Are you the kind of traveller who can’t sleep peacefully unless you have covered every must visit place in a particular city? Are you the kind of traveller who always wants to prove wrong – Jitna bhi try karo Bunny, life mein kuch na kuch toh chootega hi. Toh jahan hain, wahin ka maza lete hain. YES? I hear you! I’m totally miserable as well if I don’t cover everything that’s on my list if I’m travelling. My husband, hence, is the best travel partner EVER because he ensures we tick everything on the list coz he can’t see me miserable 🙂
How lucky have you been during your various travel adventures? We – unlike popular opinion have NOT been the most luckiest. And how our Jog falls adventure turned out will speak for why. But have you ever taken a travel decision in pure zeal and enthusiasm without evaluating the worst case scenario and then later getting stuck with the worst case scenario? No? Good for you! But here’s our story and what has been our biggest travel lesson. Stay put! And let’s straight dive in!
So we were vacationing in Gokarna back in September, and one morning we set our early – covering Mirjan fort, Murudeshwar temple, and Mangroove Boardwalk. The day had just been really amazing so far. The weather had been good on us; there was no sign of the sun. All the three places were only sparsely crowded. And it was magic that we covered all of this in half a day, while still having the rest half to day left to do more stuff. So, we were now heading back to Gokarna just when my husband noticed a signboard that read ‘Jog Falls – 61 Kms’.
The time in the clock was 3:30PM. If we were to go by google maps, we would have got there by 4:45PM. Just in time, in case they close by 5PM. But, since it was winter, it is generally open until late – 7:00PM – which if true meant, we would have plenty of time at hand and it all makes sense to go and follow our heart not miss it! So, after a lot of ifs and buts, we decided, we’d go. Now, well, did I mention yet that we were riding an Activa all this time? No? Well, now you have it!
So, we set out all excited. Jog Falls, if you don’t know already are the largest and the most majestic waterfalls in India. That’s one thing straight out of that geography book from school, that I still remember. My husband tried his best to go at speeds that he never thought he could touch in an Activa. At one point, it felt good to know that the speedometer on our vehicle didn’t function – ignorance is sometimes bliss.
It was going to be a long day ahead, and I was mentally preparing myself for it. For the next 30 odd kilometers, it was just one straight road that we had to follow. My husband was focussing all his energies into getting to Jog falls in good time such that we are able to have enough time at hand to make the most of the experience. It was starting to get really cold and none of us had any jacket or anything at all to beat the cold. All our energies were focussed on how amazing our visit to Jog falls would be, I was just praying and hoping that we would quickly get there and in good time leave back to Gokarna.
After covering a good distance, we had reached a point from where on it was an uphill drive, and that’s when we realised that to get to Jog falls, it was a ghat road ahead. The time in the clock was 4:15PM. We started the uphill drive and the views were just pure nature. Totally stunning. Mist had taken over completely and there was hardly any visibility of even 100 meters ahead. As exciting as it seemed then, it was terrifyingly dangerous. Luckily, we had a biker couple who got past us and we tried to keep pace with them and not loose sight of them.
We followed them for as far long as we could, but that happiness was short lived as it soon started to drizzle. With the speed at which we were driving, the water came splashing against our faces like hard slaps. Aashish luckily had a helmet. I just closed my eyes real hard and prayed to dear god. We couldn’t stop as we couldn’t afford to loose sight of the biker couple, nor could we afford to go at high speeds as the wind coupled with rain came hitting hard against our faces. Both Aashish and I just followed the biker couple putting all our faith in god in them. We reached Jog falls by around 4:50PM.
We were half drenched, yet very happy that we made it. So for general knowledge – to get to the falls, there are two entrances. One is the free entrance and the other one charges a small fee. The views are definitely better from the paid entrance. So, we first got to the free entrance. It was a thunderous experience because as soon as we got there, it rained cats and dogs. We luckily had an umbrella, but with so much rain, an umbrella can fail, and so it happened. Thankfully, the rain stopped after sometime, and the mist covering the falls lifted and we finally got a good sight of the Jog Falls.
The experience was nothing like I’d previously seen. It was like the mountains were smoking weed to beat the cold from time to time. I still remember how all of us just waited with baited breath for the mist to lift and in some sense thanked god that it had rained briefly. We clicked some pictures with a misty Jog falls as the background and head out. Time in the clock was 5:45PM.
Well, we still were not done for the day yet. We decided to check out Jog Falls from the paid entrance side as well – what if the views were better? We couldn’t afford to not go already knowing the fact that the paid entrance had better views. So we drove for another few kilometers further inside and again waited for mist to clear and get that incredible sight of the beast! The views were just AMAZING, but we lost a lot of time in the process. The time was 6:15PM and we still hadn’t left. It had started to get dark. We finally pushed ourselves out.
Once we started down the ghats is when we realised how big of a mistake we had made. In 5 minutes since we left, it became pitch dark. It was freezing cold. We had no jackets. There was hardly 2 – 3 vehicles that got past us in the 30 kms ghats stretch. There was absolutely ZERO habitation in the ghats. There was no option to stop somewhere and get a hold of the situation. And just when this wasn’t enough, it poured. It wasn’t drizzling, those weren’t light rain showers. It was SCREW YOUR HAPPINESS kind of rain.
My husband on the driver’s end couldn’t see a freaking thing. There was zero visibility. Just as it is in the case of lawn tennis, he drew out the lines in his head and kept driving with a faint idea of the reflectors. It was frightening to say the least. My umbrella in the wind blew inside out. Both of us were now completely drenched. We should have got done with the ghats by now, but we just couldn’t seem to get there. For a drive up the ghats that took us about 30 mins that afternoon, a drive down just wasn’t ending. There was no mobile network and with the downpour, we couldn’t even afford to get our phones out. We just trusted we were going right and followed the road.
I absolutely salute my husband’s patient driving that night. He was rock solid and with him there, I was surviving the night. We finally got down the ghat road around 7:30PM. Yet, no sign of anything that we could use for shelter for sometime. The rain that night was the kind that you find in Chennai, the kind that would leave the city flooded. It was pouring non-stop. After another 15kms drive, when the rain had slightly mellowed down, we approached a road that had some visible light other than the reflectors. It was like finding god. I immediately signalled my husband to stop. It was a police depo. I requested two policemen if we could rest for a bit. They obliged. Both of us were shivering hard.
I requested the policemen if they could find a way to help us reach Gokarna? If we could purchase two raincoats from a store nearby? If there were any hotels close by that we could use for the night? If they could arrange for a vehicle to get us transported to Gokarna and then send across the vehicle may be the following day? All of these things at once.
From the point we were at, Gokarna was still 2 hours away. One of the policemen suggested there was a temple lodge close by that we could consider for the night. It seemed like the most logical and economical option – but my husband was dead against it. We were in a middle of nowhere, with highway being another hour away, it was a helpless situation at which I wanted to cry and laugh at the sametime.
One of the policeman in wanting to help made a few calls, and a little later a boy came driving in his car. He then explained to the boy in Kannada that we would need a pick up vehicle that would drive us to Gokarna with our vehicle and after discussing on the charges, the boy said he would take us to Gokarna and for which would charge us Rs.3500. That seemed like a lot of money at that time. But we agreed to it. The boy left to bring in the pick up vehicle and in such time, the rain stopped completely. That again got our idle minds to thinking if we should chuck the pick up vehicle idea and self drive to Gokarna. And, so we did! Yessss! TOTAL DUMFUCKS! Agree!
So we set out again, hopeful that it wont rain again. It hadn’t been even 5 minutes since we left the Police depo and it started pouring again. My husband immediately stopped by a vegetable store. With the kind of rain that poured, the electricity in the street went off. My husband and I both had reached that point in the day where we felt – Please Babaji Ab Toh Hadd Paar Ho Chuki Hai, Ab Iss Raat Mein Koi excitement mat dena, Boring Bana Do ji Ab Iss Raat Ko Please.
We again explained our entire situation to the guys at the vegetable store and asked them if they could arrange a pick up vehicle for us. They saw our situation, and immediately let us in. They quickly arranged us two chairs to get comfortable. We were both still shivering hard. They made a few calls and confirmed the vehicle was on its way. They were charging the same amount of Rs.3500. I wished we had come around to giving the money the first time around itself.
The pick up vehicle came after half an hour wait. It took another half hour to carefully tie up the vehicle behind to prevent any damage. All the men in the vegetable shop helped the driver speed up the process. We slid into the front seat and thanked everyone for their help. Uncomfortable as it was, it was the only option that we had. We were out of words and energy to muster and speak. We travelled in silence just wanting to get done with the day and hopefully when we wake up realise that it was just a bad dream.
On our way back to our homestay, we informed our hosts to order in some Dal Chawal for us. We reached our stay at 11:30PM. It felt like a miracle that we had made it through the day. I immediately turned on the geyser and took a long hot water bath.
As much as we enjoyed the Jog falls experience and loathed the post Jog falls experience, the whole adventure taught us plenty of lessons.
1) In life, it is very important to be realistic over optimistic. Life will put you in tough situations and push you over the edge into taking plunges that you can totally avoid. It is important in such times to exercise restrain. Sometimes less is good.
2) I honestly feel that nature has its way of showing signs and warnings. Always keep an open eye. Never turn a blind eye to signals. And it is never too late to take corrective action. NEVER!
3) Luck is everything. Had we had the luck of no rain, our day would have been just perfect. But even with the given rain, the fact that we still found a pick up vehicle the second time around as well, speaks for how luck is everything.
In hindsight, when you look at things, they generally all appear just fine, but essentially are not. So is the case of our Jog falls adventure. Do you have a personal story of an impulsive decision whose consequences were dire? Do share in a comment, would love to hear!