Yana Rocks

Useful Information

Bhairaveshwara Shikhar, Yana Rocks, India. Public Domain.
Bhairaveshwara Shikhar, Yana Rocks, India. Public Domain.
Location: Forests of the Kumta, Uttara Kannada. 31 km from Kumta, 40 km from Sirsi, 60 km from Karwar port. 10 min walk from Yana.
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: KarstKarren, KarstStone Forests
Light: n/a
Dimension: A=357 m asl.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Yana Rocks, Tel: +91-, Fax: +91-,
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1801 site surveyed by Francis Buchanan-Hamilton, a British official of the East India Company.
1995 movie Nammoora Mandara Hoove filmed here.


Yana Rocks, India. Public Domain.
Bhairaveshwara Shikhar, Mohini Shikhara, Yana Rocks, India. Public Domain.

The Yana Rocks are two exceptional limestone outcrops which show spectacular karren forms. Their local name is Bhairaveshwara Shikhara and Mohini Shikhara, Shikhara means hill in the local language Kannara. Actually there are 61 such limestone hills, but the other 59 are considerably smaller. The locals tell that the limestone is black, which is obviously untrue. But the high humidity and the hot climate cause the growth of lichenon the rock surface which causes the dark color.

Bhairaveshwara Shikhara (Shiva's hill) is 120 m high and has a 3 m wide opening leading into a cave. The cave contains a bronze statue of Chandika, an incarnation of the goddess Durga. It also has a swayambu ("self manifested") Shiva Linga ("symbol of Shiva") over which spring water trickles from the roof of the cave. In other words there is a stalagmite which resembles the dick of Shiva. The dripping water forms a small cave river called Chandihole which flows out of the cave and is a tributary to the Aghanashini River.

Mohini Shikhara (Mohini's hill) is 90 m high. Here an idol of goddess Parvathi is installed.

The Asura or demon king Bhasmasura, by austere penance, obtained a boon from lord Shiva. This boon was that when Bhasmasura placed his hand over someones head, he would burn and turn into ashes (bhasma). In order to test his powers, Bhasmasura wanted to place his hands on Lord Shiva's head. He chased Shiva, which unnerved him and he went from his heavenly abode to earth to seek the help of Lord Vishnu. Vishnu transformed himself into a beautiful damsel named Mohini, who enticed Bhasmasura with her beauty. Bhasmsura agreed to a challenge she issued for a dance competition. During the dance competition, Mohini performed a dance bhang ("pose") with hand over head. Without realizing the danger 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 and the fire was so intense that the limestone formations in the Yana area were blackened.

True believers are convinced that this legend is the explanation for the black color of the limestone and the loose black soil or ash seen around the two large rock formations in the area. Ever year annual festivities during Maha Shivaratri are held which attract 10,000 devotees on pilgrimage to this place. As a tourist it is probably best to avoid this time. The post-monsoon period between October and January is usually the best time to visit Yana.

The rocks were until 1995 only accessible by a 16 km hike but were nevertheless a destination for trekkers (see comment below). This changed when the popular Bollywood movie Nammoora Mandara Hoove was shot here and for this purpose an all-weather road was built. The road provides access and the place became famous and attracts thousands of tourists every week. Most of them come obviously because the movie was shot here.

The trek is moderate to strenuous and a guide is recommended. Located amongst the evergreen forest of the Sahyadri Mountains, the trek to the Yana Caves is through the rocky limestone wilderness and is an experience in itself. The area is renown for its majestic mountains, the variety of rock formations, trickling waterfalls and a holy temple.

One can go for a simple climb around the rock dome or explore the cave in the dome. It is possible to camp overnight and visit the many rock shelters. But beware the wild bees which inhabit some of these shelters.

Text by Tony Oldham (2003). With kind permission.