Dear friends in one of my earlier blogs I had written about our visit to Banavasi. On our way back from Aghoreshwar temple, I casually remarked that tomorrow we will be visiting an unique destination and if my hunch proves correct we might not see another one like it.
We made our way from Banavasi to Sirsi which is about 25 kms. If you are looking to reach Sirsi from Belgaum, then it is a 200 km drive. About 14 kms north west of Sirsi lies the unusual Sahasralinga group of rock sculptures. Spread across South India are several Sahasralingas where 1000 Shivlings are sculpted on the main Shiv Linga. In this case, you have to walk down to a river to see it!!
We parked our vehicle and started to go down several flights of steps and finally reached the banks of the river Shalamala. Shalamala that day was quiet and serene. Morning 8 am has to be quiet I guess! We could hear the gurgling of water and the gentle splash when it hit the rocks. And amidst of the splotches of sunshine we saw them. Hundreds of rocks where Shivling and Nandi were sculpted on them. Smaller the rock, smaller the Shivling and Nandi. Ingenious idea! The Sahasralinga was created on the orders of King Sadashivraya of the Sonda dynasty. It is said that the King had a dream to create 1000 Shivlingas. The King set out to achieve this dream and how! Unfortunately with the passage of time, the 1000 Shivlingas are no longer there. But you can feast your eyes on the surviving ones.
Once you have enjoyed the wonders of Sahsaralinga, you take a small detour to a little town, nay a hamlet, called Halasi. Halasi occupied an important place during the times of Kadambas who ruled this region around 5-6th Century A.D. There exist a temple dedicated to Bhuvaraha ( the Boar avatar- One amongst the Dashaavatar). Halasi is a good 130 km drive from Sahasralinga. The route one has to take is Sahasralinga-Yellapur-Haliyal-Bidi-Halasi. If you are travelling from Belgaum, then your preferred route would be Belgaum-Khanapur-Nandgad-Halasi a mere 41 km drive.
The temple is quaint and serene. The architecture seems very similar to the Madhukeshwara temple of Banavasi if you notice the sloped stone roof. We spent about an hour in the temple in its cool precincts.
There are many more areas to explore and discover in around Halasi. Alas, time did not permit us! As always, we promised ourselves that we would be back to explore the wonderful ethos and history our country generously offers.