The Shelter of Caves, Part 14

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BY: SUN STAFF - 11.5 2017

Sugreeva's Cave, Hampi 
 

A study of famous caves in ancient Bharat.

Sugreeva's Cave

The ancient temple complex at Hampi, Karnataka is traditionally known as Pampa kshetra, Kishkindha kshetra or Bhaskara kshetra. Pampa is the ancient name of the Tungabhadra River, and the term 'Hampi' is a later Kannada form of the 'Pampa'. The ancient village of Kishkindha is famously mentioned in Ramayana, and is believed to be adjacent to the main Hampi temple ruins.

Hampi Complex

During the Ramayana period, Kishkindha was ruled by the monkey kings, Vali and Sugreeva. After a quarrel, Sugreeva was driven out, and took refuge on the Matanga Parvata (hill range), along with Hanuman. Later, after Sita was abducted by Ravana and spirited away to Lanka, Rama and Laksmana came south in search of her, and met up wtih the refugees, Sugreeva and Hanuman. Rama killed Vali, restored Sugreeva's stolen kingdom to him, then stayed on for a time at Malyavanta Hill, waiting to hear news of Hanuman's success in finding Sita.

Light lines marks the flaps of Sita's sari, Sugreeva's Cave

Hampi and its environs are considered holy ground and many of the site ruins are connected with episodes in the Ramayana. One of these is Matanga Hill, and the cave in which Sugreeva took refuge. Situated on a steep hill on the south bank of the Tungabhadra River, just east of Hampi village, Sugreeva's cave offered a strategic view of the surrounding countryside. In the cave, Sugreeva kept Sita's jewels safely hidden, and there are various marks in the cave said to be associated with the pastime, including floor marks from Sita's sari.

Rama's seat in Sugreeva's Cave
 

Sugreeva's abode is a natural cave, small overall, with several curved 'rooms'. It was formed by several huge boulders leaning against one another. The cave is situated at the edge of a flat rocky area, which bears numerous small sets of footprints, some of which are said to be Rama and Laksman's. Inside the cave, the walls and ceilings are ornamented with beautiful paintings and many small ornamental designs. These ornaments are known as 'Sita-konda', and represent the patterns on Sita Devi's sari.

Rama's resting place