Waterfalls have always fascinated me while trekking in wilderness; some remote waterfalls such as Belligundi have challenged me too to explore it. It was when I trekked with friends a couple of years back to unknown waterfalls called Goodana gundi near Sagar taluk in western ghats, the trek guide omprakash escorting us, was murmuring, admired a waterfalls tucked away in sheer wilderness . The sheer admiration captivated and motivated me to visit the waterfalls and was in my bucket list to visit for a long time.
It was long weekend and I was looking for a break from the monotonous work. Meanwhile the rainy season had come to end and forest was lush green, it was time to head to some exotic locale. After discussion with om & friends we finalized with Belligundi waterfalls which beckoned me!
After an overnight journey of 10 hours from Bangalore in a luxury bus brought us to a sleepy hamlet in wee hours of a winter morning called Kattinakaru in Shimoga district of Karnataka known for world famous Jog falls. Our host and trek guide greeted us and after morning ablutions, we started our trek.
We walked initially through the jeep track for about 3 kms, the permissions from forest department was made in advance so we didn’t need to worry about it. We had a bird’s view of Belligundi waterfalls cascading into a gorge from the vantage point called Kalgatta from the opposite mountain. It was inviting and everybody was eager to take the challenge.
We descended into the valley and walked under canopy. The evergreen forest was dense and eerie silence sometimes was broken by sound of cicadas, beatles and cackling sound of hornbills. We realized that without a local guide like Mallappa, it was difficult to approach waterfalls and really admired him for his uncanny sense of direction and knowledge. We crossed numerous streams and quenching our thirst we started descending the slope in the dense forest.
After walking for 3 hours, It was while descending slippery slope of a 70 degree gradient I heard the roar of the waterfalls In the deep jungle, as the wind blowed and trees swayed I noticed the silvery water taking a plunge and orifice of waterfalls through the foliage. As I climbed down the falls really looked big and probably for the first time I experienced something like this. As I reached the stream I realized that reaching the base of waterfalls was difficult, walking on slippery rocks. The sound of the water intensified as I neared the waterfalls. Guide was always ahead, giving us information about forest trees making way for us, with his sickle and cautioning us of any impending danger. The fellow members were struggling to catch us.
The last part of the climb was quite steep and we have to literally climb the boulders carefully. The sight of rock face and cascading water was breathtaking. The water cascading down transforming into droplets and kissing us was soothing. We craned our necked to see the orifice of waterfalls. Sunlight kissing the silver screen had a golden glow and the veil of waterfall which had a rainbow looked majestic! In no time all were drenched under the waterfall cascading from 300 ft height. A natural shower in gushing cold water standing on the rocks below was a divine experience!.
After enjoying the beauty of waterfalls and its surroundings we munched the yummy Chappati’s with chutney. After a herculean effort we managed to do group photos because of water droplets. With a heavy a heart we bid good bye to place at 3 pm. We as usual did not litter the place, we were not in a mood to leave the exotic locale. We were told that after dark the creepy crawly become alert and will be difficult to walk on the trail. We climbed down the slippery rock face cautiously and walked down stream. The waterfall becomes inaccessible during monsoons due to leeches and water level in streams. I was walking on the foliage along the stream, suddenly a huge yellow snake with brown spots caught my attention and soon disappeared in the bushes. Our guide om identified it and said that it was known as Kolaku Mandala Haavu in local dialect Kannada (English – Russell’s Viper). He also mentioned that it is highly venomous in viper family. Few got goose pimples after hearing about the snake and its characteristics.
Due to thick canopy the darkness fell soon. After manouvering on the boulders carefully and crossing streams armed with powerful headlamps we reached the road head. Overall trek to Belligundi Waterfall was a memorable one to cherish for a lifetime.