This blog will take you on a journey into the wild. It documents my visits to lesser known places in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala , Andhra Pradesh and Goa. It documents places nestled deep in the beauty of the Western Ghats.It documents beautiful ancient temples, sculptures and heritage buildings of India.
It has something for all travelling and trekking enthusiasts.
After finishing my work I directly joined Mangalore YHA team on March 19th evening and around 7 we left Mangalore & within a span of 3 hours journey reached to Shishila GopuGokule’s home stay. More guys joined our team and all had a very tasty dinner at his house. After dinner I & some of my teammates decided to sleep in the open Machan under the Full moon night (the moon will swing around Earth more closely than it has in the past 18 years, lighting up the night sky from just 356,577Km away.). It was a wonderful experience to sleep peacefully under the open sky watching the Moon stars till our eyes started to close in the chilly night.
Nice breeze blowing calmly and all was very relaxing and soothing to the mind and body I fell asleep dreaming of loveable memories in the beautiful night. After a hot bath had breakfast & took pack lunch & left that place at 7 in the morning. A few minutes’ walk we took some deviations into the forest & followed one route which passes through thick jungles with a decent uphill.
When we entered the jungle we had been swallowed by a canopy of green, our eyes snatching only an occasional glimpse of blue sky. There were many birds making mixture of hysterical sounds in the jungle which was encouraging in our journey. Eventually in the distance we heard a band of Howler monkeys.
Russell Viper photo taken by Mr.Subash Pai
We continued the 2 hours nice walking admiring the scenery of rain forest. It was very dense and encloses a mixture of local fruit variations. On the way along we learned about some insects and wild animals (Water dogs or Neer Nai & Mara Nai all belong to the subfamily of Lutrinae under the Mustelidae family living only in Western Ghat region in India) which are in those areas explained by Mr. Dinesh Holla. The natural flora of the surrounding is different from any other rainforest and it is beautiful in its variety.
After spending some time near water point we started to climb final destination. Crossing a few gigantic trees across the trail beneath the jungle canopy we gazed upon a carpet of dry red leaves rolling unencumbered to the horizon. Bizarrely, as we emerged onto a small clearing atop the mound, we were now above the forest canopy - standing in the sky - peering down on the largest tract of Western rain forest.
This was the unique mountain in Charmadi range was 99% trail goes through the thick evergreen forests. We stood silently on top of the Shingani Gudda and listened to the stillness of the jungle. The only sound we heard was the heaving of our chests, the rhythmic thumping of our hearts banged in our ears. This hills surrounded by KalluPade, Nishanigudda, UdayaGiri, Amedikallu, Ettinabuja, Jenkallu & Ettinabuja on 360 degree panoramic view.
After spending enough time we left the peak & we changed our track for change. On return journey miracle I got back my mobile & Cam which I had lost on track. A long downward walk I reached the road & had bath in a river. After taking hot coffee in Gokule house we turned back to our home. It was opportunity to experience different things and a phenomenal dance of nature that transcended our imaginations after this trip.
Our first glimpse dissolved all our concerns, for the scenery was breathtaking! Against bright blue skies the place, perched on the steep hillside, and boasted a fabulous view of the surrounded rolling hills, forest and pampas. This place where once Mysore maharaja cultivated paddy for some time, evidence of two small check dams can be seen in the shola forests near the Aramane gadde. Apparently the raja had also planned to build a palace at this place which didn’t materialize due to some reason.
We pitched our tents in on corner of the AramaneGadde & made nice tea & put rice for night dinner Even though it was so sunny outside, the campsite was considerably cooler and water in the stream was pleasantly cold there was a beautiful stretch of grassland overlooking a valley right in front of our campsite and rest of the evening I went around investigating all surrounding ranges one by one
I was walking & I saw one huge Russell Viper in the thick grasslands just a step away, due to its characteristic body color and pattern, it was completely camouflaged and was difficult to be located in the grass luckily I saw before I could step on it but was unable to take any photos.
After 15 minutes walk I reached Western side of the hill top. I locate Mugilagiri peak from that place & had a great full glimpse of AramaneGadde, really it was a Paradise for nature’s lover. We spent some time on top & started to hike main spot AramaneGudda peak. This time I walked with extra care & after a long walk we reached AramaneGudda peak 1270m of elevation..
From top I could locate Kadumane Estate, MuruGudda, MurkalGudda, OmbattuGudda & JenkalluGuda. Rest of my teammates also joined me we had solo photo sessions had nice valley view spent till Sunset later we started to descend down. Night after a campfire we all had a good sleep.
Morning we decided to go through new track but we were disappointed because of our guides they did not agree to come with us because of risk & fear factors. A hard thwarted mood we stepped back. Initial our return journey was quite comfortable after 1 hour walk once again by our guide only changed his mood discuss with us about his new plan.
He told he knew the direction & will bring us the way through some inside route. Certainly, going downhill was in my mind a more attractive option than continuing to climb same route and I persuaded to choose that lower trail. What a fortuitous decision that would be, for it led to the big trouble.
The descent was steep on a sandy terrain it was very hot and we were dehydrated. We were afraid to drink water; because we wanted to preserve as much as possible. We could hardly see any trees in the vicinity to take rest. If we sat to take rest; this scorching Sun was de-hydrating us even more. Continuous climbing down was more frantic & in our journey some places were deadly edge of the Valley side walk
Finally with lot of frustration we climbed down and reached the Highway road at late mid-noon. Had bath at Kempuhole & caught a return bus home and had quite good sleep in the bus with fantastic reminiscences......
AramaneGadda was my old plan and it was fulfilled at the beginning of this summer. Friday night we booked a room in the Forest Department IB at Shiradigadi. When I reached the place it was very late night & very dark it was quite difficult to locate our place of stay (No power connection for this IB) finally I was able to get our reserved room. First I brightened the room with candles by then rest of my teammates joined me. The next day we were up early had breakfast at a small hotel & packed our lunch later we met our guide and planned out the schedule.
Our trek trail started from a point 7kms from IB (Chowdeshwari Temple) we caught one tanker to that point and an unpaid journey we were on our way by 8am. But on our initial journey we got disappointed because one forest officer did not allow us entering the forest without a permission letter & after lot of discussion we had to come to terms with currency.
Before he left he warned (threatened) us about smugglers were doing lot of illegal activities in the Sanctuary & they were not hesitate to kill any (But I couldn’t understand what these forest officer & department do knowing all these things whose duty was it to control unauthorized activities in Reserve forest it seems the whole department people was involved and all were just busy making money).
Later we came to know from our guides about the ruthless poaching and other illegal activities like cultivating Ganja in these wildlife rich areas. There is only one case involving ganja cultivation inside the Sanctuary there is large scale organized ganja cultivation in the AramaneGadde area & adjoining areas for which proposals have been made for inclusion in the Sanctuary. The presence of ganja cultivation in the Sanctuary is a potential threat to wildlife. The influence of the ganja cultivators on the tribal’s within the Sanctuary has been negatively affecting the eco-development initiatives in this range.
We entered inside the forest and followed a gravel path ascending from starting point. Slowly we were coming out of thick forest into the rough smolder grasslands after 45 minutes non-stop climbing along with carrying heavy bags. The sun was slowly coming out making the trek through the grasslands slightly tougher. Throughout the journey we find Venkatagiri, AreBetta, Himagiri and bottom side Beautiful Kempuhole River.
The climb was quite gradual steep for the first few hours we made very good progress but slowed down gradually as we were exhausted and the heavy bags were not helping the situation. The oranges we carried proved to be a very helpful when we ran out of water. The climb was very strenuous and all of us were drained there were hardly any trees to provide any shade too.
During our tough dry walk few things did freshen our mind, during our climb I rested at a place and sat on one rock at the same time one brown rabbit passed through my legs & I was so stunned I jumped for this unexpected incident, even the poor rabbit also was frightened & ran from that spot. Later while crossing one mountain I found a group of Bison’s at a very short distance enjoying themselves in the wild.
Spending some time with them we left that place & crossed 2-3 Shola forests & we spotted some Sambers on a distance. Sighting wildlife can be challenging Nonetheless the journey through the forest ranges can be enchanting and exhilarating.
After a long walk we got one clean water spot settled down at a small stream inside the Shola forest. All filled enough water & had our packed lunch took some rest. After a long break once again we stepped forward to reach AramaneGudda after crossing few Shola forests & grasslands one large forest came in front of us. After almost 30 minutes struggle we stepped on AramaneGadde the wide open grassland area.
Jeankallu bettaThe next section of trail was the one that I was most anxious to see because it seemed bigger & steeper than past. At mid-noon atmosphere was hotter than we thought we would be and consequently more thirsty. After a tough attempt finally we approached the top of the Jeankallu betta this one was called one of the biggest mountains from its Surrounding Mountain ranges. The exquisiteness of Jenukallu Gudda Mountains was breathtaking; the mountains there extend to infinity.
We all exchanged remaining food & pointed some known surrounding hill ranges. Weather was a little hot compared to Dikkallu not even solitary trees to take shelter on hill top. On return we targeted to reach the bottom of the Panadvara Hill were in the morning we took diversion to another side of the hill only tangible from the top & also we located one jeep track connecting that place, wherein the incline of the terrain is around 80 degrees. We started to descend at a gradient of 70-80 degrees on the other side of the cliff.
After climbing down for hours we entered into the yawning forest. Our split by 2 & both team almost got lost inside the deep. By its tranquility and verdant greenery extensive thick plantation we struggled to find the way and proper direction. When we were stepping silently into the jungle we remembered the priest’s words & his indirect warning, about the wild ruthless (?) elephants giving so much trouble to local tribes so they were afraid to wander out early in the morning or at night times.
When I was making rout into the shrubbery I was frightened by thinking of the elephants that place was full of clumps of bamboo trees, The bamboo grove's canopy was so thick, there a lot small plants growing on the ground depth of the vegetation water source was widespread & prevalent what all seemed to me a perfect home for elephants. After much adventure finally we all joined together in one place & found the proper rout to reach back to the temple.
We freshened up near a beautiful lake & Mr. Ganesh Baht the temple priest heartily invited us to his home all we had was cool butter milk in his house for our dried out throats which was of course refreshing. After spending little time we turned back to our home carrying the great experience & wonderful memories…