This Independence day gifted a freedom to travel to our hearts’ content in the monsoon, for a vacation starved Rams family! I jumped up in joy when my hubby proposed a trip to the western ghats in Uttara Karnataka, to celebrate our wedding anniversary in advance,! Deprived of a well deserved excursion for quite some time, I was indeed looking forward to the short odyssey. Google came to my rescue assisting in the booking of travel, stay and sightseeing and the itinerary was finalized from the cool comforts of my home! Everything seemed to fall in its place and the countdown to the D-day had begun with yours truly, the unskilled packer, stuffing all and sundry into two large suitcases much to the chagrin of the ads whose idea of a vacation was only a backpack! From salt for the leeches, to loosen their vice like grips on our soft bodies to sneakers and jackets to protect us from the rains, the luggage was full and I had the final say!
The free ride on the Uber cab was a delight to start our picnic with and we had embarked well ahead of the departure time of the bus. But the snarling peak hour traffic of Bengaluru was driving us insane. The only solace was to think of the sojourn to bliss and be one among nature! I had almost given up on reaching the travels’ office in time but the cabbie who got the whiff of the situation due to my grumbling and ranting, stepped on the gas and manoeuvred adroitly through the rain filled pot holed by lanes to reach the terminal on time and we avoided the trauma of seeing the rear of the glistening blue bus!
Snugly reclining in the push back seats, heaving a collective sigh of relief, we were off and in less than an hour stopped for dinner at a road side eatery with an ambience that was truly inviting. The “pure veg” tag was the icing on the cake and we enjoyed the steaming hot idis and vadas dunked in sambar and chutney.
The onward seven hour journey to Sagar, a lovely district of Shivamogga town in Malnad region of Karnataka was uneventful as darkness had engulfed the picturesque greenery of the country side. As dawn broke the darkness of the silent night, I was overjoyed to see the rain soaked ghat road towards Sagar. Yes, the monsoon magic had begun in full earnest and my heart was beating faster. I turned the clock back 30 years to reminisce the Geography class in school when Sukumari madam was explaining about Gersoppa falls and Linganamakki dam across the Shravati river. How I had longed then to see India’s second largest segmented plunge and the moment of euphoria had arrived.
The hotel Pavithra Residency was decent and the family suite was large, neat and comfortable. Refreshed and raring to go after a warm bath and with a nice breakfast of masala dosai , we embarked on our sightseeing tour in a taxi.
The 30 minute drive across lush green carpets of paddy fields with swaying coconut trees fringed at the borders and winding snake roads was captivating. As we neared the gorgeous bluff, the skies opened up and the rain came down in torrents. We could hear the rush and roar of the Jog but the mist and clouds completely covered the falls. Within minutes the rain stopped lifting the veil of mist and lo and behold, Raja, Rani, Roarer and Rocket thundered down magnificently and I was spell bound by nature’s bounty. A sheer fall of 800 feet of river Shravati into the ravines, the froth and foam pumping up my adrenalin!
The next couple of hours was absolute delight and a great photo op (sans selfies and groupfies) with different combinations and I am privileged to share those moments of bliss with my dear readers. My heart ached to bid goodbye to the opulence of nature but we had to move on to the next destination, the Ikkeri Aghoreshwara temple built by the Keladi chiefs and has been taken over by the ASI. Then came Keladi with a temple and a museum developed by Kuvempu university which boasted of age old artefacts. Linganamakki reservoir was next on our agenda but despite the dam being almost full, the sluice gates were not opened denying us the opportunity of seeing a torrent of water gushing out!
Honnemaradu, the island atop a hillock overlooking the Linganamakki dam was enchanting. After the whirlwind two day sojourn to Sagar and its surroundings, we boarded the KSRTC to take us to Honnavar, the port city on the Arabian Sea. The Western Ghats was a treat to the eyes with dime a dozen hair pin bends on NH 17 interspersed with water alls en route. Copious rains , exotic scenery and salubrious climate made our 100km journey gratifying and pleasant!
World’s second largest statue of Lord Shiva with a towering Raja Gopura was a sight to behold when we reached the coastal town of Murudeshwar in Bhatkal. For the etymology and legend about the temple please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murudeshwara
The distinct air of the sea with the colourful fishing boats moored at the shore and the waves crashing into the temple is mesmerizing. The grandeur of the statue is enhanced by the breathtaking view of the Arabian Sea with its long coastline stretching as far as the eyes could see! High speed elevators took us to the 18th floor of the Raja Gopura and the view from the top was spectacular. I am bereft of adjectives and the English language seems to be poor to describe the panoramic spectacle where nature blends with perfect harmony with religion and spirituality. The imposing Shiva statue sitting cheek by jowl with the sea is forever etched in my memory! The beaches on the shore were balms for our weary but happy feet and the day culminated with the sunset. A hearty dinner at Kamat’s brought the curtains down on our jaunt.
The luxury coach from Honnavar brought us back to our domain , traversing through the Ghats one more time, briefly pausing at Jog and then heading to Bengaluru via Shivamogga . The mirthful, magnetic, marvellous, monsoon magic had come to an end bringing home rejuvenated bodies and souls with lots of memories and a pet leech! (We are yet to name it!)