Astounding Agumbe

Travel

Astounding Agumbe

In the mood to experience paradise? Then, Agumbe is just the place for you. The ideal haunt for trekkers, animal lovers and those who just want some time away from the city, reports Pavan Kumar H 

As the last bus leaves the stand, at 8 pm, Agumbe shuts down...literally. The gates of the check-posts are closed; the only hotel by the bus-stand begins to down its shutters and the fifty odd houses in town slip silently into slumber, waiting for day break. Every morning, Agumbe wakes up to breathtaking scenery and an orchestra of birds from ‘paradise’. The thick white mist, which envelopes the hills, gives way to the rising sun providing a clear view of the forest and waterfalls.

Agumbe is surrounded by the thick forests of the Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary and the Kudremukh National Park on one side (towards Udupi), while the Agumbe forest is on the Sringeri and Shimoga roads. Agumbe is best visited during the monsoon when it receives on an average 10,000 mm of annual rainfall. It is the station which receives the highest rainfall in south India. This ‘elixir from heaven’ brings life, not just to a variety of amphibians and countless flora, but also to numerous waterfalls big and small.

Barkana falls, situated some seven kilometres from Agumbe, is believed to be the tenth highest waterfall in India. The Seeta river takes a free fall of approximately 500 feet amidst the lush green forest. Though the water flows all year round, it becomes more beautiful and voluminous during the monsoon. One has to trek for almost four kilometres to reach the top of the falls from Mallandoor village; but be warned the blood thirsty leeches make life very difficult during the trek. The Onake Abbi falls and Kudlu Theertha falls are two other important waterfalls near Agumbe. Both the falls are situated deep in the jungle.  Unlike most water falls that roar and gush from the top, the Onake Abbi falls (some three kilometres from town) is more sober, silent and majestic during its 200 ft two-step drop.

The somewhat shallow pond formed at the bottom of this fall is tailor made for swimmers. The Kudlu Theertha Falls, nearly 36 kilometres from Agumbe, is one of most picturesque falls of River Seeta. The 300 ft-tall waterfall is considered sacred by the locals as it is believed that many sages have meditated here long ago. During this five-kilometre trek, one has to cross a delicate hanging bridge to reach the falls. There are other minor water falls like Jogi Gundi formed by the Malapahaari River and Srimane falls in Agumbe.

Sunset

The fourteenth hair-pin bend on the Hebri-Agumbe road forms an amphitheatre for one of the world’s most beautiful sunsets. The local panchayat has constructed a platform at the sunset point from where tourists can see the mesmerising thick forest covered valley bathed in the glow of the setting sun. On a clear evening, from a height of approximately 800 meters above sea level, one can watch the sun change colour – from red to orange to a pale yellow (much like a chameleon) before slipping into the fiery horizon. Kundadri hills, a monolithic rock formation towering approximately 3,200 ft above sea level, is another location from where both the sunrise and sunset can be watched.

The hills, about 18 km from Agumbe, also house a 17th-century Jain temple. For animal lovers, Agumbe is paradise with nearly 233 varieties of animals. This ecologically sensitive area in the Western Ghats is home to the king cobra – the world’s longest venomous snake.

Facilities at Agumbe 

Though Agumbe is an important tourist destination in Karnataka, it lacks proper accommodation and transport facilities. One can either stay at ‘Dodda Mane’, which was house of the character Swami in the famed ‘Malgudi Days’ shot here, or at the Mallya residence. 

Unless one has a vehicle, visiting all these places becomes impossible. Since there are no sign boards for these spots, which are hidden deep in the forest, one has to depend on a local guide. “Presently, we are creating basic level facilities, like dustbins, building steps and putting up sign boards at many of the tourist spots,” said Mamatha Rao, President of Agumbe Panchayat. 

“We are looking at eco-friendly tourism. We will request the state government to provide battery driven vehicles for the convenience of the tourists,” she added. Apart from a highway amenity, the State government has not planned on improving the facilities at Agumbe much. 

During the recently held Global Investors Meet - 2012, Bangalore, the State Tourism Department called for private parties to utilise less-than an acre of land for building highway amenities like a coffee house or restaurant,” said H T Rathnakar, Public Relations Officer, Karnataka Tourism Department. 

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