I am a firm believer of one thing. It is pointless and in fact worthless to vacation outside india when there is lots to be seen right here. What is that you dont have here in India ? You can do snorkelling in Lakshadweep (next on my agenda), river rafting in many places in karnataka, kerala and north karnatka are havens for trekking, heck if you want to see the desert we even have the Thar. You want to see mangrove forests, try suderban or pichavaram. The list is endless. In fact, assuming that you are able to take a vacation for say 10 weekends of a year for 35 years of your life, i bet you, you will not be able to finish all the places in india.
Coming back, JOG falls in one such place. AMAZING. That is just insufficient to describe it. Where else can one see the sharavati valley in full bueaty and splendour ?
Those are some shots of the sharavati valley.
We had initially planned to go on two bikes, me on my faithful steed, the Thunderbird,
and my friend on his Avenger. However he developed a flat tyre and in god-forsaken bangalore where shops dont open even at 10.00am, where could we go for a puncture repair shop at 4.00am ? Either i go alone or we go pillion riding on my bike. Since both of us are cursed with pretty long legs, we decided that pillion ride for 1000kms (up and down) would be tiring, and hence i started off alone. The plan was to reach jog by afternoon, climb down the falls, spend some time and stay in jog for the night. Next day see some place nearby and then return back to bangalore.
There are two ways to get to Jog. You reach till Neelamangala from Bangalore. From thereon, you either take Tumkur->Arsikere->Shimoga->Jog or Hassan->Sakleshpur->Mangalore->Jog. Trust me when i say this, don't even think of taking the Mangalore Route. I cannot understand how rains could have washed away that West Coast Road, most importantly exactly at those places where there were small towns !! Anyway, i had already made up my mind to go through the shimoga route. There were a few places where the roads were bad, but not that they were highly unmanageable or whatsoever. I Started from Bangalore at around 4.30am and by 10.30am i was in shimoga for breakfast. Had a few idli's and started again towards Jog. Since the first rains has started, there was amazing greenery all along the route.
For a change, this kind of greenery too felt pleasing to the eye ;-)
By about 12.30pm i was chugging into Jog falls.
Since the regions has received copious rains, all the four streams were in full flow.
The charges for parking a bike is 10rs which is pretty much ok. There is a small shoppping complex with a few shops that serve bread omlet and stuff. There is a Hotel Mayura run by KSTDC close to the falls. He serves good Aloo-Channa. Tasted pretty well and unlike the kannadiga food you get in bangalore, was pretty spicy. Costs you 50Rs along with a few rotis. After polishing off some food, i decided to get down to the base of the falls and have a better look at the amazing sight that was there in front of me.
It takes around 30mins to climb to the base of the falls. I sat there for a good one hour or so just drinking in the beauty of the falls. It took me the same 30mins for me to climb back up though it might take upto an hour or so if you are not fit.
I stayed in a room near the falls itself provided by KSTDC Hotel Mayura. A Huge bedroom, verandah, two sitting rooms (one of them with a view of the falls) and a singe bath and toilet costs you 300rs for a night. Pretty cheap i must say. Behind the hotel they had a nice viewpoint though it was obscured by the shrubs and stuff.
If some care is spent in cutting it and cleaning it up, the hotel would have some more bookings !
After having a light dinner of breads and eggs i crashed at around 7.00pm planning for the next day of my trip.
The next day, amazingly enough, all it needed was a single choke press and a few decomp press to kick start my mean-machine. Even after getting drenched in that cold rain and mist it was still in tip-top condition. I now set out towards Murudeshwar, a beach front shiva temple. This is another amazing structure that is built on top of a hill.
What was very jarring was that there were lots of restruants close by vyving for attention along with a huge idol of lord shiva. There wasn't a big coast line or such, but then lots of people were just sprinkling the sea water on themselves, a.la Rameshwaram.
Now was the time to turn back and this is where i made a critical mistake. I asked quite a few travels fellows (cab opeartors) as to the condition of the roads along the Mangalore route and each of them were time and again adamant that the route was amazing. I had just descended from the Jog through Honavar route and it was pretty good. If you want to see Sharavati viewpoint you need to take the Jog-Honavar route. Incidentally, Panaji is just 150km from Honavar. All the fellows assured me that the Mangalore route was a good one. Actually, all along the Sakleshpur Ghat, there are no roads. Just stones. I saw quite a lot of trucks with broken axles and punctured tyres. Some enterprising fellows had opened axle repair shops and puncture repair shops. I made a mental note to myself that they had to be Malayalees ;-)
I somehow managed to cross the ghats before nightfall and reached Hassan at around 7.00pm. Now was the bigger problem. It was nightfall, the roads did not have median and because of the bad roads, when i should have been in Bangalore, i was still a good 170km away from it. As they say, Fortune favours the brave. I started off thiking nothing is going to happen to me. As it is, the petrol pump attendents were giving me all sorts of doomsday warnings about huge trucks and how there are accidents almost everyday :-). To give you a background, night driving especially on a bike in the highway is almost impossible. Every vehicle, during nighttime, travels with High Beam lights. So, when two vehicles are overtaking each other and charging towards you, you are, for all intents and purposes, blinded completely for a few seconds. It is in those few seconds that a majority of accidents happen. Secondly, these trucks pay little regard for bikes during night time. Probably they think that during the nights, they rule the roads. I was lucky enough to spot a Tata Sumo which had a group of guys travelling back from sakleshpur. They were doing a 60kmph steadily and all i had to do was to use them as a cover and tail them, which i did to the T. A real bunch of sportive guys. Thanks a bunch fellas. You were of great help !
Finally at around 11.00pm or so i reached bangalore. It was again a pretty intresting weekend. This is the power of having a Thunderbird. You want to go somewhere, just close your eyes and jump onto it. It will take you there safe and sound.
Posted by Shyam Krishnaswamy at 4:35 PM