The two waterfalls lie adjacent to each other. 'Ubbalamadugu water fall' is a canyon shaped pool, that captivates and stuns travellers and trekkers alike, as it is inside a gorge canyon which curves toward the left, giving the illusion that it is a feeder or side stream leading to a large body of water. It leads to a waterfall, that gushes at a high rate of speed onto a pile of rocks. One can get a nice hydrotherapy session here for free.
It can be accessed by those who can swim well, or non swimmers with the requisite safety gear. The pool is around 10 feet deep, and yes, you can see the bottom of this gorgeous, emerald green, pool from the surface as you listlessly float on the surface drowning out all your worries and problems.
Nagalapuram is 250 Kms from Bengaluru. One can take the Bangalore-Tirupati highway (NH69) to get there. The roads are decent, has less number of toll gates, and the traffic clears up once you pass pullur cross. The drive would take approximately 6 to 7 hours, if you start late in the evening like we did. We started at around 6 in the evening. The road till Pullur cross is heavy with Tirupati bound traffic and cargo, but after this point, it is a dream come true for long drive lovers. You would most likely at this part of the journey by around midnight (if you've stopped for dinner and other refreshments on the way) and then immediately cross Chittoor town. From this spot onwards, there is absolutely
Be wary though, as there are lots of marked, and unmarked speed breakers on this stretch. Some of them are unscientific while the others have cautions. However, I found 90% of them to be marked by reflective barricades on either side of the road, so keep an eye out for that. If you notice that you are approaching some barricades, then it is safe to assume that there would be speed breakers 50 meters ahead of them. Some speed breakers are placed right where the barricades are, giving you very little time to hit the brakes.
Also, the chance of fueling or grabbing some small bites on this stretch is extremely negligible, not only because of the untimely hour, but also because the stretch is filled with nothing but mango fields, forests, some factories, along with small settlements wedged in between that don't have the kind of facilities that bigger towns and villages do. There were 2-3 petrol bunks on this stretch that were open even in the wee hours of the night. Chittoor town would be your last bet to grab some food, if you didn't already.
Break points, good food, coffee on the way...
This being the same road connecting Bangalore to Kolar, is flush with ample number of eateries, cafes and petrol bunks, and leaves you totally spoiled for choice. One of the most prominent of these is Highway Star Kolar and Nandi Upachar restaurant.
This is the most frequented restaurant on the highway and sees a massive crowd on weekends as it is quite close to the tollgate after Hoskote. We use this restaurant mainly during our cycle rides to Kolar CCD. We did stop here for coffee and snacks this time.
Highway Star Kolar is a big commercial complex which sits on a sizeable chunk of land, and houses quite a few amenities like Food Court, Coffee Shop, Ice Cream Parlour, a pizza joint, a fine dine restaurant, an open seating area with petting zoo, children's play area, restrooms and showers, a chocolate shop, mini-mart, along with well manicured lawns and fountains that lend a very soothing aura to the place. The walkway is wide enough to accommodate the massive crowd that the place sees on weekends and holidays. Outside the facility, but within the premises, a petrol bunk and car wash facility lie next to each other. There is ample amount of parking for cars and bikes alike. You could even cycle here and find plenty of safe space to keep your cycle as it is a gated establishment. We finished our dinner here at 'Maiyas', fueled up, and left for Nagalapuram.
It was around 1AM when we finally reached Nagalapuram town (Update: you reach much earlier now as road-widening work at Palamaner is complete), owing to all the road widening and upgradation work that was happening at the Palamaner-Chittoor section of the highway. We checked into our lodge, and hit the sack immediately, as we had to be up 7 the next morning.
The first day of the trek is here. Wake up lazy bones!
We woke up to piping hot idlis and the ear-drum shattering noise of air horns from local buses that ply between AP, Chennai and Tirupati. After paying our host, we packed some yummy murrukus and mixture from the bakery opposite to the lodge, and then left for Tada. The road to Tada is single lane with vehicles plying in both directions albeit with moderate amount of traffic. Paddy and sugarcane fields alternate between villages, forests and barren land as we zipped by. To our left, we were flanked by the majestic and towering peaks of Nagalapuram reserved forest and the ridge lines makes one want to just stop and admire them. The moment you get on this road you are engulfed by the fragrant aroma of the forest and its plants. The very same herbal smell that you get when you visit a park in the city.
Birds chirping, sun shining, plenty of moisture in the air with dollops of light breeze, were more than enough to make us turn off the AC and roll down our windows. Even though the breeze was warm, the smells and sounds were too irresistible, to be shutting oneself inside a tin can. At this point, we were seriously wishing we had come here by bikes, rather than by car, as any ardent biker would fall head over heels with this road, and its picturesque surroundings.
S.S Puram highway - The entire range can be seen as you drive through. However it was quite cloudy that morning.
|view from the terrace of the lodge|
|Ticket and parking fees collection point|
|route after the check dam pool|
The weather was a mix of warm and humid. We felt hot only on sections of the trail that were exposed to the sun. With most part of the trek coming under the canopy of the shady stream, we never got a chance to feel the sun on our heads. Bangalore weather lovers, take note.
Depending on one's speed and stamina, it takes around one hour to get to Ubbalamadugu falls, the one with the gorge pool. The route to this pool is 50% trail and 50% stream bouldering baring a few tricky sections where one has to get up on all fours.
|Ubbalamadugu falls (only pool pictured)|
There waterfall was pretty non-existent as we had gone in summer, and the flow of the water from the top of the falls was miniscule. The flow was reduced to just a tricle on the rock face owing to peak summer season and the scorching heat that Andhra Pradesh sees at this time of the year. We were mightily satisfied on reaching this point though as no one else had made it here, and it was just the two of us. After checking a few blogs on the net, I noticed that we had climbed up the main fall to get to the fall zone. I wonder what route trekkers must be taking to get here post monsoon. The route was exceptionally risky and difficult to negotiate, as the texture of the rock was very smooth with moss covering the entire surface at some points. We had no other option but to take off our shoes and continue the ascent as it was getting dangerously risky. However, once we got to the top, the effort and risk was totally worth it and we were feeling on top of the world on having made it this far. It was eerily quiet and solitudinous, as we had left all the picnickers at the last waterfall behind during our ascent.
|The treacherous route to the falls - it flows here in monsoon|
|Right side of the waterfall|
|This is right where it falls from in the monsoon|
|Left side of the waterfall|
After spending quite a bit of time here, admiring the massive rock face, and absorbing the silence, we decided to start our return trek back to the parking lot. You follow the same route back that brought you here.
We reached the parking lot well before closing time at around 4, and decided to head for Nagala East to Camp. Since Nagala East is not very far, we were there well before nightfall and were busy setting up our campsite (basically nothing but a tarpaulin sheet and sleeping bag). We parked the car at the last settlement, spread out our tarp and sleeping bags and slept under the stars.
|Car parking + camping area for the night|
In the distance, you can see the elephant shaped hill that one has to cross while entering the forest after crossing the dam.
In the morning we woke up at 6, finished our ablutions, and opted to skip breakfast and have it at the first pool in order to allot maximum time for enjoyment. We asked the cook at the village where we had had dinner last night, not to make breakfast for us, and that we would require only lunch. We then began our hike to the dam.
We got to 'Magic pool', a pool named for its location and size, and the fact that it just pops out of nowhere. It is a small pool that is in the shape of a circle. We spent 2 hours here, basking in the sun, getting fish pedicures, swimming , diving and jumping off various points from the rock column.
After we were done frolicking around in the water and trekking back to the village, it was around 12.30 and the Andhra sun was beating down hard on us. We had a delicious lunch of tomato rice at the home hotel. In complete contrast to the climate inside the forest, it was an oven baker outside on the tractor trail, and even more hotter in the town. We bid farewell to Nagala and started for Bangalore by one in the afternoon. The jagged rock mountains were gleaning in the afternoon sun on the way back, and it was difficult to not stop the car to get out and take a few snaps.
|captivating peaks getting baked in the sun|
|Parched fields and sun baked peaks|
|On the road|
We reached Bangalore comfortably at around 9 in the night, after stopping for dinner at Highway Star Kolar again.