Thirthahalli is a refreshingly different weekend getaway from Bangalore. Far from the madding crowd, Thirthahalli is a great place to experience Malnad hospitality. The recipe comprises a traditional homestay, Poet Laureate Kuvempu’s home, a unique fish sanctuary on the Tunga, a bath under Sirimane waterfalls, Agumbe rainforest with its majestic King Cobras and Kundadri Hills, a part of the bicycle trail of The Great Malnad Challenge. The icing on the cake is a visit to a quaint house in Agumbe where the televised version of Malgudi Days, the famous work of RK Narayan was filmed.
The best route from Bangalore to Thirthahalli is via Kunigal, Chanrayapatna, Arsikere, Tarikere and Shimoga. The drive time is around 5.5 hours. While there exists a shorter route via Tumkur, i wouldnot suggest that considering the poor state of the roads around Gubbi.
Located 18 KMs from Thirthahalli, Kuppali is where Poet Laureate Kuppali Venkattapa Puttapa, better known as “Kuvempu” was born. His house has been converted into a museum. The house has been built in the traditional Thotti mane style where there is a central square area resembling a thotti or pond that is open to sky and surrounded by a courtyard.
The ground floor of the house has an interesting artefact in the form of the marriage invitation card of Kuvempu! The first floor has many objects used by Kuvempu in his day to day life, while the second floor has a collection of all the books written by him including Ramayana Darshanam, his most famous work.
Kavishaila is a rock monument dedicated to Kuvempu, a recipient of the prestigious Padma Bushan award. The rocks are arranged in a circle akin to the Stonehenge in England.You can also see the rock where Kuvempu used to discuss literature with his friends.
Here are a couple of paintings by Kuvempu's son Poornachandra Tejaswi.
Chibbalagudde is located 10 KMs from Thirthahalli and is home to the temple of Sri Siddi Vinayaka and Matsyadhama. The temple is on the banks of Rover Tunga. The river bank is a very popular spot to see fishes of many types. Pilgrims, who come to the temple, buy a bucket full of rice flakes and feed the hundreds of fishes which throng the banks.
Sirimane falls is located 5 Kms from the town of Kigga near Sringeri. The waterfall looks magnificent after the monsoons and is a great place for a refreshing bath.
Agumbe is a rainforest near Thirthahalli and is often called Cherrapunji of the south due to the incessant rainfall. It is home to several endemic species of flora and fauna. Many rare medicinal plants are found at Agumbe. Agumbe is famous for its King Cobras. The Agumbe Rainforest Research Station commissioned the world’s first radio-telemetry project on the King Cobra. Founded by the famous herpetologist Romulus Whitaker, ARSS also conducts many educational and outreach programs with the local community and educational institutions. Whitaker also helped set up India’s first automatic weather station in Agumbe to monitor changes in rain forests.
Those familiar with Hindu mythology would know that Sage Parasurama was ordered to chop off the head of his mother Renuka, on the orders of his father Jamadagni. After doing the deed, Parashurama tried to wash off the blood stains of his axe at various rivers but without success. It was only at River Tunga that he was able to wipe off the axe clean and the place came to be known as Thirthahalli, a place to wash off sins.
One of the best spots for Sunset views in Malnad is Kundadri Hills. Located 20 KMs from Agumbe, Kundadri hills is home to a beautiful pond with lotus flowers and a 16th century Jain temple.
Cycling enthusiasts ride up the entire Kundadri hills all the way from Agumbe and then proceed towards Kudremukh. In fact Kundadri is part of the itinerary of the famous cycle ride called the “Great Malnad Challenge”.
The mythical Malgudi town where Swami and his friends used to hang around is right in Agumbe. “Doddamane”, the house where the Television Series of Malgudi Days was shot, can actually be visited to relive the tales of Malgudi Days.
The house is 120 years old and belongs to Kasturi akka and her family. They are gracious and kind enough to allow people to have a look inside the house and take photographs.
“Malgudi” was a perfect finale to this great Malnad holiday where I could relive the carefree days of Swami and his friends where fun lurked at every corner and the world was full of impossible adventures.
For more of my travelogues on weekend getaways from Bangalore, visit Bangalore Holiday Ideas.