Agumbe's bewitching beauty

Agumbe's  bewitching beauty

For avid travellers, Agumbe is a must-visit in the State. Be it the lush, green hills, the mist-filled forests or the innumerable waterfalls, Agumbe has something for everyone. Being an enthusiastic traveller myself, I decided to head to this charming place to explore the unknown. By the time we reached Agumbe on our bikes, the sun had already set on yet another glorious day. Getting our fill of sunset photography, we headed to Dodda Mane for some rest.

Now you might remember this place if you are a big fan of R K Narayan’s Malgudi Days. Remember the endearing rural home of Swami from the 1986 TV serial? This home is exactly where the many episodes of the series were shot. Located right on the main road of Agumbe, Dodda Mane or Big House is more than 100 years old and reminds you of your grandmother’s home. After getting some rest in this beautiful mansion, the next morning, we headed out to trek with the guidance of a forest guard.

Our first stop was the alluring Barkana Falls. As it had rained 2 days ago, our path was strewn with many uprooted trees, which made it quite difficult to walk. After a gruelling hour of trekking, we sighted the glorious falls. As we moved closer, we found ourselves standing on the edge of a hill with a long channel of water rappelling down from a green hill and disappearing in the mist right in front of our eyes.

The charm of water
Our next stop was the famous Onake Abbi Falls, for which we had to travel through dense forests. In some patches, even the sunlight couldn’t reach the ground. When we finally took our shoes off, we realised our socks had turned completely red, thanks to the leeches in the forest. There were at least 15 on each of our legs! Going in search of the falls, we walked through dense patches of forests. Thirty minutes later, we were finally greeted with a very gorgeous view of a fast-flowing stream.

Tired from all that walking, we got into the stream. The water was clean, refreshing and beautifully reflected the lush green forest canopy above. After splashing about in the water for an hour, we headed downstream. Agumbe is filled with innumerable king cobras and even though I knew how dangerous they are, I hoped I would sight at least 1. We hobbled along, jumping from one rock to another and sometimes, wading in the water too.

Finally, the awaited moment had arrived. We were standing right next to the waterfall. With a high velocity, the water was gushing down into the depths of the valley. It was a heavenly sight for sure. For miles, all I could see was green rolling hills and blue sky. The panoramic view took my breath away. Drinking water from the stream and clicking photographs, we enjoyed being in the lap of mother nature. None of us wanted to leave this scenic environment. 

On the return journey, we took a shorter and easier route. To my luck, I finally sighted a king cobra, almost 20 metres away.  While it slowly raised its hood, we took a few steps back, fearing the consequences.  Even though king cobras do not attack unprovoked, we were scared. After a while, the snake slithered away and we heaved a sigh of relief. 

Walking forward, a disgusting smell greeted us. It turns out there was a half-eaten carcass of a sambar deer ahead. Looking at the bite marks, the forest guard predicted that a leopard had killed the deer. In the path ahead, we chanced upon 2 pug marks of a leopard and hoped we wouldn’t encounter them in our path. When it came to sighting wildlife, we had to be content with a deer, which ran past us into the woods. 

We decided to head to the notable Agumbe Research Centre (ARS) next. To reach the centre, we had to walk through a wide grassland. The walk isn’t easy, but the beautiful, natural sights made it seem quite easy for us. At the centre, we met 2 researchers, one was working on king cobras and the other on bush frogs. While conversing with us, they got a call to go rescue a cobra which had strayed into a house. When they offered us to accompany them, we accepted and headed off. After capturing the snake, they released it into the wild.
 
Trekking in Agumbe is really rewarding but also highly risky. One wrong step will send you hurtling down into the valley. It is important to tread carefully. Also, beware of snakes and leeches; Agumbe is teeming with them.

My Agumbe visit made me realise what I was missing out in the urban life. The tranquillity and serenity one gets to experience in nature cannot be found anywhere else. Spending one day in these forests will make you respect mother nature more.

The best time to travel to Agumbe would be during the monsoons (June-September) as the area receives maximum amount of rainfall. If you don’t like walking around in the forests with rain pelting over your head, then head to Agumbe right after the monsoons (October-February) and witness all the waterfalls in their full glory.

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