Tracing a hidden waterfall

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Tracing a hidden waterfall

The State has many well known waterfalls, big and small, but it is when you find a comparatively hidden one, that the fun really begins. B V Prakash visits Vajrapoha falls in Belgaum and calls it the ideal balm for frayed nerves.

Hidden in the forests of the Western Ghats near Khanapur in Belgaum district is Vajrapoha falls – an ideal balm for frayed nerves. But there is no easy, paved path to reach the falls; the only way is to wade across the river at least twice or thrice to reach the top of the falls. So one must wait for the proper time, when the river is shallow enough, to visit this idyllic place.

We decided the period just before the onset of summer was an appropriate time to begin this venture and so planned a quick trip to this spot. The falls are located deep inside the dense forests near the village of Jamboti. Jamboti is quite a scenic village and the kickoff point for the trip to the falls. The name, Jamboti, is linked with Jambavathi – the daughter of Jambavantha, the legendary bear. A sizeable population of sloth bears lived here once, for the variety of fruit trees and numerous caves. The forests are also brimming with other wildlife like the leopard, jackal, deer, mongoose etc, besides a countless number of birds and snakes. The flora varies as well, from moist deciduous forests to scrub jungles. But by and large, the forest is still pristine in spite of a few hamlets  around it.

One requires permission from the forest department to visit Vajrapoha falls. After we arrived at Jamboti, we gave the local forest officials records of our particulars, as instructed by Girish Hosur, the Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) at Belgaum. We clearly memorised the landmarks and headed off down the muddy path. River Mahadayi, which originates at Degaon near Khanapur, flows north and west in a serpentine course before tumbling down suddenly into a deep rocky canyon, forming the Vajrapoha falls. Further down its course, it enters Goa and is referred to as Mandovi before it joins the Arabian sea. After toiling for seven kilometres, we reached the landmark, an old bridge, after which we took the road to the left. We walked for three kilometres more, before following a deviation to the right on a faded trail through a sparse jungle to reach the river. We rested a while before resuming our trek.

We hopped onto boulders and crossed the river at various vantage points. It took us another hour to unexpectedly reach the top of the falls. The slow flowing river suddenly gains momentum as it drops, gushing thunderously. The edge of the fall is a precarious overhang from where one can watch the water tumble down below. We carefully climbed to lower rocky platform holding on to roots and parts of the cliff.
The view was superb! The pure white band of water, dropping down approximately 200 ft, was an awesome sight worth the trouble of tracing it. It was good fortune that it was already evening because the mellow sunlight made tiny rainbows on the water. The falls make another small jump further down, but we did not go as it was risky and time consuming. We had a whale of the time and left before dusk.

Getting there

Reaching the Vajrapoha Falls involves a 12-km trek from Jamboti village which is well connected with Khanapur and Belgaum by rail and road. Permission from Forest department and a guide to show the way are essential. Extreme care has to be taken at the falls.

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