After an intense negotiation for a day's leave, we decided to leave on Friday night.
Imagine my plight when I am asking for a day’s leave to go on a trip and I do not know where I am going! Yep we had not decided where to go. The driver had arrived with the vehicle and we were still arguing about the places. After much indecision the only thing we decided was to get in to the vehicle and start. The general opinion was to travel and stop where ever you found something interesting.
The first destination was Jog Falls. The world famous waterfalls, though was on the lighter side in terms of water volume, is breath taking. Photographers surround you offering to click a snap of you with the falls in the back round and deliver he photo in 5 minutes. I thought that these guys use Polaroid cameras to take pictures. But no, they use digital cameras and get the print out for you in minutes. Even if the water falls is not in its full glory, they morph the photo to show us standing in front of one which is roaring down.
They don’t stop at that. They carry the pics of actors and actresses and can morph our pictures with any of these. A salivating old man clutching the shoulders of a pretty young actress in front of the water fall!!!. Well that’s digital revolution for you....
Our next stop was Yaana. The two gigantic volcanic rock formations leave you with wonder. Located in the midst of jungle, it offers a good trekking opportunity. The huge cave in one of the rock formation is magnificent and makes one think about the natural forces which formed these. An excellent place to visit if you are not squeamish to walk on the bat guano dropped by horde of bats residing inside he cave and not to mention wild bees which is sure to attack you if you make too much noise.
Vibhuthi falls is nearby Yaana again hidden in the jungle. Have to walk about a kilometer and half to it. As promised to our elders before leaving, we did not touch the water, but directly plunged in to it. After splashing around for quite some time and some of us donating our blood to the leeches we turned our vehicle towards Murudeshwara.
Murudeshwara is a holy place located beside a beach. It looks more like a tourist spot with all the resorts, hotels and bars all around the place. Mythological,it plays a part in the story of Ravana's quest for 'Atma Linga' and subsequent trickery of the Gods to thwart him. Sometimes I wonder, was Ravana (who was a highly learned scholar, musician and a warrior) a cruel despot as he is projected to be or was it the negative propaganda of the Gods?. Here is one theory.
Nevertheless, with a magnificent statue of Shiva and a huge temple tower facing the beach, the place is definitely worth visiting. Finding room to stay was a bit of an adventure. One place we went informed us that all rooms were booked and after looking at me and my friend for few seconds, the receptionist asked if we will be interested in a A/C suite, as if we are a couple on our honeymoon. And any thoughts of us acting like one to get the room left as soon as he mentioned that it costs 4500 bucks a night.
After some search we spent the night in a room with a latch less bathroom door.
On the way we stopped at one more falls called 'Hanumanagundi Falls', which again is situated inside forest and one has to climb down a hill to reach it. Again a beautiful waterfall and after doing exactly what we were forbidden to do, we continued in our path.
Lakhya dam is a pollution control dam built for the Kudremukh Iron Ore Industry. One has to see it to enjoy it. No words can describe them. Located in between green hills, the vast dam is magnificent. It also made me think, why people instead of visiting these places, clamor to go abroad and talk about the natural beauty there.
By the time we reached Kalasa, we were so hungry that (Did I mention that we had eaten nothing since morning and it was night), we stopped at the first hotel and rushed in.
After an hour of extreme gluttony, causing the waiter who served us a mental breakdown just by eating almost a week's worth of provisions, we emerged out with a look of content on our face. Finding a room to stay was surprisingly easy and we got much better room at half the price of what we paid in Murudeshwara.
Then we set about to explore the town on foot. Its a small town which has retained a old world charm. People are friendly, go out of their way to help and they talk a lot. We entered a shop just to have a drink (ok, it was just butter milk, but writing it as 'a drink' makes it sound better), the shop owner sensing that we are tourists started talking. From the quality of the coffee powder that he sold to the miracles of the local God, nothing was spared. Upon his suggestion, we then decided to go to Horanadu temple, where the main puja was scheduled to happen in next half an hour. We got in to our vehicle and just as it moved a few hundred meters, we realized that one of the tyre is flat. As we got down and trying to change to spare tyre, people started to come over and ask , guess what?.. 'Was the tyre Punctured?' !!. 'No, we get the kicks by changing tyres in the middle of the road'...Ok, we did not say that, cause these people were helpful and enabled us to find a mechanic as all the shops were closed. After changing in to spare tyre, we went back to our rooms and settled down for the night.
Got up quite early to the sounds of the grinder and aroma of the food from the hotel next door. A short trek to an observation point, from where the view was supposed to be spectacular had been highly recommended to us the previous day. So we set off and after sometime realized that we do not know the way. One of us started asking people on the road, the way to the sunset point. The look on their face spoke volumes. "Who are these morons, early in the morning asking for sunset point?". Nevertheless, they pointed us towards the right way and when we reached the point, the view was truly spectacular. We were so high that there were clouds below us and surrounded by hills all around. After a customary photo sessions where we posed our ugly mugs in front of the scenery, we headed back.
We paid our obeisance to the local God 'Kalaseshwara'. Breakfast, again was a repeat of the previous night. The waiter who served us the night before ran away as he sighted us and another poor blighter came over to us. After polishing off a week's worth of food again and sending another waiter to his doom we climbed our vehicle.
Amba Theertha is a place where the flow of water has bored holes through rocks creating formations in them. Its a treacherous place where the water current is high with whirl pools and pretty dangerous. A number of warning signs have been put up, informing people not to get in to water. As is our wont we ignored them and spent quite sometime jumping on the rocks, sailing paper boats, in general acting like the kids we are...
After a pretty long drive, we reached Chickamagalur. Mullayanagiri is the highest peak in Karnataka. You have to drive through hairpin curves with a steep fall at one side to reach the bas of the hill. In rainy seasons, land slides and fog makes the drive that much dangerous. To reach summit, you have to trek for about half an hour. The peak offers a great view of the surrounding hills that is if they are not covered by fog and clouds.
The travel back to home was littered with a flat tyre again and eating at a hotel, where I suspect the waiters had heard about our earlier gastronomical exploits in Kalasa and were determined to close for the day as quickly as possible lest we eat everything in sight, including them....
As always returning back was painful, to leave behind the calm and pristine nature and get back to the polluted city, hectic work and managers.... Somebody has rightly said 'No vacation goes unpunished'.....