It is in the wilderness of India, in the mountains and thick forests, in dark ancient caves that the primal energies of Shiva and Shakti are truly enshrined. Here, their myths and legends live and breathe and take shape.
While many such natural shrines find mention in the ancient Puranic and the Vedic texts and continue to be important places of pilgrimage, there many more that are tucked away in local folklore and lesser known pockets across India.
Yana, nestled amidst the beautiful forests of the Uttara Kannada in Karnataka, is one such little known place with a story to tell.
The article below is an adaption of the original which was published on The Better India website. You can read the full article here. Photo Courtesy: Sreyas Thottarath
The Charred Rocks of Yana
Legend has it that the demon king, Bhasmasura had received a boon from Lord Shiva which gave him the power to burn anyone to ashes by simply placing his hand on that person’s head. As soon as Shiva had granted him the boon, Bhasmasur who was not the trusting type turned to Shiva and said, ‘Let me try it on you.’
Shocked by this unexpected turn of events and not knowing what to do, Shiva fled from his abode on Mount Kailash in the Himalayas to the plains near Yana.
Vishnu on seeing Shiva’s plight rushed to his aid by taking the form of a beautiful dancer called Mohini. Bhasmasur mesmerised by the celestial nymph, agreed to a dance challenge initiated by her. During the competition, Mohini cleverly placed her hand on her head and Bhasmasur, without realizing it, placed his hand over his head too. The fire from his own hands destroyed Bhasmasur and reduced him into ashes.
And thus Shiva was saved!
At Yana, two rare and unusual rock formations composed of solid black crystalline limestone rise majestically over the verdant hills overlooking the gently flowing Chandrika river. Nearby the Vhibooti (ash) Falls gush with milky water.
Devotees believe that when Bhasmasur burnt, the fire and heat was so intense that it charred the limestones of Yana turning them black and the loose black soil and ashes found around the rock formations are proof of the legend.
But what really makes the legend come alive is the cave that lies beneath the Bhairaveshwara shikara, the taller of the two rocks which is named after Shiva. Deep in the womb of the cave sits a self- manifested (swayambhu) shivalingam. A continous trickle of water drips over the linga, through a natural crack in the rock, adding to the mystique of the place making it all the more sacred.