Wild Wonderful Karnataka

Around CharmaDi

        Deepawali was on 24th (Friday) and everyone had the same thought, runaway from Bangalore... so it was nothing different for us as we started planning for some new routes that we could trek. We first had the idea to do some route near Madanapalli to Tirupathi but the person who gave the idea got injured a week before.. hmmm.. Planned to trek around Agumbe and contacted Mr.Pai in Agumbe but got a reply that it is not the ideal time to trek as it was still raining.. So deepawali is just another week and we were still deciding.. Thanks to Lacchi and Ravee.. they contacted Mr. Dinesh holla of Mangalore and got some info on trekking some places around Charmadi. Charmadi is one of the beautiful ghat sections in Western ghats (Sahyadri). So we (five, Lacchi, Ravee, Kiran, Ganesh and me) were geared up to visit some five waterfalls around Charmadi ghats.
        The D-day arrived and we were set to meet at Bangalore Bus station at 9:30. The rain god had shown mercy on Bangalore after a serious of drought ridden seasons, he was in full swing, intermittently resting for few minutes and roaring for another few minutes. So it was difficult to distinguish between the pot holes, drainage and roads at some places. Added to this there were vehicles at every where. I started at 8:30 and was not able to find a bus nor an auto till 9:00. I had to run back home, take my vehicle and reach the bus stand. I reached by around 10, thanks to the traffic jam. I knew how the Bangalore bus stand would be, since I've been traveling during these clubbed holidays and if anybody needs to know, better try out some time, coz all I can say is Chaos, Chaos and only Chaos. charmadi
So finally we left to Dharmastala and reached there by around 6 in the morning. Early in the morning took another bus reached Ujire, took another bus and finally reached Charmadi.

        Charmadi is a small village at the foothill of the Ghats which is named after. We went to this hotel (Hotel charmadi) and had our morning breakfast and was eagerly waiting for our guide (suggested by Mr. Dinesh holla) Esubu (this was what we were informed) and after talking to the guide came to know that his name was Yousuf. He finally arrived at around 8:00 a.m had breakfast and some small introduction and the plan for the day was to go to Alekan waterfalls and then climb Jenukallu gudda, Kodekallu gudda etc. We then set off in a Mini lorry, and mind you, it is one of the best experiences and views you can get when you travel in a open top vehicle. We finally got down at Alekhan falls, which is adjacent to the Road. This is around 15-20 kms from Charmadi towards Moodigere.

charmadi          The waterfall was exquisite, what made it more interesting was the pink flowers in between the water falling. I missed my camera, but ravee should have captured it good. We spent some time out there and then started to walk. The first adventure began at the start itself. The place where we got down was Alekan watefalls and there was a bus stop named Alekan bus stop. There was a road going uphill to a peak via some estate. The guide was taking us on the road and through another path. Lacchi, Ravee and myself followed the guide expecting Kiran and Ganesh to follow us but they had other ideas. The asked some of the local who misguided and took the uphill route.
We walked for about half a kilometer and waited there and then thought they could have taken the other road and I went looking for them and in the mean time they fortunately asked another person who informed he saw none of us on the road and they were heading down. Finally we were regrouped and started walking on the road.

        Walking on the road we were have some superb views of the peaks and valleys and almost every peak had a name. We were walking on the road for quite some distance and it was an irritating experience. We finally reached signboard pointing to Bidiruthala village where we took a deviation and started climbing the peak. So the plan was to go up the Jenukallugudda(jenu - honey, is named after coz there are a lot of bee hives on the rock). The climb was a bit hard, adding to the humidity. We walked for about 30 minutes and we reached the uphill from where we could see the small village. We headed towards Jenukallugudda. Up there there were a lot of peaks (gudda's) and we were asking the guide can we go there, can we go here etc. He had answer for everything. charmadi
We bypassed jenukallugudda (since it was a bit lower to the place where we already where) and then carried on towards Kodekallu gudda (Kode - umbrella, kallu - stone, gudda peak)named because it has a Stone which has an overhang and umbrella kind of shape, but before reaching that we started towards Balekallu gudda. For the surrounding peaks, it seemed balekallu gudda was the top most and we started climbing. The views of other peaks and the sholas was breathtaking, shot the views where ever possible.

charmadi There was some surprise ahead of us, as we were climbing bale kallu gudda the guide whispered Bison.. Bison, get down. He was in the front, followed by me, ravee, kiran, ganesh and lacchi. We hid ourselves behind grasses and ravee came with his camera and when we had a view it was two bisons with its younger ones. What an amazing sight.. thought we were blessed.. Ravee had some shots and then they sensed us and ran away from us. We climbed the peak and we found another massive bison resting. We took some shots of it and after a while it moved into the forest but limping (not sure how it had happened). We stayed around few minutes at the peak and got down to Kode kallu.
The rock here is very big and as mentioned has a overhang. If there is a nearby waterspot, it's a very nice place to tent. We further carried on and got onto the road, took a lorry and got down to this small hut kind of stuff, just around 4 kms from Charmadi.

        Jenukallu gudda ,and kodekallu gudda are high points on the same hill,the highest point being called Balekallu gudda. One can spot kodekallu quite easily which driving on the ghat road.

        We had a nice dinner, quite spicy ones, credit to lacchi. The guide left us to join us again in the morning. The plan of the day was to go to Dhondole waterfall (this river is on one of the tributaries which joins into Nethravathi), which is around 12-14 kms from charmadi. We had our spicy breakfast in the morning again.. huh.. We then walked till charmadi and then took an auto till kakkinje, took a jeep for another 8-10kms (don't know the place though) and then started walking after crossing the stream. It was a one hour walk, the path was not very clear as there were lot of plants and shrubs grown on the path. On the way we saw some good boulders too. We finally reached the waterfall at around 2 p.m. Yousuf advised us not to go under the waterfall (because of deep water and the fast flow ) and no one ventured into that adventure either. dondole
Had a nice time till 4:30, had our lunch, no need to mention the creditor again!!! Yes, you guessed it right, it was lacchi again, and the spice was so much that ravee ditched the lunch. We got back to the place where the jeep was waiting for us, dropped the guide at kakkinje and further traveled to dharmastala to take a night bus to Bangalore.

        So all in all, it is a nice place to trek, except that there are a lot of routes which goes here and there. Yousuf also mentioned you could do something like 4-5 day treks in the forest. I think he knows the forest quite well and can guide a group very well. I got an idea of doing cycling from dharmastala to chickamagalur (100kms), but yet to see if I can do it, if so when!!!!

        Ballalrayandurga to bale kallu gudda would be interesting. This route will take 5-7 days,and involved getting down one massif into the shoal and then up onto the other. The route from dharmasthala till mudigere/chikmagalur is eminently cyclable. The road does not see much traffic in daytime,and the road surface is very good . However,gradients are pretty steep,so more the gears the merrier.

~~ S Laxminarayan.