Shivagange beckons for some adventure & spirituality

Shivagange beckons for some adventure & spirituality

Amidst the mysteries and legends that put you in awe and challenging trails, there is unwavering divine faith in Shivagange., writes Renuka Krishnaraja

View en route. PHOTOS BY AUTHOR

It was a windy morning with grey clouds drifting aimlessly. The resultant chill made it pleasant enough for us to set out on an expedition. After a good breakfast, we headed towards Shivagange which is about 50 km from Bengaluru and close to Tumakuru. Teeming with holy temples and shrines, Shivagange is an ideal destination for spiritual seekers as well as adventure and nature enthusiasts. The pilgrimage site is a protected monument under the Karnataka Ancient and Historical Monuments.

As we approached closer, we spotted a street lined with trees dotted with tiny mud houses and fields. After a while, the sacred rock mountain shaped like a shivalinga loomed in front of us. We commenced our hike after paying obeisance to the deities at the ancient Gavi Gangadheshwara and Honnammadevi cave temples situated at the base.

The trek was decidedly uphill and climbing the stone-cut steps and uneven rock-strewn stretches was quite exhausting at some points. Frequent breaks were needed to regain posture whilst we could adore the views of surrounding vistas as well. The entire trail is scenic but the litter can be an eyesore.

The weather was cool and favourable for the hike, as the sun was deep beneath the thick cover of clouds. Every now and then, we were encountered by monkeys which were plentiful in the region. They would amuse us and even scare us, and promptly snatch away some edibles from the visitors. While we struggled through the crooked and sloping segments, the ease with which they scampered about was commendable. We ascended slowly to reach the Olakal Teertha — a natural spring which was roughly the midpoint. From there on, the path would be steeper, slanting and likewise more arduous. Firmly holding on to the railings, we clambered the narrow, uneven, sloping and even grotesque steps. Here, a person’s natural instincts and rock climbing skills are put to test. For me, the only way to keep going was to take one small watchful step at a time without looking any further.

Thankfully, with every passing step, my confidence and enthusiasm to reach the top kept on rising. Eventually, after about two hours, we were successful in completing the 2.3 km trek.

Shantala Drop
Shantala Drop

Atop the hill, strong gusts of wind greeted us. Few more difficult steps led us to the revered Nandi statue which is at the summit.

Also, there is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha in close vicinity. At a height of about 800 m, the air was fresh and the panoramic view was breathtaking. Drenched in light showers, the earth oozed with beauty. It was calming and overwhelming at the same time.

Having enjoyed every bit of it, it was time to get down. The descent was surprisingly easier than expected, although some steps had to be exercised with caution.

Another spot of significance at the top of the hillock is the Shantala Drop. It is said that Shantala Devi — the noble queen of the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana — committed suicide by jumping off the cliff from that point as she could not beget a son. Hence, the spot is named — Shantala Drop — after her. The tale is indeed horrifying. Nevertheless, at present, all the critical areas are protected with railings.

There are some unsolved mysteries of Shivagange — such as when ghee is poured on the shivalinga of Gavi Gangadheshwara Temple, it turns into butter. Also, only few people can touch the spring water of Olakal Teertha.

The natural spring of Pathalagange brims in summer and dries up in monsoon making it yet another mystery. By all means, these phenomena are beyond human comprehension.

Amidst the mysteries and legends that put you in awe and challenging trails, there is an unwavering divine faith in Shivagange. For me, the trip was a gratifying experience.