Agumbe, the tallest & wettest place in Karnataka

agumbe-mist-on-hills-karnataka-photo-picture.jpg(Agumbe photo courtesy : JP)

Last week I discovered Agumbe (pronounced Aagumbe). A quick one hour drive, straight up over 14 hair-pin bends took me from the coastal city of Udupi to the heights of Agumbe. And guiding me to Agumbe was the man who is most likely to put Agumbe firmly on the map – Jai Prakash, known to all and sundry as JP.

JP’s story is atypical. JP hails from Udupi the charming coastal town in Karnataka. And for a youngster from a nice south canara middle class family, he landed the ultimate prize – a job as an officer with the Sate Bank of Mysore. Soon he found himself in Bombay running the treasury of the bank as part of the International Banking Department. And life was good, with 3 offers from international banks stuffed in his back pocket. Except, he didn’t think this was what he wanted. Brooding and moping about on one of his visits home (and driving his family nuts), he stumbled upon a lovely piece of land for sale in the nearby mountains of Agumbe. And before he knew it, he has bought the land and had become a full-time farmer and Bombay was just a distant memory. He was all of 28 years old.

He regaled me with stories of his farming days; stuff ranging from how deers figured out ingenious ways to avoid traps he set to how a village schoolmaster changed his entire outlook on things. Unfortunately farming didn’t work out and after 5 years of determined struggle, JP gave up. And now comes the interesting part.

JP just couldn’t seem to give up on Agumbe. He soon started working on a small school for local children. And worked on it and worked on it, till his effort was suddenly noticed by the biggest education group in India; the Manipal Foundation which incidentally happens to based near Udupi. Today JP is the Director of Agumbe Shikshana Sansthe a charitable society set up to bring good education to Agumbe and its surroundings. And 3 years ago, they set up the Annapurna Vidya Mandir, an English medium school with a strong focus on developing well rounded adults. All this is fascinating because Agumbe is seriously back of beyond. With a population of 800 people in the out-of-reach heights of India’s western Ghats, Agumbe is not the most obvious place for educational excellence to flourish. But one man and his perserverance is making that happen. And as I visited that school last week, I saw it for myself.

Agumbe gets a few tourists now. Mostly youngsters working in software companies in Bangalore out to trek across some of the best trekking terrain in this part of the world. Adreno runs adventure camps (treks, river rafting etc) in and around Agumbe.

( Annapurna Vidya Mandir framed by the western ghats)

agumbe-school.jpg

Advertisements

26 thoughts on “Agumbe, the tallest & wettest place in Karnataka

  1. You have certainly been a prolific blogger during the past week or two. Since I have had an unusually busy time this month, I have a lot of catching up to do. You certainly seem to be having a lot of fun!

  2. One of those phases! But I did have an unusually interesting week last week. And there are a few posts still left to do. Yes, Shantanu, I have been having a lot of fun. You never know when the drudgery of work will catch up – so I am squeezing in whatever I can.

  3. Hello Hari,
    These places are very close to my heart- I have spent many days trekking through Agumbe ( famous for its leeches and most venomous snakes!- ofcourse we learnt this the hard way and if we ever knew about the snakes, I would probably have skipped the place) and staying over night in the mosquito infested St. Mary’s island as a student at Manipal.

    Not many people know that Taj considered opening a small resort at Agumbe but did not succeed, I think manily due to land acquisition issues. So, for the moment there is no staying facility there despite the fact that so many movies are shot there. Many don’t know, but Agumbe, formed the ‘imaginary’ village of Malgudi and the temple shown in Malgudi days is the temple in Agumbe.
    Many also don’t know that Agumbe has recently opened ( I think India’s only) research center dedicated to researching Indian cobras found in Agumbe.

    Ofcourse for a tourist, even basic facilities are not there- we stayed in a PWD guest house, after having to bribe the guard. To our utter surprise the toilet flush actually worked! Infact, the PWD guest house itself is not a bad property which if privatized and renovated can serve the purpose of a small hotel.

    There are just some things one can suggest to promote tourism at these places:

    Dakshin and Utter Kannada are places of utmost importance from religious as well as natural beauty- The Airport at Karwar will by and large take care of Uttar Kannada. For places like Maravanthe, Malpe, and Agumbe, the Mangalore Airport is still quite far away. An Airport at Ottinene at Kundapur was proposed but nothing came out of it. Many, including I, believe that this airport can also be used by the 10,000 strong student community at Manipal as a Flying school (set up like Embry Riddle at Florida), besides provinding connectivity to smaller planes.

    I had even written to the PAI’s of Manipal informally (Dr. Med Pai, who I met at a function), since they are into education and may see Aviation education & Training as an extention of the education insitutes they already have at Manipal. There are synergies waiting to be tapped. The many students who come to Manipal, are NRI’s.

    Best Regards

    Appended here is a newspaper article on the proposed Ottinene Airport:

    New Airport at Ottinene – Blue Print Approved

    Kundapur: Ottinene, a place known for its scenic beauty near Shiroor belonging to the jurisdiction of Byndoor legislative assembly has been selected for the construction of airport in the vast expanse of more than 350 acres of land. The blue print of the project has been accepted by the district commissioner and the proposal has been forwarded to the central government in New Delhi.
    Responding to the request made by K Sukumar Shetty, former managing trustee of Kollur Temple and ex-chairman of Kollur Administrative Council, noted industrialist R N Shetty has assured his full support to the proposed airport project. As the result of consultation by local elected representatives, especially by former MLA Pratapchandra Shetty with union labour minister Oscar Fernandes, the district administration has taken-up the proposal in right earnest.
    In the context of Kollur being marked in the tourist map of India as a pilgrimage centre attracting devotees in thousands both from India and abroad. With this in mind the need for an airport is strongly felt.

  4. Hi everyone
    I love naure very much . I know its very hard to live there . The people who visit them occasionally may find it very attractive but everything comes at a price . I mean to say every thing has its own advantages and disadvantages . Apart from evryhing its a heaven on earth .

  5. hi there,
    i lived in Agumbe for about 2 years. People are laidback and so you cannot see a great deal of development there. the only thing which can put the place forward is education. and thank god, now agumbe has 2 good schools, run by the same management. but tthe govt. needs to improve this heaven-on-earth ( if you excuse the term, despite the place being infected with leeches, rhodents etc.)
    long way to go..

    • Hi Gurudutt,

      I belong to Aagumbe ghats as well. Can I have your contact please? An Email id or a phone number?

      Regards,
      Anup

  6. hey ppl,
    i m a nature lover, so cn ne 1 helpout? ?
    v r plannon 2 go fr kodachadri in july…tel me de imp n gud places 2 be covered…!!!
    v r expectin de greenary n mist covr’d plces…
    thankin yo…!!!!

  7. i have decided to stay there and build a home inn luxury casual hotel to fed the needs of travelers anyone can join me
    9538003591

    i ve never been to agumbe bt i knw
    nature
    as i ve been to nainital shillong nagarkot delhi
    n now i live in mumbai

  8. not sure if you aware of it, but renowned herpetologist Romulus Whitaker has been visiting Agumbe since the 1970s and has set-up a conservation center there for King Cobras. And no, contrary to popular fiction and movies, though being poisonous they don’t go out of the way to chase and attack people.

    Any visit to Agumbe would be incomplete without a visit to Rom’s center.

  9. Just Curious if a small private, well maintained resort do any good Biz in Agumbe. Got a decent size land there. Appreciate any feedback.

  10. Sunil – such a property will definitely work in Agumbe; as long as you are ready to wait for a year after launching the resort for things to pick up – and put in a lot of hard work in the meantime.

    And one other thing. A common mistake I find resort-developers do in India is to underestimate the cost and effort in marketing and distribution. My sense is that 25% of the total project cost should be kept for this sort of ‘soft’ stuff. Otherwise, it could be a rather painful, long haul.

    Go for it.

  11. Thanks Hari for the kind feedback and i truly agree that Mktg is pretty much important.
    Will try to add some more size to the existing place and will take it up when i wind up from Dubai.
    Thanks a lot again.
    Cheers

  12. A small, decent, affordable resort is very much needed in Agumbe. Tasty, hygenic local cusine is a must!! It should be combined with nature activities around the place.

  13. Hello All,

    Can anyone tell me how to get a guide for Agumbe trekking. I have been unsuccessful till now in my attempts till now.

    Thank you.

    • Hi,

      You can get guide in agumbe only, if you want any details just drop me a mail, my native is agumbe and presently am working in Bangalore.
      my email id is aramachandrakamath@gmail.com
      i can guide you about places to cover and i can also suggest place to stay.

      Its privilege to help a person, who wants to visit my home town.

      Regards
      Ram

  14. HI! HARI IAM AN AVID TRAVELLER. IAM IN DUBAI RIGHT NOW. IN OCTOBER IAM PLANNING TO TRAVEL WAYANAD, COORG, AGUMBE,UDUPI & KOLLUR. CAN I HAVE UR SUGGESTIONS ABOUT ANY ACCOMODATION IN AGUMBE OR ANY OTHER PLACES ON THE WAY.I WOULD LIKE TO COMMUNICATE WITH U THRU E-MAIL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s