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Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

North Karnataka - Sirsi

I badly needed a “Green Bath”! A meeting with Vijay Mohan Raj (VMR), DCF, Sirsi, was long pending. Yathin was in town and was keen on spending a couple of days outdoors before returning to the US. A phone call to VMR yielded an exciting “two week” plan for me! 16th to 27th November, 2008.

"Mohini Shikhara", Yana, Karnataka, India.

Below is the first leg report (16th to 18th, November)
-> Read Second Leg Report
-> Read Daroji Report

16th November 2008

Yathin and myself hit the road from Bangalore to Sirsi on the 16th Morning at 8 am. We enjoyed the wet weather all along as we followed the directions given by VMR and reached Sirsi by dusk. The 500+ kms drive was pleasant and uneventful. A wonderful hot dinner was waiting for us at “KFD Sahyadri” as the staff warmly welcomed us!

"2000 kms drive, route map of my North Karnataka Trip, all three legs, November 2008

Here is the "First Leg" route ->

Bangalore> Tumkur> Hiriyur> Chitradurga> Davangere> Harihar> Ranebennur> Haveri ;

From Haveri turn off the NH4 and catch the road to Hangal (30 kms from Haveri) just before you reach Hangal (around 6 Kms) there is a median which indicates one road to Hangal and one road to Sirsi (the one on the right) (around 42 Kms from this point)> take the road towards Sirsi you continue on this road via Dasanakoppa> Bisalkoppa (small villages) and reach Sirsi.

17th November 2008

Sirsi is a mountain town surrounded by lush green forest and is situated in the heart of the Western Ghats. First thing in the morning, we drove to a nearby peak for a breathtaking view of the western ghats and some much needed oxygen. River "Aghanashini" takes birth from a place near Sirsi called "Donihalla" and flows towards the Arabian Sea in the West. The river also creates many waterfalls along its path. It is a cloudy morning today, another day you will be able to see the sea from here, said our guide!

View from a Peak near Sirsi, Karnataka, India.

Our next destination was the Unchalli falls, about 30 km from Sirsi. This falls is one of the biggest tourist attractions near Sirsi. The waterfall is a 116 meter drop and offers spectacular views at all times of the year. The sun was playing hide and seek as we watched the waterfall in awe!

Unchalli falls, Sirsi, Karnataka, India.

My first impression of Sirsi is that it is a nice peaceful place. The roads are good with very little traffic. People are simple, friendly and non-interfering. The livelihood around Sirsi is mainly agriculture based.

By noon we connected with VMR and drove straight to his house for lunch and the long pending meet! I will not be forgetting that sumptuous meal in a hurry! VMR is different. He thinks differently. He is a great asset to the nature lover community. We had a wonderful post lunch discussion on various wildlife topics. We had the privilege of watching a recent documentary movie he has inspired on the wildlife of the region even as he handed me a Technical Report on the topic. The well-crafted report is titled “Assessment of the important wildlife habitat in sirsi-honnavara forest divisions, Karnataka: with special emphasis on estimation of lion-tailed macaque Macaca silenus population” With such a “full of details” report and visuals, I do hope he gets some much needed help towards protecting the flora and fauna of the region.

Vijay Mohan Raj, DCF, Sirsi.

We spent that evening watching and photographing some birds around VMR’s house and then drove with him to the Sirsi Timber Yard. The area hosted a good number of birds. I started the season by photographing a Blue Rock Thrush. After some wonderful birding we returned to VMR’s house for more discussions and another sumptuous meal before returning to “KFD Sahyadri” and some sound sleep!

18th November 2008

This morning Yathin and myself decided to explore Yana! Another nature’s wonder about 50 kms pleasant drive from Sirsi.

Though there are several such smaller formations in the area, Yana is known for two gigantic rock formations of a height of 90 meters and 120 meters respectively called "Mohini Shikhara" and "Bhairaveshwara Shikhara". The formations that stand among lush green surroundings are made of solid composition of black, crystalline limestone. Locals believe that some special presence of god in the place has helped these formations withstand the test of time. The priest at the “Shiva” temple at the base of the "Bhairaveshwara Shikhara" explained to me that the famous saying “Sokkidre Yana, Dhuddidre Gokarna” holds true even till date.

"Bhairaveshwara Shikhara", Yana, Karnataka, India.

"A Positive Vibe", Yana, Karnataka, India.

A quick lunch back at “KFD Sahyadri” and we bid goodbye to VMR and to a short and sweet sortie with Sirsi.

We shall now drive to Dandeli…

Vijay Cavale
November, 2008