Saturday, January 19, 2013

Yellapur in Western Ghats

From Hubil I take a bus to Yellapur because it lies on the edge of Western Ghats. I never heard this place’s name before anyway so that makes it more tempting to make a halt here. I fall into the conversation at the Hubli Bus Stand with a gentleman and ask him about where is the best place to halt on the way to the Coast to view the Ghats, he suggests Yellapur. I purchase tickets till Yellapur that is just 100 kilometers.
Bus comes out of the bustling city of Hubli and runs in the typical scenic landscape of Karnataka. Before Yellapur area becomes lush green and hilly. Tall trees are everywhere and it is a small hill town.
Yellapura is known as a “main road town”, meaning it is a village with one main road and facilities such as PCO, tea stalls and restaurants, and tire puncture repair shops. 90% of the people in Yellapura are farmers who grow Areca nuts and rice.
Picture taken from my hotel window in Yellapur

Bus drops me in the market area and there are just 2 hotels. I first walk in the first one that is a big and decent restaurant too. I ask for the room and it is inexpensive and acceptably clean. I take it. It has a large window, its glass panes are tied up with a wire and I remove the wires and now window is offering the superb views of hills and village. Sun is playing hide and seek.
A rural road near Yellapur
They provide me a bucket of hot water and I take a bath and then come in the restaurant for breakfast. Breakfast turns out a nice one. I return to my room and I find my backpack open and all belongings are spread on the double bed and also my shaving pouch unzipped and everything on the bed. It appears that someone meticulously searched my bag. But I had a number lock on the door and I inspect is. Someone opened the latch by taking off all the screws and searched my backpack thoroughly.
Paddies near Yellapur
Nothing is missing and I always hide my money in some secret spot of the room so that stays safely with me.
I ask the hotel employee about the breaking in my room and he laughs.
“Sir, you left the windows open and monkeys searched your bag for food. ”
Wow! This explains everything and how come this idea never came to my own mind. So stupid I am. It is barely 10am and I come out of the hotel and explore this small scenic village of Yellapur.
A rural road near Yellapur
I ask people about where to go to view Ghat Section; they tell me that I need to visit some villages, at least 12 kilometers offset from the main road. Best alternative is to rent a bicycle; those are available at a small shack. But this man refuses to rent me a bicycle saying that he does not know me. I offer him the deposit for the cost of a new bicycle but still he is adamant.
I catch the bus to Magod Falls. After some distance bus makes a left to enter in the rural ghat road.
Below Yellapur
It passes several scenic villages and lush green woodlands with tall and huge trees including banyan, papal etc. Supari trees are also growing everywhere. Western Ghat area is visible at various places where trees thin out or when bus passes through some ridge. Area is so beautiful and I cannot resist the temptation of walking. When bus stops at a village I get down along with others. Conductor shouts at me that Magadi Fall is still 4 kilometers but I wave him goodbye.
I begin walking on the heavenly, lonely and green road.
Near Yellapur
A small village comes, there is a small tea shop and I have a cup of tea there and chat with village folks. They grow supari, tobacco and vegetables. They tell me to take a trail in front of the shop to half kilometers for the view of ghats and also on the clear day one may see Arabian Sea. I take that trail that passes through paddy and areca nut trees. Ghats are visible through peaking holes in the woods and finally I arrive upon a ledge and watch the vast expanse of lush green Western Ghats. A small brook is also making a stepped waterfall from the top to bottom and some villages are also visible in the cup of the Western Ghats.
Rice farms around Yellapur
Scenes are so breathtaking that I just recline on a rock and immerse myself in the views of the Ghats. At 1PM, a passing by Young-man comes to me, he is surprised because rarely anyone visits here in this area. He sits with me and we fall in conversation. He works in Bangalore and came here to visit his village in the ghats. Now he is returning back to Bangalore. We walk together to the road and there he offers me another cup of tea from the tea shop.
Bus comes from the falls and he leaves and I resume my walk towards Magod falls.
Road to Magod
Jungle intensifies and now road is like a tunnel under the foliage. Village of Magadi comes after some turns. I find this a unique and mystic village. A temple in the large open swath under a shed comes and then comes the small village market. Magadi river is also touching the village and taking several turns before slamming down in the Ghats and that makes the spectacular falls but only in the rainy season. River has little water now and fall view is barely half kilometer.
View from the road
I walk there but there is no water fall but the great scenes of the Ghat. I return to the village.
I eat the lunch of idle from the shack like small restaurant that is smelling of the smoke. People are drying areca nuts at outside their homes. There are some wheeled baskets for silkworm farming. Village people harvest the honey and herbs in the ghats so these things are also sold here.
Magod Falls in the rainy season
It is a very small village and also the end of the road. Area is habitated by a tribe called Siddis.
The Siddis are a tribe of African descent that has made Karnataka their home for the last 400 years. The majority of the Siddhis in Karnataka are descendants of Siddhi slaves who were brought from East Africa (mostly Mozambique and Tanzania) to Goa by the Portuguese, British and the Arabs between the 16th and 19th centuries. During the Goan Inquisition, some of these slaves were freed and some escaped into the forests of the neighboring Karnataka state. Yellapur Siddis made the forests their home and started cultivation.
A bird sighting on the way.
In some of the villages in these areas, they form the earliest settlers. The Siddis of Yellapur are known to be very honest and hard working.
It is 4 PM, last bus is visible from the ridge. To make the best use of my day, I begin walking towards Yellapur. Bus shows up going towards Magadi and I continue to walk till the next village there I wait for the bus. When it arrives, it is almost empty and I take the front seat.
I arrive in no time in Yellapur and it is still daylight so I walk around this small town and eat some slices of pineapples that is locally grown and sold all over.
Western Ghats at Yellapur
Markets are busy at the last minute shopping time because rural folks come here for their shopping and they will be going back on the last of the buses to their villages. A crop of pineapples is being piled up in the open area near bus stand, awaiting auction. Aroma of Pineapples is spread all over. As sun sets town suddenly becomes deserted.
Siddi Dance ceremony
Jenukallu Gudda Jenu means Honey, Kallu means stone and Gudda means hill. This place is a viewpoint in the Western Ghat, which offers a panoramic view of the hills packed one behind the other. Jenukallu Gudda is situated 17 km from Yellapur. The Bedti River from Magod falls cuts across the green hills and bounces all the way to join the Arabian Sea beyond the hills. The breathtaking view of the valley is worth a visit and during sunset the change in the scene is truly magical. There are three hills here, which are at a very high altitude. They are Jenukallu Gudda, Kodekallu Gudda and Balekallu Gudda. The highest hill is the Balekallu Gudda.
A Siddi Woman
Next day I catch a bus for Gokarna.

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