Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Monsoon drive to the magical valleys of North Kanara

Retracing the same route traveled some years back is always fun. And I do not mind going to the places I have already visited any number of times if I like the place. One such trip happened this monsoon. Two years back, TS and I had visited Manchikeri which is near Yellapur in Uttara Kannada district and we had explored many waterfalls in that area and we thought this time we should take our wives along with us as well. So five of us including Lavanya, Soujanya and Srivathsa decided to retrace the same route which TS and I visited 2 years ago. The only additional place we thought of seeing was Dudhsagar waterfalls. Thanks to TS's friend Ajit, we got to stay at their 2nd house which was vacant and we even got to taste the yummy food his mom cooked for us on all the three days. 

The best thing happened during our journey was our trek to Benne hole falls. It was raining heavily and the forest floor was full of leeches. The trek was even more better because only five of us were there in that place. It was a nice to walk in the rain, and on slippery rocks with leech bites allover and passing through amazingly huge trees. After a steep descent into the valley, Benne hole came as a surprise in front of our eyes. We were just there and it was amazing to see the spectacular waterfalls. Looking at the way it appears and flows into the valley, I must say it has got the apt name. 'Benne' (in Kannada) means Butter and 'Hole' means river. It was nice to sight many orchids, fungi, lot of geckos, smaller streams, many wild flowers, insects and many more in those thick woods while walking. 
Magnificent Benne Hole Falls

Ficus and the Rock

(Utricularia flower and the gecko)

Cup fungi

Huge tree trunks near Burude falls

On the second day, we visited Magod, Jenkal Gudda, Sathodi and Kavadi kere. I always like visiting Magod for its sheer beauty. Bhedti river amazingly flows and jumps down the huge valley. One more key difference in this place is that people cannot play in water. Because its a huge valley and one will be watching it standing at the opposite side of the waterfall, it is not possible for people to jump into the water. May be that is the reason there are less number of people. Even if they come, they will not stay for longer time. They just stop, see the falls and leave. There are a lot of exceptions anyway; and those exceptions are more than enough to spoil the place. Sighting the flight of Great Hornbill crossing the valley at Jenkal Gudda was the best thing happened to me on that day. It was really a great experience.

Orchids on the way to Magod ~ Oberonia sp

Gorgeous Magod in its natural composition

Bhedti river jumping down the cliff

Mist magic at Magod

Majjige hole falls seen from Magod

Beautiful tree, mist and the Magod falls

Mornings at Magod are always filled with magical mist

Valleys of Jenkal Gudda

Great hornbill flight at Jenkal gudda

Malabar Melastome flower

Sathodi with a rainbow

Blue evening at Kavadikere

Reflection of the temple at Kavadi kere
Although I liked our journey, the good times we had and the places we visited, I was extremely disappointed to see the places getting degraded day by day. Blame the tourists or their senseless behavior when it comes to keeping the places clean. I was disappointed to see so many tourists at Sathodi and the garbage pile up all along the way. I think some of the places are going out of control and any kind of conservation programs will hardly do any positive impact. People are getting easy access to the wilder places, roads are being built, roads are getting wider at some places, tress are being felled, concrete structures are being built to accommodate more people to sit and spend time, and it goes on and on. 

Mandovi river jumping down the valley at Dudhsagar
Habenaria sp on the way to Castle Rock
And yes, I should make a special mention on our visit to Dudhsagar waterfalls. All these days I was thinking I should visit Dudhsagar and see Mandovi river falling through those huge cliffs. I had also heard that it is a nice walk on the railway track to see this beautiful waterfall. Drive through the thick woods of Dandeli and reaching Castle Rock is fun and I also could see a lot of orchids and beautiful flowers all along the way. The moment we reached Castle Rock railway station, I knew I made a mistake getting there. There were more than 100 or 200 cars parked in the station and the station was full of people. We did not even know that we could take the train to reach Dudhsagar station. After getting to know that we can take the train and come back by the evening train, I said to myself, this is going to be a disaster. It was raining and we had locked the car and parked 500m away from the station and thinking that we will have to trek to the waterfall, we did not even carry our wallets. TS had some money and he could buy tickets only for one way journey. So we were mentally prepared to walk back 14 kms. There were at least 1000 people or even more. Imagine a train with 15 coaches full of people (sitting and standing) getting down at one station. Now you know the number. I was very disappointed and wanted to return back. Folks forced me to go till the waterfall and then return. So, effectively I was at the waterfall only for 10 minutes and started walking back. All along the track I could see only people walking shoulder to shoulder. If someone had taken a aerial photograph of the track, it would've looked like 'people falls'. Oh, garbage dump? perhaps, 10 goods trains full of garbage can be collected if at all someone is willing to do this herculean task. 

More pictures you can visit my flickr set here


Friday, August 23, 2013

A Saturday at CHERE

It has now become very normal for all of us to spend time at our clinic regularly once a month. At least during VIMS Specialy Clinic, all of us make it a point to visit the clinic and help our staff wherever required. Of course KTF does most of the work and we assist them if they want us to or else we just help directing the patients to the right rooms allocated for different specializations. I always look forward for third Saturdays and love spending time at the clinic. 

Now that we have a nice kitchen garden being managed by Chandramma, my first visit will be to checkout whats new in the garden. As always there will be some new vine or new plant that attracts my attention and some discussion follows on that. It is always a very happy sight and it makes my day. I am also happy that Chandramma is taking care of them very well. Now that we have started growing some greens and veggies, even monkeys have started visiting our garden and eat most of the stuff we've grown.

While we all wait for VIMS doctors to arrive, we get a lot of time to discuss with our staff, KTF folks and drink our morning tea. Once doctors arrive, they get into their respective rooms as per our Sister Kavitha's instructions and begin their work. One of us will manage registrations and some of us will start sending patients to the right specialists. Most of the villagers have gotten used to our camps and the way it functions, so they come, register their name and stand in the queue on their own. We have even stopped managing the queue like the way we used to in the early days. 

I notice a lot of regular patients coming without fail and getting their ailments treated. Some come with pain and some with a lot of stories. In any case, they have a place now to walk in. I feel good to see them coming and availing the services meant for them. They know that it is their own clinic and they wait for the doctors to come. Whenever there is a delay in starting the camp on time, I feel bad for the patients who wait. Most of them wait till the doctors arrive and will never go back without seeing them. Perhaps, they do not have any other option left, they do not want to go any other clinic in the city which is far away. They have an option right at their door step and they make sure they avail the service meant for them. 

During our seventh VIMS specialty clinic happened on 17th of this month, it was about time we close the registration, one guy walked into the clinic. He was limping a bit, came inside and rested on a chair in the clinic lobby. Sister Kavitha was busy distributing medicines inside and the lobby was almost empty as it was almost closing time. I was just observing him for a while. He looked for my assistance in the reception, I asked him about his problem. He said he wants to talk to the orthopedic surgeon. He knew the specializations for the day and hence he came to talk to the concerned doctor. I called the doctor to see him and help. He started explaining the doctor on what exactly had happened to his leg. He told him, it was a minor accident happened a week back and he had immediately visited our clinic without any delay. He consulted our general physician Dr. Karthick who visits our clinic every day and Karthick suggested him what needs to be done and had prescribed medication. He said "I followed everything that Karthick sir told me and I am out of pain now". I asked him so if everything is fine and the wound is healing, what is the purpose of his visit? He answered, "No, today is Orthopedic day, so I thought I should show the status of my wound and tell what happened to the specialist so that if there are any complications I can treat it immediately. I have followed everything that Karthick sir has told me, so please tell me if the wound is ok and will not create any problem to the bone inside". Ortho surgeon smiled, asked him a few questions and told him he is absolutely fine. He suggested him to get it dressed - one last time. And the guy responded saying "you are closing now, I will come back in the evening and get it dressed. Anyway I am from the same village".

That made my day! 


PS: CHERE is Canadia Health Education and Rural Empowerment. 

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

flight of a hornbill

When I am in the woods, there is always much to wonder. One can certainly expect a lot of surprises and nature will never disappoint anyone. No, I am not talking about a tiger sighting here. Yes, there are so many other tiny-little-things that can thrill me if I observe carefully. The wonderment of sighting a new thing is always a beautiful experience.  I still remember a lot of such beautiful moments in the past; be it sighting flying squirrels or sighting a Himalayan brown bear or a beautiful orchid up on a tree. I may or may not have clicked a picture, and it does not matter as much. What matters is that there is always something to look for when in nature. 

One such beautiful sighting made me feel ecstatic during my recent monsoon trip towards North-West Karnataka. After seeing the magnificent magod waterfalls, I was at Jenkal gudda photographing those huge valleys cut across by the gorgeous Bhedti river. While the river silently flows, there comes a great hornbill flying from one side of the valley to the other. It was a beautiful sight to see the hornbill crossing the valley and it was even magical because I was able to see it from a higher elevation. It took a long time to cross the valley and I was observing its flight for a long time till it completely crossed over. I was also lucky to get some pictures (of course not-so-good ones) of its flight. This one sighting was worth the trip this monsoon. 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Monsooned Valleys of Malenadu

Here are some panoramic shots of the valleys of the North-West Karnataka I visited during this monsoon.

River stream near Burude Falls

Beautiful sight of river cutting through the woods during the peak monsoon

Bhedti river in full flow this monsoon at the Magod Falls

Huge valleys of Magod where Bhedti river falls beautifully 

Panoramic view of valleys seen from Jenkal Gudda.  And Bhedti river cutting through them.

Magnificent Dudhsagar Falls 

Continuation of the Dudhsagar water fall. Mandovi river flowing into the valley.

Railway track cutting through the valleys between Dudhsagar and Castle Rock.

A lone Darter bird sitting peacefully and enjoying the rain 

Blue-scapes of  Kavadi kere. A beautiful lake spread across 62 acres near Yellapur