Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Travelogue - A car, a waterfall and a beach

This is a backlog post of another of my trips and a long one at that. It is more than 2 months since the visit, and I referred to it in my last travelogue at the end. This trip was worth remembering for all the trauma it caused us. :-) Back to the topic, this time, the quickfire target of a trip was to head to Jog Falls (a.k.a. Gersoppa Falls) and then maybe drive on to Karwar. In a space of around 2 weeks or so, we were getting to see two of India's tallest straight drop waterfalls, the earlier one being at Kodaikanal. And so, it was. I had fixed a tyre puncture earlier in the day by myself. (Señora gets into a fit whenever I do anything with the car, the tyres especially. I have a tubeless tyre puncture kit and portable compressor and so I can pretty much fix a flat tyre (tubeless, that is) after taking the wheel out. You see, I am a hands-on person. :) :) :)) Headed out from Bengaluru on a Saturday afternoon along with parents, and planned to halt at Shimoga for the night and then head further north to Jog in the morning. Boy!, I underestimated the amount of circus that needed to be done inside Bengaluru to get to the outskirts. I had been complaining of digging for the Metro on the road that I take to home and this was far worse. Chock-a-block traffic, dug out roads, unopened fly-overs waiting for some politico to open, bad drivers and by the time we hit the outskirts of Bengaluru, it was 4:00 PM and we were sapped.

As we approached Arsikéré at dusk, we were pushed off the road into the gravel by a mad oncoming driver and while getting back on to the road at a fair speed, one of the tyres scraped a jagged road edge. Didn't notice the damage till we reached Arsikéré for dinner, a few minutes later. Post dinner, saw that one tyre was flat. My stepney was already a weak tyre with a tube fitted in it and I thought I'll get the current one fixed before I move on. Inflated the tyre and then headed to a roadside puncture shop which had no lights and got two tyres patched (including the one which I had fixed in the morning) using light from a halogen street light. By the time we reached Shimoga, it was well past midnight and all hotels were full. Found a nothing-to-write-about accommodation for the night and then headed to Jog in the morning.

Though I do not have a base in Shimoga to write about it, I can associate to it for the 'vadu maangaa' (tender mango, Maavina Midii in Kannada) pickles that my cousin gets from one of her relatives at Mathoor, the Sanskrit speaking village, which is on the route from Shimoga to Thirthahalli. The mangoes are so crunchy and tasty that I smack my lips just thinking of it. :-D We usually get 2 or 3  jars every year which is apportioned amongst near and dear (with a larger portion for us. :)) This year was a dry one since my cousin couldn't make it to there. We got only one small jar in 2010 (no sharing this time and I flicked the entire jar) and right now, there maybe just one or two mangoes floating in the brine. We were actually discussing if we should call my cousin and ask for her relatives' address and pickup some jars of the same, but decided against it. :-) The other place where we usually look out for 'helluva tasting pickles' is at the Biligiri Rangana Bettaa (B R hills) near Kollegal, in a small eatery on the way to the Ranganathaswamy temple.The pickles from the forest produce like gooseberry, mango, mango-ginger,carrots etc taste just as divine as the beautiful Ranga there.

The Jog in October-November
The Roarer sliding to join the Raja midway
It was uneventful, till we reached Jog. Jog was not at its prettiest (or for that matter, scariest). The flow was less and it wasn't an 'awe' spectacle, neither was it awful. Water from the Linganamakki reservoir feeds the falls (the four branches named Raja, Roarer, Rocket and Rani from left to right) and it is throttled down upstream at the dam. We were there in the off-season. :( We were thinking of going down to the bottom of the falls, but dropped it on figuring that it was a 3-4 hour odyssey. After the customary clicks, headed to the other bank of Sharavathi where you can stand at the head of the falls and look down the gorge. This is the place made famous by the Kannada movie, Mungaaru Malé (meaning (Pre)Monsoon Rains) which showed Jog in angles never before seen in movies.
Jog - Another view. The steps leading to
the base of the falls snake far away
It is an experience lying on a flat bed of rock that abuts the falls and then peep down to see water tumble on a straight drop of almost a thousand feet, especially the Raja falls. I did this with vertigo and butterflies in my stomach and there were people who were standing just a feet or two from where the drop begins. After the vertigo inducing view, headed back to lunch and yo!, one of the fixed tyres at Arsikéré was going flat. Pumped it again, but the leak seemed severe and so started the tyre replacement at the Jog Falls
The Raja falling. The rock (top left
corner) is where the vertigo view is.
parking lot with a motley crowd of taxi drivers watching me professionally take the wheel apart (looks like the running air compressor caught their fancy and they were asking me where I got it, how much etc :-)) Señora was red with rage with this tyre change tamasha (she says she warned me ahead of time to get the tyres fixed and I must have been day-dreaming when she said that ;-)). Headed to Honnavara (50 kms away from Jog) which is close to the coast, after climbing down the ghats (3/4ths of this segment had bad roads) and from where Karwar was another 50 kms north. We reached Karwar just in time for the sunset.

Sunset at the Tagore Beach at Karwar with the sunset mode enabled on the camera
We were at the Rabindranath Tagore beach and went and stood in the water. I am impelled to break into verse just recollecting it.
So calm a beach, so white the sands,
So less a crowd, and the feet washed grand;
So lovely the skies, so green the hills,
So fine a place, the heart has had its fill.

Entering Karwar (from Goa side)
The Kali river bridge beckons
Tagore had been here when he was 22 and he wrote his first play there. After a very nice couple or so hours at the beach, building sand castles, watching crabs, eating nuts and watching an anchored ship glowing in its night lights, headed towards our hotel, meantime stopping at an Udipi restaurant for dinner. While getting down, noticed that the other tyre was half flat. Here we were, in the middle of nowhere (ok, close to Karwar, but still) with 2 flat tyres. Pumped up the leaky tyre and headed quickly to a hotel (Kamat) which was just across from where the wide-wide river Kali meets the Arabian Sea.
River Kali's sangama(m) with the Arabian Sea
The next morning saw me do a double tyre change procedure and fixing a flat one with the puncture kit. It was a gorgeous view out of the Kamat hotel that overlooks the sangama(m) of the Kali river and the sea. A sand bar marks where the merge is.
Naval Warship Museum
Since it was Kannada Rajyotsava day, we weren't sure of any of the shops being open to get the tyres fixed. The plan was to go to Om beach near Gokarna and then head back to Bengaluru. We meanwhile visited the Naval warship museum, which was a real warship, beached and converted into a museum. Went into and around it and got a feel of the claustrophobic lives the sailors endure. We then headed into Karwar for the tyre fix. Found a shop open, bought a tube for the tubeless tyre (!), got it fixed (and unfortunately I put it in as a stepney) and then headed to Om beach.
The Sharavathi backwaters from the Linganamakki

Till Gokarna, it was fine. Stopped there to have lunch and to our dismay, found that the flat tyre that had been fixed at the hotel in the morning had conked. Did another tyre replacement with the reinforced tyre (fitted with a tube at Karwar) in the hot sun, with a river of sweat flowing. It was quick! 10 minutes and a wheel swapped. That was fast! Experience does matter :-)
Sandelicious - Devbagh beach
Dropped plans for Om beach (just around 8 kms away from there) and then headed back towards Bengaluru for a 400 km journey, with no stepney to fall-back on. Señora gave a respite for me at the wheel by taking over while the sweat vaporated. We were in two minds as to whether to go to Udipi and then take the Charmadi Ghats or take the same route via Jog back. Took the Jog route since we didn't want to get stranded on the ghats in case misfortune befell the tyres and also that the coastal highway was bad from Honnavara towards Udipi. :) As we climbed towards Jog, stopped by briefly to look at the Sharavathi backwaters. We saw a large natural waterfall on the way (no name) before we passed Jog. By the time we crossed Shimoga, it had become dark with almost 270 more kms to Bengaluru. Parents were worried and suggested stopping over for the night at Bhadravati or maybe Arsikéré.

A waterfall en route, nameless
We reached Arsikéré for dinner when rain started pouring. We were almost 160+ kms away from destination and we (me and Señora, acting against her policy of no driving (nor allowing me to) on the highways at night) decided to hit the road in spite of the rain. And the drive in the rain started, with an Ilaiyaraaja hits CD keeping company, the AC on with the heater (to defog), a lone dark road ahead except for a few vehicles that we passed or those that came in the opposite direction. It is such a trance inducing feeling (for me) with a sheet of rain battering the windshield, a near empty road and the headlamps shining bright showing the slivers of rain and the drone of the car at a constant speed.

The rain followed us (or rather we were in the middle of it) for almost 120 kms all the way through Tumkur and till the outskirts of Bengaluru. Reached home at around 1:00 AM, safe and with no more tyre incidents. Señora's scorching glares thereafter, whenever I went near the car made me scoot to a tyre dealer and change all 5 tyres on the car, spending a fortune. Do not go near the tyres again, failing which the consequences shall be dire!, the lady spaketh thus, and the man humbly followeth. :-) After all this tyre flipping, I think I can add a new skill into my work profile, that of a qualified 4 wheeler tyre changer/fitter. :-)
The vertigo video. Lowered the quality of the video, but nevertheless

And thus ended a longgg trip. Have to do a specific "Karwar and surroundings" trip, for that place is beautifully beautiful. Makes me wish Bengaluru should have had a beach close by to make it complete! Sigh! I close by quoting Tagore on Karwar. "The sea beach of Karwar is certainly a fit place in which to realize the beauty of nature is not a mirage of imagination, but reflects the joy of the infinite and thus draws us to lose ourselves into it."


zeno said...

Title could have been "பஞ்சர் பஞ்சர் மேலும் பஞ்சர்"

Anonymous said...

panjer tyrelaam fix panuvela...kalakrel pongo...jog falls....hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm......semma gud memories there...had a fantastic time with friends...

Ramesh said...

Nice long post displaying all the manifold skills - puncture buster, vadu maanga connoisseur, in form photographer, Senora "manager" , budding F1 driver, ....

Mmmmmmm ....

Swaram said...

Gud one Ramesh. LOL @ Senora manager.
Ages since I visited Jog :(
I luvv that sunset pic @ Karwar!

RamMmm said...

@zeno-[In Vadivelu style] பஞ்சராககிட்டாங்கயா பஞ்சராககிட்டாங்க. :-) Anyway, that was too many punctures for the trip. Was always on tenterhooks about when one of the tyres would give way. :-) சில கார் டிரைவருங்களுக்கு இதெல்லாம் சகஜமப்பா! :-D

@gils-vidiya vidiya raamayanam kaettuttu seethaikku raaman siththappaavaannu kaekkureengalae, nallaa irukkaa? :-) Yaedho nammaalaana udhavi, fuse checking, air filter cleaning, battery checking idhellaam pannuvaen, thanni adichchu thodaippaen (andha 'thanni' illa, sollittaen). :-) Trips with friends are usually memorable for one or the other reason. :-) :-)

@Ramesh-Enna saar, damage pannitteenga, Senora managernnu solli? :-D. You left ambiguity there. You've to clarify if it is [Senora, the manager] or [Senora's manager] or [One who manages Senora's diktats]? :-) :-)

@Swaram-:-D After I posted, I saw in yesterday's newspaper that the Tagore beach is supposedly off-limits to commoners because some part of it has been taken over by defence folks. :-( Actually it is only a sunset sky there. From Tagore beach, you cannot see the sun setting, since the hills impede the view and the hills are owned by defence folks. :-|

Anonymous said...

Puncture pakkara puranam padichu ennalaiye mudiyala,senora paavam.
LoL @ //I underestimated the amount of circus that needed to be done inside Bengaluru to get to the outskirts//

chennaigirl said...

Photographs are really beautiful.Puncture,puncture, puncture apparam puncture sssss sollarathukkulla moochu vangarthu, paavam ellarum. Actually whenever we go to bangalore, kandippa there would be a puncture episode.So i keep my ears sharp for any strange noise - cos last time the tyre got shredded into pieces :(

R-ambam said...

wonderful picture s RamMmm.
Nice presentation!!

RamMmm said...

@ambulisamma-:-D Señora was used to the puncture puraanam earlier. If it was inside the city, you can do something. In this case, 'what if we get stuck in a forest?' was the rhetoric. :-)

@chennaigirl-:-D Thanks. We saw a car at Arsikere with a shredded tyre. :-) Enna pannaradhu! Anubhavikkanumnu ezhudhiyirukku, anubhavichchaachchu. :-)

@R-ambam-:-D Thanks.