After a gap of around 4 to 5 months, I decided to have a break from my busy routine and join Bangalore Trekking Club for another expedition. It was then when my fiance Siddarth suggested about an upcoming Bandajje trek. We immediately registered for this event and had our fingers crossed, hoping that both of us get selected. And there it was, the list of shortlisted members, with both of our names on it. From that day onwards it just seemed like an endless wait filled with anticipation and excitement to get ‘back to nature’
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The meeting point was Shantala silks, opposite Kempegowda bus terminal 3. I and Siddharth reached quite early and others started showing up close to 10pm with their big trekking bags which made me wonder, was my  backpack too small? Another BTC group, heading for twin waterfalls was also present there. Since Siddharth had recently done a one day trek and tree plantation event with Bangalore Trekking Club, he knew quite a lot of them already while I looked around with the hopes of finding familiar faces and possibly making some new friends.

We made an attempt on getting an early start the next morning but the fog was so thick that it was actually impossible to see the route. Visibility was very poor but our handy driver managed to drive us through the dense fog and we reached our starting point safely.

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It was around 6 am in the morning when we saw a man running and waving towards us. That person was our homestay owner Sandeep. If he hadn’t waved at us, we would have probably missed the turn. The Ballige Homestay was cozy, small with a big parking and garden space amidst the lush green forest. It was impossible not to notice the striking bountiful nature around us and another addition to this beautiful setting was the small waterfall at the back yard of the house. Sandeep, his wife and their cute daughter Ibanni were waiting to welcome us and walk us through the property. After deciding the rooms and settling down, it was time for some yummy breakfast, followed by an introduction session.

The plan for the day was to climb the mountain ranges of western ghats till we reach Bandajje falls. The trek is locally recognized as Bandajje arbi. Arbi means falls in Tulu language. We took one jeep and one car to travel to the starting point of the trek. Few kilometers of twists and turns and we reached our destination, from where our expedition began. Sushma (organizer) and the guide were leading the trail while Chaitanya (Organiser) was making sure that none of us is left far too behind. I was enjoying my initial climb when one of the trekkers warned us about the leeches

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I have done quite a few treks in the past but this was my first encounter with leeches.  I started to panic a little bit as I watched an army of leeches coming out from all directions. By the time, we reached the dry pasture, I got my first leech bite. Bandajje climb is a combination of many ups and downs through grasslands, meadows, and forest areas. There was this one point where we took a stop for some pics and to see an edge of the mountain shaped like a gorilla nose.

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Somewhere close to noon we reached the place from where we could see Netravathi river flowing down with her swift course. Usually we enjoy waterfalls from grounds but this was from a different vantage point and the views of the cliff of cascading 200ft waterfall was a sight to behold! The view was amazing and the water clean and cold. Most of us had a nice cold water bath in the natural pool.

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Before leaving the guest house, everybody had packed their lunch and after the cold dip everyone had built up quite an appetite. We gorged on our delicious home made food of lemon rice (chitranna) and curd rice along with some chips.

After a short rest, it was time for us to head back. The return trek wasn’t that exhausting. The sky was not very bright and the trail was familiar. While we made our way down we again had to pass through the wet area which was aptly titled ‘Leech zone’. This time around I made a dash for it and it was the only way I could get out of this ‘leechy’ situation. The trek ended with yet another amazing view at Ranibagilu sunset point. Candid sunset pics were captured in each of our cameras and mobiles and the day ended with tasty homestay dinner and conversations by the campfire.

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Day 2 

We decided to split on day 2 , while a few went for an early morning hike, I decided to head towards a view point called Mydadi, from where one can view the Malavantige forest and Gadaikal monolithic mountain. We came across a waterfall here as well and decided to go for another much needed cold dip.

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 We were back just in time for lunch and though the plan was to leave Ballige at 4pm and visit a few tea estates before leaving, we ended up visiting Sandeep’s(homestay owner) coffee shop since it was a Sunday and all estates remain closed. I tasted one of the best coffee I have ever had at Sandeep’s Coffee place. The shop was full of yummy goodies including homemade wine and after a quick shopping sprint, we started off for our journey back to Bangalore.
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On the way back we stopped for dinner at Annapurneshwari temple and tried the Pulliogere rice, a must have! But this adventurous trip as far from over as we had a busted a tyre on the way somewhere near Hasan. It was only around 3:30 am that we managed to fit in the spare and reach Bangalore by 8 am. Thankfully everyone made it to office on time the next day and the weekend ended on quite a positive and thrilling note.
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 Folks, Bandajje is nice and less discovered trek, so if you want some time away from the crowd, try heading there on any weekend and if you want a join a group, the Bangalore Trekking Club is a great place to meet like-minded individuals and trekkers who organize treks every other weekend.
For more information on travel destinations and homestays, visit ourwebsite and you might just end up finding your next travel inspiration!
By Neha Pathak (Rightstay Design Team)