Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rottikallu homestay - A place to be in!

September 5-7 2009 Rottikallu homestay It all started when one of the mails from my sister in the month of April had a .ppt attachment on a group’s experience @ Rottikallu. That’s it! I was dumbfounded by the scenic beauty and instantly I knew we had to be there. Soon called up my mates and everyone were convinced of my opinion. As it was 
summer and the Bandipur trip coming up, Rottikallu was postponed till 
September (when we thought rains would have considerably reduced… but…)!
Come September, bookings were made after much cajoling for a night there and another night at a closer by homestay. Harsha is the contact person from Bangalore while Vijay takes care of the proceedings at Rottikallu. Rottikallu is located just about 7kms from Sakleshpur town amidst the beautiful, charismatic dense Western Ghats whose beauty is endless. More information can be sought here @ http://www.rottikallu.com./

With 3 days on hand, we started off on Saturday morning with the intention to check in @ Rottikallu by 11am. Due to an unplanned, delayed stop @ Hassan, we reached the homestay by 12:30pm. Rains had accompanied us all through the journey with no signs of let off. The journey through the Western Ghats is itself magical be it during rains or after, you can’t help but get the feeling of being in heaven. The cottages were comfortable and spacious for 4 of us. After a nice heavy lunch we got engaged in some sports and water activities playing football in the volleyball court, rugby in complete slush, swing across the river all this and more in the rains. What a blast we had! Dripping wet and running around like kids falling, tackling and playing in the slush. (if our parents were there, we would have been 
definitely reprimanded for getting dirty being grownups ;)).
Quite tough was the Rope walking and the Tarjon swings. The swings are such that from the bank you place yourself on the log, hold the rope and swoosh! You swing to and fro above the stream. If you lose momentum you are stuck above the stream hanging on to a rope! A couple of falls here and there and being completely wet in the rains made me go back to dry up while the boys continued their jumps and swings in the stream. Leeches were all around but 
now they don’t excite or fear us as earlier (We are used to donating blood more often nowadays to them)! Drying up, covering up the camera I saw the boys moving with the tubes for tube rafting. I rushed to the wooden bridge 
across the stream to catch them in action.

A big stream passes right through the homestay that is a natural advantage for them and they utilize the same for water sports and tube rafting is one such activity. You are placed in a tube and let go from point A in the stream, you move forward with the current of water wading through the chilly water and rocks, avoiding the branches and rough banks till you reach B from where you are rescued! If no rescuer is available then its tata bye bye! After all enjoyment till dusk (the rains were still reluctant to leave), it was time for some fun around the in house campfire and few gulps... and after a heavy dinner, stars were visible everywhere we saw :)
Day 2: After a quick breakfast, we were ready for the trek to the nearer "Saalu Gudda" and the "Haalu Kola" peaks and the waterfall. We carried along raincoats, hats and umbrella as we were sure it would rain! Four of us, Vijay and a group of six others went on the trek that was about 8kms both ways covered. No signs of sun, overcast weather and mist all around, the weather was just wonderful to start off... As we climbed higher and higher, we could see only peaks all coloured green covered with a blanked of white clouds all around till your eyesight can stretch. After more than a hour of moderate trekking (this route was chosen because of the rains else we intended to do the 18kms Rottikallu peak trek!) we reached the peak and as the rains were holding still, the weather was picture perfect and all of our eyes gorged on the beautiful views of the valley that was very pleasing to our eyes. Soon, just as we thought, the rain gods could not hold further and for the next 10 minutes it rained cats and dogs till we were drenched to the last piece of cloth... OMG! still we were enjoying every bit of it, the weather, the scenery, cold, chillness, wet bodies... the magic of western ghats is itself such, you need to be there to "feel" it. All of us huddled at one place till the rains stopped, after a lashing downpour, the rains subsided allowing us to descent. The return back was through an alternate route after visiting an waterfall amidst the dense ghats. The water was cold.. damn cold and not all of us dipped in! Ice cold shower in the rains! We were just not willing to, while others took a dip. Rains stayed on almost till the end and finally we reached the homestay after a wonderful memorable trek!

After lunch we chose the option of staying for the night at a nearby homestay as we wanted desperately to do some birding! From there we reached our next destination Mr. Latish's house near Hanubala, a tiny hamlet on the way to Sakleshpura. We went around for a quick walk through the huge estate of the hosts. Guru had to leave and so helped him board a bus back home. Rains were still relenting to leave, the next morning we woke up to sights of heavy drizzle; still not wanting to stay indoors we wend around for a long walk amidst the fields and the estate area. Birding activity was still very measely. Back at the home and as we still had time for lunch, as the sun was slightly visible now, the field was very inviting and we could not resist but go out again, this time just in the vicinity of the home itself. Finally got to do some birding at last...
Hear Spotted Woodpecker, Black Lored Yellow Tit, Green Pigeons, Golden Flamebacked Woodpecker, Racket Tailed Drongo, Blue Winged Parakeet, Minivets, Treepie, White Cheeked Barbet, Striped Squirrel, White Munia, Water Snake, Spotted Dove, Babblers and lots of butterflies.

--> Paddy Pied Skimmer (a.k.a Black Velvet wing) <--

After lunch, we checked out straight to Bangalore (the rains had stopped now!!!). Wow! Wonderful adventure this was @ Rottikallu... Wish to be here again soon... Care for the nature and the nature cares for you!

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