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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.


Yana:

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.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Jogfalls

11-16th August 2007

Jogfalls was in full flow again this year. This was the spate of the falls when my Uncle visited on 8th August.
My first visit to the falls this year was on 12th August, while returning from Channekkal falls. There was a huge traffic jam for kilometers. I got down at a view point and took a few snaps. The water levels had already receded and the gush that was seen two days ago was not there. I could see more people than water and decided to return back. I had seen the falls in more peaceful days and with more water.
Sankara had come to my native place and I went with him to the falls again on 15th August. The falls was in its normal form. We went to the British Bungalow side, now more popularly known as “Mungaru male point”. What our tourism could not achieve has been done by the cinema. Earlier, very few people used to see the falls from British bungalow side. Now, almost everybody goes to the top of the falls. People were crazy and were trying to emulate all the actions done in Mungaru male. One lady was desperately searching for the place where “Devdaas” was cremated!! Too much!!

We then got down the falls. The view from the bottom was spectacular, but the huge number of people everywhere made me sick. I was feeling that I had come to a mall on a weekend.
The view of the Sharavathi valley from a view point near the falls.
One more view of the Sharavathi valley from “Raja Kallu”, and very few people visit this point. Also, backwaters of Sharavathi tail rise can are seen. But when we went, the mist covered the entire area making everything from our view.

I attempted to get the “pass” for Linganamakki dam and AB site (Power station) but was denied. I have tried many times to get permission to visit these areas, but denied every time. Maybe, I have to go through "proper channels".

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bellenne (ಬೆಳ್ಳೆಣ್ಣೆ) backwaters

13 August 2007

During my visit to Madenur dam, I had seen an old road towards Bellenne backwaters. This time, when I had been to my native place, visited this place. It is just 5 km from the town of Talguppa. From Bellenne Temple, the main road leads to Sagar while a narrow mud road directs to the backwaters. The rest of the road towards Madenur is now submerged in waters.

Lot of villages near Bellenne was submerged under Sharavathi backwaters. Writer Na. D'Souza mentions about the pains suffered by the people of this particular village in his story “Seeme Bhattaru Anatharadaddu” (published in “Mayura” magazine several years ago). I have decided to explore this route during summer, if possible.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Chandemane and Channekkal falls

12th August 2007
I was oblivious of these falls even though they were near to my native place. Rajesh Naik had mentioned about these falls in his blog. Last week, when I was in my native place, decided to visit these falls.

I and my uncle started on a Sunday afternoon towards Bhatkal. The route was through the towns of Kargal, Aralgod and Kogar. On the way, near Aralgod, in the backwaters of Linganamakki dam, we saw a couple of people on a coracle carrying twigs and leaves. It looked scary and also the risk they take for their livelihood.
The ghat road begins after Kogar. The first falls is about 39 kms from Kargal (11 kms from the town of Nagavalli). The falls is about 100 ft in height. With a little effort one could go till the middle of the falls. A local villager told that the falls was called as Chandemane falls. He also mentioned that there is a route to the top of the falls from the other side of the hill. We did not explore the route.
The second falls is 2 km from the first one just after the Channekkal bus stop (if you are coming from Kargal). The falls bears the name of the village Channekkal. The falls was in full flow and the volume of water was more compared to Chandemane falls. This falls is also 100 ft in height but 2/3rd of the falls is not visible due to the forest cover.
The best time to visit these falls is during the monsoon months. Other places of worth a visit on Kargal – Nagavalli route are Bheemeshwara, Dabbe falls, Kanoor Kote and Muppane nature camp.