5 day Trip


Day 5

Date: 29-Dec-2009

Destination 1: Marikamba Temple, Sirsi

Checked out of the hotel around 09:00 hrs and proceeded towards the famous Marikamba temple in Sirsi. The temple is built in the typical Mangalore style and is quite elegant.

Marikamba Temple, Sirsi

Paintings inside the temple

Endgame

Route: Sirsi –> Haveri –> Ranebennuru –> Davanagere –> Chitradurga –> Sira –> Tumkuru –> Nelamangala –> Bengaluru (a distance of around 410 KM).

 After seeking the blessings of Marikamba, we left Sirsi around 10:00 hrs and headed on the above route towards Bengaluru. The road from Sirsi to Haveri for the first 30 KM is in a poor state. It is a single lane road and because of the constant rain, the ends have been chipped off. This makes the road very dangerous whenever any vehicle comes from the opposite direction. Be very careful on this road.

Upon reaching Haveri and NH4 (Pune Bangalore Road), the road is pretty good in patches. The golden quadrilateral project (the project that AB Vajpayee government had envisaged and started) is still going on and on. Seems like the the present union government is not interested in finishing the project lest the old government take the credit.

Diversions are the norm with some good patches thrown in between as exceptions. This continues till Chitradurga whereupon the road becomes a 6 lane highway and one can zoom away and easily maintain speeds above 100 kmph till the tollgate before Nelamangala. Also, note that all these roads are tolled roads.

No good hotels to have lunch at, unfortunately, on this road, till Tumkur. This is because the highway by-passes all the towns on the way. Anyway, reached Sira around 15:00 hrs and had to stop there at a not so good hotel to quell the growling in the stomach.

Left Sira around 15:30 hrs and headed straight to Bangalore. Reached the Nelamangala tollgate at around 16:30 hours, the NICE tollgate at around 17:05 hrs and we were home by 18:00 hrs.

Thus ended my first (of the many more to come, I am sure) long trips on my Skoda Fabia! Till next time, namaskaara and take care.

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Day 4

Date: 28-Dec-2009

Destination 1: Unchalli Falls

Sights: Unchalli Falls

Route: Sirsi –> Aminhalli (14 KM from Sirsi, on Kumta Road) –> Heggarane –> Unchalli Falls (35 KM from Sirsi)

Unchalli Falls in one of the most scenic falls that I’ve seen and I love it! It is around 35 KM from Sirsi, situated amid dense forests and seems like a virgin fall i.e., one untouched by humans, YET! The falls are 5 KM from Heggarane village (Kannada: ಹೆಗ್ಗರಣೆ). Earlier, one had to walk for at least 2-3 KM after crossing Heggarane. However, now new roads have been laid and one can travel upto 0.5 KM from the falls.

Though the falls is full of water perennially, thanks mainly to no dams obstructing the river’s path, as yet, the best time to visit it is between October – December. Avoid visiting Unchalli falls in the rainy season (June to September) since there are a lot of snakes around and also Leeches.

Once I had visited the falls in June 2004 and there was NOT a soul in sight during our 6 KM trek to the falls and back and once we were back in Sirsi, we were actually scolded and advised not to visit Unchalli falls or any other falls that abound Sirsi, because of the snakes & Leeches and hence, my advise.

We started from Sirsi around 08:30 hrs after breakfast and reached Unchalli Falls around 10:00 hrs. The road, as mentioned earlier, is newly laid and is very scenic. There are also clear signposts on the way making it very easy for us to reach Unchalli Falls. When I visited Unchalli falls in 2004, we had to ask every other person on the way (and there were very few to speak of!), to make sure we were  on the right track and there were hardly any milestones/signposts. The signposts, though helpful for the tourists, also spwans commercialisation (and over utilisation), which is not so good.

Without digressing further, let me take you on the right path to Unchalli Falls! We were the first people to reach Unchalli (that day), thankfully and without further ado, parked our car and proceed to the falls on foot. The route is steep downhill all the way to the first view point of the falls. Even my parents were able to make it to the first viewpoint without much difficulty nor did I expect any given that it was all downhill. The way back (steep uphill climb) is what is was worried about. More about that later.

Before proceeding further, let me warn you that, as far as my knowledge goes (I know it doesn’t go far but still), there is no route to get to the base of the Unchalli falls. We can only trek till 2 viewpoints from where we can ONLY see the falls in all its glory but can NOT experience it (like Joga or Shivanasamudra).

Since it was only 10:00 hrs in the morning, the falls was still misty and consequently, milky! Though the water is not as full as in the rainy season (when I visited it last in June 2004), it was still good enough. Certainly not as dry as Joga (I could not resist the temptation to take a dig at Joga). From this viewpoint, one can only see half the falls and the base is not visible.

Waited for around 10 min for my parents to join us. Then, I and Nandini with Vishnu in tow, climbed down a series of around 150-200 steps to reach the 2nd viewpoint. The view from there was stunning and we could see till the base of the falls. It was a wonderful sight and if one has the right company or no company (ideal!), one can sit in silence there and enjoy the water cascading down the gorge to their heart’s content.

On the way to Unchalli Falls

Milky and misty Unchalli Falls (as seen from the 1st viewpoint)

Unchalli Falls from 2nd Viewpoint

After taking in the exhilarating scenry, we returned to the 1st viewpoint and rested for around 10 minutes on some benches, strategically placed, just before beginning the long climb back! There is a water tank there which supplies (badly needed) COLD water to thirsty beings like us. While we were resting, it flashed upon us that to help my parents climb up with the least difficulty, it would be useful for them to carry a wooden stick. Found a lot of wooden sticks, conveniently placed near the 1st viewpoint! So, anyone who has difficulty in climbing back, can take the support of these readily available wooden sticks!

Returned to the parking area where there is a small tea shop run by the local farmer. This person is very knowledgeable about the local sightseeing options and is a veritable encyclopaedia when it comes to routes! Inquired with him the route to Yana and found that there is a short cut available to Yana from Aminhalli!

 

Destination 2: Yana

Sights: Bhairaveshwara Shikhara, Mohini Shikhara

Route from Unchalli Falls (40 KM from Unchalli Falls): Unchalli Falls –> Heggarane –> Aminhalli –> Left at Kumta Road –> Proceed for 0.5 KM on Kumta Road –> Right at Kumta Road towards Hegadekatte –> Hegadekatte –> Devanalli –> Yana.

Route from Sirsi (35 KM from Sirsi): Sirsi –> Kumta Road (10 KM) –> deviation towards Hegadekatte –> Devanalli –> Yana.

I don’t think anyone needs an introduction to Yana. It is a very popular trekking and picnic spot. Alas! Now, there is no need even to trek. The roads are laid such that you need only to walk (steep downhill, of course, like Unchalli Falls) around 0.75 KM from the parking spot to reach Yana. The roads are newly laid and in pretty good condition albiet a trifle narrow in some places. So, do be careful while driving.

Again, the route is very scenic. The journey itself makes it worth the while to visit Yana (or Unchalli Falls, for that matter). Anyhow, left Unchalli Falls around 11:45 hrs and proceeded on the above route towards Yana. The tea owner and Unchalli Falls also mentioned that since there is not much distance to be covered on foot, even my parents can make it to Yana. Reached Yana around 12:40 hrs and proceeded on foot to the renowned volcanic rocks.

The first sighting of Yana is that of the Mohini Shikhara to one’s right (if one approaches Yana from Sirsi/Hegadekatte side) and the view does take your breath away! A furlong of steps and one can see the magnificient Bhairaveshwara Shikhara to one’s left and we’ve arrived at Yana!

On the way to Yana!

Bhairaveshwara Shikhara @ Yana

Mohni Shikhara @Yana

Inside Bhairaveshwara Shikhara

Inside Bhairaveshwara Shikhara - 1

Vishnu@ Gopalakrishna temple Yana

After resting for sometime at Yana, my parents had already returned to the parking lot. They again did the reutrn climb with the help of wooden sticks available aplenty at Yana. We explored Yana to some extent and returned to the parking area feeling tired but happy at the same time! My parents were quite happy that even they could make the trek to Yana a success! Parents happiness at seeing Yana – priceless. 🙂

Left Yana around 14:30 hrs and reached Sirsi around 15:45 hrs. On the way, it started raining too, just to add to the already excellent environment! Partook some lunch at Hotel Madhuvan and we all rested for around 1 hour.

 

Destination 3: Sahasralinga, Sonda.

Sights: Sahasralinga, Sonda Matha, Swarnavalli Matha, Jaina Matha, Muttinakere Venkataramana Temple etc.

Route to Sahasralinga (15 KM from Sirsi, 20 min drive): Sirsi –> Sahasralinga (travel 14 KM on Sirsi Yellapura Road. At the signpost, take a left turn and travel 1 KM to reach Sahasralinga).

Route to Sonda (20 KM from Sirsi, 30 min drive): Sirsi –> travel 16 KM on Sirsi Yellapura Road –> Take a left turn at the signpost –> Sonda (4 KM from the left turn).

After resting for an hour in Sirsi, we left for Sahasralinga and Sonda around 17:00 hrs. Reached Sahasralinga around 17:30 hrs. Sahasralinga, on the banks for the river Shalmala, is a place where one find Lingas carved on stones that abound the river. Read more about Sahasralinga here.

After staying for around 10-15 minutes in Sahasralinga, we left for Sonda and reached it around 18:10 hrs. We first went to the Muttinakere Venkataramana Temple, which is around 500 years old (if not more) and is a quaint little temple. It seems that the daily pooje is not performed anymore at the temple. We met a student of the Sonda Matha, who had taken a sankalpa to perform pooje to Venkataramana and hence was performing his pooje there. Anyhow, we somehow managed to have darushana of Venkataramana on Vaikunta Ekadashi!

It was 18:30 hrs by the time we got out of the temple. The sun had already set and darkness had also settled in! We also found, to our dismay, that the road to Sonda Matha was a mud road. Moreover, the rain earlier had made negotiating it quite tough. So, decided to visit the Matha during our next visit and headed straight back to Sirsi.

Sahasralinga - 1

Sahasralinga - 2

 

 On the way back, I took a wrong turn and found that out after travelling around 5 min in pitch darkness. The road was so narrow and dark that it became quite difficult to even reverse my car. My father had to step out and guide me in reversing the car! I wonder how people travel on these roads in pitch darkness in 2 wheelers or on foot. God help them.

It also started to rain, just to add to the fun, I suppose. Anyway, there were no more hiccups and we reached Sirsi by 19:30 hrs. Had an early dinner and retired to bed, early too.

 

Notes:

1. A wooden stick to support you is very useful in Unchalli Falls and Yana for anyone with climbing difficulties. Just look around and you can find a lot of them around.

2. Beware of leeches  in both Yana and Unchalli, especially if the conditions are wet! Though it is supposedly good for one’s health if the leeches do manage to suck blood, since they suck blood only from the veins, thus relieving one of the “bad” blood in the system.

 

Day 3

Date: 27-Dec-2009 

Destination 1: Sakkare Bayalu 

Sights: Sakkare Bayalu Elephant Camp, Gajanur (or Tunga) Dam, Harakere 

Route: Shivamogga –> Gajanur Dam –> Sakkare Bayalu (via NH13, 15 KM from Shivamogga, on the way to Tirthahalli) 

On Day 3, we planned to visit Jog Falls and and some sights close to Sagara (on the way to Jog). However, we also wanted Vishnu to enjoy seeing the elephants being washed/bathed at Sakkare Bayalu! The Hotel people said that all elephants come at around 7:30 hrs to have a bath. Believing him, we left Shivamogga at 7:30 hrs and reached Sakkare Bayalu at 8:00 hrs. 

Sakkare Bayalu is a sleepy hamlet (but for the elephant camp) on the way to Teerthahalli from Shivamogga and no doubt, gets its name from a lot of Sugarcane fields that abound. The practice here is that the mahutas early in the morning go to the forest to locate their elephants and cajole them (as if they needed any cajoling) to have a bath in the Tunga backwaters (formed by the Gajanur Dam). Beacuse of this reason, there will be a continuous and asynchronous inflow of elephants into the camp. 

To our surprise, we found that it was closed and would NOT be opened until 8:30 AM. So, what better way to utilise the time than to visit Gajanur Dam (situated 1 KM before from Sakkare Bayalu on NH 13 – Teerthahalli Road). 

Earlier the dam was small with only 4-5 crest gates. The dam was expanded in the year 2000 and now has a lot of gates! The view it provides is pleasing to the eyes and if not for the elephant’s calling, we would certainly have spent more time there.

Lovely view of Gajanur Dam

Another view

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reached Sakkare Bayalu around 08:45 hrs and found that a lot of people had made their way in (by paying a fee of Rs. 30/- per adult) and in fact, all of them were ogling at a solitary elephant being bathed by its mahuta. It was too crowded to rendering photography meaningless.

However, myself and Vishnu (and a LOT of otheres) also joined the mahuta in bathing the elephant. Vishnu, instead of (or in addition to, dpending on your point of view) bathing the elephant, also drenched himself with water and totally enjoyed the experience as we also did! Again, if not for the Jog Falls trip, we could and would have spent a lot of time there. It is a beatiful place and worth visiting again. 

Harakere is a small village in between Sakkare Bayalu and Shivamogga and has a Shiva temple. There is a big statue of Shiva seated in a padmasana which is the temple’s highlight! Stop by if you have time. We didn’t because of the lack of it. 

Left Sakkare Bayalu around 09:15 hrs and reached Shivamogga around 09:45 hrs. Had sumptuous breakfast, got our lunch packed (pongal + Madduru vade + pakoda), checked out of the Samrat Ashoka hotel and headed towards Sagara! 

  

Destination 2: Keladi/Nada Kalasi 

Sights: Keladi Temple complex, Nada Kalasi Temple complex. 

Route: Shivamogga –> Sagara (73 KM from Shivamogga) –> Keladi (right turn at Sagara onto Soraba road, 15 KM from Sagara) 

Route only till Sagara is shown. Google Maps says that we have to turn left in Sagara – DO NOT go by it. Ask around in Sagara, if you are unsure! 

 

Keladi is a temple village located on the way to Soraba from Sagara. It was the first capital to the erstwhile kingdom of the Keladi Nayakas, of whom Chowdappa Nayaka (founder) and Shivappa Nayaka are its two famous sons and Rani Chennamma, is the famous daughter. Won’t bore you with any more details because I can go on and on and on and on…… Below are some wonderful photographs of the Keladi Temple. 

Wooden carvings at Keladi

Navagrahas with their Vahanas @ Keladi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vaastu Purusha @ Keladi Temple

Secret passage from within Keladi temple to without!

 

Shiva Linga with a tiny Ganesha at the top!

Ganesha zoomed!

Ganesha zooooooomed!

Bison (Kona) and Elephant Sculpture

Bison (Kona) and Elephant Sculpture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the Keladi temple, we met a tourist who said that a place called Nada Kalasi (only Kalasi to the locals) is also a place worth visiting and thence we headed. 

Nada Kalasi: From Sagar, take the road to Soraba. After 6-7 kms is a nada kalasi bus stop. Take a right turn here and follow the tar road. You will cross nada kalasi village, and then contibue on tar road and the Temple is on the left side of the road. 

From Keladi, proceed toward Sagara. Around 2-3 KM before reaching Sagara, you will have to cross a railway line. Take a left just before that and continue for around 5 KM to reach Nada Kalasi. 

The sculptures at Nada Kalasi are very good and a blog, which describes its history, with photos, well enough.

 

Destination 3: Ikkeri/Varadamoola 

Sights: Aghoreshwara Temple at Ikkeri, Varadamoola 

Route: Shivamogga –> Sagara (73 KM from Shivamogga) –> Ikkeri (left turn at Sagara, 5 KM on the way to Sigandhuru) 

Route from Nada Kalasi: Proceed to Sagara (on Soraba Road),  pass the BH Road (NH 206) and continue straight on the Road to Sigandhuru. There is a signboard after travelling 4 KM on that road, which says: 1 KM to Ikkeri (right turn), 4 KM to Varadamoola (left turn). 

Proceeded to Ikkeri first to have a glimpse of the magnificient and overwhelming Aghoreshwara Temple. It is a huge temple purportedly built by Chowdappa Nayaka. It appears similar to the Beluru and Halebidu temples but the sculptures are not that great here to warrant even a comparision. SIZE is what this temple is all about. Don’t believe me? See for yourself! 

HUGE Enterance

Nandikeshwara @ Ikkeri

Aghoreshwara Temple in all its glory

I’ve never seen such a huge temple in my life! As I said, it’s all about SIZE. The sculptures are good but not as great as Beluru or Halebidu. The interior of the temple is also pretty huge and the ceiling itself is around 25 ft in height! There is a (relatively) small Ammanavaru (Parvathi Devi) temple beside this huge one. Overwhelming is what you feel when you see it for yourself.


From Ikkeri, we proceeded to Varadamoola (route described above). Varadamoola is a quaint, quiet and a sleeeeeeepy little hamlet wherein the river Varada takes birth. A lovely place, if only for its idyllic beauty. There is a Pushkarini (a small pond) and I presume a temple beside it. We sat at the Pushkarini for around 10 minutes in TOTAL silence. Not a sound to be heard, apart from the chirping of the birds, the whooshing of the wind and the Moo Moo (or Amba Amba) sounds of the cows.

My Fabia in all her glory @ Varadamoola

Varadamoola

Varadamoola

Overall, it was wonderful sitting in silence for at least 10 min! Anyhow, had to tear myself away from Varadamoola coz we still had to visit Jog Falls!




 
Destionation 4: Jog Falls
 
Sights: Raja, Rani, Roarer and Rocket waterfalls
 
Route: Sagara –> Jog Falls (BH Road/NH 206, 32 KM from Sagara)
 
Left Varadamoola around 15:00 hrs and headed towards Sagara and thence to Joga (Jog Falls in English). On the way, stopped at a quaint little bridge to finish the Pongal + Madduru vade + Pakodas!  Consequently, reached Joga around 16:30 hrs.
 
To see Joga in all its rugged beauty is a sight to behold. Alas! To see Joga bereft (well, almost) of all its water is a sight for sore eyes. Yes, the famed Raja, Rani, and Rocket waterfalls were nothing but a trickle save for Roarer, which was the saving grace. Overall, seeing Joga without its elixir of life was quite disappointing.
 
To overcome this disappointment, we decided to have our photograph taken and superimposed (morphed, to be precise) onto another photo of Joga with LOTS of water! It cost us Rs. 120 but I think it was worth it. What do you think?
 
Anyway, left Joga around 18:00 hrs and reached Sirsi around 19:15 hrs. We had booked a room in advance in Hotel Madhuvan, which was pretty decent but not as good as the one in Shivamogga (Hotel Samrat Ashoka).
 
Route from Joga to Sirsi (distance of around 58 KM). One caveat is that the road is a ghat section for some distance. The route is also very scenic. So, take in the beauty as you drive and be careful!



 
Sirsi stay details: Hotel Madhuvana, College Road, Sirsi Taluk, Uttara Kannada, Karnataka – 581402

Phone: 08384-237799, 237759



Notes: Again, If you are planning to visit all the places listed above on the same day, there is no decent hotel to have lunch at. So, better have your lunch packed at Shivamogga.

 

Day 2

Date: 26-Dec-09

Destination 1: Kemmannugundi

Sights: Kallathgiri Falls, Kemmannugundi, Z Point, Raj Bhavan, Hebbe Falls etc.

Route: Shimoga –> Bhadravathi –> Tarikere –> Lingadahalli –> Kemmannugundi (around 72 KM from Shimoga)

Had breakfast (a sumptuous one at that) in Hotel Samrat Ashoka and left for Kemmannugundi around 08:30 Hrs. Also, got our lunch (pongal) packed since the food available at Kemmannugundi isn’t of the best quality, or so I’ve heard. I don’t think Kemmannugundi brooks any introduction! It is located around 72 KM from Shimoga (map above).

Reached Kallathagiri falls around 10:00 Hrs. Kallathgiri is a 1 KM deviation on the way to Kemmannugundi and located close to the kallatti (kannada: ಕಲ್ಲತ್ತಿ) village. It can NOT be called falls since there is no fall! It is only a rivulet flowing over some rocks. Anyhow, had a wonderful bath in the water with Vishnu, who was enjoying it to the hilt (photos below).

The water in the falls was COLD – freezing is the word I am looking for. Vishnu, though, was unhindered by it and dipped into the water with gusto. The consequences of which, he’s facing now, in the form of cold & blocked nose! But his (& mine too) motto is – “give me water and I’ll take the cold too!” Both of us enjoyed the company of the water for sometime and came out and dried ourselves. Then, we climbed on some rocks to go above the falls and again, enjoyed the flowing water without getting in.

I & Vishnu enjoying Kallathgiri Falls!

The water is cold, isn't it?

 

Teacher admonishing his students with a Stick!

On the way to Kemmannugundi!

A beautiful view, a handsome man!

Beautiful view of the forest@Kemmannugundi

 Once done at the falls, moved on to Kemmannugundi enjoying the wonderful greenery on the way. Reached Kemmannugundi around 11:30 PM. Visited the park there wherein Vishnu played with gay abandon. Also, enjoyed the view of the Baba Budangiri hills. Took in the atmosphere for some time. Wanted to visit Z point and shanthi falls but found no place to park my car! It is best covered on foot with the car parked near the hotel. As we weren’t in the mood to trek for around an hour, what with my parents also travelling with us, we moved on.

Planned to visit Hebbe falls (13 KM from Kemmannugundi) but found out that cars can’t go till that point and did not find any alternate transport :(. There are jeeps available that take you there from Kemmannugundi but none were available when I inquired, even after waiting for 15-20 min. So, dropped the idea of Hebbe falls and headed straight towards Shivamogga after partaking of lunch on the way (pongal packed from Samrat Ashoka).

 

Destination 2: Tyavarekoppa Lion and Tiger Sanctuary

Route: Shivamogga –> Tyavarekoppa (9 KM from Shivamogga on NH 206 towards Sagara/Jog Falls).

On the way to Shivamogga, after a prolonged and heated debate, decided to visit Tyavarekoppa, which has a lion & a tiger safari akin to Bannerughatta National Park. Reached Shivamogga around 15:30 hrs and headed straight towards Tyavarekoppa, which is 9 KM from Shivamogga on NH 206, on the way to Sagara/Jog Falls.

Reached Tyavarekoppa around 16:00, hunted 10 min for parking my car, found that it  was packed to the hilt with fellow tourists, waited 35 min to get into the safari van and found that it was all worth it! I have previously compared Tyavarekoppa to Bannerughatta. Though the comparision is apt in most aspects, it differs in 3 crucial aspects –

1. Bannerughatta is larger in size as compared to Tyavarekoppa

2. The number of animals and the range of them is less in Tyavarekoppa as compared to Bannerughatta

3. The main difference though, and this is the most important one, IMO, is that the Lions and Tigers of Tyavarekoppa are allowed to “roam freely”, yes, freely but ONLY within their enclosure.

Seeing the Lion and the Tiger circling the safari van gave me goosebumps. A semblance of freedom is the least that the majestic beasts need and that seems to have been provided in Tyavarekoppa. Consequently, they roam around freely even with prying human eyes upon them and display something close to boredom/disdain whenever a safari van comes along to break their monotony. It must be monotony indeed, since Lions/Tigers are the only creatures in their enclosure.

So, after watching the majestic beasts and some deer (Black Buck, Sambhar etc), headed back to Shivamogga for some rest!

Thus Day 2 was a trifle disappointing, because I could neither make it to Hebbe falls nor to Datta Peetha (3 hour journey from Kemmannugundi) but was lightened up in the end by the majestic beasts of Tyavarekoppa.

Before signing off, a few notes/suggestions/caveats:

1. Suggest you make your own arrangements for lunch if you are planning to visit Kemmannugundi. Best thing is to get it packed while having breakfast, like I did!

2. The road to Kemmannugundi is in a really bad shape at a few places after Kallathi village. Moreover, it is also narrow at some points. So, exercise due caution while driving.

DAY 1

Date: 25-Dec-2009

Time: 07:00 Hours 

Destination 1: Amruthapura (22 KM from Birur and 11.9 KM from Tarikere). 

Sights: Amrutheshwara Temple 

Route: Bangalore –> Nelamangala (via NICE Road) –> Tumkur –> Tiptur (NH 206/BH Road) –> Arsikere –> Kadur –> Birur –> Amruthapura (a total distance of 244 KM from Bangalore)

 

About Amruthapura (info gleaned from the NET): The Amrutesvara temple (Kannada: ಅಮೃತೇಶ್ವರ ದೇವಸ್ಥಾನ) is located in Amruthapura, a town which is 67 km north of Chikmagalur town in Chikmagalur District, Karnataka state, India. Located 110 km from Hassan and 35 km from Shimoga on NH 206, Amruthapura is known for the splendid Amrutesvara temple (also spelt Amrutheshwara or Amrtesvara) . The temple was built in 1196 by Amrutheswara Dandanayaka (commander) under Hoysala King Veera Ballala II. Located in the close vicinity of the Bhadra River reservoir, a short distance from Tarikere town, this is an idyllic spot. 

 Left home at around 7 AM. Vishnu (my 3 year old son) was also ready to roll at such an early hour (for him)! Took the “NICE” road to Tumkur Road (NH4). Faced a lot of traffic on Tumkur Road, no doubt because of the holidays. Seemed like the whole of Bangalore had planned to desert Bangalore in search of more peaceful locations. Wish it were true of the working weekdays too. Took me 1 hour to get to the Tumkur Road Tollgate ( a distance of approx. 13 KM) from the NICE road junction. 

Reached Tumkur around 9 AM and looked around for a good hotel (restaurant) to quell the bout of hunger gripping me and failing to find any, drove till KB Cross on NH 206 or Bangalore Honnavara (BH) Road, as it is popularly called, before I could find a decent restaurant. The point to note is that I missed the sign proclaiming in BIG letters “Kamat Upachar” a few KMs before Tumkur and paid the price for it too. Anyway, had a decent breakfast at Matha Residency and continued my drive towards Amruthapura. 

Reached Amruthapura around 12:45 Hrs. The place is very well maintained by ASI and the drive seemed really worth it! The sculptures are quite exquisite – no doubt because the temple was built by the Hoysalas! A few photos sessions later (see below), moved on to Tarikere. 

 

Amrutheshwara Temple @ Amruthapura

Carvings@Amrutheshwara Temple

Amrutheshwara Temple Carvings

  

On my return journey from Amruthapura to Tarikere, I was involved in a funny incident, which I might as well relate here, if only to lessen my guilt. One can reach Tarikere from Amruthapura by 2 different roads. I took the one that Google maps professed to be the best one i.e., reaching Tarikere by joining SH57. On the way, a Maruti Omni driver stopped us and asked us for directions to Arsikere. I, being supremely confident, told him to take the next left! I later found out that I had erred in guiding the Maruti Omni driver and the correct route would have been taking the RIGHT and then the next left! God, please save me from the Omni driver’s curses!:) 

 

Destination 2: Somapura or Sompura

Sights: Prasanna Someshwara Temple, River Bhadra. 

Route: Tarikere –> Deviation to Bhadra Dam (on NH 206) –> Rangenahalli –> Sompura (around 20 KM from Tarikere) 

 

About Sompura: Somapura is around 20 kms west of Tarikere town.  The place in one of the Panchashekshetras situated on the banks of the river Bhadra.  There is a temple dedicated to Prasanna Someshwara it was built originally in the 12th century A.D. The Someshwara Linga in the Garbagriha has a special interesting feature. The main Shiva Linga in the Garbha Gudi (Sanctum Sanctorum) was made of pachhe kallu (ಪಚ್ಚೆ ಕಲ್ಲು Green Stone) which was stolen in 1974. Later, the Shringeri Swamiji – His Holiness Shri Bharati teertha – had a Shiva Linga made of saligrama in Kashi and got it installed in 1976 (I am not really sure about the years but the story is true!). 

Reached Tarikere around 14:15 Hrs and asked around for directions to visit Sompura. Found that it is a slight deviation on the way to Bhadra Dam. The place itself is quite peaceful because there are hardly any visitors. Moreover, the temple is nothing great to write about (espaceially after visiting the beautiful Amrutheshwara Temple). The Bhadra river flows very close to the temple and in fact, during the rainy season, the river water reaches upto the temple. Unfortuantely, could not visit the river since I offered the pujari (temple priest) a ride till Lakkavalli and he was in a hurry! 

 

Destination 3: Bhadra Dam

Sights: Bhadra dam (also called Lakkavalli Dam), Bhadra Wild life sanctuary (including a Jungle resort/lodge) 

Route: Sompura –> Lakkavalli –> Bhadra Dam (around 25 KM from Tarikere and around 8 KM from Sompura) 

Left Sompura around 15:15 Hrs, dropped the Pujari at Lakkavalli and continued till Bhadra Dam. The dam is really huge in size and there are many islands that are formed because of the dam which are inhabited by our winged friends! Bhadra wild life sanctuary is a purportedly a good place for bird watchers. Anyhow, the scenery was really awesome and below are some photos!  

 

Bhadra Dam

Another beautiful view of Bhadra Dam

Left Bhadra Dam around 16:30 Hrs and headed towards Shivamogga (Shimoga for the uninitiated). Though the distance ws only 28 KM, the road is in a BAD condition, to say the least. Around 7 KM of the road was full of stones and was in fact being relaid. Hopefully, it should be done before the monsoons else, God save your car. I took almost 1 & a half hour to cover this stretch.

The route I took to reach Shivamogga from Bhadra Dam. Avoid it if you can.

Stayed in Shivamogga for the night before proceeding to Kemmannugundi (the subject for my next blog)!

Hotel Information: Hotel Samrat Ashoka, BH (Bangalore-Honnavara) Road, Shimoga

Phone: 08182 – 404502,404511,278844

Notes:

1. If you are planning to visit all the places listed above on the same day, there is no decent hotel to have lunch at, after Tumkur or Kamat Upchar (before Tumkur on NH4). Better get the lunch packed! One good spot to have lunch would be on the banks of River Bhadra in Sompura or even in Bhadra Dam (if you can go hungry till that time).

2. Avoid the direct road from Bhadra Dam to Shivamogga. The other alternative is to come back to NH 206 (around 20 KM from Bhadra Dam) and then proceed towards Shivamogga (around 38 KM from NH 206).

Alternate route to Shivamogga from Bhadra Dam:

3. The accomodation at Hotel Samrat Ashoka is quite decent. The restaurant is pure vegetarian and the food served is excellent, especially the South Indian dishes – Masale dose, Idli, Vade, Pongal, Bisibele baath etc. Got my lunch packed for both the Kemmannugundi and Jog Falls trip there!