Saturday, July 25, 2015

Solo drive to Irpu Waterfalls with unexpected guests

24 Jan 2015,

It has been long desire to visit this beautiful waterfalls especially during monsoon season. Well the monsoon wish could not be fulfilled last year, this time I had an opportunity to visit the splendid waterfalls stamped deep inside the Brahmagiri forest range. The Brahmagiri ranges apart from crowned as UNESCO heritage site, is heaven for nature lovers, perfect destination for hikers and most importantly Irpu waterfalls. The vast bio diversity of the region includes one of the rarest breed of peacock & butterfly (name unknown) endemic to western ghats and also plethora of snakes including king cobra & python. The beautiful waterfall is as usual surrounded by the spectacular dense rainforest with tall woods.

How was it planned? I realized the long weekend quite late. Consequently, all buses destined towards my native were reserved sparing null seats. My father co-incidentally called me and asked if I can drive the car all alone to native. Myself, happily agreed and extended my journey via Irpu waterfalls :). You don't need much grit to drive alone. Solo drives seem formidable at the outset. However any skill when practised frequently, becomes a cakewalk. The other advantage is that you are devoid of any objections meaning freedom to choose pit-stops of your wish. Since, Shiraadi ghat highway was under maintenance,we were left with two routes, namely, the charmadi & sampaje ghat. Hopefully shiraadi ghat will have fresh look at the end of summer. Last time, corrupt contractors swallowed all public money which rendered the highway hopeless within a month. They say, people can be judged only by the basis of how they stand out during tough times. Similarly, the tough monsoon mirrored the quality of work being exercised on the highway :(. Bargains apart, my mother fell ill after reaching Bangalore and as a result, my parents left for hometown immediately leaving car in Bangalore. Due to which, I had an opportunity to drive alone for second time. I chose samapaje ghat mainly due to broader roads and also predicting huge traffic along charmadi ghat due to surge of pilgrims to Dharmastala (being 3 days off). On a whim, I decided to visit Irpu waterfalls. I checked the route in google maps on Friday night and hoped for smooth itinerary. The first time, I had to muster up courage for the solo drive. This time, I felt a bit casual but still not without pinch of fraught.

It was 7PM, when I started from my house. The delay was as usual morning routines like breakfast preparation, utensil washing, pooja etc.. The traffic is Mysore was not hefty as experienced during Navaratri days. Barring few intermittent blockages, it was smooth journey till Srirangapattana. But things go wrong sometimes, the Srirangapattana-Ilavala road which connects Mysore-Madikeri highway was blocked for renovation. The signboards could only be spotted in KRS junction. I turned towards Mysore ring road and joined ilavala adding delay of almost 20 minutes. Exactly 11:10AM, I reached Hunsur town and by the grace of locals, I spotted deviation towards Nagarahole. One has to travel 8kms along this road to reach Nagarahole cross. From there, Nagarahole is 40kms. The drive past 8kms is via narrow road, well laid and almost null traffic. No HTVs are allowed. 20kms before Nagarahole, the forest gate welcomes the commuters. Since the tigers and elephant cross the main road during daytime, 2 wheelers are strictly prohibited inside the National Park.

Here starts fun! One of the forest officer along with visitor from Bangalore, had missed the lone bus which traverses through the jungle. Since, I was alone, the inspector requested to provide a lift till Nagarahole. Incidentally, the visitor was a landscape photographer like me :). We shared our experiences throughout the journey. Few kms, later here we see the lofty woods of our lovely western ghats, inhibiting the sun light. The entire stretch is flanked by thick tall teakwood trees planted during British era. Being National Park, visitors are strictly prohibited from malfunctioning with ecosystem. Carrying even a single twig is offensive (even if it is fallen & dry). The decomposition has to happen naturally. Only exception is clearing of fallen logs on the road for smooth movement of traffic. At one place, we saw natural arch formed by gigantic tree protruding its branches towards the road. We spotted deers and common jumping langurs and grabbed few shots. We also spotted elephant dung at few places (not fresh though). The officer informed that there are about 35 tigers in wild and rarely devour humans. The intimidating animal is lone elephant. Even elephants do not ravage unless they are alone. Authorities have erected humps at every km to deliberately slow down accelerating wagons. Nevertheless, none of us feel like accelerating and were enjoying our rainforest & wild life whole heartedly. The forest gate remains open only from 6AM to 6PM, otherwise remains closed for vehicular traffic. The officer asked us to reach the forest gate around 5:30PM to enjoy vivid wildlife. Civilization is very feeble except for forest guest houses and native tribal group known as "Haadi". These people were evacuated since the area was declared National Park with compensation as house + 3 acres of land + 10k monthly stipend. But some people are still happy to stay in touch with nature and enjoy closely the western ghats despite lack of facilities. Their food habits are also simple like sweet potatoes and posses sturdy & healthy body. Presence of wildlife is never problem for them. City people like me, have to learn a lot from these tribes on leading simple life and interacting with nature.

Unfortunately, the safari starts only by 3:30PM and the bus arrives at 5PM to Nagarahole. Hence officer concluded that they cannot enjoy Safari given tight timelines. Both decided to join me to irpu :). I was excited to have healthy company till Irpu. From Nagarahole, Irpu is only 15kms. Someone mentioned it to be around 50kms. Once again, presence of beautiful roads, splendid western ghats, kept us alive all the time. Within 20 mins, we reached kutta. From here, irpu is just 12kms. After 8kms of drive towards Gonikoppa road, we reached the deviation point. From here, drive along 3kms of pathetic road, lead us to parking lot of irpu waterfalls. Since we were with forest officer, the entrance + camera fee was null :)



About irpu

Situated 8kms from Kutta, beneath Brahmagiri ranges, Irpu waterfalls derives its name from the village Irpu. The waterfall apparently a cascade with water blickering from lofty mountains along 4-5 stages from a height of 52feet. During monsoon season, the gallons of water masks the intermediate stages which gives an impression of having only 2 stages.The beautiful Lakshmana Teertha River dancing with frill from mountains is source for this waterfall. The Lakshmana Teertha river merges with Ramateertha river and later joins river Cauvery at KRS reservoir near Mysore. Rameshwara temple is located at the entrance of Irpu waterfalls which has mythological importance connected to it. The waterfall can be visited throughout the year however one has to battle with leeches to watch the roaring river, pouring down with huge pile of water during monsoon. From Kutta, one has to follow Gonikoppa road for 5-6kms and later divert towards left along narrow road for 3kms. This patch of road is not well maintained. I believe, you can also opt to hire an auto from kutta to reach waterfall site. There is ample parking space for the visitors. One can also enjoy the beautiful cascaded Sahyadri ranges standing on the parking area. The entrance fee is Rs.30/- per head. Not sure if they charge for camera. Since our companion was from Forest department, we had free ride towards waterfall. From entrance gate, one has to walk for 750m uphill to reach the waterfall site. One can hear roaring stream of Lakshmana Teertha river from entrance itself. In middle of stroll, one has to climb up few hundred steps and later a hanging bridge which finally leads you to glorious waterfall thumping the strewed boulders. This place is also start point of hike towards Brahmagiri peak. As we reached waterfalls, OMG, what a site! I stayed stunned for a moment enjoying the tumbling waterfalls.

There were quite number of tourists enjoying the bath under the waterfall drop cheering with enthusiasm. Authorities have strictly prohibited the usage of plastics and snacks to maintain sanctity of place. There is also clear instruction to maintain silence. However none of them seemed to follow the rule. Authorities allow bathing during October-May timeframe. One can enjoy head bang from storming water pouring from great elevation. For obvious reasons, one cannot bath during monsoon season (nevertheless one can bath in thick rain drops pouring from the sky!).



Now comes the photography. midday sun is bad time to grab pictures of waterfalls with long exposures mainly due to division of sunlight and shadow on the site. This renders pictures clipped at the brighter side and pictures turn out to be hazy. Fortunately, the patch of clouds held natural umbrella for our photoshoot. Consequently, some of the long exposure shots turned out well in complete shadow cast by clouds over waterfall region.

Once contended with watching the glory, we decided to return to Kutta to satisfy the energy crunch. We had fairly OK lunch which was enough to suppress the famished soul. Since it was already 3PM, I bid goodbye to my unexpected guests and started driving towards Madikeri. It is quite long drive for 90kms. The roads were narrow but well laid. It was easy drive till madikeri and later towards Mani too! I reached my village at 8:30PM and thus ending 560kms of day drive. Next plan may be to visit during peak monsoon season. The waterfalls of western ghats if reachable, is best enjoyed during peak monsoon season provided you can battle with leeches.


2) ಇರುವ ಭಾಗ್ಯವ ನೆನೆದು

What's special this time ;-)


2) Here is short video shot during the stay in waterfall.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Life is a bicycle ride :-)

An adrenaline of thoughts whoosh in my mind as I keep staring at bicycle. Now, its time to scratch some bits after riding bicycle with gap of 6 years. It was hot and humid Saturday morning in my village and sweating vigorously at 7AM. Myself and nephew had sweat bath for more than hour cycling and jogging.

What's that above graphics depict? It's a simple image of our cycling track :D. Basically none of the related subjects are shown especially paddy fields, coconut trees and sun! It's upto you to draw and paint as you wish ;-) since my grade was always low in any drawing exam :-(. That is not the aim here but to express some of experiences from my bicycle ride and relate with life. The graphics is retained simple to avoid complications ;-)

One can easily guess that paths a->b, b->c, d->c are relatively simpler. You only need proper breaks :D to control yourself! Note, the arrows represent vectors and not scalars, which means they represent path with direction ;-) [some physics show-off :D]. On the contrary, the paths b->a, c->d are as difficult as previous easy ones which means dead opposite ;-). Even our life is like peddling cycle :-). How?

i) It is easy when is everything seems fine which means even without effort you can easily cycle down. Everything seems to be in your way and in your control. There is no need to worry. However if you free yourself without break, then you are foreseeing a trouble ;-). Controlling oneself is as important in life when everything works as you say. That means, one should not get into their head once success arrives ;-). Does this seems logical?

ii) Similarly the path a->b or d->c can be crossed with minimal effort but note that it requires consistent effort. Still cannot be termed as difficult. Even when life seems normal, you cannot maintain unless you exert some effort.

iii) Now comes the arduous part. To cross vectors b->a, c->d, you have to pull yourself up with great strength to ride cycle to culmination! Similarly in life you need energy, persistence and spirited mentality to reach to the top during inclement periods.

Note that entire road was paved well and even uphilling was smooth even though not easy. However, the track may be full of stones and thorns. It may be narrow trail too! The cycle may get punctured too :D. In that case you may even need to push cycle without peddling. Yes it will be slow but you will reach the target if you possess dedication.

You have choice to only to downhill and later halt in middle without further progression. If you wish to make it to either of tops, hardwork is inevitable. Staying stagnant at the middle of track may not be since everyone is moving ahead. That may be compelling to you to move further ahead. Someone may chase you away from the current position :-) or there may be traffic jam because you stood still!

In the straight path, you have an option to peddle faster or slower or at normal speeds. It means you may choose to keep up momentum of success or slow down for a while or continue at normal pace. Ultimately the situation reaps based on your efforts. If the momentum is fast uphilling is cakewalk or if it is normal it will be bit extra effort but manageable. However if it is slow, it is very tough to reach to the top.

We as humans tend to fall in comfort zone when things seems to be normal. Ultimately the tough days will arrive and if did not possess momentum we may face tough consequences. While peddling down, you have to control gravity while upwards you need to defy gravity. You don’t need any help while downhilling while you may seek help while uphilling or there may not be help at all.

There are choices while uphilling

i) If you have prior momentum, its easy to uphill

ii) If you do not possess them, it may be difficult. You can either retreat or start over repeatedly. Remember, if you retreat you can never climb up and starting over will not yield immediate result. Only persistence is the key to reach top.

As mentioned earlier, the road may not be smooth. It may be full of traffic heck, distractors, detractors etc.. etc.. There will be assisters too however majority of the occasion it never happens :-). Eventually its upto your discretion to choose to be in the right co-ordinates as life moves on. If you are stuck between b & c it is still OK! only thing is you will be branded super mediocre :P, but you can never maintain that inertia since external forces constantly act on your life's surface (peer pressure, blatant comparisons .. I know you got them :P) But bear in mind, if you wish to reach top at some point of time, you have to exercise extra effort to compensate idleness during prolonged stay. There will be lot of people to pull you down, de-motivators, mockers during the tough part of journey. If you are lucky you may find good people to cut through the difficulties and climb up. Never ever forget those people for lifetime. They are the true people in your life.

It's sweating all through my body while I pin the words to digital surface. The summer of 90% humidity in coastal karnataka is unbearable to many. Remember, without humidity there is no monsoon. Humidity draws clouds from ocean. The toughness in atmosphere brings cool rain to landmass. Nothing is cakewalk!

Bored of fable :-) Well this one I wrote for myself and I don't claim this to be universal rule. There may be lot of wicked thoughts arising out of such fables but who cares! I write it to educate myself and not to pacify anyone. I can only hope to find few people who agree with such observations. There may be lot of caveats too! But I have noted only few important ones. I don’t strive to be perfect and nobody is perfect. Perfectionism kills your inner happiness and is major road-blocker for success.

The cycle is parked in premise and giggling at me gently :-). It may also be cursing for lowering wheel air pressure due to extra weight :D. Just tuned to New World's amazing creativity in music "Outreach". He worked more than 8 years to attain musical mastery. Do not presume that it was overnight success. Only difference is his passion got triggered far early. It's only his persistence and hardwork which has elevated him to such and extent in musical world!

Signing off, I want to reiterate that neither I am life guru nor my scribbles are ultimate mantra of life :D. It may even appear fluffy ;). Eventually, I educate by reminding myself of reality when stuck in middle of burning volcano ;-).

It has been long time since I wrote last blog. Hopefully I will start gaining frequency again since there is lot happening around :P. Bye for now.....


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