Bandaje Arbi: An old trek remembered

Last month while driving from Mundaje to Didupe for Anadka falls, I could see the Bandaje Arbi waterfalls falling majestically from the mountains far away. It brought back my old memories of a trek done to the top of that falls long ago. It was during my college days some 10 years ago. I was not a travel freak at that time. Our college trekking club with the help of an adventure organization from Mysore (I don’t remember the name now) arranged for this trek. Since my roommate Shiva was member of this club, I joined this trek.

We had taken a jeep from Dharmasthala to Gowdara mane, near Mundaje, which was the base point for the trek. Since then, a lot of changes have happened in Mundaje, both geographically and demographically. At that time there was no tar road from Mundaje and the jeep had to cross a couple of streams to reach the base point. Now, lot of buses ply on this route.

The trek was difficult and all of us being first timers struggled a lot. We lost our way and the organizer who had gone though this route couple of times managed to find the route. Not many people used to trek in those days and there was no defined path to the falls.

It was almost dark when we reached top of the falls. The organizer from the adventure organization was a nice man but did not manage the trek professionally. He conveniently forgot to bring the tents and sleeping bags he had promised. Instead he brought a big rope to carry out rappelling from top of the falls. The rope weighed 18kg and needed two people to carry it. Who will carry their luggage? It was extremely painful to carry that extra luggage. Next day, on top of the falls, he asked us to get down to the bottom of the falls using the rope and walk along the stream to the point where we had started the trek. I think it was frivolous thing to do rappelling at that place. Nobody had any idea of rappelling and certainly it was not safe to learn rappelling on a 200+ ft falls without professional support. The useless rope had to be carried back as nobody was game for rappelling.

The night we spent on the top was most memorable. We did not have any bed sheets or sleeping bags and just slept on the uneven floor. The December cold made us shiver for the entire night. The night was long and nobody expect the organizer (He had brought his sleeping bag! @#$%^&*) had a good sleep. In addition to that the dinner was flop as the rice was not cooked properly and we had contended ourselves with half cooked stuff. But I now think that these uncomfortable things make the experience to be remembered for long.

Now from some of the travelogues I read that people also trek from Bandaje to Ballalarayana Durga and to Sunkasale. I think the organizer was not aware of that route at that time, as we returned back the next day on the same path that we had climbed.

I was a student at that time and did not possess any camera to capture those moments. The memories are only embedded in my mind. This was the only trek I went during my entire college life.

Bandaje Arbi is in Kudremukh National forest and permission to trek to the falls has to be obtained from the forest department.

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