Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mattigatta Waterfalls

Trekking can bring in a sense of peace and will experience the immense natural value of our surroundings. We do all this for a sublime sense of peace and tranquillity that should not elude us.  The natural landscape was at its very best and a showcase of waterfalls amid rich and dense jungles is on offer in Uttarakannada.
 On the first weekend of November, four intrepid souls set out from different places to the Western Ghat, Driving in the early morning through mist choked roads, stopping only for morning breakfast along the way we were grateful to reach the small village where we began our trek. We parked our scooter in a field at the edge of the. Just a few kilometers into to our destiny place consists beautiful waterfalls, crystal clear pools and mountain peaks offering unparalleled views of the countryside. Our sense of adventure was kindled by the uncharted and untested route ahead of us.
 The day was warm and sunny, perfect for a trek. As the trek started the initial moments went in just trying to capture every bit of the view surrounding us and realizing the fact that it was a pretty steep climb.  The falls are located not too far from the village but still it’s isolated. 
 We began walking in mud track leading from the village to the mountain range beyond. While passing the road we had seen waterfalls form long distance. The initial trail wound through the dry hill road until we came to the Hedge’s house where the trail began. We located the cool mountain stream which was to serve as our navigational aid. The downhill path passes through arrack-nut plantation once we entered the forest zone the trail started to ascend and become steep.
 Frequently, I would look down and see what I thought was the end of our descent to the streambed. Light would shine through the trees and the trail appeared to start going downhill. I was getting so fatigued by the difficult trail and heavy pack. We started by using the strong jungle vines and small plants guiding us down the base. The climb was exhausting and I would have panicked about my team in few times.

 The final climb towards the streambed was riddled with steep sections of rocks. When we arrived at stream, everyone was thrilled. It presented a new challenge that I wasn't sure we could withstand. Our efforts were rewarded by beautiful views of the waterfalls.
 After hopping around the stream-bed boulders for a while we came upon a narrow pass. The width of the stream was very narrow I was a little shocked to realize that we would have to scale the side of the gorge to reach the base of the waterfall. My team has done some climbing with bare feet after a few meters we continued by using small vines and crooks in the rocks.

 Shortly thereafter the trail seemed to end in a deep pool formed by the increasingly narrow gorge. I took off my pack to swim through the slot canyon in an attempt to see whether we could continue along the stream.
 I took a long swim against the cool water, the water was deep. Lucky for us it was rather less volume otherwise I don't think we all would have been able to make successful to reach the bottom of the waterfalls. Although it’s slippery under the falls might end up falling on the rocks. We all had refreshing bath under the falls getting drenched under the waterfalls and showered with cool and refreshing water.

 Mattighatta waterfall is actually a string of few streams mainly Hasehalla stream on the low hills surrounding and the entire stream dwindling and relief to see such a large pool of water falling from 350 feet height  and further pass into a narrow river canyon. The Hasehall stream flows down in three steps. Even in the month of December, the river had enough water to make the waterfalls majestic. The high rising rocks on either sides adds to the beauty of the falls.
 The base had thigh-deep water. Reaching the base of such a beautiful waterfalls in such a remote location was a very fulfilling experience. During rainy season, Mattighatta falls could easily add more arms: a nondescript section seen at the top of the rocks could easily turn out to be majestic falls by itself.

 When we reached the base of the waterfalls we felt a deep sense of accomplishment for doing something what we didn't think we were capable. We immediately quenched to pond, the rushing water pounded on our weary muscles like a sort of massage, giving us renewed vigour.  After having fun on those smooth giant rocks spending some time in the water we proceeded back to the tumultuous noise of the city looking forward for a weekend again to be in the lap of nature.

 On return the walk was not an easy walk we had to climb all the way steep up and then reached back to the village. One of my dreams came true to spend quality time in the laps of the Nature and also discover uninhabited and undiscovered land in Western-Ghat.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Bilihole Waterfalls

We were planning a trek somewhere after a long time something which was unheard before. The day was Sunday and time early morning, I woke up and quickly started to get ready. At 8.00 am we were ready with a group of 4,Sudhakar, Prashanth, Yashashree and myself. As per our plan we joined Shrikanth and Raveendra at starting village and all set to conquer the conquered. We met our guide and reached Bilihole trekking point which was 2.5 kilometres after that Village. This trekking is approximately 8km one way, 16km totally.
We are initially followed the village trail, we reached Tenginmadi in just over an hour and almost exhausted. The weather was humid but the lush green surroundings compensated for that. We continued following a village trail but soon it was time to take a diversion and to go off trail. We went down and soon reached the stream and halted for a while, washed ourselves off sweat and dirt and quenched our thirst. The water in the small waterfalls is quite pure and drinkable. Fishes residing in the stream were cleaning our legs. We enjoyed filling our bottles with that pure tasty water from the running stream and continued our walk. Lovely birds chirping and stream of water running along our way goes. It was the perfect heaven on earth.
We traversed through the stream whose paths were lined with wilds. It was already 11:45 am and we decided to speed up a little and we did as it pace making this time. We walked approximately 2km across the river bed we reached Bilihole river. We followed the stream for what seemed like an eternity. The whole journey we managed to keep the pace and explored all that passed along the stream.
First stage of the waterfalls
Second Stage of the Waterfalls
Within a few more kilometres we were at a point where it was completely full of boulders of different size and shape between which the stream of water was running. With trees standing tall on both sides, we were covered utterly from the world of noise. The tranquillity of the place cannot be articulated utterly serene and extremely green.  It was just impeccable to walk on those rocks and jump from one to another in great pace.
Third Stage of the Waterfalls
We found ample number of exquisite water pools. The slopes on Bilihole are near vertical and for a moment we thought that reaching the base of the main waterfalls would be impossible and it nearly was. The climb was breathtaking and dangerous and almost vertical surrounded by dense forests.  There were steps of animals, which had come to drink water. As we expected the final part of the journey the ascent was very steep and I could see everybody getting very exhausted.
4th Stage of the Waterfalls
The last 30 minutes stretch followed a fairly well trodden trail along the sides of a narrow gorge which became impassable several times because of waterfalls and deep pools. After hopping around the streambed boulders for a while we came upon a small 50 feet height waterfall offering a stunning view. We had to make short climbs up the side of the gorge to reach main waterfalls.
This was one of the most difficult stretches for us and the hot sun beating down on us added to that there was no trail. We just had to wade through thick shrubs and thorny bushes to get to the final view of the waterfalls. We climbed over a slope and finally reached the top of a ridge and stood at edge of the hill with support of dry trees.
Catching my breath at the top of the ridge, I looked down at my feet and realized that further journey is not safe so, after spending enough time we made our way down the ridge, our feet sliding and our hands carefully gripping trees to make the steep descent. About midway down the gorge, the thorn forests became thicker. Finally we arrived at our familiar friend, the stream. I felt like kissing the ground, I was so grateful to god for our successful venture in mysterious terrain.
Finale Stage of Bilihole Waterfalls
Everyone cheerfully helped each other and consequently everyone had an enjoyable experience. Although it was a harrowing and difficult experience, it was worth the challenge.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Kamalashile Durgaparameshwari temple & Suparshwa cave

Kamalashile is home to the Brahmi Durgaparameshwari temple. What’s special about Kamalashile is the fact that goddess Brahmi Durgaparameshwari is worshipped in the form of a ‘Linga’ here. Also special is a cave, which a local legend says, is visited by a tiger. Kamalashile is a small temple town in Udupi district’s Kundapur taluk. It is about 35 km from Kundapur. Surrounded by a lush green forest and mountain peaks, Kamalashile, is certainly the right place for nature lovers.
 This small village is known for its Brahmi Durgaparameshwari temple. Most pilgrims are known to tag this place along with Kollur, another well-known pilgrim town in Kundapur. There is a well-maintained road between Kollur and Kamalashile which goes further to reach Agumbe Ghats. The temple in Kamalashile is on the banks of River Kubja. As the name suggests, the village got its name from a stone linga. What’s unique about Kamalashile is the fact that goddess Brahmi Durgaparameshwari is worshipped in the form of a linga here.
 Also, there’s cave which is about a kilometre from this temple. Those who visit the temple make it a point to visit this cave, which is known as Suparshwa cave (Guppipari guhe). Legend has it that King Suparshwa who was looking for a suitable place to perform penance and attain salvation came across this cave and achieved his aim. There are a couple of interesting stories associated with this cave. Many sages are known to have come here to perform penance. Among them was Sridhara Swamiji from Varadapur, Sagar.
 A shop owner outside the temple dons the role of a guide. He says his family has, since a long time, been worshiping god Bhairava’s idol inside the cave. Our guide accompanied us with a big torch and understands so, as it was pitch dark inside the cave. Further down the cave, on the left, are three separate Lingas, which are called Trishakti lingas — Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati. All these are said to be Udbhava Murthis (images that have sprung up on their own). Further down, towards the right, is the place where King Suparshwa, Adishesha and sage Sridhara Swamy are said to have performed penance.
 Below this place, one can find the birthplace of ‘Naga Teertha’, which, mythology has it, later became River Kubja. A mythological episode has it that long back, fearing death from Garuda, Adishesha came to goddess Brahmi Durga Parameshwari seeking liberation from a curse. The goddess advised him to seek Lord Vishnu’s help and requested all the other nagas (serpents) to hide in Suparshwa cave, so she could save them from Garuda.
 Inside the naga sannidhi, there is a high dome where one can see hundreds of bats. Local legends have it that a tiger comes visiting to Suparshwa cave to rest. It has now become a custom to keep a fire burning in front of the cave, so the tiger can keep itself warm. The Brahmi Durgaparameshwari temple also has many interesting stories associated with it.
In 1968, when River Kubja was in spate, the temple was submerged. It was rebuilt much later, in 1990. Not to be missed here is a special prayer every morning, called, ‘salaam pooja’. It is performed as a tribute to Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan for their faith in the goddess. The temple has its own Yakshagana troupe, which performs ‘Kamalashile kshetra mahatme’ through the night.