Kalhatti Falls


Location: Kalhatti Falls is located one hour from Birur (Birur - Kadur Taluk in NE-Chikmagalur District). Birur is near Kadur, between Arsikere in Hassan Dist and Bhadravathi in Shimoga Dist. From Birur, Kalhatti is accessible through Lingadahalli.
The route from Bangalore is through Tumkur - Tiptur - Arsikere - Kadur - Birur on NH206. The road from Birur to Lingadahalli is about 15 kms. From there, there is a fork whose left arm goes to Santaveri and continues towards Chikmagalur and the right arm goes towards Kalhatti falls and Kemmangundi.

How to get there: Birur is a junction well connected on the Bangalore-Shimoga, Bangalore-Kolhapur, Bangalore-Hubli or Yeshwantpur-Vasco routes. The Shimoga Express leaves Bangalore at 2310 and reaches Birur at an unearthly hour of 0315. Buses from Birur towards Lingadahalli are at 0545, 0630 and quite regularly after that. These buses take about 30 mins. You can hire private vehicles to take you till Kalhattigiri (another 30 min ride on road)from where you can begin the trek.

A good place to end the trek is Santaveri on the other side of the hill. This is also well connected to Birur with buses every hour or so. (Santaveri - Birur takes about an hour on road). The Hubli-Bangalore Jan Shatabdhi express leaves Birur at 1655 and gets you to Bangalore by 2030.
This could be a decent itenary to follow.

The trek: The trek is plain ascent. Many routes to the top of the falls beckon you. There is apparantly a route adjacent to the falls which is rocky and maybe slippery during rains. An alternate route is through the coffee plantations of Blue Mountain Estates which would require the services of a guide. The downside of this path is that it essentially is a jeep track. :-(

A simple trek of an hour from Santaveri takes you to the top too if you are just looking for an outing.

The story: The long weekend of October - Dasara vacations falling just before the weekend! And AMD generous enough to give me three days off!! The setting was perfect for a 5 day trek. But that wasnt to be. The trek was planned to Charmudi Ghats (BallarayanaDurga) and then was shifted to Kalhatti coz of ultra enthu junta!! The group strength swelled to 16 and we had to shift to a feasible route!

The team - Sameer, Kitta, Kabbur (both Santoshz), Sham, myself, Anirudh, Vijay, Sujay, Vinay/Gulu, Jagan, Vidya, Shruti Purohit, Ashwini, Pradeep, Vipul and KP!!!
Date - October 15,16 2k5

With Pradeep and Sudarshan (and maybe KP too ;)) taking most of the pains to get the trains confirmed and the tents and stuff, the Shimoga Express on 14th Oct saw the sixteen of us crammed into one compartment. Hajaar attempts at formal intros ended in miserable failures and before we knew it (I had hardly closed my eyes!!) we were in Birur. Awake at three in the morning usually means that I have an exam the next day or that I am having too much fun!!!

Dare I say this was an exception! Walked all over the platforms of Birur singing with Ashwini .... sometimes ran up and down the stairs ..... what not!!! Who said I have grown out of my childhood!! :-D. A few of the guys started sprinting from one end of the platform to the other in a show of machoism while others showed that through deep snores!

Finally, we trudged down the dimly lit lanes of Birur to reach the main road and caught sight of Circle restaurant. Soon, we were made aware of quite a few restaurants in the vicinity and each one opted for one of them!! BeNNe masala dosa or plain old idly .... that was a la carte.

Having missed the 0545 bus anticipating a sumptuous breakfast, we had to be content with the idly and boarded the 0630 bus to reach Lingadahalli by 0700. With no private vehicles in sight, we started walkin towards the road to Kalhattigiri. Cameras made their appearence. And with those in sight, it is inevitable that ppl start acting up!! Portfolios were taken. ... trees bore the weight of a few of us ... the usual :)

We flagged down a lorry open on one side and after a lot of deliberation, we enthusiastically made our way up the chariot of death when the driver lost self-faith and denied us the previlige of testing our fate on his gaDdi. Thankfully, a bus to the same destination ferried us all to the base of Kalhattigiri in less than half an hour.

We began the walk (around 0815) on asphalted road where the asphalt could be barely sighted through slush, sand and shit!! Walked through a Tamil dominated village and reached the Veerabhadreshwara temple by 0900. Recommendations of a hotel serving good Chitranna by Pradeep couldnt help but remind me of Sudarshan taking us to Qutub Minar a few years ago! ;-) I spent quite some time testing the macro feature of my camera there and Vidya was more then enthu to join in.
Finally, we brokered a deal with a couple of localites to take us to the top of the falls and set out by 1000. (That was a mistake according to me!!!). Overly concerned about our welfare, the two guides denied us the excitement of trekking near the falls and forced us on a detour through a 1500 acre Blue Mountain Estate in a quest to reach the top. The trek was initially on the right of the stream flowing down till we crossed it and headed out through the coffee plants. Pradeep got a fall to his credit, lost his extra pair of eyes and amazingly found them without their aid!!!

From this point on, we just followed the guides as we went further and further away from the waterfalls, stomachs growling, Ashwini barely walking, feet dragging and all that. The ascent showed no signs of abating and the track got slushier ..... Battling such extreme conditions (a big chuckle as I write it!) we trudged on - the future glory in mind!! (Sorry am crapping a lot!!)
Just when it seemed that Shruthi would pass out, we took a break and had some biscuits (Long live Hide and Seek!) and some chocolates .... a lot of water ... and suddenly were revitalised and ready for battle. Some 7-8 of us at the back showed no signs of catching up with the guys in front and took a break a minute!! The guide came back in search of us and made sure we reached our campsite!

I could just go on and on about how amazing this place was to camp. On top of Kalhattigiri, adjacent to the falls (but we couldnt see it from there), green slopes around and a cool stream flowing through it. :) Brings a smile on my face when I think of it too .......

Lunch was sumptuous ,..... Hogged on chapathis like there was no tomorrow and had a nice afti nap. I wake up an hour later to find the enthu junta puttin up the tents at 0400 pm!!! We had five tents for 16 ppl .. so that was pretty comfortable. Having set up post there, we ventured into the cool waters for a refreshing bath. Water splashing, the screams, the cool water, dipping into the water -- all too familiar sequences. Half an hour of enjoyment came to an abrupt end when I found some kutti leeches on my arm and shreiked out loud!! (Thats when Shaama said - yea I saw them too!!! What the hell was he doing till then!!!)

For the next five minutes, we were examining the others for any leeches and quickly made our way out to dry ourselves in the sun. Sujay left his leech infested shorts for any vagabonds willing to borrow it!!! A quick change later, me KP and Shaama tried trekkin up the adjacent peak hoping to get a peek on the sunset! A fifteen minute climb later, we realised our attempts to be of no avail as the sun was blocked by another hill in front of this!! The other group of Kabbur, Pradeep, Sameer and others had also given up and rested their asses. Kitta was quite a sight in his Man U 'costume'!

Back to the tents and it was dinner time at 1900 hrs!! Everyone got their packet of MTR ready-to-eat out and it was pounced upon in a jiffy!! It was fun!!! :D. The beauty of the campsite was further enhanced by the white moonlight casting long shadows .... Dreamy!!! Junta then got down to a round of poker and with screams heard around me, I decided to call it a day.
KPs alarm went off at 0545 ... No one woke up ... Half an hour later, I sleepily put my head out of the tent and peeked out east. I was up in a jiffy!!! The sun was just about to rise and it promised to be a magnificent sight!! I shouted out so loud that I ensured that everyone woke up!!! :D. My love for the sunrise and the sunset .. the latter especially, was thanx to KREC beach. It was nostalgia and an excitement at the same time ........

Breakfast was no different than the previous dinner. Soup was gulped down in huge quantities and we could choose from Chapatis, ready-to-eat, Cup-o-noodles and bread!! Had a four course meal on that itself!!! ;-) We got lazier thanx to all the hogging and took an eternity to get the show wrapped up and embark on our next journey. Filled with some enthu to see the falls again, we had just set out when the other group camping there gave a lot of unwanted suggestions which made everyone decide to ditch the trip to the falls!! :-( :-(. Visibly disappointed, I even contemplated a solo dash which didnt happen. I already started making plans for my next visit there!!!

An hour or so into the journey and we reached Santaveri. It was around 1130. We got a bus to Birur at 1215 and were there in less than an hour. At one when the train was at 1655!! We could've easily trekked more and had a glance at the falls :-( (Cursing others now .....)
Lunch was at a Khanalaya just behind the bus stand and we hogged on ragi mudde, jolad rotti, chapathi and rice!!!

Since Aniruddh, Sujay, Vinay, Vijay, Vipul, Sham and Kitta didnt have reservations in the train, we bade them a tearful goodbye (we hid the tears tho) and the rest nine dashed into the adjacent theater to watch the Kannada blockbuster 'Aiiah'. (The same sound you make when you say 'Aiiiiyoooooooooo'). My enthu had gotten the better of me and I was blamed for how bad the movie was!! (Did these guys think I directed it or something!!!! Why vent their frustrations on me!!!). I defiantly endured all the abuses showered on me and tried to be calm against the threats on my physical well-being.

I just couldnt contain my laughter when the 'hero' went 'tabala tabala tabla' and the heroine went 'dolu dolu dolu'!!! Laughter was even more uncontrolled when the hero thundered 'Naanu Conventnal oDdawnalla .. Corporation Schoolnal oDdawnu' .... Each scene was hilarious (though unintended by the director) and it was as good a kannada movie that I had mocked at!!! (the other notable ones being Police Dog in Bangalore and Superstar in Madikeri).

KP had to drag us all out (especially Pradeep) to the Railway station where we boarded the JanShatabdhi and headed out to Bangalore. KP and Ashwini disappeared from sight. Jagan started enquiring Vidya and Sameer about Pradeep while Kabbur was trying to get some sleep next to Shruthi and Pradeep's rambling. While poor old me had to sit next to a fat old man and stare into oblivion. :-(

Three and a half hours later, Bangalore welcomed us along with a heavy downpour. Autos refused to come to my place .... BTS came to the rescue!! I knew for sure they wouldn't say I am not going in that direction or gimme 200 bucks!!! An hour of fight later, the journey ended. A great outing .... a refreshed mind.
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