The name Sirsi brings to one’s mind, images of lush green forest, crystal clear streams and roaring waterfalls. Sirsi and its surrounding places are a treasure trove of natural and man-made wonders. There is something for everyone. Several waterfalls, forest trails, natural rock formations and wildlife for the nature lovers; temples and ashrams for the pious; and ancient monuments for the history buffs. Here are a few places of interest in and around Sirsi.
Marikamba Temple situated at the heart of the town is a fine example of the merger of varied customs and rituals. Goddess Durga is worshipped as the goddess of fertility and dispeller of epidemics like small pox, plague and cholera. The Temple dates back to 1689, when a seven-foot tall statue of Marikamba was established here. The facade of the Temple is adorned with unique tribal paintings in Kaavi art.
Intricate designs in red dye on a white background makes for a very interesting sight. The interiors of the temple are decorated with paintings depicting scenes from mythology.
Banavasi – the first capital
Banavasi, considered to be the first capital of ‘Karunadu’ is about 20 km from Sirsi. Set amidst areca plantations and paddy fields, the place is gifted with nature’s bounty. It has even been mentioned in the works of Chinese traveller Huen Tsang, Arab scholar Alberuni, and Greek geographer Ptolemy. Madhukeshwara Temple built in the 9th century is the only reminder of the glory of Banavasi which flourished under the Kadamba rulers.
The Temple was originally built by the Kadambas but has undergone many additions and renovations by consequent rulers. The Temple currently houses a linga in the main shrine but it is believed that it was originally dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Adikavi Pampa, the first Kannada poet is said to have lived and worked here. The Sanskrit poet Kalidasa is believed to have visited this place and described it in his work Meghaduta.
Marvels of Nature
Sonda, a serene hamlet located in the lap of the Western Ghats, is known as a place of religious significance due to the presence of three mutts – Vadiraja Mutt, Swarnavali Mutt and a Jain mutt. River Shalmala and lush green forest surrounding the village make it a natural hotspot .
Sahasralinga is a picturesque location en route to Sonda. At a particular stretch of the river, about a thousand lingas are carved on the rocks along with nandis. The place is quite desolate except on Mahashivaratri. A hanging bridge across the river will give you breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
A visit to Yana is once-in-a-lifetime experience. Located at a distance of 40 km from Sirsi, Yana is famous for two massive rock formations – Bhairaveshwara Shikhara(390 feet) and Mohini Shikhara(300 feet). Locals offer their prayers at the cave temple. The trek up to the rock formations are not for the faint-hearted. Tiny streams criss-cross the rocky steep path. During the rainy season, leeches are in abundance and make the trek even more tedious. The determined ones are rewarded with a sight that is beyond description.