While looking for an escapade from the monotonous corporate life one fine shitty Thursday (Well,Friday at office is in itself worse than a fat ass sitting through an aerobics session if you have no plans for the weekend,let alone Thursday!!) , I came across a natgeotraveller blog on agumbe with pics of the ravishing beauty and a contact for a stay there.Rang them up,booked a bus,packed my bag and left the city , all in 3 hours, unable to bear the Friday office torment. Now that's the beauty of travelling alone unplanned, testing your improvisation skills and letting you suffice your spur of the moment whims.Few hours down, I found myself sitting in a bus heading to an "unknown place" 350kms away in a naxalite alert area ,all alone with a small list of places I wanted to visit there. If that is not thrilling,then I don't know what is!
OKEY ! now, Agumbe is one of the least commercialized heavens in south India. Let me than fire away a disclaimer at the very onset.This is not about the modern day paradise of abundance .This is simply the heaven of nothingness but pristine nature holding its virginity against commercialisation laying open its what not for you to whore upon(pun intended :P)!!For those ignorant, this is the place which modelled for the TV version of RK Narayan's "Malgudi Days".
A 7 hour journey from Bangalore, Agumbe is nestled in the beautiful and quiet western ghats making it rich in flora and fauna and is crowned "The Cherrapunji of the South" owing to its high annual rainfall .Having booked my stay prior, I sped directly to doddamane, a 150 years old ancient mansion with wooden panels majestically poo pooing its recent neighbors, holding high its label 'doddamane' which translates to 'the big house'. Run by Kasthuri akka as a service, this brahmin household provides food and stay for those visiting the place with the liberty of paying whatever one feels!. For the city rooted person that I am, doddamane just took me to my granny's with its primitive yet fresh surroundings, an old building that has withstood the test of time and mites:P and above all a granny \ ajji(kasthuri akka) forcefully feeding you with that sweet smile on her face and kins ready to help you with your tiniest of discomfitures. Now you know why Gandhi said "the soul of India lies in its villages". These are people who carry their heart in their sleeves with unadulterated love and care for people visiting them. Well! it just dawned on me that the world is still a beautiful place with beautiful people!
Having settled at Doddamane, I set out to explore this beauty .Agumbe is nothing but dense forest all around with a bunch of waterfalls buried deep in it along with a few trekking trails. What clearly makes this place distinct is the calmness and freshness of the green land. For those visiting the place, you better time it soon after the monsoons. My hosts were kind enough to arrange an auto for me who eventually became my guide!. Having covered barkana falls,jogi gundi falls and the fabled sun set point , I set out early morning at 5 the next day with the autodriver for kundadri hills, which is 17 km from agumbe. The auto took me almost to the top with just a few more steps to the peak. Not knowing what exactly to expect, I climbed my way to the top and then a view which made me stand still for a while. Imagine you are the only person atop a hill(my guide was cozily sleeping in his auto) with an ancient jain temple and two pond formations atop the hill and what you see beneath till where the eyes let you is noting but small scattered hamlets waiting for the early rays of sun, puddles of water bodies scattered yet beautiful in their randomness , a massif of mountains crowned with the early morning mist and above all those scattered beams of sunlight declaring the much awaited arrival . Knowing not what to do, I just sat down to assimilate the bliss before my eyes and penned down a few lines.
All around mourns the place,
The early morning cool breeze,
Freshens the silence in grace,
History I here live;
Divinity with the scalding halo,
Dreams I here relive;
Two eyes staring yonder,
Worries I here relieve;
Unkown to the place ahead,
Vastness before my pearls,
Chasing joy for the draughtful life,
parched heart craving monsoon,
drenched with the joy of these
cloudish bliss,in here are puddles of joy,
but I hunt amidst the peaks of woe!!!
(thanks to a few bikers who joined me later, I got a few pics !).
Here it is! the most adventurous part of my trip,though frankly I never expected it to be even a quarter of what it turned out to be. After having a banquet for a lunch served by ajji, I set out for onake abbi, a falls buried deep in the agumbe forests with not even the faintest trace of its existence even near its crest, taking my directions from my hosts. As a part of conservation efforts, the forest guards require you to take a prior permission into the reserved forest with an entry fee of Rs 200! Being the gutsy person that I am,I chose to venture into the forest unnoticed through a prohibited entrance(thanks to my hosts knowledge of the place). So I started out all alone with the pride of doing something macho!. It’s only after the first 15 mins of my trek into the dense forest, that it dawned on me that I was the only person in the whole area which again was famous for its king cobras!! ,that too without the much required permission (both from the forest guards and my very own parents :P). At the peak of a sunny day, the forest with huge but rare trees shunned every single trace of sunlight giving you the pleasure of taking an evening stroll. 30 mins done, I found a huge tree fallen before me, so humongous that it sealed my hope of a way ahead beyond that, let alone see( its human nature to be reminded of ghost movies at times as these, or may be an Indian’s nature, thanks to our thriving movie industry!!)!! Taking a detour into the gently elevating forest, I decided to strive ahead though realizing that I had lost every single landmark that my host had mentioned. The same sights repeated time and again with fallen trees, mild hissings and a heart beating ever faster for the next 1 hour. Though I once decided to abandon the whole plan, but somehow something took me ahead. While exploring, I came across a few branches blocking my view ahead, moving them aside with a trekking stick that the forest gifted me with, I found a hardly 3 m wide stream with huge rocks amidst it, splitting its course. Crowning myself with the pride of having discovered something other than the huge trees, I turned to my left to see a chasm and that is when it struck me that I had finally found what I had set out to and that feeling beyond all is priceless (having even thought of droping the plan halfway!!).Now frankly the view of any waterfall from its crest isn’t as enticing as the ones you see in pics esp. here with the least of safety( as in no railings, nothing). Onake abbe is nothing but raw, untamed falls but is sure a beauty charming enough to demand focused gaze on her!. To have a peep of this beauty, I laid over a rock near its brink with just my head stuck out in the air to see the pristine water flowing down travelling a long journey( well, its 400 meters or so, says internet!!) and that mere flash of the view was totally worth every bit of the pain and guts I took for a date with her!!. Sitting there on a rock,I enjoyed the silence with greenish mountains all around
Saying adios to agumbe was hard, as I had become a member of the doddamane family (perhaps their only Christian member :) ), a friend to ashok (my guide and autodriver) and above all the primitive yet pristine agumbe that unraveled before me all her secrets ( and of course beauty :P). As always, agumbe too taught me quite a few things, be it 'go the extra mile and you’ll find anything you want, dreams, passion, or may be even a waterfalls for that matter!!' or ' the road has everything you want, be it a family, friend or even peace from office at that' . For all those looking for something fresh, here’s your pick. Get your Ass here and enjoy!