Back in the ghats

It’s odd charting the same path after 2 years. That novelty is no longer there, and you almost always brace yourself for disappointment. Seldom are things better the second time around, at least in these times where you only see a larger and deeper human presence, and the consequent decadence in the form of plastic covers and garbage.

Two years back, we drove to the Jog falls via Tumkur, Tiptur, Arasikere, Kadur, Birur, Tarikere, etc. The rains caught up at Kadur and didn’t let go for the whole journey until the last day when we crossed Bhadravathi and got back into the inner side of the Ghats. The whole place looked like a gigantic bathroom, and was damp and wet all the time. This time there were sporadic bursts but nothing steady or substantial. There was that feeling of cloudiness, but even when it rained we knew it would let up soon. We could even see stars in the sky at night!

This meant that while Jog Falls 2 years back looked like this:

Jog falls

This year was mostly this:

And while we had trekked 4 Kms to the Chaturmukha Basadi last time, this time we managed to drive as the road was mostly drivable, till the last 0.5 Kms which were cut off due to a landslide. We saved time for sure, but somehow the experience was no longer the same. Even the destination had a bunch of people, we were no longer the only ones. Didn’t realise I had gotten too used to being the only one at the spot. Of course, this time it was also a Sunday evening.

Monday morning at the Jog did guarantee the lack-of-other-tourists experience, but there wasn’t any water either. We headed off searching for the Talakalale Balancing reservoir but ended up driving at random towards Bhatkal in the coast. Of course, we never reached the coast but turned back much earlier. Not before we got to see a snake slithering past or see some idyllic step farms. There was no one on this path. It was a Monday morning! A few two wheelers here and there. You never regret wrong turns in these places.

We stopped by the Linganamakki reservoir viewpoint, but the highlight was a big lizard which stayed put and let me take photos. Later research showed that it was an “Oriental Garden Lizard”.

Oriental Garden Lizard
There was no signal to help us find the place we were looking for, so we turned back to the town of Kargal, moved onto the old bridge over the river which showed depressingly less amount of water compared to 2 years back. And onwards to Talaguppa.

Aug 2015: Aug 2013:

The path to Siddapura was taken, where lunch was also had. We tried to find Unchalli falls where the undammed, not-yet dammed Aghanashini, takes a massive plunge. After much wrong turns, and being offered directions in exchange for lifts, thanks to one broken down bridge, we reached the falls. The path to be taken was from Siddapura towards Sirsi, then a left near Kansur, heading straight to Heggarane and then 5 Kms to Unchalli falls. The roads were narrow, but surprisingly good! The river Aghanashini was crossed after Kansur near Balesar.

Aghanashini: A snake that tried to cross the road had to turn back: Common rat snake We eventually reached the falls. But the falls were hidden behind the cloud of mist generated by itself.

The observatorion deck was drenched in a form of “rain” from this cloud, while everything else was bone-dry. It was an ecosystem by itself with frogs hopping all over. Frog - Western Ghats We returned after having some tea at the lone shop at the gate and some tut-tutting over the lack of rains this year. We drove back to Sagar to stay at “Tip top Residency”, a garish glass and granite monstrosity.

The next day, the return was completed with stopovers at Amruthapura near Tarikere, a coffee at Chikmagalur, Belur with lunch there, a drive to Belavadi and then home by 7:30 PM.

Amruthapura:           Belur: BelurBelavadi
Rest of the photos here:

Monsoon in the Western Ghats – Aug 2015

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