Tucked away in the dense forests of the Western Ghats in Karnataka, India, lies the enchanting Bandaje Falls, a hidden gem worth exploring for nature enthusiasts and trekkers. The falls are located in the Belthangady taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, offering a spectacle of unspoiled natural beauty amidst the lush greenery of the Western Ghats.
Bandaje Falls, also known as Bandaje Arbi (Arbi in Tulu language means waterfall), cascades from a height of about 200 meters. This spectacular waterfall is formed by a stream of the River Netravati, creating a mesmerizing view, particularly during the monsoon season. The falls then continue their journey through the mountainous terrain, contributing to the network of rivers in the region.
One of the fascinating aspects of Bandaje Falls is its relative seclusion. The falls can be reached only by trekking through dense forests, which makes the journey challenging yet rewarding. The trek starts from the village of Bandaje or Ujire, located about 40 kilometers from the district center, Mangalore. The trail is approximately 7 kilometers long and can take around 4-6 hours to complete, depending on one’s pace. The steep and sometimes slippery terrain demands a certain level of physical fitness, but the astounding view of the waterfall makes the strenuous journey worth it.
As you ascend the trail, you can enjoy the surrounding biodiversity, marked by a variety of flora and fauna. The region is home to several endemic species of plants and animals, making it a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers.
Bandaje Falls is not just a spot for adventure seekers but also has historical significance. The area is surrounded by ancient fortresses like the Ballalarayana Durga, which was built in the 12th century. After a rigorous hike, one can explore these historical relics, adding a cultural aspect to the journey.
While visiting Bandaje Falls, here are a few points to consider:
1. Best time to visit: The waterfall is at its peak flow during the monsoon season, between June and September. However, the trek can be quite challenging due to heavy rain and slippery conditions. Hence, the post-monsoon months of October and November are often recommended for trekking.
2. Guided Tours: Due to the dense forests and complicated trails, it is advisable to hire a local guide or join a group tour for the trek. These guides are well-versed with the trail and can help ensure a safe journey.
3. Essentials to carry: Carry water, snacks, and a first aid kit. Wearing good trekking shoes and rain gear (during monsoon) is also recommended.
4. Staying Overnight: For those interested in an overnight stay, there are a few local homestays around Ujire and Bandaje village. Alternatively, one can also stay in a dormitory located atop the hill, but prior permission is needed.
5. Preserve the Environment: As a visitor, it is your responsibility to keep the environment clean. Do not litter and ensure to carry back all the waste.
Visiting Bandaje Falls provides a unique opportunity to enjoy the raw beauty of nature, engage in a thrilling adventure, and delve into local history. Whether you are a trekking enthusiast, a nature lover, or a history buff, Bandaje Falls has something to offer everyone.