Some journeys would evoke feelings of nostalgia. A trip to Shimoga, which could be termed as a 'Mini Kerala', can remind a person from Kerala scenes from childhood days. The Shimoga (Shivamogga) region in Karnataka is rich in arecanut plantations, banana groves and paddy fields. There are tile-roofed houses built at a specific distance from the farming area.
The houses have attached cowsheds thatched with palm leaves, haystacks and other symbols of agrarian life like farmers manually digging water channels to coconut groves. All these sights make a traveller from Kerala recall the rural life in the state during the 1950s and 1960s.
Adding to the natural beauty of the place are the barren hillocks seen here and there. Apart from the eye-catching landscape, Shimoga is noted for its distinct cuisine and various tastes of ice-creams.
The natural scenes in Shimoga change with the seasons, which a new visitor might find it difficult to understand. There are several hill stations and around 11 waterfalls in the area. However, all of them remain in the shadow of the main attraction, the picturesque Jog Falls.
A trip to Shimoga region can start with a visit to Tyavarekoppa on the Bengaluru Highway. At the Tiger and Lion Safari, a traveller can spend around one hour. There is also a zoo as well as a museum and a park here. A friendly guide can take you into the nearby forest; however, a deep trek is not allowed. Lions can be watched at close quarters in the safari.
Starting early next morning, a traveller can head to the K S Hill Station. The initial part of the trip may not be much enjoyable, but later on, the journey becomes smooth. Except during the monsoon, the drive to the ‘Thirumala’ hills is pleasant. On both sides of the road, shrubs are planted and they have been pruned attractively. There are casuarina trees planted at specific distances. Occasionally, teak, jackfruit and rosewood trees can be seen. However, creepers planted close to the big trees look like a failed attempt to give visitors the impression of a forest.
From there, along around 8 km, coffee plantations come into view. Most of the coffee plants have bloomed and the flowers remind travellers of jasmine. The plantations are protected with fences of barbed iron wires. Any attempt to pick some flowers through the fence would attract guard dogs that foil such moves.
The drive uphill presents more interesting scenery. When travellers reach the Rajagiri forest area, the artificial woods give way to natural beauty. There are many streams gurgling down the rocks in monsoon. But during the other seasons, paths left by the water can be seen. The soil has been swept down by the flowing water. Trees uprooted by the gushing streams remain at the spot.
From here, a glance downhill presents a pleasant sight. The trees are covered with mist but traces of their greenery are still visible. The winding concrete track uphill is also seen. During the rainy season, the trip is difficult. But in other seasons, K S Hill Station would come alive with flowers of all hues. Most of them are roses. Roses of a variety of colours can be enjoyed here. Acacia trees in full bloom would make the scene more attractive. The view from the Suicide Point is blocked by the big trees, giving the impression that nature has tried to save people from feeling the fear of death.
Barren hillocks can be noticed at quite a distance from here. The whole scenery influences visitors deeply. A special satisfaction and solitude can be felt.
The views at night from the top of the hill station are also beautiful. Such scenes thrill young visitors from places where hills and forests are few, like Gujarat. The trip is different from others in many ways. The scenes are enjoyed while coming downhill. Shade trees have been planted in the garden at the hill station. Sitting arrangements are provided in the garden like benches. The rose plants are protected with barbed fences. On the trees, monkeys are engaged in frolic. They provide numerous photo opportunities.
From there, visitors can head to around 10 waterfalls nearby. The first one is Shanti Waterfall. It can be reached by a 10-minute trek by foot from the main road. As travellers approach the fall, they can listen to the music produced by the water-drops scattering away after plunging on the rocks.
The tallest waterfall in K S Hill Station is the Hebbe Falls. It is tiger reserve area from then on. At the main gate itself, big vehicles are stopped and travellers can proceed only by foot or on two-wheelers. During a one-hour trip, several waterfalls can be visited. The most interesting one is the Kalhatti Waterfalls which originates from the Chandradrona Hills and the Veerabhadra Temple adjacent to it.
The water flowing down the rocks touches a good portion of the temple before continuing on its course and the main shrine can only be reached after walking across the waterfall. Most of the steps of the temple are immersed in water. During summer, the origin of the waterfall can be seen clearly. A visit to the Shiva Temple would provide a feeling of fulfilment to travellers after all the celebrations in the hills.