Bandajje – Arbi : the serene landscapes…

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Opportunity knocks only once, and it happened to me as well. I got an opportunity to visit Stockholm on project assignment for two years. Beautiful country with lots of greenery and clean air and nice people. lot of things to learn from them.
I arrived at Namma Bengaluru on Dec 3rd 2015, finally to reunite with my family and to cuddle with my little angel. My wildlife odyssey had taken a back seat because of my absence in India, I was missing the South Indian jungles..monsoon rains…trek to the woods…evergreen forests…morning mists….those endless waits just to catch a glimpse of the big cat…and of course the night drives.. 🙂
First thing I wanted to do after coming back was to hit the roads, drive to a nice destination that would take me closer to nature. After thorough findings we planned a trek to Bandajje – Arbi located at charmadi ghats section of western ghats.
This time it was with new enthusiasts who were having a lot of experience in trekking, the responsibilities of entire trek from travel to pitching the tent were evenly distributed among us.
Our plan was to trek from Chikkamagalur section and reach Bandajje as it offers lush green landscapes. As planned earlier all of us assembled in Kempegowda Bus station where we were to catch the bus towards Kottigehara. It took us very little time to get to know each other. Soon we were on our way and the journey towards Bandajje had started in no time.
After a short while most of us were tired and took the shape of the seat for a cat nap on the bumpy road, the early morning wind gushing from the broken glass woke me up. The bus had reached Mudigere station.We were just about 40 mins away from Kottigehara
Few minutes later we reached Kottigehara, not realising for a fact that we were 2 hour early on our schedule. But surprisingly this place is very friendly to its visitors even at this hour. We could see many eat outs serving Dosas even at 3am. Resisting the temptation to gorge on the hot dosas, we moved on to find transportation that would take us to Sunkasale. Another 35 mins of journey got us to Sunkasale. Starting the trek at this hour was not a desirable plan, hence we reached a nearby resort called Gatikallu for refreshments. we also booked a guide who would accompany us on our entire trekking adventure. A shot trip on the local transportation got us to Durgadahalli from where we started the trek at 8 AM.
Taking advantage of the situation. I photographed few birds.

 

 

 

The spectacular view of the mighty mountains captivated us, Anand sir lead us to the peak followed by Subbu, Nagaraj , Guru, Aravind, Ganesh and at last me.. 🙂
Peak summer had already set in and the dense forest was devoid of its usual greenery. From a distance it looked as though a carpet of mosaic design with patches of land and trees was laid under the blue sky. As we moved through the forest, the anticipation of spotting any wildlife movement grew more and more. Trekking under the scorching heat is not a joke and we ended up taking many small breaks.
My attention was drawn towards Avifauna and I had to stop in between to capture some pictures. My bones weren’t cooperating that well as I was trekking after 3 long years and I had to pull them on track to cope up with the team.

 

 

We were fortunate to spot the black eagle which was soaring high in the sky. Initial plan was to pitch tent at Ballalarayana durga and halt rest of the day, but we continued to Bandajje after taking some rest.
It was around 3.00Pm when we reached the peak, those breath taking landscapes mersmerized us. First thing we did was to identify a flat surface to pitch the tents. In few minutes our tents were in place with the help of Subbu sir, Anand and Guru, meanwhile myself, Ganesh and Aravind went in search of firewood for camping and Nagaraj uncle and Suresh went to fill water bottles for cooking from the stream that was flowing very close to where we had pitched our tents. Food was ready in no time and we gathered around the firewood to have food and have a little chat. As time went by, one by one crept back into their tents and fell asleep.

 

After a short break we were all geared up to see the fantabulous Bandajje – Arbi water falls. An hours walk from our camp took us to the viewpoint from where we could see the beautiful falls.

 

 

Soon it was time for us to return back to our tents lucky, we could catch the glorious sunset. No words can explain the beauty of nature, the silence, the cool breeze, picturesque sky, it was a perfect ending.

 

 

 

Next morning we started to descend by wrapping all our belongings and garbage making sure not to litter the forest area.
Some of us purposely slowed down the descend to observe nature. As we moved on we saw our fellow trekkers crossing the mountain in front of us. This Man Vs Nature view is aptly described in a quote by “Ray Brudbury – We are an impossibility in an impossible universe”. 

 

If climbing the mighty mountains is a difficult task, then descending the same is even more difficult. Our legs became weary and by the end of the descend it had almost started wobbling. But the calm and cool surroundings helped us to revitalize and descend further. Halfway through the descend we reached the ancient Ballalarayanadurga fort. Fort overlooks the town of Sunkasale. This fort was built by the Hoysalas in the 12th century.
 To my mind’s eye, the side view of the mountains looked like the face of the Phantom. But that is only my imagination, everyone’s perspective in viewing objects differs.

 

Panoramic view of these mountains:

 

 

 

 

At last we reached Durgadahalli by 4.00Pm and took an auto rick to Sunkasale, few decided to head back to bangalore and we decided to visit Horanadu Annapurneshwari temple.
(Amit,Subbu,Dinesh(Guide),Nagaraj,Anand,Guru,Suresh,Rahul,Aravind(with selfie stick)
Getting there to Bandajje and few pointers:
  • Bangalore–>Kottigehara–>Sunkasale–>Durgadahallli–>Bandajje
  • Bangalore–>Mundajje–>Bandajje
Guide from Mundajje:
Kishore Valambra – 9901939829
Suraj Valambra – 9844393421
Location: