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Sangam and Chunchi Falls - Close to Bangalore, India

 

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Tete-e-tete With Wilderness - A Travelogue

The journey has just begun. "We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is with good friends."

Lines by Robert Louis Stevenson and wee-bit edited by myself, Priya. Traveling with good friends adds a unique joy to each moment and it truly does linger for ages. On a bright Sunday morning, we (I, Siddhu and Pallavi) started our journey to Sangam and Chunchi falls, somewhere around 100 kms from Bangalore.

   

The first hour or so was spent on navigating and rollicking away on the streets and heavy traffic of Bangalore. We got the car filled with petrol along with checking the tyre pressure. All precautions n preemptive taken for the trip. Some snacks, a digi cam, a case of antiseptics jammed up in the bag; we were all set for our journey. Siddhu took the driver's seat as I am yet to learn the ABC of driving a car. We stopped by for an early morning coffee and some steamy idlis. A small bite from me of an idli to avoid a storming stomach during the travel. After hustling around the dusty and potholes filled streets of Kanakapura Road, we hit the main highway (N.H no. 209) towards Sangam

We decided to go to Sangam first and Chunchi falls later on our way back home. The entire track (from Kanakapura Road to Sangam) was an entirely different hue from the highway. One good thing about the entire journey was that there were no right and left turns, we just had to follow the straight road. Factually, one doesn't require a formal guide or brochures to reach the place. A recluse for unplanned travel freaks like us.

After crossing the frontiers of the city, we came across a couple of residential schools and colleges on our way.. The drive was smooth till we encountered a bumpy muddock or a pothole. Our car at times was going on a joy ride when potholes and humps becomes the norm. I don't want to miss mentioning a beautiful temple of three deities( Krishna, Ganesha & Hanuman) on the right hand side of our driveway after a while. The imposing structures of the deities were made on small temple structures built beneath them. The brilliant colours etched on the beautiful form was actually a striking contrast to the barren stretch of land surrounding it. Siddhu drove on as Pallavi took a nap and I was engrossed in the mingling of paddy fields with rocky hills all through the way. The Radio city signal started to ease out as we were heading away from the city. The drive was little calm and quieter for a while and I soon began sketching my dreams and fantasies. What if I leap into that pool ahead of me to pluck a lily and get stuck in the mud; what if I swirl like the village belles humming some song like the Bollywood movies after filling water from the pond; and what if my friends all of a sudden asks me to drive !! Well, that would be a nightmare. My New Year resolution "I will learn driving". And another resolution that I will stand by this resolution Well, enough of my whims and fancies. Lets get back to the trek now.

We crept closer and closer to the Sangam. Milestones on our way were written in Kannada.(n.b; 3 of us are Kannada illiterates.) Pallavi struggled to read some of the boards so that we don't miss the track. But alas, we had to play kind of a game with the numbers on the milestones and thus had an idea how close we were from our destination. The road to Sangam is filled with green pastures and hillocks. We came across a lot of groundnut patches across the way. I and Pallavi had a great time in plucking and eating a few straight from the earth. The drive was of idyllic ambiance and was easy to trip off at a speed of +100 km as the road was moreover empty and yet in a good condition. We chose to cruise at a reasonable speed, as the drive was kind of an aloofness from the fast paced Bangalore life.

As we reached the last 3-4 km near Sangam, the downhill was full of twists and turns. Siddhu was driving very carefully. But at times we tasted death while taking sharp turns. While climbing down the hill, the Cauvery fishing camp was on the right and few farms were there towards our left.. It was almost noon when we reached Sangam. These areas are maintained by the Forest Department. They charge a nominal fee for the parking and going inside the river. We saw round boats (like the ones found in Kerala) which makes trips of the river from one bank to the other. A stretch of the river was calm and later was enjoined by rapids. The place has a great potential for River rafting. To my disdain, I didn't see anything for this sport there. There were small shops selling commodities like wafers, tea etc. But the main attraction was the fried fish sold freshly caught from the river. As my knowledge goes about the Cauvery river, it is regarded an angler's paradise, protected by the people who have exclusive angling rights on the river. The swim offers diverse biospheres to the fish. The upper reaches of the river are shallow with broad rapids and sandy beaches, and evergreen tree cover dropping fruits and seeds into the water. It is ideal for younger Mahseer (kind of fish found in Cauvery) to play in. Big fish move in the shallower waters, releasing their eggs on sand and rocks.

 

Sangam - The river was beautiful, water gushing down towards the low forming rapids and vapours evaporating were like the symphonies of nature. Pallavi all of a sudden became a mermaid. She was enjoying the most and I literally had to drag her out of the river. We spent some time on the banks and left for Chunchi falls. We took a left turn after 7-8 km while returning back. The road flagged by the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana was not so wide to bear two vehicles comfortably at a time. I was scared to death seeing a bus speeding its way towards us. Siddhu is no less than a Formula One Driver in my eyes now.; but unheralded, unsung & unknown. We sneaked past the monstrous bus quite successfully and reached a village ( I don't know the name though) after some time.

There were huge groundnut heaps and Silkworm nests almost in front of every household. Silkworm cultivation is a Cottage industry in this region. I took a lot of photographs with a fascinating old man who had huge bamboo nests filled with strong, healthy pearl white silkworms. He gave me a lot of information about this farming. They feed Mulberry leaves to the worms, mostly planted in their backyards. I thanked him in my broken Kannada which was a matter of laugh for a while among the crowd assembled there. The people were extremely warm and gracious. They had won our hearts. We left the place carrying a small sack of groundnuts as a token of affection. Soon the tar roads ended and we hit a stone and pebble filled road. Near the falls, we met a small boy who stays in the nearby village volunteered to be our guide. We clambered down and decided to go near the falls. Our little guide told us dreadful stories of water rising high during heavy rains. He guided us through stretches conducive for trekking. At some distance I saw a Forest watch tower. The entire scenery was breathtakingly beautiful. The fall is surrounded by high rocky creeks on all sides. The river Arkavathy, thunder and froth its way through the stunning gorges of smooth granite walls. Stones of different hues, green, gray, black and dark red can be seen spread like a huge banquet on the gorge floor. The waters are squeezed into narrow channel at "Mekhadaatu, also known as Goat's leap", 4-5 km away from the Sangam, and from there at every 400-500 yards, one can see incredible power of water of the river Cauvery creating deep pools and huge rapids.

Chunchi falls
We climbed down the falls passing by a small anickut (small dam) on our way. The Police Department board there claimed that hundreds of lives were lost due to the surging waters and alligators fearlessly inhabit the stretch. My limited knowledge of crocodile habitat didn't allow me to believe in the latter info. It was a rocky region unlike to the plains and deep waters where these reptiles habituate. Well, under the surveillance of out little guide we trekked down to the falls. The sight was splendid all around us, shimmering rays of sun falling into the small falls and sparkling it way through the plunge pools was all so elegant. Somehow, we tore ourselves away reluctantly from such a beautiful locale, wishing if we could spend more time to unravel the beauty of the place.

Past the falls now, I was feeling extremely hungry as it was already 4.30 p.m. We were all surviving on biscuits, chips and tender coconut. As we drove back straight like an arrow I was hoping for a Dhaba to emerge from nowhere. Another illusion of my strange and fanciful thoughts.." If there is a road, we can go. Make your own road, haven't you seen that ad!!! Let's go..let's go." The same held good for my quest for a Dhaba. Doesn't it? I was shouting high becoming a wicked little nuisance for my friends. What could a poor soul do when "pet mein chuhe kabaddi khel rahe ho." I just wished to have a large supper as early as possible. Finally we stopped by a road side Dhaba and had our first main course for the day.
After food, the rest of the journey was pretty silent. We all were exhausted. The day had started innocently enough; who knew all this was in store!!! Maybe because we just went for the travel without any prior plans. Listening to the soft numbers by Blue we reached Bangalore around 8 pm. In front of my eyes, the whole day swam. Well, just few hours, but few brilliant hours. And that seemed like a lifetime!

Contributing Author: Priya Naresh Kumar, Professionally work in IT MNC and one of the passion is Writing...Sharing this unique travel experience with you priya25naresh@yahoo.com 

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