Alluring Agumbe

Alluring Agumbe

Nestled in the Western Ghats, Agumbe comes alive every monsoon. And it has something different to offer every time you visit the place, writes Vathsala V P

A beautiful view of Agumbe

Agumbe is not a destination. It’s an experience. An experience to be savoured. An experience that leaves you dumbfounded. An experience you want to go back to over and over again. I have been there several times. And each visit helps me discover something new, something extraordinary. Such is Agumbe’s charm.

Cocooned in beauty

The winding roads, the thick green envelope, the rich biodiversity of the region, the many perennial streams, rivers, and waterfalls... Agumbe is all this and more. Surrounded by hills and mountains, this is also a good base for trekking, and has been regarded as a trekkers’ paradise. Sitting pretty on the edge of the mountains at a height of about 2,700 ft above sea level, this tiny hamlet in Thirthahalli taluk of Shivamogga district is a treasure trove of attractions that are a feast to the senses. Known famously as ‘Cherrapunji of the South’ for the copious amount of rainfall it receives, almost 7,620 ml on average, Agumbe is at its wettest in July.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Agumbe is the viewpoint that offers spellbinding views of nature’s spectacle around. Thick green cover till the eye can reach, deep valleys, gorges, waterfalls, and hills on the horizon. Known as Barkana Viewpoint, it is a designated spot to stop the drive and enjoy the beauty around. It’s barricaded for safety, and policemen are always around keeping a vigil. They even play good samaritans and drive away monkeys as they sometimes prove to be too much to handle. Visitors can spend their time peacefully enjoying the scenery, and going camera crazy. Being at this viewpoint always makes me feel like I am in the middle of nowhere… it’s just me, my thoughts, and nature.

A little further is Barkana Falls, fed by Seetha river, which is as deep as the valley itself. The magnificent sight of water cascading down the valley, in the middle of the jungle, seems like a scene that’s too good to be true. At 450 feet, it is counted one among the 10 highest waterfalls of India.

A short drive of around 3 km from Barkana is Jogi Gundi, another scenic spot with a waterfall that takes your breath away. Away from the main road, at a secluded spot, it is an ideal place to spend a couple of hours. The shallow pool here even allows one the luxury of enjoying some fun time in the water. The water from this stream merges into Malapahaari river, a tributary of the Tungabhadra. The pond is named after Saint Jogi, who is believed to have meditated here.

If in the mood for another helping of scenic splendour, then Onake Abbi Falls is the place to visit. Involving a trek of approximately 4 km deep inside the thick green forest, this falls is a must-visit for nature- and adventure-lovers alike. After the moderately arduous trek, just 200 metres before the falls are a few steps that have to be climbed down to get access to the falls. And, what a visual treat it is. Water cascades down from a height of 500 ft in a single stream, hence compared to onake (a wooden log used to pound grains), and called Onake Abbi Falls. The entire area of about 500 acres is designated as Medicinal Plants Conservation Area.

This trek to the falls takes about two hours, and it is advisable to carry food and water. If visiting the place during the rainy season, then care should be taken to avoid being attacked by leeches by wearing protective clothing and boots. Permission is also needed to visit this falls, which can be obtained either from the Forest Department, the DFO of Shimoga, or the RFO of Megaravalli.

Stunning views

Another big attraction in Agumbe is the famous sunset view it offers. On the way to Sunset Point, which is about 2 km from the town, I came across a picnic spot developed around a small lake, Ghati Chowdammana Kere, named after and dedicated to the temple of Chowdamma nearby. The park is well-developed with a variety of trees and plants with their species names on them, and ample facilities for children to play. The lake also offers short paddleboat rides.

A stroll around the lake was certainly rejuvenating. It was now time to head to the Sunset Point, which is on a little hillock. A flight of steps leads to the top. On the way to the top are many benches on which one can relax and take in the beautiful sights around. On reaching the top, the fabulous view of the setting sun in the Arabian Sea is an experience that cannot be described in words. At least for me. It is one of those moments when I wish I was a poet. Alas!

As we head back to Agumbe town, I am reminded of the song ‘Agumbeya prema sanjeya’ filmed on Dr Rajkumar and Madhavi, as also the tele serial Malgudi Days that was shot here. The house where it was filmed is called Doddamane, and a big draw with tourists like me who enjoyed the serial.

Agumbe is surely an experience. Don’t you agree?