March 7th 2008, 11:14 am: Mail from Manz.. Guys,
Just a glance at the above blog was enough to frame an idea of visiting this place in monsoon. Hats off to the guy (Kartik I guess) who posted that wonderful experience with few amazing snaps of river rafting and mountain biking. Manz had just thrown a stone hoping that it will strike few of us, but eventually it did strike all of us and made us eagerly wait for the monsoons for our adventurous trip to Agumbe. Well...Everyone knows that if something is being planned too early, the efforts will go in vain. Sita nadi trip set an exception to that statement. We all waited for this trip for months and the plan worked out just as expected, may be more than that. Everyone I met since I heard about this place, I kept mentioning about this place and kept making false promises except to "this group". I am thinking of a better name for "this group". Any suggestions from "this group" are most welcome. As the clouds thundered and sky started showering, all of them who were convinced with my false promises, started buzzing me "boss, monsoon arrived? You said we will go sita nadi.. are we going??" - I didn't know what reasons I would give to avoid them.
1st Aug 2008, around 9 PM:
The late night discussions about plans, long chat with San who was in Denmark, a telecon of 1 and 1/2 hours between me, Manz and San to get convinced about San's plans and list of places to be visited, home made food preparation by Hari, Shy, Nidhi and Thrish, Larry and San's shopping for snacks - everything put together made us occupy our seats in TT with Raghu (driver) all set for the river rafting and leechy trek in the Agumbe Ghats. Gang - Below in the video :-)
Though we made sure we had everything set for next 2 days including food, we had to get down for dinner at 10PM. After having delicious grilled sandwiches, pretty costly though, the TT took a left turn on the Tumkur road, towards Haasan. The road was pretty good and we reached Beluru at around 2 AM. We got down from the TT to stretch our body a bit. After a while, we had to get back into TT and close our eyes in search of sleep. I desperately prayed for a proper sleep, but the curvy roads and on/off rain made it difficult for me. The road was so calm in the late night, rather an early morning; I could easily count the number of vehicles that our TT encountered on a stretch of 50kms. 2nd Aug, 4:30 AM, Sringeri: Highly opposed place for the first visit, Sringeri was the place where Raghu insisted us to stop by and look for lodge. I was happy that my plan was working out. We took 2 rooms (for 100 rs!!!), in the vicinity of "Sharadambe Temple" to sleep for some time and to get fresh. Except for the "no hot water" and the colorful cold water the rooms were pretty good. Most of us took bath and headed towards the temple which was very close the rooms.
It turned out to be a much longer wait than we expected. It was already 2:15 and we could not see the rafts coming in. Also Sharat was telling that there were some problems. Everyone kept their fingers crossed, waited eagerly near the Shores. Finally we could see the rafts after half an hour and there were instructors too. The wait seemed to be over when we were asked to assemble to listen to the instructions. We then wore, with all excitement, the raft wear which were all over the rafts. As the guides and organizers were pumping the blow inside the rafts, we felt the adrenaline pump. Then we moved close to the river for further instructions. Basically there would be one instructor per raft who will sit at the back and give us the commands. It all started with "Paddle forward, paddle backward, right forward and left backward" etc... Then Sharath moved on to explain the consequences if we are detached from the raft in the middle, if the raft itself topples, not to panic since the life jacket could helo us float for 24 hours at least! (After that!!!???) - Those instructions were really scary - scary enough to change manz's facial expressions. "We will all practice few commands for sometime, near the shores.." - That’s what Sharath told and our rafts moved on.. Hari and I occupied front rowers' position. We were watching the current in the water waiting for the raft so long and now we are on it!! Initially it was scary. There was a specific position in which you have to sit and lock your legs to the raft; however we weren't that perfect in doing that. Within few minutes of our rafting there was one huge rapid, which came as a surprise and since it was the first, we weren't prepared for it at all... My god! I became upside down and water gushed through my nasal cavities. Huh.... That was really a spine-chilling experience. However I was still attached the raft and the paddle was with me.
Kaalu kept pestering me to hold the raft properly, to bend forward while rowing... Though it was annoying, it was for my safety and it was lesson for me for my next rafting (If I do!!). The river seems silent after a while's rafting. Kaalu said that we can jump into the water but holding the rope along side the raft. San had got free pass to jump wherever she wants even without any support. She just utilized her chance and jumped straight into water; Shy sitting on the raft was imagining herself in San's position - "zuuinnnnnnnn..." - Yes she just imagined, did not make an attempt to get down. Sangeetha was flowing away faster than the raft and finally a small thin bush helped her to give support. Even the bush would have felt happy that in life it could give support to one creature at least. :-) Kaalu stretched the paddle towards San and managed to pull her back into the raft. She kept smiling as though nothing would have happened. 60 odd years old uncle who was sitting behind took this opportunity to praise her and ask her name. When an old man does this, nobody says that he is flirting. On the other hand, when I asked the old man's daughter who was sitting behind me about what she does, everybody thinks I was flirting. Bad people!
The river Sita, which takes birth in Narasimha Parvata, and flows down through the western Ghats of Agumbe to meet Arabian see, was flowing wild, wide and full. The trees along side the river remained serene in the midst of the turbulent wind and monsoons... We could catch the sight of many birds every now and then... Just to add more attraction to the present beautiful view, a peacock, flew just few meters above our head from one end of the river to cross it and find a place on a tree's branch. Our raft was gushing down through the wild water but still we could turn back to have a glance at the peacock... It was a typical Indian Blue Peacock.
Labour work - carrying the rafts to the main road :-)
There was a bus waiting for the rafting candidates; we had to walk for a kilo meter to board the bus; as we entered the bus we could see all the wet bodies occupying the seats; as usual I chose the last row, my favorite from college days :-). Back to the nature camp, we dried ourselves with the warm clothes. A cup of tea/coffee with Bajji after that ended our tenure at Sita. We came back home after a shopping for pickles, ghee and Curd, prepared steamed rice, had a peaceful dinner with our home made chaptis and parathas. Carrying food there turned out to be a wise decision as far as I think.
3rd Aug, 2008: 10:00 am "What's today's plan?" - That was a question everybody asked while having breakfast, and question, obviously, was to San. She said she had no idea; as per our discussion before the trip our avid trekkers’ gang had decided to trek to Koodlu Theertha falls. However, trek to this falls should be ventured only in dry season otherwise people will come back with leeches everywhere. ;-). Lodge's owner suggested me to route the gang to Barkana falls which was quite a small trek and there was a view point of the falls and another falls called Jogi Gundi falls where we could get into water.
We played Hitch while coming back to Bangalore, which got stuck half way through - but not before Hitch conveyed a message - "Life is not the amount of breaths we take; it's the moments that take our breaths away" - which went in sync with our trip to Agumbe. There were plenty of such moments that took our breaths away. The fun, the wonderful rides, the laughter, the trip ended at around 4:15am in the morning when I buzzed the door bell to irritate my brother and woke him up to open the door.