Yana Caves – The grand monoliths of South India

Unusual rock structures worth a visit! 3 min

What is a monolith?

A monolith is a geological formation made of a single large rock or a massive stone (mountains) which is eroded over the years by environmental and climatic conditions that give it an unusual appearance and structure.

Two of such monoliths, facing each other are located in Yana village, Karnataka known as Yana Caves. Yana is located in Kumta, (Western ghats) 50-60 kms away from Gokarna. One is known as Bhairaveshwara Shikara and the other is known as Mohini Shikara.  Bhairaveshwara Shikara is 120 mtrs in height whereas Mohini Shikhara is 90 mtrs in height. These monoliths are made up of karst limestones.

Bhairaveshwara Shikhara

Mohini Shikhara

Bhairaveshwara Shikara is famous for a cave temple which has a ‘swayumbhu’ (self – manifested) shiva linga over which natural spring water trickles from the roof lending it a state of sanctity. Annual festivities for 10 days are organized here during ‘Shivratri’ festival. Legend says that these rocks are a result of dance competition between Bhasmasura (demon king) and Mohini (avatar of Lord Vishnu). Bhasmasura was burned into ashes when he placed his hand on his head unknowingly while dancing. The resulting fire blackened all the area in Yana and the limestones, soil surrounding it became black. 

The entrance

Temple premises beneath Bhairaveshwara 

The trail to these caves is a 1.5 km walk from the parking lot(foothills) which consists of an uneven muddy road surrounded by dense forests. There are many shops nearby selling food items and snacks. One of the cave in the Bhairaveshwara Shikhara is open for visitors to walk through it, though you must remove your footwear beneath the stairs before entering it. You will feel that you are been engulfed by razor-sharp rocks once you enter the cave. The light entering from different cavities inside the cave lend them a primitive feeling. Also, you can witness many bee hives hugging the insides of the cave. The walk through these caves is like a ‘pradakshina’ to the main temple beneath.

The stairs leading to the cave

You can hire a vehicle in Gokarna and visit these monoliths in a day. The drive though tiresome, is extremely scenic. This place has something for everyone both the young and the old. Don’t forget to carry water, shades and some sunscreen if you are driving.

There were many hairpin turns and beautiful trees swaying with the wind during the journey. I was simply awed by the grandeur of these!

The scenic route

How to reach here :

Road distances to Yana village are as follows –

  • Gokarna – 52 kms
  • Kumta – 25 kms 
  • Sirsi – 40 kms 
  • Hubli is 142 kms. 

The nearest airport is Hubli and the nearest railhead is at Kumta.

There are buses plying from Gokarna and Kumta to Yana caves daily. Also, bike rentals are available in Gokarna which is another faster option of transportation.

Trivia :

The popular Kannada movie –  Nammoora Mandara Hoove was shot at this location.


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