Whilst staying at Gokarna town for a few days, we decided to venture out and explore Karnataka state and visit the Shri Murudeshwar temple. It was a highlight we wanted to experience, and being based a few kilometres away in North Kanara, pretty close by. We also wanted to view the Yana Rocks & caves in the Uttar Kannada District & the Vibhooti Waterfalls in Achave.
Staying at the same hotel in Gokarna as us, our new found friend Niko from Brooklyn, USA, hatched a plan on visiting the sites together.
Niko’s poker face
She organised & bartered hard for a driver for the day tour of the three sites. Negotiating a great deal at ₹1200 a head we set off & hit the road at 09:30. We headed out to our first destination around 50 km and 90 minutes drive to Yana. Located in forests of the Kumta, the small village is based in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka.
Yana caves & rocks
1st stop and a 2 km walk through the Kumta forests were the Yana caves and temple. At the beginning of the long trail to the falls there’s a shop to stock up with water. It’s easy going as long as you don’t suffer from Niko knee. “We’re getting a ride back up to our car” she defiantly tells our driver come guide.
Once at the rocks and cave temple, there’s another small shop with an array of soft drinks and snacks. As if by magic, we were soon centre of attention to the little fellows after a free lunch. The monkeys had heard snacks being opened and were out in force.
At the temple entrance it was off with our shoes and a quick rinse under a washing station. Unfortunately we were surrounded by an infestation of wasps around one tap. Happy days and a great way to start the day. We entered the temple to be greeted by a holy man who for a small donation, held a blessing and we got to drink some holy water that flows through the rocks. Yana is famous for these two massive rock formations known as the Bhairaveshwara Shikhara and the Mohini Shikhara. Both are over 300 feet in height, with the temple nestled into the caves underneath.
Next up we headed to Achave & the Vibhooti Waterfalls. A pleasant trek through the forest for 30 minutes took us to the waterfall site. Along the way were great views and plenty of benches to take in the scenery.
A great tranquil setting and a great place for a cooling dip. There are changing rooms if required right next to the waterfall. On-site are also security and a lifeguard on hand if needed.
Shri Murudeshwara temple
The Shri Murudeshwara temple is located on the Arabian Sea. The site is dedicated to Lord Shiva and boasts the 2nd highest statue of Lord Shiva in the world. It’s Located 80 km from Gokarna and is a pilgrimage site for Hindu’s across India. The largest is based in Nepal, which we will hunt down in October 2020.
The Shiva statue stands 123 feet in height. From the adjoining 20 storied Gopura at the temple, ₹10 rupees gets you an elevator ride to its top floor which has a viewing window on each side.
This has some fantastic views across the site and surrounding area and shouldn’t be missed. When queuing for the lifts stand firm, or you will never get in. Blocking any route into them are advised, and being accustomed to how things work here, a must.
We spent around 3 hours at the temple site, and we could have stayed longer but our stamina was running low. It had been a long day in the heat, with walking, climbing trails, up steps, down steps and traipsing around this enormous site. In hindsight, a better idea would have been to start at the Shri Murudeshwar temple first instead of being at the end of the day.
We had a great day with Niko, and the experience was worth every rupee. If you are in Karnataka it should definitely be on your to-do list. There’s so much to see and do, and can take a few hours to explore the whole site.
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