Sunday, October 30, 2011

Suralabbi falls

27th August 2011

A road side falls in Kodagu.

It is not widely known to people but is easily accessible falls in Kodagu district. Thanks to its location away from touristy places it has still maintained its charm!!

Known locally as Napandapole or Medarpole falls, it is most widely known as Surlabbi falls. Each waterfall look different and this is no exception. The water comes out of small narrow gorge to a wider area.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


22 October 2011

My friends Aishwarya and Rakesh Holla had been to this place before. The photos shared were awesome which prompted me to visit Devaramane. The initial plan was to trek to Minchukallu from Devaramane village but looking at the recent adventures of Rakesh Holla, I decided to add nearby Ballala caves into the itinerary.

Buses go till Guthi which is 6km from Devaramane. Instead of walking on road, we decided to hire a Jeep. Unable to get a Jeep, we finally hired an auto from Mudigere. Unfortunately the auto could not climb the stretch after Guthi and we had to walk on tar road!! The road was steep but our spirits were high as it was the beginning of our walk. The cloudy conditions also helped us a lot. When we reached Devaramane, it was already 9:30AM.

The first person we met in the village was Kushalappa who was busy in some carpentry work. Rakesh Holla had said that Kushalappa is the only person in the village who knew about the caves!! But since he is busy with carpentry work, Kushalappa refuses to come. After pleading and convincing for few minutes, he agrees to guide us!! We do not waste much time to dump all unnecessary things in Kushalappa’s house and start the trek.

The trail starts behind Kushalappa’s house and after a climb of about 5 minutes we start to descend into a valley. The views around this place are amazing but thanks to overcast conditions we could not enjoy it in full. After a short descent we enter into a Shola forest. This is a leech territory and we run as fast as we can. We then had to climb up a hill wading through shoulder height grass.

After crossing the grassland we rest on a rock which is an ideal place to remove leeches. Everyone is bitten by them and some time is spent on removing them. Our guide shows us a place “Kaati mettida kallu” which had imprints of bison hoof on stone!! Sadly, this also is a hunting ground for workers from neighboring state employed in a nearby estate.

The journey is mostly on grasslands where we cross several mountains. It is said that the ruler Ballalaraya built fort here. The remains of the fort can be seen at several places. One is of the hill is named after the servant of Ballala. It is called as Banta kallu.

We now move along the border of South Canara and Chikmagalur district. It is amazing to see that people work at these remote places identifying and marking the borders!! We finally reach the end of a cliff. It is a perpendicular drop of few thousand feet. Guide shows the Ballala caves. It seemed no one till date is able to explore it fully. Kushalappa says that during his Father’s days few people who tried to enter into the caves never returned back. King Ballala also entered the cave never to come back!! Even Kushalappa has never entered this cave.

I try to enter the cave. It is the most scary and risky attempt. One needs to get down over slippery rocks with very little support. It is dark inside and any mistake would end our life. Even if we get down coming back would be difficult. Gone are the days of taking risks on life and I decide not to get into the cave any further. Rakesh Holla and his friends did explore some part of the caves last month. Hats off to them as they are the real adventurers!!

After spending some time at the caves, we start to walk. Minchukallu was our next destination. Since we had booked overnight bus, we had to return back on that day. And the last bus from Guthi was at 5:30PM. And we had an additional 6km to cover from Devaramane to Guthi. Minchukallu was still far away. We decide to drop Minchukallu half heartedly. As a consolation we start climbing a small hill nearby. Our decisions changed as we climbed that small hill. Minchukallu was clearly visible and we felt that we could make it. I and Yasin start walking briskly towards Minchukallu while Chitrai and Ashok decide to halt on a nearby hill. For next 30 minutes, we almost ran towards Minchukallu. The last stretch was steep and took away all our energy. I just fall as I reach the top of Minchukallu. Destination reached!!

Minchukallu is one of the highest peaks in Charmadi area. But due to misty conditions we cannot see much. The mighty Amedikallu is visible. It is still a day’s trek from Minchukallu.

We spend some time on the top and then start climbing down to meet Chitrai and Ashok at the base. It was time to have some lunch. With clouds hovering around the hills Kushalappa is worried. He says that it would be difficult to return back in rains and asks us to hurry up. So we put off our rest plans and start back.

Return journey is always tiring and this was no exception. Especially the last stretch to climb to the village of Devaramane was tough on my body. Back in Kushalappa’s house at Devaramane we were greeted with delicious buttermilk. That was a relief for our dehydrated bodies.

The last leg of the journey from Deveramane to Guthi was boring and tiring. But we were just in time for the last bus from Guthi.

The dog:

This was the dog from the Devaramane. It accompanied us all along the trek. The friendliest dog I had ever seen. At one point I and Ashok were trailing behind and were not visible to the people in the front. This dog comes back to check our progress and runs to the front again!! It even accompanied all the way from Devaramane to Guthi!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nagareshwara Temple, Bankapura

9th October 2011

It was while driving back from Dharwad we saw the Karnataka tourism board of Bankapura. It seemed to be a nice good idea to spend some time in the Temple town. My wife agreed and so was my daughter. The kid was more excited about the peacock sanctuary in the village!! Two km from NH-4 was the village of Bankapura. The road to Temple passed through a ruined fort and shrub forest. The forest opened up into a clear area and the Temple appeared. Unlike other historical Temples this is not surrounded by houses.

The Temple looks great from exterior. The distinguishing feature of the Temple is 66 stone pillars. The carving at the exterior is beautiful.

The decorated garbha bruha entrance. Unfortunately we could not enter into it as it was locked.

It window of the garbha gruha was broken. It now looks bit awkward.

The big problem with the lesser known Temples is the paucity of information. The person responsible for guarding Temple simply told that it was built by Jakanachari!! We did not ask for any further question. It was built during Chalukya regime but I have no info about its time.

We heard the sound of peacocks coming from the nearby forest. It was expected as the area falls under peacock sanctuary. It was a hot day and they did not come into open. My daughter was disappointed. Early morning or late evening is the best time to watch peacocks.

Where is Bankapur?
Bankapur is between Hubli and Haveri on NH-4. It is about 50km from Hubli. The Temple is 2km from the National Highway.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Two “abandoned” reservoirs

2nd September 2011

KPCL (Karnataka Power Corporation Limited) had built these two dams for the purpose of generating electricity. For some reason, the project flopped and KPCL “abandoned” these twin reservoirs. KPCL had also built township for the employees of the power project. Since the project was stopped, KPCL moved its employees to another location. The water from the dam is now released to Sharavathi River. During my recent visit to native place, I decided to visit these reservoirs with my cousins.

A deviation from the state highway took us to the KPCL Township. At one point of time it was a busting township of KPCL. Not anymore. It now looks like a ghost town with dilapidated houses, empty streets with strange silence.

The meandering road passes through the dense forests after the ghost town. Not a soul to be found on the street. At many places the road is fully covered by fallen leaves indicating the absence of people on this road for past few days.


We then reach the site of the first dam. The security house is abandoned and no one is there to stop or enquire us. As we reached the dam we were struck with its sheer size and beauty of the nature surrounding it. Built between two huge hills, the reservoir was a scene to watch. At one side was the backwaters and other side was a steep drop to the base of the dam. Other the “sounds of nature” nothing could be heard. The place was completely deserted and scary.

Parking the car, we decided to go to the other side of the dam. The heavy winds accompanied with rains made this task difficult. The umbrellas we had were totally useless and it looked like the wind would blow us out. The other side of the falls contains the outlet. The water flows into a tunnel and then gushes out of the dam through a narrow and deep passage. The passage looked very deep and scary. We spent some time enjoying the silence and beauty of the nature.

We came back to the ghost town and took the road to the other falls. This road was similar to the first one with no people and complete silence. As we neared the dam, the area was covered by mist reducing the visibility. Like the previous dam, this was also surrounded by forests and hills. The entire area shrouded in mystery!! We went up and down the dam without any disturbance. We were the only people present in the area.

A garden is built next to an island in the dam. The water level was low and hence we could easily get into the island. There were semblance of a park present long back but all that was now present were some concrete blocks. A road also goes to a hill on top of the dam that provides complete view of the dam.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chingaara waterfalls

25th June 2011

We saw this falls for the first time while climbing up the steep road towards Honey valley estate. Nested in the midst of coffee estates, it was a scene to watch. We could stop at that point as we were in a public Jeep.

After lunch at Home stay I and Sankara decided to go this falls. Our families also join. We get a drop on a Jeep that went to a neighboring estate. A walk of about half a km would takes to the falls. Heavy rains on that day did not dampen our spirits. My concern was for my daughter who prefers to get drenched in rain rather than coming under the safety of umbrella.

In fact, the falls is just next to the main road!! But the falls is hidden under the canopy of trees. Thanks to the rains, there was plenty of water!! One can easily go to the base of the falls.