In the quaint town of Shivasamudra in the Mandya district of Karnataka lie the Shivanasamudra Falls. A towering height of 322 feet, this picturesque falls is an amalgamation of the twin falls- Gagana Chukki in Malavalli taluk of Mandya district and Bhara Chukki in Kollegal taluk of Chamarajanagar district . This falls known as Shiva’s seas can proudly boast of having the first hydro-electric power station in Asia, set up in 1902. About 150 km from Bangalore, India it is a trip worth making.
Planning the trip
In order to see the falls and the breathtaking countryside of Talakad district one should be ready to chase the dawn. We started off at 6 am and by divine intervention the car we had booked was also on time. We drove via Kanakapura, taking NH208 and truly the road is a traveler’s Mecca. The road is lined on either sides with yellow fields that will definitely remind a certified romantic of the verses from Wordsworth’s Daffodils. On the Kanakapura road, one should take the left turn towards Malavalli. Drive 30 km from Malavalli and voila! You reach Shivanasamudra, where the seas of Shiva unite(an age old belief). Do not forget you started early so hunger pangs are sure to strike. Stop the car at roadside hotels (dhaba) and savor warm, soft idly with spicy concoction of coconut and red chilies( chutney).
The bridge leading to the falls is narrow and prone to traffic even early in the morning. One can see the Cauvery river from atop the bridge. The serenity of it just blows you away.The silently flowing river seems to speak volumes of the upheavals of time that it has witnessed.
We stopped our car at a Dargah(mosque) from where the view is very clear but on the hindsight the surrounding area is not too clean. I would strongly recommend travelling an extra 12 km to get a well deserved view of the falls. The Cauvery river takes a serpentine bend, traversing jagged rocks and finally takes a plunge to form the waterfall. The terrain is rocky, dangerous and unforgiving. One must pay heed to the warnings put up for traveler’s safety as accidents are quite common in this region.
The much awaited part of the trip is the journey to Bhara Chukki falls. Just 2 km from the Dargah and at an entry fees of Rs.30 one can truly cherish this experience. Climb down 100 steps and you reach the bottom of the falls where you can choose between a coracle ride or a refreshing dip in the water. I would say go for both for sometimes you need to indulge in best of both the options. A statutory warning- beware of the rocky terrain and be careful of your belongings.
Miles to go before we sleep- Off to Talakad
Talakad is a sedate town on the left bank of Cauvery. A place enriched with history and folklore, Talakad’s 30 temples lie buried today in the sand. Our guide, a wizened old man told us that a curse had befallen on this place which made the river recede, leaving behind sand that covered the temples because the Gods wanted to hide their grace from the people. A story nice to hear but not to be believed. You will surely come across many such tales in this part of the town. Now this place is a pilgrimage ground. The Vaideeswara temple built by Raja Raja 1 is the only one which seems to have escaped the sands of time. The rest of the temples namely,
- Gauri Shankara
- Kirti Narayana
were all buried under sand dunes and recently excavated. The temples of Pataleeswara (Vasukeeswara), Maraleswara, Arakeswara, Mallikarjuna and Vaideeswara constitute the Panchalingas and are believed to represent the five faces of Shiva. The Vaideeswara built in Dravidian style, a sturdy structure of granite has escaped the sand dunes and stands tall, a testimony to the power of the Almighty.
The Talakad riverside is like a carnival that never ends, the main attraction being the coracle ride. One can take bath in the river and picnic at the beach side. Try the coconut water at the beach. At Rs.20 it is a heartening feast, not to forget the malai that you can scrape from the bottom of the fruit. Have a late lunch at one of the small eateries and then its time to head back from the lapping waters of Cauvery.
Few of our favourite things
- At the Dargah, tie a thread around the tree as it fulfills your deepest desire. Childish I know but sometimes its good to unleash the child in you.
- A Bhara Chukki relish the cold water tickling your feet and splash your friend who chooses not to step into water.
- On the way to Talakad, turn off the car’s AC, roll down the windows and let the dusty wind blow away all your worries.
- Stop your car and have tea with ‘gur'(jaggery) in earthen pots.
- At the bank of Cauvery, buy a plastic ball and jump into the water with your friends and family for a serious match of water polo.
- Do not forget to have laddoos at the temples; they are really an epicurean delight.
- Take a coracle ride and insist the boat man to swirl the coracle round and round in water. Trust me he can do it.
- Last and most important- breath life into each moment.
- Carry water, snacks and lunch as not many eateries are available
- Carry medicines and first aid as there is are very few of such shops
- Be careful with the rocky terrain and pay heed to the warnings
- Make sure you have filled the car tanker sufficiently
- Do not venture too deep into the river
The real excitement in traveling is not in the destination but the journey. Enjoy every moment on this trip as it is full of scenic beauty and I can bet good money that once you embark on this journey you will not want the road to end.