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Agumbe: a monsoon date with the rain-forests

The monsoon trek to Agumbe!! Wow it had been my dream from a long time: To walk in the dense forests while it rains in the gorgeous Western Ghats. The team of 19 gathered and got into the bus Friday Night. The introduction was quite an interesting time with diverse set of people unfolding their identities. Ankit announced a 15 min timeline for each person to speak (I recalled the seminars of my students :P) as the journey had just begun.
Starting with Sagar the time slid to enthusiastic stories of Mr. (Selfie) Ganesh and his adventures, valuable experience of Mr. Aravindh, The entrepreneur-cum-sportsman: Malli, The beautiful & shy kid: Akshata, formal intros by experienced trekkers Sunantha and Shilpa, lady volunteer Ms. Divya, the humorous talk of stand up comedian Mr. Goutham, Skillfull speaker Vivekananda, Beautiful couple Neha and Siddharth, followed by Marathi guys Amol and Shailesh. I could not realize, when the session came to an end as the detailed intro of our all-rounder Mr. Ramakrisha had begun and I dozed off mid-way. ;)

1st DAY
Dawn had just touched the tar roads, and the serpentine ghat section made everyone open their eyes to fresh dew drops outside the window. I had waited a long to live this morning, to dip my face into the cool breeze, fresh dew drops and the infinite green surroundings. I had dreamt of it.. Living a dream is such a bliss.
The only hotel at Agumbe bus-stand welcomed us with a south Indian breakfast and a refreshing tea. We moved to the guide’s house dumped our luggage and began the journey. Just before we started, we were notified  of an unexpected visitor in the forest: a wild elephant. This triggered a series of events and formalities: Forest Officers took all our names with phone numbers and we also signed for an agreement, claiming ourselves to be responsible for any incident that happens in the forest!! As the forest is already known for cobras, we now have another adventure to look forward to: an elephant, I could see my sister’s anxiousness about the situation :D
The ascend began after a few guidelines from Ankit and Veera. Our Guide, Thimmappa (64) was heading the trail, conversing, telling the team about the place, habitat and weather. Barkana Falls and beyond - 22kms!! For me it was truly challenging to take up this trek, as I have hardly done longer treks. As we walked deep into the woods, crossing the marvels of the forest, it took less time to realize the density of leeches and their intense love to our blood. The first stream was there, and i felt so lucky to have some place on earth to remove the leeches. The De-leeching session was the only little break we took until we reached the Barkana Falls.
Barkana Jalapatha:
The Seethe river has moulded into the curves of Narasimha Parvatha falling from the height of 850 feet forming Barkana jalapatha. We stood on the top of the falls staring at the green cover that lay all around, crossed a log that formed a bridge to the view point to live the experience of a green world. The earth felt prosperous, looking at the Kuduremukha forest belt, which has been declared a national park. Post snacks, Pictures were meant to be taken though we still had a long way to go. The organizers were worried and we turned our "trek mode" on.
The vastness of the Narasimha Parvatha was unimaginable, the destiny was in an abyss. The trail was long and people were helping each other from the kiss of leeches. The  rain filtering through the leaves of age old trees felt like a morning drizzle throughout the day. Then we just stopped at a place feeling amazed at the non-leechy zone. Fog and rain blended our surrounding into a beautiful scenery, that moment I felt like walking into the a frame of a scenery hanging on a wall.
The horizon was visible, we had just stepped out of the forest and stopped there for lunch. Organizers, after a discussion with the guide, decided to head back from that point itself, keeping in mind the limitations of time and distance. Climbing down was more lengthier as our guide’s  assessment was always be 5 kms more than the actual!! Though, reaching home felt real comfortable.
Few of us stayed back at home enjoying the long awaited hot water bath and refreshing coffee prepared by the guide’s wife over woodfire. Others went to enjoy the famous sunset point alongwith bajji’s and snacks. The cooking session had been taken over by Mr. Ramakrsihna and his team. The simple and delicious dinner was genuinely appreciable and super filling. Charged up post dinner, The team of volunteers worked really well to fill water  for the next day. Hallucinations about leeches continued the whole night and  their discussion too. The fulfilled UNO games continued till 2AM when rain interrupted and we crawled into our sleeping bags, only to be woken up by Ankit at 4 AM..!!

2nd DayKundadri betta:
First light of the day reached the red soil when we were moving to the white jain temple of shevatambaras. The dayspring was welcomed by songs: funky to oldies, with enthusiastic band of Sagar. The curls of Agumbe ghats were awful. As we could not wait for the sun's arrival, we enjoyed with queer pictures and headed back home. The morning was more refreshed by the signature coffee prepared by Ankit, the coffee brewing expert. After the breakfast, we began the exciting trek of our second day.
Nishani Betta:
The kingdom of leeches! Though it wasn’t spread throughout the trek we took breaks to de-leech them :D The 5 km trek gave us a wonderful view of paddy fields and tiny houses around. We walked on the peak to enjoy the mesmerizing view all along it's length. When we started the trek, it was drizzling followed by little rain for a while, but during the descend the rain gods went crazy as though they knew how much we would relish and enjoy running down in the rains. That was my first rain-trek experience, loved it completely. I was feeling so lucky for not carrying a raincoat :P This experience will remain within me afresh, always. As we were waiting for the organizers to arrive, people started creating stories as the place we visited had to be kept a secret (according to guidelines of the Guide :P)
Doodda Mane:
A walk on the well laid road felt so luxurious :D The city of rains, with her beautiful architecture felt like we were walking in the city of Malgudi. The road brought us to the memories of our childhood, to the Malgudi house, Dodda-Mane of Agumbe. Throwing away the wet socks and shoes people jumped into the warmth of home. The comfort of stepping on the red floor, the pure touch to those poles made from red soil, the Brindavan at the center, the whole set up reminded us of the scenes of the good old days. I felt really jealous of the people who were staying there, enjoying the sumptuous food cooked by the senior member of the family. The thick wooden windows with plumpy nails, strong doors reminded of the olden treasure lost in the journey of our modern life. Noting the details of the owner, we wished for another visit and stay at dodda mane.
After The group photo with Malgudi house, we stepped into the bus with rain soaked clothes and skin. As Akshata, Shilpa & me missed breakfast, we grabbed one of the lunch boxes and emptied it in no time. Dumb charades followed by some PJs started doing the rounds. I wonder Gautham made everyone run back to their childhood for those questions. Next came the final surprise of the trek! Kudlu teertha.

Kudlu teertha:
With the critical timings of the place & the abstract idea of the distance in mind, we started our marathon into the forest of antique woods through the crimson curves of mud path. We were supposed to cover roughly 5 kms in less than 60 minutes to be at the entry gate in time. Its truly said the journey is best measured with friends, cause by then we had beautifully bonded with road and conversation. the slow trekkers were lead by Malli, who was exceptionally enthusiastic and successful in keeping us moving fast as we raced against time. As usual the trail was headed by Veera and Ankit was bracing up the end. We did reach on time, though we had another twist in the kahani.
As we relaxed at the counter happily celebrating our stupendous feat of chasing the destiny, we realised no one was carrying any cash to pay at the entry. Then Ankit ran to lend some money from the family that was just about to leave. They obliged very gracefully even as our team was figuring out how to pay them back..!! You don't find such good people very often. Finally, cracking the odds of finances, time and distance, we started walking the 3 kms towards the bigger picture.
A Trek is an act of controlling the will power directing to grow with the physical limitation. After a marathon run, feeling tired like hell, we had to walk another 3 kms into the forest. I was pushing myself at my back for the steps to just finish and jump into water, the sound of the waterfall was enchanting! A huge tree made way to the land of water. Veera was patiently waiting for the team at the entrance seat (a huge stone:-)) I walked into the fluid leaving behind the tiredness, getting sprinkled with pure H2O. The marvelous height from which the milky fluid dropped to the earth was stupendous.
The strong wind pushed us away from the waterfall, still we managed to move around the divinity of nature. There was a small island below the huge wall, filled  with colorful stones and rainbows creating an art all around, forming a frame of awe. With a few clicks of beautiful moments, we headed back to the bus.
On the way to the guide's place, Pampered our tummies with delicious Mangalore bajji’s and buns. With our team of energetic volunteers, all work was very smoothly completed. Ankit and his team prepared veg sandwich within a short period of time. Packing up from Agumbe, thanking the guide and his patient wife for being the kind host, we left at around 9 PM. The little emptiness in the stomach was packed with adequate dinner on the way. The feedback session was responsibly carried by the organizers taking care of everyone’s opinion. The two days journey had come to an end with a heart felt gratitude to Ankit and Veera.

Laying back on the seats, we moved out of Agumbe with soul-soothing experiences and many exclusive ones.

Written By      : Arpita Kulkarni
Photo Credits : Amol, Ganesh & Sagar
Organized By  : Veera & Ankit
Date of event  : 11th - 12th June, 2016
Place               : Agumbe
Members         : 19
Pictures          : BTC FB Page

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