January 2020 - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!
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Thursday, January 09, 2020

Yana Rocks and Caves: Magical Place in the forests of Karnataka

The Mohini rock at Yana as seen from the Yana trail, Uttara Kannada, Karnataka

It is one of the wettest places in the world. It is a hotspot of biodiversity in the Sahyadri mountain range of the Western Ghats. It is one of the cleanest villages in South India. It is a spiritual and religious location with a swayambhu lingam. And it is a natural wonder too. I am talking about the massive limestone karst rock outcrops that tower in the middle of dense green forests of the Western Ghats near Yana village in the Uttara Kannada region of Karnataka.

Yana Mohini rock as seen from the Bhairava temple

Referred to as Yana rocks, these rocks tower between 300 and 400 feet amidst the green landscape. Even though, these rocks can be seen at many places here, the two most popular ones also happen to be the largest and the tallest ones. Bhairaveshwara Shikhara stands 390 feet high, while Mohini shikhara stands 300 feet tall. These weather beaten rocks form eerie shapes due to corrosion and have caves inside them due to underwater springs and the rain effect. One such cave is home to the swayambhu linga (formed by stalagmites and stalactites) and around this lingam is formed the Bhairaveshwara temple.

A view from inside the Yana cave system, Uttara Kannada, Karnataka

This Bhairaveshwara temple, located at the bottom of this massive black limestone karst rock, is extremely popular with locals especially during festivals (Shivaratri) and for divine ablutions. Both these rocks are steeped in legends and rich culture. As an outsider, it takes a while to understand this culture, but you can certainly admire one of mother nature’s stupendous creations. While the insides of the caves are home to endemic bats and swallows, the top of the rocks are home to raptors and the surrounding forests are home to a wide array of wildlife that include colorful butterflies, tigers, leopards, sloth bears, king cobras, macaques and so much more.

The Bhairava Yana rock that towers close to 400 feet high

For a regular tourist, Yana offers everything from forest walks, birdwatching, pristine nature, interesting rock formations and even wildlife sightings. To a technical rock climber, Yana offers some of the best crags and rock climbs in Karnataka. To a researcher, Yana is home to an endless list of flora, fauna and medicinal herbs. To a pilgrim, Yana offers the chance to absolve themselves of their sins.

Mohini Yana rock and the Bhairava temple entrance

As you can see, Yana has multiple facets to it that appeal to all kinds of people. To me, it is an eerily magical place in the forests of Karnataka that begs many visits, each one exploring a different side to it. A must visit place for nature lovers, trekkers and rock climbers!

The dense green Yana jungle trail

Best time to visit:

The monsoons are the best time to visit Yana if you wish to see the forests in its full splendour. However, heavy rains are not everyone’s cup of tea and hence the post monsoon and winter season is ideal for all kinds of visitors. Even though Yana can be technically explored all year around, it can quite quite hot and humid during the summer months.

Inside the Yana caves, Uttara Kannada, Karnataka

How to reach there:

The nearest airport would be Hubli, though Goa International airport and Bangalore international airport offer the best pan India connectivity.

Hubli, Ankola and Kumta would be your nearest railway stations.

Sirsi, Gokarna and Kumta would be your best bets when it comes to bus stations.

If you are driving from Gokarna, the route would be Gokarna –> Andle –> Onibail –> Santepete –> Markal –> Hillur –> Achave –> Mabagi –> Yana Caves

If you are driving from Kumta, the route would be Kumta –> Divgi –> Antravalli –> Devimani Ghat –> Khurse –> Manjaguni –> Devanahalli –> Yana cross –> Yana Caves

If you are driving from Sirsi, the route would be Sirsi –> Kalkuni –> Hegdekatta –> Devenahalli –> Yana cross –> Yana Caves

Yana limestone karsts stand out amidst dense jungle

Where to stay:

If you prefer homestays, there are quite a few options in the Sirsi-Yellapur region. My favorite is Tavuramane homestay, a fantastic rustic destination surrounded by pristine greenery.

If you prefer luxurious resorts, opt for the ones near Gokarna, Yellapur or Dandeli.

For simple hotels, Sirsi, Yellapur, Dandeli and Gokarna offer good options.

For beach stays, look for properties in and around Gokarna.

The densely vegetated trail around the Yana rocks

Where to eat:

There are small stalls at the entrance and near the caves where you can manage to find basic food like eggs, biscuits, tea, coffee, etc.

The nearest restaurant where you can find a meal is at Mabagi village, about 3 kms away.

If you want better places to eat, then you will have to try out the restaurants in either Sirsi, Kumta or Gokarna. Each of these places should be about 60 to 90 minutes from Yana rocks depending on road conditions.

It is best to have some food and water with you at all times due to lack of eating options in the vicinity.

The jungle trail that leads to the twin rocks of Yana

Nearby tourist attractions:

1) Vibhooti Falls - a beautiful jungle waterfall with a swimming pool

2) Magod Falls – one of the most magnificent waterfalls in Uttara Kannada

3) Sathodi Falls – Karnataka’s prettiest jungle waterfall

4) Shivapura hanging bridge – a suspension bridge on the river Kali

5) Unchalli Falls – one of the tallest waterfalls in Karnataka

6) Arbail ghat – one of the wettest places in Karnataka

7) Beaches of Kumta, Ankola and Gokarna

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