Wild Wonderful Karnataka

Trek to Bandaje via Ballalrayana Durga and Bandaje Falls

Shiva Prasad V           
9th and 10th July 2005


After the KP trek last month, we were planning for a great trek to sendoff Pacchi, what best way than a full fledged rain drenched, and mist covered trek from Ballalrayana Durga to Bandaje Arabi Falls.

So once the place was decided, as usual we had entries dropouts and finally we had 12 crazy guys for the trek, they were Naveen, Pachhi, Shiva, Chetan, Bushan, Vikram, Vijay, Krishna, Shiva Vijay Kumar, Sreedharan, Punnet, Sujit (After a long time). We all assembled at the usual missing Karnataka map place and distributed the luggage and started off to platform number 23 to catch the 22.15 bus to Kuduremukha. After the over night bus journey which took us through Hassan, Mudegere we got down at a place called Sunkasale at 5.30AM on the Saturday morning.

Starting off to Ballalrayana Durga

Just opposite to Sunkasale bus stop we found a good place to keep our gears and out came the sleeping mats for some rest. We were waiting for Chetan to catch up with us, Chetan was away in his hometown in Davenegere and was supposed to join us Sunkasale via Chikmaglur, Mudugere. In the mean time we finished our morning jobs and were ready for breakfast. Chetan dropped on to Sunkasale by 7.30AM, we had a good breakfast of iddly’s and started off to Ballalrayana Durga Fort.

From Sunkasale we took the single lane tar road, which is on the left side of the main road connecting Sunkasale and Kuduremukha town. The road is good for some stretch but slowly converts into a jeep track. We reached a shop after about 45 minutes of walk, where we brought some plastic covers for the rains, It was already raining when we started off from Sunkasale by 9.00AM. Rain was getting heavier as we trekked on the jeep track, after more than a hours time of walk we could see first glimpses of Ballalrayana Durga Hills. We went all the way to the end of Jeep track, which took us to an estate, after a small break we started from this estate by 11.00AM to ascend to the peak.

Ascent to Ballalrayana Durga

From the estate, we took a path that goes behind the cow shed, the path was steep at some sections and forest cover was also dense. Slowly we made progress, Some where in the middle we came across another path going right, Pacchi went ahead and came back since the path was going up and was taking a turn to other side. So we went ahead in the same path, when we hit upon a open patch we could make out that taking that right side path would have taken to the Fort directly, we were heading into the peak next to the fort peak now, so the trek continued we came across a stream, lots of leeches to keep us running and then the climb got a bit tricky with very much loose sand, and thick vegetation, we were actually in the valley in between the two mountains peak at that time, after crawling in some sections we came out of the forest to see the peak in front of us. It was raining all along and now since we gaining altitude mist was also slowly surrounding us, the team climbed over the fort walls to reach the hill just adjacent to the Durga(fort). It was 12.00PM and visibility was only few meters.

We had biscuits and then map reading was done to ascertain where were we, we knew going south was the way ahead but before that we have to get on to the main ridge, which was west to the position to where we were currently. As our luck would have had it we sun came up a bit and we had some visibility and we could see some of the ridge, which we had to take to catch the main ridge.


Due West

Now our only goal was to head west with out getting into the forest patch and hit upon the main ridge, which can take us to Bandaje falls. So the ridge walk started off in right earnest, we could see lots and lots of ridge crisscrossing the horizons and we made a decision to walk on of them and then catch upon the main ridge, As we started off again visibility got very bad and we crossed couple of ridges and still heading west but not sure where we were heading into. We stayed away from entering the forest patches, after nearly one and half hour of crisscrossing the ridges we were no where near to the main ridge and the visibility was very poor, we were not able to make out in where can be connecting ridge, we only knew keep moving “west” avoid forest, in doing so we headed to south west direction, It was by this time 2.30PM and we called off the west ward chase to a halt for lunch.

Had Chapattis with garlic chutney, still we were surrounded by mist all round, after lunch Pachhi and Naveen went ahead to check out the paths / West direction, but nothing much happened. As they were coming back suddenly sun came out and all the ridges were clearly visible, Pachhi and Sujit ran on the top of one peak, while Naveen and Me ran to another small peak to look for any directions to west we can go around.

That window of sun provided us the right glimpse, we made a plan, So as per the plan we got down of the ridge where we were standing right in to the forest growth, Naveen went ahead with a dagger and made way we crossed a river and then into a bamboo forest, we had to literally crawl up with our rucksack in the undergrowth to come out if the forest, In the mean while Vijay and Krishna had ventured in to forest at a different section and had to brave through thorns and bushes to come out, once we came out we walked around the big peak then hit a small ridge to climb up again to finally the elusive main ridge which we were searching for.

Path to Bandaje Arabi Falls

There we were standing on the main ridge directly opposite to the Kuduremukh mountain ranges the peaking sun provided some glimpse of the great valley below and the semicircle cliff all the way up to the Kuduremukh ranges. After a small break and some snaps we started off again now to the Bandaje Arabi Falls, We had a clear picture that we need to keep on heading south on the main ridge to reach the falls, So started of crossed couple of small peaks then a small rocky surface and we were starring in to lots of peaks, and in a distant some 12 to 15 Bisons were happily grazing, they saw us and ran in side the forest cover. We had to get down the ridges now, sound of stream was quite highly audible, so the descent started off to the falls, came across couple of rabbits, Vijay was eager to run behind one of them.

As we were getting down the weather was getting darker and darker again the visibility was very much less, temperature was also lesser. Pachhi and Krishna went ahead to scout for a path to reach falls. We still had no idea if will be able to reach the falls or not. We came to a point where we had to cross a mountain and take a right turn from there to reach the Bandaje falls, we had two options either cut across the forest patch which was separating us or get down to a river bed and climb from the bottom around the forest and then right turn to head to falls, we choose the second one.

Camp on upstream of Bandaje Falls

So we got down to the river stream, by this time it was 5.00PM and the river bed also provided a ideal camping spot, there was a flat surface just above the river bed and it was covered by mountain ridge on both side, so provided protection from wind also, We decided to camp in that spot.

It was a matter of time before all of us hit the gushing river for a cold bath and some fun, after a long day trek this was a freshener. There were couple of crabs in the river fortunately they missed Rowdy Ranga’s hand, all of us had a good time. Soon we started erecting the tents only to find out that the five man tent which we had got, had a single pole only another one was missing, not to be deterred Naveen cut down a bamboo branch and we converted it as one of the pole and tent was ready.

It was time for evening snacks of breads, Biscuits, and then MTR rice mix, Soon it was getting dark and we also had a look in to the map, trying to figure where were we and how shall we go about trekking tomorrow. By 7.30PM it was dark and clouds were gathering also all hit the sleeping bags.

As expected it rained heavily in night, we had water seepage in all the tents, and sleeping bags were wet, some how we pulled over the night, Vikram and Bushan were very busy at 2.30 PM in the night count each minute and hoping it would stop to rain.

Destination Bandage Falls

Next day morning we had some respite from rains, weather was good and cloudy, after morning jobs we had Bread / Butter / Jam and started to pack up the tents and started off to Bandaje falls. We had a daunting task right ahead, we crossed to the other side of the river where we had camped, It was a peak on which we had to climb, the rocky surface was very slippery and slowly one by one climbed over the rocks in to the peak and climbed to the top of the peak, the view from top of this peak was simply amazing, no words to put in here, took some snaps and started off towards the falls. Soon we were at the Bandaje falls, dumped our bags and ventured into the steep descent to the falls. As it was monsoon Bandaje river was flowing with some force and we had to cross it to reach the head of the falls, we did cross the river and slowly passed through the slippery rock surface to the head of the falls, The river was flowing down majestically, It was raining all the while, as luck would have it for us, in a small window of opportunity sky cleared up and the below valley was visible, Pachhi could remember the famous Due North cliff and pointed us, It was simply unbelievable they climbed to that spot and rested there for one night. Hats off to Due North Team.

We climbed back from the falls to the small hill where we had kept our bags, started off the descent to Bandaje. Entered into the forest and got the path heading down to Bandaje, it was slippery at some places and vegetation was thick as it was monsoon time had lots and lots of leeches were awaiting for us.

River crossing using ropes

../images/dreams/sprasad/rivercross.jpg By around 12.30PM we hit upon the final Bandaje river before heading down to Naik’s house, Naveen had carried the gear required for the river crossing, while he with the help of Vikram and Pachhi were busy setting up the ropes others had a much needed splash in the cold water. Once the ropes were set up each one of us river crossed hanging from the rope it was a great experience.Had our lunch and started off again by 14.00, This stretch had some quite steep descent to be done and due to rain soil at some places had become loose to give us a skating experience most of slipped and fell down in this section, paths were covered by plants and thorn bushes, looked like we were the first one to cross this path in monsoon, we had to cut down some of the plants here and there, we reached Babu Naik home in Bandaje village by around 15.00.

From here we went to Narayana Gowda’s house and booked a jeep from there, Jeep came to pick us by around 16.30, since all the 12 guys with gear could not fit inside a single jeep, only half of the team went ahead to Darmasthala, In Mundaje another jeep was booked to get back the remaining guys to Darmasthala.

Tickets were booked and we took a room in the temple ran lodge and after some rest and clean up of our mud drenched body, some the guys went to temple, other just got a much needed sleep. We had our dinner and caught the 22.45 Rajahamsa bus back to Bangalore

It was great trek we had for this weekend, Will be remembered for long time to come, Looking forward for more such treks with all of you guys. Wishing all the best to Pachhi for all his future endeavors.

Shiva Prasad V

Trek Route
Sunkasale – Estate – Ballalrayana Durga Fort – Main ridge – Bandaje Arabi Falls – Bandaje – Mundaje – Dharmasthala.

Take any bus going to Kuderemukha (Malleshwara Town) (22.15) get down at Sunkasale Bus stop. From Bandaje one can take a jeep all the way to Dharmasthala

A 3km trek on the jeep track from Bandaje will get to a place called Idya, from where one can also catch bus / auto / jeeps to Mundaje / Dharmasthala.

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