Nestled among the majestic Western Ghats, on the banks of the Sharavati river, lie the ancient temple ruins of Gersoppa (Gerusoppa). Gersoppa is derived from two Kannada (locally spoken language) words. “Geeru” – a deciduous tree abundantly found in this region (also called the Marking Nut Tree as it was used by washer-men to mark clothes before washing), and “Soppu” – meaning leaves. Living up to its name what was once a part of the flourishing capital city of the Salva kings, with a thriving pepper trade, is today a moss covered wonder hidden among a thick and dense forest.
In the 16th Century, wars were fought over Gersoppa. For whoever had a stronghold over it had control over the 2 major ports of Kanataka, Bhatkal and Honnavar. The Portuguese, on their arrival to India, used Gersoppa as their base to conquer Goa and expand their empire. Gersoppa has had the unique honor of being ruled by 3 queens in its history. Most famous among them was queen Chennabhairadevi – The Pepper Queen, who managed to rule for 54 years despite constant threats from the neighboring kingdoms. Under her rule Gersoppa became a safe haven for craftsmen, fleeing the Portuguese rule from neighboring cities. As a result many Hindu and Jain temples were commissioned and built during this period.
Almost forgotten by time, the ancient temple ruins of Gersoppa comprising of Neminath Digamber Jain Basadi, Mahavir Digamber Basadi, Hire Digamber Jwalamalini Basadi and Chaturmukh Digambar Jain Basadi, would have at one time been a buzz with literary and cultural activities.
Getting here was literally like searching for a lost treasure. Despite being armed with Google Maps and our locally well versed cab driver we had hired from the neighboring town of Gokarn, we had to stop and ask for directions every few kms. While our driver knew of the Gersoppa town he didn’t know where the temples were situated.
Winding through the western Ghats, we reached a check-post with a menacing looking guard who didn’t allow us to go any further. Our driver spoke something to him in Kannada and just like that we were allowed entry.
Past the Massive Gersoppa dam (weren’t allowed to take pics of it), an area that looked right out of X- files with barbed wire and hundreds of warning signs, warning people to not enter the property and roads narrowing to the point where we wondered many a times if our car could even make it, we finally reached the ruins.
Camouflaged among their surroundings these beautiful temples with their carved statues and tablets have an eerie feel about them, almost as if haunted. You will have to keep reminding yourself that these were temples, once a place of worship. There is a small shack built for the government employees who maintain this place. Seeing more people will lessen the fear, but no matter what, the eerie feeling stays. However beautiful this place might be, its not a place I would like to stay after sun set. Then again maybe the warning signs on barbed wires, the check-post and the dam on our way is what freaks you out a bit. Or maybe they just help in building the story and mystery of this place.
On our way back, our driver took another route to show us what Gersoppa was really famous for, The Suspended Bridge. In stark contrast to the ruins, this place was overly crowded with the option of boating on the Sharavathi River. People were packed to the brim and when you thought the bridge couldn’t possible hold anymore people, a bike would pass through, making the bridge shake violently. This happens only in India!!
This place in its own way was a ruin as the overcrowding did ruin my experience, of what otherwise was an awesome view!
So if you want to go back in time and then be hit by the contrasting reality of today, within a matter of few hours, do visit the ruins of Gersoppa!
How To Get To The Temple Ruins:
- Its located in a very remote place and the nearest town with rail and bus connectivity is the town of Honnavar, a 1hr (36 kms) Drive away.
- Nearest airports with International connectivity are Goa and Mangalore (Mangaluru) both of which are 4hrs away from Honnavar.
I am not even able to locate the route we took to get there, on Google Maps. Hopefully this route is a faster and better way to get there.
But no matter how you get there, hire a driver with local knowledge (It realllllly helps!). My ever trusted Google Maps was useless most of the time due to bad network connectivity, especially once you move into the hilly region.
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Wow this is beautiful and breathtaking! I can only hope to travel to places like this!
You gave us one more place to add to our bucket list. Can’t wait to visit.
The place is so remarkable! I’m a fan of ruins, ancient places, and abandoned places so I really had fun reading this post. Thank you for sharing this.
Wow! Very intriguing! This reminds me of Jackie Chan’s movies lol! Anyway, I’d absolutely love to visit the place since it sounds like a perfect escapade- visiting ruins that are so deep in the mountains? Oh my!
You did indeed discover and explore a forgotten place. The entire temple complex looks desolated, shame it’s not kept in a better shape by the authorities. That bridge at the end of your trip would cause me claustrophobia.
I love ancient ruins and this one look super interesting with beautiful nature surrounding. The suspended bridge certainly look so contract to the ruins. LOL. But I like that you can take another route, that way you can explore more.
What an amazing, and extremely interesting place. While I only dream of visiting places like this, it would be awesome to experience this. I’m a huge fan of Ancient Civilizations, and visiting ancient ruins would be a dream come true.
That bridge would have my attention. I would love to walk across it.
This is totally the kind od thing I love to do ! I love to explore and was kind of passionated by archeologie !
Ancient ruins are so special !
Loved it !
This would be so neat to see in person. I’m all about history, so I love seeing ruins up close.
Looks like a great place to visit. Plenty of amazing things to capture with my camera.
Ancient places always attracts me. Now this is in my list. Hope someday I shall be visiting it. Forest, mountains greenery, sculptures etc making this place a bit unique. Thanks for sharing.
I love reading history, about old places. It was a great read. I’m impressed….
Wow this looks like an amazing place to visit. I love ancient ruins and would love to visit there.
Looks like an amazing place to visit, so incredible how the forest overgrew the area. It is very interesting to read of the history of the area.
Nice travel! This is great adventure travel!
I never trust Google Map anyway! Sounds like a lovely place to visit with a lot of interesting history!
Your pics are great. This place looks amazing and I would love to visit there.
Wow I just love the ancient ruins! And the lush mountains and greenery is just so picturesque.
I’ve been to some ruins before and even though I enjoyed learning the story behind it I could say that places like this should not be in a business, it should be free to the public to see.
This ancient temple is so unique….. ur photos looks so great… wish to visit there, someday in future..
Glad I read that. Sounds really worth the trip.When I went to India winding roads like wounded snakes ran out across the city of Bombay. Millions of people cars that ran on pavements and traffic lights from England.Policemen in white uniforms and traffic running both sides same way of him.Morris Oxfords cars all over the place that once long ago ran as new in UK. yellow robed Sunniyasi men with coco de mere bowls sat cross legged in silent prayer as cars came as close as danger could allow.The roar of the elephant took my notice and smells of spices filled me with dreams. A world so different in aspect from dear old England and nothing like Persia I had traveled from. To me a memory I can only treasure. Thank you once again for reading my blog.it went out a day early as so busy fitting all in a day with harvests of fruit and veg coming in from orchard and field and hens hatching chicks by the box full. I try keeping blogs in draft form so I do not forget to publish. Today I thought was Sunday as all days are the same to me working hard on my estates these weeks full of harvests. Winter is my lazy time and with log fires and foods I write my books.Glad you enjoyed that trip to the ruin. I would have done to.
Thank you your welcome. So many people in India here in Latvia is hot and lovely green place about the size of Scotland with one person in every 3 square miles. About 1 million in total . One lives in villages with nothing but lake and forests between. One highway runs through fast and motorway set up to Riga and north to Estonia and Sweden by boat. Lots of good shops in city of Riga and some towns too are set with modern supermarkets and shops of every need. Here I live outside of all places happy in my world of empire doing my own thing. I would not wish to have such crowds of peoples standing so close no matter what. I saw on your lovely photos how many stood on the bank like an army. You rightly said it spoiled your day out,I can quite see it would. Gods love to us all