Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ermai Falls

During our trek to Dudhsagar, few of our friends suggested us to visit this falls near Ujire. It was one day plan and hence we thought it best suited for Nov 1st holiday. 5 of us started by early morning 6 from Mysore. We were late to start but we had the best one handling the steering wheel. We stopped at Hassan for breakfast and another pit stop for tea at Sakleshpur. While here we saw the hotel served hot akki rotis but since we just had our breakfast we planned to visit the same hotel for dinner. Sumanth made a special note of this place.

We reached Ujire by lunch time and made calls to our friend to reach the falls which is not so easily reachable without someone guiding you. Our friend guided Raja so well that he actually saw the falls right over the phone call. He was more than confident to miss this place after hearing the so-very-detailed lefts and rights to be taken and the name of the places there gets easily volatile from your cache. Still we managed to get hold of bits and pieces of the names he uttered while speaking over phone and reached the destination. Locals too know of this falls, so it is not so difficult reaching this place. Around 15-20 kms from the Ujire town drive towards charmadi and take left on Didupe Road till you see Bhuvan stores towards your right. 

A small distance of walking you will take a right and enter the forest and after walking for a while there is a hanging bridge across a small stream, crossing this you will see clear path into the forest which will reach a small falls with water falling over sloped rocks and this was occupied by a set of human like monkeys. We decided to continue to the main falls which is not too far from here. I stopped every other step trying out some new acquired skills on macro shots while I spotted a leech which had just landed on my foot and was caught just before it could release an anesthetic. I warned the rest of the group to keep an eye on them. By then we were watching a small angle of this huge falls behind the trees and tall rocks.

We got down a little and hopped over a few rocks to reach the base of this falls and we stood stunned by the sheer beauty of this silent falls hidden in this place for so long. The water falls over in stages and there is a den like created at the base of the first stage. The water droplets raise above and forms a fog like layer just at the base. The next stage is a short and wider fall and drops into a wide pool. The water is clear with small fishes and beautiful stones very easily reached. Its knee deep water if you stand watching the falls at a distance. Fishes play around your legs sending tickles on your tender skin. Spend some time sitting and play with them.

We had packed rice for the 5 of us and puliogere gojju. It is suggested to take food along with you as you will not find any hotels close by. We got into water playing and clicking pictures. I tried playing with my prime lens capturing few close up while they enjoyed playing in the water. Every time you see the falls it looked so different and so much more beautiful. I went on capturing it. A Lovely formation of rainbow colors framed near the den was blissful to see. We easily spent more than an hour watching it and clicking some self timer shots with the group.

It was time to return. We reached the place where our car was parked. The lady at Bhuvan stores was busy packing tobacco leaves into roles and there were packs of them ready to puff. We drank tender coconut to compensate for the little water we drank so far and finally headed towards Mysore in the same route. Sakleshpur ghat was the most difficult stretch with horrible roads at this point of time. Few among us felt that this was not the route we took in the morning. May be tired bodies found it more difficult to dance with the tune of our car tumbling on those bad roads from one corner of the road to the other. Most of the stretches, we stopped to survey which part of the road was better and never found one and just followed a pothole. It was really tiring for the person driving. We tried hard to keep ourselves awake by singing songs till we reached a point when it became impossible to keep our eyes open.

It was 12:40 am reaching home and still had the energy left to watch the remaining 20 mins of Bigg Boss repeat telecast. I was excited to see the pics and without copying them to my laptop just saw them on the card to copy it later in the morning. This exercise took us almost half of the next day to install all possible recovery software and finally a friend of mine shared a paid version of the software to recover majority of the pictures.

Day 3 @ Doodhsagar

It was so cold the next morning, we preferred sleeping in our warm tents before taking a look at the falls. It looked so much more wonderful even without much light around. The chilled breeze dint let us stay near the falls for a long time. I made myself comfortable inside my sleeping bag again. We had to start as early as possible to cover a distance till Kullem by foot. Packing our tents & bags we started walking on the track. Most horrible part of walking on these rail tracks is you can’t see anywhere other than the track while walking. You try to see anywhere else even for a moment and there are all chances that you will walk on shit. So we dint really enjoy this part of the trek. We reached Sonalium station after trekking for almost 4kms. We stopped here to have our packed breakfast. Some bread, butter, jam, roti, chatni pudi and some milk all went in without complaining. Just when it was time to be back on track trekking, a goods train stopped by at the station and we dint want to miss an opportunity to experience a ride on it. The train master wasn’t very happy having us onboard, he strictly made us sit and monitored us through the journey just to make sure that we don’t bump over the train bogie joints when it gave a jerk. We enjoyed our ride till Kullem singing songs and taking pictures. The train master was now happy to get rid of us & then we suggested to take a pic with him and made a smalltalk for which he was more than just happy. After saying cheese with us he gave us free advice to wait there for Chennai Express to go to Madgoan. It was 9:30 in the morning and the train to Madgoan was scheduled at 11:05am. We decided to get out of the station and explore other means of transport available to reach Madgoan. There was a bus after half an hour, we roamed around and settled down at a tea shop to kill some time. One among us also found a handsome barber in his shop and realized that they need a haircut :P

When it was time for the bus to arrive we just surveyed the number of people waiting for that poor bus which dint arrive yet and felt it was better to walk back and wait for our super hit Chennai Express to do the honors. The train was delayed by close to an hour but we had all entertainment one the platform to deal with it. I got onto a train for a quick demonstration on the James bond style machines our trains still have. The train master was sweet enough to bear our “What is this….?”, “Why is this used….?” kind of questions. After this interesting session we got onto discussions about trekking with few guys who had missed their morning train to DS and hence had nothing to do till evening but wait for the train towards Madgoan.

Our train finally arrived and I happened to sit with a friend of Jyothi Sir. He went on sharing his experiences of his visit to Mt.Everest base camp and Manas Sarovar. When he realized that I too had similar interest in travelling and we read similar books he kept in front of me all his suggestions and advices. It was nice listening to him and getting to know someone so deep.

Picture taken from google images.

Back in Madgoan we dint have much time before catching our next train to Mangalore at 2pm. We rushed for the tickets and hogged something in the railway station restaurant and boarded the passenger train to Mangalore. The journey is fantastic and this time even better as we had a big group. We enjoyed sitting near the door watching the sun go down. Someone was really very happy being there.

I took a nice nap and a wonderful aroma woke my hungry tummy. I see everyone around me having something delicious. I could not resist and took a bite followed by several servings of the pulav. One of those guys whom we met in kullem platform had got this prepared from his relatives nearby. How nice of them. We got down at Udupi station at around 7:30pm and Murali anna was waiting for us to drive us home. It was raining heavily by this time. Another 15mins drive to reach Manipal where Murali anna is put up. He kept us guiding all the way with different landmarks. After a round of fresh up we were ready to go out for dinner.

Picture taken from google images.

Raja’s friends joined us over dinner. While we had some really nice ice creams at Manipal. Body was too tired to keep any more awake when we reached home. Within no time we heard people snoring at different intensities. Next day morning we met our old friend Raghu Ram who had just arrived from puttu. We leisurely packed our bags to start our journey to Mangalore. There are Volvo buses from Manipal every half an hour to Mangalore. It took us 1hr 30mins to reach Mangalore and the bus stopped for us right in front of Urva stores where our car was parked. Driving in Mangalore board roads is a nice experience. We next headed for some shopping in a mall and had lunch there itself before starting to Mysore.

Journey to Mysore took pretty long. We reached quite early at Madikeri from where the ghat started and it took really long reaching Mysore. We dropped Sumanth home. On reaching home, the volume at which dad was snoring indicated we were way too late. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day 2 @ Doodhsagar Falls

Mornings in Goa are generally lazy unlike margoan railway station which was crowded with passengers and trains. I & Sumant scanned all the shops on our way looking for bread but all we found was Pav which our taste buds often dismiss. Sumant had to venture lil more deeper into the city to fetch some sweet wheat bread while I headed towards the station to meet those men from Mangalore. Met Jyothi sir after a long time near the ticket counter with his 3 other young-at-heart friends.

There is only one train from Margoan to Doodhsagar in the morning. Howrah or Amaravathi Express at 7:40am. Miss this, you miss the falls for the rest of the day and don’t even try to waste your money and energy trying to reach there on a bike.

The rest of our group reached after us to the crowded platform where we waited for the train to arrive. The train is crowded with long distance passengers and hence you will find it difficult to fetch a seat in general compartment. We managed to make some place for few of us and our luggage. It is also fun to sit next to the door peeping outside the train and enjoy the dark rides inside the tunnels. We waited near the doorstep with our luggage for Doodhsagar Station as the train unofficially stops for very short time. When the mighty falls arrived on the scene everyone in the train roared with bedazed expressions. 

The train crossed the bridge across the falls with a dull pace and continued for almost a kilometer to stop at the station. We had to walk back to reach the falls. While walking on the track we found a vendor selling pav bhaji and each of us hogged a couple of them. Back on track with happy tummies. While trekking its quiet common to see several goods train passing by while you are trekking on the track, it is real fun to stand close and watch a train pass by.

We stood near the falls to click few pictures and fill the sight in our eyes. Falls was at its best. Just as the name suggests the falls is milky white and truly a mesmerizing sight. My previous visit to this falls was during December and there was very little water. Since then I waited to visit this place again when it is in its full grandeur.

After spending some time relaxing near the falls we trekked in the forest to reach the base of the waterfall. The recent rains had made the path very sludgy and slippery. Tricky part was crossing the streams. We struggled to balance ourselves and more importantly the gadgets from getting wet. We made a chain and started passing our stuffs from one bank to the other. Few of us still enjoyed a free fall into the chilling water. As we trekked deeper into the forest we realized we had entered the monkey kingdom. The trek seemed never to end and we started giving reasons not to continue but on reaching the spot where we could view the waterfall in full length we were more than glad for all the merry-go-round we did to reach here. Our hungry stomachs craved for some nourishment but those monsters covered us in all directions not letting us get even a single bite. We had to convince our tummies to wait for some more time. We tried to fool our ancestors by getting into the middle of the water and without flaunting our food reserve, we made small rolls of roti and gulped  them but no sooner we were caught.

 While the stream was so welcoming and tempting, each one of us enjoyed a relaxing swim and a kneading under a natural Jacuzzi. With evening getting closer it became cloudy and we felt right to reach back to our campsite. Back near the falls, we were trying to make friends with tea shop guy and during our conversation he mentioned that Shah Rukh Khan had visited his shop during the shooting of Chennai Express. Someone in our group was now super excited. Rumz could not miss a single step in that place, the chai, not even a single thing that the tea shop guy said SRK did during his visit.

We sat watching the falls sipping hot tea. A truly magical moment of the whole trip. And suddenly from nowhere it started pouring like a cloud burst. It rained so heavy that everything outside got mute except for the rain lashing. With the rains outside, we enjoyed several servings of hot Maggie and boiled eggs cooked at the tea shop, so thoughtful of Suhas for suggesting carrying Maggie packets. There was another batch of 10 people who were planning to tent there for the night. Rains flooded everywhere and it looked difficult to pitch the tent if it rained the same way whole night.

Once the rain stopped, it was a whole new world outside. The water quantity in the falls had doubled and all those small streams in the morning were now flooding. As it got darker, the sky got clear and what a wonderful scene it was to watch full moon on the backdrop of the falls. It was stunning with the moonlight spread over everywhere. We refused to get into our tents while it continued to rain lightly. The other group was struggling to bring up a campfire as we continued to hum on some old songs to make the night more soothing. We sat out as long as we enjoyed being out in the open air and then go into our warm tents.