Monday, October 29, 2012
Kotegudda had been on my 'To visit' list for years. I don't know much about this place and any traveling friends who had known this place. This fort sandwiched between Hariharapura and Koppa which provides a stunningly beautiful, wild, concentrated version of the whole of this area: verdant highlands, jungle-smothered lowlands, emerald-green lakes - and of course, its ancient ruins and the enigma surrounding them.
I have long fancied myself as a bit of an archaeology enthusiast but never done anything about it. These days, I find I'm very enthusiastic about the idea that there are still extraordinary forts buried beneath the earth, the solution presents itself in a one-day trip to visit Hariharapura's most important ruins, bedding down along the way in rustic Chikmagalore.
Generally these are not as large or impressive as the public sites, and many have been severely damaged by looters, the vast thick jungle it looks more like a place where some royal remains have least neglected ever but as a general rule, the harder a site is to get to the better its condition will be, and there exist some pretty spectacular ruins in the dark recessed of Hariharapura’s wilderness areas.
To visit this fort takes a whole day our little group headed to this place on last weekend, we left our car at village, and we set off up a narrow footpath with jungle then vast shapes come looming out of the trees after 1-2 kilometers walk we find 2-3 small houses and we find one local person who had willing to join us.
Under the grass and weeds, the fort is stepped proceeding to the hillside walk, intermittent rain turned to hard most of us were very exhausted and every one of us were completely drenched in rain, it had started raining pretty hard so the camera stayed in the bag for first few hours.
No guidebook mentions this place. Nobody comes. The fort was built on a hill which is fortified by a deep valley clothed with dense forest. Climbing up a short steep incline, we dodge around the twisting roots of a dense Jungle and the only sound apart from our own voices is the birds in the forest canopy and that push our way through into the first entrance of the ruined fort. There was once a doom here, but the roof has long since collapsed under the weight of jungle vegetation. Some of the ancient plaster work appears to be intact.
Eventually we land and trek through pasture to the top of a small rise. Mosquitoes and Leeches begin to feast. At the summit I wander among the clusters of ruined buildings, and I stopped at one of them: a collection of few residential buildings and a completely collapsed temple premise.
I sit down and absorb the beauty of the scene, the late afternoon sunlight spreading a golden hue over the site of this lost land. The wind is pure and eerie, beautiful birds sing and one particular one around the fort, I used to follow its call as it moved from top to the valley below. There's two huge Lakes carved into two different locations one at summit I clamber down a steep stairwell to the gloriously peaceful lake and another vast lake at western downer end.
Caecilian- When we walking towards forest my friend Sunil Kamath encountered two headed snake its tail is very blunt and shaped like the head! When threatened, Caecilians will hide its head and hold its tail up in the air and wave it back and forth! Commonly it is called "Two headed snake". The Western Ghats are home to several species of Caecilians (Gymnophiona). Caecilians are legless, burrowing amphibians which mostly live in leaf litter, loose soil, under rocks and decaying logs.
It is getting endangered in India. Poachers lure common people that if they capture it, they will give up to one lakh. There are many rumors that the snake uses a head for 6 months and the other head for another six months. This snake indeed has medicinal values. When attacked, it lifts up its tail and predators attack its tail thinking that it is its head. This is a superb camouflage.
Most people believe them to have two heads probably because the tail looks very similar to its head. The body is elongated and smooth with a slimy skin. The smaller Caecilians superficially resemble earthworms while the larger ones are often mistaken for snakes. However, they can be told apart from earthworms by the presence of eyes, teeth and skeleton and from snakes by the lack of scales on skin. The eyes in Caecilians are not well developed which is most likely to be because of their burrowing life style. They are considered as rare which is apparently due to their subterranean habits. To see them one has to search carefully (usually by digging) and be at the right place and at the right time.
The Western Ghats of India are one of the global biodiversity hotspots, and a center of Caecilian diversity. Of the 26 described species of Caecilians from India, 25 are endemic. From distributional records it is apparent that the hot spot of known Caecilian diversity in India is the Western Ghats. Of the 20 currently recognized Western Ghats species, most are known from the southern part of the range, including seven species endemic to this area.
It rained pretty hard but as we came back down on very slippery slopes the sky began to clear and we had some impressive views out off the ridge. The light was fantastic. It has a sense-of-time by its ruined structures, the faces of its walls that seem to grow out of its ground, standing silently and watching – as the jungle and stone continue to play their unspoken life together.
Accidentally last year found a huge Cave inside the foothill by local villagers and our guide said it can be reach only after December so we kept it for our next visit. The entire experience is very nearly what I want, a ruined fort deep in the jungle, is itself a mystery.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
The Malooru Gundi is the perfect destination for anyone who is adventurous and for anyone who wants to go where most others wouldn't. This trip was one of the best hikes in life time; it has beautiful scenery of the Western-Ghats and ends at a breathtaking waterfall.
On initial stretch we crossed few mist kissed grasslands and later through thick jungles where sun never reached, every moment we spent in the rain-forest was a moment to reflect upon, making the day even more surreal and after walking for an hour of medium toughness level terrain, finally we made to reach top of the waterfalls.
After spending lot of time in first smaller level of the waterfalls we hiked down to next level called Malooru gundi. At initial waterfall we encountered a unique beauty and its majesty only heightened as we journeyed to the next level of the waterfall.
We had some stunning views out over the top of the waterfalls and we were heading down towards the Maloorgundi. We reached the base having risky climb catching hold of strong branches that leap all over the rock-strewn hills. This region was pretty dangerous because of the thick vegetation and steep ravines. While climbing down the moss makes staying on feet especially difficult.
We reached MalooruGundi falls, which was one of the best falls in terms of overall rating that I have visited the way we approached it, the surroundings, the looks etc. We unsuccessfully tried getting under it, and the closer we got to it, the faster it pushed us away. I stood looking at it for some time trying to capture it forever in my mind.
All we enjoyed the sheer beauty of the falls the sheer power with which the water was flowing down and it seemed that it would pull you away along with it and throw you into the gushing black rock hitting water below although we tried to reach close as the rocks near the base are sharp and very slippery.
Malooru falls is actually a string of few falls in the Ktkr River on the low hills surrounding. They offer some nice hiking and a relaxing setting. Malooru falls is in a SV Wildlife Sanctuary and contains the impressive waterfall where the entire stream flows through 25 meters widen rock slab and drops from a height of 35 meters and further pass into a narrow river canyon.
I want to say MalooruGundi as a Niagara of the state; the water fall was downright breathtaking. We caught a couple of brilliant shots of the falls, and the roaring of the waterfall was so loud that we were barely audible to each other. The water fall-down into the pond, and throughout maintained a white rage, splashing dews and sprinkling water into all of us. It was really wet and there was a lot of mist and the lens kept fogging up. There are not many places like this anywhere in the world, and certainly not in Karnataka.
Later we planned to check out the third and largest waterfall in further down. Our guide told we can’t approach any further level but he willing to try once. So we continued up to the jungle land and after 15 minutes dangerous lynching walks on these mountains are incredible at one place we find one open place from highest level. From the open space we had a fantastic views looking out onto waterfalls northeast wild region relatively unknown and here it drops from the height of 85 meters to downer ledge and it was very impressive to sight.
This is Malabar giant squirrel living in India. This one I saw in a forest Reserve is considered as the most beautiful of all squirrels in India. It is a large tree squirrel species which is listed as an endangered species.
We took a slightly different route back to the top of the waterfall and few of my teammates forced our team to discover one more view of this waterfall from opposite side rocky hill. We were spellbound when we had a close view of the waterfalls, from midst of the jungle, standing on a trail that never existed, that slipped all the way into the ferocious falls.
The set-up and effort to trek in them is definitely more worth. Our guide Halappa was very friendly, informative and very knowledgeable about the surroundings. He knew the area well, and kept us all well interested with his interactive approach. I like to thank my friend Shrikanth Datta, my teammates and our Taxi Driver Manoj, for all their vigorously support to make this a successful expedition.