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Monday, June 30, 2008

Waterfalls in Kodagu

28th-29th June 2008

People visiting to Kodagu normally visit Abbe and Irpu falls. There are quite a number of falls in Kodagu which many of the public are not aware of.

Last week, I and few of my Office friends visited these few lesser known falls in Kodagu. Since most of us had been to Abbe and Irpu falls, it was decided to drop them and see only the less famous but beautiful ones.

Devaragundi falls in Todikana was the first falls we visited. This place is in Dakshina Kannada district near Kodagu border. One has to walk for couple of kms from a Temple at Todikana and cross two streams to reach the falls. We decided to cover this stretch by our four wheel vehicle. The first stream was crossed without much difficulty. At the second stream, looking at the water level, we decided to stop the vehicle and walk the remaining distance. The guards at a forest check post warned about getting into the water at the falls as it was very slippery.


The 35 feet falls is a nice scene to watch. Although the water tempted us to go for a shower, we resisted our urge to enter into water. The news of death of a person who got into the falls a month ago prevented us from getting into water.


Fifteen km from Madikeri on Madikeri – Mangalore road is Devarakolli falls. This falls is on the road side and can be found easily.


After lunch at Madikeri, we set out towards Chettalli. The waterfalls we had in mind was Abbiyala falls. I had heard that this is on the road side before Chettalli. But this falls disappointed us a lot. There was not enough water and I did not even feel like taking a snap of this falls. It was raining heavily but still very little water.

We then decided to call it a day and proceed for Palace estate, where our stay was arranged. One reason for booking this place was that this estate had a private waterfall. The falls was just 4 minutes from the Home stay inside their estate. I was expecting small cascade but was surprised to find a 50ft falls with copious amount of water. The water was crystal clear and also was a very safe place to enjoy the water. Since the water was used for drinking purpose, bathing was not allowed.


Next day after visiting the Private falls again, we set out for Chelavara village. Chelavara is known for its huge waterfall. It viewed from the road itself. There is also a way to get down and to the top of the falls. The water level of falls was quite high and we could not really get too close to the falls. My attempts to take a photo of falls in full view went in vain. One wrong step would end ones life. Certainly, there was no necessity to take that risk.


One of other falls we saw in Chelavara was Balliyatra(Kabbe) falls. One of the villagers gave us the direction to the falls. To reach the falls, one has to trek for over an hour in slippery path. Since the trip was not meant for trek, people were not ready for it. There is place one could see the falls from a distance. We went to that point and enjoyed the beauty of the falls. The falls looked very similar to Bandaje Arbi falls.


I had heard of a waterfall called “Haalu hole” in Chelavara. I asked several villagers about this but none of them knew about this falls. Haalu hole remained a mystery.

Mallalli falls near Somvarpet was in our itinerary but people preferred to reach Bengaluru before night. Nothing could be done about it and we decided to drop Mallalli falls and return back to Bengaluru.

Well, this is not the end of waterfalls in Kodagu. There are still few of them and I have plans to visit them.

More photos of this trip can be seen here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Kalsanka

23 June 2008

This is one place which I am sure that most people are not aware of!! “Kalsanka” in kannada means “Stone bridge”. It is a natural bridge formed over a stream. This place is very near to my native place Talavata, near Jog falls. The length of the bridge is about 20 meters.


I was in my native place last weekend to attend a function. My attempts to pull people for a visit to a waterfall proved futile. It was then I went to this place for evening walk. Many people in my village are not even aware of this place.

I have no idea on how this natural bridge was formed. There is a small idol of a God placed near the bridge to add religious significance. The bridge is quite strong.

Although there are many huge natural bridges over rivers in many parts of the world, I do not have much information about the ones in India or Karnataka. But as far as i know natural bridges are rarity.

If you are going to Jogfalls or Honnavar, spare some 5 minutes to visit this place.

How to reach:
Talguppa is a small town 14 kms from Sagar on NH206. Continue on this road towards Honnavar passing though Churikatte, Manmane and Talavata village. One km from Talavata is a “Minor bridge”. Hundred meters from this bridge, is a small mud road towards left. Walk for a minute on this road to reach “Kalsanka”. The distance from Talguppa to Kalsanka is about 6 kms.

Click here for Wikimapia location.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mukurthi

7th-8th June, 2008

I was on my feet again!! It was a trek to Mukurthi peak in Nilgiris. Getting permission to trek in Nilgiri area is not an easy task for individuals. When YHAI announced the trek, I promptly joined them.

Things did not look great on Saturday morning. We were at the forest Office in Ooty. To trek to Mukurthi peak, one has to stay in fishing hut maintained by Nilgiris Wildlife Association (NGO or Government funded Organization??). The forest around the fishing hut comes under Nilgiri North division and the route to reach that area by Nilgiri South division. It means that to trek to Mukurthi peak permission has to be obtained from all three departments. One can understand the mess that Government Offices create in such a scenario. Luckily all departments were at a single location in Ooty and not in different parts of the world.

Fishing Hut was booked over phone and Nilgiri association guys asked to come to Ooty. They said that getting other permissions was cakewalk. Situation was different at ground zero. Even though booking was made for Fishing Hut well in advance, it was also allotted for some “life time” members. In addition to that they put the onus of obtaining the permission on us. Getting permission was not easy. There were only watchmen at Forest Office and all “Responsible people” were either on leave or still “Not yet come for work”. It looked like we would end up in Ooty sightseeing. We blasted the association for creating such a mess. Things started moving then; it looked like they acknowledged that they had bungled up. Lot of talking among themselves and numerous phone calls and finally they said that we could go ahead for trekking. We would have to adjust ourselves in only one room at fishing hut. A person was arranged to guide us.

It was exactly 12 noon when we finally left Ooty. We were surprised when guide started to ask for directions to Mukurthi. He was coming for the first time he told!! “Real” guides would join us at Fishing Hut. On the outskirts of Ooty, we passed through the dumping yard. The journey further was on country side with very nice views. After traveling for an hour, we reached Porthmund Dam. Restricted area starts from this point. The tarred road changed to a Jeep track while it entered down the valley. We passed through a check post and a small bridge on a rock bed. Then it was a steep climb though series of hair pin bends. The road was narrow and filled with stones. The Tempo Traveller could not move up with the passengers. So, we got down and started walking while Tempo Traveller started moving further with our luggage.

The weather was cloudy and it was a pleasant walk. Only issue was that we were hungry, and our packed lunch was in TT. We walked for nearly 45 minutes and found our TT parked on the road. A tree had fallen on the road and the TT could not move further.
It was an opportunity for us to have lunch while Chandru, driver and guide went towards fishing hut to get some help. Even after finishing our lunch, there are no sign of the people who went to fishing hut. It seemed like end of road for the Tempo Traveller. So, we took our luggage from TT and started walking towards fishing hut. Another 20 minutes walk, we were in fishing hut. Guide had found an axe and went with driver to cut the fallen tree.



Fishing hut is a simple building built by some British person amidst dense forests. Mukurthi Lake is just in front of the hut. The drizzling had turned into heavy rain by the time we reached fishing hut. Tempo Traveller arrived an hour laterEvening was spent at Mukurthi Lake. Rains, mist and mountains had given a completely different look for the entire area. Lot of photos was taken as we walked on the side of the lake.
This place registers sub zero temperature during winter. Needless to say, it became very cold after the sunset. Campfire was ruled out as it was raining. Fire was set up at the fireplace in the hall. Guides took care of preparing our dinner. By 9PM, almost everybody had hit the beds.

Next day started at 5AM. Our main task of climbing Mukurthi had to be achieved. Heavy rains would have spoiled all our plans. Luckily it was just a drizzle and weather promised to improve during the course of the day. After having early breakfast, we started our walk at 6:45AM. The initial stretch was on a Jeep track. The entire path was covered by fallen trees due to recent rains. We had to crawl and climb these fallen trees to make our way. After half an hour, we were at Mukurthi Lake. The route was on the side of the lake with full view of Majestic Mountains and grasslands towards our right. Mukurthi peak was visible all along the way. We spotted some Nilgiri Tahr grazing on top of a mountain.One hour from fishing hut, we were at the point where a stream joins the lake. Till now, the trek was only on the plains. The route from here to peak is continuously upwards. We rested at the stream for few moments enjoying the beauty of the nature that was befallen in front of our eyes.
As we started to climb from the stream, the scenery was even better. I could spot some five waterfalls at different directions. At this time, entire area was covered by clouds and visibility was reduced to a few feet.
The final stretch was quite steep with zigzag path. We were climbing from other side of the peak. At 9AM, we were on top of the peak. The area on top was very less and was just enough for our group of 15 people. A small temple was also present at the top. Other side of the peak is a perpendicular drop. The wind was blowing fast and we felt that we could be thrown away. Entire area was engulfed by the mist. Else, we could have enjoyed the beautiful scenery from the top.
We had some photo sessions and turned back. Within an hour, we were at the stream. Since there was time to relax at the stream, I went in search of a waterfall that I had seen while getting down the peak. It looked very near, but I had to climb couple of small hills on the grasslands to reach the falls.
We were at fishing by 12 noon. We had our lunch and started our return journey at 2PM. Since the TT could not take all people in the group, few of us walked back towards the check post. Guide showed us a short cut, and it was rewarding as the route went on the Porthmund Dam. The location was very scenic but the sad part was that all of us had kept our cameras in TT.


More photos of the trek can be viewed here.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Yercaud

30th-31th May 2008
Yercaud is a hill station in Shevorayon hills near Salem City of Tamilnadu. It is a smaller version of Ooty or Kodaikanal, I would say.

Route:
From Bangalore, take NH-7 to Salem passing through Hosur, Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri. While entering Salem, follow the sign board towards Salem City towards right away from highway. A km later, you will be at five road junction. Take the second left here. From here, just follow the sign boards to Yercaud.

The travel:
It was a very long time I went with my family. My daughter is 7 months old. I had seen most of the hill stations near to Bengaluru and only place that was left out was Yercaud. I thought it would be a perfect place for a family weekend. This was the first time I was taking my daughter and of planning went on mainly to keep her comfortable.

We started on Friday morning at 6AM. There was some underpass work at ring road which meant that I had to take diversion. Added to our woes was a truck guy trying to take a U-turn in Hosur road. He stopped the entire traffic on both ways for more than 30 minutes. It was 7:45AM when we reached Hosur. Breakfast was as usual at Meenakshi Bhavan.

Krishnagiri was reached in no time. After that the road is being widened for 4 lanes, which made journey bit slow. After Salem, it was ghat road with 20 hairpin bends to Yercaud. We checked into Silver Holiday cottage near lake.

Yercaud is a small town. As you enter Yercaud, lake will be at your right side. Soon you will reach the circle. This circle forms the center for all places in Yercaud.

Some of the places visited in Yercaud:

Shevaroyan Temple: This is the highest point in Yercaud. It is about 6 kms from Yercaud town. There is an old Temple inside a cave. This place also offers some of the excellent view of Yercaud. Sad part is that mining operations are rampant near this place. To reach Shevaroyan Temple, take left at the circle. Proceed for 3 kms and there is a Y junction. Take the road going up towards right.

Rajeshwari Temple: This is on the way to Shevaroyan Temple.

Pagoda point: At circle, take right and then immediate left. Drive for 4.5 kms by following the sign boards to reach the point.

Lady’s seat/Gents seat and Children’s seat:
Take right at the first sight of the lake while entering Yercaud. Drive for a km to reach a T junction. Take right here and follow the sign boards to reach Lady’s seat. Salem town can be seen from this view point.


The hairpin bends leading to Yercaud is also visible. Gents and Childrens seat is just another view point at walking distance from Lady’s seat.

Lake: This is the center of all activities in the town. There is also a park (Anna Park) next to the lake. One thing that I noticed is that in all hill stations of Tamilnadu (Ooty, Kodaikanal, Yelagiri and Yercaud), lake forms the center of all tourist activity with a small park next to it!!

Loop road:
Second day morning started off with a drive on the loop road. This is a place which is figured in the tourist map of Yercaud. It is a 32 km road which starts and ends at the lake passing though the country side of Yercaud with nice Coffee plantations and forests. It was traced by an Englishman Mr. Surgeon in 1824. To go to the loop road, take the road to Shevaroyan Temple. At Y junction, the road to the right goes to Shevaroyan Temple while the left road is the loop road and passes through the villages of Nagalur, Semmanatham, Kaveri Peak and Majakuttai.

The return journey:
After loop road, we decided to return back. But the Police guys at check post did not allow taking the ghat road. Instead, they asked to go via Kuppanur. It took some time to find the route to Kuppanur. This ghat road was very narrow but not many vehicles were moving on this road. I took an hour to reach Kuppanur from Yercaud. Here I was at a junction where one road went to Salem and other to some other town. It looked like I have to enter the Salem city to join the main highway to Bengaluru, which I did not like. One village guy asked to take the other road which joins to Dharmapuri. It was a State Highway and I was bit apprehensive about the state of the road. But he assured me saying “Road nalla irukku”. The road was really fantastic with very less vehicles on the route. But then after covering some distance, I had to take diversion for Dharmapuri. It was a village road and all sign boards were in Tamil which meant that at every junction I had to ask villagers for the correct route. That was not an issue as the people were very friendly and always eager to help. Even the village roads here were excellent. Without any issues we reached Dharmapuri and from then it was all NH-7 till Bengaluru. Heavy rains and traffic jams welcomed us as we entered Bengaluru.

For my daughter, this was the first time she moved outside Bengaluru. I would say that she enjoyed the journey and was happy all the way.

Yercaud is a place for people who would like to lazy out for a day or two. Though this place is not commercialized, mining activities are rampant. While climbing ghat road and near Shevaroyan Temple, you can large part of the forests destroyed by mines. These days, my blood boils whenever I see or hear about mining. In Karnataka, they have caused widespread destruction of forests. The trucks carrying mines have caused havoc in all the highways. Most of the highways in Karnataka are in bad shape because of these b*@#*$^@s. The entire state is paying heavily to make a dozen people billionaires.


More photos of the trip can be viewed here.