Friday, June 5, 2015

Kalasa, Horanadu, Sringeri and Bhadra Tiger Reserve

Long weekend of 1st May, took me to this Malnad region of Karnataka. Though I had already visited some of these places, but another visit after many years is also an equal delight.

My basic purpose was to visit Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. I had tried to book a room there and called the forest authorities. They assured me one room, but a day before travel, when I called them again to confirm they declined citing some VIP stay there.

Vikas was also interested to visit with me. After getting declined by forest officials at Bhadra, we thought of possible trips and finally zeroed on to contine with Malnad.

Vikas drove his Car entirely without getting tired. I greet him for his enthusiasm to be ever young, ever close to nature and ever to be close to our ancient sacred traditions.

We planned our trip in below manner:

Bangalore - Kalasa - Horanadu - Sringeri - Agumbe - Bhadra - Bangalore

One thought was to cover Kudremukh as well but later it was dropped as otherwise overall program was going to be too hectic.

Saturday morning after breakfast, we hit the road towards Kalasa. From Bangalore, It is via Hassan and Belur. Road is overall good except some bad patches in between. We took our lunch midway on a dhaba before Hassan. From there a non stop drive took us to Kalasa.

Fro Bangalore its about 310 KMs.

Kalasa is a holy temple town located in Chikkamagaluru district. It is home to the Kalaseshwara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located on the banks of the Bhadra River.

The origins of Kalasa are traceable to Mythology. Legend attribute the origin of Kalasa to an event mentioned in the Skanda Purana.

The wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvathi in Himalayas caused a shift in the Earth's rotation because of the attendance of all Gods and Goddesses. To restore the Earth's balance, Lord Shiva requested Sage Agasthya to travel South. Agasthya however, expressed his wish to witness the wedding. Lord Shiva assured to grant divine vision to the sage, which would enable him to witness the wedding from anywhere.

Agasthya travelled southward and resided in Kalasa.

Shri Kalasheshwar Temple
The Girija Kalyana (marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvathi) is celebrated in Kalasa every year to commemorate this tradition. This auspicious occasion falls on Karthika Shuddha Ekadashi of Lunar calendar.

The word Kalasa is a corruption of the Sanskrit root, Kalasha, which means a waterpot.
Kalasa is surrounded by the Bhadra river on three sides and with Duggappana Katte hill at the South. The geography of the town looks like a pot, hence the name.

After parking the Car near the temple, we ascended a small flight of steps to reach the temple premises. The architecture reminded me of the Kerala style. All the males have to removethe cloths above the waist before entering into the sanctum.

Shri Sharada Temple
We went inside and prayed to the lord of Universe.

From here we took the road towards Horanadu. Our plan was to stay there for the night. After some discussions we decided to skip the Kudremukh, as its mostly for a trek and that was not planned in our current itinerary.
Ganapati and other temples
Kalasa contains five major water spots, within close proximity of the town. Together, these are known as "Pancha Theerthas". Though we didn't visited but many people offer worship at these Theerthas.

Shri VidyaShankar Temple
These are as below:
  • Vasishta Theertha--Named after Sage Vasishta
  • Naga Theertha--Named in honour of the Snake God, attributable to Lord is believed bathing here will remove Nagashapa/Nagadosha.
  • Koti Theertha--To signify koti Devatha stayed here during first Girja Kalyana celebrated to please Aghsthya.
  • Rudra Theertha--Named after Lord Rudra (Shiva)is also called Rudrapada., similar to Vishnupada of Gaya it is believed that offering Pinda during pithru Karya is as auspious to Gaya Shradda
  • Amba Theertha-- Named after Goddess Parvati.
Horanadu is about 10 KMs from here. The route to the temple is through ghats and dense forests.

Shri AnnaPoorneshwari Temple Gate
Hornadu is famous for the beautiful temple dedicated to Annapoorneshwari. It is said that it was established by Aadi Shankaracharya.

There was a little rush. As per the tradition, after removing our cloths above waist, we went in queue. Soon the smiling face of mother took away all misery.
Shri AnnaPoorneshwari Temple
It is so blissful to be in her holy feet!

Every visitor to the Annapoorna temple at Hornadu is provided with a vegetarian meal. It is believed that a person who seeks the goddess' blessings would never have any scarcity for food in life. There is
tradition of donating food grains (rice) here.

We roamed for some time outside the premises of temple. Lod Anshumaan was going towards the other side of globe. His golden rays illuminating the all visible western Ghats. The environment was all heavenly!

We discussed about stay options. There is possibility to stay at Horanadu, but we decided to take the road to Sringeri and stay there for the night. This was perhaps not the right decision.

Sringeri is further away about 45 KMs. There was not much rush on road and the cool breeze made the drive good. Vikas was a bit tired but insisted to reach Sringeri by Sunset.

Sringeri is famous for the Sharada Peetha established by Aadi Shankara in the 8th century. It is located on the banks of the Tunga river. The name Sringeri is probably derived from Rishyashringa-giri, a nearby hill.

It is believed that Rishi Vibhandaka and his son Rishi Shringa use to stay here. Rishyashringa is mentioned in the Ramayana as the seer who did the "Putreshti (son bearing Yagya for King Dasharatha of Ayodhya.

Aadi Shankaracharya is said to have selected the site as the place to stay and teach his disciples, because when he was walking by the Tunga river, he saw a cobra with a raised hood, providing shelter from the hot sun, to a frog. Impressed with the place where natural enemies had gone beyond their instincts, he stayed here for twelve years.

Sri Sharada temple and Sri Vidyashankara temple are the most prominent temples here.

As we approached the Sringeri town, I tried calling a few hotels and got disappomited to know that all were full. There was quite a rush there owing to a long weekend and also as schools were closed. We parked our vehicle near the temple parking and walked through many a hotels but didnot find any place to spend night.

Now the option was to sleep in the verandah of the temple guest house, which is next to the Mutt. Many people were resting there. But I found it better to sleep in the car itself.

Vikas parked the car at a convenient place in the parking. It was very close to the Tunga river.

We stretched the seats and tried to sleep. Though the sleep keep on getting disturbed due to rush and movement of vehicles. But overall we were able to get adequate rest.

Morning getting freshed in the community toilet, we went to Tunga river to take bath. Full rustic trip!

Taking bath, we proceeded towards the Temple premises. Both the Sharadamba temple and the Vidyashankara temple are housed in the same premises.

The first, as we entered the coutyard is Shri Sharadamba temple. It is dedicated to the Goddess of learning and wisdom. In the fourteenth century, the then Shankaracharya Vidyaranya is said to have replaced the old sandalwood image with a stone and gold image. The temple structure itself continued to be made of wood till the early 20th century. After an fire that damaged the structure, the current structure was built in the traditional south Indian chettinadu style of temple architecture.

There was a little rush. many parents were there to get their kids do "Vidya Aarambha Sanskar". (ceremoney to start Learning)

We prayed to the almighty mother whose grace and blessings keeps the world out of dark sea of ignorance.

A few steps away is the Vidyashankara temple. With its old structure still intact, it is easily identifiable even from the banks of Tunga.

It was built in commemoration of Vidyashankara, around 1338 AD by Vidyaranya, the then Shankaracharya here and patron-saint of Harihara and Bukka, the brothers who founded the Vijayanagara empire (Hampi).

Inscriptions in the temple record contributions made by several Vijayanagara emperors. The main temple hall features 12 pillars designated for the 12 signs of the zodiac. Windows and doors along the temple walls are arranged such that on equinoxes the rays of sun reach the deity. The northern and southern gates enable the sunrise view from the hall during solstices.

For me the most impressive thing about of architecture here are twelve pillars. These are known as Rashistambhas (zodiacal pillars). Symbols of the twelve divisions of the zodiac are engraved on these pillars. It is said that the design of the pillars has done in such a manner that the first rays of the rising sun fall on specific pillars with the zodiacal symbol on the pillar corresponding to the position of the sun!!

We entered the Garbhagriha, and prayed to the lord there. There are Vidya Ganapati on one side and Durga on the other side of the entrance. On the other three sides of the Garbhagriha are shrines to Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara with their consorts.

Nearby are a flight of steps. One can cross the Tunga through bridge and proceed to other side of river, where one can meet the current Shankaracharya, Shri Bharti Teerthaji Mararaj. Generally he meets all at 9 AM daily, if in town. I had the fortune to meet and get blessed with dust of his holy feat in my last trip here.

There are also a few new shrines next to Shardamba temple. We went there as well and got the blessings.

It is said that Sri Aadi Shankara had constructed four temples on the four sides of the sringeri village. These are as below:

  • Kala Bhairava Temple in the East
  • Kere Anjaneya Temple in the West
  • Kalikamba Temple in the North
  • Durgamba Temple in the South

  • After visting Sharda Peetham, we took much required breakfast. Still there was rush but not as big as of yesterday night!

    It was around 830 AM. We took the road again to Agumbe.

    Agumbe is a small village about 40 KMs from Sringeri. It is famous as "The Cherrapunji of the South" after Cherrapunji, in Meghalaya.

    Weather was little hot and humid. Reaching town, we took the turn for the Barkana Falls. It is 850 ft in height and said to be the tenth highest falls in India. It is on the Seeta River.

    Way to Barkana Falls, Agumbe
    The road was narrow but quite exciting. As we progressed further it became narrower, lonely and filled with dense vegetation all around. A few vehicles coming from other side warned us about absence of water in the waterfall and also about elephants on the route. Still we progressed taking guidance by some villagers enroute. but after challenging the narrow path, we gave up the chase as there was no proper sign board, road or anyother markings.

    Returning back, we took tea at a stall and proceeded towards the sunset point.
    View from SunSet Point, Agumbe
    Sunset View Point rests on one of the highest peaks of the Western Ghats on the Udupi-Agumbe Road. It is said that on a fine evening, the sunset can be seen over the Arabian Sea.

    It was noon, the view of the Someshwara forests in the valley below was amazing. One can walk upwards to a convenient place to observe the sunset or just relax.

    Agumbe is basically a trekking place.

    View from SunSet Point, Agumbe
    We spend sometime there, clicking the nature and then took the route to Bhadra, which is via Sringeri.

    The famous TV serial "Malgudi Days" directed by Shankar Nag was filmed here in Agumbe. It was based on novels written by R. K. Narayan.

    Bhadra wildlife sanctuary has a forest range office and a few rooms to accomodate tourists at Mothodi. It is about 100 KMs from Agumbe and around 75 KMs from Sringeri.

    It was afternoon time when we reached Muthodi. The safari is conducted from here.

    I had tried for almost two months to get a room here to stay for a couple of days, but failed. As the accomodation is limited so often as any VIP makes a trip here, all other bookings stand cancelled.

    So I was consoling myself with this quick trip.

    The trip to Muthodi from Sringeri passes through dense forests of Bhadra wildlife sanctuary. The last stretch of about 25 KMs was very dense, narrow but good road and one literally feels away from "civilization".

    Way to Bhadra
    The area was first declared as 'Jagara Valley Wildlife Sanctuary' in 1951. Later with adding extra zones in its fold, the forest area is extended to its present form and renamed to Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary in 1974.

    Bhadra is the first tiger reserve in the country to complete a successful village relocation program. The original relocation plan was introduced in 1974 and was implemented completely by 2002 when the 26 villages in the sanctuary were successfully relocated to M C Halli which is about 50 kmfrom the Sanctuary.
    Teak forest at Bhadra
    As we reached Muthodi, again I asked for a accommodation, which was denied.

    We got two seats in an open Jeep to visit the forest. It was about 45 minutes trip. The forest is quite dense and beautiful. There was greeneray and thick foliage everywhere. But except a few herbivours, we could not find anything.

    Galloping deer at Bhadra
    Still I was quite satisfied with the place. It was blissfully pleasant. If got another chance, will like to come back and stay a few days here in lap of nature!

    The sanctuary is surrounded by the scenic hills and steep slopes of the Mullayanagiri and Bababudangiri hills. At 1,930 metres, the Mullayanagiri peak in the Baba Budan Giri Range is the highest peak between the Himalayas and the Nilgiris.

    The tributaries of the Bhadra river flow west through the sanctuary.

    After safari, we took the road to Chikmagalur, which is about 35 KMs from Muthodi.

    It was evening now, and we decided to proceed to Bangalore about 245 KMs from Chikmagalur.

    As it was late, we took dinner at "Mast Kalandar" and soon were at home!

    Procedure to book accomodation at Bhadra:
    Call DCF, Bhadra: 08262-234904 and also send email:

    If lucky, you can get the oppertunity to spend some quite moment in nature.. In my view its not suitable with small kids or elderly as nearest medical facility will be some 35 KM away!


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    2. Nice pictures and good detail in your travelogue.