The ancient kingdom on Idanre hill is a non-fictional city on several hills. Fertile lands, streams, vegetation, great topography, a fairy taste of heaven and haven for the ancient people of Idanre, and a land of ancient civilization lived for about a period of 800-years.
If you have ever read or heard of Atlantis, an ancient fictional submerged city of Atlantics, Idanre Hill is a similitude ancient city but real of the some Yoruba in the South West, Ondo State, Nigeria.
The very town of Idanre is enwrapped with hills of different shapes and sizes. And the very sight of this Nigerian Tourist site is grandeur view of gigantic hills caught up in the blue sky, or in the cloud depending on your time of beholding or visiting.
Visiting the hills is not without the grandeur of touring, yet, if there is one thing I learned, it is never to visit the Idanre Hills, but explore the hills.
Visiting the Hills
For the very first time, I tried to hitch-hike my way to Idanre. I had braced myself with all the tactics of hitch-hiking but all my readings, and “YouTubing”, and its possibilities were futile .perhaps a bad timing, perhaps…, I don’t know. So I had to find my way to the nearest park, at Idanre Garage. Idanre is N300.
Kindly Note: You can also get to Idanre Hills, from Ilesha Garage, and from Oja-Oba, for a fee of N400. (However, this price was at the time I visited.)
Experience on the bike
The journey then began inside a small golf car with 6 passengers (This was actually not convenient) and almost at Alade-Idanre, the car developed a mechanical fault.
This cost myself and some travelers about 30 minutes before we saw some bike men at different intervals who charged us N100, a refund from the driver. The bike man is called John. And we easily got along after telling him my mission, and he also told me he is an Igbo who has been living in Idanre for a while. I also revealed I served in Abia State, as a Youth Corper. Our conversation did not stop until he dropped me at the entrance gate.
Oh! We were two passengers on this bike, but the woman alighted a few minutes before mine.
The tour guide I met was one Mr. John. And I must commend him for narrating all he can, answering my questions, and most especially pulling me up at a point I nearly slipped. However, my curious self was not satisfied until I met one Mr. Femi, a cab driver, who I believed should be in his late 50s.
When I alighted from the bike, I quickly found my way to their reception to pay the sum of ₦1000 naira. (This was at the time I visited). Then, we proceeded to the climb.
Mr. John had suggested I get a bottle of water, but I thought, climbing Idanre is just another Olumo. Little did I know that I would soon be weary.
I didn’t get to rest at the first checkpoint, even though I was tired, but at the second checkpoint, I rested, skipped the third, then the fourth and fifth. Climbing the rock was tiring for me because I carried a backpack and I was dehydrated.
I (we -were) was surrounded by vegetation’s, and the sounds of some creatures did not cease all through the journey as the tour guide and I shared jokes, stories, and comments on government focusing on tourism,
Besides, I was expecting to see animals, I mean wild ones, just for the fun of touring the hills but none was at sight except some snake that slithered away and some squirrels the tour guide tried to kill.
Features on the Rock
These are the following features on the rock according to the tourist guide. I saw some but wasn’t opportune to go to some due to time.
- The great steps-682 steps.
- The five resting points (These resting points are not well kept except one, the first resting point)
- Arun River (A medicinal water that cures all kinds of illness, you can drink from this ).
- Aghagha Hills: These lead to Agbogun Foot Print. This is the footprint of the first king that rules on top of the hill. Myth has it that if you put your foot, it will be your side no matter the sizes that are placed there.
- Wonderful mat- Rock that has some pattern
- Ancient palace (25 Kings ruled on the hill).
- First Primary School in Idanre.
- Ark of Noah ( Tour guide says it looks like an Ark, but a rock shaped)
- The unreadable letter- ( Adie ko we, Oyinbo ka ti—a white man finds it difficult to read the chicken’s handwriting)
- Tourist Chalets-
The fact that I could not tour Idanre Hills within the supposedly allocated time that day was super disappointing. I wish I saw all the wonderful things the hills have to offer. Also, the fact that the tourist guide was solely interested in surcharging me to take me to Agbogun footprint, was disappointing. Perhaps if these recommendations are followed, tourists can tour Idanre in a day, and enjoy the beauty of the hills.
Also, the hills look unkempt. The hued rock steps are weedy when I visited. Not forgetting the resting points, some with a detached roof.
Talk with the Locals
“Whenever you visit any Nigerian Historical site, do talk with a native”- This is one piece of advice and a mantra i will always recommend to anyone who wants to tour any new location.
Idanre, pronounced dialectical as “udane” means “This is a wonder”, a meaning told me by one Mr. Femi, a cab driver, who I believed should be in his late 50s from Odode Idanre whom I met by sheer luck to answer some of my curiosity.
He didn’t look facially and in his accent like a Yoruba man, but Igbo but not until our conversation grew so intense that he revealed to me his nativity, how the name Idanre emerged, why they left the ancient city, Orosun festival and demystifying some myth.
How the Name Idanre emerged.
There might be another myth on this, but I must let you know that all through this narration, Mr. Femi kept repeating “according to my late father.” and ” As I was told”.
He(Mr. Femi) says the name Idanre emerged after a rock named Ojimba was commanded and it brought out different fruits to quench the hunger of some warriors who had come to the hills in pursuit of Olofin, one of the descendants of Oduduwa, a hunter who fled to the hills with an ancestral crown.
Olofin earlier residing on the level ground, led to the hills after he consulted Ifa that some men were coming to retrieve the crown he took from Ile Ife and that they might likely kill him.
This made him ran to the hills where he always hunts and having gained the mastery of the hills and its hideouts.
And on a trail, they also climbed the hills where the mythical Ojimba provided them with food at their enchantments, and immediately, closed up. This made them exclaim ‘I dan re” which literally means “This is a wonder”
Why the indigenous people left the hills
According to my raconteur, the people of Idanre left the hills due to what he believed to be foresight.
Mr. Femi says the forefathers believed that someday, there would be an expansion of the kingdoms, ( Alade, Odode, and Atosin/ Oke Nifon Idanre ) and there would be intercultural trade which will make it very difficult for the people to interact with other communities.
In his words “Imagine they were to carry a bag of cocoa for trade from the top or ascend the hill with it, it is a deadly venture, because there is no means of transporting such. ”
How about Orosun festival?
In the olden days, there are powerful men and women, who angrily left their community due to one reason and the other, and Orosun is one of such figures.
Orosun loved children but was barren however whenever there is a sick child, in the case of Abiku or convulsion, Orosun will run to the house, by her power and squeeze her breast and give her the milk.
In his words, Emere- breasts secrete milk. ( He believes Orosun may be Emere).
So back to Orosun, she used her power to cure any children. So she does this, and her fame grew.
Unfortunately, she was insulted by someone due to her barrenness. Then she became angry and left to the hills. According to the myth, she placed her leg on a rock and disappeared. Although there are stories about whether she disappeared or tuned to stone, that spot is a symbolic stone on top of the hills.
And whenever the festival is being held, The Osolos (worshippers of Orosun) always pray to Aworo, shouting “Ye re mi”- a call plea to remember their petitions.
Demystifying a myth- Noah’s Ark
Remember Mr. John, the tourist guide believes that there is no Noah’s ark on the rock but a figurine, however, my new raconteur believes otherwise.
“Emmh sir, is it true that Noah’s Ark on Idanre is a rock and not an actual thing?”
“No, the ark is real and not a rock. Didn’t you see it?” He said.
“I was not opportune to visit the part they said it’s resting on. The tourist guide I met says it’s far. “I replied.
“Oh… You should have, or at least not leave in a hurry. He continued. You see, there are a lot of things I should tell you about the hills, but no one knows another man’s belly. And besides, the newfound religion has made us abandoned a lot of things about the culture and tradition of Idanre. I am an example.”
I alighted from his car after the interesting ride and stories, and I ensured I got his contact in case I need anything about Idanre.
Would I love to visit the hills again? Certainly yes. But it is never to actually visit, but comb the hills, which will be possible within a couple of days as I have been advised, and you should do the same when you visit.
Spend a couple of days. Take along some camp tent, in case the chalets are not renovated yet, relax, take your time and enjoy, The Ancient City on Several Hills. Amusee toi bein!