Dating back to 2000 years ago, Sanskrit is revered for being the sacred language of Hinduism. It served as a connection between ancient and medieval South Asia. When Hinduism and Buddhism started to spread in Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Central Asia, Sanskrit had an immense influence. It was recognized as a language of high culture and political elites across several areas.
Over the years, the use of Sanskrit has declined immensely. The widely discussed reason behind its imperilling is the narrow outlook of Brahmins, who restricted the propagation of the language amongst the common folks. However, in some regions, Sanskrit continues to reign as the official language. Here's a look at five such villages.
Residing in Karnataka's Shimoga district, Mattur is famously known as one of those rare villages where everybody, till today, speaks Sanskrit. At the village's local school, Sanskrit is taught to around 5000 people to save the language from a tragic end. Even though Kannada is the state's most popular language, every resident speaks Sanskrit fluently in this village.
Hosa Halli, Karnataka
Regarded as Mattur's twin village and located across River Tunga, Hosa Halli can be reached easily by crossing a small strait concrete bridge. During the 16th century, King Krishna Deva Raya officiated Hosa Halli and Mattur as the core areas responsible for nurturing the use of Sanskrit. The two villages have also begun to attract international recognition with their successful implementation—people from all over the world travel here to learn Sanskrit.
How to reach: The nearest railway station is located in Shimoga, at a distance of approximately 8 km. Many local buses and taxis ply to Mattur and Hosa Halli from Shimoga.
Jhiri, Madhya Pradesh
Located roughly 45 km from Rajghar district, Jhiri's walls are covered with Sanskrit phrases, giving it a distinctive look. With just 1000 residents, everybody in the village speaks Sanskrit as their native language. The older people of the village teach kids in the temples, which is a beautiful sight to witness. No wedding rituals are complete without the women singing Sanskrit songs, making the event more joyful. Jhiri is becoming a point of attraction for travellers visiting Madhya Pradesh.
How to reach: Sarangpur is the nearest city to Jhiri, located at a distance of approximately 30 kilometres. From there, you can hail a local taxi or bus.
Inhabited mainly by the Brahmins, Sasana is home to 50 households and approximately 300 residents. The village has a long heritage of Sanskrit learning. Even the nearby village of Babkarpur has a tiny temple honouring the renowned poet Kalidasa, which speaks eloquently of the area's devotion and respect towards the language.
How to reach: Pattamundai is the nearest town, 29 km away from Sasana village. From there, you can hail a private bus or taxi to Sasana.
Tucked in the Banswara district of Rajasthan, Ganoda is another famous land of Sanskrit. A little more than two decades back, the people here used to talk in their regional tongue, Wagadi. Soon after, the students became fluent in Sanskrit after it was introduced in schools and colleges and included in the academic curriculum. As time passed, elders, too, began to learn Sanskrit from the youngsters. Today, as a result, the village has all its residents speaking Sanskrit.
How to reach: Visitors can hail public buses from Banswara, approximately 33 km away.