The last time I visited Sri Annapurneshwari temple at Horanadu was in 1996. A group of eight guys on four two-wheelers had traveled from Mangalore to Horanadu and back. Since then I was always itching to visit it again. I got an opportunity in May 2010. I left Davangere to Udupi along with my wife and son on 14th May at 3 pm and reached Udupi at 8.30 pm. After resting for the night, we took off next morning to Horanadu; this time my mother joined me.
We left Udupi at 7.30 am, reached Hiriyadka at 7.50 am. Then we headed towards Karkala, which we reached at 8.40 am. Although there are directions at many places besides the road, we found a little difficulty in finding the right direction near Karkala.
We reached Bajagoli after driving for 20 minutes.
We took a left turn at Bajagoli and the ghat sections started thereafter. The road was well laid out and the traffic very thin; there were hardly any vehicles moving in either directions. Although there were signposts asking people not to throw plastic bottles, the place was still littered with plastic bottles and snack discards.
At this point, I noticed a very strange rumbling sound coming from my car. Not taking any risk in inspecting the vehicle on desolated roads, I continued driving. Soon, we came along a diversion and a petty shop. I recollected the spot as we had a group photo taken here when our entire class had been to Sringeri on a botanical tour in 1992. I stopped the car and inspected for any obvious anomaly. Being untrained, I found none.
We had already covered 33 kms from a possible service station at Karkala and still had to cover 50 kms more to reach Horanadu. Yet, I decided to continue the journey.
Very soon, we reached the Kudremukh national park checkpost. Since the gates were open, I wanted to drive by. Callously, I glanced at the personnel manning the checkpost and he signaled me to stop. Had I not done that, I would have sped by and then landed in big trouble. Wondering why I was asked to stop, I approached the checkpost personnel and he handed me a ticket bearing my car number. It was the gate pass, which one had to surrender at the other end of the national park. Although the gate pass is issued free of cost, traveling through the park without gate pass would attract heavy penalty. I was glad that I stopped at the check post.
The drive along the kudremukh national park was pleasant one. On the way I would stop to enjoy the serene beauty of the hills and valleys, photograph and videograph them.
I was reminded of the college days when we made the same trip. After the last years heavy rains I was expecting to find roads in terrible condition but that was not to be; the roads were excellent.
We came across a point called Gangamoola, the origin of Tunga and Bhadra rivers. We did not have the luxury of exploring this point.
Besides, there were signposts asking people not to park their vehicles or trek in this region. So, there is hardly a way one can explore this point. The signboards were rendered unreadable due to heavy rains that fall in this area.
On the way, we came across private tea garden. We halted briefly to appreciate the beauty. The owners had a small tea lounge by the road. We had no time for that as our immediate aim was to reach Kalasa and Horanadu.
We reached Kalasa, which is a very small town at 10.40 am. Fortunately, we found parking space by the temple entrance. One has to pay a fee of Rs.10/- for car parking. A brief staircase led us to Sri Kalasheshwara temple.
As is common in many parts, photography is banned in the temple premise. After washing our hands and feet, we entered the temple. Located inside were Lord Eshwara and Goddess Durga temple (I suppose so, as I did not visit the latter).
One can make donations in the form or rice too. Men have to remove shirts and vests before entering the garbhagudi. One is not allowed to prostrate and bow inside the garbhagudi. After spending 35 minutes, we took off to Horanadu, which is only 8 kms drive from Kalasa.
On the way, we encountered river Bhadra with a bridge over it. The bridge did not appear to be very safe as it had no railings on its sides. Although swimming in this river is banned, one can find people swimming in it.
We had enjoyed the water during our last visit. One of my friends, Deepak had dived into the water only to hit an underwater rock that tore his scalp and had bled profusely.
We drove on and reached the temple premise at 11.35 am. We covered 118 Kms from Udupi in approximately four hours (including all stops). I was expecting the place to be a lot cooler but it was scorching hot.
My mother and wife purchased tickets for seva and we went inside. There was a huge rush inside the temple, not for the darshan as many were seated. Initially I though they were seated for food. On enquiry I came to know that they were seated for special pooja services. There is an elaborate queue system to reach the garbhagudi of Goddess Annapureneshwari. Since we had a seva ticket, we were made to sit in the close proximity of the goddess. The deity is fully adorned in gold and jewellery. Once again we were forbade from bowing and prostrating inside. Prasada and theertha were given outside. It is at this point that we had to submit hannu-kai to the deity. Next, we purchased ticket for anna-dana (rice donation). Upon presentation of the ticket, we can take a bowl of rice from the gunny bag and transfer it to a receiving box. After that we purchased prasada. Anyone visiting for the first will face difficulty because of lack of guidance or directions.
It is a tradition that one must have free food offered by the temple. It was lunch time. We discovered that there is separate provision for Brahmins. After a brief search, we were able to visit the bojanshala. Men are expected are to remove shirt and vest here too. At this time I realized the importance of visiting temples in white dhotis (panche) and not in jean pant and T shirt.
The seating arrangement was good; the lunch was modest, yet satisfying. We were served white rice along with saaru (rasam), sambar, payasa (porridge) and majjige (buttermilk). After lunch, my mother and wife did some shopping for memorabilia. My son insisted on buying some toys.
At this time, as I got busy shooting video, my son wandered and lost his way back. After few tensed moments, we found him. The scorching heat made every movement tiresome but thanks to good water supply, we were quickly eased. The tap water was remarkably cold, in fact colder than our regular refrigerated water. We bowed to the Goddess, thanked the temple for the lunch and after spending good 1.25 hours, left Horanadu at 1.00 pm.
On the way back we decided to stop at roadside shop selling various local agriculture produce including tea and spices. We discovered that their prices were almost three times lesser than what it costs in the city. We made some good purchases here.
After traveling some more distance we reached the spot where tea gardens greeted every passer by. We decided to stop by. We were give one complementary cup of tea and the rest had to be bought.
We bought some tea leaves. They have provision of sending the tea leaves to buyer’s residential address without any additional transportation charges. For more information, contact Akshaya Tea Traders (9379236599 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Since we were in a hurry to visit the temple, we had missed a observing a few locations. But on the way back, I had lot of time.
I stopped the car near Kadambi falls.
Just as I opened the door, a monkey came too close to the car. Realizing that it could reach in and snatch anything it could lay its hand on, I secured all the windows and doors. Although there wasn’t much water in the falls, it would be entirely different during the monsoon.
I knew we would find Lakya dam on the way. After enquiry, I did find the direction to reach the dam but my mother and wife were against visiting the site. A spot had been created on the road side to view the dam but had not been maintained well; bushes and trees had completely obscured the view.
Without any further stop or problems from the car, I drove non-stop and reached Udupi at 5.40 pm.
Udupi to Hiryadka: 17 kms
Hiriyadka to Karkala: 22 kms
Karkala to Bajagoli: 14 kms
Bajagoli to Kudremukh: 40 kms
Kudremukh to Samse: 12 kms
Samse to Kalasa: 8 kms
Kalasa to Horanadu: 8 kms