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Yana (Kannada: ಯಾಣ) is a village in the Uttara Kannadamarker district of Karnatakamarker, Indiamarker that is known for the unusual rock formations in its vicinity. It is located in the Sahyadri mountain range of the Western Ghats, about from Karwarmarker port, from Sirsimarker, and from Kumtamarker. The two unique rock outcrops near the village are a tourist attraction and a place for trekking, approachable only by walking through of thick forests from the nearest road head.

Yana is famous for these two massive rock outcrops known as the Bhairaveshwara Shikhara and the Mohini Shikhara ("Shikhara" means "hill"). The huge rocks are composed of solid black, crystalline limestone. Bhairaveshwara Shikhara is in height, while the Mohini Shikhara, which is smaller, is in height. Yana is also well known as a pilgrimage centre because of the cave temple below the Bhairaveshwara Shikhara where a Swayambhu ("self manifested", or "that which is created by its own accord") linga has been formed. Water drips from the roof over the linga, adding to the sanctity of the place.

During annual festivities held here during the Shivaratri, a car festival is also held. It is also a popular hill station because of its lush green scenic forest.

Geography

The two rock monoliths or hillocks, surrounded by thick forests and streams, rise sharply above the surrounding area near the 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. The two hillocks are approachable only by walking through the lush forest growth and have attracted tourists and pilgrims. In the first rock hill, Bhairaveshwara Shikhara, there is wide opening in the rock face that leads in to 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. Devotees from among the local people see the emergence of the river as Gangodbhava (emerging Gangamarker).

The 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. The Geological Survey of India confirmed that rock formations in the area have rich minerals such as limestone, manganese and iron. These minerals are likely to be extracted soon to set up industries, such as a cement factory.

A natural waterfall near here known as Vibhuti Falls ("Vibhuti" means "ashes") also attracts tourists.

History

Dr Francis Buchan, a British official of the East India Company, surveyed the site in 1801. At that time, according to his reports, there were ten thousand dwellings. Over the years, because of naturally occurring erosion rendering the land infertile, people have migrated to other regions to pursue their vocations. At present, the place is inhabited by only a few families, one of them being the Pujari ("Priest") family.

Legend

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 near by. There is also a Ganesha temple in the vicinity.

Festival

During Maha Shivaratri, annual festivities are held here for 10 days. At this time, devotees (estimated to be around 10,000) on pilgrimage to this place (called 'Bhairava kshetra), after their ablutions, carry holy water from the spring in the cave to a near by town known as Gokarnmarker for performing Maha Mastaka Abhisheka (pouring libations on the idol of the deity being worshipped) of Mahabaleswara. This has lead to a popular saying that
devotees rush to Gokarn, for worship whereas people of that town travel to Yana for the same purpose!
. In the past, there was also a saying in Kannada that Sokkidhavanu Yanakke hogutaane, rokkiddhavanu Gokarna ke hoguthane, which transliterated into English means:
The one with tremendous guts and determination goes to Yana and the one with money bags goes to Gokarna, on one’s pilgrimage to Yana.


Requests for special protection status

People of the region have expressed a view that Yana should be declared as a National Natural Heritage site, since it is a historical and a major tourist centre in Uttara Kannadamarker. The place is also considered a biodiversity hotspot of the Sahyadri hill range, and hence it has been suggested that the area be protected under the Biodiversity Preservation Act 2002.

Access

The road distances on the NH 17 connecting Yana village are: Kumta - , Sirisi - , Gokarnamarker- and Hublimarker . The nearest rail head is at Kumta, and the nearest airport is Hubli. The road from Bangaloremarker is via Sirsi – a distance of by National Highway 4 (NH 4). The best approach to Yana is from Kumta or Sirsi. A road deviation between these two towns on the highway is near the village of Kathagala. There is also an alternate route to reach Sirsi from Yana via Sundholle and Anegundi. Yana is a trek from this point.

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