Movie link enhances Jog's deadly spell

Mungaru Male point which attracts young tourists has turned out to be a dangerous spot

Death trap: The north side of Jog Falls which is attracting large crowds in the recent years.  photo by the author

But in recent years, it has become synonymous with ‘Mungaru Male’, the super hit Kannada movie of 2006. And, near the falls and on the way to it, visitors or local people will invariably mention the movie.

Of course, you are bound to hear the title track of the movie too. Even the plastic caps sold here have earned the distinction of being labelled as Mungaru Male caps.

Till ‘Mungaru Male’ (Monsoon Rains) hit the screen, the tourists used to watch the splendour of water plunging down the rocky wall from the viewers’ gallery facing the falls. Now, viewing the falls from the top of the gorge - ie., near the Bombay Guest House side (north side)- has become almost mandatory for the tourists, especially for the youth.
Because in ‘Mungaru Male’, the climax of the movie, and the song - Kunidu Kunidu baare - was shot at an edge of the cliff. From this dangerous point, which is now branded as Mungaru Male point, one can see the water gushing down from a height of about 250 metres. During the weekends in the rainy season as now, there will be long queues to reach this particular highly slippery zone.

The youngsters are seen taking maximum risk to reach the point as well as to look down at the valley. Taking photographs has become an unwritten rule here.

No doubt, it is a thrilling experience to watch the gushing water from this point. But if one loses balance, then the landing point will be the valley. It is not a rarity to see visitors accidentally falling off from this point. In 2008, two youngsters fell to death from here.
According to the Jog police, 18 visitors met with accidental death in the falls in 2008. This year, three deaths have been reported. In 2007, the reported deaths were seven.

While the valley falls under the purview of the police of Jog, Bombay Guest House comes under Siddapur police of Karwar. Police personnel of both stations said that the victims were mostly below the age of 30 years. The accidents are taking place both while climbing down the valley as well as while viewing the falls from the Mungaru Male point. There is not even a remote chance of surviving if one falls.

Chandru, ASI, Jog Police station said, "the movie popularised the north side so much that we are finding it tough to discipline the crowd as well as vehicle parking here. Youth in an inebriated state start dancing once they reach the bottom of valley or the edge of the cliff. Many times accidents go unreported. And, it is very difficult to fish out the bodies".

Fence needed
Siddapur inspector Halmurthy Rao said the PWD and the Jog Authority should fence the view point area failing which accidents would continue take place. V S Shanbagh, Manager, KSTDC, Jog Falls Unit, said precautions should be taken before the Mungaru Male point turns into another Tipu drop of Nandi Hills. Alcohol consumption should be restricted to one particular place in the Falls area. "Now people are seen sitting in the valley and drinking. If they are not in their senses, how can they manage to climb down or up such a risky terrain? Now we are not allowing people to walk down the valley after 4 pm," he said.

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