2006: India Trip – Western Ghats

Our trip to BiLigiri Rangana Hills helped improve my health to a significant extent. But staying in Bangalore and roaming around in some awesomely polluted parts promptly did its part and the cough/bad-throat related issues showed no signs of letting go. I was forced to stay at home, much to my mom’s liking – she has been complaining that I am using the house as a boarding & lodging facility. Using this free time, I changed the blog title (you would have noticed it) – from something plain & boring to what I think is fancier & more meaningful. Nature handed a friend of mine with some family emergency and I hung out with couple other friends – roaming around some popular streets of Bangalore (what I saw/did will be part of next entry) – at the end of which I had just two things on my mind. One, to visit Bangalore University and meet some teachers; two, to disappear into the wild and get rid of my cough.

Interaction with Bangalore University was in few parts — first, meet my teachers; second, a brief, general overview of research activities and third, provide aspiring students with a bird’s eyeview of graduate life in US. Honestly, it felt pretty good (and relaxing too) going back to visit BU – one thing for sure, there were no deadlines for assignments and/or exams 🙂

Jog Falls

In less than 6 hours after BU interaction, I was inside Rajahamsa (a.k.a. Royal Swan), higher end carrier from the state-owned ground transportation service. Surya SMSed informing that there was lesser water being let into the falls but I had already bought the ticket and I wanted to travel (in this Rajahamsa thing). True to its name, traveling in it felt as if I was being carried on the back of a swan – noticed hardly any jerks inspite of some not-so-good roads. After about 9 hours of smooth ride (with good sleep too), bus dropped me off in an area that I had only read/seen in couple of well known poems, (text) books, others’ travelogues and some documentaries. First things that catch anyone’s eyes, if awake and watching outside, are the following:

Well, this turned out to be another of places that I had never seen during 20+ years of my stay here (there are many more such places though) and I could feel the excitement. While trying to find a place to leave my backpack and possibly get some coffee/tea (to boot myself!), one of the four branches of Jog Falls cought the corner of my eyes – what I saw in addition to the splending falls brought in lot more disappointment too… Well, you guessed it right – reckless disposal of trash 🙁

I tried hard to ignore the trash and walked off to the lone restaurant in the area – fortunately enough for me, I did find a place to unpack, freshen up and more importantly, a hot cup of tea. Tea wasn’t great but just enough to start the day’s proceedings. /me decided to take a walk to the nearby village but the attraction from the mighty Jog Falls, even when in not full flow and glory, was a bit too much resist. Not surprisingly, like everyone else, I succumbed and started walking down the trail – to the very bottom. Disappointment, disgust (and any other word that reflects similar feeling) held the Welcome board every other step in my descent – plastic water bottles, juice containers, carry bags, worn-out sandals, human waste, pAn beeDa spit-outs, alcohol bottles, ….., and more such hard-to-name shitty things decorated either sides (and far beyond) the trail…

As if that weren’t sufficient, I kept hearing devilish howls from below – apparently from some so-called homo-sapiens. Most tourists (travellors wouldn’t do it though) seem to be over-using, abusing and spoiling whatever they see wherever they go until such a point that, that same thing ceases to exist and begins to stink/disappear. I wish Jungle Lodges and Resorts takes over this place (and imposes an insanely high amount even to just see the falls, let alone hike down the trail) as this State Government owned/operated Jog Falls Maintenance Authority is busy maintaining itself rather than maintaining the falls (and its surroundings). I would greatly look forward to that day when such people learn to enjoy (and more importantly preserve) the majestic natural beauty in a quiet fashion – by becoming one with it. If one can sustain such crappy things (to see and hear), the descent does offer better (rather gorgeous) things too (to see and hear). Probably two of my biggest blunders (you shouldn’t be repeating them) were the following:

  1. Not checking with anyone as to how long would the descent take, and
  2. Not carrying any water with me

Well, I reached the bottom in about 30+ minutes or so and as I walked further, /me noticed a crappy smell following me all along. It wasn’t long before /me realized that it was due to my own sweat-drenched body (and clothes) 🙁 If this was my state during descent, imagine my plight after the ascent – given that Sun was out and right over my head all along. Just glad you weren’t next to me (I knew I had some advantage to travelling alone – now I know others have some benefit too…) Stop your stinking, you say? I wouldn’t blame you 🙂 After a (long) shower and some food, Anil took me around – to see other worth-seeing (or not-worth-missing) places – for the next three hours. I would have loved to spend more time at some of them, but given the shortage of time I had, I wouldn’t complain…

Just when I thought the morning ride was done, Anil – my local travel guide – took me to places that I was hoping to visit early in the morning, from the bottom of the falls. Hope was to see if I could shoot the same from the top. May be it’s the place or the guide or both – it took only few hours to turn dream into reality 🙂 OK, before I go any further, I must say that Jog Falls is in four branches – RAja (the King), Roarer, Rocket and RANi (the Queen); and, that it’s pretty difficult (nearly impossible) to see all four in their full length at the same time from a given point. That said, the locations from where I shot the pictures below are quite dangerous – which wouldn’t have been possible if Jog was in its full glory – as it was 10 days ago. How dangerous, you think? In a nutshell, a simple slip of feet would not only have made me a good candidate to test the validity of gravity here but also bird/fish feed at the bottom, only 950+ feet below. But the risk, looking at the pictures, was well worth it – at least /me thinks so…

It wasn’t hard at all to see why Jog has inspired so many poets/literary personalities to write memorable works and to understand why they wrote what they wrote; MAnavanAgi huTTid mEle EnEn kanDi … SayOk munche omme nOdu jOgad gunDi… – a poem made very popluar by a Rajkumar movie! Another advantage of travelling alone – I don’t need to get anybody else’s permission to work when acting according to my whims and fancies 🙂 While returning from this memorable drive, I decided to head off to Sringeri the same day – so, finished the lunch formality in Jog and caught a private bus service to another town called Sagara…

Jog Falls – Sagara – teertha HaLLi – Sringeri

Time that the bus spent going around local areas getting more & more people was used, very promptly, by yours-truly for a quite relaxing nap. I was travelling through those routes and places that I had only heard (or seen on TV) – a very memorable drive, with heavy malnAD rains only adding to the beauty.

While I tried to see around and shoot when permitted by Nature, something else kept me very very busy/occupied once the Sun decided to go down. SandhyArAga – a KannaDa novel by A N Krishna Rao (popularly known as anakru) – best amongst anything/everything I have read so far in this language (more about this in my next entry). Before I could realize, I had changed a bus in Sagara; the next bus had gone through Anandapura, Rippon PeTe, teertha Halli and so on… Needless to mention, I finished reading SandhyArAga (I couldn’t keep it aside – that’s a whole different story), setting myself up with right frame of mind to the town I was entering, Sringeri…


Structure of Houghton-Hancock compares so very well with Sringeri that it was one of the main reasons I never fell home-sick four years ago – though the number of reasons for which I love Houghton-Hancock has grown exponentially with time… Wish my pictures could capture the fragrance of flowers being sold by street side, coffee & yummy food from houses along either side of the street, the very smell of the ground, aura of that this place has around itself, Sanskrit debates/conversations & recitals, and so on… Easier would be to just let the pictures do some talking…

This visit to Sringeri was quite eventful – eventful in the sense that not only did I get to see the Guru at less than arms-length distance and visit a relative here, I met one of my high school Sanskrit teachers too (ASB). Original plan was to start from Sringeri, towards Bangalore, by night but owing to another mind-storm, /me decided to start the return journey around noonish…

Back To Bangalore

Biggest blunder I did during return journey was to pack my camera deep inside my bag, preventing easy access. Guess I have to wait until my next trip to shoot the coffee plantations and other picture-postcard like scenes that this road offers, though I had some fun time with school kids, between BALehonnUr and ChikkamagaLUr. However, it does not mean that I did not shoot any pictures at all. I changed couple of buses – once in ChikkamagaLUr and once again at HAsan, reaching Bangalore by 10.30pm ish.

More than anything else, this (and such trips, remember the one to B R Hills?) have given enough evidence that I am a wild man (KADu manuShya sounds better, doesn’t it?). Cough seems to have disappeared and so has my throat related issue – though my body wouldn’t complain if /me gets a massage from here 😀

20 Replies to “2006: India Trip – Western Ghats”

  1. Jogada siri belakinalli..
    Tungeyae thene balukinalli
    Sahyadriya lohadadira uttungada nilukinalli..
    Nithyaharidwarna vanada tega gandha tharugalalli…
    Nithyotsava! Thaye nithyotsava!..ninage nithyotsava thaaye nithyotsava..

    You had me singing this when I was reading your blog.. awesome kano.. some great pics.. my favourite is – the carvings on temple wall in sringeri.. reminds me of another song – Shilegalu sangeethava haadide.. okays me on a haadu spree.. Take care.. maja wodi!

  2. @Vathsa,
    Thanks dude – should be back in Houghton by 13th Sept evening. Meeting the gang today at Nina’s place in the afternoon… Hoping for some great times and *Bangalore Open* Tennis Tournment in her apartment complex 😀

  3. Thank you for recording your trip. Your pictures and words took me on vacation, I felt like I could smell “the fragrance of flowers being sold by street side, coffee & yummy food from houses along either side of the street, the very smell of the ground” and feel “the aura that this place has around itself”.

    Thanks again. Look forward to seeing you back in Houghton.
    (The leaves here are putting on their best colors in anticipation of your return.)

  4. Could’ve checked the Banavasi Madhukeshwara temple, Ikkeri, and KeLadi, while you were there. Yeah, even I am from Malnad, and yeah – even I was very disappointed with the Jog Management Authority’s efforts to make the place more hospitable and clean. The road leading upto Jog, though, leads to the most satisfying drive ever. Next time, if ever, drive to Jog.


  5. @Tejaswi,
    Couldn’t make it – severe shortage of time due to pollution-induced sickness. But they are on my ‘must see places list’ for my next visit 🙂 Thanks for taking time to read and leave a comment.

  6. Hey nice pics…..have always wanted to visit the Falls…but have never gotten down to it…recklessly tossed trash at our tourist spots really drives me maad…don’t we have like a civic sense of cleanliness!?

    Also liked the picture in the Sanskrit school room..

  7. @Akira,
    Amen (about recklessly tossed trash at our tourist spots really drives me maad) and you may want to see it before the waterfalls actually disappears from the surface of this earth 🙁

  8. Great pics. What is the camera you use?
    I have a group of friends who dedicate about 30 mins on such trips to picking up garbage (with gloves and shoes on). We even keep spare gloves and bags handy to any other volunteers who get inspired seeing them. It is heartful to see at times that people take on the baton well and these drives sometimes last for well after we stopped.

  9. Dear Geek:

    Hats Off to you (your group) and your efforts in cleansing our beloved wilderness. I very much hope the effect of your work spreads around and gets more people to join the party. As far my camera is concerned, I used Nikon D70s during that trip to India but have recently upgraded to Nikon D200.

    Fellow Geek 🙂

  10. hi G,
    Hats off to u ,Really i wonder , by seeing the talents around us.
    I’m very the way u have expressed,shot taken amazing…..
    no words to say.
    Keep it up, from now onwards i’m one of ur fan.

    I expect still more from u, abt our unexplored places of karnataka.

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