When a trip back to a different part of the Western Ghats racks up memory after memory, you know for a fact that it would have been quite the experience.
If one has to live vicariously through photographs, the Western Ghats is the perfect place for it. Lush green cover providing a source of coffee and scenic beauty thrust enough belief into people to join in and explore.
I find the Western Ghats to be an intriguing place. No matter how many times you visit, you always find something new. This never ceases to amaze me. But where, though? We already visited Chikmagalur, the coast side of Mangalore, Malpe, Marvanthe and Jog, the beautiful land of Kodagu (Coorg).
After erstwhile pondering and manic discussions, we decided to pay Malnad (Malenadu) a visit. Male stands for rain and Nadu stands for the region (in Kannada, the state language of Karnataka, a beautiful state in the south of India). Quite apt considering what we managed to see there.
A weekend getaway befitting an experience at an amusement park.
Blazing through forests, harvesting the childhood memories in the homestay garden while gathering vegetables and speaking about it for hours or just creeping into a tunnel knowing about the darkness and possible dangers yet reminding yourself at every step of the way that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. The trip delivered.
We left for Sakleshpur from Bangalore at 17:00. We booked a 25 seater vehicle to accommodate everyone. To begin with, it was all smooth until the wee hours of Saturday. At 00:20, we hit a roadblock (An actual one!). About 8 kilometers from our homestay, the driver brought the vehicle to a screeching halt. The road was about the size of an average truck, laid out with fresh concrete which made it improbable to pass. The inability to maneuver the vehicle even though there was a big chunk of space to make the turn and head back got him agitated. This was the first instance of angst among the passengers on seeing how apparently inept the driver was.
Multiple calls to the homestay and an hour later, we reached our place of stay.
All smooth yeah? Nope. Not at all. The homestay (Prakriti Siri) was connected by a road laid out at an incline of about 50°. Before the incline, was a temple which opened only on Tuesdays.
The driver, clearly to nobody’s surprise, an amateur, refused to drive up to the parking area of the homestay claiming that the front would be hit by the turn present along the incline. Notice the incline in the picture and let me know if a bus can go inside or not. That newbie. Sigh. Thankfully, the homestay had a car, and we could transfer the items of baggage and people in that car to the house. Else, we would have found it a near impossible task.
I’d recommend that you just walk out of your place of stay and roam around those roads, look around, gaze at nature and enjoy the tranquility. We left for a waterfall at around 11:00 and returned to our delight, for an absolute feast of a lunch. A proper three-course meal. Everyone was singing the praises of the food prepared. Everyone. If you do go to the Malnad side, please have the buttermilk and the Akki Roti (Akki – rice). Mouth watering to say the least.
The rest of the Saturday was relatively quiet with a small bonfire. Apparently, area rules ensure that there is no noise while lighting the fire. Perplexing, given the number of tourists who come to visit the place. A discussion led to us going to the famous tunnels of Sakleshpur on Sunday morning. The mist. The drive. Worth every bit of it.
About 300 feet above the ground stands a railway bridge about 400 meters long. I am ok with altitude, provided being in motion and knowing that it is safe. This bridge was scary, though. Legs shivering and mind constantly yelling “Abort mission“, I managed to walk along the bridge with strength mustered through the constant motivation from my cousins who effortlessly went from one tunnel to another within no time. These tunnels are a part of the Konkan Railway.
62 of them in total. The sound of waterfalls emanating from the background. From the drive that brings us to the tunnels to the drive that takes us back to our home, it is a surreal experience. This tour is generally done before 09:00. Therefore be sure to start early (preferably 06:00) as an hour is never enough at this wonderful spot.
On our way back home, we bumped into the Bisle viewpoint. Please look through the pictures, as an explanation would not do justice to the elegance of the Western Ghats. A not-so-okay lunch and tea on the highway were all that we stopped for on the way.
Enough of my narration. As much as I hate to do this, I would like to stop here, for the beauty needs to be viewed and savored through the pictures and the desperation to go there and get a feel. Once might speak otherwise. However, no matter the time, place or the situation, I will always rave about the glory that India offers with the Western Ghats.
The Western Ghats, the Himalayas, the seven sisters, the sands of Rajasthan and Gujarat, the beaches along the eastern coastline, and the rest, whose names I have missed or conveniently skipped, are the gems on a crown named India.