Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The exotic Yana (Yaana), Kumta, Uttara Kannada District

This new year, I had been to Yana. Here are some scribbling from my itinerary. One of the beautiful places of UttaraKannada covered with dense rainforest. I did write a brief note on this place during MahaShivaratri here. This is an expanded view of the previous post. Hope you enjoy the same. As always, comments and critiques are welcome.

03 Jan 2014,

Yana is popular tourist attraction situated near Kumta Taluk of Uttara Kannada District. It is known for the surreal landscape composed of sharp pinnacle of limestone rocks engraved in midst of beautiful western ghats. This region is also home to wide variety of medicinal plants as well as King Cobras. From many years, I have been planning to visit this exotic destination but everything in vain despite being hardly 200kms from hometown. This time I made up my mind to visit the beautiful place and spend few hours in middle of western ghats. My first travel in new year turned out to be quite exciting too! I do not have to venture into distant locations to feel nature. Within 200km radius of my hometown, I have lot of glorious spots to visit during leisure. I have plans to cover still more locations nearby my place before venturing outside region.

The plan was executed just a day back. My parents were running on ill-health and I decided to travel alone. Travelling alone is not a new experience for me nowadays. I enjoy travelling alone as well as with friends. Father wanted car for specific purpose. Hence I decided to drop the drive. The other option was none other than wonderful Konkan Rail route. Wow! thats a cute decision. Eventually plan turned out to be travel to Kumta in Konkan railway and hire an auto to Yaana. Everything was set now except for waking up early. The train departs from Udupi station around 7:45AM and I had to start by 6:30AM from my village to reach 20km distant station.

Early morning, the village woke up to slight chilly weather (bit unusual in coast) and dancing fog. I packed essentials and ready to start by 6:30AM. My father joined me till railway station. Enroute, I enjoyed colorful sunrise reflecting on beautiful Udyavara river sneaking through coconut trees. It was easy drive till railway station and reached within 20minutes due to feeble traffic. There was not much crowd too! My father left the station and I collected the ticket which was costing only Rs.35/- for 191kms. There was hardly any person in ticket queue too! The train is Mangalore-Madgaon passenger which runs to and fro on same day. It requires 6hours to reach Madgaon along Konkan railway route. Few minutes later, a dissappointing announcement was aired stating the train would arrive by 8:15AM :-(. The railways never improve in time :-(. Finally our train arrived at 8:20AM and we were set to go. I could easily grab a seat inside relatively empty bogie.

The train started chugging towards north and our first station was Barkur. I missed shooting beautiful swarna river however was foreseeing a colorful journey past Kundapur. Mere 30 minutes of journey, here we are at Kundapur station. I grabbed the footboard and managed easily since there were less crowd on board. Here starts my shooting too! Those memsmerizing hillocks, mighty rivulets, swaying coconut trees teasing river, the beautiful fields makes journey an enduring experience to cherish. The route is best visited during peak monsoon season during which one can see water and greenery everywhere. Not to miss those kissing clouds towards hillocks too! The stretch between Kundapur to Gokarna receives very heavy rainfall during monsoon season (averaging 4000mm) due to the fact that western ghats are relatively closer to coast. I shot good videos of rivulets all along with paddy fields. One can see majestic shiva statue of Murudeshwara too from railway line. Excitement increased as we reached breath taking sharavati river basin of honavar followed by 3 tunnels. Sharavati river has the longest built bridge along the Konkan route and train journey along the stretch is simply mind blowing. From Honavar station, kumta is 15 mins journey. Around 11:20AM, we reached Kumta station which was an hour of delay from usual schedule.

Lack of morning breakfast was eagerly driving famished soul to a decent lunchhome as early as possible. I hired an auto to Yaana from here and asked him to stop at decent hotel for lunch before resuming journey. He took me to a very good hotel along highway (Panduranga hotel) and meals here was perfect for me (less spice and salt). It was tasty too! We resumed journey after lunch and I had first distant glimpse of beautiful aghanaashini river of Kumta. What a great landscape it has. Those blue waters coupled with serial coconut trees swayed all along banks makes it perfect place for nature lovers. This place has been one of my favorite spots ever since I came across. One can enjoy landscape from highway bridge provided the traffic is less. If you have your own arrangements, you can reach divgi to have broader look of the river.

From Kumta, Yaana is around 30kms in distance. We crossed NH-66 to reach SH-69 which is Kumta-Sirsi highway. The roads are well laid and still in good condition. Few kms later, here starts beautiful stretch of lush green rainforests. Uttara Kannada has dense and wide cover of rain forests barring few kms of coastline. 12kms after, we reached Aanegundi cross. From here, Yaana is around 16kms. One has to drive through very thick rain forests to reach Yaana. The rainforests are very dense which shrouds the region with sheer darkness even during scorching mid-day Sun. The region was decorated with lush greenery by these tall woods. Also the stretch is home to wide variety of medicinal plants and wild animals. The road leading to yaana is average (some times well paved and few stretches have nasty pot holes). There are numerous streams along this stretch which finally meet aghanaashini river. The interesting fact was that despite many months after monsoon retreat, the streams had considerable amount of water. The first 6kms is somewhat straight road while remaining 9kms is ghat section road with steep hairpin bends. The road is also narrow and difficult for a bus and a car to negotiate simultaneously. Our journey was delayed mainly because of such incidents. After enjoying the journey along the beautiful forests, we reached Yaana gate around 1:30PM. From here onwards, one needs to trek for 1.5kms to reach the Yaana.




The trail is not straight but not much steep either. There are numerous streams nearby the place. The tiny streams cascade to form a larger stream which eventually meets aghanaashini river near Kumta. The trail is easy to manage. We did cross 2-3 streams enroute before reaching the monolithoc rocks. The last few steps can be covered either with steps or the trail. Due to my recent treks, I managed the 1.5kms in matter of 15 minutes comfortably however with prolific sweating :-). Being well known tourist spot, the place was crowded especially with school children. It was joyous to watch those intermittent streams with pure and sweet water (I tasted from one of the stream too!). The entire trail is covered with brown soil which is unusual in coastal Karnataka being predominently covered with red soil.



There are around 61 limestone rocks around Yana. Out of which, two are largest. One is Bhairaveshwara shikara and other mohini shikara. They have mythological importance too. The place is mentioned in 'Skanda Purana' and 'Shaiva siddhanta' The Bhiaraveshwara is dedicated to Lord Shiva and has a temple beneath the rocky hill. The shiva linga inside the hill is self-originated (udbhava). The temple is called as Ganga Chandika Bhairaveshwara temple. The name Ganga signifies the water dripping on shivalinga all through the year while the chandika signifies the Paravathi bronze idol inside temple. It is believed that Shiva-Parvathi resided beneath the hill to repress demons. The complex look of the cave temple gives feeling that it is not man made but naturally evolved. The daily offerings is done to the shivalinga originated on the boulder. The visitors are not allowed to enter sanctum sanatorium of temple except during Mahashivaratri when the place gets heavily crowded. Some enthusiasts even visit during peak monsoon season. The shop keeper mentioned that it is not easily manageable due to presence of leeches.






The priest narrated the above fable to everyone who visit the temple, gently and crisp. The fable is narrated only in Kannada though. There is intention behind narrating fable to everyone. People visit the place as excursion spot rather than having sacred feeling disturbing the peace of temple. The priest narrates the mythology in an attempt to make people aware of the place. He also requested us to cascade the information to people who are willing to visit the place. The narration was crisp, clear and prudent.

The name Yana:

Earlier during British era, the pilgrims had tough times to reach this place. They were toiling towards Yana through deep dense jungles. When Britishers enquired these people trudging towards this holy place, the people responded saying they were on "Yana" (Yana is Kannada means travel or pilgrimage). This habitual response over years, named this place as Yana :-). This story was also narrated by priest of temple.

Once we finished the darshan, we went to circumambulate temple which is around the rocky hill itself. One has to leave footwear before proceeding to circumambulate. We entered inside the rocky hill and it was natural AC :-). Due to our trek, we were profusely sweating and the region under this rock provided great relief. What an experience :-). The boulders inside have weird alignment. The trail at some places is too narrow. Watch out for flying bats :D. There are no steps to climb down instead rely on the natural rocks. After finishing the circle, we came across vast honeycombs engraved on the rocky hill. Do not pelt stones at them to grab some honey ;-). Once we finished the circle, it was time to rest in nearby shops and have some liquid.





 We had brief friendly chat with local shopkeepers before concluding the journey. In matter of few minutes we were at the entrance gate. Along the descent, I stopped at few places to have deep breaths to enjoy those pristine air arising out of healthy rainforests and drank water from flowing streams. All along, people were seen toiling upwards desperately wanting to reach culmination. They were inquiring us the difference distance from relative point :-). During my ascension, I was ahead of many travelers who started along with me, however the auto driver was quicker than me :-). This was because he had lot of experience climbing hills. Once we reached the gate, we started back to Kumta. In matter of 30minutes we were back in Kumta. The main attraction point driving down along Kumta-Sirsi highway towards Kumta is the gorgeous Aghanashini River. It has breath-taking landscape. I enjoyed the place for around 15 mins before proceeding further. I could have shot better glimpses if I had my arrangements which would have enabled me to travel towards Divgi area to have much broader look. As of now, I was happy to spend atleast few moments of bliss here. It was 4PM when I reached Kumta Railway Station. Since the train arrived an hour late during my to journey it was expected to arrive with same delay. The scheduled time of depart from Kumta was 3:50PM. Consequently due to delay, I could get ticket to Udupi. I handed over money to auto driver Sri Ganesh and thanked him for support. We exchanged phone numbers in case if required during my next itinerary. After brief talk, we bid adieu and myself entered the station platform. Wherever I hired auto, the drivers were kind to me. Be it in Kolar, Devarayanadurga or now in Kumta, I never faced problem of cranky auto drivers. May be it's my luck :-).

Uttara Kannada is great place for nature lovers. The region is blessed with exotic waterfalls, shimmering hilly beaches, exhilarating landscapes, vast cover of rainforests, heavy monsoon season, beautiful temples and rivulets. I have been exploring this region from quite sometime and each time I find new places around it. The Kumta-Siddapur and Kumta-Yellapur stretch is home to myriad of splendorous waterfalls with vivid landscapes (especially the magnificent 5 stage burude waterfall).  I still do have lots of places on paper to visit here but not sure when will it get materialized. This time I could not visit Vibhuti Waterfalls since we did not take Gokarna-Sirsi route. Please do not miss the Vibhuti Waterfalls if you plan for Yana. Also there is house self-constructed by an enthusiast nearby Yana which is environment friendly and designed for energy efficiency and maximize ventilation. I once thought of staying in Kumta to visit Vibhuti waterfalls and Apsarakonda beach. Later I decided to defer the waterfall visit to peak monsoon season and beach to sometime during summer.

The scorching sun at west was waiting for its time to sink down the horizon. The weather was warm and slightly humid. I love warm weather of coast which keeps me away from sluggishness. The train arrived honking gently to Kumta station at 4:45PM. It was relatively empty too! I enjoyed the Sharavati river basin during my return journey too! This is third time I am enjoying the mighty river and willing to enjoy it forever. As train neared Murudeshwara, I enjoyed the golden hour Sun shimmering the Arabian Sea with beautiful yellow spectacle. You can have glimpse of Arabian sea from train near Murudeshwara. Nearby Bhatkal, I enjoyed those ecstatic sunset of winter with bright red-orange rays. I could just hope if at all train stopped right now but that did not happen :-). My eyes enjoyed to the fullest though ;-). The entire stretch is perfect place for monsoon timelapses with beautiful landscapes! Previous new year, my journey was special traveling along Subramanya ghats in train. This time it was the magnificent Konkan railway journey for the new year. I reached Udupi at 7:20PM and thus ending one more memorable journey. I boarded a city bus to Sri Krishna Math and later enjoyed wonderful carnatic concert by Dr.Srivatsa Menon.

The route:

From Kumta, there are two routes to reach Yana. One from Kumta via Anegundi cross along Kumta-Sirsi highway. The trek distance is 1.5kms if you approach via this route. The other route is via the same highway but deviate along Gokarna-Sirsi road. From this route trek distance is mere 500mts. I strongly recommend the second route not because of smaller trek distance but due to presence of Vibhuti Waterfalls. One of the beautiful waterfalls of western ghats which can be visited during monsoon season, as well as 2-3 months after monsoon season.


Kumta is nearby and hence no problem for food. The shopkeeper at the gate informed that they would prepare on request. The shops nearby Yana sell only snacks and beverages. There are no churumuri shops though :-(.

A humble request:

Yana is brutally littered with plastic and other non decomposable wastes which is eyesore sight to watch. It is propensity of Indians to garbage unprecedently without knowing consequences. If you are visiting the place, please do not garbage this beautiful nature. Authorities have placed sufficient garbage bins to dump the waste. Please make use of them. Understand and respect the habitat of wild animals and have a heart for lovely rainforests of India. Kindly do not visit this place if you want to celebrate and make merry. The place is sacred and maintain the sanctity of this unique temple.

The mistake this time:

I shot many pictures and videos during my travel. I was quite unaware why the videos were bit unsteady and pictures required bit more trial to stabilize. As I reached home, Alas! I realized IS was off on my lens :-(. This was done during my star trails experiment the previous day and I forgot to switch it ON :-(. Last time during my train journey I did the mistake of inserting earphone to microphone jack. This time no grinning. I am utterly dissappointed with my dismal show. There is something wrong with me since this cannot be perpertual. I am trying to work out strategy before getting started. After few hours of contemplation, I realized the need to be attentive, patient and neatly prepared before starting travel :-(. Fortunately, since the shutter speed was moving beyond 1/100s, the IS was not required but videos turned out bit unsteady. There are software approaches to correct such mistakes but they are never close to on board approaches. I corrected the few shaky videos with KDENLIVE but deeply dissappointed with my frivolousness :-(.

The related blogs of Sharavati and Aghanaashini River are here:

1) January
2) Train journey along Sharavati River Basin, Honavar
3) Wondrous Aghanaashini River
4) Shri Vishwanatham Bhajeham

In this blog, do watch a small video of Yana comprising of streams nearby, the rocky landscape and the area around temple.

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