Jog Falls and Gokarna Trip :-
It was a Friday late night shift which we winded almost at midnight. Tired and haggard with the “Work Load”, it was time to hit the roads and getaway to the highway. A plan which had a target and a few last minutes info printed from Wikipedia to guide us. The band wagon was crowded by Sandeep, Satheesh, Tridip, Nirmal, Raja and last but not the least me(Noborupam a.k.a Nobo). We started from Bangalore at around 3:45am
Off from Bangalore we were on NH 4, officially heading towards Jog Falls – a 400 Km drive approximately. We reached Tumkur and took a left turn on NH 206 to touch Shimoga and off to Jog Falls.
While crossing Hassan, Sandeep hatched an idea. “Guys why don’t we take a tour to Halebidu and Belur and then continue going to Jog Falls. We have the whole weekend to celebrate the wandering.” We all gave a thought and off we took another left to go to Halebidu. It was a 70km drive from the Highway.
Halebidu is located in Hassan District, Karnataka, India. Halebidu (which was previously called Dorasamudra or Dwarasamudra) was the regal capital of the Hoysala Empire in the 12th century. It is home to one of the best examples of Hoysala architecture in the ornate Hoysaleswara and Kedareswara temples.
The temple complex comprises two Hindu temples, the Hoysaleshawara and Kedareshwara temples and two Jain basadi. In front of these temples there is a big lake. The town gets its name the from the lake, Dwara samudhra which means entrance from ocean. The two nandi bull statues which are on the side of the Hoysaleshwara temple aremonolithic. Soap stone or Chloritic Schist was used for the construction of these temples. However a number ofsculptures in the temple are destructed by invaders. So the temple is incomplete. Halebid means old abode. There is an archeological museum in the temple complex.
We had a lovely time in Halebidu. Out from the daily hustle and bustle of city life, you are suddenly in a place, surrounded with peace, silence and an unbelievable piece of work standing so proud. The stone carved sculptures are so splendid and marvellous, its a real treat to your eyes and also make you think how dedicated were people of those days bringing life out of a stone. It was a beautiful morning and yes not to forget the hands on experience on the tractor lying around.
From Halebidu, we drove to Belur (20 minutes drive). Stepped out of the car and rushed to a restaurant, hunger was the call of the hour!
Belur is known for the Chennakesava temple complex which contains the Chennakesava Temple ( dedicated to Chennakeshava , meaning handsome Vishnu) as the centre piece, surrounded by the Kappe Chennigraya temple built by Shantaladevi, queen of kingVishnuvardhana.
The temple is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture. It was built by king Vishnuvardhana in commemoration of his victory over the Cholas at Talakad in 1117 CE. Legend has it that it took 103 years to complete and Vishnuvardhana’s grandson Veera Ballala II completed the task.
And before signing out Belur, we tried some hands on “Iktara”, a musical instrument.
Passing through the various small and beautiful towns of Uttar Karnataka, we were on out way to Shimoga. We followed the state highways to reach there. A lot of small towns had come on the way.
Just about an hour distance to Shimoga and keeping things in schedule so that we can reach Jog Falls before sunset, we hitched into the Bhadra Reservoir. A splendid view of the never ending water reservoir, a must stop if you are passing through this area.
From here we rushed to Shimoga, so that we can grab a quick bite for lunch and reach Jog Falls. Jog Falls are among the ten highest waterfalls in India, located in Shimoga District of Karnataka state. Created by Sharavathi River falling from a height of 253 meters (829 ft), Jog Falls is one of the major attractions in Karnataka tourism. It is also called by alternative names of Gerusoppe falls and Gersoppa Falls. It is nestled in the Western ghats. The drive up the hill is glories giving a birds eye view of the festile and magical western ghats.
The main place of interest as the name itself suggests is the “Jog falls”. The sharavati river crashes nine-hundred feet down in four main falls. The highest is the Raja (King) fall which falls 250 m below forming a 40 m deep pool. Next to it is the Roarer, while a short distance to the south is the Rocket it is called so aptly because it spurts great shafts of water out in the air, In contrast the Rani (Queen) over the rocks gracefully.
Unfortunately, due to low rainfall and wrong time to visit the magnificent, we had just a small stream in our luck.
The troop surrounded the coffee table in the cafeteria there discussing where to go next, since our main target was disappointing. Spoke to the tourism office there and they suggested us to drive all night to a place called Gokarna. Its near about 115km drive and comfortably can be executed in 4 to 5 hours considering the roads. It was an on the spot decision to go to Gokarna. The question was how will Raja manage since he had a early morning shift on Monday. Well, we thought to give that a thought later.
To add about Goakrna, Sandeep added a trivia that there is a Shiva Temple where we have the Atma Linga. An auspicious and holy place for Hindu Pilgrimage.
Legend of Gokarna:
In Threthayuga, Ravana (Demon/Asura King of Lanka) reaches Kailasa and performed rigorous penance to get the “Atma Linga” from Lord Shiva, as Ravana’s mother expressed a keen desire to worship the atmalinga of Lord Shiva.
After a long penance, Lord shiva gave the “Atma linga” to Ravana as a boon and instructs Ravana to carry it home by walk, that he should never place it on the earth even for a short while failing which the linga would get eternally embedded at the place were he broke his commands.
Lord Maha vishnu learned that Ravana will become all powerful by worshipping the ‘Atma linga’ and menace to the world and Ravana’s conviction that nobody could defeat him, once he acquired the very power of Lord Shiva. Maha vishnu devised a plan to install the linga somewhere and as he thought that Lord Ganapathi was alone capable of doing it, he along with all the gods pleased Ganapathi to execute the plan. Lord Ganapathi accepts and reaches Gokarna as a Brahmin boy.
As Ravana was coming near Gokarna. Maha Vishnu who had known well that Ravana was punctual in performing his periodical rites (Sandyavandhana), hides sun with his Sudarshana Chakra (Wheel). Thinking that it was time to perform the evening rites, Ravana finds a Brahmin boy and asked him to hold the Atma linga in his hand till he came back after finishing the rites.
Lord Ganapathi agreed to hold the linga on one condition that he would do so till he would be able to bear the weight of Linga and that thereafter he would call Ravana three times and if failed to come to him by then he would place the linga on the earth.
Lord Ganapathi calls Ravana three times when he was performing his rites and places the linga on the earth and he vanished. The Atma linga at once got firmly entrenched in the earth. Ravana learned that he had been tricked by the Gods.
The depressed demon king Ravana was deeply agitated and tried to pull up the linga, but the linga did not budge a little. It resulted in his throwing the coverings of the Linga to Dhareshwar, Gunavanteshwara, Murdeshwar and Shejjeshwar temples. Ravana was unable to lift the Linga from the ground again and called shiva linga as Mahabala (you are too strong). And ever since the Linga illustrious as Mahabaleshwara.
Lord Shiva learnt all these from Vayu deva (Wind god), and came on to Earth with Godess Parvathi devi and his train of Gods, he visited these five places and worshipped the linga which had now taken five forms. He acknowledged that these five places would be his “Pancha kshetras” (Five Holy Places)
Left Jog Falls almost early evening around 6:30 and we entered a lonely road down to Gokarna. Plan was to reach Gokarna by 10 or 11 in the night, take up a hotel room and crash for the day. The drive down to the Sirsi Jungle was quite interesting. Superficial and paranormal topic were considered best to chat about as we passed through a dense pitch dark jungle called the Sirsi Jungle. No mobile signals, no passer bye and not to much vehicles pass through this road in the night. What is truth and what is illusion winded up with supersticious practices and believes. Then we opted to a lighter note and started playing antakshari – just to keep our sleepy driver awake till we reach.
The surrounding jungle contains natural and cultural treasures accessible through treks of various lengths; but innumerable varieties of birds, plants and wildlife are literally just at the back door.
We reached Gokarna, round about 10:00 pm in the night. Enthusiastic to see the sunrise next morning across the sea shore, crashed as early as possible to get up early morning by 4:30 am.
Next morning took an early morning bath, as some of us decided to give Puja in the Shiva Temple. Sipped our morning tea and coffee and proceeded to the Temple.
We first visited the Ganapathi Temple. Gokarna Ganapati Temple is one of the famous and very old siddha Ganapati shrines in the State. The temple has a 5 ft tall idol of Lord Ganapati in the form of a young Brahmin. It is in the same premises as the Gokarna Mahabaleshwar. It was here that Lord Ganapati disguised as a young Brahmin and secured the sacred shivling from the hands of the demonRavana. It is considered auspicious to offer worship here before proceeding to visit Gokarna Mahabaleshwar.
In the Atma Linga Shiva Temple, Sandeep, Tridip, Raja and me decided to perform ‘Abhishek’ and take blessings for us and our family. That took us around 2 hours to complete the ritual. Others kept wandering here and there of the Gokarna beach, Satheesh our professional phtographer captured a few glimpse of the beach.
The trip came up with a lot of surprises and unplanned adventures which had already excited us, we learned that we are very near to Goa. Moreover, there is a beach named Om Beach worth going. Goa, was too much to ask in that short time. We explored the small town of Gokarna, posed here and there for our albums and rushed to the hotel to check out.
Many long-term foreign visitors come to Gokarna, as there are nice secluded beaches nearby. A half-hour walk south of Gokarna are four good, secluded beaches popular with long-term travelers. The most popular time to visit is between January and February. Many people come from Goa after New Years, especially for the full moon.
Om beach got its name because it is shaped like the auspicious Om sign. There are some really basic huts and some chai shops to eat at. There are two more beaches—Half-moon and Paradise—each a thirty-minute walk from one another or you can take a boat ride to these beaches. You can get bottled water and food on all the beaches near Gokarna including the Main beach, Kudle, Om, Half Moon and Paradise beaches.
We rushed to Om Beach. Here you can drive only to a distance, rest you need to walk for 10 minutes to reach the beach. Me and Tridip could not resist the water and jumped into it, while the others took a lighter way on the beach.We hired a boat and ventured to other beaches, the Half Moon Beach and the Paradise beach.
Paradise beach is a hideout for more international tourists then national wanderers. Yes you can treat yourself with a lovely sea shore, white sand, sea food and beer. All available in decent price range. Its a place where you can go and do nothing but relax. Soak the sun, show-off your swim suits or just sit bac and relax. We had fish fry and something to drink. It was too early for a party, but who cares – we were on holiday!
Rushed to the car and changed for our final frive back to the city. We were running extremely late as we need to do lunch and hit the road. We estimated to reach Bangalore by late night, so that people workign for the morning shift can go to work easily.
We left Gokarna at around 12:00 pm and via NH-17 passing through Honavar, touched NH-206 and reached Sagar.
Parked ourselves here for lunch and left by 3:30 pm. We were speeding to Shimoga still on NH-206 when we heard a screeching and a deafening sound of something breaking. It was the rod for the load balancing on the front side of the vehicle which broke down. The driver intructed us all to seat in the back or on the middle seats of the vehicle so that the weight is lower in the front. We lost oa lot of time there on the spot where it happened. Reached Shimoga with a speed of 30 kmph. Since it was a Sunday, no mechanic shop was open to address the issue. We called JustDial, got a Chevrolet service station number in Shimoga. Called the Service Station people and they were a life saviour. They took our vehicle and helped us with the essential remedy. We were happy for that but time was ticking behind everyones head. All knew that we are not going to make it to Bangalore that night since it was 7:00 pm when we got the vehicle delivered. We drove from Shimoga and decided to eat at any dhaba on the way.
Nirmal observed that the driver was sleepy and dozing. Few number of times we were inch distance of hitting other vehicles or bullock carts on the way. To keep the driver going we tried playing antakshari, with Sandeep’s repeatative entry of “Likhe jo khat tujhe”. We reached a dhaba, and ordered Chicken curry. Least we knew that the Dhaba guys had cooked a whole chicken for one plate. We all wondered if we had ordered what Satheesh wanted to eat,a plate of mutton curry what would he have served.
This time the driver was almost closing his eyes for a minute and driving, this was a real cause for tension. Sandeep changed seats with Nirmal on the front and kept on chatting until we reached Bangalore. On the way we stopped in another Dhaba to drink tea, the driver instead chose to munch chillies to keep himself awake. Except the driver and Sandeep, we all slept off.
We reached city by 5:30 am, Raja went straight to office, and the rest of us to our respective houses.