It is 3 am, in Bangalore. The sun still has a few hours before sharing its first light. We are driving toward one of the biggest flower markets in India, the Huvina Market. Little did we know, we would be swamped in a sensory explosion. Hibiscus, roses, jasmines, lotuses. Ten of thousand people, street vendors shouting their offers, others on the lookout for the perfect flower and of course the perfect deal. More than its aesthetic, flowers here, have a much bigger meaning. They are used in ritual traditions, family celebrations, or even as medicine. An older woman presented us with a beautiful flower crown. We used our negotiation skills, and here we are, a flower crown around the neck, leaving the market and walking up the Nandi hills. The hill of the bull.
The fog takes over the landscape and a light rain moistens our cheeks. On this early morning, the first lights of the hidden sun turn the fog green. We stroll through a forest rich in eucalyptus trees and Coffea arabica plants, monkeys crossing branches as well as electric cables above our heads. Immersed in this mysterious scenery, we reach one of the oldest temples, Bhoga Nandeeshwara. We take our shoes off and walk barefoot on the wet 9th-century stone floor of the Temple. A priest welcomes us and explains that Hinduism is built around three main gods, Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. This temple was built in the name of the latter. The fog whistled and entered the old stone temple with us as we discover statues and inscriptions. Shiva on a bull, Shiva with a drum, and many other gods carved on the floor and on the wall. Each of them has a story to unfold. Suddenly a bell rings! The priest invites us to the Pooja room and starts praying. We gift the flower we previously bought in the market and join his prayers.
It’s midday, the sun is at its zenith. Another temple rises from afar. As we get closer to Ranganatha Swamy temple in Magadi, a big reunion of people gathers in the middle of the street. The whole village is celebrating and walks towards the temple. The local villagers dance to the loud rhythms of the Thavil drums, the blow of the powerful Nadaswaran, and the melodic strings of the veena. As we get closer, the structure grows bigger, and a full pallet of colors unfolds thousands of statues carved on its tower. Villagers carry gifts to be given to Vishnu, the preserver, and protector of the universe. The deity that restores the balance of good and evil.