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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.