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The little-known Vanivilasa Sagara Dam at Marikanive

Here's wishing you a very happy 2012!

From obscure Hoysala temples to large monoliths, from quaint blackbuck reserves to the Merlion, from Madhugiri to Malaysia, the last two months have been the best travel-wise, and have seen me and my humble Santro go places all over the state! This trip, however, was done alongwith my cousins in their i10 (which I must say, is a pleasure to drive!). The destination this time, was the oldest dam of Karnataka - Marikanive Dam or Vani Vilasa Sagara, near Hiriyur in the Chitradurga district.

As a kid I remember visiting Chitradurga and its massive fort, and ever since, the image that comes to mind when I hear any reference to the Chitradurga district is a wild, wild west-type barren land with the Sun burning down on you. But this trip shattered that myth for me.

We started early in the day at around 6 as we knew the traffic would build up on the NH4 Bangalore-Tumkur Road, and sure enough it did. But after gobbling up delicious idlis at the Kamadhenu Hotel near Dobbaspet, all the traffic woes were gone and we were set. The NH4 is part of the Golden Quadrilateral, and so the road is an absolute pleasure to drive. The only caveat is that since the road is one of India’s and Karnataka’s most important roads, there is a LOT (believe me!) of traffic all along the highway. Accidents are alarmingly common here, and a lot of caution is advised while driving.

 Now, back to the subject. To reach Vani Vilasa Sagara from Bangalore, you must take a left turn at Hiriyur, which lies on the NH4 after Tumkur and Sira. The roads are extremely good, and even the road from Hiriyur to the dam was in a far better shape than I’d imagined it would be. The landscape is mostly flat, dotted with numerous lakes and monolithic boulders such as Siddara Betta and Shivagange. But almost out of nowhere, the landscape changes about 10km from Marikanive with lush green hills and tree-lined roads. 

There is a Maramma temple at the edge of the reservoir, and one look at the mammoth wall is enough to inspire awe at Man's engineering ability. The dam, that is built across the Vedavathi river that originates in the Western Ghats, was built in 1898. This dam is one of the main sources of water for the entire district.

The wall of the dam. Comparable to the hill beside it!

The location of the dam is strategic, nestled between two hills, and there are two mantapas on either hills, adding to the beauty of the place. There is a Government Guest House atop one of the hills, and this isn't just an excellent vantage point but an ideal place to be one with your thoughts, and leave all behind, albeit momentarily. I spent many precious minutes with the clear blue sky, the clear blue waters and the hills that stretched to the horizon. 

The serene blue waters of Marikanive are a delight to the eyes!

Just looking around for some food...

Blue at its best! 

Bird's eye view of the dam from atop the hill

Lost in my thoughts, I was reminded of the grind thanks to a call from a colleague, and we soon headed back home. There're famous temples and a fort in Hosadurga, which is about 35km from the dam, but we didn't bother taking that detour. There are quite a few temples on the way back along NH4, but we didn't stop there either. So by 7pm, I was back home, all set to kick off another work week after the very refreshing little trip!

Route taken: Yeshwantpur -> Tumkur -> Sira -> Hiriyur -> Vanivilasapura. Route link

Bonus - Desktop Calendar for Jan 2012. May the New Year be all that you want it to be!


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