Spotted Devil of Gummalapur, a walk back: Man and Machine trip- part 4 Gummalapuram-Devarabeta


Spotted Devil of Gummalapur, a walk back

Man and Machine trip- part 4 Gummalapuram-Devarabeta (Spotted Devil of Gummalapur- A walk back)


On my ongoing lone trip, I stayed at a place which is a small village and its related to a story with a heading of Spotted Devil of Gummalapur by Kenneth Anderson. So I mixed my travelogue with the relationship of the places in the story. Kindly read the  story in full.

Kenneth Anderson's tales are masterpieces of storytelling. He brings to life the Indian jungle,vividly and with his simple ways of story telling,he takes you on a journey with him.you feel like he is with you.his broad understanding of the fauna and flaura ,especially the tigers and panthers,which abounded in those days,bring to you , a deep sense of respect not only for the hunter,but the hunted!



Gummalpuram


Gummalpuram not much developed to my expectation.A still sleepy villages with numerous houses along the two main streets.
Entrance to Gummalapuram
Main street of Gummalapuram
Not modern, but decent houses and shops are both sides of the street. It looks same as KA mentioned in his story. There are two main streets.
I parked my bike and opted to walk towards the end of the road and explore myself. I found at the end of the street there is a well. Then  I thought that KA told about it some where in his stories about a well at the end of a street. He had sat on the wall of the well expecting the man eater. There were papaya trees instead of houses nearby presently.But later I realized that occurred in Kempakare
The water at the end of  street of Gummalapuram
Some girls were around the well fetching water and I could not make more photos of this area.
View of  Main street  from well of Gummalapuram some where here KA spent  night to bag the leopard
Causally, I asked some peoples about leopard and wildlife in generally. Then I came to our subject of a man eating leopard operated in the same village long years ago. none of the villagers had any clues.It was unbelievable that none of them remember any stories especially the Gummalpur man eater is well documented and officially claimed 42 human beings from the the same locality. He had photos and official records of the killing and trophy. I compared if same incidents would occurred in  my village about 60 -70 years ago. Then I would have some knowledge from my parents or grandparents. Strange enough. If things are going like this I won't get any more information  or clues of other stories. So I concluded that in future it is not worth to spent lot of time to speak to villagers about the authenticity of Kenneth Andersons  stories. 
View of  Main street   of Gummalapuram 
Devarabetta 

Deverabetta is located abot 5 kilometers from Gummalapuram.It has two hillocks and small temple at the one of the hill tops. Back side of these hills lies the  forest area. 

Atternate names :Thevarabettam,Devarabetta
Devarabetta, view of the Temple
Devarabetta, view from the Temple
Devarabetta, main street of village,  view of from the Temple side
On my return journey with a damped heart, the bike roared  to Devarabetta 
I took a right turn from the main road and travelled through village roads. This is a no for any car entry. There is another straight road to Thally from Devarabetta.
Between the two villages fields for vegetable farming can be seen and in the evening ride I smell the sweetness of flowers. There are some green houses and high tech farming is on the verge.  Drip irrigation is widely used to improve yield.  Tamil Nadu government taken care well on this remote village for water and technology.
A roadside view 
Reached Devarabetta at around 5.30 my plan is to stay at Thally in some hotel after finishing my work as fast as possible.  Not a single minute to spare. I don't like night riding.  I got information accommodation in Thally may be difficult.  In that case I will travel to Jawalagiri and stay at Kerala shop owners house.  But things are nicer in that night.
Devarabetta, view from main street of village,  of Temple side and the hillocks
Devarabetta, view of Temple side and the hillocks
The temple is situated beneath two hillocks and there are some visitors at that time. 
  In a mini bus and in cars. There is one group of devotees from Bangalore who serve themselves as volunteers for the weekly feast and worship. The prasadam in are very famous and Pilgrims from other areas gathering here. So this group about 15 people provides breakfast and lunch for all whom coming here.
My place of residence on that day
They  regularly comes on Sunday afternoon stayed there in their own buildings and  start to preparing vegetables etc. met the head of that swamis and  learned that all are based on Bangalore and in good positions in society. here I saw real face of humanity and true love to another human without any consideration of my name , language, creed, race. I asked permission to stay with them that night and it was readily acceptable to them .They knew u have no alternatives in that isolated village.  They invited me to have coffee and offered supper and breakfast too. I was very lucky indeed.  I introduced to some of villagers too myself and parked my bike.  After hearing this, relaxed, I went to the village and find some elders to talk.  
It was safe and neat
That evening, 5 or 6 people gathered around me.  Everybody  might wondered of my  strange questions about man eating leopard. We sat in verandah of a house. I told their village is famous for some reason in minds of nature loving people.  And explained the situation and about a legendary Dorai and how he shot the man eater in the same street.  After asking permission to walk around the village and streets and studied the place carefully.  About 75 meters in length the main street is divided by the tarred road to temple. Most of the house were new and domestic animals everywhere.  All things and atmosphere is matched exactly as per KA"S writing.
Devarabetta, view from main street of village,  of Temple side and the hillocks
Found some village curs and I thought they were predecessors of the dog Nipper.
I disappointed to hear none of the villagers knew about a leopard which was a man eater.    This was an old story about 50 to 60 years ago and I asked them to remember if anybody's mother or father told any stories about a man eater in the same village. Obviously there are panthers in the bennarghetta forest which lies within 100 meters from village and sightings are reported.   Nobody given any clues.  Most of them came to the village before 20 years or 30 years.  Original villagers may perished and gone to other places.  One of the ladies told some legend and stories of Puli.  It was a friendly tiger which inhabited in the temple long years ago.  People believed as it is like a watchman to the god I. The temple. And present nearby the temple always. It had no harm to the people or cattle.  But afraid folks gradually reduced their visit. And so god made vanished him suddenly.  Then people began to come and worship again.
Explanations of the villagers.
Hearing this and no other clues about our hero and made a walk towards the hill to have a visit. And thinking that I may come across small group of people and there will be someone in the village to remember the happenings in the past. I missed the persons and in a mere half hour I couldn't make a more fruit full inquiry. 
The temple of the top of  the rock
The temple of the top of one of the two rock is also attracts too many people. The top of rock itself may be about 5 acres in area and temple situated exactly centre of it.  Local authorities made a new stairs almost half to the hill made of cement and hand rails. I saw numerous small pieces of flat rock pieces stacked in same fashion all around the hilltop. This was the work of pilgrims who placed rock pieces piled as small pyramids. When I enquired later about these custom, no villagers given specific answer. The places looked feeling   too much eerie in that evening. But scenery in the west was enough to calm my mind. Look the photos which took from there, it's marvelous to see the sun.
Way to the hiltop and Temple,I was already late
View of countryside  from hill. the white areas are caused by granite mining

Deverabetta  view from hiltop, you can see the main village and  the mango garden along the way to temple
Sun was going down at the scene was  picturesque.  Alone in the hills enjoy the cool wind flowing from Bennaghetta forest. In the hiltop, I got strong signals on  my phone and I sat in rock and posted some pictures in face book. I contacted home here and in the process of browsing I forgot the time and space.
 Bennaghetta forest,view from hiltop
Still I could see the after rays of a sunset, but suddenly I felt too cold and I looked around. Darkness. Before closing my phone I glanced at the screen. Time is 6.59pm! I have to walk about 1 kilometer in length to get a safer place. I had noticed droppings of some animals previously, but could not judge its of dogs or jackals. There were so may rock lizards running between the small boulders and pieces of rock. I stood up and in a hurry walked towards the temple.
Bennaghetta forest,view from rock is mind blowing as well as eerie
A Lizard in rocks
After negotiating the temple and started to climb down the stairs, I looked back the area for a last look. Something moving at far side of hilltop fell in my eyes. Not one, about one dozen dog like creatures emerged one by one and sniffing the rocks. i could see shadows of smaller ones too.They now reached at exact place where I sat. I could not see the animals clearly, because the last departing rays of sun made only silhouettes of those animals. As the moving shadows suggested, I thought that may be dogs. But number of one dozen made me some doubt, as dogs won't hunt in evenings in a group. I saw a number of dogs in the village just half an hour before. And they are seriously enjoying the warm climate there. I could see smaller ones among the group and definitely they were looking for the little lizards hiding behind the small stones. May it be a pack of jackals, coming t from the opposite forest?  Or in worst case, pack of a wild dogs. Both are extremely dangerous, as per my knowledge. Even if a solitary jackals bite can cause rabies, and there is no remedy from that deadly virus. I freezed some moments I was totally stranger there, no means to know what these animals are. Even If they were village dogs, there was also some risks in running. Running is easy  through all the steps  with my backpack, but I was not sure that any such animals will  be there in front of me. Then I had an idea. Next few minutes will tell  you that idea was foolish or a brilliant one.

  I have loaded an app with animal sounds, especially of Tiger, to my phone. When putting in speaker it produces considerable loud growling of tiger.  I thought this sounds will make disturbance  and   assist to drive away any wild animals.  Even Anderson can imitate a tiger call and do the magic, then why not my tiny iPhone can produce a real tiger sound and do the magic again? I wanted to test it to some animals like an elephant. But my first day, at Bavali, I could not do so as I got no time to even react for the charging  elephant.

In a hurry, I opened the app and tap for tiger sound. In calm and very silent evening of open hiltop, it made a considerable sound. Hearing these all the shadows halted for one second. Then all of them started running towards the origin of sound. I turned, afraid and bolted at full speed. Within one minute I came to the last step of the stairs.  After passing a small concrete bridge I just looked back in fear. I could see some figures on the hiltop, where I stand a minute ago. Our building is situated right at the foot of the hill facing road.
 I reached in safety of the building, and ashamed to describe the incident to to my new roommates
The Temple at dusk
But the village man, named Kari, who supplies and sells milk to the volunteers, told something's to me and it still in my mind. He told me not wander outside in night as there are thieves around. They can do anything for some money or for a mobile phone. But he added, this place is safe.

After having a hot bath at the building, sit with swamis where they inquired my whereabouts. Then I gone out to the Main temple. It was closing time and the priest in charge given more details about the temple and its culture here. When I come back I saw the entire group indulged in preparation of some food for tomorrow. I helped them. Later, the elder ladies in the group, told me to make some twines for her to make garlands and I do so,
Prayer room 
It is dinner time. I was so lucky to have a Kannada vegetarian dinner on that day and it is delicious.
 Dinner time
That was the first time I saw the Raggi ball. I remembered Anderson also ate this, while in jungle. So I wanted to try. It is large as a cricket ball, brown in color, and should taken before rice and almost tasteless (atleast  to me). I imitated what all of others do, to eat the new dish. Place the ragie ball in a plate, press its centre and make like deep hole. Pour some curry in the centre, now  it seems like a pool. Then eat from the centre.  With some curries, slowly I liked it.  Then followed by generous amount of rice and hot sambar, in the cold night, I was satisfied in all the way.
Raggi ball
I got slept in the hall while I put my phone and power banks on charge and in full safety, in mind, I slept heavily.
At about 3 am, awoken sharply by sound of dogs outside the temple and they are barking to just outside of our building. Assumed that they are staying at one point and looking to the hillside and barking. It continued bout half hour. I don't know what caused them to barking. the situation  seemed too much worrysome and may be some wild animals came at a that  night for a  free meal from village in the form of fowl or goats ? Will it  be the pack of  wild dogs? I don't know. My wild thoughts told me to believe that will be a panther hiding behind the small bushes on the hillside, just back of our building. I went to look at the spot next morning   at a safety of terrace of our building. That spot is a miniature forest with two trees and small undergrowth and a perfect hiding place between the building and the hill.
Arial view of the building. You can see the steps, and adjacant miniature forest around the buildings

A morning scene

Spotted Devil of Gummalapur, a walk back



Please read the story prior to read this..those who read the book,take it lightly as the contents may be vary from pictures which in your mind beautifully stored.



THE ESSENCE OF THE STORY:


Gummalapur and Devarabetta are tiny villages in southern Karnataka/TN border. At sundown, the villagers would barricade their doors, daring to venture out only in daylight. This caused a health crisis, as sanitation was poor, and the villagers dared not venture to the adjacent wasteland which acted as a latrine. In its frustration, the leopard began entering through the thatched walls and roofs of the huts, in one case, killing all four inhabitants of one hut. It was eventually killed by Kenneth Anderson, who would later note that the animal had an injury preventing it from hunting its natural prey. Anderson narrated the events in his Nine Man-Eaters and one Rogue, published in 1954, though the exact dates of the attacks are not specified.

KA has a broad understanding of the fauna and flaura ,especially the tigers and panthers,which abounded in those days,bring to you , a deep sense of respect not only for the hunter ,but the hunted!


THE PLOT

First page of the story 



About Gumalapuram



Gumalapuram is a Village in Thally Taluk in Krishnagiri District of Tamil Nadu State, India.It is located 72 KM towards west from District head quarters Krishnagiri 



Bangalore , Ramanagaram , Malur , Magadi are the nearby Cities to Gumalapuram 


Tamil is the official Local Language here. But I noted Telugu and Kannada is widely used than Tamil by local villagers

Alternate Village Name : Gumlapuram, Gummalpur,Gumlapura

Gumalapuram liest before 5 km to Thally on Anekel- Anchetty route. Map of the area and main towns

Relative towns around Gummalapuram

There is no railway station near to Gumalapuram and Devarabeta in less than 10 km. How ever Bangalore City Jn Rail Way Station is major railway station 50 KM near to Gumalapuram 



Gumalapuram, a village view 
Contents

This leopard had established a record of some 42 human killings and a reputation for veritable cunning that almost exceeded human intelligence. Some fearful stories of diabolical craftiness had been attributed to him, but certain it was that the panther was held in awe throughout an area of some 250 square miles over 
Gumalapuram, a stree view 
Before sundown the door of each hut in every one of the villages within this area was fastened shut, some being re in-forced by piles of boxes or large stones, kept for the purpose. Not until the sun was well up in the heavens next morning did the timid inhabitants venture to expose them selves. This state of affairs rapidly told on the sanitary condition of the houses, the majority of which were not equipped with latrines of any sort, the adjacent waste land being used for the purpose. Finding that its human meals were increasingly difficult to obtain, the panther became correspondingly bolder, and in two instances burrowed its way in through the thatched walls of the smaller huts, dragging its screaming victim out the same way, while the whole village lay awake, trembling behind closed doors, listening to the shrieks of the victim as he was carried away. In one case the panther, frustrated from burrowing its way in through the walls, which had been boarded up with rough planks, resorted to the novel method of entering through the thatched roof. In this instance it found itself unable to carry its prey back through the hole it had made, so  fury had killed all four inhabitants of the hut a man, his wife and two children before clawing its way back to the darkness outside and to safety.


First hunt for the leopard

Kenneth Anderson arrived at Gummalapur at the request of the District Magistrate in order to rid the area of the leopard. Anderson received no help from the villagers, who believed that any attempt in assisting him would bring about the wrath of the leopard.

At 6 pm, Anderson set himself upon a chair in front of a 12-foot  high wall covered in thorns as a precaution should the leopard attempt to ambush him from behind. Throughout the night, Anderson unsuccessfully attempted to attract the leopard by coughing and talking to himself loudly. The night proved fruitless, and by noon, the villagers became much more cooperative, thinking that Anderson’s loud remarks at night were conversations with spirits.

Second hunt for the leopard

The next night, Anderson instructed the villagers to lend him a hut, where a life like dummy would be placed within, with the front door left ajar in order to lure the leopard. Anderson himself hid within the hut behind a pile of boxes near the dummy. The night passed with no results. The next night, Anderson was awoken from an unintentional sleep by the growls of the leopard, which upon realising the deception, bolted away into the jungle.

Gumalapuram, another  view 
He had a few hours' sleep and at noon fell to questioning the villagers again. Having found him still alive that morning  villagers  were considerably more communicative and gave him a few more particulars about the beast. Apparently the leopard wandered about its domain a great deal, killing erratically and at places widely distant from one another,  never in succession at the same village. As no human had been killed at Gummalapur within the past three weeks, it seemed that there was much to be said in favour of staying. Another factor against wandering about was that this beast was rarely visible in the daytime. It was reported that the animal had been wounded in its right fore-foot, since it had the habit of placing the pad side wards.

New houses along the streets in place of huts
Kenneth Anderson had conceived a fresh plan for that night. This was to leave a door of one of the huts open, and to place a life-like dummy of a human being; meanwhile,he would remain in a corner of the same hut.
The night
Gumalapuram, a village road view 
As per plan KA  waited for the panther.  now the murmuring voices from the neighboring huts had ceased. Tired Anderson  evidently fell asleep, tired out by his vigil of the two previous nights. He awoke abruptly with a start, and a feeling that all as not well. The rain had ceased and the sky had cleared a little, for the oblong patch of open doorway was more visible now, with the crouched figure of the dummy seated at its base.

The location
Then, as he  watched, a strange thing happened. The dummy seemed to move, and as he looked more intently it suddenly disappeared with a snarling growl. KA realised that the panther had come, seen the crouched figure of the dummy in the doorway which it had mistaken for a human being, and then proceeded to stalk it, creeping at the opening on its belly. The growl which he  heard was at the panther's realisation that the thing it had attacked was not human. 

Switching on  torch he ran to the open door way, to dash outside., But in vain

Third hunt for the leopard

In Devarabetta, as the name suggests there are 2 hillocks with a temple at the top of one. Adjacent to these hillocks there are quite a few opportunities for a rock climbing. One monolith is around 80-90 feet high and the temple is situated right at the base.

To the west and north of Devarabetta is the jungle with the vegetation similar to Bannerghatta forest . The terrain consists of low hills with the valleys having thick vegetation. The forest continues as far as Rangaswami hills in the west to Bannerghatta reserve in the north. There are also a few waterholes which should provide opportunities for watching the local wildlife.


View of Bannerghatta natioanl park 
Devarabetta is situated between Bannerghatta natioanl park and Rangaswamy betta. Deverabetta forest is contiguous to Bannerghatta national park and home for wild elephants.



Devarabetta, view from satellite of the Temple, the mango forest,and main village
Devarabetta, view from the hiltop of the mango forest,and main village
 mango Garden between temple and village
Realizing that the leopard would not strike at Gummalapur again for a long while, Anderson journeyed to the village of Devarabetta, where the leopard had struck a month before. Anderson placed himself behind a thorn covered wall like on the first hunt, though this time he had the advantage of being closer to the jungle, thus making it easier to detect the arrival of the leopard through the alarm calls of other animals. During the night, Anderson was approached by a malnourished pariah dog, which he named "Nipper" and fed during the night. After a few hours, the dog awoke from its sleep, and exhibited signs of fear. Anderson spotted the leopard climbing over the hut roofs, but lost sight of it in the dark. After a few minutes searching, Anderson was alerted to the leopard’s presence by the dog’s barking. Upon turning, Anderson saw the leopard charge him. Firing three rounds from his .405 Winchester, Anderson killed the leopard, whose carcass was immediately set upon by the dog.





Relations of Gummalapuram in red and Deverabetain blue
Time passed, and then down the lane Anderson caught sight of some -movement. Raising his cocked rifle, he pointed the object, which slowly approached.In the   in the middle of the street.  It seemed a frail and slender animal,  about twenty yards and he pressed the button of  torch.



Probable place of Anderson waited for the animal
Nipper 

Nipper has been with Kenneth Anderson many years since this story, and never to regretted giving him the few biscuits and sandwich that won his little heart, and caused him to repay that small debt within a couple of hours, by saving Anderson's life.

The meeting

As the powerful beam threw across the intervening space it lighted a village cur, commonly known  as a 'pariah dog. Starving and lonely, it had sought out human company; it stared blankly into the bright beam of light, feebly wagging a skinny tail in unmistakable signs of friendliness.

Nipper approached  still wagging its  tail. KA fed it with some biscuits and a sandwich, and in the dull light of the star-lit sky its eyes looked back at him  in dumb gratitude for the little food I had given it, perhaps the first to enter its stomach for the past two days. Then it curled up at his feet and fell asleep.


Anderson and Nipper
Dog experts use the term "pariah dog" for ancient or primitive dog, regardless of lineage or lifestyle. Indian pariah dogs are typically medium-sized and have yellow to rust-colored coats. Indian feral dogs are thought to be the ancestral stock of Australian Dingo. Another interesting fact to me is that, sea-farers from India brought their dogs to Australia 4000 years ago and these constituted the ancestral population of the dingo.(pariah is derived from the Tamil word paraiyar, first used in English in 1613 to refer to the lowest level of the traditional Indian caste system; in English, it is used to mean "social outcast).  

The Final meeting

After midnight vigil, KA saw an elongated body spring swiftly and noiselessly on to the roof of a hut some twenty yards away. As it happened, all the huts adjoined each other at this spot, and he guessed the panther had decided to walk along the roofs of these adjoining huts and spring upon him from the rear. 
He stand up quickly and placed his back against the wall. In this position, his  head was coverd by roof over  The rifle he kept ready, finger on trigger, with his left thumb on the torch switch, pressed to his side and pointing upwards.


Anderson heard few seconds later, a faint rustling as the leopard endeavoured to negotiate the thorns. which put  for precaution. THe killer evidently failed in this, for there was silence again. Now  means of knowing where he was is zero .
The extrem end of village.He sat opposite in this scenery
Fifteen minutes passed in terrible anxiety, with KA glancing in all directions in the attempt to locate the leopard before he sprang. And then Nipper, that had been restless and whining at Andersons feet, ran to the middle of the street, faced the corner of the hut against which KA was sheltering and began to bark lustily. This warning saved his life.Within five seconds the panther charged. KA had just time to press the torch switch and fired  into the blazing eyes. The .405 bullet struck squarely, and Andersonjumped to one side, and as the panther crashed against the wall of the hut. KA emptied two more rounds  into the evil, spotted body.
Probable place of the shooting occured
Te Panther  collapsed and dead.  And then Nipper,the friend  cur, staunch in faithfulness to his new found master, rushed in and fixed his feeble teeth in the throat of the dead monster.

And so passed the 'Spotted Devil of Gummalapur. Anderson describes this panther has  malignant craftiness he  had never heard the like before .

Becoming a man-eater

Upon skinning the body, Anderson found two porcupine quills lodged between the toes of the leopard’s right forefoot, an injury preventing it from hunting its swift natural prey. He found that the injury to the right paw had not been caused, by a previous bullet wound. This must have happened quite a while before, as a gristly formation between the bones inside the foot had covered the quills.

It was also revealed that before becoming a man-eater, the injured leopard frequently fed upon the corpses of cholera victims left in the forest. thus habituating it to the consumption of human flesh.

References

The Spotted Devil of Gummalapur, Nine Man-Eaters and one Rogue, Kenneth Anderson, Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1954