The last time I set about exploring the lesser known and hard-to-reach waterfalls in the ranges of the Western Ghats, I stumbled upon some really awesome locations. Having left Thirthahalli in Shimoga district, I headed towards Mastikatte, about 50 km away. The winding roads of the Western Ghats, coupled with frequent stops, slowed the journey and it took us almost an hour to reach the destination. As the bus sped away into the valley after dropping me, the quaint silent township of Mastikatte filled my view. The few shops and eateries line up the stretch of the main road beyond which a few houses stand along the slopes. The major landmark here is the KPCC office. It had been suggested to me to meet localite Vinaykumar who would then help me to go about exploring the Ghats. It was at his behest that I put off my plans to trace the lesser known waterfalls by a day. This was to allow me to explore two picture-postcard-pretty reservoirs in the vicinity, the Chakra and Savehaklu reservoirs. Having arrived at Mastikatte, the gateway to these beauteous spots, there was no way I could not visit the two reservoirs.
Soon after lunch, he came along with his driver and thus began our tryst with nature. Driving through the wilderness of gentle mountains and green forests, we found that the road was totally devoid of any human presence. After a pleasant drive of about 20 km, a blue reservoir came into view, blinding me for a moment. I was breathless as I tried to take in nature’s beauty. It is a lovely water body surrounded by hills and forests, with a dam on one side. The unspoilt still and clear blue waters framed by the undulating slopes of mountains make for a great view. While I enjoyed the blissful scenery, Vinaykumar talked to me about the dam. He pointed to the western end of the lake where the range of mountains rose with the Kodachadri peak prominently and said River Chakra originated there. Being a west-flowing river, it made its way to the Arabian Sea draining an enormous amount of water. Years ago, the huge potential of generating power was envisioned, and a dam was built across the Chakra. The main purpose was to store and divert the course of water towards Linganamakki where the river would join Sharavathi to form a mighty force which would be utilised to generate much-needed power. Now, after the successful completion of the project, the waters of Chakra and Sharavathi help power generation at four stages before emptying into the sea at Honnavar. However, these details fade away soon as the heavenly beauty of the place pervades your mind and soul.
Shrine en route to Savehaklu
While heading to Savehaklu, the other reservoir, we deviated into a forest trail to visit a tiny simple looking shrine. This is the temple of Vanadurgeshwari in the middle of a dense jungle. Dedicated to goddess Durga, the temple is considered to be highly auspicious, right from the time of the kings who ruled here. During Dasara, the festivities attract a mammoth gathering from far off places.
Vatagodu is a junction on the way where the road ascends to a view point. We reached the summit to find an abandoned microwave tower. One gets a sweeping view of the mountains and forests from this point. The cool breeze and the mild evening sunshine made the experience memorable.
Driving up to Savehaklu dam, we found yet another gem of a reservoir. I was told that the water from this catchment too would join the Sharavathi at Nagara. The placid lake looked even more picturesque with the play of clouds drifting above. With no one except us around, we felt what it means to be far from the madding crowd!
The two reservoirs are not just beautiful alone. They have a strategic importance too. As I wondered at their rather easy accessibility, Vinaykumar informed that a full-fledged security system is being worked out involving the forest department and soon the visits would be regulated.
Mastikatte is 100 km from Shimoga. From Mastikatte, Chakra dam is about 20 km. Savehaklu dam is 10 km. A guide and a vehicle are required. For stay and food, Thirthahalli (45km) is the nearest place. More facilities are available at Shimoga.