Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rain, Rain and Rain

Now that I am talking and writing too much about monsoon rains, here is one more. After my wonderful monsoon bike ride, I was all set for a drive and a good trek in the rain. And I think I was lucky enough to get a wonderful wedding package. It was a friend’s wedding at Udupi on Thursday (17th June) and seven of us decided to visit the same. Since the wedding was on Thursday, and Udupi is almost 8 hours drive from Bengaluru, we decided to drive on Wednesday evening. And considering the return journey on Friday will not be a worthy bet, we had to plan for some activity for three days starting Friday. That was it! 

Blissful encounter happened when we reached Hassan. We were welcomed to the Western Ghats with a heavy downpour. It was raining so heavily that we could not see the road while driving. When we were almost nearing Udupi, we noticed a huge python painted with black and white stripes crossing the road. By the time we stopped the car and went near to it, it had crossed the road and reached its bush. Thrilled by sighting the python, all of us got much more excited about our trip. 

We reached Udupi at 2:00 in the morning and rested in the guesthouse booked for us. In the morning we witnessed Theju’s wedding. I was really happy to attend this particular wedding because it was very simple and hence beautiful. I like simplicity and it was almost ages since I witnessed a simple wedding. The event started in the morning and it got over by afternoon. After the grand South-Canara cuisine, we had all and enough time to do any activity. We wanted to visit Padukere beach but because we were not sure of the approach road for the same, we ended up at the Malpe beach. We had some good fun time at the beach and good time spent on photography as well. After enjoying at the beach, we drove to the most colorful town-Manipal. We partied well at Manipal and were back at the guest house by 23:00.

It was Friday morning and our schedule was to reach the Bhagavathi Nature Camp and spend the rest of the days with some good time in the nature. We left Udupi on Friday morning at 9:00 and started driving to the Nature Camp via Karkala. The road was so beautiful that we could not believe that it was not our dream. We were literally driving in the clouds and amidst the green wet rain forests. Rain gods were playing with us at frequent intervals. When we were about to reach the Bhagavathi Nature Camp, at the forest check post, we bought a lot of jackfruits. While I was eating a jackfruit, a big (huge) bee came inside the car through the open window and bit me on my back. We all got scared to look at its size; we stopped the car and ran out of it until it flew away.

We reached the Nature Camp at 13:00 and were stopped at the gate by the watchman. We were asked to get the approval letter and payment receipt from the Kuduremukh forest department. So we had to drive further 10 km from the camp to get the letter. Our booking details were already entered in the register and it took only 10-15 minutes to get the letter. While we were driving back to the camp and were almost near the gate, we spotted a Cobra crossing the way with a frog in its mouth. We got down from the car and watched it until it gulped the frog completely. That was a terrific sighting and we were sure of more such thrilling moments.

We reached the beautiful camp which is inside a lush green forest and on the bank of the Bhadra River. We were excited to see the place which is so wonderful and more than anything it’s a place for all nature enthusiasts. Unfortunately, the camp is not being managed properly and is not supplied with adequate staff members. There are only 3 staff members to take care of such a huge campus. The camp has dormitories, guest house and the tents to accommodate visitors at very reasonable cost. For our food, we had to take the cook to the Kuduremukh market again for him to buy enough groceries and vegetables to cook for us for the next two days.

Because it was raining continuously, we did not do much on Friday except for short walks and our usual fun talks. After the heavy dinner, we thought of going for a walk. In fact the person in-charge of the camp asked us to walk till the gate so that we may spot some Bisons and Sambars. Out of the seven, only four of us headed for the walk with our head torches and a camera in hand. It was a very exciting and thrilling walk because, we spotted some amazing frogs. While we were photographing the frogs, the person in-charge of the camp came towards us and asked us not to photograph. He was under an impression that we are doing some research on frogs and he said we are not supposed to do it without special approval from Forest Department HO in Bengaluru. No matter how much we tried to convince him, he did not let us continue our walk. We were pulled back to the dormitory. That was the saddest part but Suz was excited about the fact that we were being seen as Researchers. Sigh!

In the morning, we were all set to do the Kurinjal trek. Since we had to take the guide compulsorily, we had to wait for the person in-charge to assign us a guide.  Because it was raining heavily, we were discouraged to do any treks. And we being WE, did not leave them at peace till they assigned a guide. We were all ready to do the trek without the guide as well. But more than the rain, the major concern for them was the Leeches. Yeah! Leeches. We somehow convinced them that they are our friends wherever we go and they will never stop us reaching any peak! And finally with all the pre-trek adventure, we were all set to trek the Kurinjal peak. 

We started our trek at 10:00 and it started raining as well. It was not heavy though. On the way I spotted some cool orchids and colorful frogs as well. More concern was to take care of our cameras protecting it from the rain. When we entered the forest route, our friends welcomed us. It was a crazy mass of leeches. I must say, they were really big and were absolutely desperate for our blood. Each step would pull out close to 40-50 leeches from the floor. It was that crazy. Suz being known for his blood donation to leeches had I think more than 50 leaches per feet at one point. But the most amazing part of the trek was the forest route. The beautiful canopy was so wonderful that I did not notice much of the leeches for some time. The whole route was misty and filled with life. Rain added more for it to look much more gorgeous. It started raining heavily by the time we reached the peak. Because of the rain and leeches, we did not waste too much of time. Instead we were running back to get down to the road as soon as possible. And while running we were carrying hundreds and thousands of leeches with us.

While returning, Sandy, without noticing, kept his leg on a vine snake and all of them got scared and ran away from that place. They even spotted a few Sambars as well. Suz and I were walking very slowly along with our guide Cheluva. In the end, it started raining heavily and we walked in the rain for almost 3 km to get back to the guest house.

As soon as we reached the dormitories, our next plan was to get into the river and play for some time. While three of our friends decided to sleep, the remaining four of us, being crazy about it, decided to do it. Since it was raining since 10 days in that area, the water level was too high and the force was too much. I thought of not getting into the river. But what to do! We had no option other than being crazy. There is a small check dam built over the river. The water was flowing almost 2 ft above the dam and we had to cross the dam by walking over it to reach the other side. Four of us, holding hands, slowly crossed the dam. And after crossing, we walked through the river from the other end to get to the middle of the huge river. It was a crazy decision and a thrilling walk in such a force of river water. All of us were very happy and we could never forget that amazing experience. We played for some time and it started raining heavily. After some time, we were back to our dormitories.

The nature was so serene that I could live there any longer doing whatever it takes for me to keep it serene. The camp was so beautiful that none of us liked to stay inside the room. We were out most of the time enjoying the rain and the green wet forest. Rain had washed away all the dryness in the forest and given its way to many beautiful living beings to witness it. Even though there were not many birds because of the rain, we spotted a few Kingfishers, Barbets, Wagtails and Scarlet Minivets. The minivet couples were looking so pretty and colorful as though they were dipped in the orange and yellow colors afresh. 

Having shared about our thrilling river experience with the folks who missed it, we had a wonderful evening playing Uno and cracking some fun moments. Capsicum bajjis and hot tea served us well for the evening and to end the day, dinner was just about good. The next day (Sunday), Sandy and Sudhi left early to take care of their personal commitments in Bengaluru and the rest of us visited the Hanumanagundi Waterfalls and Sringeri. We did some good photography at both the places and drove back to reach Bengaluru by 19:00.

So that is how we satisfied ourselves with a monsoon drive and monsoon trek that we were dreaming of all these days. Now, we are back at home scratching our legs because of the leech bites!



Vaishnavi said...

Another trip, another adventure! Here's to more leech bites to you and your gang ;)

Sudhi said...

It seems that you guys had very thrilling experience in this trip!

Raghu said...

Super! Good adventure team.

Narasim said...

Great monsoon story well told.

It appears as though event he snakes know when to get out of the way. They know that confronting people like you is not a good idea.

Leeches on the other hand bleed you in a surreptitious manner. Leeches, evidently, know the kind of people they are dealing with.

The photographs are very nice. Brought back memories of Bhadravathi.

It is good to know that some people in India are wise enough not to waste money on ostentatious weddings. Arya Samaj weddings are simple and elegant.

It is painful to see people with modest incomes conducting expensive weddings. It would be nice if the parents on both sides agreed on a simple wedding and gave the money to the newly wed couples so the couple can establish their household on a sound financial footing.