January 23, 2015

Shivanasamudra- Gaganachukki Falls

Asia's first hydro electric power station at Shivanasamudra is a popular getaway from Bangalore. Shivanasamudra is well known for its twin waterfalls- Gaganachukki and Barachukki, both separated by a few kilometers. Gaganachukki has multiple falls as Cauvery winds its way through the numerous rocks and cascades into the pool below. With numerous falls, it resembles a miniature version of Hoganekkal falls in Dharmapuri. The white waters, the rocks and the lush greenery creates an enchanting landscape. The well paved steps leads to a viewpoint which offers brilliant vistas of the gorgeous falls. Dargah Hazrath Mardane Gaib near Gaganachukki falls is another attraction at Shivanasamudra. The place is quite crowded during the weekends and there are numerous vendors selling various thirst quenchers. Beware of the mischievous monkeys who can snatch your belongings.

Gaganachukki falls
Gaganachukki falls
Barachukki, located a few kilometers away from Gaganachukki is the other twin which makes Shivanasamudra a river island. Unlike Gaganachukki, one can reach the base of Barachukki by hiring a coracle. Monsoon or post monsoon is the best time to visit these twin falls.

Route- Bengaluru- Kanakapura- Malvalli- Shivanasamudra
Distance- 138 Kms

January 12, 2015

Irpu Falls- Tumbling Over Boulders...!!

I contemplated my visit to Irpu falls as I browsed through the web, speculating the volume of water in the month of December. Could not gather much information, but the photographs that Google threw up made me decide. I was going. Located very close to the Kerala- Karnataka border, Irpu falls under the Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuary in Coorg district. Also referred to as Lakshmnana theertha falls, this 52 meter high thundering falls is a tributary of  Cauvery and has a very popular Shiva shrine near by.

Driving through the green and serene Rajiv Gandhi national park (Nagarhole forest) was a delight. The engulfing silence was broken when a few dholes (wild dogs) crossed my path.They loitered around for a while, posed for my camera and trudged back into the dense forest. Dholes hunt in packs and are commonly see in Nagarhole and Bandipur national parks. Herds of deer gave company throughout the drive and so did a couple of langurs.The long drive through the forest ended when coffee estates propped up everywhere. While in Coorg, coffee is ubiquitous. Crossed the border town of Kuta and a detour off the main road led to the base of Irpu falls. The place gets quite crowded during the weekends.

Dholes in Nagarhole national park
The spread out Brahmagiri range stood before me, intimidating everything else in its vicinity. A small forest trail from the base of the hills, climbs its way through the thick foliage. The splashing waters were quite audible even at the start of the trail. That was a relief and my speculations were put to rest. As I climbed the steps, 'Papilio Buddhas' (Malabar  Banded Peacock) welcomed me. Endemic to the western ghats, these colourful butterflies could be seen fluttering everywhere but were quite tough to capture on my lens. The climb ended in less than 10 minutes and the gorgeous Irpu surfaced, amidst the boulders and greenery.

The water volumes though not impressive from a distance, looked beautiful as I walked closer to it. The cascading falls was a delight as its splashed itself on to the big boulders and sprayed all over as it made its way down through the forest. The protruding boulders on the sides are a great place to climb over and watch the falls. The slippery, moss laden rocks encapsulating the falls looked equally beautiful and made a gorgeous setting. Papilio Buddhas and the sun's rays made some brilliant colours as both cut across and fluttered all over the lovely Irpu. There were a couple of small pools near the base which enticed most visitors to sit by the rocks and dip their feet into the cold waters. Being a weekend, the place was quite crowded and people happily made their way to the falls to cool themselves on a warm afternoon.

It is permitted to get close to the falls and go beneath it only post the rains (after October). Irpu has a completely different character during the monsoons. It is impossible to get anywhere near the falls  and the boulders are hardly visible as the majestic falls is at its fiercest best then with humungous volumes of water. The view point, somewhere midway on the climb, is the best place to witness the falls between June and September. I wasn't disappointed as I had expected an even worse scenario with just a trickle of water. However, a visit during the rains is definitely recommended to witness the majestic Irpu. It is also possible to trek further up, but requires permission and is possible only with a forest guide.

Signing Note- A gorgeous ambiance amidst the verdant greenery...!!

Route- Bangalore- Mandya- Srirangapatna- Hunsur- Nagarhole national park- Kuta- Irpu falls
Distance- 245 Kms
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