Skim through school geography books, and Jog Falls finds a mention as one of the highest waterfalls in India. The scenic charm of this waterfall increases with heavy rainfall during the monsoon. When we planned a trip to Sharavathi Adventure Camp, visiting Jog Falls was the main aim; little did I know of the host of small treasures that would inspire us. The flamboyant Jog Falls, combined with water adventures and scenic treks, was an experience of tranquility at a completely different level – this was exactly what all of us were craving for.
The breath-taking view from the cottages, of the Talakalale Reservoir and the slopes of the Sahyadris, eased away all our travel fatigue. Nature wore her best coat of paint that day and everything around looked fresh. As we settled in, we were all set to enjoy the magic of India’s second-highest waterfall.
Monsoon is when the Sahyadris come alive. River Sharavathi leaps from a height of 900 feet to form Jog Falls, with its four massive waterfalls gushing and plummeting towards the valley below. Raja — the grandest of them all — plunges 900 feet. Giving him company is Roarer, a few hundred feet lesser in height. They are joined by Rocket, sprinting away. The last in line is her highness, Rani, in all her glory, with the cascading water almost looking like her flowing tresses. Conversations ceased and we all reflected on the beauty in silence.
Overwhelmed by all this splendour, we reluctantly started our journey back to the lodge. Sipping a hot cup of coffee by the water’s edge, we chalked out an aquatic adventure that included kayaking, zooming on a water scooter, and racing each other. Our instructor ensured that we wore life-jackets, and gave us our kayaks, with double-blade paddles for manoeuvring. We were taught how to manoeuvre the boat and synchronise, and in no time, we started racing each other on the reservoir. Drifting along the refreshing waters of the reservoir while taking in the scenic beauty can transport you into dreamland. As a couple of us merrily drifted away, we heard a stern voice “left, right, left, and right.” Astonished about who was marching on water, we turned and saw our friends following the guide’s drill-like instructions for paddling the boat. They whizzed past us, hilariously breaking up the stillness with their echoing chants.
We soon realised that paddling was too much for our weak city muscles, and instead, decided to take a dip in the water. We docked our kayaks and ran into the water with childlike glee. We floated and played volleyball and other games. The trick to swimming with your life-jacket on is to pedal with your feet, almost like a duck. My friend was very fascinated with the technique and kept pedalling away, only to have the guard keep bringing her closer to the shore. Floating on the reservoir, we bid adieu to the setting sun and welcomed a full moon.
The next morning, we woke up at the first ray of sunrise to see how light changed as it streamed across the pristine blue waters. We had decided to trek to a sunrise point to take in the view. All along, bulbuls and starlings fluttered from tree to tree, while a Malabar Giant Squirrel took a giant leap from one branch to another in search of a meal. Brahminy Kites circled the skies. Babblers, aka ‘the seven sisters’, chattered on.
The trek was not the exerting kind that punched a hole in your gut, but the sheer magnificence of the view from the summit hits you so hard that you can hardly breathe. We could feel the calmness, and the water with mountains around it was a sight to behold. We sat there absorbing the true essence of nature.
Some startling screeches proved to be a pair of noisy Malabar Pied Hornbills. A group of brilliantly-coloured Plum-headed Parakeets was moving towards a paddy field with distinctive, short, high-pitched calls. Known to be enthusiastic mimics of the avian world, a drongo attracted our attention with its graceful shape. Butterflies and bees fluttered around. We were cradled in nature’s lap, enjoying the ethereal beauty of the Sahyadris.
My goal is to always be so undisruptive, still, and non-threatening, that I become one with nature. The Sahyadris gave me the exhilarating, humbling and awe-inspiring experience of being a tiny speck in the world.