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.