If you think monsoon is not a good time to travel, please stop reading now. I firmly believe that monsoon is when nature truly comes alive. If I were a season, I would be monsoon. With that in mind, read on.
It was the peak monsoon season and I was searching for the perfect weekend getaway from Bengaluru, when my cousin suggested Agumbe. After some research, I found out that Agumbe, also called Cherrapunji of the South is the second wettest place in India. And the rainforest area is in its full glory during this time.
My cousin gave me the contact of a homestay called Doddamane, which has been hosting travelers for the past 45 years. Until recently, this was the only accommodation option available in the town. Now one more hotel has come up opposite to the bus stand. But staying at the homestay is highly recommended. Let me tell you why.
Doddamane is actually a 140 year old house located a short walk from the Agumbe bus stand. If you have grown up in the 90s watching the TV series adaptation of R.K. Narayan's Malgudi Days, you will find the homestay, and in fact, the whole town very familiar. Yes, Agumbe is the make-believe town of Malgudi. And this homestay was used as Swami's house in the TV series. For all you Malgudi Days fans, here's another reason to go to Agumbe.
The homestay is managed by a very sweet lady, Kasturi Akka, who will take care of you like her own child. She made me some of the most authentic South Indian meals I have ever had, that also included a herbal tea made from 29 different herbs grown in her own garden. I reached there in the morning and by afternoon I was on a video call with her sister's granddaughter in UK. That's how homely the place started feeling within a few hours. The following dialogue is another testimony to that.
"So when did you start this up as a homestay?"
"This is not a homestay. This is granny house."
I melted. And in case you're wondering, there is no payment for the granny house. While leaving, you just pay howsoever much you feel like paying.
I took a night KSRTC bus from Bangalore and reached Doddamane around 9 am. After keeping my bags and having breakfast, I tagged along, in a Zoomcar, with a few people I met in the homestay itself.
We went to Kundadri sunrise view point first and then Sirimane falls. Kundadri view point was very misty ( just like all of Agumbe ) so nothing worthwhile could be seen, but the drive was very scenic. Sirimane waterfall was in full flow due to the monsoon. From there we went to Sharadamba temple in Sringeri which is located on the banks of Tunga river. The temple is very beautiful architecturally. We had our lunch in the temple premises. The langar closes at 2:30 pm, so plan accordingly.
Then I came back to Agumbe by bus from Sringeri and reached late in the evening. There is nothing much to do in Agumbe after dark, so I just read my book that I had brought with me.
The next morning I planned to go to the Rainforest Research Station, which is India's only permanent rainforest research station. The station usually has King Cobras in captivity, which got me even more exciting to go to the place. It took me a little while to get to the station, since my phone didn't catch network, so Google Maps was unreachable and the locals didn't understand english or hindi. Okay, to be honest, I couldn't reach the destination.
As it turns out, venturing out alone into a rainforest in heavy rainfall, with no human in sight, and misty scenes straight out of a horror movie, in a region known for its abundance of King Cobras is scary as hell for me. Especially since I did not know how to treat a snakebite.
Later I met some people coming back from the station who said that the cobras were not there and the station only had a few staff members. Phew! Did not miss much. But the scenery to the place was definitely worth it. And the roads in the morning felt looked so much like the ones in Hollywood movies and shows like Stranger Things, with tall pine trees on either sides of the road, slight mist hanging over the plain concrete, with a solitary vehicle far away in the distance. This lent a whole new level of eeriness to the place.
Since most other waterfalls were closed, I headed towards Sithanadi for river rafting. For river rafting, you'll just have to ask the locals for directions, since there is no proper hoardings depicting the place. The rafting place is right on the main road itself. I took a bus from the Agumbe bus stand to Sithanadi and from there, I took a lift to the river rafting place.
The river looked very beautiful, with trees lined up on both sides, and branches touching the water. However, the river was quiet, and the rates too high for a budget traveler like me ( Rs 2000 for 7 km ). So I skipped that and went back to Agumbe. You may consider river rafting if you want a peaceful, quiet, almost-like-boating kind of experience. If you've loved rafting in Rishikesh or Manali, you might be disappointed.
I reached my homestay in the afternoon, and after learning that Jog falls was only 3 hours away, decided, at the last minute, to hop on a bus to Jog falls to complete my trip!
1. Until recently, you could go to a lot of waterfalls in the rainforest area. But now, the area has been sealed off permanently and only one waterfall, Kodlu Teertha waterfall is accessible, and that too, only in winter.
2. Prepare to be bitten by leeches if you go into the rainforest. Carry ample amount of salt to fend them off.
3. This might be a no-brainer but I'll still mention it. Being the second wettest place in India, Agumbe gets rainfall almost everyday. Have proper raincoats/windcheaters/dry clothes etc.
4. Apart from Kundadri sunrise point, there's also a sunset point a few kilometers from Dodda Mane but both these points will offer a good view only in winters, when there's no mist.
1. Transportation: 1800
2. Food & Accommodation: Depends on how much you want to pay at Dodda Mane.
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