Yellapur's best kept secret

Yellapur's best kept secret

Biking Expedition Uttara Kannada is a land rich in lush green forests and beautiful ravines. B V Prakash goes on a mission to reveal the district’s best kept secret in Yellapur, a place which is home to some of the most picturesque waterfalls that are yet to catch a traveller’s eye

Nestled in the heart of the Western Ghats the unpretentious town of Yellapur in the Uttara Kannada district is a hidden gem. For in and around this place, often referred to as the one-horse town, are some of the most beautiful waterfalls, many of them far less visited. And the sights around here are so many and varied that on every visit there is something left out and waiting to be discovered on the next. So I was once again drawn to this destination loaded with charming locations. Approaching Yellapur from Sirsi in the late evening, resting for the day was all I could do. But I bumped into two adventurous biking enthusiasts Jayant and Somashekhar, and quickly finalised the plan to join them in their adventure.

Hot wheels

At 7 am, the duo arrived in the bikes and whisked me away. The road was utterly unmanageable with potholes, sand and the difficult gradients. Somashekhar, whose pillion I was riding, being a four time prize winner in the local off-road races, negotiated the rough tracks skillfully. We were soon on our way to Sathoddi Falls, one of the most-visited falls around Yellapur, just 25 kms away. But just 5 kms before our destination, we deviated to the left and reached Kumbral village to see a tall single cascade of the same name, almost unheard of. 

The next stretch from there onwards brought us to the home of Mr Bhat and his arecanut farm. A short walk took us to Dabbe Sala Falls, which is the origin of Sathoddi Falls. Driving back, we passed through Shivapura village, where a magnificent view of the backwaters of Kali River greeted us. It stood still, clean and blue with not a soul around. At Sathoddi Falls, we had to walk about a kilometer and a half to see the cascading waters. Dropping from about 50 feet, the falls appear as a square block of white frothy water. The boulders and the branches of trees seem to frame the falls like a picture postcard. 

Retracing our route, we soon cut across another forest road to hit the main road towards Ankola. At Shirle Village following the direction we reached the bottom of the forested valley to a stream. Up ahead of the stream was yet another hardly known Shirle Falls. Cascading from about 60 feet, this waterfall is another hidden gem. 

The next destination was Arebailu Falls far down south of Yellapur. The drive of some 25 kms on the highway was pleasant, as we reached the village of Arebailu. Though the falls could be seen from the distance, the approach to it was complicated through forests, farm lands and waterways. But a local man came to our rescue and led us to the spot. The waterfall drops in several stages over steps of rocks, and as we climbed each level, a new fall would come into view. Having seen the equally unknown waterfall, we proceeded to the famed Magod Falls. 

In search of beauty

As evening was fast approaching, we almost ran up the steps to viewing platform. The whole valley opened up before us and the sight of the tall beautiful falls cascading down the abyss was stupendous. The Bedthi River plunges down 200 feet in the first phase, followed by another drop of 350 feet before snaking away into the valley flanked by tall mountains. The last destination for the day was a sunset view point called Jenukallugudda about eight kms away. The hills drop abruptly into the valley to the west making it the most ideal place to enjoy the view. The rolling hills with a stream in between glistening in the evening light and the sky painted in orange and gold makes for a truly romantic scenery. That brought us to the end of an adventurous day, visiting half a dozen waterfalls driving 135 km. 

There was something more in store for the next day as well. We resumed the biking adventure to a deep forest on the outskirts of Yellapur to Hulimagod Falls. Hidden in an unapproachable jungle with no proper roads, this is literally unknown to many. Happy to have explored this charming place, we then made it to a special temple at Chandguli Village. Dedicated to Siddhi Vinayaka, the simple temple is strewn with thousands of bells offered by devotees for fulfillment of vows. In fact, the shrine is popularly referred to as Ghante Ganesha. The last point to visit was Kavadikere, a vast lake amidst a forest. The blue waters with patches of green algae and lotus flowers, with the lovely temple of Durga at one end is indeed a lovely spot. As we made it back to Yellapur, the trip which was loaded with adventure and exploration culminated.

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