Located off the Bangalore-Mysore Highway just before the ancient town of Srirangapatna in the southern state of Karnataka, the small and beautiful hillock destination of Karighatta offers just the perfect enigmatic yet quaint mysticism along with a little thrilling adventure. Riding or trekking on the serpentine road leading to this mystic hill is an experience to behold. It offers incredible scenic views of the surrounding landscape. This view comprises of verdant patches of grasslands and lush green meadows, tamarind, gooseberry and mango trees that are found in the dense forests lining of the Mysore Chamundi Hill, beautiful sections of Srirangapatna, swaying paddy fields, coconut trees, canals and enchanting views of other hills like Kuntibetta. The place is blessed with rich flora and fauna and interesting rock formations as well.
The mention of Karighatta can be traced back to ancient texts like the Varaha Purana where the name of this hill town has been referred to as Neelachala or Blue mountains. Located at an altitude of 2,697 feet above sea level and overlooking the confluence of river Cauvery and its tributary river Lokapavani, Karighatta: Black Hill is replete with tranquil lakes and hilly topography and is perfect for bird watching enthusiasts, trekkers, and nature lovers or casual holiday seekers. The ruffling sounds of the Lokapavani makes a sweet noise as it flows past the colourful flowers and greenery, which increases the spiritual aura and divine essence of this place.
Major Attraction – Karighatta Temple
Karighatta Temple or the Srinivasa Temple are one of the famous temples of karnataka , and the views from here are absolutely stunning. The main deity of this temple is a form of Lord Vishnu called Karigirivasa. Locally the deity is also referred to as Lord Srinivasa or Bairagi Venkataramana. The second name has been derived due to the fact that when the deity is decorated with flowers, he is said to look like a mendicant or Bairagi. Locals believe that devotees, who perform pooja or rituals here, can bring about a positive change in their lives and be relieved of their troubles.
You can either reach the religious site by climbing 450 steps or by taking your vehicle to go up the winding road that leads up to this temple. Its entrance is marked by huge wooden doors that lead to the main shrine. The quadrangular temple complex is huge and well maintained and houses the main idol. The beautiful idol of Lord Vaikunta Srinivasa stands 6-feet tall is made of black stone. Flanked by the idols of Yoga Srinivasa and Bhoga Srinivasa, the main idol in the shrine is said to be installed by Sage Brigu. There is a separate massive statue of Garuda, the mount of Lord Vishnu, also known as Garudasthambha facing the main idol and a separate sanctorum of Goddess Padmavathi, consort of Lord Srinivasa. The temple also encloses a Kalyana Mandapa or marriage hall, which is widely used by locals for performing marriages and other religious functions. The Dravida style of architecture is reflected in the unique style of Gopurams and Kalashas inside the temple.
The Karigirivasa Temple takes on a completely vibrant form during the annual Rathotsava and traditional car festival that is held annually in the months of Kumbha Masa Palguna (February and March). The festival is said to have been initiated by sage Vaikhanasa from as early as the Treta Yuga and is attended by a large number of pilgrims from across the region.
The land near the temple complex is dotted with plentiful long stemmed grass (E cynosuroides), also known as ‘Darbe’. As per legend, Lord Vishnu during Varaha avatar landed on this hill and shook his body and some of his hair fell here, which later grew into these sharp Darbe. This long stemmed grass is used for most of the Hindu rituals and offered as prasadam instead of flowers to devotees who come here. During the summer months, these grasses dry up and turn dark brown due to the excessive heat. This renders the entire hill a smoky black appearance which gives the hill its name Karighatta: The Black Hill.
The hillock and the narrow valleys through which the Cauvery and River Lokapavani flow have been featured in several Kannada and Tamil films and TV serials owing to the captivating views. The rivers and its small tributaries flow at a fast speed along the narrow valleys and are surrounded by trees and numerous small shrines all along the bank. The eastern part of the hill offers a trail with huge boulders and trees that leads right to the summit and provides the perfect spot for the adventure seekers, nature enthusiasts, and shutterbugs.
Among the wildlife spotted here are leopards and deer and various species of birds and butterflies that can be seen in various parts of the hill, which makes it a treat for wildlife and bird watching enthusiasts.
The place is also popular for capturing the breathtaking golden sunset. When the sun goes down in the evening, the famous Sunset Point atop the hill, which turns the entire horizon bright red with patches of clouds and reflects the silvery surface of the rivers, is a must visit. The majestic sight will remain entrenched in your minds forever.
It is not just religion that attracts visitors to this beautiful abode but the scenic beauty and immersive experience close to nature that draws tourists from neighbouring cities like Mysore (25 kilometres) and Bangalore (126 kilome tres) over for the perfect weekend getaway.
Make sure to cover your head and carry enough drinking water if you are planning to walk up the hill. Also, if you want to enjoy the panoramic view of the hill and see the colourful birds from close quarters, don’t forget to carry a binocular along. As this place offers many insta-worthy moments carrying a camera is a must to capture the incredible beauty of this place.
A visit to Karighatta: The Black Hill is not just for those who are religiously inclined but for anyone who is on the lookout for offbeat natural wonders in India. Words cannot truly describe the feeling one gets when you finally arrive atop this hill and get a glimpse of the enchanting views and the tranquil ambience. Whether you are a solo traveller, nature lover, religious devotee or on a family trip Karighatta on the banks of river Lokapavani is a gorgeous place to visit and explore.