Where myth meets beauty...

Where myth meets beauty...

Where myth meets beauty...

Western Ghats, the rich storehouse of flora and fauna, is also known for its pilgrimage centres. While people flock the famous ones in this region, B V Prakash visits a lesser known place and comes back impressed

Whenever a long weekend arrives, it is usual for city dwellers to make a beeline for the Western Ghats, either for trekking or sight-seeing or pilgrimage or more often,
a combination of all of these. We frequently see groups and families head for a circuit of famed destinations like Sringeri, Horandu or Karkala. These routes invariably pass through a little known town called Kalasa, just before the township of Kudremukha.

The last time I was here, an interaction with locals brought out information on some wonderful, but lesser known, places around Kalasa which would deserve at least a day’s visit. So, I set out early, one morning, trying to explore the sights.
To begin with, it was the imposing temple of Kalaseshwara to the south of the town. Situated on a high plateau the temple is reached by a few steps carved between two long barricades. The appearance of the structure is attractive, with symmetrical balconies on either side. As you walk up the steps, the little shrine of Ganapathy on the right draws attention.

The steps lead to a sprawling courtyard on the right. The entrance to main shrine, as well as the niche for a smaller one, is on the right while to the left stand a row of coconut trees. The temple, called Kalaseshwara, is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

‘Kalasha’ means a small water pot.
And the town, surrounded on three sides by the river Bhadra and a moderate hill on the south looks like a kalasha from aerial view, thereby giving the eponymous name to the town and the temple. But the legend of the temple is quite different.

According to Skanda Purana, when Lord Shiva was to marry Goddess Parvathi in the Himalayas, the congregation of all the Gods and sages at one place caused a tilt in the position of the earth. To offset this imbalance Sage Vasishtha was requested to travel southwards though he was very keen to witness the marriage. However he was assured by the Lord that he would be granted a divine vision which would
enable him to witness the celebration from wherever he is. Vasishtha came southwards and found this place suitable for his abode and penance.

He was able to witness the wedding ceremony from here. As such the place acquired a religious importance. It is believed that a pilgrimage to this place equals the merit of visiting Varanasi and hence, Kalasa is also referred to as ‘Dakshina Kashi’.

As I went around the courtyard, a series of colourful frescoes narrating the legends came into view. After paying obeisance at the shrine, I looked around for other spots. There are a few other temples as well in Kalasa.

The town is also sanctified with five springs namely, ‘Vasishta Theertha’, ‘Rudra Theertha’, ‘Koti Theertha’, ‘Naga Theertha’ and ‘Amba Theertha’, together known as ‘Pancha Theertha’. Taking a dip in each of them is considered holy but some of them are a bit far. Amba Theertha is 4 km away from the river Bhadra on the Horanadu Road. Strolling the narrow wooded trail to Amba Theertha and hearing impressive bird calls made for a lovely experience.

At the river though, the flow is smooth and shallow, and the rocks on the banks have been sculpted naturally to cave-like formations. It also has some fine carvings of devotees.

The interesting spot here is Madhwacharyara Bheemana Bande. Named after the legendary Bheema, the two huge boulders sit pretty in the middle of the river. It is believed that Bheema himself lifted the gigantic rock and placed it on the other.

The river which flows along the forest, towards the blue hills in the distance, presents a picturesque view. To get a better view, one can climb up the hanging bridge above and take a walk. Back in the town, I learnt that the hill to the south, called Duggappana Katte, and the view from the top, especially in the evening, would be great. Following the road towards the hill, I came to a gate which opened up the trail to the summit.

A leisurely trudge through a grove of eucalyptus trees brought me to the top. The vast stretches of agriculture fields are extended along the foothills while to the north, a few hills popped up. A glorious sunset marked the end of another beautiful day, as did my exploration around Kalasa.