Escape from your routine. Plan a long trip. Take a few days off your busy schedule to visit the Malnad region of Karnataka. Taste a slice of nature and religion. I cannot promise to help you explore the self; but I sure can help you explore the alluring route from Bangalore to Sonda. Though Sonda is only around 420 km from Bangalore, our road will take a few detours to slowly savour the abundance that Malnad has to offer.
The journey starts on NH4 only to stop for a while at Chitradurga Fort. Get a glimpse of the monumental fort that belonged to a long list of dynasties. A little deviation off the road to Sonda is the historic temple in Banavasi that seems frozen in time. Aimlessly drifting cattle, heartening silence, smiling people, noisy bore-wells, inquisitive visitors - Banavasi is a must visit.
Another 44 km drive will take you to the main destination Sonda. Also known as Swadi, Sonda is the headquarters of Sri Vadiraja Matha - one among the eight temples founded by the Dwaita proponent Sri Madhwacharya. Located in the Malnad region of Karnataka in Sirsi district, Sonda demands at least a 24-hour stay. The late night puja offerings to Bhutarajaru is enthralling. To engage in the quiet of early mornings in front of the brindavana of Sri Vadiraja Swami resounds the depths of your inner senses.
Around 5 km away from the Vadiraja Matha on the banks of river Shalmala is a place called Tapovana where Sri Vadiraja Swami meditated for long years. The place inspires a new realisation that is strange to the tongue yet dear to the heart.
From Tapovana head straight to Sahasra linga. Over a thousand lingas are carved on the rocks of Shalamala river and is a famous pilgrim centre.
On the journey back from Sonda lies Sirsi where the historic Marikamba Temple awaits visitors. If you're lucky enough you could catch a sight of a he-buffalo that used to be sacrificed in earlier days. If you're luckier still, you could catch a sight of a board saying 'Do not leave footwear here' and a whole lot of footwear lying in front.
Hold your breath and get ready to visit the heavenly Sathodi falls. Surrounded by greenery, Sathodi falls will be among your most cherished sights of the trip. Falling from a good height, the stream later flows into river Kali.
Unchalli Falls is the next stop. A spectacular waterfall amidst deep green jungle looks like a scene from paradise. Located in Siddapura, the Aghanashini river drops from a height of 116 metres and poses a fabulous picture.
The destination that follows is the much-talked-about Jog falls for you cannot miss it even if you wanted to. Later comes Sigandur, a small village in Sagara which connects to Sharavati backwaters that extends to the farthest distance the eye can meet.
On the way back to Bangalore is the Aghoreshwara Temple in Ikkeri. Witness the greatness of Hoysala and Kadamba architecture here. The intricate carvings and unusual silence will whisper in your ears a secret of it being the close end of your long and satisfying trip.
When you are back, you'll have many a stories to narrate. There will also be a few untold stories that shall remain in the back of your memory forever and silently guide you to something fresh, something new everyday.