Wild Wonderful Karnataka

Memories of Hosagodu and Heerebail

Rajesh Naik           

         Never knew about the existence of Hosagodu falls (Medini falls) till I read SL’s report. Big thanks to SL. Started from Udupi on the morning of 13th November 2005 and reached Honnavar at 09:30am. Friend Lakshminarayana (Puttu) was waiting for me. 20 minutes later we were at Hadinbal (10kms from Honnavar on Gersoppa road). Heerebail is 16kms from Hadinbal and Hosagodu, 2kms further. The breakfast at Hadinbal was memorable for many reasons – taste, quantity and of course price! Two plates of idly with curds, 2 plates of avalakki (poha) with curds, 2 plates of puri with bhaaji, 2 more glasses of curds and tea cost us a meager Rs.28/-!! Puttu immediately remembered our breakfast at Devkar and became nostalgic.

Six kms later via Hudgod and Mutta post office we reached Gundabal. Here we met Richard D’Souza, the shopkeeper. He said it is impossible to complete the journey in a day and advised us to go back. Take that! Some free advice. When we didn’t agree with him he said, “hee hee, you town folks don’t know. I will challenge you 2. It is impossible! hee hee”. We too replied with “hee hee” and continued on our way. We heard him say to a customer “crazy people, let me see at what time they return”.

Another 6kms later via Kadehalla and Jambebetta we reached Chikkolli. I liked this place for the ambience around. At Jambebetta a shopkeeper had told us, that if we take the diversion just after Chikkolli it would lead straight to Honnavar as well. We decided to try that on our return journey. When we were about 2kms from
Heerebail a well built, handsome young man came along in his Bajaj M80 and slowed down next to us. He was Janardhan, son of Mahadev Naik at Heerebail. After exchanging pleasantries, we followed him to his house.

No doubt it is a house of artists. Janardhan worked for Saligrama Mela (Yakshagana troop) for a year. Mahadev Naik himself is a renowned artist. Janardhan invited us to visit Mukthi Holey falls and a stay at their house next time. After about 30 minutes of lively discussion on Yakshagana trends, movement of artists from one troop to another, salary structure, etc. we moved on towards Hosagodu. Janardhan asked us to stop by at Timma Gowda’s house at Hosagodu and said one of his 4 sons would accompany us.

There are 2 streams between Heerebail and Hosagodu. It is impossible to cross these streams by vehicle before mid October and walking from Heerebail is the only option.Except for these 2 streams the road is good enough for any 4 wheeler to cruise up to Hosagodu.At present tar road exists till Kadehalla and construction of tar road is going on till Chikkolli.

Timma Gowda wasn’t home. His youngest son Ganapathi welcomed us and was staring at Puttu as if he knew him well. When told that Puttu is from Haldipur (near Honnavar), Ganapathi’s eyes lit up. Puttu is a qualified Volleyball Referee and goes around all over Karnataka and Goa to officiate at Volleyball tournaments. Ganapathi happened to be studying at Haldipur and had seen Puttu throwing his weight around at local Volleyball tournaments. So, immediate bonding took place between Ganapathi and Puttu.
I just couldn’t stop laughing seeing the delight on Puttu’s face at being recognized. Parked my Yamaha RXG here and followed Ganapathi who was already engrossed in some discussion with Puttu. Huh! New Friends!

From Hosagodu school it is about 25 minutes walk to the base of the falls. At the school Ganapathi’s cousin Hanmantha joined us. I saw a well dressed old lady near the school and asked Hanmantha about her. She is the only schoolteacher for Hosagodu. Stays alone at the school itself. Husband expired 4 years back and only daughter is studying. I felt, what life? Just imagine, all alone away from relatives, only daughter is away, husband dead, no one comes to visit her, she can’t go out of Hosagodu, lonely life that too when she is just 2 years away from retirement. I felt sad for her. I thought of visiting her and having a couple of words on our way back but could not as she had gone to some villager’s house. Sometimes that sight of her standing in front of the school comes like a snapshot in front of my eyes and somehow I don’t feel good.

Hosagodu falls makes appearance from a distance itself. The sight of water gushing down from a height of 400ft made us walk briskly. Soon we were at the base of the falls, the first of a series of 9 falls. The forest cover is beautiful with the first 3 falls from bottom covered by forest canopy. I was slow and Hanmantha kept saying it is difficult to go to the top. He said so again when we reached the 6th falls. Here we sat for some time enjoying the beauty of the surrounding. It is all solid rock around. One slip and danger lurks just around the corner. I asked Hanmantha to go ahead. He was still muttering that it is difficult to go further.

The 5th falls breaks in to two and falls down about 50ft apart. We continued further despite Hanmantha’s reluctance. Whichever way one walks, is the way.
Just go on holding on to the grass and edges in the rock surface, crevices and whatever that one can balance on. At the top of the 5th falls, Hanmantha was adamant that it is just not possible to move further.
Puttu was sick of climbing and he too agreed with him! But I was adamant and asked Hanmantha to go on. Reluctantly he moved on. (Later on when relaxing at his home did Hanmantha tell me the reason for his reluctance to go on further. He doubted my 95kg heavy body’s ability!! Obviously.)

The 4th falls is the cutest one. It is about 40ft height and 50ft width and is shaped diagonally. It looks very petite from a distance. To reach this, we had to climb on a narrow corridor with water gushing down on both sides and walk on it for about 30meters. The fear of toppling over made me very cautious here. As one walks on this corridor it gains height and caution is best practiced here. The 4th falls is the ideal place to have a relaxed bath as the water runs down without accumulating.

Hosagodu_Third_falls Hosagodu_falls

The stream breaks in to two after the 2nd falls and one part of it forms the 4th falls and the other part forms the 3rd falls before becoming one again. After crossing the base of the 4th falls and then jumping across the water coming down from 3rd falls it is a climb for about 10 minutes to reach the 3rd falls, which is about 100ft in height with only enough space for 3 people to sit comfortably. Not more than 3 people can take bath here as the water falls in to a very narrow area. Ganapathi exhibited his diving and swimming skills here. It took about 60 minutes to reach here from the base.

Hanmantha was looking at me and he knew I would ask him to continue towards the 2nd falls. He said its almost impossible and he was right. There were no easy approaches. But it is not impossible. By that time I was tired and had no energy left to climb more. After about 30 minutes we started back. Between mid September and mid October is the right time to visit this falls. After mid October it goes dry.

Hanmantha invited us to his home. We were offered fresh lime juice (one of the best ever tasted as the lime was very fresh, just plucked out from garden). Ganapathi climbed a coconut tree and plucked out 2 tender coconuts. It seemed like those tender coconuts had gallons of water as it took us some time to empty them. Hanmantha’s daughter Rakshitha is a cute doll and posed attractively for the camera. Then, at Ganapathi’s house he again plucked out 2 tender coconuts and gave us. Some day it was! We were indeed lucky souls. Puttu said goodbye to his new friend Ganapathi and we set off on our return journey. Stopped by at Mahadev Naik’s house at Heerebail. After tea session and promising to return soon to visit Mukthi Holey falls we continued.

Now we took the alternate route from Chikkolli via Tholasaani, Darbejaddi, Kerekona, Areangadi and Hosakuli. From Honnavar, Hosagodu is 28kms via Hadinbal and 27kms via Areangadi. We joked about Richard D’Souza, the shopkeeper who we were sure had kept his eyes trained on the road looking out for us to cross Gundabal and might have proved himself right when we didn’t arrive as we took the alternate rout. I was already in Udupi by 7:45pm and Mr.D’Souza was still looking out …just may be…he he.

Two months later on Saturday January 7, 2006 I was off again on my Yamaha at 1.30pm towards Heerebail to visit Mukthi Holey falls. Reached Honnavar at 5.15pm and Puttu joined me here. After buying some biscuits and fruits we reached Hadinbal at 6.00pm. We had thought of visiting the same hotel again, but we were disappointed to see a large crowd there, as it was ‘Pyaast’ time at Hadinbal. Don’t’ know what it is called in English. In Kannada it is called ‘saanth maari’. All ‘amche christana log’ were celebrating saanth maari at Hadinbal. Ice cream stalls, sweet stalls and all kinda stalls were there. At Gundabal we looked out for our friend Richard D’Souza. His shop was closed and was not to be seen at his house. May be was busy celebrating pyaast at Hadinbal. At 7.10pm we reached Mahadev Naik’s home.

Mukthi_Holey_2nd_Stage Mukthi_Holey_3rd_Stage

Mahadev Naik and his 2 sons weren’t home. His wife and daughter welcomed us and offered tea. Half an hour later Janardhan arrived with a load of timber on his head for his masonry work. He greeted us with a big ‘Hwaay’. His brother Eshwar followed him. Mahadev Naik did not arrive till the next evening. Janardhan’s mom had cooked a great dinner for us and it was another wonderful evening spent on my journeys. Plenty of talk, sumptuous dinner and a blissful sleep made both of us remember Devkar again.

After neer dosa with jaggery and chutney in the morning we started at 8.00am towards Mukthi Holey falls. Our guide Navin is an enthusiastic chap who loves roaming in the jungle. He kept asking me the height of Linganamakki dam! Visiting that dam has been his dream and he has not been able to do that. Navin told us many forest secrets and tricks for survival in forest. It was the 12th time he was visiting Mukthi Holey falls. He collects Rampatri and lavanga in the forest and makes a living selling them. He chopped a small chunk of wood from a gigantic tree and asked us to smell it. It smelled fantastic. Navin told us that it is used as an ingredient in perfume making.

After about 50 minutes of climb we started descending down the hill in to the valley. The forest is lovely here. In 25 minutes we were on the banks of Mukthi river. From here it is river path trekking for the next 100 minutes. At 11.15 we reached the Mukthi Holey falls – the fifth and fourth stages. The fifth stage is about 70 ft in height and about 35 ft in width. Just above it the fourth stage falls down presenting a side view. It is about 25 ft in height. The tip of the third stage is visible as well. The clincher for Mukthi Holey falls is the lovely pond at the base resembling a vast swimming pool.

The creek on the left, which itself is a waterfall in rains leads to the 3rd, 2nd and 1st stages. At 11.45 we started our ascent further. Within 2 minutes I saw leftover of the skin shed by cobra, with the spectacle standing out. I am scared of snakes. After about 5 minutes of climbing in the creek we turned right and started climbing the hill. It was steep.

The trees and roots were the only help. It was one of the exciting climbs lasting for about 10 minutes and reminded me of Koosalli. Then we started descending. We could see the platform where we had to reach to view the 2nd stage. Navin went down first asking us to wait as the forest floor had loose mud. Puttu went next. Ladder technique is the best method to get down here. The roots and small trees around are a great help. The 2nd stage is relatively small, yet beautiful. It is about 30ft in height and the pond at the base is large and very deep. Navin calls the base a concrete well. The rock surface on all sides gives it a well like look and the well overflows to form the 3rd stage. I moved couple of steps back to have a look at the 3rd stage and saw another trademark spectacle bearing skin shed by cobra. And Navin scared me more when he said that it is a cobra land.

Could not view the 3rd stage, as it was too risky getting to the edge of the concrete well. A risk not worth taking for a look at the 3rd stage that too from top. I wanted a frontal view or at least a side view. I showed Navin a tall tree, which appeared to be in front of 3rd stage and requested him to get us there. He said he will, but after showing us the 1st stage. The path to 1st stage was very risky. Navin was climbing the rock walls effortlessly. It is a climb parallel to the 2nd stage. The 2nd stage is about 20ft away on the right and we were doing some amateur rock climbing adjacent to it. Puttu reached the top and I was half way up keeping an eye open for snakes and worrying about the well below. Navin was already out of my sight. Puttu shouted from top that it would not be possible for us to continue as Navin was doing some rock climbing further ahead with only ‘finger tips’ for support!! Climbing with only enough space to rest your fingers for support is not for me and I motioned to Puttu to turn back. Navin returned disappointed that we did not follow him. There is a way to 1st stage by climbing the hill further up for about 30 minutes. I was in no mood for that after seeing cobra skins.

Keeping the tall tree in his view, Navin went towards 3rd stage. It was adventurous. We sat on a rock and Navin went down the hill making way with his sickle. After about 5 minutes we heard his ecstatic cry. He had made it to that tree!! He came back excitedly yelling that the 3rd stage never looked better from anywhere else. After sliding, slipping and straining all the muscles we reached that tree. The 3rd stage is about 80ft in height. There is a small platform big enough for only one person to stand at a time.


The view was outstanding. The 3rd stage falls into a very narrow well, which is about 10ft in diameter and is deep. We were standing right above the base and the look down was scary. Water swirls around and around at the base before gushing out to form the 2nd stage. After 15 minutes here, it was time to get back to the creek.

In 10 minutes we were back to the top of the creek. The pond at the base of the 5th stage looked very pretty and lovely from here. It was 1.00pm when we reached down to the base. Had lunch here in the form of sweetened peanuts, biscuits and fruits and just lay down enjoying the sound of water and birds. At 1.45pm started back and reached the edge of the hill i.e. the ascent point at 3.15pm. Relaxed here for some more time. Navin liked the Nilgiri biscuits and emptied all. At 4.00pm we started up the hill. It was steep and tough. Once at the top then walk down the hill for 50 minutes to reach Mahadev Naik’s house. We were there by 5:30pm. Puttu was hurrying all the time as he had a floodlit volleyball tournament to officiate at Honnavar. I wanted to visit the schoolteacher at Hosagodu and also catch up with Ganapathi and Hanmantha but thanks to Puttu I could not. After hot water bath, we were asked to have lunch! Janardhan’s sister had cooked for us and we could not say no to her, as we were hungry as well. Lunch at 6.00pm!! Who cares? As long as it is food for empty stomach! At 6:30pm we were off. Puttu’s volleyball tournament was to start at 7.00pm and he sure would be late. Said bye to Puttu at Honnavar and I reached Udupi at 11:15pm. And what welcomed me at Udupi? Rains!!! First time in my life saw rains in January. January 8, 2006 will be remembered for Mukthi Holey falls and Rains.

Mukthi Holey falls is not accessible in rains and couple of months thereafter. Best time to visit is November to March. Pleasant and safe trekking to all.

Article by Rajesh Naik.

more photos http://karnataka.fotopic.net External Link


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