Every now and then we aught to go on a trip. It’s goodness has been much talked about and the world (online and offline) is replete with reasons and coercion for it. But we don’t really get down to doing it as much as as we’d love to. Unless of course, your blog has reached the state of funding your livelyhood.
This post is about one of those rare times when you can scrape off a daytrip from your regular weekend. It’s about a short, nothing special, no frills roadtrip to as small a destination – Bangalore to Shivanasamudram and back in a day.
We had heard about the place and it had been around on our radar for a while. The little attraction (or rather a tiny collection of attractions as it turned out), gives you just that perfect little dose of escape. There’s the over a century old hydro-electric power station (1902, Asia’s first ever) around a natural cliff area where the river Kabini flows. The river splits into two main distributaries and each of them form a separate waterfall – the Gaganchukki and the bigger one, Bharachukki. We made our own postulates towards the names of the two waterfalls but that’s a bit too vague to put down.
On our way, we took a little detour. We had heard of the Pyramid Valley as well. A spiritual center a little off town. While it was not on our plans for the day, seeing the signboards on the sides of the road made us think, “Oh why not!”
The Pyramid Valley – detour and first impressions
The detour was nice enough. We never had any expectations set and after a good amount of traveling, I figure that is the best way to go about any trip. My previous experiences with spiritual or religious venues in India had been nothing short of alarming. Pyramid Valley was sober enough. There weren’t too many donation boxes to edge you to thinking they were not really asking for donations as much as payments, the guards were actually polite, the place was pretty quiet. The free lunch providers did not seem like they were doing the public the biggest favour ever and hence being nasty about it.
The place was clean, the massive pyramid turned out to be made of canvas but looked pretty. It was quiet if not outright serene. Lots have sworn to the place’s peace though, so you might be better off trusting the majority. What we did wonder about was what happened when it rained. I meditated (tried to), my wife took a walk with my dad. Had lunch there, and we were soon off.
The drive to Shivanasamudram
Many had complained about the condition of the roads. We found it to be liveable. They were certainly not the best around but there were no yawning potholes either. Segments that were truly bad had work being done on them. There are a couple of checkposts before you enter the hydro-electric power plant’s premises (the falls and the viewing points are inside it) and entrance is free. The folks at the gates were ever so polite to show us the way. At one point, you’ll actually be driving on top of the dam.
Gaganchukki is the first falls that will come your way and it’s a pretty enough sight. There aren’t too many tourists or commercial establishments which kept the place clean. It’s essentially a viewing point and the actual falls are a bit far off. Don’t spend too much time here. We moved on towards the bigger of the two falls and whose bottom you can climb down to.
At Bharachukki, there are very steep steps that lead down to the fall’s base but climbing up and down can get pretty taxing. There were tiny shacks selling local fruits which was interesting. There were monkeys too! And well behaved ones at that! If you have traveled India, you’ll know just how notorious monkeys can get in this part of the world. Bangkok’s monkey thieves will seem tame compared to the Indian varieties, let me assure you.
At the base
Once we climbed down to the base, there were these kind of cute local boats. They were made out of tar and bamboo and were round in shape. You can go for rides on them, but we skipped that. Watching them seemed at that time quite enough compared to the meager distance they took you to anyway (maybe 50 yards or so into the water).
Hiking up to the actual place where the water touches the pool can be a bit treacherous though – sharp and slippery rocks under the streaming waters. Lots of people bathing there, so if you are not particularly fond of hairy Indian men in shorts splashing about in the water, you might want to admire the beauty from where the steps end. The difference is not much.
The place does make for some cool photography subjects (for landscape lovers). Specially if you time your trip to end during dusk. On the way back, we found a couple of vendors selling the sweetest papayas we had eaten in a long while. Dad wanted to check out the small settlement nearby. It’s quirky, that place, and very closely built, being right at the edge of the cliff.
There were a few shops selling fried fish and some others selling trinkets. The hamlet is not really geared to welcome tourists which is such a good change. The drive back home took about two hours without any stop, and the daytrip left some simple and clean memories to write about.