Local rock an “image of Ganesha”
A rock perched on a hill at Carisbrooke in Ixopo is attracting attention after being likened to Lord Ganesha and the site is being hailed as the “Area of Gods”.
Locals are a tizz after a historian, raised among Indians, pointed out the rock formation that resembled an elephant during a recent trip to the area’s primary school.
When POST headed for Carisbrooke, the image of an elephant – with a trunk, one ear and an eye – cut an imposing figure.
But a second rock formation, which Edmund Duma said resembled a monkey, symbolic of Lord Hanuman, and a third of a Shiva Linga, a representation of the Hindu deity Shiva, were not quite so distinct.
Duma along with some residents in Ixopo, who refer to the hill as the “Area of Gods”, are asking for a Hindu priest to visit and provide feedback on whether the rock formations could indeed be those of Indian gods and if so, they wanted this declared a prayer site.
In the interim, Duma, a teacher at Sethabile Primary School, who has a BA degree majoring in history, said he had approached various people in authority to make them aware of the find.
“Around 1998, while on an investigation of Khoisan paintings, I was led to a site of an ancient Hindu temple along the Umtwalumi River near Jolivet. I saw an image of an elephant.
“That was the first site and I got more knowledge of Hindu methodology. That’s how I was able to distinguish the Ganesha in Carisbrooke,” he said.
Duma said he had come across the current find in September.
“I was going to visit the principal at Carisbrooke Primary, and while driving I stopped to admire nature and the beauty of my surroundings.
“That’s when I saw the Ganesha. I thought it was almost similar to the one in Jolivet.
“To me, the image is that of Ganesha. I was also able to see images of Hanuman and a Shiva Linga.”
Duma said the area needed to be protected as a holy site.
“I would like Hindi priests to come here and confirm if these are Hindu gods and for national government to protect this place. That is a divine place,” added Duma, who is pursuing his Master’s degree in education at the University of Zululand.
He said when he told the principal of Carisbrooke Primary, Denn Shoba, of the godly find, Shoba was surprised.
Said Shoba: “I’ve been here since 1996 and have not taken note of the rock formation. When Edmund arrived, he said, ‘We have gods that belong to the Hindu religion here’. I was more than surprised.
“I called my colleagues and Edmund explained about the gods and pointed out what he saw.
“He said there are three Gods, Ganesha, Shiva Linga and Hanuman that resembled a monkey. I did not know there are people who have an elephant-headed god.”
Teacher Jabu Dlamini said she too had not seen the image of the elephant on the hill until Duma’s revelation.
Shoba said he later attended a meeting and told people present about the “Area of Gods”.
One of those who attended and paid heed to what Shoba said was Julian Pereira, the nominated manager of Paton’s Narrow Gauge Railway, who is also a member of the Southern Midlands Tourism Association.
Pereira, an agricultural scientist, provided insight into the “Area of Gods”.
“In the book Cry the Beloved Country by renowned South African author Alan Paton, he wrote about a priest whose son was going to be put to death by hanging.
“A night before this could happen, the priest climbed to the top of the hill and prayed at a cave. That is how the hill, in which we now find three gods, came into the book.”
Pereira said he went out to the area in question with Shoba and a Hindu friend and was shown the rock shapes.
He could clearly see an elephant and believed the rocks could have been placed there by the ancient gods.
The Hindu friend, who declined to be named, was unsure if the image was that of Lord Ganesha.
“When I saw it, I was immediately able to distinguish an elephant, but I cannot say for certain that it is of the Indian god.”
She did, however, have her own theories about the elephant’s origin.
“It could have been an elephant that turned into stone, like the ice age, or it could have been that people from ancient times lived there and worshipped the elephant.”
Pereira said three steam and two diesel trains at Paton’s Country Narrow Gauge Railway would provide tours to the site.
But anyone wanting a closer look would need to trek up the hill.
The president of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, Ashwin Trikamjee, said the rock formation could be that of an elephant or an image of Ganesha. It would be up to people and devotees to decide.
“If it helps people sustain their Hindu beliefs, then I am happy for those followers to believe it is Ganesha,” he said.