|Bhairaveshwar Shikara with Shiva temple|
Yana is famous for two massive rock formations. Essentially, these rock formations are black crystalline limestone. The entire village of Yana is known for these rock formations. But there are 2 such formations that are of mythological significance, namely, Bhairaveshwar Shikara and Mohini Shikara. Yana is as much a geologist’s delight as it is for a pilgrim. The Bhairaveshwar Shikara is popular for a Swayambhu (self-manifested) linga. Add to that water drips on to this linga from the rocks thereby making the alliteration that it is holy Ganga flowing. However, the scientific reason for the formation of the swayambhu is attributed to phenomenon of stalactites and stalagmites.
Most of the pictures you find of the two shikaras on internet do no justice compared to the real deal. These are massive rock formations, standing as tall as 120 metres (Bhairaveshwar Shikara) and 90 metres (Mohini Shikara). These rocks are not without its share of mythological stories and prominence, as the names suggest. As per the mythological stories, the demon king Asura through persistent penance obtained a boon from Lord Shiva whereby on whomsoever’s head Asura places his hand, would turn to ashes (hence the name Bhasmasura). But Asura turns a Frankenstein’s monster and wants to test his strength on Lord Shiva Himself. After being chased by Asura, Shiva seeks refuge and advice from Lord Vishnu. Vishnu takes the form of damsel Mohini and entices Bhasmasura with her beauty and dance. An infatuated Bhasmasura agrees to a dance competition between the two. In one of the mudras (dance pose) Mohini places her hand on her head which an unsuspecting (and blindly in love) Asura copies, only to be turned into ashes by his own foolishness. The resulting combustion was believed to be so intense that it blackened the limestone formations of entire Yana. The Bhairaveshwar Shikara (Shiva’s Hill) and Mohini Shikara (Mohini’s Hill) thus got their respective names and temples (Mohini Shikara houses a Parvathi temple).
Just like in Banavasi, the priest of the Shiva temple here gives all the devotees a briefing on the mythology of this temple. The pradikshina of the temple here is probably the longest and toughest of them all as it involves walking around and between these rock formations on barefoot. Once you are done with Bhairaveshwar Shikara, there are steps downhill that takes you to Mohini Shikara and the Parvathi temple.
This area once used to be a dense Sahayadri forest. And it took a trek of nearly 17kms from civilization to just reach these rocks. But crass commercialization and road-laying has done away with all this. And now visitors need to walk just half a kilometer from where they can park their vehicles. The day is not far behind where you can drive right up to the base of these hills. There’s a popular saying in these parts of the world - Sokkidhavanu Yanakke hogutaane, rokkiddhavanu Gokarna ke hoguthane, meaning, the one with tremendous guts and determination goes to Yana and the one with money bags goes to Gokarna. Unfortunately that is no longer true in these times of rapid and unbridled development.
Getting-there: Around 40kms from Sirsi town.
Must-Do: Check out the rock formations and the Swayambhu.
Must-Don’t: Littering and Vandalism.