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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

Shivagange

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.