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  "Green Dreams - Agumbe" " Green Dreams - Agumbe"

-- R Sharada


Pre-Trek prep

  By the beginning of the first week of Jan, we were all enthused and looking forward to the weekend trek. The 'We' comprised of six of us - Bharata B Rao ( BBR ), Ravikiran Thirumalai( RT ), Ashok S ( AS ), Dipankar Sarma ( DS ), Prashant G Ramachandran (PR ) and myself ( R Sharada - RS ). Lead co-ordinators and enthusiasts were BBR and RT.

  By Friday morning we were all set - with our bags packed, and with the plan to meet at KSRTC Bangalore, platform 4 by 9.00 - 9.30 PM, to board our direct bus to Agumbe. 8.45 PM - SR was already there, having decided to reach there well before time. By 9.30 PM, PR, and DS were there, followed by RT a little later, around 9.45 PM. AS beat us all to it, by arriving at the last moment- 9.50 PM! Nevertheless, we were on time to board the ultra-deluxe bus and we set off.

The Journey:

  Turned out it wasn't so much of an ultra-deluxe deal after all! :-( The window panes creaked and would not shut tight letting the cold wind in, and the bus seats levers were stuck and would not move backwards freely. So, it turned out to be a pretty less comfortable drive, though RT and PR thoroughly enjoyed the wayside stop to have a stomach full of 'Chaat' and 'Dosa' at 2 am!

Day 1:

  Around 5.30 am, I peeked out of the window and could see we were in the ghat areas already - foggy morning with very less visibility, forest cover on either side of the road and winding roads, with a lovely pleasant and cold fresh draught of air. My first whiff of the air of Western Ghats! I was already feeling good about the whole idea. By the time we were near Agumbe, the bus had emptied itself, leaving only 7 passengers, six of us, another passenger,a driver and a conductor!

  Looked like not many people travel down to Agumbe, this being the only night bus from Bangalore. Around 6.00 am, we were dropped off right outside a small restaurant, which was near the main bust stop/stand. Soon we met our guide, Mr. Raghavendra Pai, who was to give us directions to Mallandur from where we were to hire our guide for the trek.

  Though we did not stay or go around Agumbe, it gave the quaint village picture of the 'Malgudi Days' fame that I used to love watching on TV. We soon found out that they also had a very different, efficient and interesting paper delivery system as well - which involved a speeding minivan that whizzed by the small hotel and dropped the daily morning 'Yuga Vani' speedpost, literally with a thud on the dusty mud side road!

  Having a convenient tap point for wash and a small toilet close by, we allset out to complete our morning ablutions and were seated for some tastybreakfast; and we weren't dissappointed at all! While we gobbled up yummy 'neer dosa' with each one competing for the next one, Raghavendra Pai, gave us some interesting information about the beauty of the place, the Malgudi Days shootings, and about the trek. As a first timer to a real trek, I sure was a bit apprehensive as to how it would come through. However, the enthusiasmin the group was contagious and caught up with me as well, and soon the fears were forgotten, thanks to a happy and content burping tummy as well! With breakfast done, we started off from Agumbe, for Mallandur, at around 8.45 AM. Mr. Pai showed us till the tar road that the forest department had built that led straight to Mallandur and there we bid farewell to Mr.Pai .

Day 1: Trek Beginning

  That was the start of "day one" of our trek. We traveled along the tar road in good humour, thanks to a lot of good Samaritans who had left interesting bits of human creativity for our analysis on the way! ( PR , RT and BBR will prefer I don't elaborate on this! ). After around a 5 km tar road walk,we reached the village of Mallandur. Enroute, we did see the side deviation to Barkana Falls that Mr.Pai had mentioned we would have to come back to, to start the trail path. A few enquiries on the way soon lead us to our guide's house, near a 'kallu mane' - the house of M R Krishnappa alias MR.

  With some preliminary greetings and a short rest at his house, we set off,back to the Barkana Falls trail beginning.

  In a while we reached the bottom of the trail, and with MR in the lead we followed the trail. Till the view point / vista point, it was smooth sailing with a well defined and easy trail without much steep climbs. From the viewpoint, Barkana Falls could be seen as a shimmering silver sliver across the valley on the mountains on the other side to
the left of the view point.Unfortunately, we got so busy seeing the place and checking out our binoculars that we forgot to get a good long shot of the falls. Long story short, we don't have a longshot snap of the falls in our album. Nevertheless, the prospect of getting to the top of the falls was more exciting that the photo itself, and we soon set off after a 15 mins break at viewpoint. This is where the real trek part started, at least for me. From hereon, now and then, the trail would vanish and MR alone would know which direction to take, while we followed behind.


  Also, the jungle got thicker and steeper in some areas from here on and we started taking more 2 mins stop-gap breaks,to ease a leg, or wet a dry throat. or take a breath, or just relax, all the while continuing onwards from encouragement from one or the other.After what must have been like a 7-8 km walk from the bottom of the trail, we could hear the sound of running water, and the rustling sound of water I in the forest pushed us faster onto our path. Soon enough we reached the top of the falls. It was a beautiful scene with the falls going over a bed of boulders that we had to cross over to get to the bunch of boulders overlooking the gorge of the falls. The water was clear, cold and damn refreshing to tired folks like myself, and had some busy inhabitants like the water spiders that were working on their web building exercises. By then it was 12.30PM,and the lunch call was slowly but surely heard from our bellies. So, we unpacked our rations and set out for a lunch - of chapathi with chutni pudi and jamand bread, and oranges and chocki. A very satisfying lunch altogether in that the food was attacked with total dedication and focus, ( as might be evident in the lunch snaps - looks out for PR at work in there! ) With a bit of resting around and cooling our heels in the water, we had a good relaxing and well needed break before we set off for the next phase of the trek from Barkana Falls to Narasimha Parvata, that MR said would be a bit more difficult that the first phase, with no more trails and more steeper climbs! I geared myself up mentally, for the same. Soon, after around an hour's break, we set off from Barkana at 1.30 PM, now eyeing Naramsimha Parvata.


  The route was thick jungle with no signs of trails whatsoever, in most places,except when we came upon a peak clearing, where there
were signs of some kind of trail made due to human treading on the grassland. But inside the forest, we had to just about go above and beneath fallen logs and push against branches and make our way.
MR walked effortlessly through all of this! However,we did have some difficulty in terms of carrying some heavy back packs and took
5 mins breaks every now and then to replenish ourselves with some water, or oranges, or chocki. In spite of it all, however we did make good progress.MR informed us that we needed to cross over 3 hills to get to the peak, and that meant uphill, some clear grassland trek and downhill for each of the hills.On the way we saw the Shimoga - Chikkamagalur district boundary markedby a formation of a set of stones, set on top of one of the peaks. MR pointed that out and informed us that we had crossed over the Chikkamagalur.

By 4.30, we were close to Narasimha Parvata with a last little stretch remaining.With renewed vigour we decided we could make it as planned and finally reached the peak by 5.00 pm! The forest was a lovely one all through - mostly dense jungle, now and then grassland clearings and rocky boulder stretches, mostly at the hill tops. All, in all, a lovely place to be.

  Everyone clambered on top of the big boulder at Narasimha Parvata, to get a view of the landscape around and relax! Again, we replenished our energies with rations and generous doses of water as well ( enroute we were warned of water scarcity and so had to carefully ration water lest we run out of it ). A few photographic moments were also spent at the top, with folks talking a few snaps, and others obliviously chatting, enjoying the scene ( photo of the trio on the boulder serves proof of the same! ).

After around 15 mins or so, we decided to head down to the campsite clearing, which was a little distance downhill from the peak. Campsite looked quite visited by humans with remains of previous camp fires, which was ok. Sadly though, the nearby area also had some litter from previous senseless trekkers as well ( BBR and folks later did the social work of picking up all the plastic and we dumped them at Kigga! Good job folks! ) DS's kit was soon out - the light weight tent and accessories, the waterpurifier and the light weight pots and pans!

  Near the campsite we saw the remains of what must have been a young cow or calf, a vertebra here, a leg there and a face with skin torn and dried out.MR informed that it might be the handiwork of a wild cat ( the cat family species - perhaps a leopard or so ). Everyone was evidently excited that we were in cat family area and were convinced that we had to take ample proofs of the same as photographs to show to folks back home!


Soon the tent was pitched, the water source which was a small water hole was located nearby and while BBR, AS, PR, and MR set out collecting firewood for the fire, DS, RT and myself set out to get the water purifier tested. Well, it was good! it did work! ;-) soon, we had got the water purified and got back to campsite. By then folks wanted to see the sunset and so headed back to peak before it got late. DS was exhausted and decided to relax his bones I trudged behind the others, but by the time we reached there, the sun had already gone below the horizon; also the fog around prevented us from sighting the sunset in its full glory. Made our way back from there,and got to dinner time preparations. The fire was lit ( and people were generous enough to use my walking supporting stick as firewood log! ) and soon the water was set to boil, while we discussed the sleeping arrangements for the night. With some pulling here and there, it was soon settled how we would lay the bags and who would sleep where, and with that, attention was turned to dinner! I sure was hungry! While two of us rummaged for the chapathi packs in our bags with torches and candles, the others got the MTR RTE meals out- alu mutter and chana butter masala! then we decided to go for starters and soon the soup was pulled out and we set our dinner preparations rolling.DS's pans were cool ( oops! I meant hot! :-) ) and soon we were sipping hot tomato soup in the windy night atop NP! felt real good. The RTEs were soon boiled in the water in a short while and we all placed ourselves nicely around the fire for a camp feast. Dinner was a hand - to - mouth affair as everyone was busy concentrating and eating and getting it done fast! soon we wound up with dinner for a warm campfire sitout. DS mentioned some interesting happening in his early days, which made good listening. With a little bit of chat here and there, it was soon 10.00 PM, and BBR was already consistently yawning in periodic intervals! We decided it was time to hit the bed. After an initial attempt, RT gave up plans of sleeping within the tent as he felt too hot in there, and moved out with BBR, PR, and AS. MR took his place beside the fire and went to sleep. Soon, I was asleep, woken up now and then by either spurts of conversations from the folks outside or by the wind. Had a fitful sleep but in bursts. Towards early morning, I really slept off soundly.

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