Talewadi - caves and a cascade

April 7, 2012

The drive from Degaon to Talewadi was a rough one. We had to get off at a uphill stretch and guide our cabby Balu. Indica's wheels spun before gripping the rocky-dirt patches. Balu proved to be talented driver. Soon we were driving a flat stretch of dirt road. We saw a couple of thatched roof huts but no humans in sight. Balu caught a movement in one of the huts. We stopped to check if this was Talewadi. Slowly, very cautiously two women, one elderly and one middle aged, emerged from huts. I said namaskar and asked for directions to Talewadi ...the elderly pointed down the road- a little further you'll see two more houses. Barely 250m away, after a bend a road was Talewadi.

These two milestones, a mile away from each other, are from the British era. Distance shown is in miles. These are real milestones. Places mentioned are Belgaum, Shirol, Khanapur and Talewadi.

Right next to the milestone (Talewadi 0) was a house and another one on a small hillock across the road. We saw a man emerge out of the house on the hillock. He was surprised to see us and even more surprised to see an Indica in his village. I introduced myself and the purpose of our visit- Krishnapur caves and Bheemaghad fort.  But since it was a bit too late to reach Krishnapur and Bheema, we'll plan that some other day. Can you show us Talewadi's cave? Yes. Our friend Sateri Dabale called out to his brother Ganapati Dabale and asked him to take us to the cave. Wow! What a host.

We took the Indica for another kilometer and parked at a dead end. From there we entered the jungle. Ganapati led the way, a narrow shaded path, it was silent except for birds and insects going about their chores noisily. Suddenly the shaded path ended and we were out in the open. The path winded through rocks and descended into a wide valley. The cave was neatly hidden behind a  clump of trees. The picture below is a screen shot from a video I made.

A short video of our walk through the jungle to the cave.

The cave's mouth is completely hidden by trees. A narrow path from the side led us into the cave. We approached it cautiously, Ganapati would ask us to walk in a single file as close as possible to the rocky wall to our right, in case we encountered an animal it'l have enough place to pass by. Memories of my visit to Tenginkalbetta came to my mind, our guide had told us animals tend to attack when encountered face to face. They rarely bother when seen to the sides. Slow steps, holding our breaths, we took the first step into the cave. It had a scary look, the innards dark and uninviting.

Ganapati checks if any beast was hiding behind these rocks. No, nothing. Than he told us about a snake he had seen years ago. We spoke in hushed tones.

Feeling confident, we relaxed a bit. The portion behind the group looks ideal for animals to lie down for sleep. No wonder Ganapati checked it.

We decide to explore deeper into the cave. The silence got thicker with every step. We could barely speak with the tension. Ganapti asked if we had a torch. We fished out my LED torch and handed it over to Manju since my hands were full with cameras.

Ganapati pointed out at a narrow opening to an inner chamber. Ganapati located an paw print in the moist floor, our untrained eyes could not pick it. Manju shone the torch at that point. We heard a low growl, a low but a nasty sounding growl for about 5 or 6 seconds. Balu asked Manju to switch off the torch. Now it was confirmed, we were guests and disturbing our beasty host.  We were tense but none of us panicked.

We decided to move towards the mouth for our own safety.

Close to where Balu is, to his left we found several prints of birds' feet.

Ganapati said we can see the rocks of Krishnapur caves from a point on these hills, let's go there. The path went up the roof of the cave. Ganapti, Manju and Balu are standing in the footpath used by animals to descend into the cave.

View of the valley floor and a smaller cave opposite the bigger cave.

After few minutes walk, we were at the highest point of Talewadi. The three small mounds above Balu's and Manju's heads are the rocks of Krishnapur. We are 800m and Krishnapur is 200m above the sea level. We need to descend 600m to reach Krishnapur!

Hope the day comes soon.

A natural stone arch. Miniature version of Sidlaphadi cave.

Ganapti was leading us to another cave. We were walking a crescent shaped valley floor. My guess- during rainy season a stream would be flowing here.

We dare not enter this cave, looks like a perfect home for bears and serpents. We rested here for a while. Earlier, while in the bigger cave I had told lighting a beedi scares away animals. Balu lit a beedi, we cautioned him, a carpet of dry leaves covered the ground we stood on. the cave is at the beginning is a slope. The caves terrace is a part of the valley floor we descended from.

This tree is supposed to be a favorite play spot for tigers. Young tigers would be often found here. Ganapati claimed to have seen tigers running few paces and leaping on to the tree. They would sharpen their claws on the trunk and would lie on the branches. I believed his words. The tree has a kind of look which looks inviting to big cats.

Ganapati is a very patient man. I should spend few days in Talewadi, live peacefully away from the all the madness . We stopped at the cave we had seen from the bigger cave's terrace. I was glad Manju and Balu were enjoying the trip :)

On the way back to the hamlet, we stopped by to see another smaller cave.

We saw something we can never see in cites. A very different type of flower- white, blue and red.

The blue ones seem to the younger ones. The blue top falls off exposing the red inside.

We had crossed over this gully to explore two smaller caves. We spent few minutes examining the types of rocks. These  are ligneous rocks. We could see charcoal grey pebbles and stones, very heavy for their sizes. I picked a few for my collection at home.

We were hungry but something kept us moving. We headed towards the hamlet. Thanks to Rajshekhar Jahaj for suggestion to visit Talewadi.

This story will continue in the next post.

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