It was 17th Feb morning and everyone were excited for the trip to Chitradurga which is 220 Km from here (Spurthy School). Participants were 65 kids from Grade 3, 4 and 5, 6 teachers, 4 drivers, 3 aaya’s and me (a parent volunteer). Everyone were asked to assemble in school by 6.30 am. My Kid (Shreyas Deep, a 3rd Grader) woke up at 4 am and was ready by 5 am. He didn’t want to be late for school and started pestering me by 6 am to go to school. Me and his mom prepared his tiffin box, packed his bag with chips, biscuits, water for is trip. We told him about do’s and don’ts about this this trip for his safety. I suppose, all the parents experienced the same heat that day.
Charles (PT instructor) and Madhumita (Primary class HOD), who had taken full responsibility of this trip took a count of kids. Charles reminded kids about do’s and don’ts about this trip; whereas Madhumita assured the parents about the safety of the trip, shared itinerary of the day, and return time in the evening. They spoke to teachers, aaya’s and drivers about their responsibilities and assigned bus numbers to everyone including me that we had to board. 2 school bus allotted for this trip was loaded with fruit, water, juice and snacks for the trip. It was 7 am and we all were asked to board the allotted bus; a final count was done by Charles and Madhumita before we started out journey by 7.15 am. The more excited of the lot were kids who started nonstop chit chat, jumping, playing. Some opened their bags to show what snacks or games they got for the trip and even started sharing and eating their snacks.
I was sitting along with 5th graders and I relived my school days memories and joined them in their conversation, games. But I also had a task to ensure they are seated most of the time and out of harm’s way. By 9.30 am after covering ~100 km, we reached our 1st pit stop. This was a highway food joint which had maintained good hygiene and washrooms well maintained. We asked kids to get down from the bus and asked them to use the washroom (if needed). Teachers and aaya’s helped kids to use the washroom in a disciplined way. Once they were done, we asked kids to eat their tiffin inside the bus and aaya’s were told to manage the kids while teachers, drivers had their breakfast in the hotel. After a halt of 45 mins, we began our journey again. It was too sunny as if sun was on its brightest day ever. Kids were becoming restless due to long journey now and were repeatedly coming to us asking “Are we there yet?”. We were engaging the by asking the kids to see outside and capture things that will help them learn something new. We saw Solar mill and Wind mill and explained how power is generated using natural resources. Kids were excited to see the solar panels installed in a big stretch of plan ground and huge blades of wind mills. We also told them about some historical facts about Chitradurga
It was 12:30 pm and we were in our 1st destination point, The Chitradurga Fort. Kid were asked to get down of the bus and form a queue outside the fort. Looking at this excited bunch of school kids, other tourists started enquiring about the school and place we came from. Some of the foreigners also took pictures of our kids. In the meantime, Charles purchased entry tickets for everyone and hired 2 guides. Kids were separated in 2 groups again to ensure everyone can listen to both the guides. 3rd and 4th graders were with 1 guide along with 2 aaya’s and 4 teachers, whereas I along with 2 teachers and 1 aaya handled 5th grader. Guides took their respective group in different side to ensure kids are not mixed up and started explaining about the history of this fort. This is one of the largest fort in Karnataka. It was amazing to learn how people in that era were utilizing rock for storing oil, water, protecting their land. People were architecturally so advanced that they built this fort in zig zag pattern like how snakes are which helps in cornering anyone who tries to capture the fort and winning them over. They also created holes in monolith rocks to store oil and created 2 huge pits to store rain water. The rain water was collected in such a way that if both pits are full, it can be used for 12 years. Limestones, rocks and sands are used in creating these pits in such a way that when the water flows from these, it is pure for drinking too. Storm water drains was created in such a way that it was also used as defensive mechanism from enemies using the water from the rain harvesting pits. Fort also has 2 temples; 1 is still the family deity of Chitradurga residents and other one is a Shiva temple built by Hidamba (the devil). We also saw court hall for public and war room (used by king and his minister) for taking strategic decisions. The fort also had a admin block which also work as mint (gold and silver coin making and storing place) for the kingdom. People had a unique way to carve or cut stones using salt. They created various shapes carving these stones which is a complete mesmerizing experience. We saw rocks that is carved to look like elephant, turtle head, alligator, rhinoceros, ship, etc. There are many rock holes which was used by guards and their family to stay. We also saw the storm water drain hole that was breached by Hyder Ali who tried to conquer the fort during night. One of the guard’s wife ‘Obava’ identified this breach and using Onake (a wooden rod used for pounding paddy) killed the enemy soldiers by hitting their head. This alerted other soldiers and King in the fort and resulted in winning over Hyder Ali, however she was killed in this battle. She is still remembered as one of the great women warrior in Karnataka. After going to this fort, we were informed by the guides that the fort area was used even before human civilization started. Cave men used to live here and the proof is the stone carving they did. We saw a bison carved by them.
Kids were tired of long walks and climb within the fort however that didn’t let them slow down since they were all excited to learn things and explore new place. Some kids carried their bag thinking they will eat snack inside the fort, however once they were tired gave their belongings to aaya’s and teachers so that they are light while climbing. We also met one of the famous mountain climber Jyothi Raj, who is also called as “Monkey Man” by the locals. He climbs these fort walls without any rope or safety harness. He is also listed in Limca Book of records and was also got his fame in “OMG! Ye Mera India” a famous program in “The History TV”. Kids requested him to demonstrate his skills, however since it was afternoon time he was tired and hungry to fulfil kids wish. He said he usually climbs 40 – 50 times in a day for the tourists and only uses lime powder for his grip. He also uses custom made shoes to get additional grip. His dream is to climb world famous Bhurj Khalifa in Dubai without any safety harness. By around 2, we came out of the fort. Everyone in the group were completely dehydrated and started filling in their bottles as soon as they entered the bus. We took count again and started towards “Murgrajendra Mutt”. We reached Mutt by 2.30 pm andasked kids to go inside the mutt annadan area in a disciplined way. As per the rule, we took a washed plate, rewashed it and took it inside for our lunch. Steamed rice and sambar was served to everyone. Kids were so hungry they ate everything that was served to them “without any complaint”. Some even asked for more 😊. Post the lunch we washed the plates and kept it in the place we took it from.
After lunch we went to a theme part that was built and maintained by Mutt. It was a unique experience again since unlike other theme park, this one had sculptures of various era (dinosaur, cave men, cave men life), scenes, village life, rules of early civilizations, various leaders, gurus, religions, punishments, and modern art too. It was a 32 acres park and we had to cover everything by walk. It was beautiful park however we didn’t had time to see and learn everything peacefully. In the interest of time, we started covering the theme park faster, however it still took ~1 hour to come out of the park. By the time we left Chitradurga it was 4 pm and me along with Charles and Madhumita were working on logistics if we can cover another planned area for the trip “Vani Vilas Dam”. Since we had to reach back by 9 pm, we finalized not to go there. While coming back, we had another experience of flat tyre in our bus. It was an unplanned stop, but we utilized it by serving snacks, fruits and juices to kids. After 20 mins we started and stopped again in one of the famous highway hotel ‘Kamath Upachar’ for tea refreshment and using the washrooms. We started from Kamath at 6.30 pm. We in the entire journey had kept the Principal madam about the situations and timelines. Messages were also broadcasted using Edumerge app. Some parents were also reaching out to me, Madhumita enquiring about their wards. Finally, the day was over but the energy in these kids was still not low. Except few who were now sleeping, rest were still talking and chatting like when we had started in morning. We reached school by 9.30 pm and saw the excited and tired kids getting united with their parents. Teachers safely handed over the kids to their parents and signed off for the day.