8:00 A.M. : Catch a bus to Sagara
We missed the direct bus to Jog that runs at 7A.M and instead caught the connecting bus from Sagar. Sagar has a better infrastructure from the tiny village near Jog and is hence preferred by tourists to stay.
When we reach Jog its pouring. We can hear the loud roaring of the grand waterfall, but we do not see it till later, it is completely covered in clouds. We have our lunch and check in at the KSRTC Guest House where we have made prior reservations. The rooms are damp, there are slugs on the wall and water is trickling through the walls.
02:00 P.M. : Descend the 1500+ steps to view the magnificent sight of water gushing from the second tallest waterfall in the country. After we spend 2-3 hours at the pool formed at the base of the fall, we hire an auto for 200 bucks to take us to the source of the falls, the Devil’s rock at Raja falls, Rani falls and the dam which is in vicinity of the guest house.
06:30 P.M. : We decide to explore the nearby places on our own. Today is Ganesh Chaturthi and there is an ongoing celebration just across our guest house. Unlike in most other states where the celebration lasts upto 10 days, here the Visarjan is performed on the same day.
05:00 A.M. : Find a bus to Sagara to catch the connecting bus to Hebri at 6.
We wake up and start to proceed to King’s cross, 500mts from our guest house, where we would get bus upto Sagara. The route is through dense jungle area and the sun is not up yet. It is pitch dark. There is no auto or taxi nearby. At 5:45, the first bus comes to Jog to drop off passengers. We are able to convince the driver and conductor to drop off us at King’s cross. The conductor agrees to give company on the lonely road till we get the bus to Sagara.
Our rafting instructors agree to pick us up from there to go to the rafting base camp. In the bus, we cross the dense rain forests of Agumbe. A dense fog descends as soon as we enter Agumbe.
10:00 A.M. : Reach Hebri.
We wait for the other groups to arrive for rafting. The stretch is 22 kms long on Sitanadi and takes about 4 hours. The rapids are low and it feels like a pleasurable ride.
06:00 P.M. : Catch the bus to Udupi for a night halt.
In Udipi, we visit the famous Krishna Mutt temple.
10:00 A.M. : Catch the bus to Chikamaglur
Chikamaglur is a coffee estate in the Western Ghats of Sahyadris. FACT: The Indian coffee chain Cafe Coffee Day started from these coffee estates.
03:00 P.M. : Reach Chikamaglur
We hire an auto to show us the coffee estates, Mulleyengiri(the highest peak in Karnataka), Sitalayangiri and BabaBudangiri for 600 bucks. It is very chilly on the way to Mulleyengiri with a strong wind accompanying the rains. At the peak, we get off the auto to climb the last few steps to the top. The force of the wind stops us 10 steps short of the peak. When we return, we get to know that the wind had almost blown off the auto down the cliff, if not it were for the four boys who held on to it until the wind subsided. We visit Sitalayangiri on the return. It is too late to visit Baba Budangiri, but we stop to see a mahout with his elephant in an estate. The mahout tells us the elephant needs its dose of brandy to pull the timber.
08:00 A.M. : Take the bus to Belur
The 42 wall brackets of Shalabhanjikas(female beauties) in the outer wall of the Chennakeshava temple in the Triyambaka style represent fluid movements. We hired guide for 200 bucks to learn more about the place and it was definitely worth taking one.
The Halebidu temple though similar in style to the Belur temple, is more magnificent with intricately carved Gods and Goddesses and various scenes from Mahabharata, etc. on the outer wall. The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva took 119 years to complete.
03:00 P.M. : Take an auto to the Jain temples at Halebidu.
The pillars are known for their mirror finish. The place turned out much in need of maintenance; it was dark and smelt of bat faeces.
04:00 P.M. : Take the bus to Hassan
As our bus neared the outskirts of Hassan, we come across open drains and filthy outskirts of the city. The greenery of the villages is replaced by the clutter and filth of cities.
05:00 P.M. : Take bus to Bangalooru
And with that, our eventful four-day trip of the Western Ghats in North Kannada comes to an end.