The Uttara Kannada district has many lesser-known waterfalls, hidden in the deep forests of the Western Ghats. B V Prakash visits Vibhooti and Bennehole Falls.
The district of Uttara Kannada is blessed with the bounties of nature; be it densely wooded jungles, lofty mountains, beaches or waterfalls. When it comes to waterfalls, this region easily tops the list with the highest number of waterfalls in the State. Many of them are well known and frequently visited. But there quite a few of them hidden away in the deep forests of the Western Ghats. These are virtually unknown and hardly visited principally because the approach to these regions is tough. It is for the same reason too that these cascades have retained their beauty and virginity. For the adventurous, though, exploring such spots is an exciting proposition.
The 53-km road between Sirsi and Kumta has many points from where jungle trails lead to a few waterfalls tucked away amidst the dense foliage. However, as these spots are not connected by roads, one has to rough it out on foot. During my last visit, I chose to explore two waterfalls here, the Vibhooti Falls and Bennehole Falls.
I boarded a bus at Kumta and headed towards Angadibail. I travelled about 35 km to reach a cross called Channagaru. Following a road to the right, I trekked for about three km to reach Vibhooti Falls. This place is close to the famed limestone formations of Yana which can also be trekked up. The legends of Yana say that it was here that Bhasmasura chasing Lord Shiva was lured by Vishnu in the avatar of Mohini. Bhasmasura eventually was reduced to ashes.
The limestone dust deposited in the area is attributed this. Local belief has it that the cascade got its name from this legend. (Vibhooti means ash).
A tributary of River Gangavali flows through the forest and descends in two stages. The 30-ft drop may not be a huge descent, but the shape of the falls and its green surroundings are picturesque. The waters are also safe to swim. The quiet and peaceful atmosphere makes the visit a worthwhile one.
Bennehole Falls is another gem hidden away six km into the forest. On the Sirsi-Kumta road is a point called Kasage where a narrow road goes to Hosur, a tiny settlement four km from the main road. Here I followed a two-kilometre trekking trail descending steeply. The swampy trail with slippery stones led to a small ledge from where the falls could be seen. The area is part of a very thick jungle with untouched beauty. The valley also has unfathomable drops into the valley making the walk all the more precarious. But the task, I felt, was worthwhile as the falls came into view. On the other side of the valley, the stream cascades gently onto a rock surrounded by rich forests. The falls, rolling down in an angle looks like blobs of butter, which is why it is called Bennehole (benne in Kannada for butter). The river flowing deep down in the narrow gorge nestled amidst steep hills is indeed breathtaking.
Vibhooti Falls: At Kumta, take the 7 am bus heading towards Angadibail and alight at Channagaru. A path from here to the right leads you to the falls three km away. Another way is to board a bus from Sirsi to Mathighatta and alight at Vaddi cross. Walk for six km from there to reach the falls.
Bennehole Falls: Board any bus from Sirsi to Kumta and get down at Kasage 21 km away. The trail to the left goes to Hosur four km from where a path descends two km to a viewpoint without any infrastructure.
To visit both the falls requires the help of locals/guides.