The Western ghats.
As the sun was setting beyond the mountains, the mist rolled in, blanketing the earth with its cool. A low hum of the waterfall resounded nearby, quelling the silence of the forest. The dew was there for all to see, the darkness was there for all to fear, nature was there to greet us all. The greeting card read “Welcome to the wild wild west”.
Western Ghats is a symbol of magnificence. The lush forest, the hilly terrain and the lethargic rain was too inviting. The invitation was too good to decline. Initially we wanted to go to Coorg(Madikeri) Nature had other plans. She made us realize the pain that she is going through by looking through her eyes as she unleashed powerful floods in the area. Planned to the extent of even paying for a home stay in the area, we had to call it quits.
Instead we decided to go to Chikmagalur. Rangers Camp, it was called. A home stay about an hour away from Chikmagalur. 180 kilometers from Bangalore. 6 families, 5 cars, 30 people including kids ; people would mistake our cars for a minister’s convoy.
Anyway, we reached the camp by around 9 PM at night, the passengers looking more weary than the drivers. It’s true, believe me. The night was young, no one cared. Sleep engulfed almost everyone. Sudden bickering among the dogs outside the rooms woke up quite a few people. Scary that.
The next day, we drove to the beautiful Kallatikarai falls. This waterfall is accessible till a point for everybody. There is a temple at the start stretching to a pool like structure where the deities bathe in holy water. But the real thriller is hidden inside. We walked inside the falls , through stone wedges and the gush of water ; nervous excitement of reaching as high as possible coupled with the fear of anyone getting injured . 800 meters to a kilometer inside was the point where we witnessed a pace of water that thrilled us. One of my cousins showed some courage and stood underneath the blast of white joy. Pictures here, pictures there. Handy tool, these apparent waterproof phones. 4 hours of a miniature trek to a distance of about 1 km and back got half the people to dawdle around for the rest of the day.
On the second day we decided to go to Kemmangundi ( hill ). I read somewhere that the word Kemmangundi when split has 3 different parts – Kemp is Red color , Mannu – Mud , Gundi – Place (all in Kannada – a language spoken in the South of India) Hence – RedMudPlace for the literal translation. The mist was all over the photos, hugging people at times, often covering the entire picture. As we proceeded higher and higher, it became colder and colder. I wore a shirt that befriended the cold and sucked in the dew drops. As arrogant as I was about not wearing a sweater , I paid the price.
A place on the hill called the Z point, gave us a terrific view of the surrounding hills and the valley. We could only see the ground for nothing was visible in the line of sight.
For about 2 minutes, all I could hear was the buzz of the bees coupled with the echoes of a waterfall nearby. The wind was hoping to making its voice heard too. The wailing was lost among the thick fog. I presume this was nature’s way of saying “Close your eyes and you will see my true form , just for a couple of minutes son, just a couple…”. While driving down the valley, as we approached a bend, an incoming vehicle rushed without any signal and we had to maneuver the car to stay away from the speeding incumbent. In that tight maneuvering, one of the tires’ docked below the road, on the grass which was about 2 feet from a steady decline of the valley. This caused an almighty scare for everyone and everything in the car. A drive in the Western Ghats is an intriguing proposition.
It may not be a huge trip of sorts, but these 2 places over the weekend just assist me in believing that there is a whole lot to see before we eventually call it a day on our travels for whatever reason… In every walk with nature, one receives far more than what he seeks. On towards the next adventure!