Vibhuti Falls, Yana Rocks & Mirjan Fort are the attractions for the explorers/tourists/bikers on a road trip from Sirsi to Gokarna in Uttara Kannada. Of course besides the always popular beaches of Gokarna.
Vibhuti Falls, Yana Rocks – Places to Visit in Uttara Kannada
The Vibhuti Falls, Yana Caves & Sahasralinga are closest to Sirsi town. Sirsi is located in the Malnad region of Karnataka. Its surroundings are lush green making most of the places around it worth visiting. The region is blessed with ample rainfall. So, agriculture is the main occupation here. Arecanut and Coconut trees can be seen anywhere. Waterfalls are abundant. River Aghanashini adds to the water resources of the area around Sirsi.
Sirsi is located in the western ghats. Although you can go in any direction and enjoy good views of hills and waterfalls, here are a few points of interest around Sirsi town.
The road trip from Sirsi atop the Western Ghats to Gokarna a coastal town popular for its beaches via the hinterland roads has many surprises and popular tourist attractions en route like the Vibhuti Falls, Yana Caves and the beauty of nature, flora, and fauna. This road trip will take you through the bliss of lush green forests away from the hustle-bustle of the cities. You can explore them from either Sirsi and/or Gokarna and return back in a day trip.
Gokarna on the coastal Karnataka is a popular tourist destination for its beaches.
If you are visiting this region during winters, make sure to visit Vibhuti Falls, Yana Caves & the forests.
The Vibhuti Falls is a beautiful waterfall hidden in the western ghats and not yet one of those over-crowded popular tourist destinations. The Vibhuti Falls is also called/spelled as Vibhooti Falls, Vibhuthi Falls.
Legend of Vibhuti Falls is linked to the legend of Yana Rocks. It is believed that the water that comes from Yana is the Vubhuti or sacred ash, and that gives these perennial falls the name – Vibhuti Falls.
From the entrance, you have to walk about 1-1.5 km to reach the falls. Like most waterfalls, you see the falls only once you reach the endpoint. There are benches at regular intervals for you to sit and relax or admire the nature all around you. The first half of the path is well-paved while the second half is kutcha.
There is a nominal entrance fee charged by the local panchayat. Enquire the direction to the falls with locals en route this forest area so that you do not have to waste time on the road.
The place you stand is one of the tiers of this multi-tiered waterfalls. Surrounded by greenery this is a very pleasant place to spend an afternoon or morning. All you hear is the gurgling sound of water falling in layers. When I visited a group of young men were playing and swimming in the pool of Vibhuti Falls. There were young families enjoying a sunny day there. I think it is about 60-70 feet multi-stage waterfall.
There is a lifeguard posted at Vibhuti falls who keeps an eye on all the swimmers at Vibhuti Falls.
I enjoyed the Vibuthi falls as much as I enjoyed the walk to and from the falls. Keep about half a day to peacefully enjoy Vibhuti Falls.
Video of Vibhuti Falls
Do watch a short video clip of the Vibhuti Falls that we captured during our trip. Watch in HD mode for the best view.
Vibhuti Falls is at its best during the monsoons obviously. However, it may not be advisable and there may be restrictions to visit it during monsoons. Best time to visit Vibhuti Falls is winter months i.e. October to January. A nice welcome arch was being built at the entrance while we visited in November 2017. On your way back try the Bhelpuri at the shop there.
The place is known for Leeches. The worms that suck blood without you even noticing it. We were shown the Leeches during our trip. They were about a millimeter in diameter and about an inch long. One may easily confuse them to be some harmless worm. You may not even notice them. Take care they can suck blood several times their size.
You can stay at Sirsi, Gokarna or at Sathwik Homestay at Devanahalli village. They help you do trekking, village walks and birding trails in and around Sirsi.
Vibhuti Falls is about 44 km from Sirsi and 42 km from Gokarna. From Sirsi, you have to go via Mattighatta, Devanahalli, and Hegadekatta.
Yana Rocks, Caves & Rock Formations
Deep in the forests of Sahyadri range of Western Ghats are these two rocks standing tall and proud. No, you do not see them from a distance. You must walk the path for a while through the jungle before the rugged rocks reveal themselves. You wonder how and where did these two tall rocks standing almost as a couple erupts out in this lush green jungle. These are solid black limestone rocks. As you enter the complex you see a black circle that looks like ash, absolutely distinct from the rest of the brown soil surrounding it. Why is this?
The answer is in the legend. It is believed that the rocks are Bhairaveshwara and Mohini. Bhairaveshwara is Shiva and Mohini is the female avatar of Vishnu. Bhairaveshawara is the taller and bigger of the two with 120 meters of height while Mohini stands at 90 meters. There are other smaller rocks around these but none of them so big or visible.
Legend of Yana Rocks
The legend is that Asura Bhasmasura conducted Tapa. His meditation pleased Shiva. Bhasmasur managed to obtain one boon that said – if he keeps his hand on anyone, the person will turn into Bhasma or burn to ashes.
To test that the boon works, Bhasmasura wanted to keep his hand on Lord Shiva himself. Shiva ran and Bhasmasura chased him. Finally, Lord Vishnu had to step in, in his female avatar Mohini. As Mohini, he enticed Bhasmasura and invited him to dance with him. During the dance, Vishnu made a pose with a hand on his head. Bhasmasura followed and was reduced to ashes.
It is believed that the dance took place at Yana and the two large rocks were named after the Shiva and Vishnu as they appear in the story. Bhaireshwara means the lord of Bhasmasura. The region is also known as Bhairav Khsetra. And pilgrims come here during Maha Shivaratri.
Yana Caves Temple
We visited the temple beneath Bhairaveshwara rock, where there is a Shivalinga believed to be Swayambhu or self-manifested. You can see the natural water dripping constantly on this Shivalinga. Along with the Shivalinga, there is a bronze statue of Chandika Devi. Shiva cannot be without his Shakti. The water from here flows to become Vibhuti falls and finally merges with Aghanashini river downstream.
We reached Yana towards the evening. There were hardly any people around and the walk through the jungle was a bit eerie on our return. The rocks are amazing. There is a parikrama or circumambulation path through the bigger rock. You have to walk barefoot. The small stones all along the way hurt the sole like anything. The parikrama involves a bit of climbing the stairs and then walking downstairs. There is a small Ganesha temple between the two big rocks, but it was closed when I visited.
Yana rocks are about 30 km from Sirsi and 50 km from Gokarna. Prefer to visit it during the day. There is just a small shop close to gate else there is nothing much you would get there.
Locals say there used to be hundreds of Honeycomb on the peaks of these rocks. They have substantially reduced gradually over time. Although we could spot some Honeycomb.
How to visit Vibhuti Falls, Yana Caves from Gokarna & Sirsi
We visited these places in a cab guided by a local relative. However, budget travelers can take an interstate bus plying between Sirsi & Gokarna and vice versa and visit them in a day. The route is single lane and very few buses ply on this route. You should inquire at Sirsi or Gokarna Bus stand and plan accordingly. Very basic food, refreshments, and toilets are there for the visitors. Most parts of these routes are jungles or forest area. Hence if you plan to drive or ride a bike to this place take appropriate precautions. Avoid monsoon season unless you are a hardcore traveler/trekker/explorer.
Mirjan Fort is a 16th CE fort built by Queen Chennabhaira Devi or Gerasoppa that was a part of the Vijayanagara empire. Until I reached this fort I did not know this is one of the Indian monuments built by women. It is a fairly large fort close to the west coast. Mirjan port was used for trading with ports of Gujarat. It is interesting to note that in those days Pepper was the main product and the queen was often called the Pepper Queen.
Most of the Mirjan fort is in ruins with not much maintenance. You can walk around and see its fortified walls, its structural remains that include few fairly large wells. A small temple dedicated to Mahishasurmardini continues to live under a tree.
The day I visited the Mirjan Fort, there were a lot of school children on a school excursion. Their presence brought some life to the Mirjan fort that would otherwise be a deserted and desolate place.
A word of caution, the Mirjan Fort, is in the coastal region which is hot most of the seasons and humid during summers & monsoon seasons. Carry drinking water and a cap to protect yourself from the harsh sun rays.
Mirjan fort is 60 Km from Sirsi and 22 Km from Gokarna.