We finally made it to Hebbe Falls during our second visit to Kemmangundi. We were able to visit the famous falls only on our second attempt as we had missed a vital prep step, the first time over!
Common sense dictated we visit during a weekday to avoid crowds. For the first time, this went wrong. Why?
We didn’t find any other person to join us for the jeep ride to the waterfall. Plus, we couldn’t afford to pay Rs. 3500 for an entire jeep that is run by the Karnataka Forest Department —Yep, we had to skip on a most awaited trip as we could not find a couple more people to split the jeep fare with us. Rs. 3500 is the standard charge for a round trip for 7 people. To come so close and to give up, did not sit well with us. Yet, despite waiting for hours we found no one and had to turn back heavily disappointed.
This time around while carefully crafting our itinerary to Chikmagalur, Atchaya and our friend Aarthi planned to visit Kemmangundi and nearby places during their weekend. This was a situation we could capitalize on and ensure we visit the eluded Hebbe Falls.
8 Km of this path was trekkable before COVID-19. However, the place has now been closed down for human trekking given a Tiger had been spotted strolling in the reserve forest. This path is awfully close to the Bhadra Tiger reserve, and this drastic measure has been taken for the safety of eager visitors.
The time for a jeep round trip is allotted as follows.
2 hours 30 mins =>
- 30-minute jeep ride
- 15 min walk to the waterfall
- 1 hour to enjoy the waterfall
- 15 min walk to the jeep
- 30 mins jeep ride back to the starting point.
Being the first batch of trekkers to reach the forest check post office, we parked our rented two-wheeler on the side of the road along with other four-wheelers. We boarded the jeep with excitement and eagerness. Jam-packed with people, we started our journey.
The first 2 Km is a straight road with no particularly interesting views on either side. Then, the driver stopped the vehicle and said this is the only stop where you’ll get a mobile network, and asked us to transfer the money to the concerned person if we borrowed cash before. The driver signaled us to make it faster as they were not allowed to stop in the forest area. The urgency was much empathized when he went out of his way to turn on his mobile hotspot.
Then came the open terrain with jaw-dropping views. Oh, the jiggling and joltings started. With tires screeching and gears being changed often, we were in oscillatory mode. The driving skills implemented by our driver to safely maneuver the muddy road were truly commendable.
Twin’s Tip: While going to the waterfall, ensure you choose the seat on the same side as that of the driver to gawk at insane views and choose the opposite side while coming back.
An untouched lake, hills with green grasslands, numerous brown trees’ stems standing tall with no leaves combined with the sound of streams, all pleasantly enjoyed while breathing in super fresh air is an experience that is going to be forever imprinted with us.
Our inquisitiveness to discover all about this hidden slice of heaven instigates us to flood our driver with a barrage of questions in different languages. Being multilingual in addition to being an amazing driver, he was polite to answer us patiently. The chit-chatting continued but our eyes were glued to the window. The driver even showed us a video of a tiger sighting he personally witnessed during one of his earlier rides.
Once the jeep came to a halt, we applied Dettol as we were told the trail had leeches. We did manage to ward off the few we did find. The jeep driver said that we’d need to walk 500m and cross 3 bridges to reach the alluring waterfalls.
After crossing the first bridge, the route was muddy and slippery for about 100m. After walking carefully in the muddy terrain for about 5 minutes, we reached the second bridge. Took a couple of pictures, and kept waking. A small third bridge and much to our surprise we were drenched before we even reached the falls, and no it was not raining!
It was the water drizzling from the waterfalls. The unmistakable sound of the water gushing became more and more apparent indicating that we were close to the waterfall.
After an approx. 100m walk, along the water stream to the left, Et Voila! With our mouths uncontrollably wide open and our tired spirits fresh with newfound enthusiasm.
Every minute you spend near the waterfall is nothing short of pure bliss. Trust us, a single hour is not nearly enough to see and witness such beauty. Time tends to fly a lot quicker here and our experience though by all laws of time was an hour, to us it was fleeting moments of discontented and unbridled happiness.
The interesting part is, that you need not stand underneath the waterfall to get wet. Even if you are standing 50m away, you’re sure to be thoroughly showered. The force generated from the Bhadra River falls falling from a height of 551 feet is tremendous and it cascades on two levels namely, Dodda Hebbe (big falls) and Chikka Hebbe (small falls). Hebbe waterfall is the tallest in the Chikmagalur district and it is by all accounts truly stunning.
Although we had to pull ourselves away and walk to the jeep, you could be sure that each of us left a part of us behind with the falls and carried the memory of the falls with us safely back with us on your journey back.
We didn’t find any changing rooms. Even if we did, we are sure that none of us would have wasted precious time hanging out.
When the driver asked, how was the experience? We uttered, without any reservation and with a huge grin that it was “Tumba Chennagide” meaning “very beautiful.” We were the happiest travelers at that moment boarding the jeep with heart’s content with an experience that we doubt we others can come close to in the future.
We then kick-started a bumpy, thrilling, and at times mind-boggling ride. It was like experiencing what the stunt people of fast-furious franchises had experienced. More than a couple of times we found our vehicle balancing entirely on only one side of its tires.
At noon a little after 12PM we were back and shocked to see the crowd that had gathered at the ticket counter. Many people were waiting for the jeeps to return in order to hop on. The last jeep ride will be departing at 3 PM. If the booking is done prior, then the jeep ride is available till 5 PM.
Twin’s Tip: Go on weekends but early. Ensure you are at the forest check post office at 9 AM.
We refreshed ourselves in the paid restroom near the forest check-post office and hopped on our bikes to our next adventure to Z-point.
Although you can hike to all other waterfalls in the Chikmagalur district, this unique experience of a jeep ride to experience the hidden majestic waterfall somewhere inside a national reserve forest is worth the time and money. Add this waterfall to your bucket list and ensure you experience it before you kick the bucket.
The experience is worth every hype.
Twin destination recommendation score: 100%
- On your way back to Bangalore, visit the historic Hoysala temples of Belur and Halebidu
- Other places to visit in Chikmagalur
Let us know in the comments how your experience was. We’d love to hear from you. Till our next experience, catch on all our adventures through our multiple social media channels – Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.