Saturday, August 10, 2013

Chunchi Falls with no water

I expected to have a similar experience I had the last time I visited this falls, but never knew there was a new DAM built to stop the water before the water falls. It was a trip planned in the night by myself and pradeep and started driving early morning at 4. Pradeep picked me up at 4am and we were on Kanakpura Road very early, By 6 we reached Kanakapura and had our breakfast. The falls is around 20 kms from Kanakapura. We reached the water falls and I was surprised to see there was no water even after so much of rains. I am adding a couple of pictures I had taken around 4 years back when there was no dam in place. Felt Gangan chukki and Bharachukki had been a better option, but then those places are badly overcrowded and badly littered. That's the reason I avoid such places. 

We went down the falls and spent some time sitting in front of the tiny waterfalls there. It was a pleasant morning. This is my usual trend to visit places around Bangalore, start very early and back home by afternoon. After taking some pics and lying down on the huge rocks we decided to explore the river a bit more. Last time around, the river was so furious that I could not explore anything around the area. We started walking along the river bed to see a watch tower. The view from the watch tower is spectacular, it gives a good view of the entire valley.

While we were taking pics from the watch tower we saw a small local boy taking a couple of others to another falls which we had seen from far and we had decided to explore later. Once they were back we went towards the falls and was pretty happy at least there was some water in this. At Least it was better than the first where in there was no water at all. 

To be frank the first impression that came to my mind watching this bad scene around was that it looked like an organised crime. First build a dam to dry up the river along the entire stretch and then mine the rocks and sand on the river bed. Which we did see around happening actually. Not to mention there is a private water plant which supplies drinking water bottles to Bangalore next to the Dam. Most of these things I mentioned looked to be under one person who is a big political figure. Now we know how it works build a Dam in taxpayers money divert the stored water to water plant and then sell it to the same people with a price attached. At least for me looking at the dry river bed during peak monsoon was just unacceptable.


Even though didn't enjoy the waterfalls much as it's one of those very rare occasion where in I didn't go below the falls and also the dry river bed, enjoyed the early morning drive after a long time. We were a bit lucky that the Dam gates didn't open. Later in the village nearby we were told by the locals that authorities had given warning to the villagers not to venture near the falls as they would be opening the gates anytime. Was just thinking about a youtube video which I had seen last year how quick one would get washed away once the Dam gates are open. Just a lucky day :-). Its not that I took risk which was stupid but would have been washed unexpectedly. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Doddinamane -- Mani Dam Backwaters

It was a plan which I kept postponing for one or the other reason for a long time, it was to visit my colleague Kishan's house. Since the day he had shown it to me on google maps, I had a picture in mind about the surroundings and the best part was I visited the place in the peak of monsoon when it kept raining and raining. I feel very few places are so isolated and peaceful to live , especially for those living in bangalore. And hospitality was the best of all, I am sure I have gained at least 2kgs. Kishan's mom and his family were just amazing, they just kept feeding us all the time with all those wonderful delicacy.
We reached early in the morning and got down at Megharavalli, Kishan had booked an auto to take us to their house. You need to do that in advance to get to this place as there is no other mode of transport. Around 15-20 years back when Mani dam was built most of the villages in the area were submerged in water and now there are only a few houses remaining in the area. It's the same place on which the award winning kannada movie "Dweepa" was made. That makes the area even more special. Its just wonderful to see the simplicity and hospitality of people living in smaller areas. There is so much to learn about life from them especially for the people living in cities where in at times I feel people have forgotten values, they have forgotten the basic reason why they are  even earning. It's a mad rush and everyone is running a race without knowing the destination or the endpoint.
My friends house is surrounded by water on the 3 sides and forest on the other side, after a heavy breakfast we decided to explore the place and went towards the back waters. What a place ... simply beautiful... very calm, one thing that came to my mind was to visit again in winter.. I want to pitch a tent in front of the river and camp here watching the clear sky all night. I will be driving to this place again in winter for sure... I have a few pics in mind of the landscape and I will have to go there again for the same. Cloudy weather and rain didn't help in getting some shots of the landscape this time around.
After an heavy lunch I was telling Kishan's brother I want to see a "green vine", I was just telling him every dam person who visits forests once in their life time have got to see this guy how come I have not.. to which Kishore was mentioning they see it in their garden all the time in front of the house. We even searched for some time and then we decided to explore the landscape along the river on a different side. Wow what a luck... Kishan saw a green vine crossing the road and this guy gave some of the best shots for my camera :-). He made the trip all the more special because he just made my wish come true.
The other side had some beautiful landscape with green grasslands and cool breeze, it was a pleasant evening walk which makes you forget everything and forces you enjoy the moment. I got to see water springs, water just comes out of the ground and starts flowing towards the river, this thing is pretty common during the monsoons. With the help of Kishore got to know about some of the insects and birds, he caught and showed us the insect which makes lots of noise in the forest :-) i was always curious which was this insect, which made so much noise in the forest and got to see it for the first time as well.
Next day we went to Agumbe and it was pretty common of me these days to visit viewpoint, jogi gundi and Kasturi akka (from Dodda mane) whenever I am in this area. Wanted to explore a new falls but we were late for the night bus and the falls required a 3km trek in the forest.
At the end it was a wonderful trip, I feel very relaxed and rejuvenated.  I forgot to mention about my new friend Suki :-) what a girl... so cute and sharp.. too good for her age.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Onake Abbi, Meenabbi and KoodluTheertha

After our last trek to Maarloorgundi and Goodlugundi, we wanted to avoid trekking during the new year time as most of the places would be over-crowded and expensive. Hence a trek was planned in January.  Once Smitha delivered a baby girl, father Diwi was even more anxious to celebrate it with a trek :-). The weather in Bangalore looked very hot and hence most of us were a bit confused in picking up a place to trek. We didn't want to trek a peak in hot summer and get roasted. We were searching for places and finally called up Rakesh Holla our new partner in crime for the prized destination, got the contact details of guide and the details about the location and a quick plan for the trek was made. 
Lot of confusion prevailed until the last moment on who will join and who will not, finally a team of 8 members decided to head towards Agumbe. We all met at Harsha's place and boarded the Tempo Traveller. Picked up Prabanjan on the way. Our first pit stop was on the out skirts of Bangalore to fill up the fuel tank. We found a McD and didn't forget to fill up with some junk food before the trek. 
It was around midnight before we left Bangalore. Our driver was deadly, he managed to reach Shimoga in 3 hours and after some tea we continued towards Agumbe. It was scary many times trying to look at the road, we reached Agumbe at 5.30 in the morning. Can you believe Bangalore to Agumbe in 5.30min during night? We had informed Kasturi Akka from Dodda mane about our arrival and they had the breakfast prepared for us at 6 in the morning itself. We refreshed ourselves and had the wonderful breakfast for the morning. We also got the food packed for afternoon. We met 2 other teams heading towards Narasimha parvatha.
At around 8 we reached Someshwara and met the guide. We started heading towards our first destination Onake Abbi. There is a decent trail till the end of the water falls and is not very difficult. The entire trek is around 3-4Kms with average difficulty.  Most of the people go to this falls on the top right from Agumbe. Probably very few go to the bottom, the reason for this guess is because the place was very clean with no trace of human interference in the region. No bottles, no plastics, just huge rocks, water and greenery.
We took exactly an hour to reach the beautiful water falls, I tried to explore in and around to get some good and complete picture of the beautiful water falls. Diwi and Avinash were already in water and it was very tempting for me to get into water. After my regular activity of taking some pics of the beautiful location, I finally decided to get into water. Every time I get into water my biggest fear is without knowing swimming how am i going to survive :-). Half the way to the base of the water falls the water was not deep at all. However the last 50 meters or so was probably a bit deep, at least that is what I heard from Diwi. I decided to swim 50 meters as I couldn't miss the opportunity to stand below the water falls. Finally i made it to the bottom of the water falls and it was out of the world experience. Its always amazing to go for a trek and spend most of the time enjoying in water.
On our way to Onake abbi, we had also seen one more water falls at a distance in the forest. Rakesh had also told us if possible try to visit and explore Meenabbi below Onake abbi. It was around 12 and we started moving back from Onake abbi half way down we decided to explore Meenabbi. Our guide told they had not been there before and they are not completely sure of the path. However we just decided to walk along the stream and find Meenabbi. This is the second time i have experienced that walking along side a stream in forest is the most difficult part of any trek, reason being you need to consistently climb up and get down those huge slippery rocks which is very tiring, especially with a back pack. After around an hour or so wandering in the forest heading in the direction of the sound of water we finally managed to reach Meenabbi also called as Hori gundi. It was a small but beautiful waterfall, just like a wonderful shower. The best part of the waterfall was the flowers which had grown on the rocks and facing the water. I was actually surprised how could flowers stand in way of gushing water from such heights.
We reached back to the place from where we had started at around 3. Most of us where very tired and dehydrated, also most of us were very hungry. I had light head ache probably due to hunger. We opened up our packed food from Kasturi akka and what an amazing feeling it is to have food in your mouth when you are hungry. We had our food in the Someshwara temple premises and cleaned up the area and left to Agumbe for our stay for the night at Doddamane.
We had all the time in the evening to roam around Agumbe, its the same place where the famous serial "Malgudi Days" was shot. Also it is the place which receives 2nd highest rain in the world. Also these are the forests which are very famous for "King Cobras", even though these forests are very very popular for reptiles we were unlucky not to get a glimpse of any. However we did manage to see a dead snake the next day. We did go to an old temple in the town as we wanted to spend some time before the dinner.
People who have visited Doddamane, know the taste of food served by Kasturi Akka. I had one of the best dinners of my life - delicious country side food prepared and served under the open sky. I always believe that the taste of food is directly proportional to the mood and goodness of the heart of the cook. And Kasturi akka you are an amazing lady with a very big heart. I also happened to read in one of the comments about the place "Sakshat Annapoorneshwari", if anyone has any doubt go and taste the food. We stayed overnight in Doddamane. People of Doddamane never ask for money for their service, you can only pay whatever you feel like paying, which they will oblige.
We got up early in the morning and we decided to explore Koodlu Theerta, we had heard that this is a tourist place and is badly littered. That is the reason we decided to head very early and leave the place before most of the crowd starts visiting. Not to be surprised any place closer to road and easily accessibly is not spared it India. With no one from government or locals to monitor this place, it was very badly littered with plastics and beer bottles all around. We didn't consider it safe to get into water with so many glass bottles. The place though was very beautiful, the only thing which was lacking was the sanity of the place. After taking some pics we started heading back and on our way we saw huge crowd heading towards the water falls with lots of stuffs to be dumped at the place. Felt good that we were not late.
We started back from Agumbe around 11 towards Bangalore. On our way back I was very proud of our team who helped a family which met with an accident on the road and had some head injuries as well. We gave them first aid, we arranged ambulance calling up 108, managed the traffic on the road. We did everything they needed at that moment. Even the police who came in on time appreciated our services. Finally all where safe and reached back home around 10 in the night.
After looking at the state of KoodluTheertha, some how I don't feel like sharing the location details on my blog, from now on I will not disclose the water falls details, but will continue to give the GPS maps for other treks. However for like minded people, you can drop me a mail and then I can share the details. For a quick note this place is around Agumbe.