The gigantic rock formations of Yana stand proud and tall among the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats in Uttara Kannada district. The needle sharp peaks of these two monoliths jab the sky. The taller of the two rocks at 120 metres is the Bhairaveshwara Shikhara and slightly smaller one at 90 metres is called the Mohini Shikhara.
A 16 km trek through the cool and breezy hills brings you to the foot of the mountain where the rock formations begin. At the top, a stunning sight of the awesome Bhairaveshwara and Jaganmohini shikharas (jaganmohini peaks) awaits you. A cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva lies below these shikharas. The vagaries of time have caused these limestone structures to turn blackish brown; a profusion of bee hives dots the rock surface.
A popular legend associated with Yana holds that Bhasmasura, an evil demon, performed penance to Lord Shiva and obtained the power of reducing to ashes anybody on whose head he placed his hand. An ungrateful Bhasmasura, however, soon decided to test the boon on his benefactor. Devotees believe that when Bhasmasura pursued Shiva with the intention of destroying him, Shiva took abode in the Bhairaweshwara peak at Yana. Legend has it that the other peak is called Jaganmohini in honour of Vishnu, who took the form of Mohini and saved Lord Shiva's life.
The two rock monoliths or hillocks, surrounded by thick forests and streams, rise sharply above the surrounding area near Yana village. They are part of the Sahyadri hill range in the Western Ghats in South India and give a conspicuous identity to Yana and the entire hill range. In the first rock hill, Bhairaveshwara Shikhara, there is 3 metres (9.8 ft) wide opening in the rock face that leads into a cave. Within the cave, there is a bronze statue of 'Chandika', an incarnation of the goddess Durga. The cave has a swayambu ("self manifested") Shiva Linga ("symbol of Shiva") over which spring water trickles from the roof of the tunnel overhead. Emerging as a small stream, called the Chandihole, it eventually merges with the Aghanashini River at Uppinapattana. Local people interprete this as the emergence of the a river, Gangodbhava (emerging Ganges). There are about 61 limestone rock structures, within a radius of 3 km, of which two are of notable size.
The natural creation of the Shiva linga in the cave is attributed by scientists to the geological phenomenon formed by the stalactites and stalagmites in limestone formations. There was a proposal to utilize the rocks for industries such as a cement factory.
A natural waterfall located at a distance of about 8 km known as Vibhuti Falls also attracts tourists.
Lord Bhairaveshwara Temple
The Cave Temple is situated inside the Yana Caves and has an idol of Lord Bhairaveshwara, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The temple also has a Swayambhu Linga and a bronze idol of Chandika Devi. Many tourists visit the temple during the Mahashivaratri and the Car Festival.
Hindu Mythology links this place with an event in the life of the Asura, or demon king Bhasmasura. Bhasmasura, by austere penance, obtained a boon from lord Shiva. This boon made it so that when Bhasmasura placed his hand over any one's head, he would burn them up and turn them into ashes (bhasma). It is further narrated that, in order to test his powers, Bhasmasura wanted to place his hands on his patron Lord Shiva's head. He chased Shiva, which unnerved Shiva and prompted him to move from his heavenly abode to earth to seek the help of Lord Vishnu. Vishnu transformed himself to help Shiva, adopting the form of beautiful damsel named Mohini who enticed Bhasmasura with her beauty. Bhasmsura was quite infatuated by Mohini, and agreed to a challenge she issued for a dance competition.
During the dance competition, Mohini cleverly performed a dance bhang ("pose") with hand over head. Without realizing the gravity of this act, the demon king also placed his hand over his head and perished by the fire of his own hands, he was converted into ashes. It is believed that the fire that emanated during this act was so intense that the limestone formations in the Yana area were blackened. The loose black soil or ash seen around the two large rock formations in the area are cited as proof of the legend by devotees who see them as due to the fire and that ashes produced by Bhasmasura death. The two hillocks are also named for this event: the tall peak being Bhairaveshwara Shikhara ("Shiva's hill"), and the smaller peak, a few steps down below, being Mohini Shikhara ("Mohini's hill") where an idol of goddess Parvathi is installed. There are also several other small caves nearby. There is also a Ganesha temple in the vicinity.
How to Reach Yana ?
Yana is 25km from Kumta, 40 Km from Sirsi and 490 Km from Bangalore.