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A Little Adrift.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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Somewhere in the woods!
Could never have agreed more to Robert Frost’s words. Nature has always inspired me to be happy no matter how much imperfections I own! Everything seems so wonderful, blissful. Taking up the less travelled roads is in itself a thrill and this is how I started trekking and praising the beauty of this calm and wonderful nature.

On some busy week day, a notification popped up. It was a mail from BTC, and as always I read it for I wanted to do more and more monsoon treks before this season is gone. I registered for this didupe trek, had very less knowledge about the place. But all I knew was BTC is doing this trek for the first time. The word “first” let me put in a competitive thought, yet was curious about this section of western ghats. I am jotting down my thoughts in a blog, as I refresh my memories about this wonderful trek etched into my soul.

Among various calls to be attended on friday evenings, I made sure I reach on time. And to my surprise I reached early, waiting for my co-organizers and other participants. There were four groups going for trek, the same day. And it was festive to see so many Btcians geared up for their respective treks. I was bit in office mood, with all the calls going on and the weekend mood, for it had all the wonderful surprises for next two days. I had an account of the itinerary for two days, which included so many things I have not done earlier, ever!

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BTCians geared up for their respective treks.
We got into our mini bus, settling into comfortable seats. Veera, our organizer for the trek started the introduction followed by others. I was, for a moment shocked by the story of Siddharth’s insect bite infection. I always hated/feared insects, which made me think about it for a while. Later as usual a bunch of back benchers started singing various kannada numbers also some old hindi songs. We got down at a place called Kunigal on the way for dinner. Few already were done with dinner, and few hogged onto food. And we jumped to have tea at a place nearby. And our travel started towards Didupe. I can barely recall which all places we crossed on the way as I was asleep, but I heard from someone that we had crossed Dharmasthala. I woke up to the voice of Veera discussing about the wrong route we took and how it added one more hour of journey and we were an hour late. We entered Malavante, and I noticed the gram panchayat office to our right. We coordinated with our guide and got down in Malavante and waited for our hosts to receive us. And hence we got a short span to click pictures.

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We walked for sometime to reach our host’s home and the nature around did not fail to amaze me with its eternal beauty. I started feeling the same magical feel I get when I am in nature’s lap! Once we reached farmer Keshava’s home, we all started to get fresh one by one and eagerly all eyes followed for some chai from the ladies of the house! We sipped on the best tea of the malnad area and then had breakfast after sometime. By this time it had already started drizzling. Few put on their ponchos, raincoat etc and few of us just wanted to enjoy these lovely drizzles..! And our journey towards the wonderful “Kadamagundi” mountain started.
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Little did we know, that we were making memories.

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All set to hike!
Little did we know what was in store for us. We walked for about 30 minutes crossing various small streams. The rocks underlying these streams were pretty slippery and few of us fell prey to these! And then we reached this magnificent waterfalls, plunging from a height I could barely look at, as the water from the falls drizzled onto our faces blurring the entire view. The rocks on the way to the waterfalls were very slippery and we held some support and walked towards the falls. And there we stood watching at this amazing view, the violent waterfall gushing  in competition to reach its destination. Don’t we do the same? In the race of life, we never bother to see how small our race is in front of this nature! She danced away gracefully, washing away anything that came in her way! Where do we get such a mixture of violence and calmness in our daily life? So many thoughts crossed my mind in awe of this serene beauty.
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The magnificient waterfalls.

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When we were about to go to next level of rocks, close to the waterfall, something unfortunate happened! I turned around and had a glance and during my second glance, I could see blood dripping like water from Siddharth’s face. I did not understand for a moment as to what happened! Everyone started panicking and I stood there trying to recall what just happened! And then Veera, Srikanth and few others rushed to provide him first aid. My thought process halted for few minutes. And by the time I understood what had happened, Siddharth was attended to. And then we all came out of water, did first aid to everyone who had small injuries, even though nothing major had happened. Siddarth and his wife Neha decided to go to a doctor nearby for further treatment. So our team of 19 reduced to 17 now. And our guide brought our packed lunch boxes in between. So, we moved forward with our trek guide, Dejappa gowda with a sickle to cut down bushes on our way! He was leading, cutting down all the bushes in our way, making way for the trekkers behind. 

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I suffered a severe cramp in the waterfall which made my pace very slow! Cramps have been very common during workouts for me, but this seemed to be the most irritating one, as slippery trail added to my miseries. Leeches!, how can one forget these creatures!? I have always been not so friendly with insects, worms and leeches belonged to whole new category. They were feasting on my blood so happily. Moumita had whole box of salt to avoid them. Sadly, I never thought that leeches would be found in such number. There were some magic sticks (basically, tobacco powder tied in a cloth to a stick!) which Deepa and Nishith carried. They could be of some use too. I don't know how Siddarth Gowda avoided leeches, but in the end we got to know he did not have a single leech bite, so did Moumita! And now our way opened up to a closed stream, which was going to be a mesmerizing waterfall ahead. Our trek guide told us to have lunch here, as it was already very late and everyone was hungry! But as we took a look around, we could see more leeches, as this place was not getting adequate sunlight due to the trees grown with its arms widely spread. A small break to remove leeches from our legs/body was done here, and we could not stop more for obvious reasons! And Dejappa gowda told the final waterfall and our destination for this mountain is just 10-15 mins away. And we prepared to go for it rather than having lunch in this leech prone area.
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A tiny stream on our way!

And then this just 10 mins path was not a trail but a steep, slippery trail, with bushes all around. Our guide cleaned it up for us, but the slippery path made it very difficult and many of us slipped, with no major damages.Few people were wondering, why to take such a path to go to the top, basically when there is no trail to go up. I had no comments for this, because somewhere inside I knew it would surprise us all with an amazing view and knew all this effort would be worth it. And not very later did everyone realise that this place was more beautiful than the old one! Every pain in the body vanished seeing the waterfalls.
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The final waterfall of the day.


Each one of us were happy that we came here. And started hogging onto our lunch boxes, Rice and raita tasted heavenly. This waterfall was enormous one compared to the earlier one, flowing in a secluded place at the top of mountain away from civilization. It was so good to see the clean mountain with no plastic. This waterfall was bit risky to go into the water. Only mallikarjun went into the water, that too not very far. Few of us did not even dare to go there, since the rock underneath the falls will be slippery.

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Mallikarjun alone dared to go there!


We lied down on the rocks at a safe distance  facing waterfalls and watching the marvellous view. And we had to start back as it was about to rain and we had to cross the slippery trail before it starts raining. And we started descending and now the leeches were comparatively less. But it started raining making the descend difficult. And after an hour or so, we reached the base of the mountain we climbed, amidst all songs, leeches etc. We reached our homestay and had hot tea and some banana bhajjis. And then came the obvious jokes that girls take more time to bath than guys. We all freshened up and got ready to watch yakshagana which was arranged for us. The play was about Laxmi and sudharshana, where  they debate about the importance of sudharshana chakra in Vishnu’s triumph in various avatars. I was amazed by the energy, the dance, makeup and costume of the artists and the plot of the story. Soon after the play, we had dinner followed by some gossip and off to sleep. We slept with lot of expectations for the next day events.

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Yakshagana artists.

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Yakshagana scenes.

We woke up to the non stop alarms from Veera’s phone. But somehow managed to sleep till Sandeep’s voice ruined our sound sleep and forcibly we had to wake up! After tea, we were told by Veera to revoke our drawing skills, which was the best and funniest one hour of the day.
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Back to the childhood days!

Everyone started analysing every other’s drawing in their own imaginative and creative way! And now we had yummy breakfast, neer dose and lemon rice. We started preparing for the much awaited mudbath. And we walked towards the uncultivated paddy field for this. I could see few had already got into mud and I was bit hesitant to get in. But eventually I gave up as it was so much of fun. Rugby, volleyball and tug of war were some games we played and it was an absolute one hour of fun, followed by a quick bath in a stream nearby! We started our clean up drive right from here. It was disheartening to see so much of waste, including plastic, papers and clothes simply left to pollute the wonderful nature around. How much of apathy could have brought us in such a state? We, people living in Bangalore could never go more crazy about the calm nature and the traffic-free wonder and no one better can understand the importance of this place.
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All set for Volley ball!

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Rugby!
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After the tiring mud bath, we packed our bags and walked towards the TT. From there we left for a local farmer’s home, who is the son of Srishti Samman awardee for conserving 154 varieties of paddy species. We had yummy malnad region food and the star of the items was payasa. Nishith did not utter a single word till the banana leaf was left out of items! Now was the Ermai falls cleanup program. We rolled up our sleeves, put on rubber gloves for the clean up. And while walking towards the falls I realised how badly injured was this falls from Man’s sporadic attacks on nature. There was no one to enunciate rules and policies! Rao sir told us how this was a secluded place earlier, and after Shivraj Kumar’s movie “Chigurida Kanasu” being shot here, visitors number has proliferated here. And along with this have brought man made thrash into this falls. As we moved towards the falls we could see people walking away by hiding their alcohol bottles. We reached falls and could see people enjoying in the falls and simultaneously throwing trash, including plastic and broken glass bottles, plastic covers and many such things. We cleaned it up for an hour and collected 10 gunny bags of thrash. And now was the time for some reward for cleaning up the surroundings of the falls. We played in the falls for around 30 mins and we made some filmy videos too, which is being discussed even after a month of this trip!
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Trash collected at Ermai falls.

With no interest to move out, we came out to walk back to Rao sir’s home. We passed through the green paddy fields and listened to what he has to say about paddy farming. As we reached Rao sir’s home, we sipped kashaya, which was so soothing in the rains. And as time ticked away, we had to leave for Bangalore. Dinner was at some place in between. And then when we thought all are going to sleep, everyone was charged up for the remake of Yakshagana play. Nishith, Vishal, Jackson, Dhanya, Sandeep did this partly funny and partly serious play and I ended up in tears for the extent of jokes! And gradually everyone went to sleep. We woke up to the voices that we reached Bangalore. We bid farewell to everyone with lots of memories of this trip in our eyes and a tiring day ahead!

Written by     : Apoorva Nimbargi
Organized by  : Veera Brahmam & Srikanth Peddi
Date of event : Aug 5th & 6th, 2017
Place             : Didupe & Ermai Falls trek
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