Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Karnataka Camping : A trek to Vajrapoha waterfalls

Day 3: It was our last day in Belgaum, Some of us had to return by Puducherry express which arrives Belgaum at 18.02. Our plan for the day was a visit to beautiful Vajrapoha waterfalls and catch our train / bus in the evening to return home. We were running short of the time and as informed by our leader that we will have to do a marathon trek to Vajrapoha waterfalls and back for it takes around 5-7 hrs from Jamboti village and there was fair chance of we missing our train if we delay.


Taking chances we bid adios to our campsite by 8.30 am after breakfast and boarded our mini bus for the village of Jamboti. Jamboti lies around 30 minutes drive from our campsite on Belgaum - Goa route. This is the only place where one can purchase food or bottled water. Here we were joined by few more local friends of our leader Praveen as we moved off the main road towards Katni Dam site on the jungle route for around 4-5 kms.

Vajrapoha waterfalls lies in the dense reserved forest of Bhimgad wildlife Sanctuary, The beautiful waterfall located in the green canopy of western ghat is pretty much less explored and away from routine tourist traffic. The falls created by the gushing water of Mahadeyi river originates from stream nears Degaon village near Khanapur, fed by other streams in the mountainous western ghats in Karnataka,the river flows from elevated region creating a beautiful and mesmerizing Vajrapoha waterfall which falls at a height of 200 feet in the deep valleys and further flows into Goa and then meets the Arabian sea. The waterfall creates a diamond shape droplets while falling at a staggering height and hence the name Vajrapoha. 

Our trek: On reaching the spot from where we had to enter the jungle route, Our guide stopped the bus. There is no indication on the route but I could see a board indicating route to Katni Dam site which was the landmark, just opposite to that signboard we have to enter the dense forest to visit the waterfall. The initial route was walking through knee high grass but the surrounding forest seemed to grow more dense with every steps we took further on. At some point the trail passed through some really dense and high shrubs where we had to bend and walk on the narrow path. Yesterday's close encounter with the what seemed to be a big cat was still fresh in our mind and mere thought of it was enough to give goosebumps in the stomach.




Traversing through the dense forest was challenging and at the same time thrilling as well. We surely got a feel of what a real jungle is. We would have walked for around 40 odd minutes when we heard the sound of flowing water. It was the sound of Mahadeyi river flowing casually between the rock stewn path.



Our path was now a walk along the riverbed and our very first encounter was with freshly shedded snake skin. Wow !!! It was almost 6 feet tall. Luckily or unluckily we didn't see any snake close by. Not that I was interested in seeing one.



It was just a different feeling of walking / jumping on rocks lying on riverbed with water flowing besides you. Dense forest lingered on both sides of the river. We walked at times on river bed jumping on small and big rocks while at times walked on the banks when the water level increased at some places. We kept encountering snake skin in our path and within a few minutes of our walk we must have come across 3-4 of them. The rocky bed seemed to be ideal ground for snakes. Mahadeyi river was regularly fed by water from the mountains at different places which was also our source of drinking water. The river water didn't seems to be potable.



Even though the level of water was not much but the massive size of the river bed gave an indication of what the flow and force of water would be during the rainy season. Our guide informed that in rains it was practically impossible to get down on the river bed due to massive force of flowing water.




Huge boulders and rocks along with elevated path at some places created a sort of mini waterfalls. We came across few of them on our way. The sound of flowing water and wilderness around was truly a mesmerizing experience. Everyone was enjoying the walk in the wilderness and indulging in photo shoots along the way.



As we walked towards our destination, we again came across pugmarks of bigcat in the sand close to the river bed. But the illusive cat was no where in our sight but may be we were in her's. Who knows 


We had been walking for almost around 2 hrs and our destination seemed to be close by. The water level had been steadily increasing as we moved towards our destination. At one point we had to walk on very narrow strip of rock which was underwater close to the massive rockwall. A thrilling experience as the narrow strip of rock was barely visible.



From here we climbed higher on the rocks as it was now not possible to walk on riverbed due to increased level of water. But we could now sense our destination was close by as the roar of falling water increased with every step we took. The sight of swiftly flowing water of Mahadeyi river heralded our arrival at the destination. It was walk of nearly 3 hrs when we finally reached the mouth of the waterfall. Each one of us eager to sight the massive waterfall and deep valley below.


And lo behold there it was, the magnificent Vajrapoha !!!! It seemed more beautiful than the two waterfalls that we had visited yesterday. What an awesome sight it was. Words falls short and feelings is difficult to describe here. Our tiredness of our long journey was soon forgotten.



Removing the burden of backpack from our shoulders, all indulged in photo shoots and admiring the lovely sight the region had to offer.


Close to the waterfall there is way to go few feet below and be at the touching distance of the flowing water from above. The patch is difficult as it involves climbing down with the help of two bamboos which is cut and placed in a strategic way. Few adventurous among us did go down to be at a kissing distance of the waterfall while few among us were content to be at safer higher ground.

Bamboo climb to go down one level for kissing the waterfall
We spent some time here and wished we could stay longer but we had to taken a return journey and then reach the station on time for our journey back home. Time was a constraint for us. With one last glance at the waterfall and gorgeous valley below we started our return journey along the same route. Our return journey was quick as we didn't spent time in any photo shoot and we easily covered the distance back to our starting point in little over 2 hours.


With enough time in our hand, We had a sumptuous lunch at Jamboti dhaba and were well before time at Belgaum station for our return train journey. Some of our group members who had booked return journey by bus had more time in hand to explore the market place of Belgaum while Chari & Neha had planned onward journey to Goa for few days so they took direct bus to Goa from Jamboti itself. It was one hell of an amazing trek in Belgaum region and all were so much in love with the place that planning for next trek to explore many more places around Belgaum had already started even before our return journey was complete.

A special mention requires about our trek leader Praveen Pawar who organised the entire event very well and not to forget Rishi - owner of the campsite and Gangadhar for their valuable support.

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