Thirthahalli is a little town in Shimoga district of Karnataka state, situated on the bank of river Tunga.

Hi Friends! Whether you live in south India or have traveled there, I wonder how many of you have heard the name Thirthahalli. Actually, there are so many hidden little gems in all states within India that wherever you go, you discover a new gem. We all know that south India has innumerable tourist attractions and all of us know about the major ones and some relatively smaller ones too. But there are a few small places which are more elegant, beautiful and provide more satisfaction. Thirthahalli is one such place. It's a complete package of nature, history, mythology, pilgrimage, and adventure.

 This place has some beliefs attached to it. First is that sage Jamadagni ordered his son sage Parashuram to behead his mother Renuka. He obeyed the order of his father and beheaded his mother with his ax. Thereafter he tried to clean his ax of bloodstains by washing it in many rivers but a small stain would always remain there. Ultimately it was after washing his ax in Tunga river near Thirthahalli, that he got rid of that small stain. Therefore, river Tunga became a holy river and   Thirthahalli became a pilgrimage site for Hindus. It is believed that a dip in the Tunga river, can cure all their sins. This place is now called Parashurama Tirtha or Rama Tirtha. Tirtha means pilgrimage and Halli means village in the Kannada language.

Thirthahalli, Shimoga

Another belief is that when Lord Ram and Sita were going through their vanvaas(stay in forests), Marich, a close relative of Lanka king Ravana came disguised as a golden deer to enchant Sita. Sita was enamored by the golden deer and urged Ram to get it for her. Lord Ram followed the golden deer. And the place where this happened is supposed to be very near to Thirthahalli, called Mrugavadhe. In the local Kannada language, Mruga means animal and vadhe means killing.

Thirthahalli is quintessentially a quiet town, untouched by the loud noise of big cities. But there are enough places and things, in and around this town to induce interest in any traveler. It would be any traveler's delight to explore the historical, natural, religious and mythological sites in and around Thirthahalli.

SRI RAMESHWARA TEMPLE - Hindus consider it as their main temple in this area. Situated on the bank of river Tunga, the whole Sri Rameshwara Temple is made of stones. It is said that sage Parashurama himself installed the lingam situated in the sanctum sanctorum of this temple. Also, there is a stone Mantapa, called Rama Mantapa, situated near the temple. There is a big five-day festival organized in the temple every year called Yellu Amavasya Jatre. The day sage Parashuram cleaned the sesame like a stain from his ax, by dipping it in river Tunga, is said to be the new moon day of Margashire month of Hindu calendar. The festival is organized to celebrate this day. Yellow means sesame and Amavasya means New Moon Day and the day is termed Yellu Amavasya.

Of the five days on which the festival is celebrated, three are deemed to be of particular interest for all.

Sri Rameshwara Temple, Shimoga

First is Yellu Amavasya, when the idol of Lord Rameshwara, called Utsava Moorthi (or idol of the festival) is taken to river Tunga to consecrate it.

The second day the chariot of the temple, decorated with flowers, is pulled by the devotees on the streets of the town amidst dance and music.
And the third day is when Utsava Moorthi is put on a raft called teppa and is taken down the river Tunga right up to river bank at a place called Kuruvalli and then back to temple. This is called Teppotsava or raft festival. Teppa meaning raft and utsava meaning festival. The bridge on river Tunga, the river banks and Rama Mantap, all are decorated with lights on this day and firecrackers are burnt.

TUNGA BRIDGE - This bridge on river Tunga connects Thirthahalli to Kuruvalli town and is a part of National Highway169. The main thing about the bridge is that it was designed by Sir Visvesavaraya and was inaugurated in the year 1943. It has an arc-like top, supported by pillars in a row. You can stand on the bridge and admire the beauty of calmly flowing river Tunga and the surroundings. It is a spot for soaking in the serenity of the place.

Tunga Bridge, Thirthahalli
Image source - Wikipedia

AMBUTHIRTHA - There is a story connected to this place. It is said that when Lord Ram and Sita were going through their vanvaasa, one day Sita got thirsty and requested Ram to fetch water for her. Ram tried but could not find any water source around the area. So Ram shot an arrow in the ground, from where Goddess Ganga appeared and quenched the thirst of Sita and a river sprang up from that place. It is now called Ambutirtha. Subsequently, waterfalls were formed by the river water and these waterfalls are called Jog Falls.

Ambuthirtha, Karnataka
Image source-tungahomestays

JOG FALLS - Located 18 km (11.2 mi) from Thirthahalli, Jog falls are on Sharvathi river and is a beautiful place to visit. Water descends from a height of 253 m(835 ft) and consists of four cascades. These cascades are named Raja, Rani, Rover, and Rocket and are outlets in the river itself and merge to form the huge waterfall. The sheer sound and sight of the water falling from such a height are a treat to watch. Locals have given names like Gersoppa Falls, Geruoppe Falls, and Jagoda Gundi. You can take a splash into fresh water to rejuvenate yourself. Jog falls are good for hiking also. Nowadays, Jog falls serves as a source of hydroelectric power to the state.

Jog Falls, Thirthahalli
Image source - traveltwosome

KUPALLI - This is a small village in Thirthahalli located about 18 km(11.2 mi) from the main town. Its significance lies in the fact that it is the birthplace of noted Kannada poet and writer, who is also cremated here. The village derives its name from the first name of Kuvempu, which was Kupalli. The home, where Kuvempu spent his childhood has been converted into a museum and is managed by Rashtrakavi Kuvempu Pratishthana, a trust which undertakes many developments works in the village to showcase Kuvempu's work to the world. The village has a rock monument named Kavishala, dedicated to the great poet. It is made of megalithic rocks, the building resembles the Stonehedge of England. Nestled in the green forest of Malnad, Kavimane, the ancesotral home of Kuvempu tresents a breathtaking view. This three-storeyed tiled building has now been converted into a museum.

Kuvempu home, Shimoga
Image source - Wikipedia

AGUMBE - This small town in Thirthahalli has been made famous because the entire shooting of TV serial Malgudi Days was done here. Malgudi Days was based on the novel of the same name by noted novelist R.K.Narayan. This town has a very scenic beauty. Agumbe boasts of world's first King Cobra sanctuary. The heavy rainfalls here have given it the name of "Cherrapunji" of South.

Agumbe, Shimoga
Image source - travelophilla

CHIBBALAGUDDE - This place is 10 km(6.2 mi) from Thirthahalli. Main attractions here are the temples of Siddhi Vinayaka and Matsyabhama, located on the bank of river Tunga. Also, you can see a lot of beautiful fishes in the river at this point.

MRUGVADHE - The place where Lord Ram is supposed to have killed the golden deer. It is 24(15 mi) km from Thirthahalli. Located here is the temple of Sri Mallikarjun on the bank of river Brahmi.

MADAGA - About 15 km(9.5 mi) is a beautiful place called Madaga. Here you can see the remains of a submerged temple.

KUNDADRI HILLS - About 30 km(18.5 mi) from Thirthahalli and 20 km(12.5 mi) from Agumbe is stunning Kundadri hills. You can see a beautiful pond and an old Jain temple here.

GUMMANAMAKKI - It is believed that in the month of December, on the bank of river Tunga, all the Hindu Gods come together to celebrate a certain festival at this place.

KAVALEDURGA - This is a 9th-century fort, located 18 km(11.2 mi) from Thirthahalli. The walls of the huge fort are built on the contours of a hillock. The temple of Lord Shikhareshwara is located on top of this hillock and is also known as Sri Kanthesvara Temple. The king of Belagutti strengthened this fort in the 14th century. Venkatappa Nayaka acquired this fort in the 16th century and build 7 battalions to protect this fort. Ultimately it became part of the Woodeyar dynasty of Mysore.

Kavaledurga, Thirthahalli
Image source - thebetterindia

ANANDAGIRI AND SIDDESHWARA GUDDA - These two hills are located on Agumbe road in Thirthahalli and present great view. Anandagiri is 300 ft high and Siddeshwara Gudda is 200 ft high. Both are ideal for spending some leisure time in serene natural surroundings.


1. Air - The nearest airport is Mangalore which is 122 km(78 mi) away. You will get taxis from there to reach Thirthahalli. 

2. Rail - The nearest station is Shimoga which is 65 km(40.5 mi) away. You can hire a taxi from here to reach Thirthahalli.

3. Road - Thirthahalli is well connected to all the major cities of Karnataka by well-laid roads.


Thirthahalli has good staying options. There are budget hotels available. You can also choose homestays with some good hosts. 

South India has many enchanting places. But if you are looking for some offbeat, less explored and beautiful location to create vivid memories, head straight for Thirthahalli.


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