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Unique trek to Bandajje Arbi - 28th,29th Nov Expedition

After a gap of around 4 to 5 months, I decided to have a break from my busy routine and join BTC for an another expedition. It was then, when my fiance suggested about upcoming Bandajje trek. We immediately registered for this event and had our fingers crossed, hoping that both of us get selected. And there it was, the list of shortlisted members, with both of our names on it. Gosh! from that day, I was eagerly waiting for 27th Nov evening.

     As usual, we all were suppose to meet near Shantala silks, opposite Kempegowda bus terminal 3. Me and Siddharth reached quite early. Around 10pm, people started showing up with their big trekking bags, making me wonder about my small backpack. Another BTC group, heading for twin waterfalls was also present there. Since Siddharth had recently done a one day trek and tree plantation event with BTC, he went busy chit chatting with a group. I was looking around, hoping to find some familiar faces, but guess this was chance for me to make new friends.
     We started little late because of some tempo issue with the other group. Due to which we skipped an introductory session in the vehicle for most of us already started to doze off. The journey went quite well. Early morning, the fog became so thick that it was actually impossible to see the route. Visibility was very poor. Hats off to our driver who actually managed to drive in that dense fog. It was around 6 am in the morning, when Easwar saw some man running and waving at us. That person was our homestay owner Sandeep. Hadn’t he waved at us, we would have missed the turn. A small house with quite a big parking and garden space was amidst the lush green forest. I got down from the vehicle and was looking at the surrounding beauty. It took no time to notice a small waterfall at the back yard of the house. The nature around us was so beautiful that only a great poet can imagine it on to a paper. The name of this stay was Ballige homestay. Sandeep, his wife and their cute daughter Ibanni were waiting for us. After deciding the rooms and settling down, it was time for some yummy breakfast, followed by an introduction session.
   The plan for the day was to climb the mountain ranges of western ghats till we reach Bandajje falls. The trek is locally recognised as Bandajje arbi. Arbi means falls in Tulu language. We took one jeep and one car to travel till the starting point of the trek. Few kms of twists and turns and we reached our destination, from where our expedition began. Sushma (organiser) and the guide were leading the trail while Chaitanya (Organiser) was making sure that none of us is left far too behind. I was enjoying my initial climb, when jyoti told us to beware of the leeches. Oh my god!  so many treks, but this was my first encounter with leeches :P ! Don’t know why, but I started to freak out a bit. It was like an army of leeches coming out from all directions. By the time, we reached the dry pasture, I got my first leech bite. Bandajje climb is a combination of many ups and downs through grasslands, meadows and forest areas. There was this one point where we took a stop for some pics and to see an edge of the mountain shaped like a gorilla nose. Well a funny thing happened there was that, people got to know about me and Siddharth being engaged. Guess that was a bit surprising to others :P ! Further few kms, we had to bear some teasings and questions.
     Say around 12.30 pm, we all reached the place from where we could see Netravathi river flowing down with her swift course. Usually we enjoy waterfalls from grounds. There we were at the cliff of cascading 200ft waterfall. The view was amazing. The water was clean and cold. Most of us had a nice cold water bath in a natural pool. Before leaving the guest house, everybody had packed their lunch. So, after around 12 km of trekking and cold water bath, guess everybody were super hungry. We had lemon rice (chitranna) and curd rice in our tiffins, along with some chips. After a short rest, it was time for us to head back. The return trek wasn’t that exhausting. The sky was not very bright and the trail was familiar. Praveen, me, Siddharth and our guide were a bit ahead this time. Taking few intermediate stops, we reached a fort kind of construction. The walls were in ruins. Inside, we spotted a herd of cows, buffaloes. The left over curd rice was given to the cattle, for which some of the brave animals started to come close to us for more food.
       That spot was perfect for some group clicks. No matter how late we were getting, group pics, selfies toh bante hai na !  We again had to pass through the wet area where leeches were ready to attack us. I called it as ‘Leech zone’. The only way I thought of was, to run or walk quickly, so as to save ourselves from leech bites. The trek ended with yet another amazing view at Ranibagilu sunset point. Candid sunset pics were captured in each of our cameras and mobiles. The day ended with tasty homestay dinner (glad we had veg and non-veg options) and talks at campfire.
       Day 2 for me was much relaxing compared to day 1. Few amongst us went for an early morning hike. I preferred sleeping :). After breakfast, we went to a place called Mydadi view. One can see Malavantige forest and Gadaikal monolithic mountain from that place. We spent some time there clicking pics. So many poses and so much of nautanki. It was fun. Later we headed for a different waterfall. This time we climbed down a small cliff to reach to the falls. The path was slippery and again leeches were present to welcome us. This time I tried not to panic much :P.  The place where we played in the falls felt like completely isolated. Again everybody had a chance to have nice cold water bath. The rushing water on our backs was giving nice massage. There was a hanging tree branch onto which some of us were swinging like Mowgli or Tarzan.   
         We were back to our homestay for lunch. The plan was to leave Ballige at 4pm so till that, it was time for some music and Uno. Playing uno was so much fun that we hardly realised that it was time for us to start packing our stuff. Evening plan was to visit some tea estates and have dinner at Mudigere. But since on sunday, the tea estate are closed and also we were running little late, we decided to visit Sandeep’s coffee shop instead. I tasted one of the best coffee there. The shop was full of all yummy goodies including homemade wine. After quick shopping, we started off for our journey back to Bangalore. On the way we had dinner at Annapurneshwari temple. The food was really tasty, especially pulliogere rice.
  Well, how can a trip get completed without a flat tyre ! Ya, our vehicle got punctured somewhere near Hasan and stepney too didn’t have air. Around 2 am we all were waiting for help to come. Sitting outside some closed shops on a deserted road with my fiance - how romantic ;)” atleast for me !” We started off by around 3-3.30 am, when the tyre was replaced. Even after that, we managed to reach Bangalore by 8 am. Hope nobody got late to their office. It was an amazing weekend for me. Folks, Bandajje is nice and less discovered trek. If get a chance trek lovers must do it and especially with BTC it’s more fun :)

Written By   : Neha Pathak
Organized By : Sushma GS & Chaitanya
Date of event : 28th & 29th Nov, 2015
Members Count: 12
Place         : Charmadi
Pictures     : BTC FB Page

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