Friday, October 25, 2013

Jog Falls – A day on the banks of Sharavati

From View Point

“Which is the biggest water fall in India?”
“Jog is on which river?”
“Hmmm... Sharavati”

When I was in school, these questions used to appear in history question paper or asked in quiz programs (People now consider ‘Nohkalikai Falls’ of Meghalaya as the tallest plunge waterfall in India).

My journey to Jog was postponed multiple times due to unprecedented heavy rain falls in Western Ghats during the beginning of this monsoon. Because of this I missed a chance to get a glimpse of Jog during those precious months when Sharavati furiously falls in to those gorges. On the other side, because of the same reason, I was able to go all the way to the bottom. If the amount of water is high, then one need to view Jog from a distance.

It was a Friday night; I boarded a BMTC bus to KSRTC’s Magestic bus stand in Bangalore. Traffic was very heavy- travelling each kilometer felt like an eternal wait for the next world. I reached majestic in time and boarded the bus to Jog. After a while, conductor came and verified tickets from a couple of people sitting behind me – interestingly neither he asked me nor did I give my tickets to him. After a while, I got call from an unknown number. I attended the call nothing was audible. After couple of minutes, I got another call from the same number, this time I was not even able to pick that call.

Finally bus started moving, her wipers were working non-stop to clear water from the front glass. Conductor came back and started verifying tickets from all. This time he saw my ticket, hold it for some time, look towards me and told “we called you twice, but you were disconnecting the calls’!!!

Rain was gaining strength.

From Majestic, you will get a lot of buses to Shimoga and some to Sagara as well. However there are only one or two KSRTC buses directly Jog (from Bangalore). In case you are travelling in train you can get down at Shimoga, Sagara, Talaguppa (this one is the closest) and catch a bus.
Close to morning we reached Shimoga, and then Jog. I got down at a stop close to Jog view point. From bus stop view point is hardly 2-3 minutes away. After paying 5 INR for entry (no separate charge for camera) I walked towards the view point. 

Close up

In front of me Sharavati was falling down to great depths, forming one of the biggest waterfalls in India. It was like, a name which I saw only in school text books acquired flesh and blood and standing in front of me. The sad point was, amount of water falling down looked like a skeleton of what it supposed to be. It looked like a poverty stricken kid who was eating only twice in a day for the past three years.

Problem here is the dams, which controls the water flow to the river. In short, if shutters are down then there won’t be much water to fall down in the first place. Moreover, other than monsoon there aren’t many factors which compels the authorities to open the dam.

At this point, waters from Sharavati are falling down to a depth of 290m (or 960ft) in the form of four distinct segments called - Raja, Roarer (which meets Raja on its way down), Rocket and Rani. One can reach the bottom of these falls using steps – 1389 or so – built by authorities. During early monsoons, when Jog is on its majestic shape, this path will be closed.

Here I met a guy called Mathew. He is originally from Thrissur district of Kerala and works here as a guide cum driver for tourists. Along with him, in his taxi, I went to see the power station, Dam, Rani, Raja, Rocket and Roarer falls more closely. After a while we came back and he dropped me at Jog view point.

With Mathew on the way to another view point

Next step was walking to the bottom of the falls through labyrinths of steps, that also with a backpack. People – even the very young and kids coming opposite to me– were struggling to climb the steps. It took a lot of time for me to reach the bottom.

After the steps, it’s river plane. A lot of boulders were blocking the way to go further close to the falls. I walked and jumped over many of them to get a better view.

960ft long gigantic wall was standing on my both sides; water was falling down from the top of it in an animated fashion. That sound and various other sounds produced by river were indeed music to ears. However, other than water, a number of common trees and a group of fearless butterflies there was nothing much to say about flora or fauna. I tried to walk closer to the falls over those slippery boulders and finally sat down over a rock on the river level to see the falls.
I don’t remember how much time I sat there. Finally it was time to leave Jog, hence woke up and turned around. The next thing I remember is waking up from water. Camera was on my one hand, and phone fortunately inside a sealed hand bag. I did the only thing I can do – remove the droplets from it as fast as possible.

Various segments of Jog - from different view points
Finally it’s the time to go up. After seeing the big backpack one guy even wished me good luck. It was really a hard and tiresome journey... At some points numbers of steps are engraved on the stone, to encourage or to discourage? I was completely drenched in sweat by the time I reached the top.

Suddenly two police personal called me from a nearby outpost located close to the view point. They opened my backpack and checked all the items.

“From where you are coming?” (Question was in Kannada)

I didn’t get the meaning at first; second one repeated the question - “From where you are coming?” (in Kannada itself).

I simply told them “Kannada gothilva” (I don’t know Kannada)
By this time I made it out what they were asking, they repeated the question again in English – 

“You are from Bangalore and don’t know Kannada?”
Well for a moment I cursed myself. I could have say – ‘Kerala’ - and there won’t be any unnecessary comments.

In fact what happened was, they saw me sweating and panting that too in an early morning. So they were very much eager to know how I reached there? After hearing that I am coming from the bottom of falls there were no further questions.

Me in Jog

After standing idle in the bus stop for half an hour I got a local bus to Shimoga. My plan was to get down at Sagara and visit ‘Sigandur Chowdeshwari Temple’ if time permits; otherwise go straight to Shimoga. However the bus went very slow, stopping every now and then till I reach 

Jog – Sagar – Shimoga bus route pass through some scenic areas. Light rain added a different flavour to those agri fields and forests.


How to Reach Jog?

By Train:
Talaguppa station (closest one)
Sagar (SRF): For Sagar 30 km

By Bus:
Direct KSRTC buses are available to Jog from Bangalore etc.
Alternately you can take a bus to Shimoga/ Sagara and collect another one to Jog from there.

By Air:
Hubli Domestic Airport (HBX) 130 km.
Mangalore Domestic  Airport (IXE): 200 km
Bengaluru International Airport(BLR): 340 km

Goa International Airport(GOI): 246 km

1391 Steps? 

This is not a tree

Is this a picture?

Eternal Beauty

Pure water

On the way to Sagara - Captured from a running bus

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