Friday, May 11, 2018

Experiencing; Western Ghats, Agumbe Ghat Road, Sunset View Point and Cherrapunji of south India!

On 4th April 2018 I got a chance again after many years, to pass through Agumbe Rain Forest, view the Western Ghats, crossover the Agumbe Ghat Road to reach Sringeri and back along the same route to Manipal.  I must say here that I have a long association with this section of Western Ghats. I was at Manipal which is sandwiched between the Arabian Sea on the West and the Western Ghats on the East, studying Electrical Engineering Course for 5 years from 1970 to 1975. You can see this detail in the attached map…third picture from the top.
Manipal is on a hillock with our Engineering College (MIT) and all our Hostel buildings on the eastern end of the hillock directly overlooking the Western Ghats. From majority of the hostel rooms facing the Ghats the view was wonderful with a green valley between us and not so distant Western Ghats. The sunrise was amazing with the clouds emanating different colors and patterns each day as the Sun rose majestically. With each changing season, the rising mist, the clarity of the mountains during bright sun and the incessant monsoon rains added to the scenery of the Ghats. All rooms facing the Ghats were much in demand among the students and similarly a few top floor rooms on the western side overlooking the Arabian Sea were very popular, for witnessing a picturesque sunset over the Arabian Sea. 
In 1972 during the Jai Andhra movement after the High Court and Supreme Court upheld the Mulki rules existing in Telangana region, reaching Hyderabad via Udupi, Mangalore, Bangalore, Hindupur, Ananthapur and Kurnool turned risky due to attacks on buses and trains to Hyderabad, in Andhra areas. So after exams and for the vacation in that year I reached Hyderabad along with some friends in a Taxi traveling via Agumbe Ghats, Shimoga, Bellary and Raichur. That was the first time I traveled over Agumbe Ghats. Now after so many years I got the chance to travel in this beautiful rain forest area and over the mighty Western Ghats twice, in our journey to Sringeri Sharadamba Peetham and back to Manipal.  
More about Agumbe and the magnificent Western Ghats:
Agumbe is a small hill village in the Western Ghats. The elevation of Agumbe is 643 m. It is 47 km from Manipal via a serpentine Ghat Road that you can see in the fifth and sixth pictures above. Our to and fro journey from Manipal to Sringeri was through and along these beautiful thick forests, lots of greenery and the huge range of mountains. The population of Agumbe is approximately 500 and the village covers an area of 3 square kilometres. It is sometimes called "The Cherrapunji of the South" because of its very high annual average rainfall of 7625 mm that is 300 inches!
Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary and the Kudremukh National Park are close to Agumbe. The Sunset View Point that you can see in the attached pictures is close to Agumbe and it rests on one of the highest peaks of the Western Ghats. On a fine evening the sunset can be seen over the Arabian Sea.
Now about Western Ghats, it is in the prestigious list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. This happened on 1st July 2012. Western Ghats is also known as Sahyadri Mountains meaning Benevolent Mountains. Its rich biodiversity and natural splendor has made it one of the eight most remarkable spots on earth; that needs utmost care and protection. The UNESCO recognition is because of many wonderful aspects of the Western Ghats. The 1600 Km long Western Ghats Mountain Range that you can see in the attached pictures has rain forests older than the Himalayan Mountains. They are home to a very wide range of plant and animal life. It is said that there are over 45,000 plant species, over 650 tree species, a number of popular mammals like Asian Elephant, Gaur, Tiger, Lion-tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Tahr, Nilgiri Langur and amphibians up to 179 species, reptiles-157 species, fishes-219 species; some of them are globally threatened species. The thick rain forests around Agumbe and the forests below the Agumbe Ghats are home to the King Cobras, the longest venomous snakes in the world which grow up to a length close to 6m (19 ft).  And most importantly the Western Ghats influence the monsoon weather pattern of our country.
ALL THIS NEEDS TO BE PROTECTED, in its very natural form.
And this is one area which one must visit and enjoy the beautiful nature, if he is at any of the many Hindu pilgrimage places in this area.
The attached photographs and the video I am sure would be of interest to the readers.

Western Ghats, Rain Forest, Agumbe Ghat Road and Sunset View Point

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