father, his tales and pride. A strange sense of belonging crept inside nomadic me.
The spell was so strong that one early morning, I actually set out to find my father’s house. With no address or any identity proof, I found my father’s cousin and the house. Like a typical nomad, I was too wary to walk into the house and lay a claim. Maybe more than me claiming the place, I was scared of the place claiming me. But at the same time, I am glad I rediscovered my father’s roots and my roots. And my son discovered his…
My uncle told me, even famous legendary classical singer Pandit Bhimsen Joshi (who i knew was distantly related) too grew up in this neighborhood just below the Badami Caves near Agastya Lake. In the evening, when we sat at one end of the lake on the stairs of the ancient temple, a classical tune floated in. I looked around and saw a young man playing Indian Classical music on his phone. The sunset was magical. Badami did cast it’s spell. I don’t know if ever I will go back to claim my inheritance, but the land of rocky hills, intricate caves, temples has already claimed my history. This is the place where my father dreamed about becoming an artist, story writer and story teller. Though life had harsh plans for him, but he planted those seeds in us, his children.