About 130 KM from Bengaluru, lies a small town called Shivanasamudra. Shivanasamudra literally means the sea of Lord Shiva. The landmass of Shivanasamdra divides the river flow into two branches. It is very aptly named considering the volume of the water that flows around this tiny island. But there is more to this town than the river flow. Shivanasamudra is home to the gushing twin waterfalls named, Gaganachukki Waterfalls & Barachukki Waterfalls. It also boasts of the historic Shivanasamudra Hydroelectric project. Shivanasamudra Hydroelectric project is one of the first Hydro-Electric power stations in Asia. Such a rich history and raw natural beauty make Shivanasamudra an exciting destination. The best thing is you can wrap up the trip even on a one-day weekend from Bangalore.
So, one fine weekend of September 2018, I went on a ride to Shivanasamudra. This blog post is all about that journey.
Prelude To The Trip
Owing to Moharram, there was a long weekend holiday coming up. I wanted to go to Chikmagalur to close some unfinished business from earlier that year.
But heavy showers accompanied with thunderstorms were in the forecast. So, I had to drop that plan. Then, I thought of going to Pondicherry instead.
The forecast cast a hot sunny net on the place. But, I was headstrong. So, I firmed up the plan and planned to book the tickets later that day. Just then a few colleagues of mine suggested we plan another bike ride that weekend. So, I suggested we ride to Gaganachukki and Barachukki falls, the twin falls in Shivanasamudra. All of us agreed and we planned to start at 5 AM from Bengaluru.
So the 7 of us were planning to ride on 4 bikes and I was riding mine alone. The riding alone part needs to be emphasized. I usually avoid taking my bike for any ride more than 200 KM. Since it is really old and not in the right condition to keep up with the pace of the other riders. But as time has it, I had to stick to it for the ride. So, “Get it in shape,” I told myself.
Readying The Beast
So, we all went back home after deciding the rendezvous point. I took my bike straight to the Bunk for refilling the tank and tires. After having dinner, I got back to my bike to inspect it for the ride. The left fork was leaking, Tappets were little loose creating a constant noise at higher RPMs. Engine oil levels were good. Brakes were working fine. Clutch wasn’t jerky. After spending a good 40 minutes making minor adjustments, the bike was all set for the ride.
Fuel? Full. Helmet? Check, Excitement? Loaded!
I got back to my room and one of my colleagues called up. He said his bike’s chain was snapping and he couldn’t come for the trip tomorrow. As prevailing wisdom goes, one person dropping has a domino effect ;). So, I didn’t inform the other folks about it. Things I do for going on a trip 😛
I set the alarm to 4 AM. After reminding everyone else to set their alarms I dozed off.
*4 AM in the morning*
*Alarm tone beeps really loud*
I woke up and tried to open my eyes. I felt as if someone just threw a handful of chill powder into my eyes. After a long 5 minutes filled with vivid facial expressions, I opened my eyes and got off the bed.
I bathed and got ready by 4:20 AM. My phone kept buzzing with notifications. I picked it up and it was from the temporary group I created. Almost everyone was up. I scroll further and noticed one more person wasn’t coming. Thankfully he was the pillion rider so we were not really short of bikes or riders. Chamund woke up late, so we started the ride at around 5:40 AM from Bengaluru.
Curvey Roads & Tiny Lakes
Initially, we thought of taking the Mysore-Bengaluru highway. A quick glance at Google maps made us change our minds. Maps suggested we take the route through Kanakapura. It was passing through a lot of villages. Added to that, an occasional lake treated us with the early morning reflections. It reminded me of my ride to Hogenakkal Waterfalls a few months earlier.
We hit the Bengaluru-Kanakapura road. This particular stretch of road has a large number of lakes/water bodies. Soon after crossing Kanakapura, a wide-open road welcomed us. There was nothing but empty roads till as much as my eyes could capture. The best thing was the road wasn’t curvy, unlike the Bengaluru Hogenakkal stretch.
Wide-open, empty roads, straight like a needle meant only one thing. It was time for going full throttle. I gradually pulled the throttle and the bike was giving a good response. After a slight judder, in the beginning, it smoothened out. The pistons were firing like AK-47s 😉
Recipe For A Perfect Saturday Morning
While I was thrilled by the response of the bike, nature stepped in to contribute. It was still early morning in the countryside. The paddy fields in the distance were covered under the fog.
Just beyond the fields, there were hills dotted with boulders. On the other side of the road, the tip of the hill was crowned by a ring of a cloud. It was a beautiful place to be in. But, I was distracted by something much more exciting.
My Speeding bike. For the longest time, I considered my bike to be a slogger. I rode it only in the comfortable RPMs and never really pushed it. But boy the response it gave that day, totally changed my perception.
And slowly, the sun came up! Bright sunshine, wide-open roads, beautiful landscapes on either side of the road, and a speeding bike. I couldn’t have asked for a better Saturday morning.
We continued riding and somewhere close to Shivanasamudra, we stopped for a short break. The landscape was so pretty. There were hills in the distance, and lush green paddy fields occupied the rest of the space. The sun was already shining brightly painting the sky blue.
Into The Lap Of Lord Shiva
Soon after the break, at around 8 AM we approached a village. We had to take a diversion towards Barachukki Falls road.
We stopped at a roadside breakfast stall. The early morning ride made my hands numb. So I was desperate to pour myself a hot drink and eat something spicy and hot. After having tea, a few bites of Idli, and vada, we started the ride again.
We reached the entry gate to Barachukki Falls. The guards informed us that entry is allowed only after 9 AM. We had plenty of time before the clock hit 9 AM. So we decided to explore the Shivanasamudra island.
On our way to Barachukki Falls, a broken bridge caught my eyes. We rode back to check that out.
Wellesley Bridge/ Lushington Bridge
Although the exact name of the bridge is unclear. There are primarily two names in circulation. Wellesley Bridge and Lushington bridge. Though half of the bridge is washed away, the other half still stands to tell the stories of a glorious past.
Built-in 1818, the stone bridge connected the Shivanasamudra island to the rest of the Mysore kingdom. There is a story widely under circulation about how it was useful in 1791.
So apparently, when the British were invading Srirangapatnam in 1791, Tipu Sultan ordered all the inhabitants & cattle to be shifted to the island of Shivanasamudra. He also destroyed all the other means of reaching the capital from Bangalore.
So, when the army of Lord Cornwallis came to the kingdom, he saw nothing but a desolated country. However, after the British took over the Mysore state, a new bridge was built to the island under the governorship of Lushington. Hence the bridge came to be named after him.
Another story in circulation is that the bridge was named after a colonial administrator Lord Richard Colley Wellesley. It may be possible that the erstwhile Wellesley bridge got destroyed and Governor Lushington rebuilt the bridge. Whatever may the name, it was a beautiful pillar bridge. The uniqueness lies in the carved stone pillars that support the bridge. I haven’t seen anything like that before. Have you?
The bridge is currently half destroyed, so I wouldn’t recommend going over the bridge. Irrespective of how tempting the views are, just avoid as the stone pillars have a weak foundation now.
Into The Sea Of Lord Shiva
While we stood beside the bridge inspecting it, another pathway caught our eyes. It was a path made by stones to walk deep into the river water. Perhaps, it was built for the fishermen to catch fish.
So, without waiting any further, we walked on the path and it took us right to the middle of the river. As we walked on the path, it felt we were moving close to something pure, something serene, something that is just there to make you stop running. To make you sit and relax and truly live in the moment. The fierce flow of the water shielded us from the vehicular noise from the road. We just sat there, dipping feet in that chilly water. The occasional sight of fishes jumping in and out of water.
And all of this isolated from the rest of the world. It was a perfect place. It truly felt like the sea of Shiva.
Marine Life Saviours!
While we were coming back, we observed a crab stuck in the bushes. It was entangled in fishing nets and was stuck there. Navit in the gang was daring enough to grab it and remove all the threads. Once he placed the crab on the path, it jumped at such lightning speed. Perhaps, he knows the true value of freedom and demonstrated how grateful it is to be free and alive.
Barachukki Falls, Shivanasamudra
Soon it was 9:30 AM and we rode back to the entry gate of Barachukki Falls. Paid the INR 30 entrance ticket and rode to the parking area. The area is very well maintained and enclosed with huge plantations on both sides of the road.
The enclosed area also has a masjid inside and a little further ahead is the parking space. A huge parking area with a few vendors selling snacks and refreshments. A huge metallic structure is built near the parking area. This structure serves as the viewpoint. The view of the huge volume of water cascading down the rocks was simply breathtaking.
Soon the crowd started coming in and we came back to the parking lot. After having some refreshments to quench the thirst, we turned around from Barachukki Falls.
Gaganachukki Falls, Shivanasamudra
Next up was Gaganachukki Falls. We rode on the same way back and after around 15 KM we turned right towards a dusty path. Though the twin falls were right beside each other, there was no accessible path between the twin waterfalls of Shivanasamudra.
I later learned that one can walk up to the Darga Hazrath Mardane Gaib. As you can see in the above image, you can get a different view of the Gaganachukki Waterfalls.
The road to Gaganachukki Falls runs beside a water canal. Most likely the canal for the hydroelectric project. After about 15 mins of ride on this dusty path, we reached the parking space. The significantly larger crowd at Gaganachukki Falls surprised us. Probably because it is the first falls to show up on the map while coming from Bangalore.
Anyway, the sun wasn’t shining anymore. It was instead, sucking the water out of us. So, we stopped by and hydrated ourselves. Unlike Barachukki Waterfalls, this one has ample shade. But to witness the falls, one has to climb down a stairway, which was out under the scorching heat.
We entered the stairs and realized that it was jam-packed. Added to that there were multiple groups of people who were doing “photoshoots”. So we figured we ain’t getting any shot. So we saw the falls from the viewpoint, clicked a few pictures and we climbed back up.
Meaning of Gaganachukki is a Star In The Sky!
Unlike Barachukki Waterfalls, Gaganachukki Waterfalls have just two segments of water running down the rocks. The rightmost stream reminded me of the majestic Jog Falls in the beautiful Sharavati Valley.
Shivanasamudra Hydroelectric Power Plant
Now if you just walk around a little after climbing back up. You will see a huge pipeline running down the hill. This is the pipeline that feeds the Shivanasamudra Hydro Electric Power Plant. Perhaps the canals on the way to the Gaganachukki Falls fed the pipeline.
The Shivanasamudra Hydro Electric Power plant is a matter of pride for India. It was envisioned by Maj. A.J. De Lotbiniere who was then the deputy chief engineer of the Mysore state. It is one of Asia’s first major Hydro-Electric Power Station
Excited by the proposal of the Deputy Chief Engineer, Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, then the King of Mysore offered all the support he needed. He ordered Diwan Sir. K Seshadri Iyer to support Mr. Lotbiniere in every aspect.
The power plant was named after Sir. K Seshadri Iyer for his effort in realizing the vision.
In May 2006, The Hydro Electric Plant was granted the status of National Heritage. Sir. K Seshadri Iyer is also called the maker of Modern Bengaluru. He was responsible for the expansion of the city from the older roots of Basavanagudi and Malleshwaram in 1898.
It was amazing to learn how India paved the way for modernization back then. Shivanasamudra, now also hosts a 10MW solar power plant.
All in all, this mini island town holds history in every grain of the stone. Being a couple of hours of drive away, this is also a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. But quite ironically, it is so famous that the hustle and bustle may follow you here 😉
That’s all for today folks! I hope you guys enjoyed the ride. Share this with your friends and plan a trip to this beautiful place. You can use the icons below the blog post to do the same 😀
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Asta La Vista
Until Next Time! Cheers.