Jun 7, 2009
A travel in the Konkan at any time of the year and in any direction is a feast to the eye and a pleasure to the photographer. I had the good opportunity to capture the beauty of the Konkan during the monsoon as well as the autumn seasons while travelling from Mumbai to Udupi parallel to the coast, which i had shared with the nature loving readers of the Daijiworld.
Recently, i had an opportunity to travel from Mangalore to Belthangady, moving away from the coast almost perpendicular to it. This journey too provided me with an opportunity to enjoy the bounty of nature and picturesque scenes which i could capture in my camera.
The bus journey from Mangalore, though bumpy at times due to the road widening work that is still in progress, was pleasant. Up to Bantwal Cross Road (BC Road) one can see at regular intervals, the great Netravati River playing hide and seek. If one could see water at one stretch, the other stretch would be shallow with bunch of rocky
formations protruding dangerously and making the river turbulent during the rainy season.
Netravati is the prominent river in the Dakshina Kannada district. Originating in the Kudremukh ranges of the Western Ghats, Netravati flows through the important pilgrimage center Dharmasthala and the old town of Bantwal before joining the Arabian sea at Mangalore. The total length of the river is about 103 kms. Gundiahole, Kumaradara and Shisiahole are the chief tributaries of the Netravati River. This river is the main source of water to Chikkamagaluru, Shringeri, Bantwal and Mangalore.
Originally, the river was known as ‘Buntwal River’ named after the town of Bantwal situated on its bank. A reference to the Netravati River was made in the ‘Gazetteer of Southern India’ published in 1855. According to the Gazetteer, the river-bed of Netravati was encumbered by mainly dark brown rock containing small traces of minerals. The Gazetteer also mentions that the river Buntwal was navigable for many miles. But navigation in the river was only restricted to small country boats.
In the past, the town of Bantwal was submerged during the monsoon by overflowing river Netravati. Many were forced to leave the town and settle elsewhere. The major floods remembered by the elders of the town occurred in 1928 and 1974.
After leaving Mangalore, the first major stop is Farangipet, which is famous for St. Fidelis Friary, Monte Mariano. Originally, there was a dilapidated chapel dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi which belonged to the Portuguese Franciscans situated on a small hillock called Monte Mariano. It was handed over by the Bishop of Mangalore to the Capuchins for the novitiate house when they came to Farangipet in 1930.
As the bus halted at Farangipet, i was amazed to see the fish market with verities of fish and could not resist the temptation of taking out my camera and capturing the scene.
As the bus proceeded further, i could visualize the developmental work that the government of Karnataka has been undertaking in terms of widening the main artery road up to BC Road. Meanwhile, no one can escape the sight of construction of new houses and small scale industries along the road. Brightly coloured bungalows with dish antennas coexisting with humble dwellings of the less fortunate, present a picture of changing face of rural Dakshina Kannada. Another aspect that impressed me the most was the appearance of temples, mosques and churches at regular intervals throughout the journey proclaiming the religious harmony that had been the hallmark of the people of Dakshina Kannada through the ages.
The topography from Mangalore to Bantwal, parallel to the Netravati River is more or less uniform with paddy fields intermixed with coconut and betel nut plantations. Beyond Bantwal, the road passes through hillocks and forest area with sharp turns and slopes. The ranges of hills at a distance and the passing forests and coconut and areca nut plantations with little paddy fields in the valleys dotted by houses of various sizes and forms keeps one’s eyes busy who passes through that area for the first time or even occasionally like myself.
On reaching Vogga, one cannot help but think of Karinjeshwara temple situated on the top of a hill nearly 3 kms towards the right side as one proceeds to Belthangady. There is a narrow road that leads up to the hill. On the peak of the hill there is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. One has to climb 555 steps to reach the peak. Just below the Shiva temple there is another temple dedicated to Goddess Parvati, the consort of Shiva. Though the climb is steep and strenuous, one can feel the sense of spiritual attainment on reaching the peak and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding nature.
For someone who travels through this region for the first time, a visit to Dharmasthala, the most famous pilgrim center of Dakshina Kannada district is a must.
The economy of the people living en route and in the interior has been based on agriculture and plantation activities, which provides ready cash. Besides coconut and areca nut plantations, one can witness the vast areas of the hilly regions converted into rubber plantations.
Subject to market fluctuations, the owners of areca nut and rubber plantations earn considerable amount of money. More enterprising farmers have been experimenting with vanilla and hybrid banana plantations. Besides, the members of the families who are either in Gulf countries or Mumbai contribute to the family income which is being reflected in the construction of new houses with modern amenities.
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