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Trek to Yana in October 2005

After the amazing trek to Kumaraparvatha, it took us some time to come up with a new plan and bring together most people in the group - almost four months and it finally happened in the end of October. This time, the plan was for a milder trek and Yana was chosen. Yana's major attraction is a pair of tall, ponited rock formations, called Mohini Shikhara and Bhairava Shikhara. There is a legend behind these rocks attributed to the destruction of Bhairavasura induced by Mohini. You can find the legend in a lot of sites, hence, I am not delving into the details.

As usual, the tickets were booked, mainly in KSRTC and a few return tickets in VRL. Some had to be cancelled and finally, 15 people kept to the plan and boarded the KSRTC bus to Kumta. Yana is about 17km trek from a point in the Sirsi - Kumta road, about 20kms from Kumta and 45kms from Sirsi. We reached Kumta by about 8 and took a couple of rooms in 'Poornima Railotel'. There is a bus going to Yana at about 8.45, but was out of question, since it was about 11, by the time everybody and our food parcel was ready. After few bargains with couple of jeep & tempo guys, we settled down for an old tempo for Rs. 800. Guess, this is costly, but we were running out of time.

About 11.30, we took a diversion from the Sirsi - Kumta road and got into the jungle road, leading to Yana. The tempo can go upto about 10kms, during this season, to a village called Sundholle and a trek of 6+ kms from there. Looks like the tempo can go a further 3kms during summer. Few kms through this road and some people (including me) started shouting to stop, so that we can get out and start walking. The route was good, among the trees and overlooking several streams. About 2kms before Sundaholle, we stopped near a stream. The tempo went further up, about a km past Sundholle, with our luggage and most of us proceeded on foot.

It was an enjoyable walk, except for the blazing mid noon sun with a de-hydrating effect. In about a hour and a half, we all went past Sundholle and reached the place where the tempo dropped the rest of the people and the luggage. There was small stream next to our break point. So, we opened up our lunch packets (idly, vada, chutney & sambar) and distributed them.

About 1.30, we were done with the lunch and continued the trek. The sun had come down a bit, by then and the walk was even more enjoyable. At about 2, I asked someone the inevitable question in my broken Kannada 'Yana yeshtu doora' (meaning, how far for Yana) and got the answer, 4kms. About 15 minutes later, I repeated this question to someone else, on the way and got the same answer - still 4kms. 30 minutes later, I repeated the same question to another person and this time got a different, slightly confusing answer - 5kms :) He also confirmed that the route is correct. So, we werent in a wrong path or walking backwards!!!! I've had this experience before, the sense of distance of villagers, measured in terms of kms may not be accurate :) By my own estimate, we had been walking for about 1+hrs and 2.5kms. So, Yana had to be less than 4kms from that point.

At a distance, there was a beautiful mountain range, with quite a verdance. The two 'Shikharas' were hidden somewhere in between those trees. By then, we encountered quite a lot of ups and downs, a few cattle and a lot of men. We encoutered a few forks on the road, but kept taking the wider road, mostly to the left side. We had our moments of confusion as well, when few times the forking road was as important as the main one, so we had to confirm with an old lady on the way. She pointed us towards the ascend on the left side and asked us, why we were walking. Pavan told her that there were no buses available at this time. Well the next question 'yeshtu doora' was inevitable, which was met with a more believable 3kms this time. Guess, this was somewhere near the Vaadi cross.

Immediately, after taking the left she showed, I could spot a tall, dark, pointed rock at a distance. And, that had to be one of the 'shikaras'. About this point, there was small arch like structure indicating an entrance, may be to Yana. A few more turns and the 'shikhara' became invisible. But, by then, we had an estimate of the distance. And it looked about an hour and a half away.

The route became more and more verdant, by then, and the frequency of streams passing around us increased. The sun also had come down by this time and the walk became pretty enjoyable. Soon, we reached a place with a small shelter, a stream on one side and a tall, dark, pointed rock on the other side. Some sign boards were also there, saying no to plastic and giving some general guide lines to the tourist. But, this rock was much more eroded and shorter than the imposing picture we had in our mind. A person emerged by then and a quick query with him revealed that, the temple and the Shikharas were further away.

By this time, me and Shabbo, ventured into the jungle to get a closer look at this rock. By the time we came back, Pappan and Rajesh had continued on the trail and came back with information. According to them our destination must be still few kms away. Also, the road became much narrower ahead and vehicles could not have come beyond this point.

So, we all picked up our luggage once again and ventured into the jungle trail in search of the actual 'shikharas'. This path was just to the left of a small river, which I guess, is 'Chandihole'. There was considerable vegetation on both sides and the trek along this path was a really good one. In between, I saw a marking displaying 14.25, which I guess is the distance from Sirsi - Kumta road. We encountered couple more shelters in between and by about 4.30 spotted a temple to our front. There were steps leading from this temple (with steel railings on both sides) and on reaching near the temple we spotted something really amazing!!!

A very tall, dark rock was uncovered on the left side, which was undoubtedly our destination. There were some boards next to it, indicating that it is Mohin Shikhara. Few more steps up we could spot the Bhairava Shikhara as well and another shelter, en route. We had our share of photo clicking and 'we reached' crys, before we proceeded towards Bhairava Shikhara. I had to say this : Mohini Shikhara defenitely looks more pretty compared to the more rugged Bhairava Shikhara!!!

There was some work going on near the Bhairava Shikhara. Some people had a look at the cave temple inside Bhairava Shikhara. There was also a route surrounding the giant rock, amidst a cave like structure infested with bats and bat shit. We had a walk around Bhairava Shikhara and came back. The Digi SLR owners (Vishal & Jamsheed) and the other photographers had many rounds and clicked quite a few snaps.

It was about 6.00, by the time everybody finished circling the giant rock. Going back to the first shelter would be foolish now. We debated for a while and finally decided to use the temple premises on the bottom of the steps leading to the twin pinnacle.

Yana from a distance
Yana from a distance ....

In front of Mohini Shikhara
In front of pretty Mohini

Bhairava Shikhara
A close up of Bhairava Shikhara

Mohini Shikhara
Mohini, from the base of Bhairava Shikhara

Chandihole
Chandihole ...

In no time, we collected some fire wood and work on camp fire started. Everybody enthusiastically (shall I say obsessively) participated to bring up a very good camp fire. We first boiled some water and prepared our veg corn soup. Then supplimented the camp fire with more fire wood to come up with a handsome looking camp fire. It was also time to unpack the dinner - comprising of chappathis and kurma. After a cosy dinner, we had a nice session of anthakshari ... and then it was lights off ... as early as 8.30.

Even after lights were off, we had a few exciting incidents. A rat making it to our bed room, few people walking past us with torches in their hands (Bobby had a theory that these guys are here to steal timber), the camp fire lighting up in between, giving the impression of more lights and a lamp inside the temple, which looked a bit scary at times ;) Shabbo also claimed that the people who went up, came back and had a closer scrutiny at us, but got no one else to believe this story ;) And then we had our usual stuff, my snoring and the Deepa - Rajesh marathon stories, encouraged by Shyama & Tiju all the way.

Next day, everybody was up before 6. Few guys, started off early, to take a dip in 'Chandihole'. There is another cave near the Mohin Shikhara, but the entrance was closed and had a warning about the presence of snakes inside. Vishal had a penchant for snakes and accompanied with Mahesh, he went up to have a quick look at the snakes!!! The rest of the gang finished all the packing and were ready to leave by the time the two of them were back, which happened pretty quick.

Return was also nice. We reached the first shelter in half an hour. Few more guys went to take a dip at Chandihole, while Pravin and Shabbo started spreading the bread with butter & jam. Jamsheed managed another leech bite by the time he was back and I cud open up the salt packet for the first time!!! Breakfast was the usual, bread - butter - jam, milk, corn flakes (this time strawberry flavour), biscuits & few apples. By 8.30, we were ready to move.

Mahesh talked to some person on the way and told us that the bus coming from Kumta will go back to Sundholle at 10.30. We all re-adjusted our watches and proceeded in decent speed. Had a tea break in between at a small shop, which became a 7-up break for me and Frooti break for some others. The sun was becoming stronger and stronger, but we covered a lot of ground in quick time and reached Sundholle bus stop by about 10.20, only to discover that the bus left a little early, by about 10 :(

There is another small shop nearby and a guy there offered to take us to Kumta in a very old jeep. Most of us had doubts about the calibre of this jeep to carry 15 people, but we finally agreed for Rs. 650, since it sounded like the best option. We all, along with the luggage squeezed into the jeep. It had trouble starting, but impressed everybody as soon as it started moving. He took us through a lot of shortcuts & very narrow paths and even crossed flowing streams, with considerable ease!!! Finally, by about 11, we were back at Kumta, looking for rooms and settled down for 'Poornima Railotel' once again.

The best part of the trip came after the bath, when we went into the 'Green Garden' (?) restaurant near the Vaibhav Palace Hotel there. To give u an estimate, I ate 3 bowls of rice and 3 fish fries .... yummyyy ... and I guess, most people ate on similar lines :)) The best part is that a fish curry meals, which costs Rs. 20, comes with two bowls of rice, fish curry, rasam, a side dish and a Fish Rava Fry. Toooooo gooooooddddddddd!!!

After lunch, we hired a tempo and had a quick visit to a beach, called 'Bada' or 'Baada' beach. I guess, this beach is part of the beach trek starting from Kirki to Gokarna. There were hills on both sides and some rocks right in the middle of the beach.

The group was split to three for return, 5 in the 6'O clock KSRTC, 2 more in the 6.30 KSRTC and 8 more (this includes me) in the 8'O clock VRL. We paid another visit to 'Green Garden', but ate only a normal fish curry meals this time. I did have a good sleep, in the bus, in spite of the presence of some bed/bus bugs, which bit most of us.

Contrary to my initial expectations, Yana trek was a memorable one, mostly due to the large vibrant group of people. Its always fun to go with a big group of people you already know very well. Yeah ... there were other incentives like the great 'Fish Curry Meals' .... and ofcourse, the imposing twin wonders of nature.



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