Amazon of India: Agumbe (13°30’30″N 75°5’45″E )

July 24, 2009 at 3:47 pm (Uncategorized)

Charles Darwin said: “from so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

Agumbe Weather

Mum holds the paper right into my face and says ‘do you know how crazy the weather is in Agumbe??? Are you nuts to go there???’ I smiled and said ‘chill mum!’. I had my rucksack ready and I had no second thoughts on going ahead since it had been a dream to do Agumbe ‘in rains’ since my college days. The other reasons to visit Agumbe were to connect with the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station (ARRS) to know about their work and the rich bio-diversity the place had to offer. All thanks to my good friend Harish Shanthi Kumar for coming up with the plan.

15th July 2009

Place: Kempegowda Bus Station

Time: 21:30 hrs

The excitement was just building up and our adventure started at the bus station itself with the driver refusing to come to the platform due to traffic jam. So with not much of an option left we ended running in between buses to finally hop on to the right one thankfully and we started our journey towards Agumbe at 23:00 hrs instead if 22:00 hrs :).

On the highway and how can I not have my favorite pyala of chai! So as soon as the bus driver made a quick stop I eagerly got out to sip some tea and continued our journey towards the wettest point.

16th July 2009

Place: En route to Agumbe

Time: Approx 07:00 hrs

De-tour was taken due to flooding everywhere and we were expected to reach Agumbe around 09:00 hrs. Hence we decided to stop by Thirthahalli for a quick and yum breakfast with idli, vada and my favorite chai! 🙂

After the grub as we continued our journey towards suddenly the bus came to a halt. The bus driver had run into a thick bunch of high-tension wires! Luck did not let us down since there was no power in the wires else probably the bus would have blown up! As if in a movie :)!

As impatience to reach Agumbe was taking over I suddenly saw the beautiful mist uncovering the board which said ‘Agumbe’ and my face brightened with a smile 🙂 🙂 :). It was a feeling of being on cloud nine!

There are only two auto rickshaws for the whole town of Agumbe. We hopped on to them to reach the ARRS campus where we had booked our accommodation. As I was beginning to get a feel of being in Agumbe the auto rickshaw driver stopped since the later part of the road was inconvenient for driving. As we got out of the auto guess what happened!! the land of the King came alive as I felt the first few drops of rain on my face and in a matter of few seconds I was wet from head to toe. It was as if Agumbe said ‘Welcome to my Land’  🙂 @ Ahhh…. What a feeling! I wanted to scream in joy but had to do with a smile from ear-to-ear! 🙂 🙂 :).

As we entered the lovely ARRS campus we had a warm welcome by Vipul Ramanuj (Research coordinator @ ARRS), Ramnath Chandrashekhar and Dayani Chakravarthy. We quickly unpacked and barged into the kitchen for another round of breakfast and black coffee which was the best I have ever had! And then guess what!, we met a friend ‘a baby spectacle cobra’ in the backyard of ARRS. Oh! It was gorgeous or what!

Since we had kept our plans open, after a discussion with the ARRS folks we decided to plan on a day-to-day basis so on this day we decided to get a feel of the rainforest and do some photography. As I stepped into the rainforest and crossed a big stream, I looked at the magnanimous rainforest canopy above and wondered ‘boy! what a miniscule we are in front of nature’ and smiled. As night approached we headed back to the base in time for dinner and an amphibian walk with Vipul and Gautam Ramachandra (from ARRS) and we got introduced into the world of amphibians. As we spoke away into the night it was soon time to hit the sack.

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Baby Spectacle Cobra

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Rains

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The beautiful Rainforest Canopy

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Stream and the Forest

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ARRS

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17th July 2009

Place: Agumbe

Time: 08:00 hrs

Every morning it was such a nice feeling to wake up to nature’s orchestra rather than to the irritating sound of traffic, pollution etc like in the cities :).

Anyways we decided to embark on stream crossing and reach a water fall which was trust me ‘a photographer’s paradise’. As I crossed the stream in the thick rainforest I really got a feel of being in the Amazon jungles of India. We did not know how time flew. After a quick lunch and rest for couple of hours Vipul took us to Agumbe town through a shortcut which turned out to be ‘out of this world’. You come across shola grasslands, homes built amidst nature! Awesome! We picked up chocolates (since I was dying to have them :)) and few more eatables. Also we ended up having yummy Mangalore bajjis and the lovely kashaya (if you are in Agumbe you gotta try it, you can trust me on that one :)).

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Waterfall

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Stream and the Forest

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18th July 2009

Place: Agumbe

Time: 08:30 hrs

We decided to re-group and couple of us headed to explore a cave which housed bats and other mammals. Others headed to the same water fall for more photography and we joined them later. It was superb again!

Post lunch I learnt all about tracking King Cobra and though Vipul would disagree I must say I did good tracking as a beginner ;). And later part of the evening was a nostalgic visit to the ‘Malgudi Days’ home. Guys, I would say it is a must visit!

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Cave

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Malgudi Days home

19th July 2009

Place: ARRS campus

Time: 08:30 hrs

It was the last day @ Agumbe and ARRS and I decided to take it easy while the others went on their way to do some canopy photography. I spent the whole day getting to know more about ARRS and the team. It was such a fun filled day since I made a visit to Vipul’s pond and aquarium and got a free-of-cost manicure by the tadpoles :).

Finally the time had come for us to say good bye but with a promise of going back often. My eyes were moist! What an experience it had been!

Hold on the adventure did not end there, after we reached the bus stand we were told that the bus had already left (thanks to the stupid bus driver who the previous day has told us that the bus would leave only by 20:30 hrs and not 20:00 hrs. Sigh! Well I smiled and thought ‘all part of the adventure’ so with not much of an option we boarded a bus to Shimoga hoping to catch our bus to Bangalore and yes we did! :).

As I try and force myself to end the blog (else I can go on and on :)) I must say a few things; I cannot forget all the wildlife documentaries we watched as a group, we were like kids, except that buckets of popcorn were missing haaheee…Mind you! The ARRS team can come across as quite a prankster, including Rom I heard. Oh that can be another blog altogether: D.

Thanks to cook Suresh who made us yummy food while our stay @ ARRS. Vittala is the best King Cobra tracker and he can surely tell you ‘how King move’ and ‘how king not move’ 😉

The team @ ARRS Vipul Ramanuj, Gautam Ramachandra and Dheeraj are stupendous and are assets to ARRS. The amount of knowledge they fill you in on can make a halo appear behind your head :). It was such an amazing learning experience and I can’t help but say I learnt quite a lot. But for them learning about the rainforest would not have been possible. With them ARRS can only grow from strength to strength! Hats off to Gowri and Rom and the entire team! Read this – YOU GUYS ROCK!

It was such a pleasure to know about their flagship project King Cobra and the King has started to fascinate me :). I also got to see how the ARRS guys rescued a Crested Goshawk.

Oh yeah how can I forget the other companions in the forest: Malabar Pit Viper, a gorgeous unidentified Forest Crab, Hill Keel Back, Green Vine Snake, Tadpoles, Grasshoppers, an Orange Forest Crab, Bull Frog, Praying Mantis, Skittering Frog, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Brahmini Worm Snake, Bufo (frog),Bronzed Frog, Blue Eyed Bush Frog, Indian Bush Frog, Hawk Eagle, Porcupine Quill, Rufescent Burrowing Frog, Bats, Wild Fig tree, Grey Hornbill, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Flying Squirrel, Hard Spotted Woodpecker, Racket Tailed Drongo, Pandana trees and of course my leeches which gave me so many bites :).

I still have an unfulfilled wish of seeing my Rhacophorus Malabaricus (Malabar Gliding Frog 😦 ! May be next time….

As I held the green vine snake, a hill keel back, a frog and a crab gently in my hands I realized how beautiful these wonders of nature were but @ the same time wondered how they got stressed  just by holding them. So just imagine what greater human interventions can do 2 nature! Sigh!

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The Green Vine Snake

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Malabar Pit Viper

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Unidentified Forest Crab

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The beautiful Mist and the Forest

A big take away from ARRS and Agumbe is that ‘life is as simple as one makes it’ :). If there are heavens on earth then Agumbe is surely one of them :).

The whole experience reminds me of what

And as I listen to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ it reminds me of the last day @ Agumbe and I re-live the experience…..

To know more about Agumbe/ARRS do visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agumbe and http://wikimapia.org/1181447/Agumbe

Last but not the least Harish, Praveen and Shreeram thanks for making it a fun experience guys!

Until the next experience….. take care

Jyothi

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13 Comments

  1. Karan said,

    after reading all wat you have written I just cant seem to imagine how the real amazon would be

  2. Prem Sagar said,

    The Malgudi days home, the baby cobra, thick forestation cover, rains….. hmm you seem to have had quite an adventure! Feel envious!! I have a trip planned in Dec…. but sigh, the weather is gonna be different..

    “There are only two auto rickshaws for the whole town of Agumbe” I just love that… just think how silent the whole place would be… (sigh… Bangalore has a lakh or more rickshaws…)

    Nice trip report!!! Enjoyed it fully!

  3. srikanth thunga said,

    you shud join evangelism dept of kstdc tourism or some wildlife dept.. 😛 🙂
    like the rainforest canopy photo..

  4. Aarti said,

    Wow woman, you sure seemed to have had one rocking time!! Was absolutely awesome reading the minute by minute update, it was like i was living it thru u…. 🙂

    now, what next?????????????

  5. Balasubramanya said,

    wow..wow…wow!!!!! awesome experience….feeling like i am missing a lot this monsoon….

  6. Randhir said,

    loved it

  7. Sudhir Shivaram said,

    Hey Jyothi,

    That’s a pretty good writeup. It has smiles all over the blog. Looks like you had a great trip. Waiting for more from you.

    Rgds,
    Sudhir

  8. Arun said,

    Seems like you had a ball.. 🙂

  9. lakshmi said,

    Stunning pics jo and i loved the post…somehow, just unable to write like that..

    and I know where we are going next 🙂

  10. suprakash said,

    Hi Jyothi,

    5 of us are planning Agumbe in October begining. Hope we will also be able get soaked in the nature and enjoy the experience. Any special tips you wanna share?

  11. Dana Hadley said,

    Wow am I actually the only comment to this great writing?

  12. funpicee said,

    u are so Lucky , that u hav visited AGUMBE atleast once in your life..
    V hav planned to go to AGUMBE this november..

    You just watch d documentary “THE KING COBRA AND I with Romulus whitaker” ..
    Its about how AGUmbe was brought up to this extent.. I’m sure u ll luv it

  13. Balasubramanya said,

    I am game this monsoon. Just opened this blog to say that 😛 LOL

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