Tuesday, November 27, 2012

ESCAPADE-Ganeshgudi-Castle rock-Part 1

A journey of 1250 KMS which included national & state highways, roads with potholes, roads amidst jungles and even places where the asphalt didn't extend.
A river so serene and quite.
A majestic hydro-electric structure.
A place where horn bills fly around without being bothered by the curious tourists.
A resort where all you get to hear is songs of the whistling thrush.
A trek which tested us physically as well as mentally.
A view of a famous falls like never seen before.
A sixty member joint family who extended their warm hospitality for us.
And finally a unforgettable lunch in a field.

This is how I would summarize our five day trip to Ganeshgudi and back.
Long way to go

After the not so successful trip to Pondicherry, we were determined to make this visit a successful one and so I came with an itinerary almost a month before the trip. Water rafting and bird watching was the most important activities we had planned.

There were lot of cancellations before the trip and lot of confusion about how to travel there. Taking our vehicle was always a cheaper option but with so many cancellations we almost ended up booking a private vehicle. But just 2 days before the trip everybody gave a nod and we finally decided to drive down there.

Ganeshgudi is about 460 KMS away from Bangalore and is located in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. Ganeshgudi has become quite famous as a tourist destination because of river rafting and bird watching. I had already contacted an old friend of mine called Timothy who now helps to arrange for these activities. River rafting is totally dependent on the Supa dam i.e. Supa dam should generate power and in that process it releases water which stirs up the otherwise quite Kali river and rafting can be performed. Timothy assured me that since we will be there for 3 days and in one of these days water would be surely released from the dam.

We left Bangalore around 08:30 in the morning and en route stopped at hotel Kamat for breakfast. The service was very late since the hotel was crowded with tourists heading in different directions. Finally when the idli’s arrived they were so thin that they would put the size zero Kareena Kapoor to shame. We were quick to finish it since we were determined to follow our schedule and reach our destination on time. We reached Davanagere pretty quick and as planned went to our college to see if we could meet any of our lecturers. Since it was a Saturday afternoon many had left for the day, but we were lucky to meet our dearest Prof. Mr. B.M.Manjunath. We used to refer him as “The God” during our college days because of his soft spoken and helping nature. 

With Mr. B.M.Manjunath
We had tea with him and then proceeded to have lunch. The lunch was excellent and the proof was that my wife finished everything she ordered without complaining about anything. By this time we had spent almost 3 hours in Davanagere and we were as usual late on our schedule. But then what is a trip without some unexpected events thrown in!!!!!!!

So then our next destination was to reach Hubli as fast as possible. My wife kept asking me “how many kilometers to Ganeshgudi” every 10 minutes and “where are we going now” every 15 minutes.

And then we missed our road somewhere near Dharwad. We were on the right track but a stupid security check post guy miss directed us and then we were left stranded on the highway. Then we saw some guys in a jeep and asked them for directions who told us that we should have taken a deviation long back. He pointed a mud road on the left and asked to go by that route. It was a mud road with huge pot holes and we all except the driver got off the car so that it would have a better ground clearance. Once we reached the main road and saw a forest guard, we decided to ask him for directions even though we had asked a villager just 2 minutes before. And the guard started to check our vehicle documents; only after he was satisfied he showed us the road ahead and let us go.

By now my wife wanted to go to a restroom very badly. Before we reached Haliyal we saw a “Family bar & restaurant” and decided to stop there for a restroom break. When we went inside to check if it was fine for ladies to enter, the scene inside the bar was straight out of a local arrack shop. I guess the bar owner meant it was an “All MALE family bar & restaurant”. Luckily there was a lodge nearby which allowed the girls to use their restroom.

   By the time we reached Dandeli it was 08:00 and we decided to take some food parceled to Ganeshgudi because it will be late by the time we reach there. Ganeshgudi is a small KPCL colony which has no proper hotel or an ATM. It was about 09:00 when we reached Ganeshgudi. I was greeted well by the staff of the Inspection Bungalow since they all knew my father very well. They charged us 200rs per head and rooms were quite clean and spacious.

Inspection Bungalow(IB)
IB Entrance
 By the time I freshened up the other guys had finished a peg of whisky. I didn’t complain because Ganeshgudi is such a place. I mean it doesn’t inspire you to drink but it certainly makes you feel so relaxed and unwind.  

The IB was located on a hill top and one can see a fantastic view of the Ganeshgudi town. We kept talking till late night and the girls had long gone to bed. And we kept hoping and praying that we get to do the rafting the next day.

Next morning we woke a bit early and went around the IB trying to get some photographs of birds.

A view of Ganeshgudi town from the IB
And then my friend timothy came and informed that rafting is unlikely today but instead we could go for Kayaking and swimming. So as per his instructions we reached Hornbill resort on Karwar road (Just 2 kms from Ganeshgudi) and opted for Kayaking and Jacuzzi (Sit near a rapid.. Nothing great).

They offered us individual boats for kayaking and my wife immediately backed off saying it’s too scary. They offered us a 2 seated boat but I wasn’t interested because I was in Ganeshgudi and not in Ooty. Somehow she got into that boat and started screaming at me saying that I didn’t wait for her and I didn’t boost her confidence.  Who am I??? King of kayaking?? Or swimming coach??? Even I don’t swim. 

Our Kayaking boats
Anyways moving on kayaking was pretty boring until Ravi tried to capsize Shivu’s boat and in the process fell off his boat. It was funny sight to watch as he tried to get on his boat amidst the river. Then each one of us started chasing the other to overturn the boats. Finally everyone was in water except me. I came back to the bank but Ravi & Pramod made me sit once again in the boat and took me into the center of the river and finally pushed me into the water. For a second I felt I was drowning but then immediately I started floating all thanks to the life jacket. The girls were spared.

Then we were taken upstream where there was a rapid and lots of people were playing there. We stayed there for quite some time splashing water on each other.

 After we were brought back to the resort where we enjoyed couple of beer and then headed back to IB where a chicken dish was awaiting us. We had our lunch in the wet clothes and the chicken was finished off in no time.

We all freshened up and headed towards the hydro-electric supa dam view point not before obtaining the permission.Please do not click any photographs as it is prohibited there.


River KALI
There was a time when I used to run around every nook and corner of supa dam since my father was a security officer then. There are places even an engineer might not have seen inside the dam but I have seen it but I was too small to know its value then.

It was almost 05:00 in the evening and we decided to move to castle rock as per our plan. Castle rock is a small town located 33 kms from Ganeshgudi. One has to take the Belgaum route and take a left after travelling a kilometer past Jagalpet. Since we were short of fuel we drove all the way to Ramnagara and got some diesel from the black market and then came back to Castle rock through a village called Asu.

There are no petrol bunks in Ganeshgudi.

Once we reached Castle rock Mr. Avinash (Owner of whistling thrush resort) was waiting in his car to guide us. The drive through the forest till the resort was beyond words. It was a mud road with thick forest on either side and cool breeze blowing with lot of insect sounds. Everyone was on the edge of their seat expecting some animal to jump out of the bush.

Night drive to Whistling thrush resort
The resort is located amidst jungle with comfortable cottages to stay and a Gol Ghar where food is served. There is huge grassland in front of the resort where we enjoyed beer with a campfire. We kept discussing about our next day plans if to wait for Timothy to call us and inform about rafting or we just drop rafting plans and trek to Doodhsagar. I just happened to check my mobile and saw there was no sign of any network. So how is Timothy going to call us???? End of discussion and we decided to trek to Doodhsagar the next morning.

I was very tired and immediately got a head ache after consuming some beer. The head ache became worse and I had to hit the sack. When my wife came calling me for dinner, I told her that I wanted to sleep and didn’t wish to have dinner. And then started the ending sequence of the movie ANAND where Rajesh Khanna is on the bed dying due to cancer and Amitabh by his side ready to do anything. My wife was like “I won’t have food if you don’t eat!!! I can’t see you like this!!!” How could I explain her that being in a horizontal position helps me to control puke. Somehow I convinced her to go and have dinner with the others and I slept off.

Next day we woke up to a foggy morning and to the songs of whistling thrush. The whistling thrush bird is a shy bird and very hard to locate. We went around the resort taking some photographs.

Whistling thrush resort
Road leading to the resort

After having a sumptuous breakfast we set out on our trek led by our guide Rajya. The climate in the morning was quite cool with lot of fog around. By 10 o clock the sun was out and it was quite hot now. MR. Avinash had warned us about the path being infested by leaches and hence had packed a handful of tobacco powder to keep them away. We applied this tobacco to our legs mixed with water and hoped that the leaches would spare us.

We left the resort around 10:30 in the morning walking along the bushes for 20 minutes till we reached a mud road. 
Our trek began from here

And this road took us through jungles, grasslands, a tiny village, picturesque green fields and a stream flowing by. Our trek was slow because our photographers were busy clicking photos of butterflies, birds, squirrel etc. And then the girls wanted their photos to be taken everywhere like near a tree, with a stone, in front of a bush, along the grass, in the grass, on top of the grass, in between the grass…almost everywhere. Our guide was blessed with loads of patience and never complained about our slow pace.

The mud road
Vast grasslands
A beautiful stream
A dangerous bamboo bridge. One slip and next moment we will be in water!!

We had packed some biscuits and buttermilk in one of our bag and couple of bottles of water. Once my wife came to know about the buttermilk, she voluntarily obliged to carry that particular bag and since then she was always spotted with a pack of buttermilk in her hand.

The sun was quite hot and the trek was about 12 kms. We took a deviation from the mud road and entered the jungles. The trek became quite difficult with steep hills and leach infested paths. I had to motivate my wife every 50 mts to continue trekking as she was really tired.

Some of the wildlife we spotted around Ganeshgudi and Castle rock. 

Around 1:30 in the afternoon we reached the point where Doodhsagar falls takes her plunge. It was an excellent view and also it sent shivers down our spine when we looked down from there.
I opened my shoes and found one of my socks was soaked with blood. A leach had somehow managed to get past the tobacco laden area and reached my toes and had a tomatina festival there.

Click the following link for the 2nd part GANESHGUDI - PART II



  1. As a Proverb goes...
    "A thing of beauty is a joy forever"!
    I enjoyed all little things what i saw n felt there, Thanks to my Hubby ! N as usual the description is mindblowing!Im not telling this coz ur my husband,really u have done a great job wit more effort:))) Keep going.. Good luck:))

  2. loved to read the blog i could feel the feel of river kali and ganeshgudi, its such a lovely place i call it heaven if there is heaven then its ganeshgudi for me. I dislike the talent u were proud of saying tht i managed the security and my friends took the pics, STRICTLY NO PHOTOGRAPHY please do follow this, hope you all enjaayed the trip, wish u people join me once for a trip , Manu keep writing liked the pics very much

  3. @shri
    Hi Shri, Thank sfor visiting my blog. Ganeshgudi is certainly a great place.
    Just took one or 2 pics for blog purpose.:)

  4. cant believe the place where we grew up is so abundantly rich ... its a real shame that for personal and professional growth we had to relocate to other places on earth and away from the real prosperous and serene nature.... we enjoyed our childhood to the core in Ggudi..... thanks for publishing ....

  5. @Manjushree Hegde
    Thanks for visiting my blog. The place is still the same and the greenery has increased..:)

  6. Ponnappa,
    It is awesome feel whenever I read your blog with humors explanations of all situations.
    Initial explanations with index was new thing and helps reader to have picture of your trip.
    Please add a snap shot of google map for all trip you have made along with index.
    Keep adding time line [am and pm] even though it is small but will help.
    [Did not like breaking the rule and taking Photographs.]

    Over all nice one.

    Thanks and Regards,
    MOHAN T.

  7. great it was like i am in gg and in the forest, bridge, water, and all the feeling you had. Well
    written. Give me number of timoty.

  8. @MOHAN TALIKOTI Thanks for the comment.
    I have seen the dam inside out. These pics are for the readers. Its taken from the view point. Doesn't compromise the security of the structure!!!:)

  9. @myamarpremThanks for visiting my blog. His number is 9483864648. Don't forget to negotiate the rates:)

  10. Wonderful Pictures and description,
    Great work Ponnapa

  11. Hey dude, i just loved the way u hv summarized our 5 day trip detailed,interesting and credible.
    Ur hobby of this (blog) is like a travel package to me. After each trip, the excitement continues while reading ur blog.
    Sorry guys would never take Supa dam photos again...:-) Being a civil engineer couldnt resist to the temptation of such magnificent Structure.
    Good work bro, keep the good work going. Awaiting part-2......:-)

  12. Hey Ponnappa,

    I was about to leave for office and saw your post, I have been following your comments on Facebook, so I thought lets quickly check ur Blog :))
    Read the first para, then 2nd and then on and on and on..
    Good one boss, that too with nice clicks I luv the Analogy that you always use, "Tomatina Festival" was the best waiting for the rest of the story..
    Keep Going

  13. @chetan kumar Hey Chetan, Thanks for visiting my blog..:) Will post the rest of the story soon!!!

  14. Really nice I can dream . all the places from your story .

  15. Awesome writing dude... Ur writing skills are improving in every blog.. Our writing almost sounds like "Chetan Baghat's".... Looking forward for "PART - 2"..

  16. In my very busy schedule, I had a quick look at your blog. Its apparent that you all had a wonderful and a memorable trip. Ganeshgudi is a place to visit, will plan in future. your pictures are breathtakingly beautiful. Have you picked up photography?
    Good going and Best wishes for your future endeavors.
    I had posted the comment before but I guess forgot to publish.

  17. Very well written... once i start reading cannot take a break untill finish.. your writing takes us to the place you explaining... i feel like i was part of the trip.. thanks for sharing .... Keep blogging...

  18. Awesome description of the trek!!
    Wish do trek dudhsagar falls sometime. It would be thrilling to trek down the jungle even, I believe.

    Great Adventure writeup!!

  19. .......I have planned a trip to Ganeshgudi a day after and queried google "things to do in Ganeshgudi" and saw your write up ... that is making me more eager to be there sooner :-) Thanks once again for good write up. More, Me and my son will be more involved into bird watching looks like, rather than adventurous activities.

    Ping back if you can.. I want to be on the dam site. Is it easy to take permission to be there?

  20. Can any one help with Tele phone number of Inspection Bungalow, Ganeshgudi?

  21. Excellent Post! Rejoice life during holidays through Dandeli Resorts; located in Uttara Kannada, Karnataka state.

  22. Excellent Post! Enjoy Your holidays in Dandeli Resorts; located in Uttara Kannada, Karnataka state.