Next day was an important one with Agumbe in the list. The first destination was Kudlu Theertha waterfall which allegedly lies on Udupi-Hebri-Agumbe route. It’s not even known to locals and there is no direct bus to Kudlu Theertha from Agumbe. However we boarded a bus with a promise of getting us down as closer as possible to the falls and the distance was revealed once we got down at the last bus stop. Kudlu Theertha waterfall is some 10 km far from this village and there is no public transport on this route. Initially we gathered courage starting the trek but after walking 2-3 km, we inquired further and realized that we will have to walk more than 25 km to complete this. The trek was a worn-out concrete road amidst a dense forest I think. I offended Vishnu when I called it off. We returned back to the bus stop to catch the bus back to Hebri but it turned out an infinite wait.
Road to Kudlu Thirtha Waterfalls
We walked…we roamed…we ran…we slept but Bus never came and there was just none to enquire about it. I think it is indisputably the least visited bus stop of the country. I admit that we both fell in for the bus stop and Vishnu started figuring out the possible stay option. Like spiritualism, the place has the magnate of grasping people in its realm detaching them completely from the outer objects and distractions. When patience exploded, we started walking towards the main road connecting Agumbe and there was no luck in hitch-hiking. We had to walk 5 km all the way till the main highway.
Lush Green forest on the way to Kudlu Theertha waterfalls
Kudlu Theertha Location: Kudlu Theertha waterfall is not on the way from Hebri to Agumbe. I think the route outlined below would be a help. It’s difficult to visit there if you are completely relying on public transport.
Udupi – Hebri – 2km – Right turn to Kudlu Theertha – 2 km – Someshwar – Agumbe
Last bus stop [Kudlu Theertha is some 10 km from here]
Finally we reached to main Hebri-Agumbe road and cool off our frustration with coconut water. I was already exhausted without even sighting any attraction. Soon after we caught a bus to Agumbe which was jam packed and plied through 18 hairpin bends while crossing Western Ghats. Traveling in a standing position and that too on this hilly route made things worse for me. Finally we reached Agumbe, a village about which I heard a lot from my dear friend and fellow traveler. Since my first glimpse of the Village, I was trying to understand why Vishnu boosted so much about this village devoid of life and indeed deprived of basic facilities. Rich biodiversity of the surroundings and intermittent rain were the conspicuous aspects for me but later Vishnu included few more to give me brief about Agumbe.
The Crossroad at Agumbe Village
These are some amazing facts about Agumbe those stand it apart as a distinguished destination.
From Vishnu Kumar:
- Agumbe was featured in famous TV serial “Malgudi Days”.
- Agumbe witnesses the second highest rainfall in the country hence also one of the last undisturbed tracts of montane rainforest and
moist evergreen forest of sub-continent.
- Agumbe got the highest density of King Cobras hence also known as “Capital of King Cobras” and the first King Cobra sanctuary of
the country was founded here only.
- Agumbe rain forest station is the only rain forest research center of the country which primarily studies on King Cobra and its habitat.
- There are also some other projects studying on flying lizards, frog species, rain forest’s plant species etc.
- If it’s a clear cloudless day, you can actually see Arabian sea from Agumbe
From Mohit Jain:
- Agumbe is connected with other towns with private busses only. There are frequent private busses
to/from Sringeri, Thirthahalli, Udupi.
- There are 3 Autos in Agumbe [Don’t laugh, I have counted and recounted and scored 99.6 percentile in
quantitative section of CAT].
- There is one lodge near bus stand [400 INR per night]
- Only BSNL Signals work at Agumbe.
- Sign boards are erratic and all are in Kannada.
- There is just one bus to/from Bangalore in a day.
- Only one restaurant that is at the bus stand.
- Beautiful Researchers at ARRS (Agumbe Rain forest research station :)
A= Udupi, B= Agumbe, C= Sringeri, D= Thirthahalli
Agumbe lies on a T point and the map above clarify it in a better way
Mysterious Kunchikal Falls
I was not interested to walk anymore so we both spent some time at the restaurant at Bus stand and later inquired about Kunchikal falls which is claim to be the highest water of India (Even Wiki says so) but none in the town was aware of that fall. I cannot understand/speak Kannada but I am paraphrasing the inputs those I received from the locals when I asked about this falls. [I interviewed more than 6 people about this fall]
“Someone has written incorrect information on internet. Many people come here and ask about Kunchikal falls but there is no Kunchikal falls. I think in deep forest there is a non-perennial water stream that only flows when it rains heavily and they started calling it waterfall but there is nothing like Kunchikal. We never heard this name. If anyone been there, why don’t they show us the photograph”
Landscape near Agumbe
Later I googled but never found a photograph of Kunchikal falls. There is always a controversy on highest waterfall of India but Kunchikal is certainly not one of the candidates. Kunchikal falls is just a myth and misleading to travelers. Information should be immediately removed. IF SOMEONE HAS BEEN TO KUNCHIKAL FALLS, PLEASE WRITE BACK WITH SUPPORTIVE EVIDENCE.
Coming back to our story, there are some other waterfalls near Agumbe but all of those requires a bit of trekking which I wanted to avoid. Barkana Falls is some 10 km (On the way to Sringeri) and requires 2-3 km trekking in the forest. Onake Abbi falls is also on Sringeri but reaching till the bottom of the fall is complicated. Jogigundi is the nearest one to Agumbe but not worth a visit so finally we returned back to the restaurant at Bus stand and sipped another cup of tea. We were kind of settled and waiting for the evening to visit famous Sunset point ( On Clear day, from here you can actually see the Arabian sea) but suddenly Vishnu came up with an idea of leisurely walk till ARRS (Agumbe Rain Forest Research Station) which lies some 2-3 km away from Bus stand. ARRS is popular as Gowrishankar amongst the natives of Agumbe.
Agumbe Rain Forest Research Station
With some misleading inputs about the direction, we walked some 2-3 km towards Thirthahalli but there was no sign of ARRS. There was not even a village on the road side to inquire about. It was an impenetrable thick forest with water streams flowing underneath. Vishnu went inside a closed church but no help. Finally we stopped a mini-truck and inquired. He nodded and assumed as if we are going to Thirthahalli and asked us to hop in. Later He dropped us some 4-5 km far when I got to know about his assumption. “None wants to walk but life screws us all”… fortune was hidden somewhere in rain forest…even private busses were not stopping for us… disappointment, failure and fatigue surely infuriated me and I decided to find ARRS but anger alone does not always lead to success. We inquired back and forth and figured out the correct trail which was a mud road traversing through dense forest. After some 2 km on that trail, I realized it’s a wild goose chase and we both returned back to the bus stand.
A Misty and noisy sunset at Agumbe
No matter Sun shines or not but there is always sunset just before the dusk and Agumbe is famous for one. In the evening, we hired an auto to sunset point which was a bit crowded or indeed more than a bit. Everyone passing by stopped there just to appreciate the clouds enveloping the hills. Vishnu quoted that He could see the other side of the clouds… ahead of sea waves… sun setting down the horizon and an exalted reflection … though it was nothing but memories receding into misty haze… We returned back to the bus stand and frowning curiosity led us to ARRS finally (This time by an Auto). There are some cottages for field researchers and volunteers. Vineet (botanist) provided an insight about the activities they are undertaking and ongoing projects. ARRS is worth a visit if you are anywhere near Agumbe. Soon intermittent drizzling transforms into heavy downpour and Agumbe withstood with its rank.
Road through Agumbe Rainforest
Important Distances from Agumbe:
Thirthahalli (31 km), Shimoga (93 km), Jog Falls (141 km),Mangalore (103 km), Udupi (55 km), Dharmasthala (117 km), Sringeri (25km)