Though I had planned to buy a gift the day before we started for our journey, work kept me from doing this and it got pushed until the last day and my worst fears were realized, I never bought one. I planned to make up for it somewhere in our tour but didn’t know where.
Carrying the image of the mighty Jog (and a smirk on my face of finally visiting this place), we woke up early to another foggy day. After a quick wash me and wifey headed for another round of Jog darshan as we were to leave for Agumbe. As expected, we saw a lot of those photographers cum guides start early promising a once in a lifetime instant picture. We quickly bargained for few snaps and got into the act of posing. Luckily the fog started clearing up and we did get our Kodak moments.
Next on our agenda was peth pooja. Not wanting to have another of the standard plate meals at Hotel Mayura, we headed to the stalls just beside the Tungabhadra block. They seemed to have all the regular fare plus maggi. Wait? What did you say? Maggi? Where there is maggi there is my wife! We quickly ordered one ‘masala-customized with vegetables–maggi’.
This was not so great so we made up our mind to have breakfast @ sagar. While exiting Jog, the bridge was as picturesque as it was the previous day with fog and a slight drizzle.
The moment we left Jog, the sight of pineapple stacks started greeting us. Though behind schedule, I couldn’t help stopping at the sight of these yellow things. True to the adage, what you see is what you get, these were the best and sweetest pineapples I ever had in my life. So smitten I was with the pineapples, I did the Job of the pineapple guy for some time (Business Continuity, I call it!).
While we were at it, I suddenly recollected the birthday gift and offered the freshly cut pineapples as a replacement for a birthday cake/gift. (Now that came cheap! Muahahahahahaha!) We spent a few minutes savoring the pineapples with salt and chilli powder, stacked up the boot with a few and hit NH206 to Sagar.
A quick breakfast of set dosa’s and coffee made the rest of the journey rather sleepy for the women folk. Me and Prashant kept zipping across the country side soaking in the dense vegetation, occasional bouts of rains, umpteen culverts with rivulets under them.
Trying to blend in
A few KM’s from Jog, we saw a temple (we identified it as a temple from the bell hanging outside) that had a different architecture from what we had seen in our life time. It was then that we realized that we were in one of the wettest place in south and had a quick darshan followed by another photo op.
One day honey, one day, i will be sitting there with a newspaper and coffee in another hand!
Another few KM’s we spot a huge culvert and a clean looking rivulet flowing below it. We decide to check the waters and to our surprise, it is freezing cold and a strong current in it.
Never saw this before, looks like from the M&M stable
We make it to Agumbe around noon and quickly make it to Kasturiakka’s place (Doddamane) – of the malgudi days fame.
Like most of the houses around, the architecture is pretty basic and effective in keeping out the rain.
Before entering the house we saw a guy exiting who looked like he knew in and around Agumbe. Upon enquiry, the first thing he showed us were his 20 odd leech bites and told us that this was the worst time of the year and it had been raining for the past few days – non stop. Further enquiry revealed that he had come from Mysore and was an amateur butterfly photographer (but I didn’t think it was an SLR around his neck, but a super zoom P & S, considering the climate, I would say smart, eh!).
Our host Kasturiakka was expecting us and has a spread ready for us.
About the spread – though Prashant and others did not quite enjoy this style of food, I rated this as the best meal of the journey. It consisted of boiled rice with some ‘Kadhi’, jackfruit seed curry cooked in palak, onion & jackfruit pakora’s, sambar and curd. Me and wifey gulped it down like a hungry pack in the savanna! Kastriakka was not very particular about the amount we pay for the lunch and asked us to pay whatever we feel like. As per city standards we payed hear and did a quick tour of the house. We were told that the house is 115 yrs old and not much of it has changed since the time it was build (except for the windows and electrical fittings). The house used to be leased out for shooting but now is used as a transit point for the king cobra/butterfly researchers. The upper floors has 6-7 beds (very basic looking, again) and another room has about 3 beds. This pretty much serves the purpose for a short stay, I felt.
2 Generations of hospitality
Sleeping area/dorm kind of a set up on the top floor
The host was also kind enough to call a guide who was to take us around to Onakabbe and Jogigundi falls and then to sunset point and the rainfall research center. Being forewarned by both the butterfly guy and Kasturiakka we skipped Onakabbe, which apparently is a 3.5KM walk through leech territory. We headed first to Jogigundi and stopped on the way for another of our umpteen photo sessions.
On the way to Jogigundi
Posing in Leech paradise
A few minutes later, me and Prashant stepped away for a quick leak and suddenly we hear shrieks “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, oooooooooohhhhhhhhhhh” reverberate throughout the forest. It was Prashant’s wife and the poor guy froze in his act! Now, I have prior experience of leech bites and the moment I heard the shrieks, I knew what it was. I opened the boot and pulled out the eucalyptus oil bottle and sprinkled some on. The leech let go but not the shrieks. From then on, Prashant’s wife was mostly confined to the car until we crossed the Agumbe sign board. Further ahead, near the track to Jogigundi fall’s we were told that the track is now closed due to fallen trees and we need to head back. Boy! I think you can guess who was the gladdest of all! Quickly did a U turn and headed to the (world famous?) Agumbe sunset point. This is again standard viewing point (like those in ooty, kodai). The only thing worth seeing from here is the origin point of the Onakabbe falls. It looked like a milky white streak in a sea of thick green forests and mountains.
Road to Udipi - SH65
Heading back, we dropped our guide at Doddamane and since the Rainfall research center was supposed to be on the way back to Shimoga, we planned to visit it ourselves (alas, we could never find it as no one around seemed to know about its existence). Heeding advice of the guide we then headed to the Kundadri mountain.
On the way to Kundadri
We found lots of these
The drive up Kundadri was a bit scary with some parts of the road inclined at more than 45 degrees. It was 1st gear most of the way up.
Jain temple @ Kundadri
Atop Kundadri, the first thing that greeted us was litter and countless beer bottles. Come on people, you are entitled to fun but not at the cost of environment. Spending a few minutes at Kundadri we headed back on our road to Shimoga. The drive through Thirthahalli to Shimoga was pleasant as it passes through the Bhadra WLS. But it was incessantly raining and I had to strain my eyes most of the time to beat the unrelenting oncoming high beamers (despite request for dipping). Arriving at Shimoga, we were recommended, Ashoka hotel and Samrat Ashoka hotel a few KM’s from the bus stand. Inspection of Ashoka hotel revealed cockroaches and Samrat was pretty decent with ample car park and attached restaurant. We quick completed the formalities of check in, let the women folk rest and went out to grab a few spirits to end the birthday on a ‘high’.