For fellow travellers: Two stories on Sharavathi Valley

In January I was invited by Jungle Lodges & Resorts to experience the Sharavathi Adventure Camp. Three full days and two nights of discovery, water-sports and nature-worship followed. I wrote two pieces (three, if you include a blog post on The Green Ogre) about my experiences at Sharavathi:

Sharavathi Valley - Kayaking

Kayaking in the Talakalale Balancing Reservoir in Sharavathi Valley

Sharavathi – Where life’s gifts come in small packages – JLR Explore

“This is the off-season.”

“Jog Falls would be a trickle.”

“There are hardly any birds in the reservoir.”

“There is no wildlife movement there.”

“There is no cellular network.”

Except for the last, none of the above statements can be deemed a suitable advertisement for a wildlife adventure destination. No elephants, no tigers, not even a guaranteed leopard sighting? Why bother going? The paucity of “charismatic mega-mammalian fauna” (to quote a naturalist friend, tongue firmly in cheek) is a deterrent for the trophy-hunting breed of wildlife tourist. This, however, was my greatest motivation for jumping at the opportunity to explore the environs of Sharavathi Adventure Camp.

On the short, picturesque drive from the decadent railway station at Talguppa, I counted at least one foraging Grey Junglefowl every hundred metres until I had to stop counting. Every other kilometre flushed harems of peafowl, some with chicks in attendance. Emerald Doves shot from the road and melted into the verdure. At one bend, Red Spurfowl scuttled for cover. As our vehicle sliced through the rising mist, a male Paradise Flycatcher streaked past, chestnut streamers trailing. Lithe-limbed langurs loped away to safety, grimacing at the dust our jeep whisked up. Giant squirrels, not morning persons, chuck-chucked irritably from the treetops.

Of wildlife movement, there was enough to get my blood up.

Sharavathi Adventure Camp scores full marks for location. Hugging a hillside, its earth-red cottages stippling wooded slopes, it gazes upon the steel-blue expanse of the Talakalale Balancing Reservoir studded with numerous jade-green islets. This smaller water body maintains a more or less constant level through the year fed by inflow from the sprawling 300-square-kilometre reservoir of the Linganamakki Dam on the Sharavathi River. Outflow from the dam determines the majesty or misery, as it were, of Jog Falls, which plunges 464 metres along four principal torrents at the zenith of its glory following peak monsoon. Suffice to say that this dry winter had activated misery mode.

Read more on JLRExplore >>

Sharavathi Valley - Viewpoint

A view of the Sharavathi Valley from the viewpoint

Weekend vacations: a digital detox – Mint/ Livemint

Far from the clutches of social media, a weekend in the company of birdsong, forests and water

I have driven many times towards Jog Falls in the Sharavathi Valley, but I never made that last-mile turn towards the Sharavathi Adventure Camp. It is the end of the road. Literally.

The long winding road begins on the outskirts of Bengaluru and bumps along highways until, after 400-odd kilometres, it veers off on to a strip of rutted macadam. Ripening rice and millet fields exude a warm, rich scent. Birdsong wafts from patches of semi-deciduous forest waging a desperate battle against the invasion of areca-nut monoculture. Then, shimmering through the latticework of lanky bamboo tucked into pockets of woolly green hills, a vast sheet of water announces itself.

But though I’m adventurous, driving 400-plus kilometres for a weekend holiday wasn’t my idea of chilling. I got a good night’s sleep aboard the overnight train from Bengaluru to Talguppa, the nearest railhead for Jog Falls.

I was there, and I wasn’t feeling touristy enough to make Jog Falls my destination. I had been advised that India’s second-highest plunge waterfall would disappoint in the dry season, although it is spectacular from July-September, when it’s fed by the monsoon outflow from the Linganamakki dam.

Read more on Livemint >>

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