Yana is a village located in the forests of the Sirsi and Kumta Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, India, known for its unusual karst rock formations. It is located in the Sahyadri mountain range of the Western Ghats, about 60 kilometers (37 mi) from Karwar port, 39 kilometers (24 mi) from Sirsi, and 31 kilometers (19 mi) from Kumta. Yana is one of the wettest villages in the world. It is the cleanest village in Karnataka and the second cleanest village in India.

The two unique rock outcrops near the village are a tourist attraction and easily approachable by a small trek through 0.5 kilometers (0.31 mi) of thick forests from the nearest road head. Yana is famous for these two massive rock outcrops known as the Bhairaveshwara Shikhara and the Mohini Shikhara (“Shikhara” means “hill”). The huge rocks are composed of solid black, crystalline karst limestone. Bhairaveshwara Shikhara is 120 meters (390 ft) in height, while the Mohini Shikhara, which is smaller, is 90 meters (300 ft) in height.

Yana is also well known as a pilgrimage center because of the cave temple below the Bhairaveshwara Shikhara, where a Swayambhu (“self-manifested”, or “that which is created by its own accord”) linga has been formed. Water drips from the roof over the linga, adding to the sanctity of the place. During Shivaratri here, a car festival is held, along with other festivities. The
place and its surrounding hillocks are also known for their evergreen scenic forests.

Geography

The two rock monoliths or hillocks, surrounded by thick forests and streams, rise sharply above the surrounding area near Yana village. They are part of the Sahyadri hill range in the Western Ghats in South India and give a conspicuous identity to Yana and the entire hill range. On the first rock hill, Bhairaveshwara Shikhara, there is 3 meters (9.8 ft) wide opening in the rock face that leads into
a cave. Within the cave, there is a bronze statue of ‘Chandika’, an incarnation of the goddess Durga.

The cave has a swayambu (“self-manifested”) Shiva Linga (“symbol of Shiva”) over which spring water trickles from the roof of the tunnel overhead. Emerging as a small stream called the Chandihole, it eventually merges with the Aghanashini River at Uppinapattana. Local people interpret this as the emergence of the river, Gangodbhava (emerging Ganges). There are about 61 limestone rock structures within a radius of 3 km, of which two are of notable size.

Scientists attribute the natural creation of the Shiva linga in the cave to the geological phenomenon formed by the stalactites and stalagmites in limestone formations. There was a proposal to utilize the rocks for industries such as cement factories. A natural waterfall located at a distance of about 8 km known as Vibhuti Falls (“Vibhuti” means “ashes”) also attracts tourists. It is so named because its third drop, a stream that is not visible from the main viewpoint, is divided into three streams, resembling Vibhuti, it has to be trekked downhill half a kilometer to be reach, visible.

History

Francis Buchanan-Hamilton, a British official of the East India Company, surveyed the site in 1801. According to his reports, there was a population of more than ten thousand in and around this place. Over the years, people have migrated to other regions to pursue their vocations. Currently, the
place is inhabited by only a few families, one of them being the Pujari (“priest”) family. With a 16 km trek, Yana was a trekker’s delight during the 20th century. When a popular Kannada movie, Nammoora Mandara Hoove, was shot here and an all-weather road was made to provide easy access, the place became famous and attracts thousands of tourists weekly.

Legend

Hindu mythology links this place with an event in the life of the Asura, or demon king Bhasmasura. Bhasmasura, by austere penance, obtained a boon from lord Shiva. This boon made it so that when Bhasmasura placed his hand over anyone’s head, he would burn them up and turn them into ashes (bhasma). It is further narrated that, to test his powers, Bhasmasura wanted to place his hands on his patron Lord Shiva’s head.

He chased Shiva, which unnerved Shiva and prompted him to move from his heavenly abode to earth to seek the help of Lord Vishnu. Vishnu transformed himself to help Shiva, adopting the form of a beautiful damsel named Mohini, who enticed Bhasmasura with her beauty. Bhasmsura was quite infatuated by Mohini and agreed to a challenge she issued for a dance competition. During the dance competition, Mohini cleverly performed dance bhang (“pose”) with a hand overhead.

Without realizing the gravity of this act, the demon king also placed his hand over his head and perished by the fire of his own hands, he was converted into ashes. It is believed that the fire that emanated during this act was so intense that the limestone formations in the Yana area were blackened. The loose black soil or ash seen around the two large rock formations in the area are cited as proof of the legend by devotees who see them as due to the fire and the ashes produced by Bhasmasura’s death.

The two hillocks are also named for this event: the tall peak being Bhairaveshwara Shikhara (“Shiva’s hill”), and the smaller peak, a few steps down below, being Mohini Shikhara (“Mohini’s hill”) where an idol of goddess Parvathi is installed. There are also several other small caves nearby. There is also a Ganesha temple in the vicinity.

Festival

During Maha Shivaratri, annual festivities are held here for 10 days. At this time, devotees (estimated to be around 10,000) on pilgrimage to this place (called ‘Bhairava kshetra), after their ablutions, carry holy water from the spring in the cave to a nearby town known as Gokarn for performing Maha Mastaka Abhisheka (pouring libations on the idol of the deity being worshipped) of Mahabaleswara.

  • Location: Yana Kumta
  • Best Time to visit: Anytime
  • Entry fee: None
  • Distance from Kumta Bus Stand: 29kms
  • Nearest Railway station: Kumta railway station 29kms
  • Nearest Airport: Goa Airport 175kms.