Whenever there is a travel plan on the cards, it can be of any extreme – from ‘a completely planned one with attention to minute detail’ to ‘Heck! I’m going out, don’t where!’. Our trip to Isle of Wight on a long weekend was much more closer to the one with attention to details. And surprisingly, everyone in the group sort of adhered to the ground rules, and lo & behold! we were left with few hours to spare before we had our ferry back to the main land. So much for planning and having some buffer time!! But thanks to the ground work done, we had few places in our list for such instance. We chose to loiter around Ryde beach as we were closer to the beach (well every place is at a short distance in this small island :)
The place where I almost got stranded :)
It was around noon when we reached the beach. We were welcomed to a clear blue sky and it was a low tide the time we stepped on to the beach. The water was way behind with plenty of sand lying between us. After roaming around for a while and when everyone else got busy, I decided to take a walk all the way to the water edge and it was a long walk. At the edge, I found a dry elevated place to sit down and lost myself along the blueness everywhere around. A much-needed break after roaming around and travelling for two & half days. The receded water was slowly coming back, I moved a step backward along its pace & got lost. After spending close to an hour, I realised that I was stranded in a slightly elevated patch of land with water all over! But the place being bit shallow, I waded back unwillingly to the shore in knee-deep water.
As it happens with every trek, the initial excited talks and chit-chat had slowly died down. We had been trekking for more than an hour and the Sun was raising steadily. The long canopy provided us the much-needed shade along the trek. Narasimha Parvatha, that’s where we were hiking. Climbing from Mallandur (Agumbe side), our plan was to reach the Narasimha Parvatha peak, and then get down to Kigga on the other side (near Sringeri) the same day.
We had formed a beeline along the path, following the person in front. Only noise around were of rustling & crunching as we walked on the dry leaves and bird calls around us & someone among us trying to imitate once in a while. That’s when we heard the noise – water flowing in the wilderness. We were happy that we could take a break and spend some time by the stream. Within no time our guide was mobbed by us and there was only one demand – take us to the water. His response made us double happy as it was not just a stream, but a water fall. It was not just any water fall, but Barkana falls.
Barkana falls is one of the top ten water falls of India in terms of heights. It is even bigger than the mighty Jog falls by 20 feet with a total height of 850 feet or 259 meters. Our speed doubled, excitement grew as the sound of water increased as we neared the falls. Out of blue appeared a stream flowing below the green canopy. We were confused as there was no waterfalls but just a stream. Our guide understood our confusion and pointed towards the far end which looked like a big window giving view to the mountains on the other side. We were more confused and it took us some more time to realise that we were on top of the Barkana falls and not the base. We hopped over the stones, waded along the water to reach the cliff and a beautiful view which words cannot describe welcomed us. It was overwhelming that we were standing on top of one of the top ten waterfalls in India and the view down was dizzying and certainly it’s not the place for the people with acrophobia.
Though I’ve visited Jog falls and enjoyed the view from the top of the falls, view from top of Barkana falls beats the view from Jog falls hands down. The access to the view from top of Barkana falls is along the stream where the green canopy gives very small window to enjoy the view. Probably this different point of view makes the view much more special. After spending an hour or so, a quick-lunch and a bit of resting, we reluctantly started from the place. Now that I’ve had a view from the top of Barkana, next visit is to get a glimpse and possibly a dip under the same awesome water fall.
Background image: Balmedie beach, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
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For most of the people visiting Shravanabelagola, their purpose of visit starts and stops at the huge monolithic statue of Lord Gommateshvara on top of Vindhyagiri (more commonly known as ‘Dodda betta‘). What most of them don’t know is that the small hillock on the other side of the town also has an equally important historically and architecturally. Though Chandragiri is less than half the size of Vindhyagiri, more than 90% of the monuments found on top of this hillock. A small flight of steps leads one to the top of the hillock which is almost flat and half of it is enclosed to cover the monuments. The temple complex is scattered with ruined statues of all sizes and shapes including an interesting statue of Gommateshvara. The statue is sculpted only from the knee above and is about 8 to 10 feet tall (and local people call this statue fondly as ‘Ajjagummappa‘ – I’m not sure why/how the name derived!).
One of the many ruined sculptures
The hillock has 14 Jain basadis which were constructed along a wide timeline in the history – Chandragupta Basadi was constructed by Emperor Ashoka in 3rd century BCE, and was dedicated to his grandfather Chandragupta Maurya. Another basadi ‘Savatigandhavarana basadi‘ was constructed by Queen Shantala, wife of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana. It is said that Chandragupta Maurya traveled down to Shravanabelagola after abdicating the throne along with his spiritual guru Bhadrabahu. Both the guru and the disciple performed penance on top of Chandragiri and ended their days in ‘sallekhana‘ (religious ritual of suicide by fasting practiced in Jainism).A view of the temple complex
Chandragiri as seen from Vindhyagiri
Along with the statues and basadis on top of Chandragiri, there are also stone scripts scattered around. One of the prominent one is by poet Ranna (one of the earliest and one of the greatest poets of the Kannada literature) in his handwriting and also by his brother Jinavallabha. And one last but interesting tidbit is about Chavundaraya, the minister in Ganga dynasty who commissioned the sculpting the huge monolith of Gommateshvara. It is said that he was asked (in his dream) to climb Chandragiri, go to a point and shoot an arrow southwards. And the legend is that place where the arrow stuck on Vindhyagiri is the foot of the 57 feet statue of Gommateshwara. The place where Chavundaraya shot the arrow is still accessible on top of Chandragiri.
In case if you visited Shravanabelagola but missed paying a visit to the Chikka betta as its locally called, don’t make that mistake again when you visit next time. :)