Monday, December 18, 2017

The Jog Falls travel experience


Travelling to Jog Falls



As part of my previous post I have already written what it takes to go from Bangalore to Jog Falls. We stayed at Sagar in a hotel called Green Embassy, whose review I have given in another blog post. If you wish to know more about the hotel please click here.

Jog Falls tourist attraction

Bus journey from Sagar to Jog Falls is roughly around 25 km plus or minus and it is a treacherous route down the Mountain and up the Mountain again. Since it's a waterfall you will need to go down the Mountain to some extent to see the falls from the top. There are lot of private buses that operate from areas like Sagar up to Jog Falls in a regular frequency.

The cost of the bus is roughly around 1 Rupee per kilometre so we ended up paying around 20 or 30 rupees for a ticket one way per person. What is more important to note is the time it takes to cover this distance and it is slightly on the higher side due to the terrain. It is quite common that you might feel a bit giddy and may even feel like puking.

Jog Falls pathway




The Jog Falls is a Majestic tourist attraction and has roughly around 1300-1400 steps all the way down. The steps themselves neatly laid out and it gets steeper by the flight as you reach down. It takes roughly about an hour to go down and between an hour and a half or two hours to come back up. We carried only a couple of bottles of water along with our bags down. It is highly recommended that you keep some food like biscuits or the likes while going down. The time when we went was in November and hence the water was pretty less in the falls itself. Like I said earlier in one of my posts this was more of a backpack trip and we had to do it in haste without rhyme or reason.

The best time to go would be between June to August during which time the thunderous falls are a sight to behold.

Safety along the stairs



There would always be a question what happens to you if you go alone all the way down or even with another person all the way down. Would there be somebody who would pickpocket you? Or rob you? Or mug you or even much worse. What is worse is that there are just two security guards at the bottom of the falls. These guys cannot help much and they are just there to control the crowds. Sometimes there could be a set of unruly people who just want to have fun. So far I have not heard of any mishap but there is a genuine risk of something happening. Going down is essentially at your own risk although it is not a very difficult thing and you do not hear incidents happening every other day.

Some things to take care of while going down

  • take a few bottles of water and something to eat like biscuits
  • preferably go between 9AM to 11AM or even earlier
  • as the sun rises it gets pretty difficult to come back up again
  • safety is at your own risk so be aware of your surroundings
  • the mobile signals are not available as you go down so be aware of that
  • preferably go with someone else or as a group of people
  • time your descent and ascent accordingly
  • while coming back up again take as much rest as you want wherever you want
  • do not stress yourself to climb up the stairs fast
  • ample time to come up give time for others to take rest but at the same time keep looking at your watch in order to come back in a reasonable time
  • the staircase USA open between 9AM in the morning and 6AM in the evening
  • if you are going during the monsoon, take an umbrella and use proper clothing like shoes/raincoats etc. 
  • It could also be cold during monsoons, so cover your ears and chest if you can

Food options at Jog Falls

The Options for eating food at Jog Falls are extremely Limited. So you need to be aware of this and plan accordingly. There are a few stores selling frozen paratha or chapati along with some ill made curry.

The shops also stock a lot of ice creams & beverages cold and hot. So you should be able to get your Coke or Fanta or Pepsi easily. Please avoid the rice items here as the rice is not well cooked. Additionally there is also a KSTDC hotel which is only slightly better than the shops around.

Still this restaurant has its own flaws. Not all of the items listed are available at all the times. And if you go somewhere in the afternoon most other items are not available.

The best solution is to pack your own food and take it along with you so that you have something tasty and something made by you that is more edible than the ones available there.

Options to stay near Jog Falls



The couple of hotels that I did notice which is very near to Jog Falls. One of them is the Gerusoppa Maurya by KSTDC. I also noticed Jungle Lodges and resorts nearby. Barring this your nearest best option would be to stay at Sagar or Shimoga.

The total time it took for us to visit Jog Falls and be back is a little more than half a day so you need to plan accordingly if you are going there. This was of course from Sagar so if you are staying at Shimoga it could take much more than that.

Even though it was November it was pretty humid and sweating all the time. The climb down and back up only makes it worse. If you are going between July and August and plan to go down the staircase, don't forget to take a raincoat or an umbrella and still continue to take water and some food. This should help you to be hydrated as well as mitigate the sweating problem during rainy season.

Conclusion



The Jog Falls is a must visit for everybody at least once in their life. Be careful to choose a place nearby to Jog Falls for your stay. Take care to pack food and water while going down Jog Falls pathway. Try to avoid the food which is available there. Time your visit properly. It would also serve if you can read about Jog Falls and its history before going there to appreciate the place.

If you like this post and photos please consider sharing and leave your valuable comments for me in the comment section below.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Green Embassy, Sagara - Why you must check out this hotel when you visit Jog Falls

Introduction


Green Embassy Hotel, Sagara
My cousin arrived from United States of America and I had a chance to decide to have a backpack trip with him. It was a short decision to make and I had to hurry to make the best use of the time I had with him. For over 40 years I've never visited Jog Falls and I was always wanting to go there to see what it felt like to stand in front of the Majestic waterfalls of Karnataka.
We had to quickly book a mode of transport to get us there & also had to book a hotel for our stay there. Besides this we also had to find ways of reaching Jog Falls, seeing place and getting back to Bangalore within a day.

Route map

Map from Bangalore to Jog Falls
The distance from Bangalore to Jog Falls is about 445 km and it roughly takes about anywhere between 7 to 8 hours to reach there. We had a few options to get there which included KSRTC, going by train or driving there.
I have given to many places already within India and I was kind of fed up of taking my car out for this journey. As one would expect getting train tickets is extremely difficult to go to this place since this route is always busy and many people book the tickets in advance. So that left me with only one another option which was KSRTC.
My cousin said he would take care of the booking for the KSRTC bus and my responsibility was to book the hotel in a place called Sagar which was close to Jog Falls. The train actually goes to a place called talguppa but it is a place which is a bit nondescript and has only a railway station there. Please bear in mind that this place does not have proper hotels or stay options although there are some homestays near by.
Your best option would be to go to Shimoga or Sagara. There are frequent buses from Sagar to Jog Falls and it would roughly take about an hour to reach there. Although Google Maps says that it's about 38 to 40 minutes one must factor into the route the railway crossing as well as the drive Downhill and again a bit Uphill to reach Jog Falls. Given this consideration and some wait time at the bus stand in Sagar it is better to keep about an hour for your travel to reach there.
I have already written a blog post about the KSRTC bus booking service online which you can read more about here. For this blog post I will focus on the hotel that we stayed in which was called the green Embassy in Sagar.

Criteria for the hotel choices

One of the main criteria that I had for choosing a hotel was that it must be very near to the bus stand or railway station or both if possible. Not only that it also had to have a decent restaurant as well as should be available at a value for money price. After doing a bit of research I did find that the gerusoppa kstdc hotel at Jog Falls itself was booked completely for the weekend.
Also since it was pretty expensive I had to choose something more reasonable. This is where I came across green embassy hotel which I finally booked.

Distance

The green embassy hotel is about 4 minutes by drive and about 10 to 15 minutes by walk from the bus stand or railway station in Sagar. This actually ticked my requirement for having hotel nearby. For the uninitiated this hotel is not a four or five star hotel but a more reasonable hotel in the area. It has nearly about three to four floors with a decent amount of rooms.

Rooms


The rooms are surprisingly clean and had large Windows and curtains. The beds were large and neat and the room also had a writing table and the customary wardrobe in it. One of the most important things everybody Looks for while booking a hotel is how good the toilet is. I was pleasantly surprised with the toilet within the room. Again it was not of four or five star quality but then for what it was it offered a very neat Western commode a good large and neat wash basin, with all the toiletries kept beside it.

Toilets


The toilet also had a shower partition and the water was quite hot for a good satisfying shower. One of the problems I always have with hotels is the pressure from the shower. Sometimes the pressure is so low that the whole experience of having a good shower is lost. The green Embassy was good in that respect.

Restaurant


Breakfast was complementary along with the hotel cost per night but since we stayed only for the day we had to pay originally for the breakfast. The breakfast is not a generous spread, but rather a few items of the menu that the waiter will discuss with you. Based on what you like he will be able to make a the crispy dosa and serve you Idli and vada, besides offering a few other things like Hot and Cold beverages and a few other items.
There are two restaurants within the hotel one is called swadishta and the other is called garlic. One the first one is a pure vegetarian restaurant the second one is a combination of veg and non veg food. We preferred to have food in the vegetarian restaurant and hence could not get a chance to check out the garlic restaurant for the vegetarian choices there.
The restaurant itself was very pricey and for just a handful of items that we eat we ended up paying up to almost 500 rupees which was high in my opinion. Not to worry though because there are very good restaurants around the area just if you step out of the hotel. All these restaurants can be found between the hotel and the railway station as you take a walk. So if you are not in the mood for having pricey food within the hotel you can always step out for a walk to eat somewhere cheaper.
The food itself was good but it was not of the best quality that you get in other major towns. How it was still tasty and we liked it a lot.

Cost of stay

I had already pre negotiated my time of arrival with the hotel and the chicken itself was pretty smooth and not a major affair. Our room was already ready by the time we reached Sagar.
Typical Hotel costs in These areas can range between 2000 to 5000 rupees. Green Embassy was somewhere in between. The room rack rate was 2000 rupees and we got the room at about 2300 rupees without breakfast. With breakfast it would amount to about 2800 rupees which is slightly on the higher side for a place like Sagar.
I also ordered a couple of beverages using room service which cost about 78 rupees.

The good parts about the hotel


  • [ ] proximity to railway station and bus station by walk
  • [ ] very neat and clean
  • [ ] good toilets
  • [ ] decent breakfast
  • [ ] a large enough car park

The bad parts about the hotel

  • [ ] breakfast is a bit pricey
  • [ ] the TV has very minimal channels and to do very well with an attached set top box

Conclusion


The Green Embassy is a very reasonable hotel for a place like Sagar. Its proximity to the bus station and the railway station makes it all the more likeable.
The varieties of restaurants available should cater to most people who want some good. The neat rooms and a friendly reception plus a reasonable car park and front entrance make this hotel good to stay in.

If you're going for short stay which does not involve breakfast you can negotiate the rates with the hotel upfront. The best way to get to Sagar would be by bus or by train. Driving there is pretty long distance and can make you tired.
If you like this post and you wish to visit Jog Falls please do share this with your friends. If you have any queries or comments type them in the comments box below.