Friday, September 11, 2009

Shivanasamudram, Bangalore.

A stubborn cold, a gloomy Bangalore climate, the prospects of heavy showers, the impending back-breaking 125 km ride on a bike, and a eleventh hour drop-out of one of the co-travellers did nothing to stop us from witnessing nature in all its might.
Shivanasamudram is an island town caused due to the splitting of River Cauvery. So our object of interest was the twin waterfalls of Gaganachukki Waterfalls. According to Wikipedia there's a common misconception that the left segment of the twin waterfalls is Gaganachukki and the right segment Bharachukki. Wiki also goes on to say that Bharachukki is a few kms further from here.

But we decided to stop at Gaganachukki for its sheer grandeur. As always we had started early from Bangalore to avoid the mad crowd of motorists and tourists. The total travel time was three hours including a breakfast stop. For breakfast we stopped at Gabbar Singh's very own backyard - Ramnagara. The route to Shivanasamudram is pretty straight forward. Take the Mysore Road out, go past Bidadi, Ramnagar, Channapatnam and reach Maddur. Theres a left deviation off Mysore Road (with enough signboards) to reach Shivanasamudram through Malavalli Village.

Gaganachukki is first big waterfall that Ive witnessed in person. Hence its no surprise that it caught my attention the moment I saw it, and got me mesmerised. It took me quite a while to realise that I had brought a camera with me and I was not taking pictures! Like most water-attractions in Karnataka, the best time to see the Gaganachukki Falls (GF) is the monsoon season - July to October. And we were bang in the middle of a good rainy season in Karnataka. GF does not disappoint in any way.

You can watch the GF from two sides - one with the Darga and the one without it. We first arrived at the non-Darga side. You do get a good bird's eye view of the Falls from this side. The gushing milky waters falling hard on the rocks below causing a smoky water-spray is a sight to behold. There's heavy fencing over here to discourage people from getting close to the Falls. And its there for a good reason too. As the precautionary signboard says "Watch your step, it might be your last". After getting down a few flight of steps to the designated Watchtower, we just spent a few lazy minutes just admiring the water fall.

About half an hour later the steady trickle of large families in Tempo Travellers began and we thought it fit to leave the place. We enquired about going to the other side of the Falls from the local vendors and were told that its some 15 kms away. Though it sounds a little preposterous, it is indeed true. Its really a long and winding road to the other end of GF. While going to the other side we made one stop where the Cauvery almost touches the Main road along which we were travelling. Out here we saw a huge boy-gang who were making preparations for a meal!. Yes they had set up a cooking place, were gathering twigs and branches for the fire, cutting vegetables, posing semi-nude to the cameras, chasing away monkeys et al.

Another 8 kms later we were at the other side of Gaganchukki. As soon as we reached here, we knew we should have come here first. The Falls look more majestic from this side. This is because you see them at close quarters. What's more you can even go dangerously close to the waterfalls. But even before we go there, how can we leave out the monkey talk. Lets rewind to the Madumalai blog where I was busting the myths of "searching" monkeys. Well looks like I spoke too soon. So, I was having plastic bag of leftover boiled peanuts which we bought from the other side of the falls. While holding this plastic bag in hand and being mesmerised by the falls, comes this big fat monkey. He walks with a certain dignity and command, clearly indicating that he's the head of his herd. Even while he's confidently striding towards me with his eyes transfixed on my plastic bag, other chutka-putka monkeys run helter skelter. I knew my peanuts were in danger. But I was equally determined to keep my flock together. I try to hoodwink the giant by hiding the plastic bag under my arm pits. With the monkey at just a scratch away I turned a full 180 degrees to avoid a face-off. But the wily old monkey comes round me for another face-to-face. I turn another 180 degrees to complete a full circle. And again the monkey follows suit. This is one determined and bold monkey. But so was I... err.. I mean bold and courageous...only.

They say that a shepperd apart from tending to his flock also has to fight the wolves if need be. So without being rude and indignant (and also not scared) I try to shoo the monkey. But he doesn't budge. I transfer the plastic bag from my left arm-pit to the right where I felt it would be safer. This only bolstered the beast more. I guess he too realised that I was tough customer and decided to enforce things. Even before I could guess his next move, the beast was on its hind legs. The other two somewhere around my fleshy midriff. Suddenly I realised that the arm-pits was no longer a safe haven. I held the bag in my right hand pointing skywards, confident the monkey cant reach it. But then we are talking THE monkeys. There's no place a monkey cant reach!!! Fearing for the safety of other expensive items on me (camera, cellphones etc) and a feeling of waging a loosing battle I relented and dropped the bag. No the monkey did not scamper to get it fearing it will be snatched by somebody else. It just strolled to the bag and picked it...spoils of war!!!

And then it perched itself on a rock and devoured on the peanuts. As for me, my only disappointment was that I'd indirectly become party to littering a plastic bag. Luckily for the smart monkey, he did not eat the bag.. he just made a hole in it and took out its content.

After this ordeal we went down a trashy trail to reach somewhere midway between the viewpoint and the rock-bottom of the falls. Its a totally amazing experience to watch such crude power of the waters. Nature is the superpower in the real sense of the word. Despite centuries and centuries of human and extra terrestrial exploitation, Nature has come through it all with winning colors. Just as we started to make our way towards the foot of the falls, it started drizzling. Getting caught here in the rains, spelt trouble. We quickly scrambled to top thrice as fast as we had, going down. When the huffing a puffing subsided a wee bit, to our dismay we find the drizzle had stopped and the skies magically cleared. Yeah... that's Nature for ya!!

With no stamina to go down and come back up again, or go to Bharachukki Falls and the prospect of travelling back the 125 kms, we decided to call it a day and drove back to the hustle and bustle of a mad mad city.

Getting-there: Mysore Road till Maddur. Left deviation towards Malavalli Village and follow the signboards. Alternate Route: Kanakapura Road. Right Deviation at Kanakpura, and left at Malavalli.
Must-Do: Check out the Gaganachukki from the Darga side too.
Must-Dont: Carry food items that will eventually be snatched by some monkey. Littering.
Also-Do's: Check out the Ranganatha Temple at Madhyaranga when going to the darga side of Gaganachukki Falls. Apparently the Cauvery in its course splits thrice, only to meet later forming three islands. And at each island there's a Ranganatha Temple. Madhya Ranga is the second among the triad. The Adi Ranga is at Srirangapatna and the Anthya Ranga at Tiruchiu. Also check out the Prasanna Meenakshi Temple close to the Jaganatha Temple.

My Rating: 6.5/10