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Into the wild: Thrill of Agumbe, bliss of Koodlu

How do we imagine heaven? A very beautiful place with lovely clouds, may be white carpets, white flowers, soothing soft music etc etc. I found my heaven when I visited Agumbe for the first time. A heaven with lush green carpets, cloudy monsoon weather, chirping of birds, buzzing of bees and insects, waterfalls and sticky leeches :P :)
It was when Siddharth and I were thinking of some outing coming weekend, guess Ankit and Veera were also planning to arrange a forest trek to Agumbe. So there it was, a mail from Ankit  Two Days Trekking to Agumbe : Jun 11, 2016 - Monsoons are taking their time to reach Bangalore.. How about we go ahead and greet the monsoons ourselves..?? Let’s trek in the forests of Agumbe this weekend..’      How exciting! We quickly got ourselves registered and in two days saw our names in the shortlisted 20. All the shortlisted girls of this trek made a whatsapp group to discuss things to carry and about tent arrangements but hot topic of the group became ‘leeches’. Well, based on my last experience with leeches at Bandaje arbi trek, I suggested to carry odomos, but who knew how clingy these leeches will be.
As usual, we were suppose meet by 8.00 pm sharp at Shantala silk house, Majestic. Guess Mallikarjun and Vivek were the first arrivers. Me and Siddharth were greeted by them when we arrived at Majestic 5 minutes past 8. The crowd gathered by 8. 45 pm and we started off by 9-9.10 pm - ‘thanks to Bangalore traffic. This was my first trek with Ankit and Veera (co-ordinators). I was planning to take a small nap (the vehicle being cozy 20 seater) when Veera announced for the introductory session in bus.
The session started with Sagar introducing himself and it went on till we stopped for dinner break around 11.00 at night. I always wonder why food that we eat during treks and journeys always tastes delicious, no matter what we eat and where we eat. Dinner that we had that night was in a small restaurant in the middle of the highway. We had hot rotis served with 2 varieties of punjabi style sabjis along with pulav rice. With our stomach full and sleepy eyes, we continued our journey to Agumbe.


“Hey I think we have reached somewhere” voice came from behind. Our vehicle was entering a bus stand. It must have been 7 am in the morning. We were told to freshen up there, have breakfast and parcel rice in our tiffin for the lunch. Meanwhile Ankit and Veera meet our guide, Thimappa. He took them to forest office to take permission for trekking. We all had to give our names and signatures to the forest department. They warned us about the wild elephants and leeches. Gosh a cold wave went through me when Ankit said, “ Bhai, leeches toh bhar bhar ke hongi.”  Anyways I thought ‘jo hoga dekha jayega’.

From the bus stand we went to Thimappa’s house as our stay arrangements were made there. Quickly in about 10 mins, we gathered our stuff and were ready for a thrilling trek experience. Thimappa had a special oil mixed with tobacco I guess, which we applied to our feet and legs till knee to avoid leech bites. The oil smelt awful, but who cares if it prevents leech attack.
The first few kilometers march was easy. The land was slightly marshy and wet. Greenery was all around. Sky looked pretty clear. Weather was perfect for a trek. Veera was heading ahead with the guide while Ankit was behind making sure no one is left behind him. It was then when somebody from the group experienced the first leech bite, I gazed at the ground. Around 4-5 leeches were trying to climb on my shoes. Though this was my second encounter with leeches, even I freaked out. Ganesh and Siddharth helped me out to pull leeches on my shoe. It might be an oil effect that at least there were no leeches on my skin. But I knew that the oil effect will not last long. “Don’t stop guys, keep walking. If you stop to remove one leech, ten more will climb on you” said Veera. Well, it was mentioned in the mail that this would be a tough trek. But then we had to walk continuously without stopping to avoid leeches which made the trek even tougher. Wherever we could find a dry area, we used to check our legs and remove the leeches.
Agumbe forest being a rainforest, the sunlight was hardly reaching the ground. Tall huge trees were blocking the sunlight and also protecting us from the rain. The terrain now had become more marshy and slippery covered with brown leaves. Our first stop was Barkana falls. The view from the top was amazing. How could we not click pics there. Barkana is the tenth highest falls in India with 850 ft height. The mountain that we were trekking was Narsimvha parvatha. Though it seemed difficult to reach the top and come down before 6 pm, we decided to go further ahead from Barkana falls to explore more.
Now that all of us had got used to leeches, we were hardly making any stops to remove them. By 2.30 pm we reached a spot where the land became little plane and sunlight was visible. Our guide advised us to have lunch there and then return as we had to try to reach the house by 6 pm. I felt the return journey was little lengthy but it was not at all boring.
Finally we were back at Thimappa’s house. Wow, what a trek that was on a first day. I guess we had a good 22 kms trek. The first thing that all of us did was to remove shoes and socks and check for any leeches inside. The next event for that day was to visit sunset point. Few of us stayed back at the house as they were too tired. Siddharth and I decided to go. Sunset View Point rests on one of the highest peaks of the Western Ghats on the Udupi-Agumbe Road. We managed to see the sunset. The golden rays were coming out of clouds making the green earth below look like a heaven. After such an exhausting day, the best part was that we had lips smacking street food and hot coffee. To our surprise, we meet Virander Sirohi and his friends there. They accompanied us to our stay.
When we reached back, Ramakrishna, Vijayalakshmi, Akshata, Shilpa and those who stayed back had already started to prepare dinner for us. The food that this team made was mouth watering. Ramakrishna had arranged for the grocery and he enthusiastically took lead in preparing a full course meal for us. Meanwhile guys had put the tents. Thimappa and his wife being very cooperative had allowed us to use their wood, chulha and water. After getting freshen up and having tasty dinner, we refilled all the containers in bathroom with water from well, so that we could use it again the next day. Well, a day is never over without playing cards. Yes, we played Uno in the courtyard. I was awake till twelve midnight, post which it became difficult to resist sleep.

Day 2

Next day the plan was to go for a sun rise. Some of us who needed sleep decided to skip. Others left by 5.30-6.00 am. I too skipped the morning event. Thimappa’s wife was kind even to offer us some fresh coffee when we woke up. The rest of the team arrived by 8.00.
Veera and Ankit hurried us to quickly have breakfast and coffee, and pack our things for the day’s venture. We had yesterday’s leftover as breakfast and also packed the same for lunch. By 9.00 we were out in the bus. The next event was to climb another mountain, which was not tough at all. But the walk towards the small hillock was steep and again with full of leeches. The amazing experience that we had there was the rain. We were hit by heavy rains when we were at the edge of the mountain. From the edge we could see the entire panorama view of the forest. But that wasn’t the only amazing experience of the day, who knew another exciting adventure was waiting for us.
Before leaving for the Kudale or Koodlu falls, we had a stop at Dodda mane. Yes, the house of Swami and his family in the popular series ‘Malgudi Days’. The owners of Dodda mane did not even charge the producers for use of their house, extending all possible hospitality to top that. The 120 year old house has seen many generations come and go. The current owners were kind enough to show us their house from inside. If you have not read R.K. Narayan’s Malgudi Days, or seen its brilliantly televised version by Shankar Nag, there is something missing in your life.
Last but not the least event for the day was Koodlu falls. To taste the sweet fruit, one has do hard work. Similarly to enjoy the bliss of the waterfalls, we had to walk 7-8 kilometers till the spot. The crucial thing was that we had reached there at 2:00 pm and the gates to the falls (5 kms from us) close by 3:00 pm. Bus couldn’t go till the end as the road was slippery. Hence we decided to walk those 5 kilometers and try to reach gates before 3. Veera and few others ran as fast as they could to reach the gates first and request the guards to hold it open for rest of us. Finally, at around 3:10 we all made till the gate, but then we found out that none of us had money. We all had left our bags in the bus. To our luck a very kind family helped us with the cash to buy the entrance tickets. We were very thankful to them and requested them to collect money from Ramakrishna & Pawan who had stayed in the bus.
And there it was! Past another strenous 3 Km walk from the entry gate, Finally the bliss of Koodlu falls. Koodlu Theertha Falls is a mesmerizing waterfall located near Hebri on Udupi-Agumbe Road. It is known to be one of the most beautiful and most pristine falls in Karnataka. It descends from the height of about 300 ft and plunges straight into the pond. We had a refreshing bath there. We could actually go near the falls as the pond is not very deep. The experience is worth visiting once in lifetime.
The walk back was very relaxed. But then after reaching back to our stay, we had to hurry and pack our stuff, for we had to reach Bangalore by 6.00 in the morning. We thanked Thimappa and his wife for their hospitality and bid goodbye to each other. On our way back, we had a dinner stop,  after which I directly woke up to see the sunrise in Bangalore near Jalla halli cross. I hoped everyone enjoyed the trek and Ankit & Veera’s company. This trek became one the most memorable jungle adventure in my life.

Written By      : Neha Pathak
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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