Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Maarloorgundi and Goodlugundi

First of all my sincere thanks to Rakesh Holla for believing in us and sharing the details of the location. As promised to him i will not be disclosing the location details of this place unlike my previous treks.  The basic idea is not to make information easily available for people who would go and spoil the beauty.  Only those who are really committed to keeping it clean and are mature enough to maintain the sanity of the place would have the access to the same. One clue for all the adventure enthusiastic people around is, this falls is in Sharavati Valley.

As Rakesh had mentioned in his blog it was a day not to forget. I have trekked a lot of mountain peaks but probably for the first time i got so much time to spend at the destination. Since we had started early from Bangalore on Friday night we reached the starting point for the hike very early. We got to spend the entire day in front of the falls.

Once we reached the Goodlu gundi falls every one got into their swimming costumes and got into water. The best part, it was not deep giving an opportunity for all the non swimmers to get into water as well go and sit below the water falls. However just like every other water falls one has to be very careful of those slippery rocks which can hurt you ankle badly. I did injure myself slipping and hurting my right ankle once but luckily it didn't result in anything major.

After swimming and sitting below the waterfalls for almost 2-3 hours, every one were very hungry and we opened our lunch and had a heavy lunch. Once done with lunch we decide to explore Maarloorgundi water falls just below. The small hike to Maarloorgundi is pretty steep and one more dangerous point was a couple of us crossed the water body on top of the water falls which was very risky. If you slip you will land at the bottom of Maarloorgundi water falls :-).

After around 10min hike one can reach the bottom of Maarloorgundi which is a very beautiful water falls. One thing that came to my mind was to visit the place in monsoon to get few pics of the water falls in the best of times. I know i might not be able to get into water but then the water falls would be in the best of its form.

Every one were very tired after playing in the water for almost the entire day and we decided to rest on the Rocks in front of Maarloorgundi water falls. After a small nap we decided to pack and then find a suitable camping site for the night stay. The location of the water falls is around 30min walk from a small grass land peak. So we decided to camp on the grass lands. Our earlier plan was to camp in front of the water falls which we had to give up eventually. If you decide to camp its always safe to camp in a place which is close to water yet outside the thick forest vegetation. Try to find a place with grasslands, you can always find grasslands trying to move towards the peak. Never camp in the peak of the mountain as the winds might be very strong.

We pitched our tents and then we decided to walk and spend our time at the sunset point viewing Belligundi water falls. We got a good view of the Belligundi water falls and our guide Halappa told us that we can also go to the bottom of Belligundi which is a beautiful water falls and one of the tallest in the region. Probably this would be our next trip as well. Belligundi will be a 9km hike one side.

After watching the sun go down in the Arabian sea we headed back to our tents. Few of them prepared the dinner but a couple of us had some fruits/snacks and slept off. The weather was very good for camping it neither rained nor was very cold and it was perfect. However we could see lightning in the adjacent mountain where we had seen Belligundi water falls, later we realized that it was the dynamite blast which was happening. I am surprised, mining in western ghats is illegal and i am pretty sure this must one of those famous illegal mines still operating without any fear.

We got up at around 6 in the morning and a new lesson on cat hole was learnt from Diwakar for attending nature call and keeping the place clean. The concept of digging a small pit and covering it up once done would keep the place clean and also human excreta is not left to open air.
Since we had GPS, going back was never difficult even in the absence of our guide Halappa, whom eventually we met half way down. Halappa had decided to go back and stay in a house at the bottom of the hill the previous evening.

Over all it was a small trip with not much of difficultly but we enjoyed a lot at the destination. The waterfalls was very clean and felt good that very few waterfalls are maintained in this state as of date. Most of the water falls have been badly littered with plastics, beer bottles. As a rule of our team we make sure we carry back every thing we had taken and nothing is left back at the destination. Any one who comes across this blog please make it a point you don't drop your traces in the place you visit, keeping it virgin for the next visitor as well :-).

After coming back from the trek and reading Rakesh's blog again i realized we missed few things at this place one was going on the opposite side of the water body to get a full view of  both Maarloor gundi and Goodlu gundi water falls together and also we could still have gone further down from Maarloor gundi to get a view of one more bigger water falls. No problem probably some other time :-).

Any one who finds out this place please make sure you keep it the way it was and don't disturb the same. I would feel guilty if the place is destroyed because of my blog.

For more pics visit

Monday, September 03, 2012

Baale Kallu and Kode Kallu

It had been quite some time since I trekked. After the death of a student (from an other group) during my last trek it had become difficult to venture into forests and hence i had been idle for some time now. It's always risky to venture into forests during the monsoons. The trek becomes at least twice more difficult due to the rains. Poor visibility is also a risk factor in case of encounters with wild animals like elephants. Leeches all around is a real pain to bear with. Since it was monsoon i didn't want to take risk with a big group and only wanted a small group who had previous experience, however at the end we had 3 new members in the group, even though they still lacked fitness they were good enough to complete the trek.

We started from Bangalore by taking a late night volvo bus to Dharmasthala. We reached Dharmasthala at around 5:30am in the morning. From there we took a local bus to Ujire. From Ujire we took another bus to Charmadi. The name of the stop is "Charmadi Hotel".  Owner of the hotel is a very nice person named Hasanabba. We freshened up at this place and at around 8 our guide Isubu came to the hotel and from here we took a bus again to almost peak of the charmadi ghat which i guess is around 20kms. Just after the temple on top there is a jeep track which is the starting point of the trek.

We got down from the bus and started walking on the jeep track. The weather was pretty pleasant with lots of greenery all around. We had taken the risk of trekking in monsoon, its very rare that it doesn't rain during monsoon in the hills. We were just lucky that it didn't rain until we finished the day's trek. But still there was too much of mist on top which prevented me from enjoying the landscape completely. The clouds played hide and seek giving little opportunity for me to capture some pictures.

After almost 30-40min off on the jeep track we can see a house from where you need to take a left and start going towards the Baale kallu peak. It is called Baale(Banana) Kallu because once there used to lots of Kaadu  Baale(Forest Banana ) available at this place. En route to this peak we can also get to view Jenukallu Gudda but due to excessive mist we were not lucky enough to see anything. In fact our guide Isubu asked us to wait until the mist clears as its risky to walk in the elephant path. Both of us could be surprised with sudden encounters which might be even more risky with baby elephants around.

This was not a very difficult trek and we were on the peak by around 11:30 -12. Since we had lots of time and Kode kallu is just around 30-40min from this peak we decided to spend some quality time enjoying the landscape and also to walk around other smaller peaks near by. We moved from one peak to another enjoying the lush green grasslands and thick green forests below and also we could see a couple of water falls at a very far distance. After spending some time taking some pictures we could see dark clouds gathering pace and heading in our direction. We decided to move towards Kode kallu.

It started to drizzle slowly as we walked towards Kodekallu, visibility dropped drastically and we just had to follow the person ahead of us. After around 30-40min of walk we reached Kodekallu. This is one of most beautiful spots i have seen. Kode (Umbrella) kallu (rock) is a huge rock on the peak which is like an umbrella. One can go under it and spend some quality time enjoying the beauty. It has got enough place for atleast 8-10 people or 2 tents for camping. We had our lunch below this rock and slowly the peace of rain started to increase. The charmadi ghat road is around 30min walk from here but due to rains it was a bit slippery. Was surprised to know that it is one of the route often taken by the elephants, just wondered how could elephants walk so easily on these slippery trials. We were almost near the road and it started to rain very heavily.

We had asked for a jeep to come at around 4:30pm and he picked us dropped back to hotel charmadi. We had some biscuits and coffee/tea while talking to Hasanabba about his experiences. He told us he will talk to locals to give some space for our over night stay at the village temple. We got to stay in the Panchalingeshwara temple which had a huge hall beside the temple. People of the temple not just gave us some space to stay but also provided us with utensils and firewood. We brought some "magic noodles"- local version of maggi noodles and prepared our soup cum noodles for dinner. After a heavy dinner I don't know what happened only thing i knew was that it was raining very very heavily.
I got up around 6:30 am and after freshening up, it was still raining very heavily. I went to the temple and saw a group of young men from RSS having their meet. After their prayers they have some games which was very interesting. A couple of us decided to join them and had fun playing games with them. I didn't feel anything bad about the organisation or their ideology but only felt that our so called secular media is not to be trusted completely. After playing with them they asked us what are our plans for breakfast and with heavy rains and not knowing the places around they brought us food/coffee free off cost.

We had plans of covering a couple of water falls on Sunday but due to very heavy rains and also the jeep driver asking 800rs for 20kms ride we decided to cancel our outing to the water falls. It was also very risky to go to the water falls with such heavy rains. Our guide Isubu also insisted that it would not be safe to go towards the waterfalls. So we decided to stay back in the temple. Myself, Diwi and Harsha enjoyed wrestling (Kusti) in the rains after which we decided to venture out in rain to explore some local hotel. We didn't find the hotel but we found a small shop which we almost ransacked eating everything that was available. While coming back from there we got some cucumber and went to a local house asking for some salt and chili. It was fun - heavy rains, and spicy chili.

At around 4,  the rains eased out and we decided to make the most of it by heading towards Dharmasthala. At Dharmasthala we visited the car museum, and wonderful art museum which had a huge collection of old items. It was like free just 5rs and 3rs as the entry fee. One of the hotel in Dharmastala was owned by Diwakar's friend and we went there after visiting the Bahubali statue. They were so kind that they didn't even take money for our food, in fact i felt bad that they were so generous. We couldn't go to the temple as I didn't have a full length pant and half pants are not allowed. All of us were very tired and we went to the new Dharmasthala bus stand for our volvo bus to Bangalore. The next thing i heard was Majestic, Majestic, Majestic.....

Bangalore- Dharmasthala
From Dharmasthala - take a local bus directly to Charmadi. The frequency is a bit less to Charmadi, so take a bus to Ujire. From Ujire you can take a bus to Charmadi. Get down at hotel Charmadi and meet the guide Isubu.
Isubu: 08256 316117, 275378, 9741392369
Hasanabba: 275164, 9972499947, 9481266656
1) Very limited options for food, carry your own food for 2 days.
2) Don't litter this place, please don't throw plastics or any food items on the trial.
3) Take the help of the local guide and carry proper gear while you trek, it has a lot of wild animals be very careful.
It is a moderate trek, yet a very beautiful one.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


4 days, more than 1500 miles drive, blue sea, huge lakes and mountains, rafting in ice cold water and cliff jumping - these are the highlights of my Scotland trip. We started early in the morning that is around 7am. It was a long drive to reach Scotland almost 10hours and more than 500miles to drive. After a long drive with multiple breaks we reached Forres, Scotland at around 8pm in the night. After dinner we went to bed since we were tired after the long drive.

We reached the place at around 10am in the morning for rafting in river Findhorn. Even though I have done white water rafting in Ganga with rough rapids and Dandeli earlier this was a different experience with ice cold water. The good thing was Ace adventure the organisation which offered rafting for us provided us with wet suits which kept us warm in the cold waters. Cliff jumping from almost 22feet height into the ice cold water and also toppling of the raft throwing out everyone into the water was an amazing experience. We finished rafting at around 4 and then spent rest of the time driving around the place which had beautiful landscape to experience. We had dinner at a Bangladeshi restaurant and went back to local village Bar which was having a Scottish music festival with different instruments being played by locals from the small village.

We started early the next day and headed towards Isle of Skye. This was one of the best day of the trip as we drove along Lock Ness Lake and many other beautiful places across Scotland. Lock Ness lake is one of the biggest lakes and a huge tourist destination in Scotland, however i felt the best of Scotland is in the northern part of Scotland. We also covered 2 castles and a fort enroute to Isle of Skye - Fort of George, Urquhart Castle, Eilean Donan Castle. Fort of George was good however the 2 castles were only good for viewing from outside as I had already gone inside Windsor Castle in England, other castles wouldn't have interested me much.

We checked into the room at Kyle of Lochalsh and after freshening up we started driving further north. This drive reminded me of my trip to Ladakh in India. The landscape was pretty much similar but then the entire drive one side we had mountains and lakes and on the other side blue sea. This is one of the best landscape I have ever visited. Felt like I should have spent lot of time around this place as it had so much to explore. We covered Old Man's Storr rock formation and Kilt rock waterfalls. It was a beautiful waterfalls falling from the height directly to the Sea however it was very difficult to photo shoot this waterfalls.

From here we drove along the mountains of Quiraing, this was the spectacular drive with very narrow roads and beautiful landscape. From Quiraing we headed towards Uig bay. On the way the best thing which attracted my attention was a couple camping on top the peak in Quiraing mountains. Had only seen such things in movies.

Scotland has been one of the best places I have ever visited. I should give a visit again to this place with the idea to trek some mountains, hope I can do that.