It was almost 3pm in the noon. Departing from the scenic views of Varanga, we set out to drive through the Western Ghats. The deadly journey of Western Ghats is known to be the Agumbe ghat section. I had just heard about it and was super excited to drive through these ghats :)
Brief on the place :
Agumbe is a small village in Shimoga district with approximately 500 people. It is one of the cores of Western Ghats and is a bliss for nature lovers. It's called as the Cherrapunji of South India - recording the average rainfall of 1000cm in the rainy season. The beauty of Agumbe is ultimately magical in the monsoon. It is famous for the spectacular sunsets during the summer.
Another attraction is the Agumbe Rain Research Forests (ARRS), which is the only rainforest research station in India. It was founded by Indian herpetologist Romulus Whitaker in 2005 when he saw his very first King cobra here in 1971. ARRS managed the world’s first radio-telemetry project on the King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), which is also the first radio-telemetry study done on any snake in India.
However, visiting and staying in ARRS requires prior planning and contacting the research centre. We were in short of time and also this trip was completely unplanned so we couldn't accommodate this. But it will be on my list for the next visit to Agumbe.
From Varanga, we headed on Kabbinale road and in 20 mins, we entered the nature fence of Agumbe. Gradually the roads were covered with dense trees on either side. It was a monsoon, the roads were covered with fog and minimum light rays reaching the earth. I opened Google maps on the phone for navigating to Sunset point. There was intermittent network connectivity, only BSNL and Airtel has signals here. I was awestruck and equally afraid to look at the ghat section on Google maps. It looked like some kid scribbled on a piece of paper :D Wow !!!
[caption id="attachment_5855" align="alignnone" width="800"] The Agumbe ghat section - Serpentine :D[/caption]
The Serpentine roads
The ghat section is almost 10kms and has dangerous curves. 14 hairpin bends !!! It gives thrill in veins for the person who loves driving in curves. Rocky was rocking the driving. The roads appeared to be serpentine and we were literally scared on watching how the trucks dangerously took turns just ahead of us. It is one of the deadliest ghat section I had ever seen till now :-O
[caption id="attachment_5856" align="alignnone" width="800"] The roads to heaven <3[/caption]
The roads are good but narrow and can expect some traffic. For a safe ride, we controlled Rocky not to exceed 15kmph on these narrow roads. Just keep in mind, in case of any mishaps, the search and rescue are next to impossible in this forest vicinity :|
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It almost started drizzling and a soft music in background happened to be the best evening treat to my soul. With dense forests around us, the scenery was breathtaking. The fresh air soothed our minds to the core. Most pleasant experience of the whole trip!! :) There were small natural streams found along the way. The atmosphere was getting cooler on ascending higher altitudes. The view was getting better with sprawling series of green mountains :)
[caption id="attachment_5877" align="alignnone" width="800"] Drizzling drops of rain striking the window pane :)[/caption]
The Sunset Point
We noticed a couple of viewpoints where people paused to witness the nature. We drove ahead to see a board "Sunset point". Totally, I could spot some 20 visitors with bikes and cars parked. We stopped here and got down to witness beautiful views from the valley. Since it was a monsoon, the mountains were covered with mist. It looked beautiful through the drizzling drops of rains lashing our eyesight :) In summers, a clear and greener view of mountains will surely impress you.
[caption id="attachment_5859" align="alignnone" width="1182"] The view of Agumbe ghat section[/caption]
Just on the other side of the road, we noticed steps and a board leading us to the top of Sunset viewpoint. It was 4:30pm, I was under the satisfaction that we would not be missing the sunset. I was chasing to look out for the sun.
[caption id="attachment_5857" align="aligncenter" width="418"] Entrance of Sunset viewpoint[/caption]
But sadly the sun gave up and hid behind the clouds. Nobody could witness Agumbe sunset that day. A mere disappointment! However, we witnessed a beautiful array of mountains from this viewpoint. Not a sight of sun though :(
[caption id="attachment_5858" align="alignnone" width="800"] Sunset viewpoint with sun hidden behind clouds :P[/caption]
The evening gathered dark clouds and layers of fog started moving with a higher speed. It appeared as though something magical would be happening. Thunders roared! Finally, it started raining and raindrops made us happier. Undoubtedly, it is one of the wettest places in India. We just filled our breath to the fullest to enjoy this moment :) The atmosphere started becoming dark and that's when we realized we need to leave. The driving would be a challenge if the atmosphere gets darker. You would not notice anybody and no other source of light other than car lights. The driving was slightly tough due to fog covering up and the roads barely visible. Driving Agumbe ghats during rains need fine driving skills. Finally, slow driving yet a thrilling one gave us goosebumps :| We finally made our way out of the forest.
Moments at Malpe beach
Around 5:15 we crossed Seethanadi Nature camp. This is another place I have on my list for the next visit. We drove further to reach Hebri and at last to reach Malpe beach. I literally ran out of the car to catch a glimpse of the sunset.
[caption id="attachment_5883" align="alignnone" width="800"] Meee - Running to catch the sunset :([/caption]
We were just 2minutes late for sunset. The sky was filled with red rays and looked beautiful. We soothed our legs in the beach and played for a while. We relaxed watching the waves roaring at us.
[caption id="attachment_5885" align="alignnone" width="800"] Malpe beach - Post sunset[/caption]
I was syncopating my heart beat to the waves. I envied the people of coastal areas, as they have beaches so near and its so relaxing to sit and watch the waves. But they are used to it, they feel nothing special about it :D
[caption id="attachment_5884" align="alignnone" width="800"] Wave therapy :)[/caption]
Bengalureans always wish that Bengaluru should have had a beach :P If this wish somehow becomes true, I'm sure apartments would have raised encroaching the sea :D Mocking the Bengaluru's current plight!! :(
Delightful Fish fries
We spent quality time chit chatting at the beach. Around 7pm, we reached home. Aunty was waiting for us on the balcony. A nice aroma of fish fry struck Pradeep's nose. A delightful dinner awaited us. I was the only poor vegetarian there with a plate of two boiled eggs.
[caption id="attachment_5319" align="alignright" width="266"] Udupi Special - Fish fries !! - Tharun's half-eaten plate :P[/caption]
All others had a stomach full of fish fries and chicken kabab. None were responding to what I was talking blah blah. They concentrated completely on pure Non-Veg :D Literally, I felt I was the loneliest person on earth :P !! Poor me :(
After dinner, we sat in the balcony. It was around 10pm, I couldn't spot any lights in the vicinity of 1km. It was pitch dark and aunty said everyone sleeps early here. We started revisiting how beautiful the day was even though it was unplanned. Gradually, the stories diverted to ghost and scary experiences. Hallucinations followed :P :| With this we went to bed in the fear of the unseen ghost :D
Agumbe rain drive is a lifetime experience everyone should have. I'm sure I will again visit Agumbe in summer to witness the famous view of the sunset.
[caption id="attachment_5854" align="alignnone" width="800"] The group silhouette :)[/caption]
- Agumbe - It is located at a distance of 350kms from Bangalore. One can halt in Shimoga for the night before and reach Agumbe early morning for a serene ride. It is around 50kms from Udupi.
- In summers, the mountains will be cleared from fog and one can witness spectacular sunsets here.
- In monsoons, a rain drive is worth it to experience the magic of Agumbe. Though sunset is rarely visible, the fog and mist will give you a memorable experience.
- Driving is a challenge through this ghat section. Make sure you remain in 10 - 20 kmph for the sake of your own safety.
- Park the vehicles only in dedicated viewpoints only. It will be convenient for you and other tourists.
- If you are planning prior - I would like to suggest the following places also. Seethanadi nature camp, Agumbe RainForest Research Station, Doddamane (the home where Malgudi days was shot).
- It's a bliss for adventurous trekkers. Onakke Abbi falls is another attraction, which is mostly restricted due to heavy rains. Enquire with forest department before visiting.
This was the third part of the Unplanned trip.
Do check out my previous posts on Udupi.
1. Udupi Sri Krishna Matha [ Udupi trip Part-1 ]
2. Kere Basadi – Bliss of Varanga Jain temples [ Udupi trip Part-2 ]
Stay tuned for the next posts :)
Unplanned trips are always the best !!!
If you like what you read, please like and share this post. Feel free to comment if you have ever been to Agumbe or planning to visit in near future.