Kashi of South India: Shivagange

This Saturday was “a day well spent”. We hit the roads and went for a trekking. Shivagange is a hillock approx. 54.2kms from Bangalore and a perfect weekend gateway for trekking lovers. It’s a place with religious importance.

Shivagange is a rock mountain peak with a height of 1368 meters and a Hindu pilgrimage with several nandi’s located at many places. It is closer to Tumkur town being approx. 8kms away. The hillock looks like a shivalingam when seen from one of the sides. There is a temple of Lord Shiva situated at the summit of the hill. There is also a spring nearby that is locally called Gange. The water from this spring is believed to be sacred. Hence, the name Shivagange.

This hill has four faces; it looks like Nandi from the east, Ganesh from the west, Linga from the south and like a cobra with an open hood from the north. We did not observe anything as we were not aware of this. This we got to know from one of the locals after descending from the hill.

There are various religious temples like Patalaganga, Olakala teertha, nandi statue, gangadhareshwara temple located across the hill. Because of which it is also known as Dakshina Kashi or the Kashi of the South.

We started on bike to Sivagange hills at around 10:30am. We didn’t make it very early as the climate was good and little cloudy with average temperature of only 28 degrees. It took us 1hr 30mins to reach the foothill.

On the way to Sivagange:

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View of the hill on our way to Sivagange:

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We had a light food before starting our trekking.

Ruins of a architecture where we parked our bike:

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The goupram at the base of sivagange hill:

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The Shiva statue at the base of the hill:

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Sivagange hill is very huge with plenty of nandi statues throughout the way.  There are steps and iron railing provided on the trek trail to make ascending easy. Most of the steps are either carved on the rock surface or the big stones are kept in place with a support with iron railings. Still it was tiresome. We had to take breaks often in our trek. There were many small stalls on the way providing water, butter milk, lemon juice, and cucumber and cut mangoes to make the trek comfortable for tourists. On the way were lot of pesky monkeys throughout the trail and snatching food and belonging from the unsuspecting travelers. We were holding sticks in our hands to sway the monkeys away.

Nandi at the base:

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Steps cut into the rocks and iron railing for support:

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Mantaps and Nandi all over the hill:

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Steps passing through one of the stalls:

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Many ruined structures on the way:

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Nandi statue at one on the peaks:

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Siva Parvati Statue:

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Final part of trekking is strenuous climb with the mountain taking a steep shape. The path is very narrow with safety rails provided for the safety of climbers.

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Two pillars with oil lamps on top:

IMG_0235We had not taken any lunch with us. And we survived by the food items we purchased from the food stalls on our way to the top:

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We reached the top of the hill in 2 hrs 30 mins (breaks and photo sessions included). The view from the top was breathtaking. We spend some time at the top having the bird’s eye view of the city. Visited the Shiva temple at the hill top. And started climbing down the hill at 4:30 pm. While climbing down the hill, it started raining and we took shelter in a food stall. We had to wait for 30mins approx. for the rain to stop and then climbed down. The views around the hillock was very scenic and we were clicking pics throughout our trek uphill and down hill. Took pics and videos of notorious monkeys as well. And sometimes we also turn into a monkey to have some fun :). The strange thing to observe was that at every stall and temples there were stuffed tigers kept which had faded, subjected to harsh weather. We asked one of the priest in a temple the reason. And he said, that was for scaring away the monkeys but now monkeys are not afraid of their stuffed tigers.

While returning back we visited Shri Mahima RudraSwamy Temple on the way at Nelamangala. The temple was closed. We counted the steps we climbed up to visit this temple and there were 317 steps.

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Main attractions:

The Gangadhareswara temple is an ancient temple dedicated to lord Shiva. Gavi in Kannada means ‘cave’. This temple is situated in a cave like of structure. It is one of the first temples located on the climb uphill to the summit. It is said that there is a secret tunnel that extends from the inner sanctrum of this temple to the Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple in Bangalore. An interesting belief about this temple is that if an abhisheka is performed with ghee on the sivalingam, the ghee turns back into butter.

Olakala teertha is located further up on the hill. There is small hole inside here. It is believed that if a person is able to touch the water inside upon putting his/her hand inside the hole then he/she has done good deeds in life, and vice versa.

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The statue inside the temple:

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Nandi at the hill top stands at the highest point on the hill. The special feature of the bull is that it has been carved out of a single rock. It is amazing to note that the statue stands just at the end point of the huge boulder and there is not enough space to go round it. It is a wonder how the sculpture had carved the statue at such a high point in such a dangerous position.

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Shanthala point is situated at a height of 500 feet from the base of the hill. This spot is named after the Queen Shanthala. She was wife of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana and was a great Bharatnatayam dancer. She had a huge influence on administration and religious reforms of the kingdom. But she got depressed for not being able to give birth to a son who can become a heir to the kingdom after the king and committed suicide from this point.

Patalaganga means underground Ganges. It is said the holy water which flows is connected to Antargange in Kolar. The inner sanctum of temple can be reached only after crawling through a tunnel.

I loved the long bike ride followed by the scenic beauty trek. Monkeys were a little nascence but that was fun as well. Perfect weekend destination of day trekkers of Bangalore.

Few tips to people who are planning to visit this place:

1) Do not carry any food items or any edible items, even water in your hands or in poly bags. Avoid taking bags. If at all planning to take a bag, take a backpack with firm grip.

2) Not suggested for elderly people as its a little strenuous.

3) Avoid going in summer and rainy seasons. As summers it will be very hot and difficult to find any shade. And in rainy season the rocks will be slippery making the trekking difficult.

Note: I have taken reference from Wikipedia to know the exact names of few of the places and their history.

 

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