Kannada movies offer a visual treat through the songs, location courtesy Western Ghats. Better known as Malenadu in Kannada, these virgin forests perched on mountains are jewels of South Indian landscape. The high ranging Sahyadri belt is at its best during monsoon with a highly saturated green hue, thanks to the heavy rainfall up to 5000mm annually by the south-west monsoon during Jun-Sep. Agumbe has recorded more than 5400mm from June 1st to July 29th this year, the highest in South India and double its rivals-Madikeri and Kannur.Home for roaring waterfalls, wildlife parks, 3 major rivers-Krishna, Kaveri and Tungabhadra; Malenadu offers a lot for nature enthusiasts.
Jog falls: Three hours from Shimoga, Sharavati river drops 253m in four distinct cascades - Raja, Rani, Roarer, Rocket - spurts sprays of water into the air with arching rainbows. A one hour, thousand plus concrete staircase takes you to the bottom of the gorge, if watching from multiple vantage points is not sufficient. Tucked amidst the lush forest along the expansive Sharavati backwaters Linganamakki dam floods the Jog falls when the gates are open, at its best. To sleep listening to the roaring Jog falls, book KSTDC Hotel Mayura Gerusoppa (08186 244732, s/d Rs.300/400). Take a train from Bangalore, Talguppa Express (16227, SBC-SRF, Rs.200) and stay at Sagar. There are frequent buses to Jog falls from the private bus stand (30km, one hour).
The railway line to Talguppa was laid for transporting the materials for Linganamakki dam construction. Shimoga-Talguppa was under conversion for the last 20 years. Interestingly Megha's first train trip was from Bangalore to Sagara as a three months old toddler by a steam powered narrow gauge!
Ikkeri and Keladi: Sagara, a sleepy town was important in the history being the centre of Nayakas of Keladi. Rameshwara temple at Keladi, first capital of Nayakas, boasts Gandhaberunda - a twin headed bird built out of greenish grey schist. Aghoreshwara temple at Ikkeri is smaller but more impressive with a huge Nandi statue. Both the temple have exquisite stone carvings and sculptures.
A day trip from Sagara to Bangalore takes close to 9hrs via Shimoga-Bhadravathy-Tarikere-Arsikere-Tumkur-Nelmangala by ST bus (Rs 312, 354km). If you are in a hurry, take a Volvo bus from Shimoga to Bangalore which starts every hour. Through exanpnsive sun flower gardens and rural villages, it is worth spending your day on this route. This is an alternate route to Chikmagalur and Kemmangundi, take a diversion at Tarikere or Birur. There are a few temples at Gubbi just before Tumkur at an altitude of 700m.