Sunday, June 8, 2008

Coastal Karnataka Tour

Coastal Karnataka Tour Guide :: A Comprehensive Coastal Karnataka Tour Itinerary
Coastal Karnataka Tour takes you to the beautiful temples and waterfalls in the coastal region of Karnataka. Hence it is often referred as a 'Coastal Karnataka Temple Tour'. A travel to Coastal Karnataka should be planned mostly after the monsoon season so that all the waterfalls are in full form. The best of Coastal Karnataka Tourist Places are Murudeshwar, Sirsi and Gokarna. However, a Coastal Karnataka tour itinerary cannot be complete without Karwar & Udupi. I was impressed with what all I saw there but I feel that coastal Karnataka tourism must still make better provisions for tourists.
Here is a short summary of the tourist places and accomodation. We visited Udupi, Murudeshwar, Gokarna and Karwar in the first trip. In the second one, we visited Yellapur, Dandeli and Sirsi. I have mentioned the hotel names where we stayed and it does not mean that they are the best ones. RNS Residency and Banana County Resort are quite luxurious and I would certainly recommend them. Compared to them Kediyoor, Bhadra, Panchavati are not so luxurious but they are clean and economical. I was not very happy with the hotel Gokarna International but it is convenient for stay due to it's proximity to the temple.
Location Places worth visiting Accomodation
Udupi Gomateshwar statue, Annegudi Mahaganapati Temple, Marwanthe Beach, Shri Krishna Temple Hotel Kediyoor
(0820) 2522381, 2523382
Murudeshwar Murudeshwar Temple, Murudeshwar Beach, Shiva Statue Park, Idagunji Maha Ganapati Temple, Jog falls RNS Residency
(08385) 260060, 268900
Gokarna Mahableshwara Temple, Maha Ganapati Temple, Gokarna Beach, Om Beach Hotel Gokarna International
(08386) 256622
Karwar Devbagh Beach, Ravindranath Tagore Beach Hotel Bhadra
(08382) 225212, 225213
Yellapur Magod falls, Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary Banana County Resort
(08419) 262838, 261438
Sirsi Sahasralingas, Madhukeshwara Temple at Banavasi, Marikamba Temple, Unchelli Falls, Yana Rocks Hotel Panchavati
(08384) 236755, 235163

My Travel Itinerary
I am a total gypsy at heart and travelling suits me most. While travelling, you can really unwind and set yourself fancy free. Ideally, I would like to visit the Pyramids of Egypt but atleast I can start by exploring my own country first. If you have a small group and a private vehicle, then there's nothing like it. You can visit the places you want...even the unconventional ones but which you find interesting. I chose Coastal Karnataka mainly because I love the beaches on this belt and I like to visit temples too. We found most of the tourist information on the internet but decided not to follow the conventional route. This trip was of special significance for me for 2 reasons - I had not gone out with my family anywhere for a long time and secondly, I was going to sponsor the whole expense of the tour. So I wanted to plan in such a way that the tour would be economical yet luxurious and in general there wouldn't be any inconvenience for my parents. Luckily it worked that way and it turned out to be one of my memorable tours so far.
Here's a short description of the places we visited :

Day 1

Udupi Tour

Our first destination was Udupi and we reached there early morning. We had already booked a hotel named Kediyoor which was nearest to the bus stand. This was one of the few hotels in coastal karnataka whose information is available on internet so we chose it. We checked in and found the hotel room meeting our requirement. It's damn cheap too.
The room had a nice breakfast table and chairs and that reminded us that we were hungry. Since udupi is famous for its south indian dishes, breakfast was very tempting. We ordered masala dosas and special tea which was served immediately. The sambar aroma was refreshing and I relished the dosa with sambar-chutney. I was surprised by the breakfast bill....South Indian food was quite cheap here and the hotel service was also equally good. Soon we were ready for a tour of the temples around udupi. I suggested that after the heavy breakfast, we would skip lunch for the day so that we could visit more places and my parents agreed to that. The receptionist informed us that he could arrange a car for a day tour and soon he arranged for an ambassador. The driver was an old guy but quite helpful and luckily he knew about most of the temples and other good spots around the city. We started with the Gomateshwar statue at karkala.
Gomateshwara Statue - Karkala
Gomateshwara Statue Karkala
The main attraction of this spot is a statue of 42 feet high statue of bahubali which stands high over a small mountain. The statue is similar to the one at sharavan belgola but I think its slightly smaller than that. There are around 50-60 steps to the top and soon you are close to the statue. By the time we reached there, we were sweating but the lovely coastal breezes at the top refreshed us. The statue is amazing and the place is quite clean. A beautiful panoramic view at the top is soothing to the eyes and we were glad we didn't miss this spot. Owing to the post monsoon season, there was a lot of greenery. I could see a huge belt of rice fields bordered with coconut trees. After a quick stroll around the statue and a few snaps, there was not much we could do here . If you are in a group, you can sit and chat here but otherwise, you can move on to the next spot.
Chaturmukha Basadi
Our driver suggested this unique jain temple nearby which is also quite unique. This temple is built on a solid base of 108 pillars and it took around 30 years for construction. There are 3 huge statues of jain tirthankaras Arinath, Mallinath & Manusvrathnath. These statues are visible from all the sides and hence the name of the temple. I love jain temples because they are artistically well designed and maintained like that. This temple is also very clean.
The Temple Structure
Chaturmukha Basadi
Anegudde Sri Vinayaka Temple
We had heard about the Anegudde Sri Vinayaka Temple so decided to go there straight from karkala. As we proceeded to the temple, we enjoyed the greenery and the beautiful scenery on both the sides. While passing over the bridges, we could see few small islands formed in the sea. These islands were full of greenery and coconut trees as the monsoon was just over. I felt as if I was in Kerala.
Now, about the temple...Anegudde means elephant [ane] hillock [gudde] - abode of the elephant. This place is also called as Kumbashi. The story behind this temple is that agasthya rishi had come to this town to perform a yagna. The demon kumbhasura tried to disrupt the yagna by troubling the sages performing it. To rescue the sages, Lord Ganesha blessed bheema with a sword (called as asi) using which he killed the kumbhasura. Hence the name Kumbashi. The face of the ganesha idol is made with gold so its called as 'swarnamukhi ganapati'. The people here believe that the forest region was previously known as kunjaranya and ganapati used to meditate in this forest. Hence ganapati, mostly known as mahaganapati, has special importance in this area. The idol of ganesha with the golden face is amazing. There are beautiful carvings around the main idol that depict the different events in mahabharata. There is also an ayyapa swami temple nearby which is worth a short visit.
Shri Annegudde Mahavinayak Temple

Anegudde Sri Vinayaka Temple Kumbashi
Old Ganapati Temple - Hattiangadi
On the way back to Udupi, we halted at another beautiful ganapati temple. This idol is also amazing and we liked the different forms of ganapati sculptured in black stone. On the inner side, there is a shiva temple which was built in the 9th century. This is known as the loknath temple. It contains idols of Shiva, Parvati, Vinayaka and Lakshmi Narayana. The significance of this temple is that it has survived for so many centuries and all the idols are intact.
Maravanthe Beach
Maravanthe Beach Udupi
This is a beautiful beach near the trasi village also known as the trasi beach. The beach is quite wide and we can have a long walk on it. However, there is nothing much to watch here. We noticed a nariyal pani wala at the corner and got refreshed with nice coconut water.
Shaligram
A small but beautiful temple of narsimha is located at shaligram. We gave a quick visit to this place. There is also a ved pathshala adjoining to the temple.
Ambalapadi
This is another old temple (400 years old) of Lord Janardhana. Another temple close to it is of the goddess mahakali that contains a unique 5 feet statue of the goddess. It is beautifully decorated with sculptures of different forms of goddess durga.
Shri Krishna Temple
We had noticed a photograph of the Shri Krishna temple at the Udupi railway station so we were very curious to visit that. By the time we came back to the city, it was quite late (around 7:00). The driver was positive that we could attend the special arti performed daily in the evening. As we entered the temple, we could see the huge rush for the arti. The whole place was lighted with diyas and looked wonderful. Direct darshana of Shri Krishna is not available. One has to stand in a queue and come till a window like structure with holes to view the beautiful idol.
Shri Krishna Temple Udupi
That was our last tourist destination in the city. Our driver suggested a shopping store for special rasam & sambar powder (Diana stores - open on sunday also) so we bought some packets of the same. We were really thankful to the driver for covering all the spots and that too in time. Our next destination was Murudeshwar.
Day 2

Murudeshwar Tour
From Udupi we took a bus to Murudeshwar. Its a 2 hour distance and we reached there by 10:00 in the morning. We had made a booking at hotel RNS Residency also known as the Shetty Residency, which is close to the temple. As we arrived to the hotel in a rickshaw, we could see the temple and a huge idol of Shiva created on a small hillock. This idol is 123 feet high and one of the tallest shiva idols in the world. In fact, we had seen it from the train also. We could also see the murudeshwar beach. The hotel turned out too good, par above expectations. It is owned by the famous industrialist, R.N. Shetty, who also owns the Murudeshwara ceramics. We later came to know that it was he who had developed the whole temple region and the township nearby.
In the hotel, we got a nice room with a sea view. The hotel is so close to the sea that you can see the waves colliding against the base. Its as if the hotel is based in the sea itself. I have never seen the sea so closely. The beach is like a lagoon formed by the arabian sea. The sea view was so relaxing that we sat in the balcony for a couple of hours. From there, we could see the Shiva Idol and the people visiting the temple. Thanks to this hotel and the amazing view, murudeshwar has become one of my favourite tourist stop. After the soothing sea experience, it was time for lunch. The hotel had a nice lawn, garden and a swimming pool so we strolled around and had lunch at the hotel itself.
After a short afternoon nap, it was time for a tourist visit. We walked down to the temple and took darshan of the Lord Murudeshwara. Murudeshwara is actually a form of Shankara Mahadev and he had taken this form to fight the demons who used to trouble the rishis performing meditation. That is why this form of shankara looks very aggressive. The local people have a lot of faith in this god. Surrounding the temple, there are a number of small temples, each devoted to a god. This is a general style in South India. I remember the amazing statue of Lord Hanuman. After taking darshan at all the temples, we stopped and watched the top of the temple (called as Kalas). There are a number of carvings on this, which depict the tales in Mahabharata. The area around the temple is still being developed.
We then proceeded to the hillock on which the idol of Shankara is located. Its a nice hillock with lot of greenery and the idol really stands out due to its height. The view at the top is worth watching as you can watch the beach and the sea from here. There are a number of sculptures created around the idol. I liked the huge one of Lord Shri Krishna in his chariot giving the geeta updesha to arjuna. There is one more of Ganapati with Vyas Muni writing Mahabharata. Also, there are small idols of rishis doing meditation (different forms of dhyana) and one of ravana holding the shivlinga in his hand. After taking a few snaps, we headed towards the murudeshwar beach.
Shiva Idol on the hillock
Sculptures near the Shiva Idol
Murudeshwar Shiva Statue park sculptures
The beach is okay types...not very clean but still we can sit here for some time. There is one restaurant called naveen restaurant right in the water. It is surrounded by water from all sides and a narrow road takes us to the restaurant. we had a nice dinner at this place and ended the tour for the day. The next day, we had planned to go to the jog falls and it was quite a long travel so we slept early. We had already requested the hotel receptionist to arrange for a sumo.
Day 3

Honnavar Tour
We had early breakfast and started for Jog falls via Honnavar. Honnavar is actually a center for coastal karnataka tour and one can stay here also. However, there are few good hotels here so everyone prefers to stay at Murudeshwar or Sirsi.
Ida Gunji Mahaganapati Temple

Near Honnavar, we visited the famous temple of Idagunji. This is a 2 handed ganapati holding modaka and padma(lotus) in his hands. This Ganapati is similar to the one in Gokarna. According to legend, Ganapati stayed in Kunjaranya, which is now renamed as Idagunji (Ida Kunja). It is said to be the place where the ancient rishis meditated. We noticed that there is a tradition of offering lotus flowers to Ganapati in this coastal region and the idols are also generally in black stone.
Jog Falls

From there onwards, the whole road is through the mountains. If we go soon after the monsoon season, we can see a lot of small waterfalls here. Best time to visit this place is August to September. Although the journey is slightly long, its enjoyable due to the constant sight of waterfalls of varied heights. Soon we were at our destination and headed to the spot where we could watch the mighty Jog falls. One gets really thrilled to watch the spectacle of the river sharavati taking a leap at a height of about 292 M.
Jog Falls
There are 4 distinct falls - Raja, Rani, Rocket & Roarer. These names are assigned owing to the distinct characteristics of the falls.

Raja : Dignified and serene fall

Rani : Winding and twisting fall like that of the female dances

Roarer : This stream appears out of a mass of rocks making a lot of noise

Rocket : Consists of large volume of water streaming out of a small opening at a high speed.
I had heard from someone that the falls are a big disappointment but I guessed that she must have gone in the wrong season, as what we saw was too good. We spent a lot of time enjoying the falls. There are a number of points from which you can watch the falls and you can get some nice snaps with the help of professional photographers. You can also eat a variety of fruits like pineapple, grapes etc. We observed that people were going to some other point and followed them. There is a point where the sharavati river actually converts into a fall and it is a mindblowing experience to view the falls from this point. We can literally experience the whole mass of water tumbling down with a big noise. After strolling around a bit, we got hungry. The driver told us that there were not many options other than the KTDC (Karnataka Tourist Development Corporation) where we could have nice south indian food. The medu wada sambar here was lovely. There was not much we could do here so started for our next destination, Gokarna. On the way back to Honnavar, we stopped at only one place where we could see the deep sharavati valley. After having tea at the kamat hotel, we started for Gokarna.
Aum Beach
We checked in at the hotel Gokarna International and released the Sumo. We were a little doubtful of whether to relax or visit something. Finally we decided not to waste the day and enquired about the places we could visit at this time. The receptionist suggested that we could visit the Aum beach and arranged an auto rickshaw for the same. The name 'Aum' comes from the shape of the beach which is like the sanskrit letter Aum. As we the auto climbed a mountain, we could see the Aum structure.
Aum Beach
The whole place is rocky, similar to goa beaches. This place is very popular amongst foreigners for its picturesque location. There is also a resort named the 'Aum Beach Resort' close to the beach. We sat on the rocks and watched the sunset at this place. The rickshaw then took us back to the hotel. It was time for dinner and we ate a nice thali at a nearby hotel. We had decided to go to the Gokarna Mahableshwar temple early in the morning so went to sleep early.
Day 4

Gokarna Mahableshwar Temple
The next morning, we got up early and got ready fast. We were expecting some rush at the temple so hurried there literally. We walked to the temple to get an idea of the place. Though we had heard that its a powerful kshetra, we had not much idea of its power till the pandit told us. The pandit informed us that the power of the temple is equal to the 12 Jyotirlingas. The actual linga is slightly below the ground and there is a story behind all this.
The pandit told us that Ravana performed a penance and worshipped Lord Shiva who was pleased and offered him a shivlinga. He blessed him and told that if he could carry the shivlinga to his home place without keeping it on the ground, he would get unlimited power. Ravana was overjoyed and hurried to his home, passing through the dense forests of the coastal region. In the meantime, the gods came to know about this and got worried about the implications. They came to Lord Ganapati and prayed for a solution. If ravana got this unlimited power, he would destroy the world. The witty god then took the form of a gurakhi (who takes care of cows) and then followed ravana. Soon ravana got the nature's call and happened to see this gurakhi. As he couldn't wait any longer, he gave the shivlinga to the gurakhi requesting him not to keep it down. Ganapati immediately took the opportunity and kept it on the ground. The linga went towards the 'patala' and could not offer any power to ravana. That is why this shivlinga is slightly underground and you can only bend and touch the tip of the linga. Anyone who touches it and offers prayers in the form of abhisheka (with water and milk) is blessed with Lord Shiva's blessings. Once in 12 years, the linga is brought out for worship. Otherwise we can just see the outer layer called the 'satupitha'. We did an abhishek and prayed for the well being of our family. I felt divine after touching the shivlinga. It was like connecting to your own soul.
After spending some time at the temple, we visited another temple, the Mahaganapati temple. The ganesha idol, made in black stone, is pleasant and similar to the ida gunje temple. Offering lotus flowers to this idol is considered auspicious so we offered a bunch and prayed for some time. The gokarna beach is nearby and we spent some time on it. Nothing significant about this beach...it was hot outside and we gulped some coconut water for strength. Soon we had to hurry back to our hotel as it was time to move to our next destination. we had a nice breakfast and went straight to the bus stand. There is a direct bus to karwar but we missed it narrowly so we had to change the bus at one place.
Karwar
From Gokarna, we had booked hotel Bhadra at karwar. It was at 10 mins distance from the bus stop so we reached there by lunch time. This hotel was much better than gokarna and there was a small restaurant nearby where they served thali. Our main interest was a visit to the Devbagh Beach Resort. Luckily, booking for the devbagh resort is done at a place just opposite to the hotel. There are 2 packages for the resort - One is a 2 Hr package that consists of a motor boat ride to the resort, about 2 hours stay at the beach and a ride back. The other package is a night stay and offers some entertainment activities like camp fire and bird watching. Due to lack of time, we selected the first plan. We were supposed to wait at a spot for the motor boat that was going to take us to this spot. I was bubbling with excitement.
Devbagh Beach Resort - A Pleasant Experience
The journey to the resort was wonderful as we could see a lot of small islands on the coastal belt. The devbagh resort itself is an island covered with the tall suru trees on one side and a lush golden beach on the other. We have to walk down a jungle like path to visit the beach. On the inner side, there are huts for night stay and a small hotel for snacks. The beach was wonderful and it reminded me of the golden beach I had read somewhere in the phantom books. There are a number of relaxing benches where we can just lay down and watch the water. My parents relaxed on the bench but I decided to explore the beach. Soon I noticed a unique type of spiral shells that were available in abundant quantity at this beach. I got busy in collecting them. There was a belt of sand that went inside the water to a deep point. At that point, I got more such spiral shells. Later, I joined my parents to relax on the bench. After an hour or so, we decided to explore the jungle like area on the other side. The suru trees and creepers that had grown on them gave it a jungle like feel. We noticed a different kind of birds too. This island is really worth a visit. Soon we were back in the motor boat but wished we had got more time to explore here.
Beautiful Huts for accomodation
Devbagh Beach Resort Karwar
It was evening when we were back to the hotel. We decided to try the food at the restaurant owned by Hotel Bhadra. The restaurant had a bar also but we ignored that as I was eager to try the typical sea food over here. Soon, it was filled with young guys and they put on some loud music. I felt as if I was in goa. That way karwar is quite close to Goa and the similarity in the culture is reflected many times. I ordered fish, prawns and kaju curry and thoroughly enjoyed the preparation. This was almost our last day as we were going to start back to pune the next afternoon.
On the last day, we were planning to visit something nearby but we did not want that to be hectic. We chose to visit a beautiful beach, named as the Tagore Beach. It is one of the silent beaches with very few visitors. Rabindranath Tagore had visited this place and loved this beach hence the name. We just sat on the beach and chatted for some time. By the time we came back to the hotel, it was 11:00. After having a quick lunch, we were on our way to Mapsa, Goa. Since we had not done any railway reservation, we decided to take a bus to Goa and another from Goa to Pune. I was happy that we could experience the coastal side for some more time and wondered when we would visit the sea again. The coastal side had made us forget our worries atleast for some time. someone has trully said As I gaze upon the sea, all my dreams come back to me. We hoped to come back to this region again with new dreams.
My second trip to Coastal Karnataka

After a few years, we got a beautiful opportunity to explore the places in coastal karnataka which we had missed earlier. I strongly believe that somewhere my faith in Atmalinga of Lord Shiva at Gokarna brought me back here. However, this time we had decided that it would be more of a relaxing trip. We had booked a car from Hubli which took us to Yellapur.
Our first destination was the beautiful Banana County Resort at Yellapur. This resort is situated in a thick forest and enjoys close proximity to a couple of waterfalls. We can also visit Sirsi, Yana, Dandeli, Gokarna comfortably from this place. The resort was just as good as the pictures we had seen online. They have nicely developed the landscape with banana plantations and other trees. They offer excellent cottages for stay and we can view the wonderful greenery from the rooms too. I would give full marks for the ambience of the resort.
Cottages at Banana County Resort
Banana County Resort
We relaxed for some time in the room and then strolled around to get a better idea of the place. A group of ducks came towards the back side of our cottage. They did not run away even in our presence and I could click a few snaps. It was time for lunch so we went to their restaurant. The lunch buffet was already arranged and though it was a bit expensive, there was a nice variety of food items. Post lunch, we had planned to visit the Magod Falls.
Magod Falls
To visit the Magod falls, you have to park your vehicle and walk for around 10 minutes towards the view point. The view of the falls and the lush greenery around is really breathtaking. It must have been still more beautiful during the monsoons. The fall is unique due to its different shape. It is formed by the Bedhti river, which cascades down a height of 650 feet in 2 steps. After taking the first leap, the river forms a plunge pool and then it further cascades down on the other cliff to make this awesome waterfall. We spent around an hour viewing and photographing the falls from different points.
Magod Falls
There is a sunset point near the Magod Falls called as the Jenukallu Gudda. It offers a nice view of the valley with the Bedhti river flowing through the green hills. It further meets the arabian sea. I was tempted to go there but was feeling very tired due to our earlier journey. We preferred to come back and relax in the resort.
Next day we had planned a tour to Sirsi. Sirsi is another beautiful town in karnataka which is blessed with natural beauty. With dense forest area and rainfalls all around, it is a must visit place. Also, there are some beautiful temples in this town. We had heard a lot about the beautiful Marikamba temple and the Sahasralingas at this place. After having a heavy breakfast, we were on the way to Sirsi. Our first point of visit was the Sahasralingas.
Sahasralingas
This place is located around 17 kms from Sirsi, on the banks of shamala river. Sahasralinga literally means a thousand lingas. So as per the name, this site has hundreds of stones with shiv lingas carved on them. It is not possible to see all of the carvings as some of these lingas are immersed in water. When the water level is not so high, we can view more of them. These lingas are carved on rocks of different sizes. Considering that they have been carved a long time ago, most of them are still intact. There is dense forest around and the river literally flows through this forest area.
As per history, King Sadashivraya of the vijaynagar kingdom got these lingas constructed around 1678. It is believed that he undertook this religious task in hope of a heir for the kingdom. Historians believe that they wanted to depict the enormous power of shiva by creating hundreds of lingas. However, there is no proof about the reason why they were made. I read somewhere that a similar example of thousand lingas can be seen at Angkor Wat, Cambodia. This archaeological site is known as the Kbal Spean. Interestingly, both these sites are on river banks and water flows through them.
Sahasralingas Sirsi
There is a hanging bridge which we can visit nearby. It is mostly used by the villagers. The view from the bridge is good. It was almost 11 and we were feeling the heat now. We decided to move to the next spot...the Madhukeshwara temple at Banvasi.
Banvasi
Banvasi is known to be the first capital of ancient karnataka when the Kadama dynasty ruled over it. Therefore, there is lot of history associated with this place. The word Banvasi comes from two words "Bana" meaning forest and "Vasi" meaning spring. A reference of this place is found in the Mahabharata epic. It was the learning centre of the buddhist monks during the reign of Samrat Ashok so there is some buddhist influence on this place. The renowned chinese traveller hiuen tsang had visited this place too and described it in his travel writings. Renowned poet kalidasa visited Banvasi as an ambassador of Gupta kings. His famous work "Meghduta" has references of this place.
The main attractions of Banvasi is the Madhukeshwar temple, which is believed to be one of the oldest temples in Karnataka. The temple is dedicated to lord shiva and the name "Madhukeshwara" is due to the honey colored shivlinga which is kept in the inner sanctum. This temple was built by Mayur Sharma, the first king of the Kadamba Dynasty. The original architecture of the temple was done by the famous sculptor Amarashilpi Jakanachari. Later the Chalukyas, Hoysalas and Sondas ruled karnataka and made several modifications in the temple. The temple therefore depicts different styles of architecture that evolved during the years.
Madhukeshwara Temple
Madhukeshwara Temple Banvasi
The temple has a beautiful Pravesha Mandapa of eight pillars. In the foreground of this mandapa, two marvelous sculptures of elephants are placed on individual peetha. A notable thing from architectural point of view is the sloping roof which is well suited to the high rainfall in the area near Sirsi. As we entered the temple, a pujari greeted us and gave us some information about the temple. It is surprising that though this is an old heritage temple, there are no other guides.
Elephant Sculptures at Entrance
Elephant sculpture Madhukeshwara Temple
Monolithic Nandi Statue
At the front, there is a huge 7 Feet tall monolithic statue of nandi. The interesting fact about this Nandi is that it does not face the linga directly and is slightly deviated towards the right. There is a temple dedicated to goddess parvati adjacent to this main temple. So one eye of nandi watches the linga and the other eye watches goddess parvati. The pujari made us stand near the nandi's eye and check this.
Nandi Statue Madhukeshwara Temple
As we go inside, there is another hall called the Nritya Mandapa. This Mandapa has delicate carvings on the pillars and the ceiling. It was added by the Hoysalas during their rule. Several prominent dancers of that time performed in this Nritya Mandapa. In this hall, there are four beautiful pillars with mirror like finish. These pillars served as mirrors for the audience and people sitting in any corner of the room could view the dance performance easily. Finally we proceeded to the garbhagriha or the inner sanctum where the shivlinga is kept. The honey colored shivlinga is beautiful. The inner sanctum is kept simple and has minimal carvings on the door and pillars. The bell outside this garbhagriha has a unique quality. The vibration of this bell lasts for a minute or so and one can hear as if somebody is chanting the word “OM”.
The hall just outside the inner most sanctum is called the prayer hall or the Sankalpa Mandapa. The Sankalpa Mandapa was added to the temple during the reign of Chalukyas so their architectural style is evident here. Here we can see a throne made of stone named Triloka Mandapa where prayers are offered to lord shiva. This monolith throne depicts all the 3 worlds :: Swarga Loka, Bhu Loka, Patala Loka. We were very much impressed by all these monolithic structures.
Triloka Mandapa
Triloka Mandapa Madhukeshwara Temple
There are several remarkable things in the temple area. One of them is a stone cot called the "Kallu mancha", which is also carved out of a single stone. The triloka mandapa and the stone cot are contributed by the songa rulers.
Stone Cot
Stone Cot Madhukeshwara Temple
There are other small temples in the complex surrounding this main temple dedicated to Goddess Parvati, Lord Vishnu, Narsimha, Ganapati. There is an attractive half idol of Ganesha named "Ardha Ganapati". It is believed that the other half of the idol is in Varanasi. This idol symbolizes the bachelorhood of ganapati, who is standing without his ardhangi. Another remarkable thing in the temple premises is a famous five hooded Naga sculpture with prakrit inscription of 2nd century. It takes more than an hour to visit this temple in detail. We thanked the pujari for giving us valuable information about the temple.
It was around 1:30 by now and we came back to the main city for lunch. We relaxed for about an hour at a restaurant and obtained more information about sirsi sightseeing. One of my mother's friends had told us that sirsi is a good place for shopping. It is specially known for the unique varieties of sarees which are embroidered with kashida work. Our driver suggested that the market place was near and we could spend an hour there. Luckily we entered a nice shop where we found very nice kashida sarees and they were quite economical too. My mother bought a couple of them. After taking a tea break, we were ready for sightseeing again. There was only one spot left for the day...the famous Marikamba Temple.
Marikamba Temple
Marikamba Temple, dedicated to durga devi, is one of the important places of worship in karnataka. Marikamba temple is also called as Doddamma Temple. Doddamma means the elder one, so Marikamba devi is elder of all the goddesses in Karnataka. The name Marikamba comes from the words, Mari (terror) and Maremma (savior). It means that the goddess is terror in anger and saviour for people in need. The temple hosts a beautiful 7 feet tall idol of the goddess with eight arms and seated on a tiger. The seven feet idol of the deity is said to be recovered from a pond near Hanagal. The king of Sonda, Immadi Sadashiva Rao, gave instructions to install the deity in this temple. It was built in the year 1688 so it is now a 326 year old temple.
This temple is also famous for the kavi art, which is used for decoration on both sides of the walls of the temple. At the entrance, we can see two huge elephants. The temple hall is big in size and there is a queue for darshan. The Marikamba Devi murti is very beautiful and depicts power. There are many murals inside the temple which narrate the vedic stories. Vegetable oil paints are used for painting on the murals. There are also many paintings of gods and goddesses fixed on the walls. All these art works give a nice colorful look to the temple premises.
Marikamba Temple Sirsi
The darshan and aarti in the evening is a nice experience so I was glad we chose this time to visit the temple. We strolled inside the temple to have a look at all the beautiful artwork. Soon a big tourist group entered the temple and it became crowded so we had to move. There are a couple of good temples near the Marikamba Temple. In sirsi, one can see several temples dedicated to lord shiva. All these beautiful old temples and natural scenic beauty makes sirsi a favourite destination for travellers.
The next day we had planned a short visit to the mahableshwara temple at Gokarna in the morning and then visit Yana rocks on the way back to Sirsi. I have already mentioned that my belief in the Atma Linga at the mahableshwara temple motivated me for this second trip in the coastal region so the darshan was very important for me. Unchelli falls was another spot we could cover on the way but it all depended on the time required for the darshan and abhishek.
One point to note about the Gokarna Mahableshwar Temple, is that the devotees are allowed to touch the Atmalinga only during 6:00 AM to 12:30 PM and 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM. After 1:00 PM, we can only take darshan from outside the garbhagriha. We started early morning and reached Gokarna well in time. After having breakfast at a place on the way, we went straight to the temple. At this temple, there are many priests who follow you and pressurise you for offering costly abhisheks. However, one should not fall under their influence. I think that any modest pooja done with lot of faith will surely reach god. I paid for a 'Navadhanya Abhisheka Pooja' which costed around Rs 500. The priest took us in the garbhagriha, where we made religious offerings to the shivlinga. My wish to touch the Atmalinga with my hands was fulfilled...it was another divine experience ! As we were early visitors, we got ample time for darshan. I have already given description about Gokarna earlier so won't repeat that again. After having some food at Gokarna, we started for Yana Rocks.
Yana Rocks
From whatever information I had gathered, this is a place for trekkers. To visit the rocks, one has to walk for around 1.5 kms on a route, which passes through a small forest, and then climb more than 200 steps to reach the base of one of the formations. I doubted if my parents would be able to make it. However, we still decided to give it a try.
Our driver was not much aware of the route and he kept following road signs. After a point, we asked the local villagers who guided us to the exact location. Finally we saw a small tea stall and stopped to enquire. The owner informed us that we would have to leave our vehicle at the parking area nearby and walk from there onwards. This stall also offers snacks and other refreshments. There is no other tea stall or snacks center at the top so if you are hungry, you should have tea & snacks here and then proceed forward. The route from here passes through a forest and is a bit scary. We expected that there would be other visitors too but there wasn't a single person other than us. On going a bit further, my mother got scared and decided to return to the car.
As we started walking, we could see lush greenery and streams of water running parallel to the route. It was delightful to watch the small streams running over stones and forming miniature waterfalls. There are many points where we can stop and enjoy the beauty of nature. Nature lovers and trekkers will just love this spot but it is advisable to go in a group. We covered the 2 KM distance in about 40 minutes. Finally we came to the base of the formations. From this point, we could see two gigantic peaks towering around all the forests and mountains. The taller one, Bhairaveshwara Shikhara stands 120 meters and the slightly smaller one Mohini Shikhara is 90 meters high. They are solid composition of black, crystalline limestone. From here, there is a small hike of about 300 steps to reach the base of Mohini Shikhara. The steps are not very difficult to climb. There is a small temple at this point where we can sit and relax. We can also photograph nice views of the mighty rocks from a distance.
Route to Yana Rocks
Yana Rocks
Yana Rocks was our last destination. From here, we were going back to Hubli. Even after 2 trips to this region, there was much to explore in this beautiful coastal belt. We missed some waterfalls, mainly the "Unchelli Falls" and "Satodi Falls". I have also read that the Mundgod Tibetan Monastery is worth visiting. I would certainly like to be back here when time permits.

43 comments:

Linda said...

Cool !!
I agree that it's much better when we plan your trip on your own

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Manik said...

While reading this blog I found that this piece of editorial will truly be an enormous help to a person who is scheduling for a visit to Karnataka. This part of information about this place, Karnataka, which you have plotted down in your blog, is in very organized style with beautiful photographs too.
I would and will always recommend each and everyone to read this information if you are planning for a visit to Karnataka

AniruS said...

This is a very good article and would really help people planning their trip to Karnataka

Anonymous said...

What a detailed trip planner, indeed. I visited Murudeshwara last weekend and absolutely loved the less frequented Beach, beach walk, boat rides, shiva-gopuram duo, fish fries and sea facing hotels and eateries.

Sanu Bhai said...

Cool.. good one friend..

simply superub and A Gr8 trip planner.. Kudoosss

Glee said...

Wow you've covered so much. One of the best places I visited in Karnataka is Chikmagalur. Very scenic with beautiful coffee estates.

reshma M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hai Baji said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pawankalyan said...

Bandipur resort National Park a Project Tiger Reserve, one of 30 such reserves across India for Project Tiger, a scheme launched in 1973 by the Government of India, to save the tiger and its habitat. The major attraction of Wildlife Safari in Bandipur National Park is its wildlife expeditions. Br hills resort Wildlife Sanctuary has deciduous, evergreen and grassland vegetation is safe haven for a variety of wildlife. Commonly sighted animals are gaurs, spotted deer; wildboar and elephants in Wildlife Safari .

Medha P said...

Glad to know that Dear.....hope you had a great holiday at B R Hills .... if you have any special experience of on KGudi Resort or B R Hills to share with us , that would be nice and helpful to others :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Have visited few of these. Keeping rest for post monsoon

pawankalyan said...

dear really i am very glad to your blog news..i went to kgudi resort with my parents really it was amazing in that forest we all enjoyed a lot and we stayed in Kgudi Resorts it was very good to stay i wish to vist again and stay there

mygreatstay.com said...

you have travelled a lot but do not miss coorg and chikmagalur in karnataka. There is also a place Yana very close to Kumta. There are beautiful homestays located in coffee estates. Find more about them on link below http://www.mygreatstay.com/stays/country/India/state/Karnataka/city/Chikmagalur.html

Medha P said...

hi Nice blog
Im planing to visit bandipur resorts and kgudi resorts for relaxation and
trying to spend tis weekend away from trafic and pollution

snigdha valapudari said...

hiee..frndzz..really dis is the best blog to share my feeling..i visited bandipur resorts last weekend.It is very interesting,enjoyable place with families..Another interestng thing in that is Wildlife Safari ,i enjoyed a lot a lot..u 2 visit and njoy d weekend.

jaanu k said...

hey hi....thanks for sharing ur feelings ,this weekend i planed to spend with my family in bandipur resorts and also kgudi resorts

Nishitha KM said...

Hi..your post is very useful and interesting. I liked it very much and felt beneficial for all..I am panning to visit br hills resort this weekend with my family.we are planning to stay at bandipur resorts because their facilites,sevices offered at low cost,Wildlife Safari really really awesome..

Nishitha KM said...

Hi..your post is very useful and interesting. I liked it very much and felt beneficial for all..I am panning to visit br hills resort and also bandipur resorts this weekend with my family. because their facilites,sevices offered at low cost,Wildlife Safari really really awesome..

jagdish parekh said...

Me and my wife wants to visit coastal karnataka after monsoon and searching.
The information provided by you is excellent.

Sunita Shreya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sunita Shreya said...

wow very informative. I took tour package from www.adventurenest.com to visit all those places you mentioned above with my family as the christmas holiday is approaching....Thank you for such a wonderful information

Vijayakumar C P said...

Kudos to your effort!nice coverage.Any tour will not be a complete one without stomach satisfaction! I strongly feel you haven't omitted anything. If this is a cooking it beautifully decorated (I mean photos!)God bless you for more such efforts

C.P.VIJAYAKUMAR

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Allen Christmas said...

Good and informative blog post. really appreciate the writer. http://travels-update.blogspot.in/2014/10/tourism-centre-karnataka-india.html

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dimpy roy said...

Very adventurous trip. Thanks for sharing. Check out best hotels in Bhatkal also.

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Girish Palkar said...

My trip to Murudeshwar Temple – India
http://girishpalkartravel.blogspot.in/2015/06/murudeshwara-karnataka-india.html

Poonam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Poonam said...

Yellapur is a town in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. It is located in the Western Ghats and famous for Satoddi Falls and Magod Falls. Visitors can check out many places to visit in yellapur.

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