Monday, January 1, 2007

Prayaana to Yaana in our Vaahana

They say if the first button of a shirt is fastened properly, the rest will fall into place automatically. I suppose, that applied to our journey to Uttar Kannada starting on the 23rd of Dec, 2006, as, once the basic itinerary was carefully set & decided upon, the trip was bound to progress without many hiccups. This was the case with this journey taken by Rahul, Abhishek, Sandeep, Yours Truly & Kiran to his native place near Sirsi. We started early from Kiran’s house in Bangalore at 5.40 am in his Maruti 800 with Kiran on the wheel.

Our very first stop-over was to tank up the car to the brim at Dasarahalli. Rahul took over the reigns of the vehicle from there & zoomed along the splendid new stretch of highway to Tumkur. At the next piss-stop, it was my turn to burn the road. With our stomachs making their presence felt, we made an early stop at Tiptur to fuel our appetite at a reasonably good restaurant called Kamat at around 8 am.

Our satisfied appetite was evident with a lot more activity happening by the passengers, while I sat at the drivers’ seat to continue on my stint from where i had left of. As we zoomed past the ever-increasing traffic, we took part in a very healthy discussion whose topics ranged from the latest business moves to the state of affairs of the economy to sports & photography. As the discussions ceased, Sandeep started humming some of the popular songs in Hindi & Kannada in his melodious voice & we gave him company by singing along in our harsh & loud voices, managing to mask his singing brilliance. The roads, although very smooth & straight for the most part, were dotted with a couple of potholes here-and-there. That coupled with the very bouncy ride of the Maruti wouldn’t have made life very comfortable for the occupants at the back row.

At our next stop to answer nature’s call, Rahul took over the wheel, being freshened up by the brief nap. He continued on at a very good pace. While on the way, we decided to meet a friend of Abhi and Rahul – Ananda Mattur & we called him to Shimoga. Having reached Shimoga at 11.30 am, we waited till Ananda came & escorted us to his native house at Mattur (the famed village, where people converse in Sanskrit). After being audience to the procedure of processing Areca nut in his farm, we crossed the river Tunga to view a typical, old village house. In and around Mattur, me & Kiran scouted for a few scenic photographic opportunities. I'm glad that we have a few decent ones atleast to show for the effort.

We started from Mattur at around 1.30 pm & reached our next stop outside Sagar where Kiran took over the wheel. Our emerging idea of a visit to the famed Jog falls had to be dropped, because of the inadequacy of time. This stretch of road from Siddapur to Sirsi was a confidence-inspiring one for Kiran, who enjoyed the twisting drive, while all the back-benchers utilized the time to catch a bit of shut eye. Thus, we reached his native house at around 4.15 pm, after a fuel-stop at Sirsi.

After being introduced to his relatives & filling our lunch-deprived stomachs, we set out to

Banavasi, the age-old temple which is just a 15 minute drive from there. On the way, we made a detour to the calm lake at Gudnapur, which was looking brilliant in the fading lights of dusk. Banavasi is a temple of Madhukeshwara (Shiva), but, its uniqueness lies in the presence of all the major deities around India in the corresponding directions. Thus, it is said, if you make a tour of Banavasi, it is like going on an India-wide pilgrimage.

The next day, we set out at around 10 am, being accompanied by the youngest of Kiran’s uncles & 3 of his other old chums in two bikes – Bajaj Wind & the Bajaj Pulsar 150. Our car also had new inclusions in two of Kiran’s kid cousins. We fueled the car again at Sirsi in our journey towards Yaana, a spot very well-known to trekking enthusiasts across the state. The drive to Yaana from Sirsi takes up more than an hour along the winding route. Drive becomes especially scenic after taking the deviation at Hegdekatte. Rahul at the wheel did a nice job of catching up with the bikes on those broken road surfaces. We parked the cars and started on the 4-km walk to the renowned temple at Yaana.

The walk towards Yaana is descending for most parts, including the crossing of a small stream. After having walked close to an hour along the trails through the jungle, we were starting to wonder about the distances yet to be covered. Then, as we rounded a bend in the trail, we finally caught a glimpse of the towering rocks of Yaana. The biggest of them called the “Bhairaveshwara Shikhara”, stands tall at 492 feet, having a circumference of over a kilometer and half, soaring above the encircling green vegetation. There is another huge rock opposite it, which measures close to 290 feet. The temple at the base is of Goddess Devi, with a steady, continuous spring of water falling all throughout the year on the natural idol. It is possible to encircle the temple, taking a cut in between the rocks, which is a fabulous experience, with the rocks appearing as if they are ready to collapse on you anytime.

After having a small drink to quench our thirst & few bites at the snacks at the shop there, we set out on our return journey. This was taxing to a few of us, especially, the seemingly non-ending ascent. Eventually though, we took about 45 minutes to return to our car. We gobbled up the food which Kiran’s aunt had packed for us. On our drive back, I commandeered the vehicle with my bro, Rahul taking over when we stopped to snack again.

Me & bro intended to return to our hometown of Mangalore from Sirsi on our way back from Yaana. To this effect, we boarded a bus to Kumta at 3.30 pm. Kiran, Abhi & Sandy intended to stay over-night at Kiran’s other uncle’s house & drive back to Bangalore the next day. We reached Kumta at 5.10 pm & took a quick auto ride to the railway station. We were able to catch the Verna-Mangalore Passenger train, only because of its over-an-hour delay. But, we were dismayed to find out the train was over-crowded & all the seats were occupied. That meant we had to stay standing for close to two hours, taking in all the nudges & pushes of the vendors & passengers till we finally got to sit at Udupi. We alighted at the Suratkal station & took a jolting city bus drive to our house.

Kiran & others started off early the next day, with Kiran solely responsible for the driving duties. They chose a different approach, preferring to take the Sirsi-Dasankoppa-Haveri-NH4-Bangalore route. On the way, they visited Sandeep’s house at Davangere & had their breakfast there. As Kiran drove on through the seemingly alternate stretches of silky-smooth & cratered roads, pausing at a railway crossing, he grew more & more confident, which was evident in his pedal-to-metal approach in the straights. After lunch at Kamat Upachar at Tumkur, they finally reached Kiran's house at 3.15 pm. For a detailed description of the routes and an assesment of the roads, check out Kiran's wonderful report.

All in all, it was a pretty relaxing trip for us; we were able to not only soothe our minds with the calmness of the village setting, but also, feed our adventurous hearts with a testing drive as well as a nice little trek.. And the excursion became all the more special in the presence of close friends.

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