Nature & Divinity entwined.

3rd Dec 2023
Photo of Nature & Divinity entwined. by devarajan

Nature & Divinity entwined.

Are you passionate touring places for 2 reasons at one go? Then here is an option. My recent expedition had a good combination – both in Uttara Kannada Dist; one is

YANA, a spot known for greenery & stunning nature-diversity. At 31 kms to the north-west of Kumta, along the Aghanashini river and around 48 kms to the east of Gokarna, lies this enchanting spot at the western ghats range. Can be accessed from Sirsi too (around 52 kms westwards). Parking the vehicles few hundred yards behind, one has to walk the distance but it is worth it. A plain but narrow muddy road takes you to the destination; where two mammoth, I mean, giant rock pillars mesmerises you no end. According to mythology, the bigger one represents Bhasmasura, a devotee of Lord Siva, who, blessed by the Lord to burn any creature by placing his hand over, tries to experiment it on Siva himself; but the frightened Siva pleads Lord Vishnu for his rescue. Vishnu turns himself a dancer. Attracted by her beauty, Bhasmasura approaches her, when Vishnu in his guise (Mohini), puts a condition that he should follow her move for move in a dance, While doing so, Vishnu purposefully puts his hand over his own head. Mimicking him, Bhasmasura follows suit and reduces to ashes. The bigger of the two is named after Bhasmasura (or Byraveshwar) which stands 120 mtrs from the ground, while the smaller is named after Mohini (90 mtrs). Beneath the bigger one, there is a cave & tourists are allowed, at an entry fee (Rs.10 for adults & Rs.5 for children). Alongside, there is a temple for Lord Byraveshwara - a serene locale indeed. Water from Chandihole – a small rivulet drops on the Linga & the water finally merges with Aghanasini river near a place called Upinapattana. Around a kilometre from this spot on the opposite side, lies the Mohini rock shooting towards the sky, forcing one to bend the neck 180 degree to see its full length. There is a temple for Mother Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva. There seems no public transport available to this spot from any of the nearby towns. One has to engage own transportation.

A place still more enchanting than YANA is the nearby Vibhuthi falls. Around 10 kms from this place, is again a small rivulet flowing from an abnormal height into a gorge few yards below. Hundreds of tourists throng the place all through the year, especially more during weekends and holidays. A chilling experience from the scorching heat, a pleasant place indeed. Aged and young, all take a dip here for a while, before leaving.

Nearest Airport is said to be Hubli – a 4-hour drive & nearest railway station: Kumta.

GOKARNA was my second destination. Road journey from Yana cuts across NH 66 to touch Gokarna. This being my second visit to the place after a long gap of almost 30 years, I could never imagine this small village could turn into an exotic spot for youngsters & foreigners alike. There are two famous temples here; one of Lord Ganesh and the other Gokarneshwara (Eshwar). It is said that Lord Eshwar, obsessed with devotion from his devotees, is known to freely grant boons without a second thought and land up in a mess, which his staunch devotee Ravan misused & got his ‘Atmalinga’, but with a condition that it should not be kept on the ground for any reason, else it gets permanently settled there. On way back to Lanka, as it was sunset, Ravan wished to do the routine ‘Sandhyavandane’ (a daily ritual for Brahmins). Ravan looked around to find someone to hold the Atmalinga for a while till he finishes the ritual. Lord Ganesh appeared in the guise of a Brahmin boy. When requested, Ganesh agreed to hold the Atmalinga on a condition that he will call out thrice and if Ravan fails to turn out, he will keep the Atmalinga down. With no alternative, Ravan agreed; but when the puja was midway, Ganesh purposefully called out Ravan’s name thrice. Unable to come leaving the ritual half-way, Ravan failed to return & Lord Ganesh did what was expected. Furious Ravan hit Ganesh on his head, besides attempting to lift the Atmalinga but in vain. With his enormous physique, he tried & tried. In the process, Atmalinga got split into many pieces and four of them spread at different locations nearby - at

- Murdeshwara – around 50 kms from Gokarna

- Sejjeswara – near Karwar

- Dhareswara – near Idugunji – slight deviation between Gokarna & Murdeshwara, and

- Gunavanteshwara, near Kumta

These four, plus Mahabaleshwar at Gokarna are called Pancha Linga kshetras. Visiting all five is said to bestow Lord’s blessings. But nowadays people visit only Gokarna & Murudeshwara which are popular. Gents, do carry Dhoti, as otherwise entry to the sanctum sanctorum - particularly in Mahabaleshwar temple (Goikarna) - is denied. ‘Gokarna’ denotes ear of a Cow; means when Ravana tried to retrieve the Atmalinga, it came out in the form of a cow’s ear. Some say it is ear-shaped confluence of rivers Gangavali & Aghanasihini, hence the place is named so. Also for your information, Gokarna is the birth place of famous Kannada litterateurs Gaurish Kaikini & his son popular filmi-lyricist Jayant Kaikini, whose residence is behind the Mahabaleshwar temple – a small congested lane bears the board ‘Kaikini Oni’ – a proof of their nativity.

Religious spots apart, the place is also popular for innumerable beaches along the Arabian Sea, popular among them being Om Beach at around 5 KMs from Gokarna town; it is called so as it resembles two crescents joined together forming OM, a Hindu spiritual symbol. Water is pristine and waves are normal – children love to play here. Lot of water sports are available for the enthusiastic, go, drench yourself and enjoy, is what I wish to say. Kudle beach and Half-Moon beach can be accessed on foot from Om Beach. But Paradise beach can be reached only via motor boat ride OR hike for around 20 minutes. Taking a stroll along these beaches before the sunset, sipping hot coffee or tea is really enjoyable. Go and enjoy.

Sorry, I left out the Gokarna main beach, which is few yards away from the Mahabaleshwar temple where tourists and devotees flock in large numbers, to enjoy the sea waves from 4 pm till late evening, before visiting the main shrine. After the sea bath, if one wishes to rid the body of salty water by taking a shower, make-shift bath rooms are available in plenty which charges Rs.20 per person, post which one can have darshan before retiring to the rest rooms.

Nearest Airport is said to be Hubli – a 4-hour drive & nearest railway station is Ankola (20 kms)


Date: 17.12.2023

Photo of Nature & Divinity entwined. by devarajan
Photo of Nature & Divinity entwined. by devarajan