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Vani Vilasa Sagara - Magnificient dam view and an Engineering marvel

As we grow older, our time with our parents becomes more limited. I believe that at some point in our adult lives we should take the time to travel with our parents. My parents are the coolest and supportive of my travelling endeavours. When it comes to planning the trip with my parents, I take extra care to choose places of their interest - mostly architecture and nature. I'm born and brought up in Bangalore (also my mother's hometown) and we have settled in Bangalore for around 25+ years. My Dad's native is a small village Sirihalli, which is in Shimoga district. It had been a long time we visited my grandparents as a whole family. So we decided to take a road trip to Sirihalli. A list of places marked down on the way and we started out to hit the Tumkur road. The first destination - VaniVilasa Sagara dam. My Dad loves driving car, I can say its the best thing he enjoys.


Often, I travel with a group of friends and sometimes for a family break, I plan a trip with my parents. 

On Friday early morning, we were all set to start the trip from Bangalore. We hit the Tumkur road with our car and filled full tank in Shell, 8th mile. A soothing music to start the day playing in the background and good vibes. Mom had prepared breakfast - Tamarind rice and packed. Post Tumkur, we stopped roadside farm and had breakfast.

Vanivilas dam is about 160 km from Bangalore. So it is highly advisable to tag Chitradurga fort with this beautiful place. No clear sign boards are available on the highway(but one landmark is there ofter we reach nd cross hiriyur bypass right side from Bangalore to Puna highway we see one sugar factory opposite side service road we take left nd go straight in 18 km), so once you reach Hiryur, slow down for the next 5 km and ask the locals for the correct deviation. Once the deviation is taken clear sign boards are available and the place is about 20 km from the deviation from the highway.

We drove through Sira and on reaching Hiriyur, we took left near Marikanive Gate and and drove along TH road. This stretch from highway to dam is almost 17km includes villages, farms and gives a glimpse of countryside life of Chitradurga. After covering, we could sight a temple - Kanive Maramma temple. If you have to visit the dam, keep driving ahead and a certain right after a hill will take you the viewing point of the dam. Here there is the office and good parking area. We parked here and started walking to witness the dam.

Brief on Vani Vilas Sagar Dam

Vani Vilas Sagar Dam/ Vani Vilasa Sagara, also known as Mari Kanive, is the oldest dam of Karnataka built 103 years ago. It is located in Hiriyur taluk of Chitradurga district, which is 160 km from Bangalore . The dam is an exquisite piece of architecture, an engineering marvel for that time, and provides water to lots of surrounding cities, towns and villages, which are largely dry lands of the Deccan area of Central Karnataka.The Mysore Maharajas built it on the Vedavathi River before Independence. The construction was initiated by Maharani Vani Vilasa Sannidhana Kempananja CI, the regent queen (widow of Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar) under the guidance of Dewan Sheshadri Iyer . She is known in the history of Mysore of her exemplary social works and a great administrator. The British Government awarded her with the honour "Crown of India" (which is suffixed as CI at the end of her name) for her moral, and social code.

The dam was designed and constructed by a team led by Sir M Visveraya and TaraChand Dalal. The project commenced in 1898 and completed in 1907. It is built across Vedavathi river and is known as the first natural reservoir built between two hills. The dam is measured 145 feet (higher the KRS dam - Mysore - that's incredible) and stands between two pavillion halls built in sarsenic architecture.The best part of this dam is not just the style of built but also over the years the conservation of the surrounding forest area. The purpose of the dam was mainly irrigation and reservoir of domestic water for Chitradurga and Hiriyur.

This largest resercoir has not completely filled in eight decades due to inadequate rainfall. The dam is capable of storaging 30tmcft of water - which is almost equivalent to 1.5 times of the Bangalore water consumption annually. Currently the water level was 70 feet - which remains as the storage and not helpful until the reservoir receives more water. This largest dam is a good visiting spot and is gaining tourist importance recently.

The first view was mesmerising. A valley between two mountains and full of water reservoir. Windmills installed on the mountains - moving to the velocity of the wind. This was the best view of the day. Trees at the viewing point and concrete benches to relax and view the beauty whole day. We moved further to find the well constructed steps and from here we could view the dam crest. Believe me this is one of the beautiful dams in Karnataka as per architecture.

The place around the dam is very picturesque. Imagine a body of water snaking amidst mild hills around it. The dam cuts across the water in the heart of the valley. The hills have lush green cover draping them all around, and till the waters in the valley below. The place is windy almost throughout the year. Hence there are giant windmills atop these hills, to harvest this natural source of energy. The dam has an east-west orientation which makes it ideal to visit either early in the morning or late in the evening.

We visited this place on a very windy monsoon evening. The wind carried waves and waves of dense monsoon clouds from west to east and brought along occasional spells of rain. We also got a peek at the blue skies in brief spells in between. But the winds stayed strong throughout the evening. The winds were so strong, that they would knock down our tripods. We had to secure them with a rag cloth carrying heavy stone slabs weighing down from the tripods' center. Below are a few images from around this place. The timelapse video that follows shows the winds that we experienced.

After spending sometime at the dam, we explored and found a road leading behind the hills and near the water body. There were not many people around and the evening developed into a magical one with the clouds clearing up a bit more and the lighting was wonderful. Below are the images from there and also a short timelapse video too.

Mari Kanive also called as Vani Vilasa Sagara is the oldest dam in the state is near Hiriyur Taluk, Chitradurga District, in Karnataka. The dam was built by the Mysore Maharajas pre-independence across the river Vedavathi. Vani Vilasa Sagara is an artificial lake built across River Vedavathi by Mysore Wodeyars. Vani Vilasa Sagara is recognized as Architectural Masterpiece. The dam was constructed by a team led by an Engineer called 'Tara Chand Dalal' at the order of his Highness the Maharaja of Mysore Sri Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. The dam is an exquisite piece of architecture, an engineering marvel for that time, and provides water to lots of surrounding cities, towns and villages, which are largely dry lands of the Deccan area of Central Karnataka.

This dam is the source of domestic water for Hiriyur and Chitradurga. It irrigates more than 100 sq km of land in Hiriyur and Challakere taluks through right and left bank canals. This place is 160 km from Bangalore on the NH-4 highway and 40 km from Chitradurga.

The dam has been a tourist attraction for many years, but has been apparently neglected as a prime tourist destination. Recently, though, the development work undertaken by the forest department to restore the nearby forest cover, and the 'panchavati' gardens - a garden of medicinal plants with the old Indian cultural theme has improved the tourist figures, making it a popular weekend picnic spot. The 'panchavati' garden has medicinal plants lined up representing cultural themes - the 'Rashis', 'Sapta swaras', 'Nava grahas' and many more. The tourists who visit Chitradurga and Hosdurga often visit Mari kanive on the way. The historic maarikaamba temple here also attracts many tourists. The place is around 20 km drive from Hiriyur on a deviation from NH4 (Bangalore - Mumbai National Highway).

A Temple is situated at the bottom of the Vani Vilasa Sagara dam with a Beautiful Park. This Temple is dedicated to Kanive Maramma. Hence, Vani Vilasa Sagara is also called as Maari Kanive.


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