Never loved Uttar Kannada so much, never missed Sirsi so much

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The (10th 11th) March weekend was a mixture of adventure and nostalgia.

Tree

Dad working in U.K.(Uttar Kannada district) since 30 years knows the district in and out. I love the trips he orchestrates.  Short, simple and naturistic. He had booked rooms at Hornbill Resorts ten days prior which allowed us to stay in an awesome tree house.

I had to travel to Hubli, then Dandeli, visit Sirsi Marikamba fair, Hubli again and back to Blore in just two days. My work shift is from 2 – 11PM, hence left office late and luckily boarded the train to Hubli.Next day, we left Hubli at around 10 AM. Stopped for breakfast at a hotel on the way to Dharwad. The hotel had a new addition to it. They had a wrecked rail carriage outside. Wondered they would convert it into a dining place. That would be really cool. Our next stop was at Hornbill resorts. It was unwelcoming initially. Due to miscommunication between the booking agent and the Hotel we were allotted only one cottage. Fortunately, it was a Tree House. It could easily accommodate 4. So we held to it. The tree house was fantastic. The view of the enchanting River Kali s journey to the Arabian Sea could be easily captured from the Tree house. It’s known as KALI because there are rocks under the river and when looked from top, the river looks black. There were no modern windows in tree house. It was like a village hut yet elegant. We were served with a Kokam drink followed by lunch. I am a foodie. While searching for reviews about this resort earlier I had found that food was good here. They dint disappoint. I was sad that I couldn’t stuff as we had to go rafting after lunch and hoped for good food at night.

Rafting:

Rafting

I thought rafting was no danger sport until I saw three people washed out in river while rafting. Yeah, we had searched for one person for around half an hour in the river. Now, the tempo set, I will explain the rafting experience in detail. After gathering at the starting point, basic instructions were given by the guides. Jackets and helmets were compulsory. The modern raft is an inflatable boat. There were around eight rafts for rafting that day, we went on a blue raft with eight rows and a guide named Munna. The raft had three rows of seats, a rope tied around for safety. Mom and another lady were made to sit in between, all others had a row in hand and sat at the edge of the raft. Initially for around 15 mins in water he explained his commands to be followed. They were like : Forward Paddle, Backward, Right Forward/Backward , Left Backward/Forward. For ex,  Right Backward : All the people on the right side of the raft should row backward, BEND DOWN : All rafters should stop rowing and duck inside holding the rope. Munna asked if any of us wanted to jump into the water( swim and get into raft) to get trained if at all we fall during rafting.SwimmingI jumped with one other and bro. The raft was faster than my swimming, I was damn tired catching up with it.

Getting into raft is the difficult part, the person on board has to pull with all force.  After all the necessary rehearsals, we started off for some serious action. The fast flowing places were called rapids and there were totally 8 of them. The first one was the biggest. We geared up for it, inched to the rapid following Munna s instructions. Photographers were taking pics standing on the rock beside the rapid. Some posed; some enjoyed the sudden thrilling downward movement.  Dint know what went wrong, we started drifting towards the bank where there were trees. Munna shouted BACK PADDLE. But in vain, we went and banged the trees and were struck. A guide from other raft came and helped us unshackle from the branches. We were back on the course. Tree House which we stayed in was close to the first rapid. As ours was the last raft, we had to drop that photographer on rock to the bank. This was our Recue no. 1. We got extra clicks as we dropped him till the bank.

Photo Click

We started again to conquer other 7 rapids. I just loved the experience. The ups and downs of the raft caused by river’s dance were way better than any amusement parks fun. I was almost thrown off from the raft in a rapid. There was too much of adrenaline rush in my body. Fortunately, I was safe by the time the rapid ended. But, the horror struck soon. Three from some other raft where thrown into the water and were washed further by the river. As soon as we spotted two of those hanging for their dear life on trees we rowed to them instead of the rivers flow. Thanks to the team and Munna s instructions, we went and banged the tree one was holding and he suddenly jumped in to the raft. The other person also managed to get in the raft. Rescue no. 2. This was the reason the rafts moved in group, help could be asked for instantly. They were saved only due to the inflated jacket they were wearing which didn’t allow them to drown. The third person was not to be seen. The guides searched the place for around half an hour and we moved forward. Fortunately he was sitting on the bank safe after being washed for around 1 km. This was the danger we were dealing with. We dared not neglect Munnas instructions. There was one rapid which I enjoyed most, water was so unleveled. Raft kept gamboling. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Branches kept hitting us whenever we moved near the trees. Thanks to the helmet which kept our heads safe The scenery was breathtaking. Just like how I watched river making its way amidst thick forest in the television was now a reality for me. It cooled both my mind and eyes. I wish I could paint what I saw.  We had to pick guides from the bank who had come to search the fallen person. Rescue no. 3. Thus our raft was made a RESCUE BOAT. We dint mind it as we got more time to raft and gulped more of the wonderful experience. After rafting for about 9.5 kms, we came to a halt. This would be one of my favorite experiences. I enjoyed the jeep ride back to resort. My bro and I chose to sit at open back with the rafts tied on top. I allowed the wind to pluck my hairs out of scalp, I don’t usually. The Sun had painted the sky orange. Viewing the jungle from a comfortable posture, this was one of the most beautiful rides. The dinner wasn’t that great, it was like my hostel food which I called Ghaas phoos. Listening to the rivers gush on the first rapid we slept in the tree house without getting scared of chances of tree house being collapsed.

Next day, we went for bird watching. We saw few birds like Hornbill, White rumped shama, Crystal Owl, Bulbul (I am sure my high school frens will laugh at this name), Blue flycatcher. As I couldn’t see those birds till my heart’s content, I envied tress around for they can shelter Love birdsthose beautiful birds and see as much as they want. Hornbill was amazing. Quite big and filled with colors. It seems they always fly in pairs (Male and Female) Of course, love is in the air.

After roaming for a while we sat for breakfast, tasty food again. We went for a boat ride near the first rapid. Had a close look at Hornbills. Hornbill resort has a unique swimming pool, open to the river. We went into the water without delay. Had fun jumping into the river from the railings. It’s so much different from a normal swimming pool. Due to the flowing water, it seemed so clean and you have ample of space to have fun. I held a tadpole like creature in my hand which my new found friend had caught. After spending some time we left for Ankola, then to Sirsi.

Car

The road to Sirsi was under construction.I resigned driving, dad took over. I witnessed one of the boldest driving by
dad. We were in hurry, we had to visit Sirsi Jatra and then to Hubli to catch my train. The sun was almost about to finish its day work by the time we reached Sirsi. So, had a colorful view of whole jatra. We parked the car nearby and started walking. This was the time when 10-15 years old memories started pouring over me. I felt so nostalgic. I recalled visiting fair before, indulging into rides like in Giant wheel, etc. There weren’t much amusement parks then, my only entertainment in this field was from fair. All my childhood was in front of me escorting to the fair. I felt, this was the place where I belonged. Getting wet in such memories, I took blessings from Marikamba Devi and left for Hubli. The train was scheduled to depart at 22.45 and I reached station at 22.41. All thanks to my family, I had a fantastic time in U.K. Love  you U.K.

P.S. : HornBill resort is very good for family but bit expensive. Look for tree house, nothing else is that worth. Book at least two weeks prior.

Rafting :
Place –  Near Supa dam. Number of agents are available for booking.

Nikhil Navali

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