Wednesday, March 1, 2006

The Honnemardu Trip

Trek Name: The Honnemardu Trip
Destination: Honnemardu
Dates: 08-Mar-2003, 09-Mar-2003
Participants: Chandan, John(Machan), Kannan(Chetti), Kuruvilla(Kuru), Manesh(Nair), Sangeeth(Aliyan), Sonu, Sudeep(Robo), Suresh(Warri), Sushen
Photos: Sushen's
Route to Base:
Bangalore =>
Trek Route:
Trek Map:
Altitude Profile:
Bunch of Useless Facts:

Most of the regular members of our usual trekking gang had gone onsite. Still we were able to muster up enough people to go for a trip to Honnemardu, a serene spot nestled in the catchment area of Linganamakki Dam across Sharavathi river. This is not exactly a trek, but can be counted as an experience in the wilderness.

The Adventurers is a non-profit organisation, involved in the conservation of Western Ghats and the ecologically fragile region of Honnemardu. Bookings have to be done in their Rajaji Nagar office at least two weeks prior to the planned visit. Normally, weekends are heavily booked.

Warri and I set out one day to book the date and also to pay the per head per day charge of Rs.500. After a long hunt for the house and lots of whinings from Warri (There was an India-Pakistan cricket match that day), we finally booked 08-Mar-2003 for 10 people.

We booked a Tempo Traveller from Prerana Tours and Travels, Jayanagar (Phone: 91-80-2664 2223) as usual. The driver was Mr. Umesh.

We started on a Friday night. The way to Honnemardu was beautiful. Shimoga district was lush green even in the summer season. By Saturday morning, when we woke up inside the van, we saw that the road was covered with dense fog. When it cleared, we could see the beautiful countryside.

On reaching Honnemardu, we were greeted by a volunteer of the Adventurers. He asked us to form a circle and briefed us on the etiquette and the activities. First we were asked to complete our morning ablutions and use the nature for our you know what.

The breakfast was served then. It consisted of a simple upma and chutney, but was very delicious. We were taken to the water after that. We donned our life jackets and plunged into the water. The sun was hot, but thankfully the water was still cold. We spent an hour swimming, playing frisbee in the water etc. Kuru and Warri were a little reluctant at first, but soon joined in the fun.

After some time, the volunteer came and asked us to lift and put two coracles in the water. The coracles were made of fibre. Being a round boat, it requires a lot of knack to steer it. We learned it the hard way. At first the boat kept going round and round. Kuru, Machan, Sonu, Robo, Aliyan and I got into one while Chetti, Chandan, Warri and Nair got into the other with the volunteer. Owing to a bad start and strong wind we were way behind and in a race to a nearby island we finished a whole five minutes late. The island was bare and it was difficult to stand in the soil, thanks to the over energetic sun. Moreover none of were wearing any footwear.

We soon went back to the mainland. After lunch, we were told to rest for some time in a small house atop a hillock.

In the evening we again donned our life jackets and went to get the coracles. We went to the main island to pitch camp. The first job was to collect some firewood, while it was still light enough to see. Afterwards, we went to the waterfront in the opposite side of the island for more watergames. The Linganamakki dam was very much visible from this side. We watched the sunset sitting atop a rock enjoying the cool breeze.

When the night fell, we went back to the camp. The tent was already pitched by the volunteers. It was a sort of permanent tent with thick poles and stuff. I think it is not dismantled very often.

The volunteer taught us how to make a decent fire in criss-cross fashion. The bigger logs are kept at the bottom and the smaller ones on top. The whole contraption caught fire very easily. It reminded us of the numerous times we had wasted kilos of paper and litres of petrol trying to light a simple roadside fire.

We sat around the fire and sang some songs. By this time food arrived and was served. We had our fill and lay down to sleep. Though the tent was available, all of us lied down in the open. It was one of those rare occasions when you feel euphoric. Lying down staring at the stars in the sky, with a cool wind for company.

The next day morning we rode our coracles back to the mainland. Inspite of our very valiant efforts (like getting a headstart of about 5 minutes), the other coracle soon overtook us. We were debriefed in the mainland. Umesh was waiting for us with the van.

We went straight to Jog Falls. It was a big disappointment. India's tallest waterfall was all but dried up. There was a trickle of water falling down from one of the four main waterfalls Raja, Rani, Rocket and Roarer. But apart from that nothing.

There was a flight of steps leading to the base of the falls. Chetti wanted to go down have a bath in whatever water was available at the bottom and come up. The committee immediately conevened a meeting and vetoed the idea. (The Committee consists of all practically minded members, which automatically excludes Chetti).

It was at this precise time that a guide approached us and offered his services. He said he will show us 4 points which included a place to take bath. We jumped at the idea.

He first took us to the opposite side of the falls, to an old and abandoned bungalow of the British era. There was a good view of the river from this side. He went on talking endlessly about how big the waterfall is and that it is the tallest waterfall in the world. Seems Niagara Falls comes only second to this. We wanted to point out that Jog Falls with a height of 253 metres is anyway not in contention for the top spot and that Niagara Falls with a height of just 51 metres doesn't come anywhere in the picture. The tallest one, Angel Falls being a whole 979 metres high. But we kept quiet.

Then he took us to a small hanging bridge and told us that this was the second point. There was nothing to see in it. Well, a hanging bridge is a hanging bridge. We got fed up and asked him to take us to the place where he said we can take bath.

This was an ok place. It was more like a canal cut for irrigation. But it had ample water to accomodate all of us. We frolicked for some time and decided to go back.

On the way back, Umesh told us that there was a wild life sanctuary at Tavakkare, which was on the way. We decided to see some tigers for a change.

We took the necessary tickets and boarded a dilapidated tour bus. Once inside the enclosure we saw that the whole thing was not much bigger than a zoo. The name "wild life sanctuary" was a misnomer for this. Only thing was that the cages are big, and with the bus you are actually entering the cage.

There were quite a few tigers and a few lions inside. Of course, they were separately housed. Further, there were a few herbivores too in another enclosure.

After half an hour of "wild-life safari" we got down and boarded our van again for the return journey to Bangalore.