Showing posts with label Western ghats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Western ghats. Show all posts

A Winter Trek in the Western Ghats, Ballalarayana Durga Fort, Chikmagaluru

Kudremukha Hills, Chikmagalur
Kudremukha Hill Range in Monochrome
 A long pending trek to Ballalarayana Durga fort finally materialized last winter during our trip to Horanadu. 'Ballalarayana Durga' hill is located about 40 km from Mudigere and the fort can be reached via two trek routes - the longer 2 day trek route via Bandajje Arabi Waterfalls from Mundaje and the shorter day trek from Durgadahalli. We decided to a take shorter route since our partner Adhi was a year and a half year old. Road is laid up to Durgadahalli, where we parked our vehicle and started our trek. The initial path of the trek took us  along a few local estates and a bit of steep climb welcomed us to this hill. The climb progresses amidst lush green grasslands which opens up into a beautiful natural landscaped vista.
Trekking in Chikmagalur
The Initial Trek Path
Ballalarayana Durga Fort
First Look of Ballalarayana Durga Fort
Shola Forest, Western Ghats
Shola Forest of Ballalarayana Durga
Trekking in Western Ghats
Break for the Little Trekker on Demand

The walk through the grasslands was quite easy and very pleasing to the eye. Undoubtedly, we spent more time on photography then trekking! As the trek continued through the grasslands, we reached a junction with two diversions and after much deliberation, we decided to take the route on the left and bang on! We were on the right track. We had to cross a few smaller hills in order to reach the base of the hill that housed the fort. We had a clear view of the fort hereon. The early winter weather was perfect for this trek and as usual, this time of the year is always pleasant. We entered the fort wondering about the reason of its being built here in the first place, later only to be abandoned and why no further attempts were made by other kings to occupy/modify/rebuild this fort. Much of the fortification still remains intact  giving us an idea of how magnificent it was, back then.
Trek route along the Grass land
Trek Route Snaking Along the Grass Land
Vigna vexillata Flower WesternGhats
Vigna vexillata Flower
Neelakurinji Flower Western ghats
Neelakurinji Flower
Flower of Western ghats
Forest Malenadu
Another Stretch of Shola Forests
Ballalarayana Durga hill range falls under the Bankal range of Mudigere forest division. This hill is said to have been fortified by the Hoysala Kings in 12th century, which also played a significant role in defence activities due to its strategic location. We did not get any further information regarding the history of this fort. It probably seems like the fort was abandoned with the downfall of the Hoysala dynasty. One can get a view of the entire Kudremukha hill range, Charmadi ghats and other hill ranges. While we were just about to start our descent, we spotted a few trekkers coming towards the fort taking the Bandajje Arabi route. We waited to speak to them and find out their experience uphill and assured them that the descent down the hill from here was not as difficult. They inquired from us about the possibility of hiring a vehicle at Durgadahalli and as we knew, we informed them that the chances of availability of vehicles were quite bleak. We offered them to join us so we can give  drop them all to the nearest place from where they can get a  bus back to Bangalore. Without a second  thought, they readily accepted our offer. After they rested for sometime, we all started our descent. All along, they were quite excited to see our little partner Adhi doing the trek! We reached our vehicle and as promised, we dropped the boys at Kottigehara. Overall, it was a wonderful experience of trekking amidst so much greenery!
Gaali gudda
Gaali Gudda Hills
Bandajje Arabi waterfalls
Towards Bandajje Arabi Waterfalls
Cheering Up the Young Trekker
Ballalarayana Durga Fort
Ballalarayana Durga Fort
Ballalarayana Durga Fort
Fort Walls Snaking Across The Hills

Other places to Visit nearby: Kalasa, Horanadu, Chikmagalur, Sooramane Abbi Waterfalls, Khandya, Mullayanagiri, Bababudanagiri, Kudremukha and many such.
How to reach Ballalarayana Durga:  Cross Mudigere, proceed towards Kottigehara, take a right turn towards Kalasa and reach Sunkasale. Take a left turn here and proceed till you reach a dead end and take a  left turn to reach the starting point of the trek. This village is located about 34 km from Mudigere and 312 km from Bangalore.
Accommodation: There are no accommodation facilities inside the village, although one can pitch their own tents inside the fort or village premises with prior permission of the villagers. However, there are many home stays in the area which also offer guided treks to this hill.
Where to eat: There are no eateries here; Kottigehara and Kalasa are the closest and better options.
Permission: Not required for this route.  However, the trek through Bandajje Arabi waterfalls route requires prior permission, which can be obtained at Bandajje only. Also, guides are provided by the forest department.

Related Posts 
1. A Monsoon Trek to Kavaledurga 
2. Dandeli Resting in the Lap of Nature
3. Waterfalls of Agumbe
 
Always Remember to Respect Nature and Wildlife. And Do not  litter.
                                                                                                                                                Older Post 

Midhadi View Point

One of the Beautiful Peaks Around 
Peak And the Bee Eater 
Midhadi View Point
Sunset
Sunset in the Kudremukh Range
On a clear sunny day, the Midhadi view point offers a wonderful panoramic view of the entire Dakshina Kannada (South Canara) district along with the Arabian sea, and the mountain ranges of Kudremukh and Ballalarayanadurga. However, we were late that evening and just as the sun went down, its surroundings were engulfed by mist making the beauty lay hidden. Though the visibility was poor, we got a glimpse of the sunset as the mist cleared momentarily. The whole experience was worthwhile. 

Sooramane Abbi Waterfalls, Chikmagalur

Sooramane Abbi, a waterfall that was displayed on a flex board of a small town caught our eye and we wanted to explore it. As we were totally unaware of its location, our only lead was the contact number given on the flex board. After much dilemma, we contacted the person in-charge (who presumably owned a rough terrain jeep) and he gave us the details of the fee that will be charged for taking us to the water fall, apart from saying positively that the route to the waterfall remains inaccessible by foot and one has to use a jeep to get through to the waterfall. The price he quoted seemed unreasonable and  made us have second thought. We informed we will get back to him when needed and thanked him. When we inquired about the whereabouts of this waterfall with a shopkeeper, he made sure he gave us the least possible information and ended the conversation by saying the route is long and since it is located in the interiors, we would find it difficult to get there. We started feeling disappointed as things were not working our way. We consoled ourselves by saying the shopkeeper may have been a stake holder in the touring sector along with the flex board advertiser and so on. However we did not give up. Driving back, we stopped by at the outskirts of the town and took a chance of inquiring someone again. An isolated house was our only hope. I went in to check and found a person who was occupied with some work. I began my conversation with the discussion about the work he was involved in and he explained that it was a part of Deepavali celebration. Lights will be lit in their paddy fields and prayers to the god will be offered for good yield. The sticks are made out of bamboo and one its ends is smeared with dried cow dung only to be lit later.
Hairy Caterpillar
Path to the waterfall
In the end, without any hesitation he gave us  directions to the falls and informed us about two alternate routes, out of which one was a trek route and the other was a jeep route. We decided to go with the trek route and followed his directions. Driving along the said route, we reached a dead end. It seemed as though we had missed the route. Fortunately, there was a house with people sitting outside, chatting. On inquiring, he told us that taking the trek route would be impossible without a guide and during the days of the festival, none would be ready to accompany us. Surprisingly, he told us about the jeep route assuring us that our vehicle will make it to Sooramane. From Sooramane, a small trek would lead us to our destination. We hit the jeep track and reached Sooramane. A little board directed us towards the falls and as we walked along for about a kilometer, we reached a small village. Walking further, we crossed a small stream and a perennial spring. A narrow path on the left bank of the stream took us through the woods and there it was! The Hidden Waterfall. It was all ours!
Perennial Spring
Stream crossing
Sooramane Abbi Waterfall


Enjoying the Waterfall
Waterfalls Chikmagalur
Under the Sun-rays


The water falls amid rocks from about 40 feet, surrounded by greenery. The place was serene with and with none around, we felt close to nature. We found a suitable place for our younger one who enjoys playing with water. While seeing him play, my wife spotted a water snake(Checkered Keel-back) in a rock pile that was perfectly camouflaged among leaf litter. I moved our younger one to a safer zone and on taking a closer look around helped my wife to spot two other snakes! The three snakes popped their heads out and seemed to communicate. The sound of the water fall was loud and echoed amidst the lush green environs, setting a perfect mood for displaying romance between two of the snakes. After capturing them on camera, we made sure to let them be and joined our younger one. After spending some time, we bade a good bye to the water fall and the snakes which had given us company.
Here he comes ...Checkered Keel-back (Xenochrophis piscator)
Spot the three water snakes!
The mood is setting in 

The Rat Tail Falls - Kodaikanal

Rat Tail falls
Rat Tail Falls 

 The Rat tail falls or Thalaiyar falls  is the 9th highest waterfall in India and the highest in the state of Tamil Nadu. 

Apsarakonda Falls and Caves

 Nestled on the edge of a hill and lined by a beautiful beach, this serene waterfall lies hidden amidst thick vegetation in Honnavar taluk of Uttara Kannada district. As we had halted in Honnavar one night, we decided to visit Apsarakonda the next morning. We left early in the morning thinking that the place may get crowded with people and also since early mornings are a good time to sight birds. 'Apsarakonda' means 'Pond of an Angel'.
Ready To Fall
After parking our vehicle, we walked up to reach the park entrance. There were no directions to the waterfall anywhere initially at the park and also since there was nobody to give us any information, we just walked ahead hoping to sight a sign board somewhere along. There were steps that lead us to a beautifully developed park though there were no signs of any waterfall yet. Luckily, the birds at the park kept us busy for quite sometime as the day started to get warmer.  Finding a way out of the park, we reached a point from where there was a way down and another way up! While my partner chose to rest at that point, I decided to go down and check the way out. A few minutes down, I reached a temple from where I could also hear the sound of the waterfall. Excited! I was. Walking a little further , I saw a few steps that led to the waterfall. Quickly backtracking,  I called for my partner who joined me mid-way and both of us reached the waterfall. Equally amazed on seeing such a beauty, we eagerly jumped into the waters and enjoyed the touch of those waters. It was calm and cool with just the nature and us. 
Seat Decorated With Sea Shells 
Steps To Bliss
Pond of  An Angel
Apsarakonda Falls
Hereon, we went on to explore the Pandava caves. We found two such caves, small in size, and guessed there would be many more.
Pandava Caves
Apsarakonda Beach
Paddy Fields
Monsoon Blossom 

Break Fast Time

Dabbe Waterfalls, Shimoga

          Every time we come across a new place, we realize how little we have traveled! We were much surprised to know how such a beautiful waterfall missed being in our must-visit list. A shop keeper suggested us to take an alternate parallel route instead, as it was motorable until the stream from whereon we had to walk to reach the falls. Following his directions, we reached a house from where driving further seemed  risky. On inquiring about the route to the falls, people here were much surprised since this was really not the right time to make a visit to the falls. On insisting much, he gave the exact route to the falls and warned us to be careful.
Gaint Wood Spider
Giant wood Spider
Dark wanderer Butterfly
Dark Wanderer Butterfly
 We started our walk towards the falls and in no time reached the stream which was in full swing. We met a person who was trying to fix an electricity issue and asked him about the falls. He too suggested us not go to the falls and confirmed the route to the same. We continued further until we reached a junction and proceeded as per directions. We crossed a bridge and walking on, reached an areca farm only to realize we were lost. We went in search of people at the farm and  found a house. Luckily,  a person present there told us the route and directed us towards paddy fields at the end of which we had to make a risky descent to view the falls. 
 Crab
Pill Millipede
Pill Millipede
Gaint Black Millipede
 Giant Black Millipede
Paddy Fields
  We reached the end of the paddy fields and found a trail and decided to get down in that direction. After descending a few steps, my wife started being speculative about the route as she looked down. Anyway, we went a little further down and alas! we found ourselves on the edge of a cliff from where there was absolutely no route of getting anywhere. We decided to backtrack to the top and find out the possibility of another route. On reaching the top and walking a little further, we reached the dead end of the paddy field and from there, we could see another trail leading downwards. We feared about this route turning out to be the same as our previous one, but had no other go. We were hell-bent on reaching the waterfall. Having lost a lot of time in finding the route, we had to be quick as we were unaware of how far we had to descend to the falls and the time was ticking. As it was raining  heavily at regular intervals, the path became too slippery with time and we had to watch every step we took. The thick forest canopy blocked sunlight, making our descent difficult. To add to our woes, it began to rain cats and dogs continuously. And as there was no place to take shelter, we had to keep trekking down non-stop with the help of trees and roots (without which the trek would have been impossible). As we trekked downwards, we reached a place open to sky and heard a roaring noise, camouflaged with the heavy rains. Looking around, the beautiful waterfall became visible and what an amazing sight it was! It was worth all the pain we had taken. Though  the heavy rains didn't give us much of a chance to stand and enjoy the falls, nevertheless just a glimpse of it made us more than happy.
The Bridge
The Roaring Stream
           This was only mid-way while the trail continued further down till the bottom of the falls. As the water level was high, we thought there was no point in getting down further and within minutes, we started our ascent. It was pretty much easier compared to our descent. We reached the paddy fields before sunset and on our way back, we met the owner of the farm who wasn’t present at the start time of our quest. He was glad we returned safely and complimented us knowing that  we got down to see the falls while it was raining so much. He also told us about how three days ago, a team of boys gave up after seeing the trail downwards. No Pain, No Gain! True isn't it? It was a great deal of encouragement for us and a zealous adventure though we realized it could be risky at times. We deserved a pat on the back and doing so to each other, moved on! Thus ended another marvelous and unexpected adventure.
Dabbe Waterfalls, Sharavati river Valley
 Nature's Hidden Beauty
Dabbe waterfalls, Shimoga
The Mighty Dabbe Waterfalls


Please don't litter the place, respect the nature and nature will respect you.