Mattur, a culturally rich village, is the last Sanskrit speaking village left in India. This village is situated on the banks of the River Tunga and has a beautiful Lord Rama temple, Shivalaya and a Someshwara temple situated on its banks which is one of the few attractions of the village.
Sanskrit has found a safe heaven in Mattur, a village nearby the town of Shivamoga, in Karnataka, where the language is used for day-to-day conversations.
We reached the village around 5 pm in the evening and met this young boy who escorted us to meet Shri Ashwath Narayan Awadhani. He was introduced to us as a pioneer in Sanskrit language and yes he was.While explaining about the language and how they impart education he said – When there is money involved in education, the education dies. There should be no connection between money and education.
He proudly showed us the huge building nearby; the school named – Sri Sharada Vilasa Pathshala where Sanskrit is taught at all the levels.Children studying here at the Mattur school are taught the Vedas once they turn 10 and all the students who come from the village speak Sanskrit fluently.Also the vedic scholars teach sanskrit to interested people and try to spread the knowledge and awareness of the language.They have some dialects written in sanskrit on the walls that says – Maarge swachchataya virajate, grame sujanaha virajante which means ;Cleanliness is as important for a road as good people are for the village.
Also he shared some beautiful stories about the village, the culture and the tradition. He took us around the village and introduced us to another scholar Shri. Sanath Kumar, who runs a cultural centre called Kalyana and explained us about the Gamaka art form which means when Ramayana and Mahabharat is sung passionately in a particular tune and format it is called GAMAKA.
We moved towards the temple in the village on the bank of river Tunga, small and a beautiful temple where Lord Shiva, Lord Rama and Devi were the main deities.
While discussing about the temple story Shri A. Narayan introduced us to Ms. Shalini who is a Sanskrit teacher there and Shri. Channakeshava Dixit who takes Sanskrit classes.He narrated about the language as follows –
Shri. Channakeshava Dixit said – This village is inhabited by the Sankethis, an ancient Brahmin community that had migrated from Kerala and settled down in Mattur about 600 years ago. Other than Sanskrit, they also speak a rare dialect called Sankethi, which is a mixture of Sanskrit, Tamil, Kannada, and bits of Telugu. The Sankethi dialect has no written script and is read in the Devanagari script.
Just as we completed the discussion we walked down few steps to see Tunga River, sunset at the bank of river was something I didn’t wanted to miss :)It was very calm and peaceful there, they say people gather here late in the evenings to offer prayers.
After spending few hours we started back to our hotel in Shimoga which was some 10 kms from the village.
It is a unique experience to hear Sanskrit as the common language on the streets of the village. From the vegetable vendor to the priest, everyone speaks in the ancient language. The young generation of Mattur also speaks in Sanskrit.
What makes Mattur so special is that at a time when Sanskrit is spoken by less than 1% of the country’s population, not only do the villagers use the language in their daily life but they are also ready to teach it to anyone interested in learning it.It is a testimony to the fact that in spite of our modern ways of life, we still respect and cherish our root. It was truly an awesome experience to see culturally rich hamlet of 5000 people with Sanskrit as the native language and enjoy those good olden days amidst the buzz in the metros.
So are you interested to plan a trip to one of the ancient village of India -Mattur ? Check the details below –
How to reach Mattur –
Mattur is around 300 kms from Bangalore. The easiest way to reach Mattur is via Shimoga one of the main towns in Karnataka near the village. You can travel ;
By Air – The nearest airport to reach Shimoga is Mangalore which is 195 km.You can hire a cab from shimoga airport to reach Shimoga town or can also take a local transport to reach Mattur.
By Rail – You can board trains from the major cities of Karnataka to reach Shimoga and from there the local transport or cab to reach the village .
By Road – There are several bussed that ply from Bangalore to Shimoga to reach the village.
Best Time to Visit –
Mattur can be visited throughout the year but period between November to March is pleasant.
Stay In Mattur –
Being the small village you wont find any dining or hotels /guest house to stay in Mattur. It is suggested to stay in Shimoga town where you find decent hotels.
But if you are looking forward to spend sometime in the village so you can check for the homestay offered by villagers in Mattur.
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