Monday, December 28, 2009

Syntheri rock

30th September 2009

Syntheri rock is a 300ft granite monolith where the Kaneri River gushes below the rock causing crevices at the bottom providing stunning views. The place is about 30 km from Kulgi Nature camp in Dandeli.

After our Nagajhari waterfalls trek, we (I, Krishna, Subbu and Saravana) made an attempt to visit this place in the evening. Due to heavy rains, it got dark even before we reached half way. We had to postpone our plans by a day.

The drive to the place itself was amazing. Smooth and narrow road cutting through the forest covered with fog was an experience by itself.

The last two km to Syntheri rock was on a mud road. One has to stop at the start of the mud road to get permission from forest department. A couple of minute’s job will be completed in a jiffy.

The view points erected provides a nice view of the rocks. The steps are constructed to get down into Kaneri River. Getting into the river is almost impossible in monsoon. While the Kaneri river itself looks scary here, there are instances where people who got into water never turned up again.

A small Hanuman statue on the rock shows that there are brave hearts who dared to cross the river. I don’t know how they crossed that ferocious river, but I feel that it can be done only during summer months when the water level goes down.

The trip to Syntheri rock would have been a serious affair but for a hep looking guy wanting to get photographed in various positions. A poor chap who had accompanied him was busy taking snaps of his companion. We might have spent an hour at the place but his photography sessions were still ongoing even when we were returning back!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nagajhari falls

28th September 2009
It was not a nice feeling to get up early in the morning. The weather was gloomy with rains lashing all over the night. But the fact that we were supposed to be ready for the trek to Nagajhari falls at 6:30 in the morning made us to wake up early. But the guide who had asked us to be on time was missing. He had taken a group of tourists for a wildlife safari!! With nothing much to do, we went to sleep again.

At 8AM, the rains had subsided, but still there was no sign of the guide. We reverse our earlier decision to forgo the breakfast (for starting the trek early) and head to the dining area. The guide arrives when we were in the middle of our breakfast!! Now, it was his turn to wait!! Finally, we start our trek at 9AM.

About Nagajhari falls
Nagajhari falls is in the Dandeli wildlife sanctuary. The trek starts from Kulgi Nature camp near Dandeli and takes about an hour to four hours depending upon the route. Permission from Forest department is a must as the waterfalls is inside the national park.

The trek
I wanted to trek on the easiest and quicker route as I was not in a mood for any strenuous walk. But the guide decides otherwise and takes us on a long route. We were also joined by a couple who were staying at Kulgi camp. Initial part of the trek was through the forest where we had to continuously get down into the valley. We would have walked faster but were slowed down by the couple who were trekking for the first time.

After walking (and also resting!!) for an hour, we reached a small stream. Another half an hour of trekking brought us to the confluence of two streams. We now had to walk along the bigger stream which would directly take us to the waterfalls. The stream had to be crossed at several places. The high water levels made the task little difficult. The couple was finding it extremely difficult. Added to their (and also ours!!) woes, were the leaches. There were plenty of them and had no mercy. Surprisingly, I was not attacked by leaches but ticks took a heavy toll on me (and only me!!). Tick bite results in more irritation than leaches.

After trekking for 2.5 hours, I reached the waterfalls. Being a three stage waterfall, only the last stage was visible. I climbed the rocks to view the first two stages. The rocks looked scary but I could climb without much difficulty. Slowly others also reached the falls and started climbing over rocks.

Then suddenly I heard the lady shouting. Her husband who was trying to climb the rocks was struck at a point and was unable to move. Alarmed, I rushed to the spot. I was bit shocked when I looked at them. Their face was full of panic. I was expecting some disaster but the situation was not that bad. The guy has developed shoulder cramp and was not able to move his hand. So, he was struck at that place. Slowly, we put him in a safe place and asked him to relax.

The reason for developing cramps was simple. He had trekked without having breakfast. Nor did he drink water along the route. But he did not forget to smoke!! What a combination!!!! We gave him some salt and asked him to drink water. They did not climb further.

We spent a lot of time in the waterfall. The place was very peaceful with only sound of water.

The return journey was on a different route. It was a Jeep route. Though the track was uphill, the trek was easy and fast. I also saw a group of spotted deer near the camp. Spotting wildlife in Dandeli is not so easy and I was surprised to see the deer so near to the camp.

Waterfall as seen from the Jeep track

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sadashivagad, Karwar

1st October 2009

If one travels from Karwar towards Goa, he would first cross the Kali river bridge. The road then breaks though a rock hill. If one has few minutes of time, he can climb up this hill for some great views. This is the Sadashivagad fort. Though the fort is in ruins, the views from the top are stunning.

The Kali River bridge.

This is the place where Kali river joins the Arabian sea.

View of Devbagh island from the hill.

An eagle flying over the fort.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Monsoon Vajra and Anshi ghat

30th October 2009

If one would get down the Anshi ghat, it is difficult to miss this huge falls that appears suddenly on a turn. Vehicles would stop or at least slow down for a moment to have a glimpse of this white beauty.

Forest department has put a view point just next to the falls which doubles as a place to consume food for few people.

This falls is called as Vajra falls. Almost all falls in the area are called by the same name. Since this falls bestows its beauty only during monsoon, I have named it as “Monsoon Vajra”!!

Anshi ghat road. Don't be tempted by these smooth roads!! There are few horrible stretches as well.

This photo was clicked just before the start of Anshi ghat.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Black sand beach

1st October 2009

We were searching for a beach with black sand but were standing on a normal beach. When asked a local guy about it, he showed the mountains adjoining the sea and asked to cross them.

After walking for few minutes, we reached the base of the mountains. The next task was to find the route through the mountains that would take us to the other side. In that isolated area, there was only one lady standing a furlong away. We rushed towards her hoping to get some help. Our brisk walk might scare her, we thought. But she started coming towards us. Now, we were scared!!

The language barrier made the communication between the lady and us difficult. The fact that we knew the local name for “black sand” helped us!! She showed us the path that would lead to the black beach.

After some struggling through the bushes for 15-20 minutes, we reached black sand beach. Not a long beach by any standards, it is a tiny piece of open space between two mountains.

Both sides of the beach are covered by huge black rocks. Though the sand was black, it was different from the usual sand we find on other beaches. It might have been caused by the black rocks nearby, but since we are no experts the reasoning may be wrong.

The beer bottles and plastics indicated that the beach might be popular among locals. Also, in monsoon most of the beaches have a filthy look.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


30th September 2009

Our destination of the day was on the other side of the backwaters. What blocked our view of opposite shore were the bamboo plants at our side of the backwaters. Our options were limited!! We “koo”ed for several times for the boatman who might have been at the opposite side.

We had no luxury of asking anybody else, as we had not seen a single soul or a vehicle during our journey for last 25 km. The road was smooth with backwaters on one side and forests on the other. We reached a place where we had to cross the backwaters to reach our destination. Parking car on the main road was not a nice idea. So, we took the car into the forest hoping that it would be in the same shape on the next day when we come back.

When our shouts did not evoke any response from the other side, we doubted whether we were standing on the correct place. There were pieces of gutka covers indicating that it was a “happening place”. Still we searched the entire area hoping to see the opposite bank. We were happy to see a tar road that directly went inside the backwater (covered with bamboo again). We then went in the opposite direction thinking that the other end of the tar road would lead to correct path, only to reach a similar water body. What a road that starts and ends in the water!!

As people turned desperate, I try to call up a few numbers that I thought would give us some directions or a pointer. One number was not reachable, other was switched off and the third one would have resulted in a missed call!! We started “kooing” again!!!!

The watch showed 12PM. We had bought packed lunch and so we decided to just relax and wait till the boatman appears. Anyway, we had time till evening!! Just not to lose hope, we kept on “kooing” occasionally. Twice we thought we heard some response but we were not sure. Was it just a feeling or real? We would know it shortly.

After some time I sensed something moving between the bamboo bushes. It was a boat!! We jumped with joy as the boat approached us. Krishna was the boatman and he was the one who gave the response twice. Our ears had functioned properly!!

The boat journey
Once out of bamboo area, we entered the vast expanse of the backwaters. I do not know swimming and I am scared of travelling on a huge water body on a small boat. My family never likes me to travel to such places. So, I had brought a life jacket as a safety measure (Time to learn swimming!!). The boatman told that there has not been any mishap for the last 25 years. That was assuring.

It would take about 15 minutes to cross the backwaters. As the boat was moving smoothly, we started enjoying the scenery around. The hills covered with mist, forest and the rains all provided a beautiful scene to watch.

We were bit worried about the accommodation though my friend Rajesh Naik who had visited here few times had assured that it would be taken care by friendly villagers. Krishna tells that we can stay at Prabhakar Naik’s house and we happily agree.

About Devakaar
We reach the other end of the backwater, which is the Devakaar village. It is a village that is behind few decades from the rest, where development has stopped from the last 25 years and provides no hope for the people who stay there.

It is not that the village is in some remote part of the world. In less than an hour’s walk, you can reach an atomic plant and couple of hydro electric projects. High tension wires run through the village, but the irony is that the village has no electricity.

It all started when KPCL started the twin dams of Kadra and Kodasalli on Kali River. The main road connecting Devakaar with Karwar was submerged by Kadra backwaters. But still people had an option to go via Kaiga village. But in the next few years, an atomic plant was set up in Kaiga which blocked Devakaar. The only land option left was to climb up the ghat to the nearest village which is not an easy task to do daily.

Now, there is only one bus that connects Devakaar to Karwar. The morning bus starts from Kodasalli and reaches Devakaar stop at around 6:30AM. So, the villages have to start at 6AM and cross the backwaters and walk a km to reach the bus stop. The same bus returns at 9:30PM!! So, people have to cross the scary backwater during the thick of darkness using a lantern. The trouble increases if it rains.

Children can only study till 4th standard in the local school at Devakaar. After that they have to go the nearby towns for study. Since it is not possible to travel daily, many children stay at hostels or relatives place for study.

As the village is very near to Kaiga Atomic plant, Government wants people to move out of Devakaar. Compensation is already given, but people want land to be provided to move out.

As we reached Devakaar, we met with Mahabaleshwar Naik. He asks boatman Krishna to take us to Prabhakar Naik’s house. The estimated 15 minutes of walk gets doubled. On reach the house, we were greeted by Prabhakar. The top portion of Vajra falls which was our destination of the day was visible from the house.

Trek to Vajra falls
We finished our packed lunch quickly and set out for waterfalls at 2:30PM. Prabhakar guides us to the falls. The initial trek was through the forests and within 30 minutes we were at the stream. The next part was along the stream. This stretch was tough where we had to navigate though slippery rocks. At some places, we had to enter into the forests as the rocks were too steep or slippery. All along the route, we could see the falls.

After about an hour of trekking, we reached a place where we see the full view of the falls. Since the water level was high, we could not go any further. The falls was about 300ft in height and is one of the best falls that I have seen.

Return back also took the same amount of time. By the time we reached Prabhakar’s house, the drizzle had turned into a downpour. We had a hot tea followed by a hot bath which was very relaxing.
We thought that our adventures had ended for the day but not!!

A new experience
As we were relaxing on the verandah of the house, two people entered suddenly. As they were wearing raincoats, we could not identify them. I simply thought that they might be some trekkers who had come to visit waterfalls. But I was astonished by their aggressiveness. They asked few questions which I answered casually. It was as if I was ignoring them. They were not very happy with our way of speaking, and to bring seriousness to the situation they revealed their identity and told that they were the policemen on duty!!

Our tone and body language changed suddenly. The reason for policemen to come so far in search of us was simple. The area comes under the Kaiga Atomic plant and has an extra level of security. While patrolling, the police had found our car parked inside the jungle. Sensing something fishy, they had crossed the backwaters, found out who the owners of the car were and had come to Prabhakara’s house.

We were busy in answering the volley of questions thrown at us for the next half an hour. The queries varied from “What are you doing in Bangalore?” to “What investigation are you doing near Atomic plant?”!! As we were sure that we had not committed any serious crime, we answered all their questions calmly. They took our contact numbers, address, looked at our ID cards and checked our bags. Finally, they were convinced that we were just normal people who had come to visit the waterfalls. Being a localite and able to speak in local language helps a lot in such cases.

Moral of the story:
Before going to Devakaar, register at Mallapur Police station (near Kadra). It makes the lives of the Policemen easy and you will be free of any hassles. Policemen and Prabhakara specifically asked me write this in my blog!!

Next day, we were all set to leave Devakaar. Prabhakara came till the boat point where we bid adieu to him. The return boat journey was rough due to winds and rains.

I was happy to see my car in good shape!!

Final Words:
The fate of Devakaar has already decided. It is just a matter a time that people move out and the area comes under Kaiga.

Latest news:
Due to the threat from terrorists on our Atomic plants, areas surrounding Kaiga are now guarded by CISF and army. The recent mishaps and radiation leaks in Kaiga has resulted in increase in security. There is a high chance that trekkers(or any outsiders) may be denied entry into Devakaar.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

MP trip: Raneh and Pandav falls

2nd November 2009

The last day in Khajuraho was dedicated to nature. Being near to Panna National park, there are few scenic locations near Khajuraho.
Raneh falls which is at a distance of 22km from Khajuraho is formed by Ken River (also called as Karnavathi).
Ken River here flows through the rocky gorges providing some stunning views. The waterfalls and rocks look inviting but forest department has put up barricades after series of mishaps in that area. Now, each tourist group is provided with a guide who makes sure that people do not venture out of the designated path.
There is another falls higher than Raneh but only top portion is visible.
Another important place to visit is Ken Gharial which is at a distance of 6 km from Raneh falls. We spotted a Nilgai on the way.
The Gharials (Alligators) were absent on that day which was disappointing. We took a boat ride on the river. I was shocked to see that the boat was leaking which kept the guide busy in fetching out the water. The boatman shocked us even more when he said that the boat had toppled on the previous day. But that was due to mischievous people who jumped into the crocodile infested river just to have fun. The group of black storks provided an opportunity to take some good snaps.

On the way back, we spotted a fox that appeared suddenly from nowhere. I also saw a huge lizard but could not take a photo.

Pandav falls is 35 km from Khajuraho inside Panna National park. It does not have much water but the place looks great!!

It is a must visit place for Khajuraho visitors.

It was evening by the time we finished with these places and our MP journey was coming to an end. We headed towards the railway station to board the train for Delhi.

This brings an end to travelogue of one my best journeys.

The photos of the trip can be seen here.