Enticing Monsoon and Enchanting Ghats

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September 21st 2013
Published: April 19th 2016
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I was hoping for a monsoon ride in 2013 but it did not happen due to some reasons, so thought of recompensing it with a drive. It was almost end of monsoon and one of my friend and my colleague (then) Kunche Swamy was okay with the plan as he was not very fond of long rides. None of us had a car, so hired one, and it came on time to pick me up around 10.30 pm. We had one more person with us to fill the seat, Venkat – Swamy’s friend.

After picking everyone, we reached Tumkur highway by 12.30, and then stretched to Chcikmagalur by stopping once or twice for tea. While going, Swamy could not hold the very desire to drive a car on a highway, but the driver refused it with a smile.

Chickmagaluru : We reached Chikmagalur town early in the morning, its around 260km from Bangalore. I do not remember whether we took rest in a hotel room or straightaway left to Mullayangiri Peak. I remember reading some broachers available there regarding Chikmagalur and places nearby. Chickmagalur literally means "The town of the younger daughter" in the native Kannada language. The town is said to have been given as a dowry to the younger daughter of Rukmangada, the great chief of Sakrepatna and hence the name . This is the story I hv read somewhere online. Chikmagalur was one of the place where coffee was cultivated early in ‘India’ soil. Rivers like Tunga - Bhadra have their sources in the mountains here which are parts of the Western Ghats. Chickmagalur district also contains Mullayanagiri, the highest peak in Karnataka.

The city is placed within a scenic landscape in a fertile valley; it is surrounded by lush green coffee plantation hills. The distance from Bangalore makes this place a perfect weekend getaway, and if that happens to be in monsoon through the Western Ghats, man you wouldn’t have to think twice.

Mullayanagiri : This is the highest peak in Karnataka, located within the range of the Western Ghats of Chikmagalur Taluk, and one of the best trekking place in south India as well.

On the way, when the scene became bit bright, we got down from the cab for an early morning photo-shoot near some estate gate. We reached peak after a tough drive, it was foggy and rainy too, finally just before the peak, we got down from the cab as we could not see anything in the front. We used mobile phone indicator application to give driver some clues. Unless you are an expert in driving seat, stay away driving till the peak. The road to Mullayanagiri is very narrow with views from steep cliffs. Driving to the peak is almost impossible and includes a trek up the hill from the half-way point. From the topmost point on the hill, the Arabian Sea might be visible on clear days. However, ours was not a day of such weather.

The earlier you reach, the better the sight, else it may start raining, but we couldn’t make it early. With the light rain we climbed the stairs to the top. The rainy winds were so powerful; we were feeling we might be thrown down the hill at any point of time. Nevertheless, it was a life time experience to cherish. I feel chilled while writing about it. We lost our way while coming back, the driver had looked for a short cut to Kemmanagundi.

Kemmangundi : I do not remember whether we ate something until we reached Kemmanngundi. Oh yes we has some snacks and tea at Mullayangiri . The one thing I can’t comprehend (in Karnataka) was the smallest glasses (plastic) used for serving tea at many places. I wish I had carried a cup.

The route through Kemmanagundi Hills were terrible, so much of, super muddy potholes, (scene might have changed now.) we were anticipating soon we have to come out of the cab and push it from behind, or we would be getting a flat tire, but nothing happened. We often stopped and captured the fairy tale scenic views on the way. Then reached top of a hill called Rajendra Hill, which we heard is extremely rich in iron ore. Rajendra Hill is one of the highest peaks in Karnataka encompassed by coffee plantations. We then got into same Krishnarajendra Hill Station Park.

We spent some time and had some late lunch there in a motel. We then moved to Habbi/Hebbe falls to give the day a dashing end. It was raining at times. On the way we saw mesmerizing hills in different moods and shapes and was about to set the sun off.

Habbi/Hebbe Falls : Hebbe Falls are located few km away from Kemmangundi hill station . By the time we reached there, it was late in the evening. These sprightly falls are inside a coffee estate and can be reached either by walk or four-wheeler, Surrounded by dense forests and coffee plantations. Don’t miss a refreshing dip in this herb-infused water. If you want to come here, Let the monsoon come first, then a trip through the Western Ghats .

Initially, we had to take a small diversion to get on the “road” to Hebbe Falls. When it’s pouring in monsoon, it becomes a slushy mess that can be navigated only by cars with good ground clearance. As we neared the place beyond which cars can’t go, we got down from the car, as soon as we started walking, leeches attacked us from all directions. Man, the only way to escape was to go back or run faster and faster. I was not wearing a shoe then, but a sandal with a strap, so leaches could easily stick and suck my blood. The surroundings were dripping wet, fresh and aromatic due to rain.

After a short 20 minute run and crossing three streams, we heard the thunder of the waterfall. As with the thunder, my heartbeat also increased. What we saw next was a sight to behold!

Tremendous amounts of water were cascading down two levels of the waterfall. We could not capture the other level due to misty weather in the late evening. The water spray was too much to handle. We couldn’t even keep our eyes open. There was no much people around except the few of us, and I think Venkat has not come till the end. We could not spent a long time near the waterfall and getting wet and dark. We could not take much pics due to slight rain and fog in the air. We should ‘ve reached bit early.

The fun was to get rid off leaches while we were back to cab, none of us had any spare dress, except a towel and a boxer kept for shower in the falls, we removed everything and each one helped other for finding leaches from the body, and Swamy sat in the cab only in towel, me in boxer, somehow dried our t-shirts and banyans to make a run to the hotel room when we reached in Chikmagalur town.

kudremukh : The next day early morning, after shower we checked-out from the hotel and had breakfast outside. The plan was to go to kudremukh for a trek. 95 kms southwest of Chikmagalur is the secluded hill station of Kudremukh. Situated 1894 m above sea level, the Kudremukh hills overlook the Arabian Sea and are chained to one another with deep valleys and steep cliffs. There is rich flora and fauna here, waiting to be discovered. There was a lot to be explored. A lovely places to camp. No trekker would be able to resist Kudremukh

We were going through the tea estates and we stopped for some clicks perhaps a freshly made tea from the same tea estate. A young lady from the small shop made tea for us from her house just behind the shop, it had a unique taste. We were chatting with her while having tea. Her subservience and some sort of rural innocence were very aesthetic and feminine. Swamy had tough time in explaining some old ladies who work in the tea estate on how to operate a smart-phone, but even after his lecture they were unable to take his pics. He posed again when I took my cam in hand. Another fun happened when we left the place and all of a sudden remembered I had forgot my pullover in the shop. When we reached the shop again, the pullover was not there. We looked everywhere. Again we got into the cab and later realized I was wearing the same pullover. I wondered how come even others were not find it on me!

Finally we were at the starting place of Kudremukh trek , but we were so disappointed to hear from the localities that the trek tem with the guide had left an hour before we reached. It wouldn’t be prudent to go without a guide for first timers. So we finally thought to have an early lunch from a small hotel and the meals were delicious. The lady who supplied the food felt so happy by seeing the way I was having it. The disappointment of the trek miss throgh amazing kudremukh hills faded a bit after the food.

So we thought we will have a drive through the hills in other direction and perhaps do some chilling in another falls nearby Kudremukh hills. So finally we reached though we lost our way in between. Someone had shifted the sign board to a wrong direction

HanumanaGundi Falls : This Falls is situated in Kudremukh National Park between Kudremukh Road and Lakya Dam. The site featuring this beautiful waterfall is a popular climbing spot. The 100 ft waterfall can be accessed from 400 steps that are climbed down from the main road to reach the site. Hanumana Gundi Falls is managed and maintained by forest department of the state government. Along with the fall, tourists can also visit Bhagavathi Nature Camp. I had this dejavu feeling when I reached here and while stepping down close to falls. Yes few years back when I visited mangalore with my colleagues to attend a friend’s marriage at Uduppi, we had visited here while coming back. Since we alredy had too much experience in water and rain and fog previous day, we laft the falls after an hour or so. We had evening tea. Then while coming back visited one more place called Lakya Dam.

The Lakya dam was not like a dam as we expected. As per the information shared , it is a check dam built across the river Lakya, a tributary of the Bhadra river. The dam was constructed by Kudremukh Iron Ore Company. This dam was built with the objective to collect silt and other waste materials from the mining industries situated beyond Kudremukh. The dam also acts as a source for the irrigation of agricultural lands in Kudremukh.

The dam gives an awesome views for photo enthusiasts and peace of mind for nomads . We spent some quality time there and when the sun was almost ready to set completely, they were ready to close the gates.

We then did not made any further plan other than coming back!

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