JAWAI: The Legend of Devgiri- God’s Own Hill

JAWAIs solitary hills are dotted with temples, shrines and memorials. All events and festivities in this region are devoted to religion. This can be mainly attributed to the fact that this region was secluded and not many invaders managed ruling over this area. Over centuries, the various communities of JAWAI have preserved their traditions and are proud to have maintained their customs. Every temple has some spiritual significance and has a legend attached to it. Such is the legend of Devgiri.

Naina at Dev Giri Temple
Female Leopard ‘Naina’ at Devgiri Temple photographed by Kapil

Many years ago, there used to be two feudal lords in the region of JAWAI. They had the power to charge heavy revenue from the farmers around the area, and villages were suffering because of paucity of funds. The two brothers used a cave in one of the isolate hills that we frequently visit to store their coins, they would meet here each evening to count the funds they had collected. Until one evening, out of greed, the eldest of the two brothers decided he would kill his youngest brother so that he could have all of their wealth for himself. Hiding over night in the cave he buried his younger brother and packed up all their earnings ready to re locate the following morning. However, story goes, that as he was leaving the cave, there was a huge explosion causing the rocks to crack and move and the elder brother in turn got crushed.

A figure of Kalka Devi, the Hindu mother goddess of time, change, power and destruction  was said to appear from amongst these rocks. With the two brothers gone, the wealth they had gathered was distributed amongst the villages and helped bring the farms around JAWAI back to their original splendour.  In worship of the goddess Kalka Devi- the people in the JAWAI area built a temple into the cave to shelter the goddess and create a home for her. This very temple is picture above, and thus, this cave was given its name- ‘DevGiri- Godbs own Hill’

It was then about 40 years ago that the local collector of the area sent some officials along with a few prominent villagers to examine the caves in this hill. A tunnel was found to exist from Devgiri to Nag Giri, another hill that we often drive to with our guests at JAWAI. Nag Giri or Nag Baap Ji as it is also known is a hill devoted to Lord Shiva or Shakti and is has very striking rock formations. The tunnel between the two hills covers a distance of nearly 1500 meters!  The mystery remains as to what this tunnel was used for and how many other tunnels like these exist but as we have discovered since being here in JAWAI- these tunnels have formed a great home to our feline friends!

The hills of JAWAI that we are so fortunate to share with our guests  provide shelter to various Hindu gods and wildlife. This coexistence of the communities of people who visit these hills daily with the wild animals we are fortunate to see on our wilderness drives and walks is truly a unique harmony. God, his people and his animals all living together.

We look forward to welcoming our guests for the upcoming new season at camp and sharing more of these wonderful legends of JAWAI. Come and listen first hand as you meet some of the villagers residing in our local communities and allow us to share with you this special destination where the wilderness has given home to the leopard in places of such religious significance for the neighbouring villagers.


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