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Category Archives: karnataka

Yana, a hidden gem in the western ghats

As we walked down the steps from the not so high altitude of Yana Caves, it started to drizzle. By the time we took the next few steps it was a downpour. The rains in the mountains are very unpredictable and make a lot of noise as they come through the trees. You get drenched to the bones before you can open your raincoat.

Nestled in the western ghats near Sirsi, Yana is situated in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnatka. It is about 45 minutes from Sirsi or about an hour from Gokarna. As you reach the parking lot at Yana, you are greeted by the non-stop, high decibel sounds of cicadas and monkeys. You climb through a series of well paved trails and some cemented steps. All through the trek, you have a gushing stream to your right, which adds to the sound effect of the trek. We didn’t see or hear many birds, maybe because it was too rainy for them. The forest is dense and must be home to some amazing creatures. We had to stop for a few minutes to let a baby Russel’s Viper cross our path.

There are several man made structures on the way including a place to rest, toilets and a temple. But within a few minutes, as you take a bend in the path you get the first look at the beautiful Karst rock formations (I googled it!) which is very dark in colour. You continue past the first of those formations to end up in a small flat square piece of land where what looks like a private temple on the right and the entrance to the cave on the left. I say private because there are no government notifications or boards on display anywhere. There was a portly looking chap collecting money to let people into the temple or go to the caves! Ok, may be not. Maybe he was collecting a fee for letting you keep your footwear anywhere you wanted!

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The trek to Yana is not very long, but it is breathtakingly beautiful. But as with a few places I have visited in Karnataka, the tourist infrastructure is non existent. No forest guards, no signboards, not even water to drink, which may not be an issue in monsoons. The place is filthy with empty food packets and water bottles. I am not posting those pictures here.Here is what I wrote about my trip to Shivamogga in Jan 2015.

https://sciovitam.wordpress.com/2015/01/

You got to give credit to Kerala Tourism when it comes to providing infrastructure to tourists. Karnataka has to learn a lot from them.

Coming back to Yana, it is a gem in the western ghats and worth visiting, especially in the monsoons. Thank you Gulliver’s Adventures & Travels Pvt. Ltd. for an amazing experience.

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Shivamogga – A tourist’s disappointment

Shivamogga – A tourist’s disappointment

For six months, I researched on Internet and asked people about what one can do for a week in Shivamogga District, Karnataka. I was surprised that nothing much was available on the net, and whatever was available like this one from the official district website was poorly described. In 2010, an incredibly detailed master plan was made. I couldn’t find any updates on the internet, but I can tell you that nothing has ever come out of it. Once I embarked on my journey, I realised how poor the tourism facilities are in Shivamogga. For starters, the map below shows the city is situated along the Tunga River. Believe it or not, there is not a single park on the riverfront for recreation.

shimoga town

Based on the research, I decided to do two routes. One starting from Shivamogga and going North West, marked in Red. The other, going South West marked in Violet. shimoga area The Red Route.

Road to Bhadra: 

Most part of this 8 KM road is untarred and potholed. The only source of food and shelter at Bhadra is the Jungle Lodges & Resort facility. There is no boating or any other facility for general public. We could not go on wildlife safari as it was possible only through JLR, where we were not staying.

bhadra

Sharavati Reservoir at Honnemaradu. Honnemaradu1

Road to Honnemaradu: 

Honnemaradu is a breathtakingly beautiful place, but with no access and any kind of tourism facilities. It is a crying shame.

The Violet Route: Sakrebyle Elephant camp. sakarebyle

Total value for money. Open only from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM. The man is preparing a meal of rice grains packed inside hay. They have a lovely bath in the Tunga river and rest for the rest of the day.

Mandagadde Bird Sanctuary.

Total disappointment. A dilapidated building, a rusted watch tower, no boats, no birds.

There is another bird sanctuary in the area on the RED route named Gudavi. Did not go there- it is just .73 SqKM. How many birds can you fit in there?

Mandagadde

We did go to Jog Falls, but the flow was quite poor as it was past the monsoon season.

My final thoughts:-

All the places above has immense tourism potential. Excuses like ‘Forest Area’ etc does not cut ice. There are places like Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala, Masinagudi/Avalanche in TN where there are well organised and conducted trips. But the fundamental needs like roads, food, water and safety have to be addressed first before this hugely untapped tourist area around the Tunga river can be a reality.

 

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