5 days. 4000 rupees. Stay. Food. Transport.
The Backpacking trip across Uttara Kannada was a different experience altogether. It appealed to all my senses and left me craving for more of the experience by the end. My brother and me wanted to go on a trip from a long time, we put together a list of places scattered around. The result was... Well, read along...
Kumta, a city on the western coastline. Primary occupation in the area is transport of fish. 11kms from Gokarna.
Leaving Mangalore at 7:30 on the intercity train, we came to Kumta, a city on the coastline. Mirjan was 12 Kms from this place. We booked at a Hotel Sanman Lodge, at 500 a night, had some lunch and set off to Mirjan via local govt bus.
The fort, locals claim to have been a battleground and was the last stronghold built as an escape route. Some of these passageways can still be seen, Athough sealed off. There are large well like structure which garner lot of curiosity, but are not sure of the significance. A lone Banyan tree stands amidst the vast expanse of the fort, and holds its magnificence against gale winds in the rainy season. We returned before nightfall and settled down for the night.
We left early morning to Yana, about 60 Kms. We'd enquired the previous night about buses since Dussehra time, the transport is scarce in small towns and villages. After a hike and lot of stairs we reached the mammoth site. Legend says that when Bhasmasura(Bhasma: the Ash left after something has burned out ), the demon was killed by Mohini (an Avatar of Vishnu), he instantly turned into a mountain of Bhasma, which are said to be the Yana Rock.
After having mammoth tender coconuts in the area we set off to Vibhooti waterfalls. It was a 12km hike along the road, most of which was uphill. We were exhausted to the core when 3 people on an auto, stopped at our end and offered us a lift. Girish and his friends had come all the way from Chennarayapatna on a trip and were heading to Chikmagalur. All on their Ape Auto. Thug Life. They dropped us off 5 Kms outside Vibhuthi and revived the faith in humanity.
A tranquil waterfall, Vibhooti is not very well known. Making it an ideal place to relax in the calm shallow waters. The fish nibbling at your feet is an exhilarating experience, The big sucker fishes nibble at your toes and they're kinda rough at that. The cold water takes away all the exhaustion and was a perfect way to beat the heat.
We caught a bus back to civilization from there. Sirsi, major city in Uttara Kannada. We reached the Marikamba Temple at 8 in the night. It was beautiful. People were in Dasara fervour and the decorations and the lamps lit outside the house were making it bright. We had dinner at a local restaurant and decided to stay the night at temple lodge.
Banawasi and Chandragutti were on our list today. Banawasi, situated on the banks of Varada river is an old capital of Karnataka during the time of Kadamba dynasty. The age old monuments here have been preserved well. The sculptures in the Uma Madhukeshwara temple took us to the time when simple tools and extra-ordinary skills created marvels.
The temple is a 3 layered complex. The inner sanctuary was built by the Satavahana dynasty as early as 2nd Century. The middle complex with the stage for Narthakis (courtroom dancers) and the Nandi statue were built by Kadambas (325-500). The outer complex was built by Chalukyas of Badami.
The great Nandi looks at Madhukeshwara with one eye, and with the other it looks at Uma Idol in another direction. The wonder, however is the fact that the Uma Idol lies way across a labyrinth of pillars, and yet the eye of the Nandi is clearly visible from the idol without any obstruction.
This architectural brilliance is supposed to have come from the mind of "Amarashilpi Jakanachari" , a famed sculptor of Chalukya and Hoysala dynasty.
We caught a bus to Sagar from the bus stand and en route, went on a safari at Thavarekoppa Tiger and Lion reserve. Post lunch, we caught a bus to Chikmagalur. We knew we had arrived, when we saw the lush green valleys and feel the pleasant climate. After Booking a room at local Prakash Lodge, we went around the city at night.
Called as the Daughter of Karnataka. Chikmagalur has vast greenery, most of which cultivate coffee since the weather is cloudy and heavy rains complement it's production.
We were to trek Mullaiyanagiri in the morning. There are only private buses available, which take you to Mullaiyanagiri from the city. The starting point Sarpadari (Snake's trail), is on the bus route to Bababudangiri and we asked the driver to stop us there. They warned us that many snakes and wild animals have been spotted in the region.
The climb was pretty great. Don't forget to pack light. Water. Glucose and some biscuits as well. They say you need permission from Forest department. We didn't take any, met a cop and gave him a 100. Although, safety is a prime concern. Great experience trekking the crown jewel of Karnataka. Still gives me goosebumps.
We came down by the road and hitched a ride back to Kadur Cross. Siri Cafe is a nice place to chill, although it's very crowded. The Coffee there was great and place is built to attract tourists. There was a Shawarma joint close to the bus stand, it was brilliant. After belting, we turned ourselves in for the night. A day to remember.
The same bus, same time, next day. We left for Bababudangiri. The view on the way was spectacular. Floating cloudy sea upon lush green hills. Soon we reached Honnammana Halla. A small waterfall one the road to Bababudangiri.
Honnammana Halla is in a forest area, which is well known for medicinal herbs and trees which grow there. The small water body was a treat but we kept on our way, since we had a shortage of time.
One of the few places bridging the gap existing in the name of religion, Bababudangiri is sanctimonious to Hindus and Muslims alike. A beautiful place with an aura of peace surrounding it, it is said to be the Samadhi of Guru Dattatreya / Baba Budan. The place is usually crowded on the weekends.
Going ahead, we hiked along the Baba Budan range of hills and came across a plethora of breathtaking views. We showed up at Manikyadhara falls, only to see it crowded to the brim.
We head back on the bus from Bababudangiri. Finished our lunches and were on our way back to our homes.
It is a fact that traveling keeps you young at heart. After the 10-15kms walk everyday on this trip, I know I am. I'll be back with more.
What lies beyond today, must lie behind tomorrow.