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Sharavathy Valley: An Escapade into the wilderness of the Western Ghats

And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong. To measure yourself at least once. To find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions. Facing the blind deaf stone alone, with nothing to help you but your hands and your own head.”
These days we are too busy and focused about our career path that we forget take our eyes off the laptop screen and take the road to places unknown. Though some of us find ourselves gravitating towards the unseen and if we are fortunate, at times, we find or revisit ourselves on the meandering corners of those roads. Such was the trek to the land of Sharavathy.
A few weeks it had been that I relocated to Bangalore and the wanderlust inside made me restless when my friend Kabir chanced upon this trek organized by BTC. Spanning over the long weekend from October 1st to 4th, it was the perfect gateway to get my feet itchy once again.

The Journey Begins
The tempo traveller would start on Thursday night (1st Oct) from Majestic for an overnight journey to the place called Sagara in Shimoga district. Kabir repeatedly informed or rather alarmed me about the punctuality of the group and its reputation of sticking to the plan no matter what. We freaked out on our way from office to Majestic as the quintessential Bangalore traffic gave us jitters. Thankfully, we could make it. There were 12 people in the group including us. A bunch of unknown young guys to stick together for the rest of the journey. Yeah, we both felt like we are entering into some reality show! To top that, the others started conversing in the local language and we thought we would get bored over the next few days. How wrong we were! Sonali and Hiren, the organizers along with their long time team mates Ashwin and Abhishek took the initiative to break the ice and we reached Sagara in the morning before we knew it. It was 7 in the morning. All of us freshened up, had a simple but fulfilling breakfast with idli vada and tea/ coffee. Another one and half hour of journey into the jungle and our trek started. For the next couple of hours we would go past muddy, dense jungle, numerous slippery streams and lots and lots of leeches. Over the next few days I would make sure I slipped every single time I crossed a stream :P So make sure to travel light as your wet luggage can become a big pain when clocking several kilometers every day through the terrains. Finally we reached the Dabbe Falls where the team would have to climb down a distance of around one kilometer to go underneath the falls and it was 80 degree steep an incline. 

There were two guides with us- Mr. Ganapti and Mr. Jayanth, without whom the whole trek would not have seen the realm of possibility. 
AT times we would use rope to get down along the way. But once we had reached the bottom, the gushing wind, splashes of water and the omnipresent rainbows would make the experience worthwhile. By the time we would climb up, the team would be dog tired. One of the acquaintances of Mr. Ganapati gave us shelter for the time being and we had lunch, post which walking became considerably difficult. For the next few days we would have lemon rice (or its variants), chutney, sambar over and over again but would love and respect the food so much that we would devour our pies like famished giants. The adversities and the travails made us humble and occasional stop overs at local villagers’ huts cheered us up over a small cup of lemon tea. We were already in love with the landscape and the leeches reciprocated it in a big way  They were literally inseparable from us.
End of Day 1
We trekked around 16Kms post Dabbe Falls to reach a shelter inside the jungle (HEBAYANAKERE village) where we had a home stay at night. A tank full of hot water and a tiled washroom seemed heavenly! We had been given one room to accommodate ourselves, though later on the host generously offered us another room under his own roof.

Day 2: Destination Chaturmukha Basadi
The next day we started at around 9.30 in the morning after having breakfast. The landscape would be similar- muddy and mushy inclines, thorny bushes, small shallow streams and occasional paddy fields would keep welcoming us. We enjoyed a refreshing time playing inside the not so wide stream of Sharavathi during noon, had our lunch post that. We would reach our destination by 4.30 in the evening. Chaturmukha basadi, a jain temple which used to be the a bustling religious community centre for the local Jain diaspora, took our breath away with its serenity and splendor. The place typically looked like a locale for the movie Lara Croft : The Tomb Raider. We spent the evening under the open sky, lying on the cushion of the green pasture at large. Discussing and philosophizing on life, we spent the evening watching stars through a clear sky. It was indeed an experience to lock away inside our psyche for a long long time. We trekked around 10 kms on this day.

End of Day 2
Post dinner at the adjoining Digambar temple near the Basadi, we all joined in playing ‘Mafia’. The game became intense over the course of time and we were not ready to sleep until we were forced to do so by the priest’s family who had to perform a puja the next morning.

Day 3: Ferry Go Round
On the third day, we hardly trekked. We started around 9 in the morning. Passing the hanging bridge was fun. Post that a stretch of around 3-4 Kms after which we reached the old fort. The guide explained us the historical significance of the place. Then, it was the time for the ferry ride. The distance we covered was around 25Kms along the Sharavathi river to the sea. Midway we got down into the river for an extended water sport session. We had life jackets. We landed on the banks of the river to have lunch in the middle of somewhere and started our voyage.
For me, apart from the night at the temple, another noteworthy moment was when we saw a train gushing down a Konkan railway bridge over Sharavathi while we were floating underneath it. We hooted and cheered the train away. That moment was breathtaking.

End of Day 3
We reached Honnavar at the end of the ferry ride. The tempo traveller awaited us near the port. We went to the Ramanagindi beach thereafter. The feeling of the trek coming to an end started sinking in. The beach was full of crabs, white sand and the iconic existence of small hillocks parallel to the Arabian sea that is a signature of the western ghats. We enjoyed a sunset and a small breeze sitting on the beach- a perfect ending to the whole saga. Tired and docile as we were from the strenuous journey, we boarded the tempo traveller only to get down at Sagara once again, to have dinner. By 4 AM in the morning, we were back to our origin. 

And It Ends
On the way back to Bangalore, we discussed how well we jelled as a team and made the trek memorable. As our phones started receiving network coverage, our escapade into the primordial way of life ended. But somewhere somehow the journey did go through nooks and corners of my inner self and gave me the sense of being one with myself. 

Written By          : Abhishek Banerjee
Organized By      : HIren and Sonali
Date of event     : 2,3,4 October 2015
Place                  : Sharavathi Valley
Pictures              : BTC album

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