Day Trip to Shivanasamudra & Talakadu

 

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Talakadu

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Shivanasamudra Falls

Shivansamudra in English means’ Lord Shiva’s Sea’ . Shivanasamudra is a small island town of Mandya district , situated on the banks of the Cauvery River. Shivanasamudra Falls is ranked among the top 100 waterfalls in the world ! This is also the site for one of the first Hydro-electric power stations in Asia which was built in 1902 and is still functional. We visited the place after monsoon last year , the best time to visit any waterfall – FYI.

TIP – Vasu restaurant in Kanakpura is well know for its masala dosa , so it would be a good stop enroute  for breakfast. After a 3hr drive from Bangalore via the Kanakapura main road, we reached the falls. Thankfully the parking spot was only half full when we reached around 11am. Grateful that the place would not be too crowded we proceeded towards the falls.

Barachukki and Gaganachukki waterfalls are together known as the Shivanasamudra Falls. The eastern branch of the waterfall is known as Barachukki while the western branch is known as Gaganachukki. These falls are located at a distance of 130 kms from Bangalore and 68kms from Mysore.

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Shivanasamudra Falls

There is a watchtower located near the entrance to the falls from where you can view the entire surrounding area, falls et all. The falls were not very visible from this place .It felt great to view all the greenery around us, the bounty of nature all around us . As for the waterfall, all I could see was a few narrow series of waterfalls in the distance. Feeling a little disappointed as i was expecting the falls to be magnificent we moved towards the entrance.  But the more closer we reached to the view point, the more scenic the falls seemed. Feeling my spirits lift and with a little spring in our steps my husband & I reached the staircase leading to the base.

The journey to the bottom consists of around 200 concrete steps fenced with railings on both sides to provide safety . There were even lookout points placed midway for those who preferred not to go all the way down. One could even rest here for sometime on the benches placed here before descending  the staircase further. We witnessed many people struggling to climb their way back up from the base, using the railing for support and breathing heavily.

As we had had a light breakfast and it was almost lunch time , feeling a bit low on sugar I began to feel bit nervous about  the climb back up . But that wasn’t enough to douse my exuberance and curiosity to reach the base ! Nooo it didn’t ! Enjoying the easy descent downwards we soon reached the bottom of the staircase.

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Coracle Ride

The place was crowded !  Filled with people who were enjoying getting wet in the water gushing by. As the flow of the falls was not too strong the coracle rides were in operation. Families were eagerly awaiting their turn for the coracle rides so they could get closer to the falls.

All we could feel was the joyous energy around us and the thundering sound of the falls! The falls looked magnificent from here! This is the place where the water from the Cauvery River drops off from the Deccan Plateau at height of about 69 metres forming the famous ‘Barachukki and Gaganachukki Falls’.

After spending sometime enjoying the view, observing all the activity taking place around us and taking few snaps of the gorgeous falls before us we started to ascend the steps. Halfway there i was already lightheaded due to an empty stomach ! TIP – Do not attempt to descend these stairs without   some ’ pet pooja’ (yummy in your tummy ! : )) and enough water to prevent dehydration & also a cap or umbrella to avoid sun stroke !!!

We unfortunately having not thought of any of the above as we were not aware of the steep decent, had a tough time getting back upstairs ! Never have I been so relieved to have to have the climb behind me ! Soon we left Shivanasamudra Falls looking for a place to have lunch.

TIP – Finding a descent meal is difficult around these areas so try carrying food from Bangalore itself.

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Temple @ Talakadu

Talakad is a desert-like town located on the banks of river Cauvery, at a distance of about 35 km from the waterfalls. It is a historic town and a famous pilgrimage area of the Hindus as it has several temples. Talakadu once had over 30 temples that today are buried in sand.

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Temple Carvings

 

Except for the Vaideeswara temple built by Raja Raja I, all the other temples were buried under sand dunes. Out of these, the temples of Pataleeswara, Maraleswara, Anandeswara, Arkeswara, Gauri Shankar, Kirti Narayana and Chowdeswari have been excavated by the Central Archaeological Department.

There is a myth behind this – A story of a curse ,Vijaynagar empires viceroy Rangaraya’s wife  Alamelamma is said to have cursed the King and the town before drowning herself in the Cauvery river near Talakadu.

temple1When we visited the place , it was recently opened to the public after the temples were excavated. Talakad is a small town with narrow lanes and small houses. To our surprise there was a looong line of cars waiting to enter the town. Curious visitors and pilgrims looking forward to visit the temple ruins. We could see locals trying to make some income by offering food or acting as guides for the tourists.

After some wait we finally managed to find a parking spot  in an already crowded  lane. No sooner had we parked, a local came upto to us offering to be a guide for a small amount. So off we went with our guide to see the temples some of them which were still active.

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Talakadu

Talakkad is famous for the Panchalinga Darshan – a rare darshan of five Shiva temples. The temples of Pataleeswara (Vasukeeswara), Maraleswara, Arakeswara, Mallikarjuna and Vaideeswara constitute the Panchalingas and are believed to represent the five faces of Siva. The Panchalinga darshana is a popular festival held once in 12 years on New Moon Day in the month of Karthika.

Today this sleepy little town is at the epicenter of some of the latest advances in horticulture and wine making. Often referred to as Bangalore’s Gourmet Valley by name Cauvery Valley, it is still a secret many chefs choose not to share. Fine wines, exotic Zero Pesticide fresh produce, artisan cheese and diverse culinary experiences are changing this once sleepy hamlet.

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Day Trip to Hogenakkal

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A year back we decided to visit the Hogenakkal Falls as it is one of the many tourist attractions near Bangalore. . Also called as the ‘Niagara Falls of India’ by many it is located at a distance of 180 km from Bangalore making it a perfect one day getaway. It is located in the Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu. This place is famous for its medicinal baths and coracle boat rides . Carbonatite rocks in this site are considered to be the oldest of its kind in South Asia and one of the oldest in the world.

JpegAs the monsoon had just gotten over at this point we were hoping to get a good show at the falls. . After an early breakfast we left from our place and within 3-4 hours after following the Google Maps we had reach the falls. . Can’t imagine going on a road trip without using Google Maps anymore. . Gone are the days where one reached the destination by using the rarely places signboards & asking people by the road who are as clueless as you for directions. . The most funny thing about asking people for directions as i remember is that even though they are not aware of the way they still want to help you and you end up having to reroute ahead after getting contrasting directions from the person ahead, hoping this time its the right direction ! 😀

Of coz not like Google Map makes your life any easier, sometimes it takes you on a route not meant to be taken on 4wheelers or a route which is not exactly the shortest or the most convenient route . . We have ended up cursing Google Map the  innumerable times we have had to reroute or ended up on a longer than needed route recommended by it. But yes in the end we always end up using Google Maps again anyway ! 🙂

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On entering the Gates to the fall all we could see was water everywhere. . Letting on a sigh of relief to know that we would be able to see the falls in all its glory we proceeded ahead .

Crossing the small bridge where the water was overflowing  causing our shoes and pants to get wet  we walked on. . soon we could see many people getting  ‘Tel Malish’( which i call desi style spa :P), sitting in rows enjoying the pampering session which I was finding a bit humorous.

 

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Tel Malish happening in the background

You will see lots of local masseuse waiting to get clients. Place was crowded with people getting head massage, body massage.Sitting by the roaring waterfall getting a massage must make it a very energizing experience which is why you will see many people going for it. After getting a massage people would go bathe at the falls within an enclosure meant for this purpose.

 

One will also come across lots of snack stalls selling fried fish and other delicacies caught fresh downstream. Freshly caught fish are sold by the gorge and also various vendors selling water and snacks up and down the gorge rowing their coracles is not uncommon. The fish caught include katla, robu, kendai, keluthi, valai, mirgal, aranjan and jilaby. .

Passing the path leading to the main falls watching the water rushing by , we soon reached the bridge from where one can view the falls.You will see lots of monkeys near the falls as well.

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Misty formation at the falls

Hogenakkal Falls is a series of narrow falls along a long line of rock formations with a drop of around 20 meters. Watching the milky white water pouring continuously down with a thundering noise is an amazing experience. Hogenakkal means ‘smoking rock’ in Kannada – the force with which the water gushes down hitting the rocky structure on the other side creates a smoky, foggy effect giving it it’s name.

 

The water after falling down the falls gushes through a narrow route passing through rock formations on both sides. The river carries sediment which makes the downriver land fertile due to which it gets it’s unclear muddy look. Soon after the falls the river takes a southerly course and enters the Mettur Stanley Reservoir.

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Bath Enclosure

Unfortunately for us coracle rides were not allowed this day due to heavy water flow. Boating in Hogenakkal is allowed during the dry-season as the water falls are not strong enough to disrupt the passage of the boats.One can even swim downstream in off season.

 

From the bridge across the main Falls one can even view the bath enclosure.People wearing basic essentials hung on to the cage rods enjoying their baths, seeming very much like monkeys caged in a zoo ironically. The entry to the other side of the bridge was closed as well and soon we left the place happy to have witnessed the mesmerizing falls. While researching we had come across a crocodile sanctuary online and as we had time to kill before leaving back for Bangalore we decided to visit it.

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The croc sanctuary turned out to be a small sanctuary with a very small entry price. Here old as well as injured crocs were taken care of. We even saw lots of cute baby crocs here. . A nice place to spend around an hour before we left back for Bangalore.

 

Other places one can visit in Hogenakkal are –

  • Krishnagiri , a fav picnic spot ,one can even trek to Yelagiri Hills.
  • Melagiri Hills , for trekking.
  • Theerthamalai , Subramanya Siva &  Parameswari Temples.

 

B R Hills ! A Slice of Heaven . . .

w1 - evening jeep ride into forest 4.jpgB R Hills also known as BiligiriRanga Hills is one of the few places i have visited which seems truly magical . . . The expression ‘Heaven on Earth’ is truly meant for places like this . . .

We went to B R Hills last November to celebrate a special occasion – my husband’s bday ! We booked a 1N/2D stay at K Gudi Wilderness Camp by JLR situated inside the tiger reserve itself currently! So Exciting !

We left around 7:00am from our place. Thankfully there wasn’t too much traffic and we were outside the city within an hour. B R Hills is located at a distance of 170 Kms from Bangalore. The quickest route being Bangalore – Kanakpura – Malavalli – Yellandur – B R Hills.

w1 - fields enroute.jpg          So passing the scenic farmlands interspersed with coconut trees we drove on towards B R T wildlife sanctuary. We finally reached the forest check post. Once you pass the check post the contrasting change in scenery is so dramatic! We passed settlements of the Solage tribe surrounded by lush green vegetation and big trees. Hearing the birds chirping all around as if welcoming us to the forest we drove ahead only to be stopped by curious monkeys in the middle of the road.w1 - greeted by curious monkeys.jpg They watched us as if deciding if we were worthy of being allowed to go ahead into the sanctuary, after a few moments of intense silence they moved to the side giving us permission to drive on. The drive through the forest was a treat to the senses, smelling the fresh clean air, viewing the beauty of all things natural, hearing different species of birds singing through the trees, feeling one with nature we moved at a slow speed taking it all in just enjoying the drive, feeling at bliss !The feeling so profound that one cannot explain, only experience to believe !

We finally reached JLR property and after checking in were shown to our log hut by one of the friendly staff. The log hut we were lead to was located at the corner of the resort much to our delight. We were told that our cabin was situated in the leopard/tiger crossing terrain ! Our excitement knew no bound when we were told this , deciding then and there to stay up late that night hoping to be lucky enough to witness a leopard or tiger crossing !

The log huts as compared to the tented cottage accommodation were built at a height with a balcony overlooking the downward sloping lush green forest ahead. Cane chairs were provided in the balcony so one could enjoy the bounty of nature ,the animals passing by grazing on the vegetation around the property grounds. One could sit outside the cabin on the balcony at night and try to spot wild animals without the risk of being attacked.

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[About  Jungle Lodges & Resort Properties:

This is the third JLR property we have visited and have not been disappointed so far. JLR is a Govt. Of Karnataka run chain of resorts usually located in areas rich with wildlife or places of historical importance to promote tourism. The staff is always welcoming and friendly, food nutritious and healthy & the rooms very well maintained. Fixed itenary exists at each JLR location to make sure the guests get to make the most of their trip.]

The drive from Bangalore had taken us 4-5 hours and after resting for a while we went to have lunch at the GolGhar – the JLR dining area where meals were served buffet style. After enjoying the home cooked food we went on to explore the property grounds. w1-jlr property.jpgThe resort is designed such that it gels in with the surrounding forest area. Staying within the tiger reserve was a unique feeling. Its as close to nature as one can get . The main reception Area of the K Gudi Camp was once the hunting lodge of the Maharaja of Mysore.

Right opposite the JLR camp is the Forest Dept. Rest House. It was interesting to see a number of spotted deers and boars grazing calmly all around the property. Shy creatures although they are they had no hesitation about being in the vicinity of humans, they seemed to be quite at home here.

We sat for a while on our balcony taking in the beautiful view and the sounds of nature feeling at peace within, watching deers and boars grazing around, and different species of birds flying around singing their own tunes.

I sat there till the hammocks beneath our log hut beckoned me . . . there were hammocks and rubber tyre swings hanging from trees all around the properties, so there i was lying on a hammock with the sun shining on my face reading a book, feeling very relaxed till it was time for the Safari !

We were served tea, coffee and snacks in the Maharaja’s Hunting Lodge where they had a large wooden table with a seating capacity of 25-30 people. They even had a mini library there which contained books on BR Hills and wildlife which people could read up on.

At 4:30 pm before dusk fell we were taken on a jeep ride into the forest. There were a couple of routes into the forest & different jeep riders took different routes after keeping a gap of couple minutes between each jeep ride. This was done to minimize the noise made by the jeeps which scares away the animals.

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We spent almost 2 hours in the forest trying to track down a tiger or leopard . We spotted lots of animals like spotted deers,barking deers, owls, bald headed eagle,giant squirrels, etc.  but unfortunately we didn’t get to see the ones we were most eager to spot. Our jeep rider tried really hard to track down a tiger or a leopard but it wasn’t meant to be.

w1 - evening jeep ride into forest 3.jpgBut even then the ride into the jungle was really worth it ! We even got to witness the sunset at the top of a hill with the vast ravine before us. We even came across few people from the Solage tribe. It was dark before we made it back to the camp and climate had become quite pleasant by then. We were served some more tea, coffee and snacks & got to watch a documentary on B R Hills.

w - campfireBy dinnertime it was extremely chilly and a bit foggy. A perfect ambience for the campfire we had on our schedule. Enjoying a hot bowl of soup sitting by the campfire, watching other guests covered in jackets, mufflers and shawls trying to cope with the cold climate. We then headed to the GolGhar for dinner. After a hearty meal we headed toward our log hut following the lantern lit route along the resort, listening to the crickets chirping all around us. Enjoying the cold climate we settled on the cane chairs in the balcony with blankets covering us.

The electricity made available through Generator is turned off by 10pm daily at the resort as it is located within the tiger reserve to facilitate animal crossing in the vicinity. Once the lights were turned off we waited with bated breath to spot a tiger or leopard. Sitting in the dark with torches and snacks we waited for some sign.

After a while when we almost gave up hope . . . . we heard it ! The rustling of dry leaves on the ground, movement among the shrubs near our log hut. . . and then the animal stilled. For a minute we froze! We knew for certain that it was a big animal moving somewhere nearby. . . As excited as we were to spot a leopard or tiger we were even a bit terrified of being attacked. Although the log hut was at a decent height , we weren’t aware of how high these wildcats could jump.

So we rushed towards our room door and stood there wondering what to do next . Should we shine the torch at the animal so we could spot it in the darkness thus making it aware of our presence or just run into the room to be safe. After all the waiting for this moment we were not ready to just run into the safety of our room . So there we were standing quietly , feeling the seconds pass by , hearing for the movement which seemed very slow and not very often.

After waiting for 5 more minutes feeling really highstrung we built up some courage and shined the torch in the direction of the movement to spot the mysterious animal. Feeling frustrated and amused at the same time we spotted . . .   a deer! ! ! Finding the situation exasperating we decided to give it one more shot. After waiting for awhile when we didn’t hear anymore movement we decided to call it a night . . .

The next day we were woken at 6:00am with bed tea and biscuits. It was Safari Time again !  On inquiring we were told by the wildlife specialist at the property that the wild animals preferred warmer climate and so migrated downhill where there were more watering holes and warm weather which made spotting elephants, tigers and leopards more challenging in this weather. . . and voila ! the mystery was solved !

w1 - jeep ride at dawn 1.jpgThe jeep ride at dawn was a refreshing feeling ! Watching the freshly dewed plants, the lush radiant greenery and a light fog misting up the place we headed out. The route chosen this morning was not the same as the evening before.w1 - jeep ride at dawn7.jpg We headed outside the JLR Camp, passing the Forest Dept. Rest House and towards the grasslands. Where the evening before we had ridden into the forest, the view before us this morning was that of grasslands interspersed by sparse thin short trees & small hills. w1 - jeep ride at dawn 3.jpgHere one could see the Indian Gaur (the largest species of wild cattle) in all its glory! For a moment i felt i was in the savannah grasslands!

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Safari Time !

 

 

Although we were feeling really sleepy before the ride, we were wide awake now taking in the mesmerizing scenes of the hills before us. These jeep rides are one of the most memorable moments in our journeys till date.

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After having breakfast back at the camp, we settled on our balconies for one last time to enjoy the view. We heard the sounds of birds we had never heard before and saw numerous species of birds flying by and of coz watched the spotted deers and boars grazing around the property.

Feeling in awe, weary to leave & already planning to return soon we left K Gudi Wilderness Camp . . .w - jlr property1.jpg

Not done with B R Hills yet we thoroughly enjoyed the forest route on our way back out at a slow pace taking in as much as we could before reaching the forest checkpost .

Its strange how in a forest you have sounds of nature all around you but it helps you find inner peace whereas being in a city just raises your stress levels , thus making it even more important to preserves these small slices of heaven !It makes us realize how out of touch with nature we are and how rare it is to have such experiences in cities, yes we still do have forests and sanctuaries and reserves today. . but what of tomorrow ? will the coming generations be so blessed ? at the rate trees are cut down and the air & water bodies polluted just thinking about the future sends shivers down my spine. . . .

Some more info about B R Hills :

B R Hills gets its name from the temple Biligiriranga Swamy Temple situated at the edge of a bare cliff overlooking the northern parts of the sanctuary. The rock cliff looks almost white giving the hill its name Biligiri (‘white hill’ in Kannada) .The Ranganatha deity (another name for Lord Vishnu) at this temple is possibly the only standing form of Lord Ranganatha.

Situated at an altitude of 1800 to 6000 ft, the sanctuary benefits from pleasant climate all year round. BR Hills links the Eastern Ghats and the Western Ghats facilitating the movement of wild animals between them. This sanctuary serves as a bridge for the entire Deccan Plateau thereby making it unique & a place of great significance.

The wide range of climatic conditions teemed with the altitude variations has made the vegetation, the flora on these hills quite unique as well. The hills are a mix of all major forest vegetation types – scrubs, deciduous, riparian, evergreen, shoals & grasslands. B R Hills is also home to the Solage tribe. It is elephant, gaur, tiger & leopard terrain.  The forest is also home to around 250 species of birds!

The sanctuary is a protected reserve under Wildlife Protection Act 1972. The site was declared a ‘Tiger Reserve’ in Jan 2011.

Summer at B R Hills is a stark contrast to the lush green monsoon season. The forest shows a different facet in each season and attracts different types of animals and birds, tempting one to explore this place in every season.Hope thats enough description of this stunning place to start with !      (Info credit – Wikipedia)