Monday, November 12, 2007

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.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Charmadi: Day two – Anadka and Ermayee falls

20 October 2007

We started from Dharmasthala at 8AM. The destination was Anadka falls, near Didupe. We crossed Ujire and reached Mundaje on Dharmasthala-Mudigere road. Here we took the deviation to Didupe. The distance from Mundaje to Didupe is about 13 km. On the way from Mundaje to Didupe one can see the majestic Kudremukh ranges and beautiful Bandaje Arbi falls.

We reached Didupe at 9:30AM. It is a picturesque village surrounded by mountains. An unknown waterfall could also be seen from a very long distance. From Didupe, there is a mud road that leads to the falls. We parked our car near the ground and started walking on the mud road. After covering about 3 km on the mud road, we reached an entrance of a private plantation. At the plantation, a local person from a house guided us to the falls.

As we were going through the plantation, we could see a falls somewhere high up the hills. When asked, the local guy told that the same Anadka stream forms another falls in the upstream and it is possible to trek up to that point after the end of monsoon season. That would be an interesting trek. We then crossed the stream and he showed us the easy route to reach the base of the Anadka falls.

It is a single step falls and the view is fantastic. It is a falls where one can easily take bath and play in the water. The falls is also known as “Kudumagundi” falls. We spent some time in taking snaps and playing in the water.
We came back to Didupe and started back. The next point was Ermayee falls. If one starts from Didupe to Mundaje, after Kajur, a mud road goes to the left that leads to the falls. When we reached the junction, it started raining heavily. I went to the lone house next to the road to get an umbrella. The owner of the house was a very helpful gentleman. He asked us to park our vehicle in his compound, as there were some thefts earlier in the vehicles that were parked on the main road.

The falls is just 1km walk from the main road. We had to cross a stream on the way and reached Deviah Gowda’s house. One has to go through their plantation for 5 minutes to reach the falls. We took permission to enter into their property and went to the falls.

It is a two-step falls and is in complete isolation. Two days ago, I did not even know that this falls exists and now I was in front it enjoying the waters. Shivarjakumar’s “Chigurida Kanasu” was shot in this falls.

It was 3PM when we came back from the falls and now we remembered that we did not had lunch. We went to Mundaje, had late lunch at Sharanya hotel and started our return journey to Bangalore. This time there was no block in Charmadi ghat, but the continuous rains till Bangalore slowed the journey. It was almost midnight when we reached Bangalore.

It would take several weekends to cover some of the prominent places in the Charmadi area and there will be some more trips to this beautiful place.


Unfortunately, Anadka falls is in Kudremukh National forest. Forest department has erected a board at Didupe mentioning that permission is needed to visit the falls. We were not aware of that and on the way to the falls, from a house named “GOWDA”, a person suddenly appeared and said that he was a forest guard and was on an inspection. There was no check-post and I don’t know what he was doing in that house. He told that without permission, one couldn’t go to the falls. The permission has to be obtained at Beltangadi only. This was news to me, as in the forest department website, I had not seen any mention of this falls.

He asked us either to get permission from Beltangadi forest Officer or pay the forest entry fees to him and go to falls. Even though he told that he was a forest guard, he was not on dress nor had an ID card. On top of that he said that he cannot give any receipts to us, but he said that he would pay the amount in Beltangadi forest Office. His name was Ravindra (that’s what he told). Frankly speaking I did not like that person. He looked more like a Panchayat member than a forest guard. But then, we could not ignore him and go to the falls. If he were a real forest guard we would be in trouble. Finally after discussing among ourselves, we paid the money. Whether he was a forest guard or not, he made money from us.