22-Jan-2005 -- It was a while since I had gone confluence hunting. The pressure at work had escalated and weekends were spent in trying to recoup for the following week. We had a week of vacation for Christmas when we decided to drive to Chennai. My plan was to visit three confluences near Chennai during that break. Unfortunately, the devastation from the tsunami made me cancel my plans and return to Bangalore.
The New Year came in quietly and I got back to work in the first week of January. That was when my organization announced an off-site adventure holiday for three days in the end of month. The first thing I did when I got to know where we were heading was to see if there were any confluences in that area. And yes! 13N 75E and 14N 75E seemed quite close to the resort we were going to stay in. It did not take me too much time to plan out the drive (the rest of the crowd were going to travel by bus, but three of my colleagues decided to accompany me on the drive).
We started off early in the morning of Jan. 23rd and headed towards 13N 75E, which was close to the city of Mangalore. This confluence had already been visited a few months ago, but it was too close to our route to skip! The road to Mangalore takes us through the towns of Kunigal, Chanarayapatna, Hassan and Sakleshpur. We made pretty good time till Sakleshpur and then took a turn off the highway to head towards the temple town of Dharmastala. We were advised to take this route, as there would be less traffic on it. This road wound its way through the Western Ghats and after passing Dharmastala, we headed towards the town of Moodbidri. The maps we had showed the confluence to be south of Moodabidri. On reaching Moodabidri, the GPS indicated a straight-line distance of 7 kilometers to the point. After navigating through a few narrow streets, we found a road heading out of Moodabidri that seemed to go in the general direction we needed.
This was a paved but narrow road that wound its way through the hilly terrain all around. The GPS counted down steadily and we finally reached a point on the road that was just 250 meters from 13N 75E. But being the eternal optimist that I was and driving an SUV that would happily go off-road, I found a track just wide enough for the vehicle that led into the forest. It was a first-time experience for my three colleagues as they had not imagined that a vehicle could actually traverse such a path. Anyway, we drove on and reached a point 160 meters from the confluence. On driving a bit further, I found the distance increasing, so we reversed back and parked in the shade on the track.
This one looked pretty easy - less than 200 meters away, but we had to trek through fairly dense forest in hilly terrain to get there. It was a blazing hot day (maybe we felt that way after emerging from the air-conditioning in the vehicle) and we stuffed our backpacks with cookies and water and set off towards the confluence. We had to trek downhill and when we were about 90 meters from the confluence we wound up at a barbed wire fence. This was a surprise, as we did not imagine we'd encounter private land in the middle of the forest. The farm within the fenced area had numerous coconut and areca nut trees. We hollered for attention, but it seemed that no one was around. We tried to walk along the fence to the other side, but it was tough. So, we decided to jump the fence and walk across. The prospect of guard dogs and angry (armed) landowners loomed in front of us, but we thought we could talk our way out of it! Anyway, we quickly traversed through the farm and when we were about thirty meters away from 13N 75E, we came up to the fence on the far side.
It should not have taken us too much time to jump across, but the prospect of climbing a steep embankment towards the CP made us think again. My colleague Sudhakar and I were exhausted and decided to stop there, but my other two intrepid colleagues wanted to venture on. So, I handed the GPS to them and watched them jump across the fence and disappear up the embankment. It did not take them too long to locate the magical zeros at 13N 75E. Sridhar took a picture of the GPS with his camera phone and after a few war whoops, they returned.
We took the mandatory photographs and a hand-held self-portrait of all of us before we headed back to the car. The time was 1500 hours and all of us were quite hungry. So, we drove back to Moodbidri and found the Pai Vihar Restaurant where we were served tasty vegetarian food. After the lunch stop, we took directions and drove towards Karkala and then onwards to Udupi. At Udupi, we turned north towards Kundapur. We planned to stay the night in Sudhakar's ancestral home that was 10 kilometers north of Kundapur and then head out to the resort early in the morning.
We planned to take some time off from all the activities planned at the resort to drive to 14N 75E in the next few days.