Friday, December 21, 2007

Death of Dondole falls

16 December 2007

We ruled out climbing Amedikallu and decided to go to Dondole falls, near Ujire. Here is a file photo of the falls found in web long ago.

Route from Ujire:
From Ujire, take the road towards Kottigehara. 10 kms from Ujire is Kakkinje. Take a right turn there to reach a village Anniyoor that is 6 kms from Kakkinje. At Anniyoor, go left and you will find a huge Church. Take the mud road that goes to left and travel for 4 kms to reach an estate. Falls is 2kms from estate.

We followed this direction and as we entered the estate, things were disturbing. What I thought would be a forest looked like a huge mine field. There were Lorries, worker sheds, and iron sheets, everything except greenery.

I enquired a guy playing badminton about the falls. First, he refused to acknowledge about the existence of the falls. I knew he was bluffing and upon further enquiry, he told that a dam is being constructed for mini hydro project just above the falls. He said there is no use of going to the falls. But anyway, we had come so far and also I wanted to know the state of the falls.

We then got down and started moving. The road was constructed to the dam and for that they had blasted a hill. The debris had almost covered the falls. It was a sad scene to watch. Irreparable damage has been done to the falls. The huge pipes, power generating plant, roads, worker sheds have all destroyed the forests.

I could not get much detail about the dam or the company building it nor about the permissions obtained for destruction.
But whatever it is, the chances of recovery are very remote and it is safe to say that Dondole falls is history.

After destroying Western Ghats for roads, mines and huge power plants, Government has come up with a new idea to continue the destruction of the forests, the mini hydro electricity projects. Soon, other falls like Bandaje, Koosalli, Irpu and Kudlu Theertha will follow the suit.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ettina Bhuja

15 December 2007

I was confined to Bangalore for the last two months. When YHAI Bangalore announced an ambitious trek to conquer Amedikallu and Ettina Bhuja, I promptly joined the trek. Twenty people started from Bangalore on the Friday night on two Tempo travelers. The team was logically divided into two groups. Ten of us (Aravind, Subbu, Aishwarya, Murali, Maithree, Girish, Chandru, Jayanth, Pratap and Lakshmi) had some experience of trekking. The others were the students from a management institute and were first timers for the trek. (Henceforth, I will call them as other group)

The plan was to make Shishila as the base point, and climb Amedikallu on Saturday and Ettina Bhuja on Sunday.

Shishila is a small village near Dharmastala. From Dharmastala, take the road towards Kukke Subramanya. 10 kms on this road is Kokkada. Take a left turn here and travel for 15 kms to reach Shishila.

There was a road block at Charmadi ghat and we were struck for 3 hours. We reached Janardhan Gowda’s house at Shishila at 9:30 in the morning. By the time we were ready for the trek, it was already 11AM. Ramu was our guide, and he said that since we were late, instead of climbing Amedikallu; Ettina Bhuja could be tried that day. Amedikallu could be tried the next day, he said. We agreed to that and started our journey.

Ettina Bhuja means “Shoulder of an Ox” and below is the view of the mountain at Shishila. It is a prominent peak seen in Shishila due to its shape.
The initial part of the journey was on a jeep track. After some 3km on this path, we reached a stream. The water level was knee deep, but still it took some 30 minutes for everybody to cross the stream. The slow pace of “other group” was of concern. Our guide said that it is impossible to climb the peak with that pace.
Another 30 minutes of walking in the forest, we reached a water point. It was the last place where we could find water. Actual climb starts from this point. The climb is quite steep at some places.
We stopped for lunch at about 2 in the noon. The guide was still of the opinion that the chances of making to the top was nil. The other group was totally low on morale and was looking forward to get down to the base. But it was difficult for them to move down without the help of the guide. The path is visible for most of the time, but can be confusing at some places. So, the decision was that they would rest at a place where the grasslands begin and we would continue our climb.
After lunch, with new energy we started towards the peak. We had to circle around the peak, since the vertical cliff on one side of the peak was impossible to climb.
The final stretch was strenuous. As I was negotiating the rocks, my only worry was the snakes that may be hiding under the rocks.
Everything went fine and I was on top of Ettina Bhuja at 4:30PM. By 5PM, Subbu, Aishwarya, Chandru, Girish, Maithree and Jayanth were on the top.
After some snaps we started getting down. We moved down quickly to join the other group that was waiting for us. After sunset we started back one loooong journey. We estimated that we would be at Shishila by 7:30-8 in the evening. The estimation went horribly wrong.
The group did not have any torches and they had to manage with the ones we had. The journey was at snail pace. It was 12 in the midnight when we reached Shishila. Our guide did a good job of finding the route even in the forest. This is one of the rare treks where climbing down took more time than going up.
People in Janardhan Gowda’s house had prepared dinner for us. Even though it was midnight, they opened the door and offered us the dinner. I was totally moved by their gesture.

It was 2 in the night when we hit the sleeping bags. The other group had decided to return back to Bangalore and slept in the Tempo Traveler. We were dead tired and the chances of making it to Amedikallu on the next day looked grim.

-- To be continued.

Ettina Bhuja is about 4.5 -5 hours climb from Shishila for a normal trekker. Most of the climb is through dense forests. Water can be a problem here. There is a stream before the climb starts near Shishila and 1 km before the top. One can stay just before the peak. Mudigere Kottigehara route is just 2 kms from the peak. So, one can climb from Shishila and exit at the Mudigere road. It is better to take a guide; else there is a chance of missing in forests.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Kumara Parvatha treks

Kumara Parvatha (KP for trekkers), is supposed to be the toughest trekking spot in Karnataka. It beckons the adventurous people from all over Karnataka. For a trekker in Karnataka, his trekking life is considered incomplete without a stamp on KP.

November 22-23rd of 2003 saw me at KP for the first time. My trek and travel life started with that climb. Seven of us (I, Chandan, Krishna, Nama, Rohith, Sankey and Yogesh) trekked to KP from Kukke Subramanya side.

The first stage of the trek from Kukke to Bhattara Mane itself was too much for us. We were sweating profusely within minutes of climbing. This initial stretch was through dense forests but the steep climb took toll on all of us. Finally, we were relieved when we saw Bhattara Mane.
After lunch and rest for an hour, we started towards our destination. The forest cover was no more and we were directly exposed to the merciless sun. The next point was Mantapa, a partially ruined structure. There is a stream flowing nearby and forms the camping place for most of the trekkers. Eventually, many return back from Mantapa, adding to the people who couldn’t make a mark on KP.
We were a tired lot when we hit Mantapa. We took lot of rest and had plentiful of water. Another gang who had started ahead of us had decided to camp at Mantapa. Camping there was attractive; it would shun us from counting tiring journey, at least for a day. But still we firmly held to our earlier decision that we need to camp at the top and trudged upwards. From Mantapa, the climb was extremely steep. We were already dead tired and progress was hopelessly slow. Every two minutes of walk would result in ten minutes of rest.
Kumara Parvatha itself is not visible while trekking. We would climb a peak hoping that it is KP but there would be one more higher than that. The sun was setting down when we reached KP or so we thought. Actually we were on Shesha Parvatha. Kumara Parvatha remains elusive until you climb Shesha Parvatha. Our spirits lowed down when we saw the gigantic peak, which was the real KP. We had to cross a forest patch and climb a huge rock to reach KP top. We resigned to the fact we had to wait for KP, at least for a night.
Camping at Shesha Parvatha was ruled out; the blowing wind would easily throw us out. We found a spot next to the forest. The night was windy; the worst thing was that the wind blew from all directions. With no sleeping bags or tents, we spent a very long night. Getting down to Mantapa after sunrise was on everyone’s mind.

But the next morning, we were the enthusiastic people ready for the final climb. It took us less than an hour to reach the top. From KP, one can see the endless landscape of Dakshina Kannada and Kodagu districts. There is also a small temple is at the top.

A year had passed since then. We had done many treks to different places but memories of KP were etched on our minds. Another trip to KP was planned during the long weekend of 30-31st of October 2004. This time the climb was from Somvarpet side.

This time the team members were: Aravind, Chandan, Krishna, Avinash, Rithesh, Bori, Niranjan and Prasanna.

The trek starts from a village Bidalli, 25 kms from Somvarpet. The path crosses a stream and passes through Hegade Mane village, Shanta Malleshwara Temple to reach a forest check post. After check post, the trek is through one of the dense evergreen forests.

The trek from forest check-post was not arduous, but the leeches made our life difficult. The monsoon was still active and the leeches were plenty. The only way of escaping them was to run, run and run. It was even hard to spot a place to have lunch. The important landmark on this path is a vista point 2 hours from check-post.

Shortly after the vista point the path splits into two. The left path directly takes to KP and the other joins the Kukke-KP route somewhere between Mantapa and Shesha Parvatha. We took the direct path and our difficulties increased further. The huge rocks had to be climbed and were extremely slippery. With great difficulty we climbed the first rock and immediately we were at the base of a second one which was some 150 ft high. This rock presented more challenges than the previous one. Few of us managed to climb this monster, but could not find any path further. The thick undergrowth after rains had successfully covered the path. Efforts to find the path proved futile. We had reached a dead end and the next option was to retrace back and take the other path from the junction. Commotion broke out and the first timers panicked, with few of them blamed the navigator (Me!!) for not knowing the route and putting them to hardships. Well, trekking is not a mock drill where everything goes according to the plan.

We climbed down the rocks to reach the junction and took the other route. Even in this route, the path was covered by undergrowth and it took quite a while to find the way. Our joy knew no bounds when we came out of the forest cover to reach the Kukke-KP route and by sunset, we were at Shesha Parvatha. The entire area was covered with mist and visibility was reduced to a few feet. We camped in the forest patch between KP and Shesha Parvatha. It rained during night and with only sleeping bags, we had to face it for the entire night. It was a festival time for KP leeches, with hapless trekkers caught during sleep.

We survived that night (with leech bites of course). The visibility was extremely poor. But since some of us had trekked on this path a year before, we did not face any difficulty in reaching the KP top. Climbing leech rock was tricky.

The third trip to KP was even more eventful. A moonlight trek was planned on 11-12th of February 2006. Naga has written a fantastic travelogue about that trek and can be read here.

I thought that the KP trips were over but not so. This year, Chandan had planned a KP mania. The plan was simple. Four times to KP in a row!!

Normal KP on Feb 10 -Feb 11: Climb from Kukke and get back to Kukke 2 days.
Coorg KP on Feb 17th, 18th: Climb from Somvarpet and get down in Kukke.
Extreme KP on Feb 24th: Climb from Kukke and return back on the same day!!
Night KP on March 3-4th: Moonlight trek to KP

I could only join for the second one. This time KP was a cake walk. The huge rocks on the way did not pose any challenge this time and we were at KP by 2 in the afternoon!!

Time to climb up:
Kukke – Bhattara Mane: 2.5 – 3 hours
Bhattara Mane – Mantapa: 1.5 hours
Mantapa – Shesha Parvatha: 1.5 hours
Shesha Parvatha – Kumara Parvatha: 0.5 - 1 hour

Bidalli – Forest check-post: 1.5 – 2 hours
Forest check-post – View point: 2 – 3 hours
View point – Kumara Parvatha: 1 – 1.5 hours
View point – Kukke-KP route: 1 – 1.5 hours

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bandaje Arbi: An old trek remembered

Last month while driving from Mundaje to Didupe for Anadka falls, I could see the Bandaje Arbi waterfalls falling majestically from the mountains far away. It brought back my old memories of a trek done to the top of that falls long ago. It was during my college days some 10 years ago. I was not a travel freak at that time. Our college trekking club with the help of an adventure organization from Mysore (I don’t remember the name now) arranged for this trek. Since my roommate Shiva was member of this club, I joined this trek.

We had taken a jeep from Dharmasthala to Gowdara mane, near Mundaje, which was the base point for the trek. Since then, a lot of changes have happened in Mundaje, both geographically and demographically. At that time there was no tar road from Mundaje and the jeep had to cross a couple of streams to reach the base point. Now, lot of buses ply on this route.

The trek was difficult and all of us being first timers struggled a lot. We lost our way and the organizer who had gone though this route couple of times managed to find the route. Not many people used to trek in those days and there was no defined path to the falls.

It was almost dark when we reached top of the falls. The organizer from the adventure organization was a nice man but did not manage the trek professionally. He conveniently forgot to bring the tents and sleeping bags he had promised. Instead he brought a big rope to carry out rappelling from top of the falls. The rope weighed 18kg and needed two people to carry it. Who will carry their luggage? It was extremely painful to carry that extra luggage. Next day, on top of the falls, he asked us to get down to the bottom of the falls using the rope and walk along the stream to the point where we had started the trek. I think it was frivolous thing to do rappelling at that place. Nobody had any idea of rappelling and certainly it was not safe to learn rappelling on a 200+ ft falls without professional support. The useless rope had to be carried back as nobody was game for rappelling.

The night we spent on the top was most memorable. We did not have any bed sheets or sleeping bags and just slept on the uneven floor. The December cold made us shiver for the entire night. The night was long and nobody expect the organizer (He had brought his sleeping bag! @#$%^&*) had a good sleep. In addition to that the dinner was flop as the rice was not cooked properly and we had contended ourselves with half cooked stuff. But I now think that these uncomfortable things make the experience to be remembered for long.

Now from some of the travelogues I read that people also trek from Bandaje to Ballalarayana Durga and to Sunkasale. I think the organizer was not aware of that route at that time, as we returned back the next day on the same path that we had climbed.

I was a student at that time and did not possess any camera to capture those moments. The memories are only embedded in my mind. This was the only trek I went during my entire college life.

Bandaje Arbi is in Kudremukh National forest and permission to trek to the falls has to be obtained from the forest department.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Charmadi: Day two – Anadka and Ermayee falls

20 October 2007

We started from Dharmasthala at 8AM. The destination was Anadka falls, near Didupe. We crossed Ujire and reached Mundaje on Dharmasthala-Mudigere road. Here we took the deviation to Didupe. The distance from Mundaje to Didupe is about 13 km. On the way from Mundaje to Didupe one can see the majestic Kudremukh ranges and beautiful Bandaje Arbi falls.

We reached Didupe at 9:30AM. It is a picturesque village surrounded by mountains. An unknown waterfall could also be seen from a very long distance. From Didupe, there is a mud road that leads to the falls. We parked our car near the ground and started walking on the mud road. After covering about 3 km on the mud road, we reached an entrance of a private plantation. At the plantation, a local person from a house guided us to the falls.

As we were going through the plantation, we could see a falls somewhere high up the hills. When asked, the local guy told that the same Anadka stream forms another falls in the upstream and it is possible to trek up to that point after the end of monsoon season. That would be an interesting trek. We then crossed the stream and he showed us the easy route to reach the base of the Anadka falls.

It is a single step falls and the view is fantastic. It is a falls where one can easily take bath and play in the water. The falls is also known as “Kudumagundi” falls. We spent some time in taking snaps and playing in the water.
We came back to Didupe and started back. The next point was Ermayee falls. If one starts from Didupe to Mundaje, after Kajur, a mud road goes to the left that leads to the falls. When we reached the junction, it started raining heavily. I went to the lone house next to the road to get an umbrella. The owner of the house was a very helpful gentleman. He asked us to park our vehicle in his compound, as there were some thefts earlier in the vehicles that were parked on the main road.

The falls is just 1km walk from the main road. We had to cross a stream on the way and reached Deviah Gowda’s house. One has to go through their plantation for 5 minutes to reach the falls. We took permission to enter into their property and went to the falls.

It is a two-step falls and is in complete isolation. Two days ago, I did not even know that this falls exists and now I was in front it enjoying the waters. Shivarjakumar’s “Chigurida Kanasu” was shot in this falls.

It was 3PM when we came back from the falls and now we remembered that we did not had lunch. We went to Mundaje, had late lunch at Sharanya hotel and started our return journey to Bangalore. This time there was no block in Charmadi ghat, but the continuous rains till Bangalore slowed the journey. It was almost midnight when we reached Bangalore.

It would take several weekends to cover some of the prominent places in the Charmadi area and there will be some more trips to this beautiful place.


Unfortunately, Anadka falls is in Kudremukh National forest. Forest department has erected a board at Didupe mentioning that permission is needed to visit the falls. We were not aware of that and on the way to the falls, from a house named “GOWDA”, a person suddenly appeared and said that he was a forest guard and was on an inspection. There was no check-post and I don’t know what he was doing in that house. He told that without permission, one couldn’t go to the falls. The permission has to be obtained at Beltangadi only. This was news to me, as in the forest department website, I had not seen any mention of this falls.

He asked us either to get permission from Beltangadi forest Officer or pay the forest entry fees to him and go to falls. Even though he told that he was a forest guard, he was not on dress nor had an ID card. On top of that he said that he cannot give any receipts to us, but he said that he would pay the amount in Beltangadi forest Office. His name was Ravindra (that’s what he told). Frankly speaking I did not like that person. He looked more like a Panchayat member than a forest guard. But then, we could not ignore him and go to the falls. If he were a real forest guard we would be in trouble. Finally after discussing among ourselves, we paid the money. Whether he was a forest guard or not, he made money from us.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Charmadi: Day one – Alekan falls and Bidurthala village

19 October 2007

I got up early on Friday at 4:30 in the morning and drove to Sankara’s house. Sankara was ready with his car for the trip to Charmadi ghat. Since we had a holiday on Friday, the idea was to see some places in Charmadi ghat. Convincing people for the trip/trek is always difficult, and finally I, Sankara, Venky and Venkat went for the trip.

I had only seen Charmadi from the bus/car while moving up or down the ghat. The details about the different places to visit was given by Rajesh Naik, who knows this area very well.

Even though we started at 5:30 in the morning, there was a huge traffic jam on ring road after BEL circle mainly due to the railway crossing. We took a detour to avoid this and reached Jalahalli cross through HMT. Breakfast was at Bellur cross. After that, I took the mantle of driving from Sankara. We reached Kottigehara without any incidents at 11:30. The lunch was packed at a hotel in Kottigehara.

Charmadi ghat starts after Kottigehara. Three km from Kottigehara is a guesthouse “Malaya Marutha” built by forest department. It is on a hill and from there one can have a panoramic view of the Charmadi ghat. Permission to stay there has to be obtained from Forest Office, Mudigere. The caretaker of the guesthouse told that it is easy to get permission for stay and one can also get it from Kottigehara check post.

The first place in our list was Alekan falls. It is just next to the road and is the easiest place to visit in Charmadi ghat. The falls is 4 km from Kottigehara (1 km from Malaya Marutha guest house). There is a bus stop “Alekan Horatti”. The falls is behind the bus stop. To see the falls, there is a narrow way down just next to the board mentioning about the bridge. Due to the long monsoon this year, there was still good amount of water in the falls.

The other place we visited was Bidurthala village. Actually, we wanted to go to Kodekallu, one of the high hills in Charmadi. There is a bus stop 4 km from Alekan falls. Next to the bus stop, there is a mud road going up the hill. We took that path and started climbing. One can see the roads of Charmadi ghat while climbing. The weather was cloudy; else we could have got a nice view of the surrounding places.
There was one place where the path split into two. The path to the left ended in a landslide after some time. We then came back and took the right one. After about 30 minutes of climbing we reached a point where the path split into four!! As we were thinking what should be done next, I found a person who was grazing cows. His name was Manjunatha, from Bidurthala village. He said that the path to the right goes to Alekan Horatti, the two paths in the middle to Bidurthala village and the left one to Kodekallu. He also said that the Children in the village can show us the path to the peak, but said that there was no use of going to Kodekallu, as it was misty and the visibility was reduced to a few feet. He was right and Kodekallu had to be reserved for the future trek. We then went to Bidurthala village; five minutes walk from that junction. It was amazing to see a flat land after climbing the hill. The people of the village were very friendly and I liked the village very much. It is wonderful place to camp in the night and enjoy the isolation.

It started raining and we hurriedly got down the hill to reach the road. We had not taken any umbrella or raincoat. Luckily it was not a downpour.

We finished our packed lunch at the bus stop. Some monkeys in the forest could smell the food and came near us. But since they were forest monkeys, they had fear about human being and were only watching us eating. They were finally rewarded with some food and fruits.

After lunch, we drove down the ghat. The traffic was blocked at the hairpin bends. But it was not a major one, and in about 30 minutes, the road was cleared. We reached Kakkinje village, which is at the base of the Charmadi ghat at 4:15PM. Our plan was to visit Dondole falls that was some 15 km from Kakkinje. Since the road was not good for car, we decided to park the car in the village and take a jeep to the falls. But the local people told that we were late and could not see the falls before sunset. It had already started to rain and we decided to visit Dondole on the next day (that did not happen!!) and went to Dharmasthala. We got a decent room in Saketha. We then visited the temple and had dinner at the temple. The day was ended day quite early at 9PM.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Muthyala Maduvu

13 October 2007

Try to find water falls in this photo. This is Muthyala Maduvu, a small waterfalls 50 kms from Bangalore. This was on last Weekend and not during summer. Expect some water only when it is raining. It was a totally disappointing trip. Entire place is littered with plastic and waste items.

Monday, October 08, 2007


7th October 2007

The destination of last Sunday was Shivagange, a hillock 50 kms from Bangalore. I, Ananth and Chitrai visited this place.

The route is towards Tumkur. On the way, at Dabaspet, get out of the highway and take a village road for 6kms to reach the Shivagange village.

We took about 1.5 hours to reach to the top. The climb is quite steep and area is rocky. There are steps and railings at most of the places to support the climb. The path has several Temples all along the way.

There are also many shops selling butter milk and cold drinks. Since, it was on Sunday, the place was filled with many people. In addition to people, entire stretch is filled with monkeys and they are quite violent in nature, always looking for some food items.

On the top is a Nandi statue, a temple and couple of vista points (or “suicide” point). One of them is called Shantala drop, where Queen Shantala, wife of Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana committed suicide.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A painful journey through ghats

30th September 2007

I visit the holy places of Dharmasthala and Kukke Subramanya once in a year as a pilgrim. This time I traveled alone to these places last Sunday. Tickets were booked to Dharmasthala on an overnight bus from Bangalore.

Things seemed to be normal as the bus pulled off from Majestic bus stand on time. Since the Shiradi ghat road was blocked, the driver took the other route via Charmadi ghat. The backbreaking journey started from Mudigere. The virtually non-existent road on Mudigere-Kottigehara stretch made sure that I don’t sleep. Bus stopped just before the dawn somewhere in Charmadi ghat and the driver said the road is blocked. Some people started murmuring "ಯಾಕಪ್ಪ ಕಾಡಲ್ಲೆಲ್ಲ ನಿಲ್ಲಿಸ್ತಾರೆ?“ (Why is he stopping in forests?). The watch showed 5:30AM. Within no time, vehicles piled up. Slowly people started getting down. I walked for some distance to look where the road is blocked. Even after walking for a kilometer, I could only see the vehicles on our side of the road. The roadblock was somewhere down the ghat. I remembered that I had left my bag with my SLR camera in the bus and hastily returned back. The Charmadi ghat is a very steep and narrow ghat and is not designed for heavy vehicles. I could see some huge sleeper buses and the lorries. Clearly, the problem of the Shiradi ghat has spilled over to other ghat roads. Driver told that this is a regular problem for the last two years in the ghats since Shiradi ghat, the arterial road between Bangalore and Mangalore is damaged due to negligence from the authorities.

Some people had already started brushing at a nearby stream while a few were looking at the suitable spot for morning activities. One guy who had gone into the green cover returned back and started scratching his legs only to find out some 5-10 leeches on his legs. A dance session was started by that chap and was desperately removing those suckers. He then rushed into the bus!! I did not see him on the roads again.
It might even be noon by the time the traffic gets cleared, driver said. Nothing could be done now; it was evident that my plans had gone for a toss. With nothing else to do, II started enjoying the forest and a light drizzle added to the feeling.

One of the things that should be appreciated was the discipline followed by the truck and the bus drivers. The vehicles were always on their side of the road, unlike in Bangalore where people rush from all sides. This was only violated by a couple of cars with Bangalore registration.
At about eight, things started moving. Again here some people volunteered by guiding the vehicles to clear the block. The vehicles moving down the ghat started while the drivers of the vehicle waited patiently so that the other side gets cleared.

The saddest part was an ambulance that got struck in the traffic jam. But it was given a priority and allowed to overtake other vehicles.

Finally, the bus moved down the ghat!!

Some bad roads I traveled on that day:

Mudigere – Kottigehara (16 kms): Practically, there is no road!! But this is major road connecting Dharmastala to central and North Karnataka regions.

Sakleshpur – Mangalore (150kms): Ghat road is in a hopeless condition. Even after the ghat, there is a very little improvement on the road condition.

Gundya – Kukke Subramanya (20kms): I have never seen this road in good condition!!

Kukke Subramanya – Uppinangadi (60kms): Worst road that made sure that I miss one of my destinations, Kateel.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Uttara Kannada

24 - 25th August 2007

We had a holiday for Varamahalakshmi Vratha in our Company. A trip was planned to different places of Uttara Kannada district. It was off season for most of the places in Uttara Kannada, but the advantage is that the places are devoid of tourists and would offer solitude.

We (I, Chitrai, Malli, Saran and Srini) started on the Thursday night. The 10:30PM bus to Sirsi finally left at 12 in the night. This is a regular problem now in Kempegowda bus stand. The buses are always delayed due to traffic jam near Majestic. But the journey was quite pleasant thanks to Volvo. We reached Sirsi at 7:30 in the morning. We had booked a taxi for the entire trip. Rooms at Hotel Panchavati were booked in Sirsi for the stay. The Hotel is outside the town and is very good.


Our first destination was Yana. There are two routes to Yana, one going via Devimane ghat and the other near the Vaddi ghat. We took the latter route, which is the most used route to Yana by the people. The road passes through the villages of Hegade khatta, Devanalli and Mattikhatta. After some 36 kms, just before the Vaddi ghat is the deviation to Yana. Earlier, people had to stop here and walk for 3 kms to reach Yana. Now, there is a motor able road almost till Yana. Commercialization of Yana is almost complete. Our vehicle went for 2 kms and the final kilometer, we had to walk, since there was a monsoon stream flowing across the path. It was a simple walk, only hindrance was the leeches that were busy doing their “work”.

We were just walking and suddenly found the gargantuan rocks of Yana. They are just awesome and the photos here will not justify their beauty. Two main rocks, Bhairava Shikara and Mohini Shikara stand majestically surrounded by dense forests. There is also a Temple at the base of Bhairava Shikara. We did a “Pradakshina“of Bhairava Shikara. Since it was a weekday and thanks to leeches at this time of the year, there were no other visitors. The place was absolutely silent. We were just thinking how this place would be in a few years from now. Instead of booking the Panchavati Hotel in Sirsi, people may opt for “Rock view” resort in Yana.

Vibhooti falls:

After Yana, we had a planned for series of Waterfalls. The first among them was Vibhooti falls. We went back to the Yana deviation and continued towards the Vaddi ghat. The road is very narrow one and rarely used by people. The road was similar to Valparai-Athirapally road. After getting down the ghat, is the village Mabage. Two kms on the mud road, we were at a gate. From here the falls is some 15 minutes walk. The entire path was infested with leeches. Srini and Chitrai were the most affected and returned back half way.

It is a two step falls and the water is absolutely white, due to the limestone and hence the name Vibhooti falls. A pool formed at the base of the falls provides a nice place for swimming and bathing. The rocks in the water are quite sharp and one has to be careful while getting down.

We returned back and had our packed food. I had heard of another falls called Vaddi falls. But the driver and local people told that Vibhooti falls is also called as Vaddi falls.

Shivaganga falls:

We had planned for Bennehole and Mattighatta falls, but approaching these falls during monsoon was difficult. The next falls in my mind was Shivaganga falls. We returned back to Sirsi and took the route to Jaddigadde. The falls is 38 kms from Sirsi. There is a good road to the falls. Forest department has also constructed a view point to watch the falls.

Getting down into the falls was difficult. There was a board mentioning about many people who did not come up after getting down into falls. The board warned about the crocodiles and swirls in the falls. I and Malli walked some distance down. The path narrowed and continuously went down. It was quite scary, we could only hear the falls, but could not see. The leeches were plenty and mercilessly attacked us. It was also getting dark and mist started to overlap on the hills. Better sense prevailed on us and we decided to return. It is a very nice falls to watch from far distance.

We went back to Sirsi and ended our day.

Sahasra Linga:

The day started with the visit to Sahasra Linga which is about 15 kms from Sirsi on Yellapur road. There are hundreds of Shiva Lingas on the Shalmala River. We could see a few of them and most of the other Lingas were inside water.

Magod falls:

This falls is formed by the river Bedthi and is 650 ft in height. It is about 19 kms from Yellapur. The view is from the top on the opposite hill and the forest department has constructed several view points which offers 90 degree view of the falls. The water falls from two steps and is muddy.

There is also a path to the bottom of the falls but again it dangerous to venture down during monsoon. We enjoyed the view from the top. The panoramic view of the Bedthi valley can also been from the view point.
Majjige Hole falls:

From one of the view points of Magod falls, one could spot this falls. It seemed to be a monsoon falls and looking the forest cover around that falls, I think there is no way to approach near the falls. Later I came to know that it is called as Majjige Hole falls.

Sathoddi falls:

From Magod, we came to Yellapur and had our early lunch at Hotel Shanbag. The next destination was Sathoddi falls. It is about 30 kms from Yellapur. The road until the forest check post at Ganeshgudi is quite good. The last 7 kms to the falls is the mud road. After check post, the road is very narrow and passes through the dense forest. The road goes continuously down. One could see a vast expanse of Kodasalli dam back waters. Since the dam was built few years ago, we could see the submerged areca nut and coconut plantations. There is a harrowing story about the backwaters.

The families knew that their property would be submerged and few of them had also got some compensation. Even before they could move out, the callous KPCL thugs closed the dam gates and water level started to increase. The hapless villagers had to flee with whatever things they could carry. The utensils and many other items were later seen floating on the backwaters. I had heard this story from the people who had visited the falls at that time. Now, seeing the submerged places, my heart sank. I really could not enjoy the beauty of the nature. I do not know when the depredations of KPCL in the name of power generation on the innocent people would end.

The road was filled with mud and slush, but still the driver continued. We found some green snakes along the route. The road ends some half kilometer before the falls. There are a few houses where some people still stay. Their property lies just above the backwaters and have not received any compensation. With most of their neighbors migrated, they lead a very tough life. The nearest place where they could get a bus is 9 kms away and during monsoon their plight only increases.

We walked from the last house and in 10 minutes we were at the falls. We were bit scared on hearing that the place is full of Hamadryads (King cobras). After monsoon, this place might be full of tourists but currently we were the only people.

There is a view point built to watch the falls. Due to the increased water levels we could not get near the falls. We spent some time in the down stream playing in the water. Some of the monkeys spotted us and started moving towards our bags. We hurried back to stop the mischievous monkeys from stealing the items.

We came back to the last house. Here we heard a scary tale about the King cobra. A couple was staying on the other side of the backwater where the only approach is by the boat from this last house. A few months back, a King cobra has bitten the wife and she died in a few minutes. The husband had since left the place and moved somewhere near Dandeli. Also, a King cobra had come to this last house a few days ago and was killed by the people. The place was very scary. I have never heard of any survivors from King cobra bites. It is the only snake in India which attacks without provocation (Source, Kenneth Anderson novels).

We started back and after covering some distance our vehicle got struck in the mud. Our worst fears had come true. We were in the middle of the forest and could not expect anybody to come for help. We spent another hour putting stones on the mud and trying to move the vehicle. Finally, much to the relief of all of us, the vehicle moved from the mud. We then came back to Yellapur without any incidents.

Shirle falls:

This falls is 12 kms from Yellapur on Yellapur – Ankola highway. It is at the start of Arebail ghat. It was already getting dark when we reached the Shirle cross on the highway. From here the narrow mud road continuously goes down. We did not want to take any risk by moving the vehicle down and also the driver was reluctant, since he had not ventured on this road before. We walked down for a while. Since it was getting dark and we did not like to think about climbing up the steep road in the dark. We could have made to Shirle falls had the vehicle not struck on the Sathoddi falls road. But that is way life moves.

We came back to Yellapur and then went to Hubli. We said good bye to the driver who was very kind throughout the journey. The Rani Chennamma train lived up to its reputation by arriving late to Bangalore by 1.5 hours.