Thirthahalli is a panchayattown located in the Shimoga District of the state ofKarnataka,India. It lies on the bank of the river Tunga and is also the headquarters of the Thirthahalli Taluk of Shimoga district.
Getting thereBy roadThirthahalli is at a distance of about 62 km. from the district headquarters, Shimoga. From Shimoga, one has to take the National Highway NH-13 (Thirthahalli road) to reach Thirthahalli. FromBangalore, one has to take the National Highway NH-206 to reach Shimoga and then take the above mentioned route. The total distance from Bangalore to Thirthahalli is around 330 km. From Mangalore, one can take NH-13 to reach Thirthahalli. The distance from Mangalore to Thirthahalli is around 190 km.
By railThe nearest railway station is in Shimoga. Numerous trains run from Bangalore and Mysore to Shimoga.
By airThe nearest airport is in Mangalore International Airport.
EtymologyAccording to a Hindu legend, the sageParashurama using an axe, chopped off his mother Renuka's head on the orders of his father, the great sage Jamadagni. Later, Parashurama tried to wash the blood stains off the axe by dipping it in various rivers. Despite his best efforts, a sesame-sized blood stain remained on his axe. It was only when he dipped his axe in the Tunga river near Thirthahalli, that the stain got removed. This place is now called as Parashurama Thirtha (or RamaThirtha) and is the origin of the name Thirthahalli (halli means village in the native Kannadalanguage). Near RamaThirtha, there is a stonemantapa called Rama Mantapa. This legend has made Thirthahalli a holy place for Hindus with a belief that a dip in the river Tunga here will cure one of all sins.
HistoryAnother legend related to the times ofRamayana, indicates that Maricha, a relative of theLanka king Ravana came in the disguise of a golden deer to enchant Sita, the wife of Rama. When Sitarequested Rama to get her the deer, Rama followed the deer and killed it. This incident is supposed to have happened near a place called Mrugavadhe in Thirthahalli Taluk. Mrugavadhe means Killing of an animal in the local Kannada language
Thirthahalli has a rich archaelogical history withneolithic sites uncovered in Kunda Hill near Agumbeand portholedburial chambers found at Arehalli near Thirthahalli.
A small fort was constructed at Kavaledurga, near Thirthahalli at around 9th century AD. The king of Belagutti, Cheluvarangappa strengthened this fort in the 14th century. Venkatappa Nayaka, a Keladi king, acquired this fort and constructed seven battlements to protect this fort in the 16th century. Hyder Aliconquered this fort in the 18th century and later the fort came under the rule of Tipu Sultan.
GeographyTirthahalli is located at 13.7° N 75.23°E. It has an average elevation of 591 metres(1938 feet).
Places to seeTunga bridgeThis town has a unique bridge built across the Tunga River which connects Thirthahalli on one side to a place called Kuruvalli on the other side. Now, Kuruvalli has become an extension of Thirthahalli.
Sri Rameshwara TempleSri Rameshwara Temple is the main Hindutemple of Thirthahalli. This temple is made of stone and is on the banks of the river Tunga. It is near the place Parashurama Thirtha which is discussed in the above section. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple has a Lingam which is said to have been installed by Sage Parashurama himself. The day when Parashurama cleansed his axe to remove the sesame-sized blood stain; is supposed to be the New Moon Day of Margashira month in the Hindu calendar. That particular day is termed as Yellu Amavasya day (Yellu meaning sesame and Amavasyameaning New Moon day) and every year on this day a festival termed as Yellu Amavasya Jatre is held in Thirthahalli.
Even though the festivities last for more than five days, three days are very important for the common public. On the day of Yellu Amavasya, the Utsava Moorthi (main idol) of Lord Sri Rameshwara is taken to the river and holy Abhishekam (consecration) is carried out on the idol in the Parashurama Thirtha. After this, the devotees take a holy dip at this place.
On the second day, the decorated temple chariot is pulled along the main street of Thirthahalli. This street; called as Car Street is a narrow street having a width of approximately 30 feet. The big chariot of the temple which occupies almost the whole width of the street, is pulled by devotees and the chariot even climbs a steep gradient on this road.
On the third day, the Utsava Moorthi is taken on aTeppa(raft) on river Tunga to the river bank atKuruvalli and brought back. This celeberation is calledTeppotsava (raft-festival). On this day, a lot of colourful crackers are lit and also the river banks, Tunga Bridge and Rama Mantap are decorated with lights.
This festival normally falls on last half of December or the first half of January. This festival attracts thousands of people from other cities.
Anandagiri and Siddeshwara GuddaTwo hills adorn Thirthahalli town. First one is Anandagiri Gudda and the second one is Siddeshwara Gudda. Anandagiri Gudda is located on Shimoga Road and Siddeshwara Gudda is located on Agumbe Road. Both are reachable by walk from the town. One can climb Anandagiri Gudda during any time of the year. Its height may be around 200 to 300 feet (60 to 90 m). There is large mantapa with a big doom on this hill. One can relax on this mantapa and can enjoy scenic beauty. Tunga College is on the base of this hill. For climbingSiddeshwara Hill, the preferred months are October and November. This hill is also about 200 feet in height. From the top of this hill, one will be able to see the other big hills of Shimoga District such asKodachadri and Kundadri.
KuppalliLocated at a distance of 18km from Thirthahalli, Kuppalli is the native place of the great Kananda poet and playwright Kuvempu. Kavishaila andKavimane are two historical places to see in Kuppalli.
AgumbeAgumbe is a small town in Thirthahalli Taluk famous for being the location where the television serial Malgudi Days (based on a novel of the same name by the famous writer, R K Laxman) was shot. This town also attracts tourists who come to see a beautiful sunset over the valleys of the Western Ghats. On a clear day, the Arabian Sea can be seen from here.
ChibbalaguddeFamous temple of Sri Siddi Vinayaka and Matsyadhama which has lot of fishes at Tunga River. Chibbalagudde, is 10 KM apart from Thirthahalli, and is also near to Kuppalli.
People Associated with ThirthahalliThirthahalli has a unique record that two persons who are natives of this Taluk are the recepients of the top most literary award of India, the Jnanapith Award. They areKuvempu and U R Ananthamurthy.
Other noted persons associated with Thirthahalli are
Sri. T S Ramachandra Rao (popularly known as TSR): Former editor of Prajavani, a well known Kannadanewspaper
Smt. M K Indira: A popular novelist of Kannada.
Sri. S V Parameshwara Bhatta: A popular Kannadawriter.
Justice. M Rama Jois: A popular judge; he was the former governor of the Jharkhand state of India and also has been the Chief Justice of Punjab and HaryanaHigh Courts.
Sri. Girish Kasaravalli: A well known Kannada film director with four Golden Lotus awards against his name.
Sri. Poornachandra Tejaswi: Son of Kuvempu and a well known Kannada writer himself.