The temples in the middle of nowhere…

It was supposed to be a 1.5 Km trek through the forests. That was the second-hand info we’d got. But a car could go the whole distance. That was what we were told by the locals. We drove along from a magnificent Jog falls towards Gerusoppa, the GPS helping us along the way with names like Anehalli for what turned out to be Hanehalli (ಹನೇಹಳ್ಳಿ). The Sharavathi viewpoint turned up and we could see only clouds forming a grey veil over it. There were boards all along that reminded us we were in ‘Lion-tailed Macaque’ territory. I tried spotting one in the trees as we drove, with no luck. Near Gerusoppa, there was the entrance to the Dam, closed with warnings against photography, against unauthorized entry, etc. Basically, we weren’t welcome. We drove along. As we neared Gerusoppa there was a fork leading away from the road, with a board that said ‘Chaturmukha Jain Basadi’ egging us towards it.

We drove along that road until there was a gate and a sentry with his assistant. We asked the assistant directions and were told that we’d need to go further down, cross the bridge over the river and then there would be a Pukka road on the right on which we’d need to drive 4 Kms to get there. We crossed the bridge over the river with the dam forming an impressive background, and the river in full spate. The pukka road turned up soon after. There was a board also which said that the Jain Basadi was 4 Kms away. Just that the road didn’t seem drivable for a Hatch.

Gerusoppa Dam
Sharavathi in spate near the Dam

Anand seemed keen. I wasn’t. It was close to 11:40AM and we were feeling hungry already. “OK, let’s start walking. We’ll walk as far as we can and turn back when we can’t go any further” we decided. Armed with a bottle of water, a bottle of Pepsi, cameras and the Umbrella we started trudging down. As soon as we descended the slope, within 20 meters of the trek we knew we had made the right decision to not bring the car in. A stream had broken into the road and was crossing right across. The ‘road’ was barely there at most points, with trenches for water cut across the road common. We trudged along the path, encountering workers chopping away at something, speaking Kannada in the Tulu-laced dialect of the coast, who encouraged us to bring our car along even though it was obvious it would’ve been disastrous.

Path to the Basadi

The vegetation was thick, green and wet. Rain played hide and seek. Now there, now gone. Now heavy, now mild, now gone. There were forks on the path with boards telling us which side to take. We were still in the endangered Lion-tailed Macaque territory. We kept an eye and an ear out for any weird sounds or sights, but there was no sighting this one. The road was dodgy, with puddles and slush all around. We soldiered on, picking the spots to tread on. We tried to keep a good pace so as to be there in one hour. We encountered a JCB pulling out the road and reducing it to slippery slush. We walked through that, our legs covered in slush. A stream crossed the road with a few inches in depth. We walked through that, giving it that extra second to wash our feet and slippers. The water was fresh and cold, but not as cold as in Winter. The Sharavathi turned up on our right, down the hill, we had been walking by it all the time. Soon we saw signs of a clearing and there they were on the left. It was 12:45 PM and we had taken exactly an hour.

A closed Basadi

Slab with inscriptions
Another Basadi with an idol of Mahaveera in it

One was a tiny hut with a slab with inscriptions in old Kannada. One was a Shiva temple and the other a Mahaveera temple. There were no stone paths leading to them, just a normal grassy one which was slushy at most points. They looked old, at least 700-800 years old. And with the verdant green grass, trees and moss forming a background, they looked surreal.

There was a temple nearby which seemed to be in operation. The priest came out and we spoke to him for a while. Turned out that these were from around 900-1000 CE and the whole area, all over the forest, was littered with tiny Basadis. He pointed us towards the Magnificent one, the Chaturmukha Basadi which was the main draw apparently. He offered us lunch, but even though hungry, we figured it would be easier to walk with an empty stomach than a full one.

Around this time, Anand noticed that my right foot near my toes was all red, as if with blood. The priest confirmed it. I had been leeched. I tried washing it, I tried turmeric. It just wouldn’t stop. He offered me a band-aid. I put that on and it stopped. We thanked him and started off towards the Chaturmukha Basadi. On the way we decided to de-leech and checked our legs till the knees. I had one more up my shin which I removed using Anand’s Swiss knife. We remembered that we had forgotten to bring along a Deo spray to kill any leeches. The Chaturmukha Basadi was on a raised platform with steps leading up to that. We walked up the slippery stairs with a black dog up there wagging its tail and welcoming us.

The Chaturmukha Basadi

This was indeed the main one. With four entrances, 3 levels of stone platforms and carved Dwarapalakas at the doors. We walked around it, but the doors were all locked and we couldn’t get in. It seemed well-funded. The doors were polished and new and there were floodlights to light it up at night. It started raining promptly and we decided to beat it. There was a path leading away on the side towards the road we’d taken. We took that and were back on the road. It was 1:30 PM now and we began our trek back, this time with more rains and having to use the Umbrella most of the distance. We reached just before 2:30 PM and were glad we had kept good time. We promptly began de-leeching and I discovered one more between my toes and Anand had 2 to deal with. This time the Deo helped. Our pants were covered in slush, and we were hungry. But there was no food to be had till Sagara. We headed off in a hurry.

More pics here:

Jog Falls Etc – Aug 2013
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3 thoughts on “The temples in the middle of nowhere…

  1. After doing some trips here, i realised it was never as much as the trips/trek into the wild lback home in India … the inaccessibility is the main thing i guess. The appeal stems from it partly and of-course we have real good stuff which remain good by being inaccessible! Good one sir

    1. Yes, the inaccessibility is one thing. And also that things are too controlled there in the US I felt. There’s a lot of emphasis on the drive itself so that once you get to the spot, there isn’t much to offer except vistas.
      Can’t beat places like Kabini and Bandipur.

      But there are a few places that go beyond that, like
      1. Rainier – lots of memories, did things like Sunrise for which I had to wake up at 1 in the morning, snow treks with Indhukka also. Good fun that place.
      2. Yellowstone
      3. Multnomah – love the trek to the top and then back. Amazing falls too.
      4. There are a lot of treks there in the cascades like Mt. Pilchuck etc, rattlesnake ledge etc. Do check them out.

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