The seeds of our Shivagange trek were sown during the journey for the Doodsagar trek when Manohar said we should have treks very regularly and can do Shivagange soon. He then came up with the date as Saturday 13th December 2014. It was decided that we would all meet at the base at 8 am. We publicized the trek through FB and Whatsapp groups, but could not generate great participation. Finally, 8 of us, Manohar, his wife and son, Chinmay, Hariprasad, Gururaj, Muralidhar and I turned up for the trek. Chinmay and I went by Chinmay’s bike and had sumptuous breakfast of Idly-wada and set dosa on the way.
The drive from the restaurant to Shivagange was through fields and had a lake on the way. It was a very scenic 7 kms. All of us were at Shivagange by 9 am.
For those who are not familiar, Shivagange is mountain peak (1368 meters high) and pilgrimage center located near Dobbaspet, in Bangalore rural district of India. It is situated 54 km from Bangalore on the Tumkur road. The sacred mountain is shaped as a Shivalingam and a spring flows near locally called "Ganga", thereby by giving the place its name. It is also known as Dakshina Kashi.
The place clearly has many temples, 8 Shiva lingas (Gangadhareshwara, Shantheshwara, Omkareshwara, Revana Siddheshwara, Kumbheshwara, Someshwara and Muddu Veereshwara) and very unique Nandi’s (Nandi Vrishaba, Makara Basava, Mahisha Basava, Gare Basava, Dodda basava, Kadale Basava, Giri Basava and Kodugallu Basava).
We took the path behind the hills that did not have steps. On the way up through the trail, we saw a Shiva temple that was closed. The place around was very scenic and there was a small cave. Though the path was not very clear, we could find our way to the steps near “olakallu teertha”. We had decided to see the interesting places while returning, and hence proceeded to the top using the steps. The steps got steeper towards the end, and it was great help to have the supportive railings.
We were at the top around 11 am. On the top of the hill are more temples. At one end, there are two huge stone pillars, and a couple of bells hanging from a huge boulder. At the other end is the cliff, known as Shantala drop, from where Hoyasala king Vishnuvardhana’s wife dancing queen Shantala is supposed to have jumped to death. There is a big bull on a single rock that is quite nice. The pilgrims have tied bangles and holi threads around the Nandi’s neck. The place, while is very scenic, needs to be maintained cleanly, and it is better if they make it a plastic free zone. There are so many monkeys and one has to be careful about their belongings. One monkey put its hands in Hari’s pant pocket searching for biscuits.
The view from the top is breathtaking. The landscape is simply beautiful. We spent some time there, visited the temples and started to come down. We rested in a spot where there was shop and savored Chapatti-Chatni that Sujatha Manohar had brought. We relished the local lime juice there. We then proceeded to Olakallu teertha (looks like a grinding stone hole). This is an underground spring inside a cave temple. We all went in queue to feel the water inside; except for me (paapi!) all the others got hand full of water from the spring. There are other water bodies too; 8 sacred water springs by name Agasthya Teertha, Shankara Teertha, Kanva Teertha, Kadamba Teertha, Maithla Teertha, Patala Gange, Olakallu Teertha and Kapila Teertha. I dipped my hand at the patala gange to compensate not touching water in Olakallu teertha. The descent was easier through the rocky steps. We enjoyed nice fresh sugarcane juice and proceeded to the main attraction, the Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple. On the way there are many carved matapas, and stambhas. It was already 2:30pm, closing time, but there was a family participating in the pooja. Luckily for us, the priest let us participate too. After the abhisheka and decoration, there was arati. They also collect ornaments from people, worship along with the deity and return. Then we witnessed the marvel that has made Shivagange famous. The priest rubbed ghee on the linga and we could see it turning into butter. The butter was given as prasada to us. To a rationalist scientist like me, this was something hard to accept, but the fact was there for us to see
Around 4:30 pm, we returned with fond memories of mystical Shivagange. I thank the group for making this possible. Places like Shivagange are treasures of the country. The authorities and people have to maintain their cleanliness..