Yamini, an ardent traveler-mom from our group has been part of our most memorable group trips, she is also a travel writer for several Malayalam Magazines, and is very good at chalking out a unique itinerary for her fellow travelers (though, as a USP of our travel-motto, she goes with the flow and does not plan much) which is why I requested her to write for us, and enlighten us with the amazing trip she and the girls had exploring western ghat side of Karnataka over a weekend.
Write-up by Yamini Vasudevan
“Not all those who wander are lost”
JRR Tolkein was completely wrong that day. We, a group of five – Mini, Nivedita, Karthi, Me and my son Shashank will wholeheartedly agree that. We were on a trail to Gerusoppa Jain Temple, located 34 kilometres from Honnavar near Shimoga. The expedition was part of a weekend trip to Jog Falls and some places in and around Shimoga.
We were strongly believing in Tolkein.
“We’ve lost our way, said Nivedita.
Mini was confident that we’ll find the way. So was Karthi.
“I remember a hanging bridge landmark somewhere,” exclaimed Karthi.
Shashank was excited to be inside the forest with no idea where to go.
I told you, Tolkein was wrong.
As we stood on the banks of Sharavathi river, waiting for the boat to take us to the other side,first drop fell on my brand new phone, up from the sky. Rain has this magic. Sometimes, as a silhouette, sometimes pitter patter, or sometimes downpour. I have enjoyed everything all this while. But on the phone… Erghhh!
But this time it was a joy-killer. As we got engrossed in the various imageries that we saw about this Jain temple in blogs, our boat came right infront of us. It was just less than a kilometre to the other side. But boats are the only mode of transport that takes you to the other side.
Giving five rupees per person as boat charge, we reached the other part of Gerusoppa.
The place was extremely untouched that we ourselves felt dumbstruck.
One or two autos were waiting, but we decided to trek.
The three-kilometre trek was not so easy. Initial one kilometre was through tarred roads. Mini and Shashank were cruising along way ahead of us. We, the-supposed-to-be-young three were trailing behind. Yes… the lagging was only physical. Mentally we five were just excited about the awaiting wonder.
We walked on and on…
There began the trail through muddy tracks and unrepaired roads. For most of the parts, there were barely any roads. But still, we trudged along with no one soul to ask the way to ‘Chathurmukha Basdi Jain Temple’. We decided to move ahead. We spotted a few buffaloes and asked them if they can help us. The paths were getting murkier with occasional rains.
The road was ending there. We realised that we have reached the other side of the bank of Sharavathi river. Sharavathi is a 128 kilometre long river that flows entirely through Karnataka.
We were wandering and were lost too.
Mini and Karthi intervened and did some vague attempts to find the way. At the end of this road, where we were standing clueless, there was a road that traverse through dense forests. We took a diversion through this road but to no avail. The wanderers in us didn’t want to return.
It was then we realised that the only landmark that we can think of is a hanging bridge that we read in one of the blog posts. While we took our steps back we noticed a wooden bridge ( where we earlier spotted buffaloes) The wooden bridge was actually covered by the dense flaura and fauna and hence we missed it.
If you thought wooden bridge itself is tough to climb, then you should wait for some more minutes. The wooden bridge then gave way to a hanging bridge which lays across Netrani river.
And what a sight that was. Made of iron cables and wooden planks, the hanging bridge is adventure, fun and excitement combined. Mini led us while Nivedita and Karthi clicked every other frame from top. I don’t remember what I and Shashank did. Maybe standing still on the bridge and looking around, savouring the ambience.
We were just more than happy for getting back to the correct route. The bridge is around half a kilometre long and one person width. After more than 15 to 20 minutes photo session and zigzagging throughout the bridge, we almost reached the destination.
The density of the forest was just banging all around us. It was almost noon, but darkness set a veil around us. We traversed through the muddy track and finally there was light.
Every temple or Basadi there had something to offer.
Our first pitstop was Sri Parshwanatha Temple along with Jwalamalini Temple. This is supposedly the only temple where pooja is performed. As we entered the temple premises, a set of dogs barked upon us. The bravest among the five – Shashank and his mother – found a safe shelter somewhere. It was later known that those dogs are the temple priest’s companion and a
By that time rain thickened. We sat on the concrete bench and chatted with the priest. He said that Jwalamalini was the chief Goddess of Narasimharajapura. History suggests that there were more than 100 jain basadis in and around Gerusoppa. The area flourishned from 13th to 16th century. Besides, it was also the capital Saluva kings. But the time period of Rani Chennabyradevi is supposed to be the golden age of Gerusoppa. And due to such heritage connections,Gerusoppa was also called the Harappa of Jains.
True to its name, covered with greenery and without any human soul ( barring the priest and his helper, who was our guide as well) Gerusoppa Jain Temple will never find its name in any tourist’s itinerary.
Opposite to Parshwanatha temple was a small basadi which was dysfunctional.
The dog was accompanying us most of the time as if he owns the place. Yes… he too owns a big place in this world.
The sanctum sanctorum was almost nil except a stone structure. Outside this, we saw a few stone inscriptions, There were some Jain statues, idols of some Thirthankaras and a few other inscriptions. Opposite to this on a higher platform are Mahavira Basadi and Neminatha Basadi, both practically not functioning and in dismay.
The main attraction of Gerusoppa Jain temple , Chaturmukha Basadi is around 400 metres further up. When we reached there, a group of labourers were beautifying the surroundings of the Basadi. I was literally happy to see the authorities taking time to preserve this ASI structure.
As the name indicates, Chathurmukha Basadi is a four-faced structure, the names being Ajitha natha, Sambhunatha, Abhinandana & Vimalnatha. Built with granite on an elevated star-shaped platform, the temple is very much constructed in Hoysala architecture style. But we didn’t get any official confirmation on this.
The temple is very much like how we see in blogs and travelogues. A beautiful lawn, that is well-preserved, adds charm to the temple. Cleanliness is maintained all over. We doubted if the cleanliness may be because it is still an untouched treasure.
Very less people take the pain to reach here. Maybe that’s why the priest, the helper and even the dogs were surprised on seeing four women and a boy coming here. But trust me, the three souls that we met there were very helpful and did no harm. They even took the pain to bid us goodbye by calling a boat for our return journey. As we boarded from another bank and as we were the only travellers, we had to pay 250 bucks. The guy, in a jiffy, took us to the other side of Sharavathi river where our car was parked.
We once again chanted what JRR Tolkein said long back: “Not all those who wander are lost.”
Update: Google maps just recently furnished the Digambar Jain ruins at the Gerosoppa Reservoir map. Screenshot for reference :