Monday, June 27, 2016

A legend and a real life story @ Supa

When I clicked the above picture standing on a private road, I could only recall one thing. The placid lake in  3 idiots, Leh, Ladakh ( Pangong lake), where Aamir Khan, Omi Vaidya and the rest meet. Maybe not so blue like Pangong but this looked so much like that place so dreamy, tranquil and so full of peace. This is Supa lake.

 So, After the hiking trip , At  11.30,  our driver Yunus came from Dandeli to take us to Supa. Enroute, the van's open windows framed vistas of   easygoing, sleepy, rustic village  charm, a village which was going through its regular morning routine.

When we reached Supa after a 3o minute drive, what greeted us was a huge locked  gate.  We took a round about the gate and walked through the beautifully tarred road for more than a kilometer which looked like a black carpet. While to our right was a sloping valley and a curvy road beneath, to our left from a sleepy village there was a dramatic change of view - what unfolded to our left was  a huge lake with not much of water but so clean and so pristine.  Immediately, like i said above in my opening lines, the lake reminded of the Leh lake in  3 idiots...or atleast i have never seen a lake so beautiful. Most of the lakes I have seen generally have a touristy touch with a few eateries or hawkers and a few garbage canisters or strewn plastic covers. This spot was so refreshing , with its depth from where i stood and  one could go on gazing dreamily at the placid lake. If only,  it was part of a tourist brochure, this would be promoted as nature's cradle , refreshing getaway etc....thankfully this is the property of KPCL and requires special permission and so not much tourists or people around and no eateries or garbage around.

Just as we were standing there admiring the place  and clicking them for posterity, Yunus who drove us to this place and who was also an employee of west coast paper mills pointed to the thick forestand said the thick forests    (Dandakaranya) gave the place the name Dandeli and Lord Rama passed the place  during his exile and the forests around Diggi was the place where Shoorpanakha's nose was cut by Lakshmana and even today one can see Leeches wherever her bleeding nose spilt the blood. That was an interesting trivia or legend for this corner of our country which is rich in legends and lores.

Legend aside, there is another modern story to this place.  The lake in the above picture  was  a village before 1994 and this is the back water or reservoir or Saddle dam( as the KPCL board had labelled) of River kali. In 1994, when the dam got an inflow of more than 100%, the river water submerged the  bustling farming village of Supa and the villagers were displaced to the neigbouring Ramnagar, Joida and Naghjauri ( beyong the green forests in the picture). Some even moved to the neighbouring Goa in search of occupation. Even today, many of the villagers come as an annual trip to visit the temple or have a look at what was once their village.  

On our way back to the van, he told us about the paper making process in his mill and also that River Kali took birth in the westernghats of north karnataka near Diggi and not in Goa.

Some pictures below:

                                            The almost a km long road to lake supa with dense sloping forests to the left
                                           no permission  to get close to the place
                                            We were parallel to the canopy of the trees on the left.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

In the wilderness @ Bhamanagi

" We travel not to escape life, but life not to escape us"

The 3km drive from Ganeshgudi to our jungle stay seemed eternal. Maybe because  the journey was through winding ghat roads but the deciduous forests of western ghats were a good entertainer to our urban eyes and also the cool fresh oxygenated foresty air did'nt remind that this was peak summer in other parts of India and to think just 200 kms downhill around are the arid and hot parts of Northern Karnataka.

The wayside was peppered with signboards of various jungle resorts and then a signboard from a tiger apprises us mirthlessly " This is my home, Hear me Roar, Dont horn". But, no one seemed to listen. The forest sounds are often drowned by the horns screaming and the gnashing gears at curves. After a few bends, We passed through cluster of houses which our driver termed as a village. Here we forked off to the left where a signboard in kannada read Bhamanagi. We rattle on a muddy path for more than a kilometer till  we reached a place which was barricaded with two wooden logs (gate)and i must say here i was unprepared for the unostentatious rusticity of the two little cottages that stood on the plains  before me from the so called gate. After confirming with the housekeeper our driver dropped us and drove back to we were totally abandoned in the wilderness of the jungle .

The house keeper( who was also the cook) welcomed us and asked us to choose among the 3 cottage house , since it was not a weekend, there was no rush and we had the choice of choosing our cottage.

We chose the second cottage which had two rooms, a big and small room with double beds and two single beds and an attached washroom. No fussy bath curtains or glass cubicles but all the basic amenities were there. The bed was clean but no TV, Wifi or a/c.

The jungle estate itself was pretty large but only 3 cottages( 4 more in the piping) and 11 tents pitched in the wild. They were designed to look like traditional thatched huts from outside. There was not much landscaping except a beautiful common thatched gazebo which served as a dining area, a few garden umbrella, a wash basin aesthetically held by wood logs , and a few benches from the trunks of trees and a round wooden table. The place had couple of wooden bridges made from logs that helped crossover to plaintain plantation and it had a small mangalore tiled house which was the kitchen from where the food came. The watchman of the estate lived in a hut and the estate's back gate opened to a main road which was the route to other homestay properties. The property lived up to its name Wildcraft.

Aah! now wait.....Did'nt I say we were famished? .Arun, the 14 year old 9th grader ( i must write a separate post about this chirpy boy who worked here during summer vacation)served us 2 plate of freshly made delicious french fries as an evening snack and cups and cups of tea , yes the tea from the flask was never ending, totally 4 cups, while the teens had milk, between me and the husband we had to have 4 cups and am not complaining. We needed it.

The tea had perked us up and we took a walk around to explore the place, we walked among  the wildly grown may flowers, lilies, wild jasmines overlooking the plaintian plantation and other unknown woody trees and crossed the log bridge half a km away from our room and checked on a half built cottage and came across the back gate( 2 logs again) to find the main road. By now the sun was almost down, it was getting dark. Any further walk, I was sure we might lose track so, We walked back thinking what a relief it is to be in a countryside away amongst greenery, awash with the chatter of innumerable birds. We began warming up to the idea of spending our time here away from modern development, away from technology and we were totally disconnected and abandoned because there was no vehicle at our disposal and all that we had was intermittent cell signal and ofcourse we had hotspot connectivity.

Ahoy! our holiday in the jungle that involved massive dollops of doing nothing in particular had begun. This was the object of our vacation..... But did it work for us. NO:(

A campfire and dinner later under the starry sky,  we retired for the day only to be woken up next day early morning by Mahesh, our inhouse trail guide.

We thought we would laze around doing nothing and my sleep loving family thought they could doze of till late morning but Mahesh told if we want to see the wild of the jungle, we have to go early. The thought of exploring the western ghats was too tempting to abandon.

The teens were reluctant initially, they said, they did'nt want to wake up early on an holiday but after a little coaxing, the sleepy teens and us Trekked with Mahesh into the wilderness. Mahesh a young boy of 16 who worked during his summer vacation was not a communicative boy in the beginning...but he opened up while returning back from the hike and even enjoyed shooting with our Camera . He infact ran away behind a wild bird into the jungle to click it and i had to shout at him to take us back. He rattled of the names of trees but unfortunately whatever he rattled in Dharwad kannada was not clear to us. For instance, what he refered to Jambu hannina mara was nowhere close to the Jambu phal (jackfruit) that we know. I could make out the wild gooseberry though.

Two hours of walking in the wild, we saw nothing worth mentioning. We looked up towards the canopy to spot  atleast an hornbill which this place is famous for but all we could spot were a few babblers and wood peckers. Mahesh once or twice hushed us and told us not to make sound while walking which our shoes made on contact with the dry leaves. But to no effect, he could hush us up but what of the  loud sound of the tractors from the nearby village.

We also saw lots of tree stumps which Mahesh said were cut by villagers and a mini lorry full of sand was mined and stashed on the banks of a little brook that according to mahesh was to build house.

Deforestation and sandmining ,,,i thought aloud....The protection that nature provides for free might prove dear to replace one day till then we can misuse it.

We walked back to our cottage to have a sumptuous break fast....more on supa lake and syntheri rocks in next post.

                                           The road to our homestay

                                                                    leaving our footsteps on the western ghats

                            A brook which mahesh said overflows the day it rains and that day it rained heavily in the evening, it would have made a pretty overflowing sight the next day.

We played ripples here for sometime, mahesh also told animals come here to quench their thirst

 That's mahesh hanging from a natural cord from a tree and he told these are used to make cords( from what i assumed of his kannada)
                                                               Back to our cottage.

  a small bridge which walked us into the plaintain farm

 The dot besotted by the log bridges used to cross the deep trenches of the jungle estate at the back 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Adrift in the Kali @ Ganeshgudi

As the Omni van winded its way up from Supa dam, we felt the cool crisp air from the forest on either sides and enjoyed the visuals the Ghats threw.  It was around 2.30 we reached the banks of River Kali at Ganeshgudi. The river here is famous for adventure sports  and has plenty of activities like kayaking, raft boating, white water rafting, zorbing, natural jacuzzi, river crosssing,flying fox etc....a perfect place for people craving for adventure water sports.

Unlike many such tourist places, the place was not too crowded and also thankfully, no one tried to sell massages, local crafts, boat rides and fakestuff here.  The weather was good although the  sun was shining above us, we did'nt feel the sunny weather and were constantly under the canopy of the lush green forest cover even by the sides of the River. 

Time was slipping and we were done with the formalities for getting into the water . Everyone in the family was excited and gearing for the relaxed adventures in water except me. I hate water and was not too excited, Infact, I was fearing that my family would force me to be a part of the adventure and was finding ways to excuse myself from the fun. But, finally they won  and before  I knew I was wearing the life jackets and my family had already slipped into the water and were kayaking  away while the guide was rattling the rules to me. Some rules and caution were -  to move right,i should paddle on the left side and push the water backwards and to move to my left, i should paddle right.  I  should'nt move to the right of the river as there were rapids, i should'nt move straight as there was a 90 degree fall and I should move only to the left of the river.

He gave me a double bladed paddle and helped me to the kayak. As a final advise,  the guide told me not to worry, if i fell into the water, the life jacket would hold me afloat and  when i asked,  how deep was the water. He answered - 80 feet deep.

God!! That  was  enough to scare me more, but with prayers on my lips as I often do at tough times,  I unleashed the adventure streak in me and then like the quote goes " There is always a first time for everything" and this was my debut with  solo adventure water sport.

I started paddling pretty confidently and moved  onto the middle of the river on the left side....once or twice i drifted towards the 90 degree fall, but i was guided by my guide who was circling around to paddle right. My family of 3 ofcourse was out of my sight, they had ventured far. I was alert and conscious most of the time, but when i drifted towards the wrong side, i blanked out not knowing which was 'left' or 'right'.  After a  20  minute exercise, i decided to move to the banks as my upper arms were aching due to paddling and pushing. I reached the banks of the river and was totally satisfied with my first solo water adventure. I think i did a fairly decent job and as i was waiting for my family to return , i thought i should have been in water for some more time. It was'nt scary after all!!

Next adventure was raft boating( not rafting...rafting is done on rapids and we did'nt do this)..All of us were on a raft boat paddling across the calm river to a place where the water fell 90 degree. Our guide travelled with us and anchored the boat there and we had to get down the small rocks. Only when we walked down the rocks did we feel the intensity of the shining sun, the rocks were too hot but we walked cautiously on the steep rocks  and slid down into the  waterfall which was promoted as natural jacuzzi. The force of the water on us acted like a natural massage no doubt. The water gushed from all the sides with good force on us and even had the power to wash us away if we did'nt have a proper hold or grip. A thick long rope was tied just in case we were washed away, we could catch hold of that and save ourself. But even if one lost the grip, the  natural safety net was through two boulders which blocked us from washing  away to the next steep fall. The sheath of water was totally relaxing and healing and  even had a  lulling effect. After we had enough of this experience, we walked up the rocks again and boarded the boat and rafted back to the other bank. 

The next sport in line was Zorbing....walking on the water from inside of  a round inflatable ball. With every step inside the ball, the water ball rolls into the water giving you a feeling of river  walking. I and my daughter tried this first. 

If the surface is dry, it is easy to walk but if it is wet, it slips and one is unable to walk.  The guide there was splashing water, we lost grip on the surface we slipped and fell inside the ball.  Generally, water is not splashed but our guide was throwing water so that we enjoy the fall and have fun. This was a total fun riot for close to an hour when we took our turns. During the whole zorbing exercise, all of us fell inside  the ball uncontrallably laughing. We felt child-like. Once the son even fell laughing  into the river, and then swam to the banks.

The river crossing  and rapelling was suspended on that day.  From the pictures posted at the place, the river crossing looked very easy but my daughter and the husband who have tried this said, it was not easy as it looked, one has to kick with legs and push with hands to move forward on the rope and cross the river else one gets stuck on the rope.. White water rafting is highly recommended here but we did'nt do this as well.

We were pretty exhausted  and famished too after the high-octane activities on the rather clean  Kali waters that whimsically changed its flow from calm to  white rapids at different places. Now, It was time to retire for the day. It was around 5.30 when We drove to our jungle stay some 3kms away.

                 the calm water on the "left" side ideal for kayaking

            the sonny boy kayaking

                     The dot trying to be successful with zorbing. At the far end in the river is one of the turbulent white rapid.

 there was a time when civilizations fluorished on river banks, today resorts of the resort cottages at Ganeshgudi.

 No pictures were taken at  jacuzzi as we were in water.


Sunday, June 12, 2016

The journey to Dandeli

Dandeli was my vacation destination this time . Set in North Karnataka's western ghats. Dandeli though popular for white water rafting, i believe is one of the lesser known  gems  for vacation and it was on my 'To do' list ever since i saw wonderful pictures of this place in a glossy magazine long long ago.

So, like i mentioned in previous post, with confirmed tickets  a couple of hours before departure, we travelled light and alighted at Hubli's lokamanya tilak station the next morning  @7.30 after a 16 hour overnight journey.  We read online( and were also told)  that there were many buses to Dandeli from Hubli, infact with a frequency of every five minutes. But we realized after breakfast that there were no direct buses from Hubli to Dandeli except a one and only daily service at 8.15.a.m

So, guided by a few we hopped on a local bus to central bus station and took a  bus to Dharwad, Hubli's twin city.   A 50  minute ride later we were in Dharwad from where there were many buses to Dandeli. As told, we alighted and immediately shuttled to another bus to Dandeli. Another 100 minute journey through the winding roads of   teak forests of Nigdi and Haliyal and we were at  Dandeli at 11.30.a.m.

While the road from Hubli to Dharwad was fractured due to the construction of Rapid transport system, The road from Dharwad to Dandeli  was a visual treat and winded through the ghat section, teak forests and lovely little quaint village houses. The houses were small where the top floor was hardly 8 feet  but they had balconies made of wood with traditionally designed awnings , windows with wooden  sun shades and  still some houses sported the traditonal facades of a small sitting  platform and alcoves.  And also  I was more into observing the people around me while they boarded and alighted at each village enroute. The village  women  wore ethnic Ilkals and Khun ( a variety of handloom), kadas and tattoees while they spoke the typical north karnataka kannada which I am very fond of.  In Dharwad kannada a simple 'Pete' of bangalore kannada becomes 'Pyaate' ( meaning city).  And i tried to add the required accent with the people around me while talking with my co-passengers. All these made my bus journey interesting  and not tiring. At the same time, It was also disappointing to see 2 industrial exhaust pipes spewing black smoke into the air. I was expecting a clean green environment in Dandeli away from industrialization  fortunately it was heartening to note all paper mills and saw mills are closed and only the West coast paper mills is functioning now. Lot of Andolans( agitation) from environmentalists to stop Industrialization  and construction of dams which threaten the ecological balance of this area rich in bio-diversity are on.

Once At Dandeli, our home stay operator provided  an accomodation to refresh and lunch later we were on a Maruti Omni to our home stay at Bhavalangi's jungle woods. We were disappointed we did'nt get a good a/c vehicle but will tell you in my further posts what a blessing this was.

  Enroute we passed through Kali river bridge which was picturesque and while we stopped over the bridge The weather was sunny but pleasant. The sunlight filtered through the river and the river bed was visible and we could even see an idol of Lingam.  Some women were washing the clothes sitting on the steps leading to the river at the far end  perhaps unaware of their city folks facing water shortage in the city. We soaked in the spectacular views around us and went on clicking the photographs and one of them being that of the faraway Supa dam.  Didn't realize at that time that would be the only pic of Supa dam that we would be clicking, which is supposed to be one of the major dams of India..

Soon, we left the place and our driver drove past the Karnataka power corporation ltd which housed the Supa dam. This is a restricted area but  visitors are allowed to view from a distance. We asked him to stop there for a while, while we walked in  the few metres past the gate till the security gate. The Supa dam from there looked majestic and this is by far the biggest dam of all the dams i have seen in south. Was wondering how it would have looked if the sluice gates would have been open. I requested the security that we would take a few photos despite the " photography prohibited" board. He politely told me that there were CCTV and his superiors would know. An official around gave us some info about the dam telling that the dam was named after a village Supa which was drowned in 1994 and the dam had 100% inflow then and the dammed river water generates hydroelectricty to cater to Hubli and Goa. When i asked Why Goa?. He said the river Kali has its origins in Goa(??) and so both the govts, have an understanding regarding the sharing of power. This info was contradicted by our guide later...will share that too.

From Supa dam we travelled further up the winding roads of Western ghats  to reach Ganeshgudi where we experienced some high octane water adventure sports...more on that in my next post.

 The river Kali always in full glory since it is dam controlled 

 The bridge across river kali which is a stopover for tourists to catch some spectacular views

                                 That's the Supa dam at a good height. The officials at KPCL said it is the second biggest after Bhakra Nangal but i verified and found it is not. Whatever he said in Dharwad kannada perhaps i misconstrued.  But of all the dams that i have seen this was at a good height( comparing with srisailam, nagarjuna, krishnagiri, sathanur, malavalli and other southern dams)

A zoomed up view...if the sluice gates are opened it would have been a visual treat.

P.S: please pardon the punctuation and grammatical errors. My son read my last four posts recently and pointed too many mistakes and  my daughter who too recently read was annoyed that i don't put capital letters at the required places.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

One off my bucket list:)

Travelling to places with family was a thing of the past or so I thought. With grown up teens, one  studying from a hostel ,  another in a defining year of higher class  and a travelling spouse it is difficult to bring a family together under a roof.

 While the  younger had vacation, the elder had her semester exams, when the elder came home for the year break, the husband had to travel on work and when he was back, the younger had to go to school.  But then amongst all these we still managed   4 days of family travel by bunking the first working day of my son .   Initially, if things had gone right and we had  more than a week,  we had planned a travel to North east with friends but  that plan backfired and  what happened was an unplanned travel to North west of a neighboring state.

We rested our car and  took a train to Hubli ( last minute confirmed seats)  , Hubli to Dharwad by bus, Dharwad to our  “ vacation destination” by bus. My “destination “ to the Jungle  homestay by a maruti omni( nonA/c) .

 It was a rejuvenating, educative, ruminative  and stress free trip  which made me realize that life's best moments come unplanned.  

 We inhaled the pristine  forest air, connected with nature,  went kayaking, rafting, hiking,  zorbing, enjoyed  the natural Jacuzzi,  trekked down and up a steep hill  to a falls ( my  knees bore the brunt and are still aching ) , listened to many stories, tales and legends, came across many interesting people . We were away from technology like TV, A/c , GPS  etc.........but network followed to some areas and we were connected to the world off and on .….will tell/share them all here . Will be back….
.................and yes, i have ticked one off my bucket list and my bucket is still full.

 P.S: If you are reading this  “ Can  you name  the place I went to with the above clues?” Try, try….you can even google  ....some more clues below:)))



.                               I was not successful with zorbing but it was total fun.
                                 a lovely brook in the forest when we went hiking in the morning
this lake  reminded me of the lake from 3 idiots ( last scene) ...a virgin place not promoted by tourism and has an interesting real life incident and a legend associated with it. will share soon.

may flowers and lilies wildly grew here