Aare O Sambha ! ‘ Sholay Town ‘ Ramanagar Is Calling…

Mangalore: ?Are you also one of them who say “Let?s go inside the nature!?? Are you fed up of the inevitable daily life style? You needn’t worry at all!! Because a trip to Ramanagar hills will return those precious things you lost out on!! Come and treat yourself with some adventure; have loads of fun; take time to breathe some fresh air and just explore!! Most importantly, you will have an opportunity to experience a stay, and to adventure at a “Paradise” away from the hustles and hassles of a city life, where you find time to simply be and hear the silence of nature.

While coming back from Bangalore, going towards Mysore for the Dasara finale celebrations, my eyes caught the sight of the big rocks and hills from far away, and the sign that said ” Ramanagar Welcomes You ” brought back memories of the movie ” Sholay ” which I saw decades back. Me and my friend decided to go and have a glimpse of those hills and rocks – the scenery was awesome and picturesque. The hills and rocks that were featured in the ‘ Sholay’ movie were still there, but all the huts/small houses (some of them are still in good condition, while others are dilapidated) which were built and used during the ‘Sholay’ shooting are now being happily used by the villagers. Ramanagara, is? famous for its silk market, and will always be remembered as the setting of Bollywood classic Sholay, which was shot there in the 1970s, and the film was released in August 1975. Everyone who passes through Ramanagara, called Ramgarh in Sholay, learns this bit of filmy history. It is learned that a new resort, plans to capitalise on the city’s fame-but until now nothing has come up.

The Ramgarh Resort and Spa, which is supposed to be developed by the Anantara Hotels and Resorts under the name Amritara, is basing its entire theme around the cult-status of Sholay! The resort, located on 6.67 acres of land, will even have characters from the movie on the staff. For instance, Gabbar Singh (played by Amjad Khan in Sholay) will be a masseuse, and there will be a ‘Gabbar’s Den’, it will attempt to deliver authentic food from “Thakur Ki Haveli” and beverages from “Gabbar Ka Adda”. Another thing on offer will be animators re-creating scenes from the movie. The resort will also provide horse riding, rappelling, and assorted in-house games designed around Sholay. And they are looking at getting a resort manager who looks like the host in the movie -Sanjeev Kumar ! But we will have to wait and see if the resort plans are going to be a reality ?
When the final draft of Sholay, written by Salim-Javed, was given to director Ramesh Sippy, he explored many locations but finally zeroed in on Ramanagar, a village near Bangalore (now Bengaluru). Major portions of the film were shot in Ramanagar and after the film became a huge hit, the villagers have re-named a small village there as Sippynagar. The village was called Ramgarh in the film. In the rocky terrain of Ramanagar, there are huge rocks of granite. No doubt that Ramesh Sippy’s blockbuster made a small town near Bangalore a buzzing touring destination.

That location was used as Gabbar?s (Amjad Khan) hideout. His men sat on top of the rock, keeping a close eye on any attacks by the police. Sambha (late Mac Mohan) delivered his only four word dialogue, ?Sarkar Poore Pachas Hazaar? sitting at the edge of a huge rock. This specific area even now draws a lot of tourists from all over the country and world.

” Jab Tak Hain Jaan ” which has Hema Malini dancing bare feet in front of the Gabbar and his men was also shot at the same location used as Gabbar?s hideout. Thakur?s house (Sanjeev Kumar) was also built in Ramanagara. The hit song ?Yeh Dosti? featuring Amitabh and Dharmendra was picturised in the same village. But the the train robbery sequence, which was the first of its kind in Hindi cinema for the action scenes and sound effects, was shot on the Mumbai Pune railway route near Panvel. Ramesh Sippy took more than 7 weeks to shoot the action sequence. It is the locations used in the film which gives a layer and a character to a film apart from individual performances. All the locations were just perfect for Ramesh Sippy?s blockbuster ” Sholay “.

Ramanagara is also famous some of the world’s oldest granite outcrops. The hill Ramadevarabetta, along with Savandurga was one of the shooting locations for David Lean’s ” A Passage to India ” movie.. Small door like grottoes were made in the rock to resemble caves. Other well known hills in the region include the Revanasideshwara hill and Handigundi. These hills have been threatened by quarrying and also plans to carve these hills into statues. The region is covered in scrub forest and is home to threatened bird species such as the Yellow-throated Bulbul and Long-billed Vultures. The hill is today one of the few locations in south India where Long-billed Vultures nest. The region is also home to numerous sloth bears.Tigers were found in the region in the 1900s, but now they are extinct said the villagers. Rangarayara doddi has a large lake and boating facilities available for cheap rent, and also has a hill named as Panchavatti, a slope hill with caves, and the villagers said sometimes Bears do visit often after dark.
There are about seven hills in 10Km radius of Ramanagara, viz, Yatirajagiri, Sidilakallu Betta Shivaramagiri, Krishnagiri, Somagiri, Revanna Siddeshwara Betta and Jala Siddeshwara Betta, Randevara Betta. All these sites offer abundant opportunities for trekking, camping and exploring the wilderness of nature. There are quite a few granite hills around Ramanagar, which are great attractions for adventure enthusiasts. Ramadevar beta is the same place known as Ramagad in the famous Bollywood film Sholay. The famous Gabbar Sing was sitting on this hill with Samba and Kaalia.

So, open the door to Ramanagar ,just about 275 kms from crowded Mangalore city, going towards Mysore-Bangalore, where every moment adds beauty. See yourself connect with the pristine nature. Be welcomed by the chirping of birds and of course, not to forget the misty mornings…… If you want to make a difference along with having fun, here?s the right space for you to appreciate nature the way to be an eco-traveler. Private tour organizers under their travel package will also arrange Trekking, Rappelling and Rock climbing, Bird watching, Nature and Wild Life Exploration, Star gazing( you get to sleep under the vast sky and be astonished with the numerous twinkling stars spread out above you), and Cave Walk. And I bet you will love ” Ramanagar ” the same way the producers, directors and the cast of ” Sholay ” loved it !

Author: Alfie DSouza- Illinois