How about starting your morning on a hill station, watching the water gush down edgy rocks at a menacing pace, and ending your day having gadbad ice cream at a restaurant overlooking a massive Shiva statue against a background of serene, blue Arabian Sea? I just described a trip to the famous Jog Falls and the temple town of Murdeshwar in Northern Karnataka, that can be done in a short time on a shoestring budget.
Northern Karnataka is full of less explored places that must be on your wish list if it isn’t already. I discovered that covering Jog Falls and Murdeshwar is possible in just one day, without the need to spend extra on staying anywhere!
Jog Falls is the second highest waterfall in India with a drop of around 830 feet, after Nohkalikai Falls (1100 ft) in Meghalaya. While the best months to visit the place are around the monsoon, you can visit as late as December too, like I did, and gaze as the Sharavati River splits into four distinct streams of water.
Reaching Jog Falls
You can take a train to Honnavar railway station and from there a bus to Jog Falls. The buses from there are frequent and travel fast. Those with motion sickness though, beware! As the bus goes through the ghats with sharp bends, a queasy stomach could be your biggest challenge.
The falls themselves are a sight to behold. Streams of sparkling water with foam at the surface, rolling off dangerously sharp rocks make for a majestic view. You can tell apart the four different streams that have been named rather evocatively as, Raja, Roarer, Rocket and Rani.
For those wanting to get closer to the waterfalls, there are 1,400 steps built to allow you to get to the bottom. Even as Jog Falls attracts a large number of both Indian and foreign tourists all year round, it has also gained notoriety because of the number of people who commit suicide here.
The place is well maintained by the Government of Karnataka, and there are a number of private and government stay options if you are keen on spending more time here. My recommendation however would be to head to Murdeshwar after spending half a day at Jog Falls.
Shiva, sea and sand!
Reaching from Jog Falls to Murdeshwar is a matter of two hours and changing two buses. Locals are helpful and ready to guide, and travelling is hassle free considering both the places are known tourist destinations. The moment you reach Murdeshwar, even before you can catch a glimpse of the shore, the cool breeze caressing your face will tell you that your destination is not too far. The majestic Shiva statue can be spotted from a distance and is surrounded by pristine blue sea.
The temple, though full of people, does not have serpentine queues where you will spend hours. You can take your own sweet time to admire the stone structure and the water body surrounding it. For those interested in water sports, there are banana water rides and opportunities for boating too.
For lovers of sea food, I have one warning. While most restaurants serve sea food, the ones right opposite the temple do not. You will only find that out when you are seated and ready to place the order, as I did. One thing that you must try in this part of Karnataka is the gadbad ice cream, which is multiple scoops of ice cream in a tall glass topped with dry fruits, falooda and cherry. It tastes just as divine as it sounds.
Murdeshwar has a railway station and you can take a train back to either Mumbai or in the southern direction to Mangalore. With two great spots off your list and that too without spending too much and using the local transport, don’t you think this is a trip you must try?