The title might give you a feeling that I did something great!! “Explore” is a misnomer in this context as there is no place in India (or at least in South India) which is left unexplored. The survey people know nook and cranny of the forest and so are the people involved in hydro electricity and sometimes forest department. Local know the forest well. And people from mining, timber mafia and poaching know the forests better than anybody else!! It is only the city dwellers like us who live oblivious of many places around us!! But the fun in going to such “unexplored” place is that they are serene and offers solitude.
Roads on the way
I never thought that I could go out of Bengaluru on that weekend. I was not at Home for last five weekends and for the past 15 days I was not even in the town. But due to few developments I was supposed to be alone in the Home during weekend. And then I saw a mail from Sampath on waterfalls exploration. The decision was easy to make!!
On the Saturday morning six of us (I, Srikanth, Ram, Prajwal, Prakash and his cousin) were standing in front a village school in Western Ghats. The school was closed few years ago for the simple reason that there were no children in the village!! Truth is that the village is devoid of young people. Everyone has migrated to the most happening towns and cities. The old people have no choice but to continue living in their “Janma” and “Karma” bhoomi.
We met our guide Rajanna who is ready to show the way to waterfalls. The first surprise is that he himself has not seen the falls!! Well, that’s an interesting start.
The trek started from the main road of the village and quickly entered into forest. The track was used long back for timber transport and remains could be easily seen. Most of the journey was downward as we had to get down into a valley. We reached grassland and then started our final descent into the valley. The forests were thick at this part of the jungle and the path was very steep. At the base of the valley was a stream flowing by. We walked along the stream for some time and we then suddenly reached falls!! As none of us had seen the place, the appearance of the falls was sudden and surprise.
The nice part of the falls was a pool formed at its base. All of us were in water within few minutes!! Rajanna decided to stay out and prepare food. While I, Prakash and Srikanth were enjoying in the pool, other decided to climb to the top of the falls. We were the first ones from “Civilization” to reach this falls and hence excitement was evident. When the time came to name the falls, Rajanna took the lead and named the beauty as “Hebbara Abbi”.
A steep climb back took up to the grasslands. Here we waited for sun to set. Tried out various techniques to capture the falling sun!!
Back in village, we sensed that people were eager to know more about us.
“Who are these people?”
“Are they Naxals or people from KPCL trying to submerge the lives of people?
“Are they connected to timber mafia guys”?
The questions may sound funny but it was hard for villagers to believe that we have come just to enjoy the nature. They had only seen people from cities coming into forest for looting. So, it is understandable for them to grow suspicious of genuine people.
Next day say us climbing down the valley again but for a different falls. This time the walk was bit longer but mostly along the stream. At one place I found myself removing shoes and walking barefoot. I hate walking on slippery rocks and this was not an exception. On the way we found a small waterfall.
The waterfall was very similar to the one we saw on the previous day but this had even better and safe pool to get into. Rajanna claimed that the waterfall was in his property!! “How can one own land inside evergreen forest?” But he does have right over the area. I think it was transferred long ago!! We name the waterfall as “Rajanna falls”.
I was observing variation in the water levels in the falls. That was strange!! Ram and Prajwal who had climbed to the top of the falls were effectively blocking the water flowing down. The stream before falling passed through a narrow path between two rocks and one could easily obstruct the falls. Click on the video to see the effect.
Returning back, Rajanna took us a direct path which was extremely steep but took us back to the village in no time!!
It is always a nice experience to visit offbeat places. I also got information about 2 more falls in the region!! Hopefully I will visit that beautiful place again.