Come the December ’18, I was pretty much pumped up to do any trek in the Western ghats which could offer an extreme challenge as well as scenic beauty. I was looking upon Kudremukh and Bandaje falls as the options per se. We chose Bandaje arbi falls. My colleagues in Intel joined me for the trek. We were a group of 8 people. We took a tempo from Bangalore. Adventure Adda trek group helped us with the stay and trek lead. The nearest town is Ujjire. Bandaje trek is almost 22-23kms distance (to and fro).
We started the trek at around 10 in the morning. The forest dept doesn’t allow to camp near the falls in the night. Hence, we had to finish the whole trek by the evening. The first part of the trek takes us through the dense forests for almost a hour and half. There are few steep ascents, which might be very slippery if trekked in the monsoon period.
The forests open up into vast grass lands. The Ballarayanadurga fort (ruined fort) becomes visible from here. The climb to the fort was painstaking because the sun will deny to hide behind the clouds. We had to keep ourselves hydrated as much as possible. It’s advised to take atleast 2L of water and liquids for such a trek. The fort was once used by the Hoysala empire to place the soldiers and artillery to protect the kingdom. The climb to the fort is excruciating. Some stints are literally breath taking and nonetheless awarding. When I meant breath taking, I really meant almost everyone would stop once in a while to take deep breaths as it was cardio vascularly tiring. The views were spectacular and I fancied to take photos every time we stopped. Lakshit had brought his dslr for the trek. He clicked lot of classic pictures of us and the views. Thanks to Abraham and Prafful who lent us enough time to take fancy pictures throughout the trail.
Abhishek, our trek lead was pushing us to climb faster as we had to return back down the same day and he knew if the weather goes cross, it would be a difficult descend. The first timers Akshay and Lokesh, who were timid initially, were pacing quite well. Sumana was trekking for the first time in the western ghats. We spent sometime in the fort, had couple of snacks and liquids and started our descend towards the bandaje falls.
After descending from the fort, Bandaje falls can be reached by crossing 3 hills. As you trek up and down the three hills, the views it offers are quite beautiful. The last hill was quite steep in descend. The trail was not very visible and was filled with wonky bushes above knee height. I slipped multiple times. This stride was through a vast grassland all over. Needless to say, the sun was at it’s beaming peak.
By the time we finished our descend to the falls, the time was almost 1.30pm. Our trek lead suggested we must leave by at most 2.30pm to ensure we reach back well in time. We ate our packed lunch which we carried with us. The water from the falls was very reviving. Unfortunately none of us planned to bathe in the water.
We started back at around 2.30 pm. The first part was the toughest ascent after a sumptuous lunch. For the first time, amongst all the treks I have done, I was feeling quite low in stamina and breath. I was struggling to walk up the not so steep hill for the first time. I would blame it on the lunch and sun. Generally most of the western ghats treks have descend after lunch making it easier. After sometime, the clouds were gathering and the weather changed quite drastically giving all of us some retreat. We had the whole trail to our own. No other group was trekking that day.