Bangalore <-> Tumkur <-> Tiptur <-> Arsikere <-> Kadur <-> Tarikere <-> Shimoga <-> Sagara <-> Talaguppa <-> Kargal <-> Muppane Nature Camp
21st and 22nd Feb 2016
Muppane Nature Camp is around 425 kilometers from Bangalore. It is just off Sagara around 16 kilometers from Kargal. We were nine, a group of boys and girls and we were there for a weekend in a Tempo Traveller. The entrance is just beside the Kargal-Bhatkal road and the arch with the name welcomes you.
It was around 7 in the morning when we reached the gates of Muppane Nature Camp only to find it closed. The area comes under Karnataka forest department. Sampath was our co-ordinator. He procures the permissions required from forest department, arranges our food, accommodation, trek and water-sports activities. While many of us fidgeted with our phones with poor mobile network to call Sampath, I and my buddy crossed the check-post and walked on foot on the jungle road towards the camp in an attempt to find someone inside the fenced camp area. It was pretty early in the morning and with only the wild sounds and the birds chirping, we felt as if we were the only two inside the fenced area. We had probably crossed only a couple of bends on the curvy road when a big sambar appeared out of nowhere. It was probably a 100 mtrs away from us at the next curve looking directly at us and was probably alarmed to see people in the otherwise uninhabited forest. We had stopped in our tracks but just as we whispered something to each other, it scampered away from us into the jungle and vanished in no time. Disappointed at ourselves for having lost an opportunity of a beautiful click of the sambar in perfect golden morning light, we walked ahead for what seemed to be at least 1.5 kms. But with no sign of anyone around and knowing that the others waiting for us behind would have started worrying about us, we decided to walk back to our TT.
By the time we reached our TT, our driver had managed to find a spot near the TT where his mobile was able to latch on to the weak network. We called Sampath who then talked to someone from the forest department. A forest guard’s (Ashok) house was supposedly just about a furlong away from the check-post and Sampath asked us to go to his house and inform him about our arrival. We went in the opposite direction on foot and we did find his house as directed by Sampath. We saw Ashok on his bike near his house and when we signalled at him, he started towards the check-post and opened it for us and lead our TT into the jungle road. It was a 3 km drive on the unpaved jungle road until we finally saw few gazebos and a couple of people. These were the living quarters, kitchen and the generator rooms. We introduced ourselves and one of the men asked us to continue on the same road for few hundred metres to reach our dormitory. Our jaws dropped with awe when we caught the first breathtaking sight of the vast expanse of Sharavathi backwaters.
There was one roofed dormitory which could accommodate around 20 people (25 if cramped together). The whole room was ours anyway as there were no other bookings. The dormitory itself is located directly facing the backwaters and the location could not have been any better for any nature-lover. As soon as our ride reached the front yard of the dormitory, we could not help ourselves from running down the open red-soiled slope to reach the stand still waters. We wanted to spend some time there but we were famished and desperately wanted to load ourselves quick. There was a building complex with a couple of toilets and bathrooms where we freshened up readying ourselves for breakfast. The kitchen (a small room with adjoining gazebo) and the dining area (a bigger round gazebo) was around 300 metres behind the dormitory. Our breakfast was idli and sambar and it was ready when we got there. Although not tasty, we hogged at the food to satisfy our roaring tummies.
At around 12 noon, We got ourselves ready for a trek to a nearby waterfall and left the camp in our TT. We reached Hosagadde road which was around 5 kms from the camp, a right turn and after a couple more kms, our guide asked us to park our TT by the fields. We started our trek beside an arecanut estate and walked along the borders of many estates for a good 2-3 Kms. We were following the course of a water stream all along to reach a small house in Dabbe village. It was an easy stroll in the jungle until then. We were offered drinking water and we rested for a few minutes before starting the descent, a few hundred metres in front of the house, towards the base of the Dabbe waterfalls. The descent was a very steep one with angles exceeding 75 degrees at some points. Our guide (again arranged by Sampath) had carried a rope to help us with the last stretch of the descent which was even more treacherous. The overall descent was quite a laborious one extending to around a kilometer and is surely not for the faint-hearted.
It took almost an hour for us to reach the bottom with the beautiful view of Dabbe falls. Water plummets from around 300 feet and it is almost impossible to bare our bodies directly against the mighty waterfall. Although it was summer and the waterfall was not in its full force, since it maintained a straight fall without much scatter, it appeared to be carrying more water than it actually was. I was left guessing if the waterfall got its name because of the straightness of its fall (Dabbe in kannada means an un-bent sliver).
We spent around 45 minutes near the waterfall and started the steep ascent towards the Dabbe village. The ascent was much easier than the descent and took just half the time. Our lunch (lemon rice with pickle and curds) was ready and we filled our tummies though it was not the best of food. With the energy back, bidding the lady in the house adieu, we started our trek back towards our ride. About 45 minutes later, through the same estates, we had reached our TT. There was no holding back sleep once we rested on the cozy seats of TT and about half an hour later (at around 6.30 PM), we found ourselves back at our dormitory. Again, we were right on time for a perfect sunset. We witnessed the golden last 5 minutes of the sun setting behind the backwaters with its rays shining against the calm waters of Sharavathi. To add to our delight, we were served hot mirchi bajjis (fried batter-wrapped chillies) with kashaaya (masala tea). A fun-filled evening 🙂
We spent some time chit-chatting and freshening up and at 8 PM we asked the men to arrange a camp-fire on the banks of the backwaters. By then the lights went out and the men gave a lame reason of diesel shortage (which we knew was quite far from truth). With the gleam of the bright moon, warmth of the camp fire, dumb charades, songs, chit-chat and my best friends around, I could not think of any other place I would rather be at that moment. It was a perfect setting one could expect on a weekend. We were served chapathis (Indian hard breads), bisi bele bath (a spicy dish of boiled rice with veggies) and paayasa (porridge) for our dinner and we enjoyed the tasty dinner around the bonfire. By 11, we were all on our beds, asleep, gearing up for the exciting day in store for us the next day.
Day 2 started pretty late for me. It was 8.30 when I opened my eyes :P. By then, my friends were sharing their early morning stories of which I can only share the pictures. It was apparently beautiful misty backwaters and jungle with a beautiful sunrise. That is all I had missed :P.
This was THE day we had all been waiting for. It was time for a dip in the backwaters!!
We had our delicious breakfast (Poori, saagu and kashaaya) at around 10.30 AM and started to backwaters at 11.30 PM. We had to cross the fenced internal perimeter of the camp and just by the gate there was a path through the jungle leading towards the backwaters where it was safe to swim. We had to walk for around 1 Km through the dense and dry forest. Once we reached the banks, we realized that the whole expanse of the serene backwaters was ours for the day at our disposal. We swam, we used the kayak, we tried the open kayak, we sailed in the coracle, we connected the islands with the paths of our boats. We laughed, we shouted, we let our hearts do the talking.
For me, it was an intensely deep feeling of connecting with the panch Maha-bhoothas – the five basic elements of the planet – Earth, Wind, Water, Fire (Sun) and Sky. As I sit there, I felt complete. Everything that a life needs to prosper on this planet was right there for me to experience. For a minute, it was a feeling of overwhelming satisfaction, as if I needed nothing else, as if nothing else mattered. A thought surged surged through me – Why couldn’t I spend my whole life here?! After all, this is everything that anyone “needs”! A thought emerged “why is there no limit to a human’s greed”.
By 2.30 PM, we were all tired and our stomachs were roaring again. The scorching sun was taking toll on us and the drinking water was over. It was time for us to head back to the camp. Boiled rice with rasam, sambar and papads. A sumptuous meal for the hungry. With joy-filled hearts and packed bags, we bid bye to the camp at around 4 PM.
En route Bangalore, we passed by a check dam which acts as a feeder to Jog falls which was just around 3 Kms away. It was summer and the water level was expected to be low. But, to our surprise, the dam was overflowing and the water was exiting in full force. This meant that there was plenty of water flowing into the world famous jog falls. This also meant that there was no way we were missing a chance of witnessing the Jog falls displaying its majesty. We took a U-turn and were in Jog falls in no time.
The view was mesmerizing! It was nothing short of a wonder to see the Jog falls in action in summer. It is usually in action during monsoon. But, in monsoon, there is rain, clouds and lot of fog shielding our view. But, this was different. It was Jog falls set against the golden summer evening light, complete with a rainbow across it! This was a co-incidence and was because of a major fire-accident in the Sharavathi receiving station making it dysfunctional. Because of this, the water from Linganamakki dam was let out and was being diverted to other power stations and Jog falls received a healthy share of its water. We were lucky 🙂
After a journey of around 7 hrs from Jog falls with a fun-filled chatter and aggressive political debates in our TT, we finally reached Bangalore at 3 PM. That was the end of an eventful and memorable trip to the cradle of nature and back. The routine followed…
Tips [Summer days]:
- Carry plenty of drinking water wherever you go. May it be a trek or a dip in the waters.
- Do not expect mouth-watering food. You would be lucky to get good food which you can gulp down your throats.
- It would be better to carry your own plate, spoon and a glass. You might otherwise feel uncomfortable with the cleanliness of the utensils used there.
- Carry enough cash. There are no ATMs for miles and plastic money is of no use here.
- Do not expect mobile Network. So, inform your closed ones at home in prior about your disappearance from the grid.
- Do not forget sunscreen lotions. It would be a crime to expose your skin to the harsh sun here. Apply it generously on every part of the body that is exposed to sun (Not only your face). After two weeks, my skin on the shoulders still looks burnt just because I used sunscreen only on the face.
Hi can i get contact number of this forest camp?
Sorry for the late reply. I am afraid the camp is not actively operational anymore. You can try your luck by contacting http://www.inddetours.com . They are the last known operators here.
super thughts our place,thank you so much to visit our villege,visit again.