Mesmerizing Malenadu – Part 1
Date: 28-Aug-16 and 29-Aug-16
Few trips give such wonderful memories that the moments from which would never fade away from our minds. One such trip for us was to Malenadu. Though we did this trip almost a year back, the memories of this trip are still fresh. Malenadu is not a place, instead, it is a geographical region. Karnataka is mainly divided into three geographical regions, viz, the Bayaluseeme region covering the plains of Deccan plateau, mesmerizing Malenadu region covering the ever green forests and hills of Western ghats (which has been declared as UNESCO World Heritage site for its bio diversity), and the serene Karavali (coastal) region.
Malenadu covers portions of Belagavi, Shivamogga, Chikkamagaluru, Hassan, Kodagu and parts of Uttara Kannada, Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts of Karnataka. Sirsi, Siddapura, Yellapur, Dandeli, Sagara, Thirthahalli, Koppa, Sringeri, Narasimharajapura, Mudigere, Sakleshpura, Aldur, Balehonnur are major business centers. This region is also home for many popular waterfalls and tourist destinations, and also place of origin for many rivers. Though we traveled many a times via Malenadu region during our journey from Bengaluru to our home town, Udupi, we spent leisure time only in Chikmagalur and Kodagu and we fell in love with the places. So, this time we wanted to experience the beauty of Uttara Kannada district (Sirsi and nearby places in particular).
This trip happened because of one of our close relatives’ wedding reception which was held in Channagiri taluk of Davanagere district which is around 290 km from Bengaluru. The function was on Saturday and we thought to extend our stay a little farther for two days and cover few tourist spots of the nearby Uttara Kannada district. We chose to stay in Sirsi (one of the main commercial center and business hub of the district) as it was close to the places that we wanted to cover and it had better stay options.
Our plan was like this:
- Day 1: Start early in the morning. Take Bengaluru-Pune highway till Chitradurga and take deviation in Chitradurga towards Channagiri. Reach Channagiri by around 10.30 AM. Attend the function and post lunch, visit Shanti Sagara (Sulekere) which is around 21 km from Channagiri. After this, proceed towards Sirsi which is around 210 km. On the way, visit Kedareshwara temple in Balligavi. Check-in to the hotel (in Sirsi) max by 8 PM and retire for the day.
- Day 2: In the morning, visit Sahasra Linga. Then, check out of the hotel and visit the popular Marikamba Temple of Sirsi and later, proceed towards historic Madukeswara temple in Banavasi. In the afternoon, visit Unchalli falls, have lunch en route, and then start our return journey to Bengaluru via the route which passes through Sagar. On the way, visit Jog falls and Rameshwara temple in Keladi. Then proceed towards Bengaluru via Bengaluru-Pune highway.
As we planned, we started from home at 5.15 AM in the morning. It was a very pleasant drive in the early morning with very less traffic on the road. We took Bengaluru-Pune highway till Chitradurga. The highway passes through places like Tumkur > Sira > Hiriyur. There is a Kamat hotel in Sira and then there are few hotels as you reach near Chitradurga. It was too early when we were near Sira, so we thought to have breakfast in Chitradurga. Before you enter Chitradurga, you get a VRL Travels hotel. Though the food quality was not good as per our previous experience, we chose to have food in the same hotel as it was the only hotel which was open at that early hour of the day and we were not sure about the hotel availability later in the stretch (we had been on this highway only till Chitradurga till then). After having not-so-good breakfast, we took left deviation towards Channagiri in Chitradurga. The weather was cloudy and was very pleasant.
We came across many stretches where on both sides of the road there were green agricultural lands. As we were nearing Channagiri, we could see many arecanut plantations. Channagiri is popular for Arecanut farming and business and is also called as “the land of arecanuts”. Though it is a small Panchayat town, the place is calm and beautiful. We reached the wedding reception venue at around 10.30 AM and spent good time with the family. Channagiri fort was near to the reception venue, but due to time crunch, we could not visit the place.
- Timing: 6 AM to 6 PM
- Entry fee: None
Post lunch, at around 3.30 PM, we left from the place and proceeded towards Shanti Sagara, commonly known as Sulekere. The road from Channagiri to Shanti Sagara was spectacular with huge arecanut plantations on both sides of the road. We reached Shanti Sagara at 4 PM. Though it had become a picnic spot for people of Davanagere, when we visited, there was hardly anyone. Shanti Sagara is Asia’s second largest irrigation tank and has a water spread of 6,550 acres and has a circumference of 30 km. It took three years to complete the construction of this tank. The tank is so big that it is often compared to ocean and hence the name Shanti Sagara (Sagara in Kannada means ocean). The place was very calm and beautiful.
Towards the north of the tank, there is a small hillock on which Siddeswara temple is situated. What made us visit this place is the beautiful water bridge which is present behind this temple. You can get the view of the water bridge before reaching the temple itself. However, if you want to visit near the water bridge, you have to walk behind the temple. As it is not well known, there is no proper road. There was not a single person to guide us, we somehow managed to reach near the bridge. This water bridge carries Bhadra dam’s right bank canal from one hill to another. The bridge is 0.5 km long and width is around 17 ft. The tall pillars provide great support to this bridge. The water flows through the bridge fiercely, so do not attempt to touch the water. Walking on the edges of this bridge is risky too. The view of the green endless plantations and beautiful hillocks, and the connecting long bridge is mesmerizing. The weather was pleasant and nature was at its best. We would highly recommend you to visit this place, but do take extra precautions.
We spent lot of time there enjoying the beauty of nature and we left the place at around 5.30 PM. From there, we headed towards Sirsi which is around 210 km. Though it was a long journey, we wanted the drive to continue forever. The roads just gave the glimpse of how beautiful Malenadu is. En route it started to rain which just added more beauty to the scenery. The endless green stretch of the road looked very refreshing and made us instantly fall in love with the places we were crossing. But, sadly the sun was setting down and the beautiful nature was diminishing in the dark as we drove on. We wanted to cover Kedareshwara temple in Balligavi on the way. But, when we reached near Balligavi, it was already 7 PM and it was dark. So, we could not visit the temple and we proceeded towards Sirsi. From this point onwards, it became a scary drive. The road continued through dense forests of Western Ghats and there was hardly any vehicle/people on the road. Adding to it, there was absolutely no street light throughout the stretch. Though it was bit scary, it was thrilling to travel in such a road. We reached Sirsi and checked into hotel Madhuvan at around 8.15 PM, had dinner at the same hotel, and retired for the day.
- Route Travelled: Day 1: BTM Layout > Nelamangala > Tumkur > Sira > Hiriyur > Chitradurga > Channagiri > Shanti Sagara (Sulekere) > Honnali > Baluru > Siralkoppa > Soraba > Banavasi > Sirsi
- Total Distance (To & Fro): 1115 km
- Mileage (Car): 23 km/l
- Fuel Expense: 3180 Rs
- Total Expense: 5767 Rs
- Photos: Shanthi Sagara Album, Sirsi Album, Banavasi Album, and Jog Falls and Keladi Album