Trek to Bandaje falls - Part 1

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , , | Posted on Tuesday, January 05, 2010

First of all, I want to wish all the readers a very happy and wishful new year.

Here is an account of another wild New Year eve celebration with my close buddies. As we friends do every year, this time too we had plans of welcoming the New Year atop any hill or amidst any thick jungle. The plan was to trek to Bandaje Falls near Ujire (near Dharmasthala).

Byre, Sharath, Pujar and me boarded a red KSRTC bus to Dharmasthala on 30th night at 11 PM. The ride was smooth till the bus crossed Sakleshpur. The road after that till Dharmasthala churned out all the internal organs of our bodies not letting us even blink our eyes for the rest of the night. We reached Dharmasthala around 6 AM. The place seemed to be crowded with most of the guest houses and hotels hanging out 'No Rooms' board near the reception. Lord Manjunatha being Byre's family deity, he has been to Dharmasthala umpteen times. He knew every inch of the place and led us to a guest house where he was sure of getting a room. We alighted our heavy bags, freshened up in the shared rest rooms of the guest house. After resting for a while there and having the most terrible breakfast of my life we headed towards Ujire in bus. About the shared rest rooms, terrible breakfast available in the hotels of Dharmasthala and the Darshan we had of the Lord on the next day, I am planning to write a separate blog post, because it deserves at least some hundreds of words to describe what I under went and what I feel about the place!

It was surprising that some locals and auto drivers in Ujire, seemed unaware of Bandaje falls! From the details we had collected from the net, it was said that one has to go to a place called Mundaje from where the trail starts towards Bandaje falls. We hired an auto from Ujire to Mundaje, till the point we saw a board reading Bandaje falls. Bandaje falls is visible from this point, at least a kilometer right to the highest peak in the range of mountains. In many of the blogs and sites, it was advised to hire a guide to the falls from a local landlord named Narayana Gowda. The board had his contact number too. Underestimating the dense jungle trek to the falls, we planned not to hire any guide but to explore the route on our own. The auto guy was kind enough to give us some tips to camp near the falls during the night. He also warned us about the wild elephants on the route to Bandaje Falls. The four of us started our trek with our heavy bags loaded with food, water bottles, sleeping bags and other necessary items to survive in the wild.

Raise to the falls
The hot merciless Sun of coastal Karnataka shone above our heads. We kept walking on the mud road, reconfirming the route from the unfamiliar but friendly faces peeping out from the stranded tile roof houses. The distinct brownish red colored tile roofs amidst the green Areca nut plantations in Karavali and MalenaaDu region are always a treat for the eyes. After walking on the mud road nearly for 4 Kms, we got what we believed as Narayana Gowda's house. Firm on our decision of exploring the route on our own, we did not stop at Narayana Gowda's house for a guide. After walking for a while, the mud road narrowed down to the gate of a house. Inquiring there, we were told to follow the main trail to reach the Bandaje falls. I know that is really a vague way to direct some one when the path itself is less traveled. After freshening up near the stream of water there, we marched ahead in the Areca nut plantations which appeared to belong to the house where we had last asked for the directions to the falls. We hit the hedge of the plantations with no clear path beyond that. That is when Sharath murmured, "I think it is better to hire a guide"...

We walked back for few meters and took the deviation from where the hedge had a clear trail further up the jungle. At that point, we thought that was the last point of civilization and we would be facing the wild jungle from then on. But later we got to know that there were many other houses hiding their roofs in the greenery of the Western Ghats. After crossing the hedge, it got steeper and all of us started sweating profusely except Byre. I have trekked for hours together with Byre earlier too, what I have noticed is he does not sweat out a single drop of saline from his body pores. I do not know if it is some rare disease or some thing ;), but it feels so awkward to see a fellow trekker without a droplet of sweat on his forehead when the rest are profusely sweating. The sight of the peak and Bandaje falls was hidden behind the thick canopy long back. It was a combination of our instincts, sense of direction and the pale trail which was the 'guiding' force for the rest of our trek.

Trek n untrek
There were many deviations that kept confusing us. In all such moments, one or two of us would go in each of the directions for few meters and find out if there was a distinct trail ahead or not. Also, we used to scrape the trunk of a tree as a mark of the path we took, thinking it would help us while trekking back. This act of doing and undoing continued till 2:30PM. The sky which was bright and sunny when we had started the trek turned out dark and cloudy. We spotted a house there - While Sharath and Byre explored the trail further, Pujar and I went near the fence of the house to ask for the directions of the falls. Unfortunately no one was there in the house to answer us and we had to again rely on our 'guiding' force to trek ahead. The trail led us to the thick jungle from there on and the ticking clock and the dark sky made us rethink our decision to continue our trek to the falls. All of us sat down munching some snacks and discussed about our altered plan. It was evident that we had given up the idea of going to Bandaje Falls by then. The concern then was to find a safe shelter in case it starts pouring down. This time we did not have tent and all we had was a tarpaulin. Knowing the frenzy of the rains in Western Ghats we thought of trekking down before it starts pouring.

(to be contd...)

Comments (5)

Hmm.... Interesting!

Happy New Year...

so.. ?? u did not go to the falls ?? shit man.

HNY to you too.. :)

No.. we dint :(

Nice one... It would have been great if you could also provide the route map and the best time to treck in all your adventure articles.

We had gone but with the help of a guide. We went to this place in Dec 1st week. This is by no means an easy trek. It is tough because of the steepness and lack of clear path. Do it in Oct/Nov/Dec as the weather is good and leeches are rare in December also you can find lot of streams.

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