One day expedition to the Magical Yana Caves!
No matter which part of India you decide to explore, this amazing country never fails to surprise you with its unique age-old stories & the natural places. One such magical & unique place is the Yana caves situated in the second cleanest village of India called as Yana in the Northern- Karnataka region of India. These caves make for a magical sight seeing spot & a blissful Hindu pilgrimage centre wherein people usually visit in large numbers to explore the caves & pray at the temple of Lord Shiva located right at the entrance of the caves.
Yana cave complex comprises of two black coloured ant-hill shaped mammoth hills located above the Sahyadri mountain ranges which are named as Bhairaveshwara Shikhara and the Mohini Shikhara. Both the shikaras i.e. hills are naturally formed out of black karst limestone. The cave temple of Lord Shiva is located right at the entrance of Bhairaveshwara Shikhara with water trickling on the sculpture continuously. It is widely believed that the sculpture of Lord Shiv in the temple was formed under natural circumstances and it is this belief of the pilgrims that pulls them to Yana temple in order to witness this magical wonder in this area.
HOW TO REACH:
The route to Yana caves is filled with plenty of twists & turns. Since these hills are formed naturally above the Sahyadri ranges, one has to trek uphill starting from the entrance of the yana complex. You can reach at the entrance to the yana complex solely by roadways i.e. either with a personal vehicle or with public transport from the village. From the yana complex, it’s a easy trek uphill. There are however few signboards on the way and hence I recommend you to use google maps to reach near the yana complex. Google maps will take you straight to the correct spot with minimum hassle. Further ample of parking space is available at the entrance for you to leave your vehicle & start the trek.
At the start of the trek, you will come across small shops which sell water and some light eatables to carry in case of hunger and the tourism department of Karnataka has made provisions for washrooms at the entrance for the visitors. In the next 5 minutes, visitors will come across two routes from where they must take either of the two routes to reach at the top. The left sided route is a hike till the entrance whereas the right sided route will lead you straight to the stairs to further climb them & reach at the entrance. As per the convenience, visitors can either take the steps or hike till the entrance of the caves.
P.S.: People who do not wish to take a vehicle till the entrance of Yana complex can also trek to Yana caves starting from Kumta or Sirsi. You could start the trek from any one of the two sides – Sirsi or Kumta. The route from Sirsi is relatively easy as compared to the one from Kumta.
MYTHOLOGICAL STORY OF THE CAVE:
The mythology explains the formation of Yana caves with the story of a demon king namely Bhasmasura who had the power to place his hand on anything & turn it into ashes. This power was granted to him by the Lord Shiva himself. Bhasmasura, on receipt of this power created havoc due to which the rishis had pleaded to Lord Vishnu for help.
Lord Vishnu decided to help the people and turned himself in a beautiful lady. The beautiful lady was named Mohini who ended up as a dancer in the demon king’s area. Not only was Mohini a great dancer, but also she was extremely beautiful. Mohini had challenged Bhasmasura to dance just like her which he had accepted gracefully. During the challenge Mohini smartly showed a dance step wherein her hand was placed on her head and Bhasmasura followed suit without realizing the disastrous consequences of the act. At the end the fire from his own hands destroyed Bhasmasur and converted him into ashes.
People believe that the loose black soil and ashes around the rock formations act as a proof of the legend.
SCENARIO AT THE TOP:
At the top, you will find another snack corner selling lemon juice, water and light eatables. Right in the premises stands the Shiv temple in its full glory and one will witness the queue of worshippers awaiting their turn to pray to the naturally formed sculpture of Lord Shiva. The route situated next to the temple consists of few steps which takes the visitors right inside the Bhairaveshwara caves.
The cave walls had a black dirt which is better not to come in contact with. One needs to remove their footwear before entering the cave. The cave is long with an opening at the top however you can walk from one point to another in just few minutes amidst the rocks. The air inside the cave is cooler compared to the air outside and have a musty, earthy & damp smell mainly because of the humidity and the moisture formed inside the cave.
1) Maha Shivaratri is the best time to visit if you wish to experience the local culture as the temple hosts annual festivities for 10 days wherein it attracts thousands of devotees who carry holy water to the cave from Gokarna for performing the Maha Mastaka Abhisheka.
2) The people have requested to declared Yana as a National Natural Heritage Site and also have requested to declare it as the protected site under the Biodiversity Preservation Act 2002.
3) Wear full clothes & proper gear when you visit here as the forest is full of reptiles, leeches and other insects. It is advisable to avoid the monsoon months and head there in the non-monsoon period.
4) Do not litter in the area & do throw your garbage in the dustbins provided at regular intervals throughout the jungle.
5) Yana is not wheelchair accessible however there are wooden benches at different intervals for people to rest during the trek.
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