The hidden hamlet of Karnataka - Didupe
Updated: Jul 13
The state of Karnataka is rich in its diversity and most of it is unexplored apart from a few major cities which of course attracts young people for opportunities in employment and education. Having stayed in Bangalore over 5 years, we had explored the major tourist destinations in Southern India.
It was a long postponed plan to accompany our friends to their native and explore their hometown. While they always referred to their native ancestral home as the ‘perfect getaway’, we never understood how someone could be so fascinated about their home until we witnessed it ourselves during the shadow monsoon season.
Reaching our destination –
We took an overnight bus to Mangalore from Bangalore. The next day we explored the coastal city of Mangalore for half a day before we continued with our journey to Didupe, our main destination of the travel. Our friends accompanied us to their homeland (Didupe) owing to the location and unfamiliar routes to reach there. We drove through the picturesque Charmadi Ghat (in the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats) to the foothills of Didupe village. When we reached by the late evening hours, the surrounding was completely black except for the visibility from the vehicle’s headlights.
Going uphill was beyond the capacity of a car. So we hopped into our host’s jeep which took us uphill through the rugged muddy narrow roads. Jumping, bumping and holding tight to our seats we reached their home, our abode for the next couple of days. Once there, we could only hear the hissing of the insects like crickets and the gushing water stream next to the property in the pitch darkness surrounding us.
Very soon we were all indoors; exploring our friends beautiful ancestral home. We were overjoyed to be there, as the interiors reminded us of our childhood vacation to our grandparent’s places. Terracotta tiled high sloping roof, red cemented floor, thick stone walls colored in contrasting shades, heavy wood framed doors and windows and a long running corridor connecting all the rooms in parallel. We seldom notice such homes any more. It would very well remind you of the houses featured in Malgudi Days.
The best realization was, we were off our mobile networks and internet connections. I love such destinations. Going to such places is like giving yourself a digital detox, connecting you with the nature and real humans.
We wrapped up everything and went to bed pretty soon. To be frank, we didn’t have much to do staying awake.
Next day we were up early and our friends’ family was awake even before us, I guess when it was still dark outside! Soon, we were served authentic homemade Konkani breakfast of steamed rice and coconut dumplings, piping hot tea and a sweet (Shira/rawa halwa) a special addition being our friends’ toddler’s birthday.
Soon we wandered around the house and explored the property. The indoors were beautifully maintained owing to the age of house more than 50 years. One room opened into the other and each room was accessible by multiple doors, ancestral Mandir (temple) been lit with oil lamps, kitchen with ancient setup and modern appliances, well preserved ancestral brass utensils, a separate cleaning area and water storage, a custom made earthen stove (chullah) with a heavy giant sized brass pot on it to heat water and a backyard opening to the wilderness of the nature.
Surrounding the premises were areca palm trees reaching high into the sky, sounds of gushing water from the waterfall, pretty little chirping birds and fog rising from the descends in the hill. We could also hear the peacocks calling at a distance. We really admired the way such an old property was maintained.
Our hike to the Kadamagundi falls in Didupe–
Soon we started with our trek to the waterfalls. We were warned of leeches and handed some limestone powder to get rid of them in case they climbed our feet. We had initially thought of it to bean easy hill climb but were mistaken. After trekking through a bit of the plain routes which were also through neighboring homes or private premises, we headed uphill. Slowly as the way narrowed we caught the first clear view of the falls. The crystal clear white water was falling with a seven steps descend formed by the mountain rocks.
Then came the trickiest part of the trek, we had to cross the flowing water to get to the other side and then proceed further. Soon we realized, it was impossible to even stand still in the slippery and rocky waterbed. We removed our footwear and started moving ahead on our friend’s guidance but seemed proceeding nowhere slipping off a couple of times.
After struggling for a few minutes and assistance from our friend we crossed the waterbed. We made our way through the bushes and trees and finally climbed up to the origin of the seven stepped falls. This place was serene as though we had reached a private pool meant for the angels.
There was this huge waterfall descending from a great height of the mountain, no idea of what was beyond that height. The waterfall was first landing on a rock surrounded by a pool of chilling clear water. The speed of the waterfall was creating a misty surrounding which was enough to make us wet even without jumping into the water.
It was a heavenly and joyous experience playing in that distilled shower and waterbed. Deposits of sand on the waterbed made it easier to walk around and enjoy in the waterfall. Few people even walked around behind the waterfall and enjoyed a chilling calm shower.
All drenched to our hearts content, we descended back through the bushes, trees, flowing water (not to mention the struggle of crossing it again). It was an adventure trek for beautiful once in a lifetime experience.
Not to mention, we did come back with a few leeches in our pants! The limestone powder was our rescue weapon. Our leader friend shoved them off his legs using a spade/knife which he carried along. We were marveled, he had made it through the water and the bushes so easily, obvious to the fact it was his homeland.
Soon back to the house, we had a warm bath from the earthen chullah heated water and had some delicious Konkani lunch. Then we drove to the nearby town of Beltangadi while our friend recalled his childhood memories about the place. Soon it started raining heavily and we drove back to the mountain village before evening.
The evening was well spent with stories about Didupe and how the families there have stayed for ages among these hills, the recent developments and ancestral tales, not to mention of some recent landslides which caused some considerable losses. After dinner we called it the day as we had been too tired by our waterfall excursion.
Next day we started for our way back to the city of opportunities, Bengaluru!
It was an experience of a lifetime for city dwellers like us. Till date we are so grateful to our friends and their family to have given us access to such a beautiful place and the joy of staying with them. I am not surprised now when they say, ‘To enjoy a vacation destination we just need to go home’. To experience the essence of a place to its fullest, one needs to stay with the locals, like the locals. Rarely do you get an opportunity to experience local lives, cuisines, cultures and hear beautiful stories of their ancestral inheritance. Karnataka has many such nature’s secrets hidden in the Western Ghats. Every once in a while one should try exploring such authentic, lesser frequented places.
About Didupe – This place is a small hamlet in Beltangadi Taluka in Dakshin Kannada (Karnataka State) and part of the Western Ghat mountain ranges. It is located 72 kms from Mangalore and 282 km from the state capital, Bangalore and located in the Charmadi Ghat near Chikmagalur.
Kadamagundi Falls in Didupe is part of the Kudremukh national park.
Travel Precaution tips –
If you happen to visit this place, ensure you are accompanied by locals because the trail is confusing and difficult to cross the flowing streams. Avoid mid-monsoons as it is prone to accidents.
Please ensure to bring back your trash as the locals face difficulties in keeping the place clean because of irresponsible young trekkers. We heard this often from our host/friend.
Please do not contaminate the water as it is the source of drinking water by the people in Didupe.
**Disclaimer: This post was originally published by me on my Blogger account. This post in my website is a revised version of the same.
Original post - Abode in the mountains - Didupe