Wednesday, July 22, 2009

MONSOON MAGIC PART-1

It’s been bad news about the deficit rainfall in the Northern parts of India so far this year. What started as a slow and perceived deficient rainfall even in Southern India, especially coastal Karnataka and Goa, ended up being surplus by mid July. Although late, copious rains have filled the State’s reservoirs. I witnessed heavy rainfall in coastal Karnataka, Goa and generally the Western Ghats area during this monsoon season during my travels there. I encountered swollen lakes and rivers, broken embankments and general flooding all over the coastal areas between the Western Ghat mountains and the Arabian Sea.


(Muddy swollen rivers all along the roads in coastal Karnataka)

I took a short, well deserved break, in between hectic hospital visits with my dad and the timing coincided with the delivery of my new apartment in Goa, so I decided to head over there by road from Mysore. My plan, although hastily arranged, was to leave Mysore early morning and head up to Jog Falls by lunchtime and after a couple of hours there, we’d leave for Goa and reach the same evening. Jog falls is best seen when the monsoon fury is tapering and the Linganamakki dam over the Sharavathi River is full. Jog Falls is also the highest plunge waterfall in India, falling from a height of about 829 feet. My trip was in the middle of the monsoon and hence what I saw was quite a spectacle but perhaps wasn’t at maximum flow/volume of water.


(Jog Falls July 2009)

Setting out early in the morning from Mysore on an overcast day, the day promised to be a comfortable ride till we started to hit the roads going to Shimoga and believe me, astronauts may have had a better ride on the lunar rover on the lunar surface. Portions of the Highways were badly pitted. My driver also managed to nick a bus, damaging the rear door a bit, while negotiating through the crazy labyrinth of streets that make up Shimoga. It was just after noon when we reached Sagar and Jog Falls, which was perfect, schedule-wise.

I was told by friendly local touts who hang around offering to take photos of people with the falls in the background, that one can view the falls from at least 5 different places. I managed two locations on this trip, the idea being not to spend more than two hours in Jog, after all I had to head down the mountains to coastal Karnataka and Goa the same evening.


(Here's a short video I took of Jog Falls)

The main view of the Falls is from a viewing area directly in front of it. The tourism guys have built platforms and steps to accommodate a large number of people who come to view the falls. The main area also has some accommodation facilities and restaurants. Another popular viewpoint is the one from across the main viewing area, in a place called the British Bungalow. I guess the Brits built it during their heyday in India, the small Bungalow now eclipsed by a large new edifice that will serve as an inn or hotel in the near future. If time permits, I recommend an arduous climb down the steps to the foot of the falls when the weather is right. Don’t forget the even more arduous climb back, up to the car park/bus stop area! I had done this trek long back and it was more arduous then, I don’t remember the steps being as good as it is now.


(Another short video of the falls from the main viewing area)

What was mesmerizing was all the mist created by the water falling from such a great height. Clouds of heavy mist would drift in and out, occasionally blanking out the view of the falls and the surrounding hills completely and then vanishing mysteriously. There was intermittent drizzle from the rain, nothing that drenched us but enough to create a magical atmosphere overall. It's no wonder male and female leads in Indian movies break out into song and dance routine in such locales, the environment makes one want to sing and dance! I wouldn't try it, having been born with mediocre voice and two left feet..


(View of the steps leading down to the foot of the falls and the falls viewed from British Bungalow side)

The weather, the journey so far and the views - all combined to give me a good appetite as we headed for one of the two restaurants that were available at site. While the food wasn’t great and ambiance lacking, a hungry stomach can pack in anything. But this is where we as a country, lose the plot. Karnataka tourism can do so much more to improve facilities in such a popular tourist destination but one wonders why nothing is done.

The best thing was the timing of this trip, although unintentional, it is during this time that few people visit the falls. Crowds of visitors had stayed away, maybe because there weren’t any holidays around the corner and perhaps most people visit during the end of the monsoon period. It was quite peaceful for us and that made the visit quite memorable. I had not seen Jog Falls in twenty-five years and had quite forgotten how spectacular it really is. I hope the pictures and video does some justice. The trip down the Ghats to Goa and back will be posted next. That was one rough ride I'd never forget!

15 comments:

avdi said...

Monsoon has failed utterly over here in the north. We are sweltering in humidity without the relief of rain.

Nice shots of Jog Falls.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Avdi, the monsoon has been truant over North and North East Karnataka as well. It's amazing how the moisture is getting trapped by the trees of the Western Ghats and whatever is coming over that is just blowing away as North and NE Karnataka are bereft of trees largely. Several parts of India are drought hit it seems. I hope the remnants of this monsoon does arrive in those drought areas and somewhat mitigate the situation. Thanks for the compliment on the Jog Falls shots.

Kamini said...

That must have been a spectacular drive even with the lunar surface roads. I would love to visit Jog Falls one day.
It's such a shame that due to poor water management, the whole country suffers when the monsoons fail one year.
Best wishes for your father's health.

flowergirl said...

I liked your short videos, where one can hear the thundering of the falls!

I have been there as a child.....but your post inspires me to go again!

Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to you further travels to Goa!

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Kamini: Thanks for your kind wishes for my dad. As for the roads, I thought these were the worst I'd seen but that was far from the truth. Wait for Episode 2 Goa and back to Karnataka on a different road, those roads/highways being perhaps the worst in the World. I agree completely with your thoughts on poor water management in the country. Very true. While I saw extensive flooding from Karwar to Kasargod, all that water was running off to sea carrying the aluvial rich soil. Sad.
The trip overall was a very fun trip. I'd strongly recommend a trip to Jog, especially during and a month or two after the monsoon.

Thanks flowergirl. Jog is worth another visit. My last visit before this one was 25 years ago. It's really worth it. My Goa trips were always in winter or early summer. This was the first time in the monsoon.

Baron's Life said...

An excellent post...I've been following your blog for a while as I find it interesting and educational...Good Luck with your Dad

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Baron's Life: Thanks for visiting and for your kind wishes for my dad. I'm glad you my blog.
Loved all your vintage motorcycle pictures on your blog and the jokes were good fun too.

YOSEE said...

Namma Jog Falls and Shivasamudram never fail to enthrall me, how-many-ever times visited. Agree with you that good eateries and decent lodging facilities are sorely missed. I guess most visitors just pack these sights in " on the way" to other ( packaged) destinations,so the demand may not be pressing.
The background sound in the video evoked much happiness.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Yosee, I saw Shivanasamudra pictures in the local newspaper when I was there and it was in full flow, looking absolutely spectacular.

The ambient sound you hear in the first two videos is a lot of people around me talking and one can hear the falls roaring as well. I liked the sound from the video near the British Bungalow side because I was so near the falls and the sound was deafening and mesmerizing at the same time. I can't explain that feeling in a better way. I'm glad that sound made you happy.

Mungaaru Male', the movie, captured the falls from unique angles. Apparently some shots in that movie were taken from the British Bungalow side and that has made this spot a favorite among those who have seen the movie. I could hear such comments from nearly everyone who were around me, mostly talking about where a particular scene was shot.

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

Hope your father is better.

The videos are good - waterfalls are such a pleasure to watch. I have been to Sivasamudram Falls, is it clse to the Jog Falls?

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Raji Madam for asking about my father. There are a few procedures remaining to be done that may improve his quality of life and I am going back to Mysore on 3rd Aug to help out.

Shivanasamudra is near Mysore and fed by Cauvery River in Mandya district. Jog Falls is far away from Shivanasamudra I think by about 300 + kilometers. Jog is fed by Sharavathi River and is in Shimoga district.

Mitr - Friend said...

Wow... Nice to have found your blog... I'm loving your blog and am following as well...
I've been to Jog falls as a kid and I don't remember well now. Would have to visit again some time...
Do drop into my blog sometime - My Travelogue

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Mitr: Thanks for visiting and following my blog. I did sneak a peek into your blog and will read at leisure, you have very interesting travel topics and I love the sketches you have done on your blog, absolutely fabulous!

Mitr - Friend said...

Hi Capt,
Thanks for ur visit and comments in my blog... Welcome to My Travelogue...
I am so sorry, ur first comment also did not go anywhere. I just kept my comments to pass moderation for posts that are 7 days older or more, so that I dont miss new visitors who comment in old posts. So its now visible in blog..
Thanks a lot for your encouragement. Glad you liked my sketches. And happy that now u know the meaning of Mylapore.
Thanks for the wishes. Do drop in often. Would love your visits and comments.. :)

Mitr - Friend said...

And hope u follow my blog too... :) - My Travelogue