Banavasi, a trip report

#1 May 6th, 2011, 03:59
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#1
Saturday 5 march 2011

As we plan the Karnataka part of our journey we find this intriguing link concerning Banavasi. It is situated in North-West Karnataka, between Haveri and Sirsi. Despite the fact that we don't get much further information we decided to visit. We mail them if we have to make reservations. This is not necessary:"just call us when you know the exact date".
So today, when we are about to leave Chitradurga, we call and get an only Kannada speaking man on the phone. A few hours later we try again with more success.
We explain that we will take the bus to Haveri and hire a car for the last part. The man on the phone keeps telling us that we can proceed by bus from Haveri to Sirsi and take another to Banavasi. Of course this is cheaper but we tell him we stick to our plan.

Sunday
As we arrive at the bus stand we hear someone shouting Haveri. On our question he confirms this is the bus and we hop into it. It is half full and after a smooth ride with a few stops we arrive in Davangere. Everybody gets off and we think it is a coffee break. But no, end of service and we have to change. The other bus is waiting and we continue. One o'clock we are in Haveri. All went so easy that we decide to take the bus to Sirsi.
When I leave the bus a man asks if we go to Banavasi and I confirm. He is a taxi driver that is send by the hotel. I give him my backpack and my wife, who has not any idea, shouts "there goes our luggage". At the same moment another man hands me a cell phone. Since Wiesjes English is much better then mine I give it to her. It is the manager from Banavasi, as soon as he knows we have the car he starts to talk about lunch. We decide to take that in the hotel.

Haveri is small so we drive soon through the countryside. From most of the large trees along the road only the stumps are left, men are sawing down the last ones. In the beginning it is only agriculture around us later we drive through the woods. Three o'clock we arrive in Banavasi, a stretched out village, quiet on this Sunday afternoon.
The drivers stops before the temple and phones Brahma, the manager. He arrives and guides us to the tourist home, situated outside the town. It is hidden in the trees and the door is still closed by a roll-down shutter. A few minutes later Basavaraj, the housekeeper arrives with the key. The simple, rather spacious and clean rooms are situated around an inner-court. From our window we have a great view over the countryside.


There is no kitchen in the tourist home and for lunch we walk to a small eatery, called a Khanavali. The food is sober but tastes good. In the hotel is also a room where one can prepare coffee and tea. Later, when I'm doing this Basavaraj comes to assist, it is a pity that we can only communicate with gestures.
The driver is still with us and by five we go the Gudnapur Lake. Here are the remainders of the summer palace of the kings and a jain temple. It is a nice to walk around but it is a long time before sunset and we decide not to wait for that. We drive back to Madhukeshwara temple and pay the driver. The chairman of the temple committee welcomes us and promises that to-morrow he will give us a temple tour. Now we have just a quick look, it is already getting dark. The temple looks nice.
Back in the hotel we plan the trips for the coming days. To-morrow is reserved for local sightseeing. We will start with a visit to Dr Rauf a local plantation owner, specialized in pineapples.
Now we get dinner, the food that they bring in is cold and tastes not good. At ten the gate is closed. We are the only guests, Brahhma and the housekeeper sleep also in the hotel.

Monday
Since there are no curtains for the window I wake up by daybreak and decide to walk in the environment. The front door is still closed and I knock on Basavaraj's room and he opens the shutter. We are at the outside of the town and I take a path into the fields. It is a little hazy. After a while I see a temple and walk around it. Then I see that Basavaraj, probably afraid that I get lost, is following me. I roam around in the fields and he constant stays a 100 m behind me. After a while Brahma joins him and they gesture that I must come back. My walk disturbs the morning routine. Basavaraj must heat bathwater and fetch breakfast.
Someone knocks on the door of our room. It is Dr Rauf, he has some other commitments and cannot meet us today. Brahma tells that the temple visit also has to wait. This morning there is some ceremony which the chairman must attend.


We go to a local sculptor, and visit his small exhibition. It is at his home and afterward we take chai and talk with the family. Though the narrow, winding streets with traditional houses we walk to the temple. The ceremony has just ended. It was a part of a festival in Belgaum to promote the Kannada culture. All the notables are still there and we are introduced to them. The mayor treats everyone on a glass sugar-cane juice.
We return to the hotel and wait for a rickshaw. While we sit on the veranda a snake of a meter of two crawls before us. First we visit the pineapple factory of Dr. Rauf. A large stock of fruits is peeled, sliced and tinned. Most is done by hand, with just a few simple machines. But everything is very clean. And of course we get a glass fresh juice. On the nearby plantation all kind of fruits and vegetables grow. As we take a look the harvest of ginger is in full swing. The men exhume it and the women collect the roots.


In the afternoon we plan together with Brahma the itineraries for the coming days. We indicate the things we want to do and let him to complete these to day-trips. Five o'clock we walk to the temple since we fit in the chairman's schedule. First we get a lecture about the basics of Hinduism and the history of Banavasi. Than we expand it to cricket (it is world cup time) and football. Later he and one of the priest shows us the temple. Special is the Nandu, he is squint and so can watch both Shiva and Parvathi on the same time. After two hours as well the 76 year old chairman as we are tired.


But we are not ready yet. Two elderly ladies make all kind of flowers from the stalk of a aquatic plants. Together with all other materials these are also used to fabricate wedding crowns. We watch this process and of course are dressed as bride and groom.

Tuesday
Half past seven we sit in front of the hotel watching the monkeys in the trees. Bharma and a driver arrive and off we go. Through a great scenery of forest alternated by small scale agriculture and lakes we drive to Soraba and have breakfast. Next to Belligavi, a small town with Hoysala temples. The first one is splendid the outside as well as the inside. A guard explains in Kannada and Brahma translates. The man points us to the next temple, this has fine carvings inside. I sign the guest-book, the previous entry is more than a week ago.


There are more temples in this town but we have other ideas. We want to go to Yelkundli, a sacred place in the woods. The trip itself through the countryside is great and regular we stop. Brahma nor the driver have ever been to Yelkundi. They keep asking, at first nobody has heard of this place. But then someone knows it and we reach the village. A farmer steps into the car and guides us for the last part. It is a not very extended forest but with a great variation of huge trees, I think this is the original vegetation. The whole site is sacred so we have to walk barefooted, but fortunately there is a stone path between the trees.


The next stop is by a temple in Keladi, before this stands a decorated temple car. The temple itself consists of two parts, one has beautiful wooden carving. By now it is two o'clock and we go to Sagar for lunch. We have a loose plan and we are not surprised as we stop at a place that is very important according to our guides. To reach it we have to climb, again barefooted, a stair of over hundred steps. Wiesje refuses and she is right. The path leads to a place where once lived a sadhu. A temple of corrugated iron is erected in his memory. Before we may enter we must remover our shirts. Of course this is important for devotees but for me as a tourist it is not interesting.

Banavasi is situated on the Varadha river and we visit the source of the river. A big tank is filled by water from a well and a small stream starts from here. The last temple is in Ikkeri, build in a total different style as the other temples we visited today. After all the temples it is time to do something else and we go to a factory where they produce clothing in the traditional way. Unfortunately it is after five and they just closed.
A little further is, according to Brahma, a performance of Kannada drama. We go to the village but the show starts later in the evening so we only visit the theater before we go back to Banavasi. It is dark and after seven before we return.
We wash ourselves before we visit Dr Rauf. With just eight years education he is now an expert on the pineapple culture for which he has an honorary degree. As we arrive the table is filled with pineapples, juice, bananas and all kind of biscuits. Due to language problems the conversation is at first a little difficult but when his son joins us it gets very animated.


A few hours later we are back in our room and take a little nap. At midnight we go again to the Gudnapur Lake. There is a religious festival and a mela. A platform on the bank is used as temple. In the lake floats a large raft with the statue of another deity. All around us is a lot of light, music, prayers and firework. On the stairs in the water three priests process the offerings. They cut the coconuts in two and fill them with holy powder. After a while the musicians and a lot of others board the raft. The base of it consists two vessels and four man start to row around the lake. Large and loud explosions in the water escort them.
We make a short visit to the market, besides Brahma and the driver also Basavaraj has joined us and the three men escort us careful. It is two o'clock before we go to bed.

Wednesday
We have a lazy morning and I walk to the temple and the river to take some pictures. Men stand around the sheds of the temple cars. With a lot of efforts and shouting they pull these outside. Fifteen men pull the ropes, and another fifteen work with levers on the back side. Others block the wheels to secure every inch they advance. And they succeed.

After all the temples of yesterday it is time for something else and we decide to visit Gudavi Bird Sanctury and have lunch in a nearby home-stay. Gudavi consists of a rather small lake and the surrounding forest, and as the locals warned us there are no birds at this time the year. So we go direct to the home-stay. The owners of the Madhuvana welcome us cordially and after some chat we get one of the best lunches we have eaten in India. Then Manchale family show us the nice rooms they have and guide us around their farm.
Half past four we leave them. Along nice small roads with a great scenery around us we proceed to Chandragutti where another stair of 200 steps leads to the nice rock temple. From the top we have a great view. In a village on our way back to Banavasi walks a tame elephant, for 10 rs. I got
blessed.


As always the dinner in the tourist home is not good, and after the elaborate lunch we hardly touch it. In the evening we show to Brahma and Basavaraj some of the videos we made and the pictures we have from Netherland.

Thursday
Again at eight we start with the trip and go to Sirsi for breakfast. A long ride over small roads through the woods leads us to the Unchalli waterfall. From the parking area a steep path downhill leads to a viewpoint. It is a great panorama. Beneath us are more viewpoints and we decide to descend. From the last one the sight is indeed the best but then we have to climb nearly 300 steps.
We continue to Manjaguni and visit the local temple. According to Brahma this one is very old but we don't find him very rewarding. All around the place workers are busy with the restoration.

Another ride through the woods leads us to Yana. We park the car and walk though the dense and humid wood. Suddenly two bizarre shaped rocks appear, bold and very impressive. It is difficult to estimate the height but I guess it is at least 80 meter. And of course there is a temple beneath the rock. We visit this but to reach a holy lake and cave we must climb barefooted a rocky stair and that is to much. For Brahma and the driver it is no problem so they go and we walk quietly to the car.
Now it is time for lunch, again splendid, before we go to the last site, Sahasraling. The river here is filled with stones and sculptors have made numerous linga's and other sculptures. It is not to comfortable to reach the rocks but once you sit in the river it is worth all the efforts. We make a walk along the river before we return to Sirsi.

We have often complaint about the food but Brahma does not know how to solve this. So we go the place where we had breakfast and buy some sandwiches. Half pas six we are back in Banavasi. This is the last day and we pay the bill. The room is 650 rs a night and above that comes the food and the cars so the total is 9400 rs., tomorrows drop included. And of course we make an entry in the guest-book.

Friday.
At seven we awake because a macaque family jumps on the roof. We have breakfast and make us ready for the journey to Haveri. But Dr Rauf has called and invites us to observe some agricultural activities. Behind his house are large depots where the harvest is stored. Women peel enormous piles of betel-nuts. Others sort by hand the coffee beans according to their quality. The last visit is to a field where they process ginger. First the bark is partly removed to make the drying easier. Now the men remove the remainder of the bast before they pack the ginger in bags.
At eleven we say goodbye to our hosts and two hours later we are in Haveri from where we continue our itinerary.
#2 May 18th, 2011, 21:47
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  • shashigadad is offline
#2
Hi Vonkla,
Really nice and details writeup!!!
Thanks so much!!!
Cheers
Shashi
#3 May 30th, 2011, 16:19
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#3
hi Vonkla,
very nice write up. useful and handy information.

all the best
Kedar
CARE FOR NATURE...
#4 Jun 8th, 2011, 14:36
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#4
Very interesting Vonkla. I have bookmarked it to read again, for whenever I get an opportunity to go there.

How come your pictures have come so small? You are allowed to insert a larger size now.
Travelpod / Flickr


-----------------------------------------------------
#5 Jun 9th, 2011, 15:59
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#5
Tanks for the nice comments, I'm glad you like it.

@snonymous
You can always enlarge the pictures by clicking on them
#6 Jun 9th, 2011, 16:12
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I did but it is such a nuisance
#7 Nov 23rd, 2011, 20:54
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#7
Wonderful, great escape out of Goa. Ok you've convinced me I'm going.
#8 Feb 10th, 2012, 16:40
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#8
Wonderful trip report. Thanks for sharing.

Ronak.
#9 Nov 26th, 2012, 13:53
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#9
indeed very nice trip report and I really would like to go there now, but my question is, is it possible to find there some cheaper rooms for like 200 - 300 rupees per day? And if not in Banavasi then maybe in Sirsi?
#10 Nov 26th, 2012, 15:58
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#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by caban View Post indeed very nice trip report and I really would like to go there now, but my question is, is it possible to find there some cheaper rooms for like 200 - 300 rupees per day? And if not in Banavasi then maybe in Sirsi?
I have not seen any other hotel in Banavasi. As for Sirsi, a Google search gives this result.
#11 Nov 27th, 2012, 16:37
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#11
thank you, I will have to stay in Sirsi then
tell me one more thing if you can, how long were the distances you made from Banavasi to places around it?
#12 Nov 27th, 2012, 17:20
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#12
Hi Caban,

We did all the trips by a hired car so I don't have a good idea of the distances. Some more information you can get here.

I know there is a local bus between Sirsi and Banavasi.
#13 Mar 17th, 2013, 15:36
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#13
We stayed in the same place in Banavasi and had a great time. We were even shown a picture of you, Vonkla, wearing a stylish mask, "this lady wrote very nice things about Banavasi on India Mike..."

I just wanted to add an update. The accommodation is being bought by an eco tourism company and they are planning to renovate it. This was going to start the week after we visited (early March 2013). So if anyone is planning to visit - definitely call ahead in case it's closed/suddenly very expensive/etc.

I'd also say that the food was the best food we had during hour 9 day road trip. Finally, we found that the constant attentions of Brahma whilst very thoughtful, a little overbearing. We can speak some Kannada and it was a little stifling that he wouldn't let us speak to anybody. So we went off to do our own things (well the same things, but alone).
#14 Nov 9th, 2013, 13:12
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#14
Very nice article. thanks for sharing. Looking forward to visit here sometime
For more of my travelogues off-the-beaten-trail check http://www.greatholidayideas.net/
#15 Sep 21st, 2015, 02:21
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#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by sinisterpenguin View Post We stayed in the same place in Banavasi and had a great time. We were even shown a picture of you, Vonkla, wearing a stylish mask, "this lady wrote very nice things about Banavasi on India Mike..."

I just wanted to add an update. The accommodation is being bought by an eco tourism company and they are planning to renovate it. This was going to start the week after we visited (early March 2013). So if anyone is planning to visit - definitely call ahead in case it's closed/suddenly very expensive/etc.
Here you can find the most recent contact info.

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