The lush green region between the coast and the plains in the state of Karnataka, along the mighty Western Ghats, are known as the ‘maļenādu’ (land of mountains). It is this region which also gets the highest rainfall in the state. It is only coincidental that mountains (ಮಲೆ) and rain (ಮಳೆ) are spelt very similar in Kannada language.
I spent my childhood years in one corner of this region. And as everyone else who hails from this region would agree, that creates a special bonding with rains and greenery.
Even though we now have no connection with the place where I grew up, I believe this bonding is what keeps taking me back to various parts of the region, year after year.
Here is the story of our trip this year, to another corner of the rain land.
The grandfather's home, away from home!
Our destination this time was a place called AjjanaMane, in Talavata village of Shivamogga district. ‘AjjanaMane’ in Kannada means ‘Grandfather’s Home’, so obviously we should say there were high expectations from this place.
It was quite interesting that we got reservation at this place for the Aug. 15th weekend. Apparently someone else who had booked in advance had just canceled, and I was online to check availability around the same time! The fact that Sri Sharma, who runs this place, was an online acquaintance of mine did also help in ensuring that the reservation process was quite simple. As simple as one phone call, that’s it!
We had to later change the booking (as one of my friends continued his famous trend of dropping out at the last moment) and that request was also considered with no questions asked.
August 15, 2015
Finally, on the morning of Aug. 15th, we (four adults and two kids) started very early in the morning from Bangalore towards AjjanaMane. On the driver seat was my friend, who really cares for his life and does not therefore let me anywhere near the steering :)
Like my previous trip to Kabini (read about it HERE), I had not ditched my DSLR this time. However, I did also have a new mobile from ASUS with me - The Zenfone Selfie. Even though I was kind of irritated that the review device was a pink one, I did want to play with it during the 6+ hours of journey.
And play I did. The selfies and landscapes that I clicked from the moving car themselves were very impressive so it already looked like there was a high probability of me sticking to this camera and giving more rest to the DSLR :)
I had purchased, just in time for this trip, a cheap lens attachment for mobile cameras from Flipkart. Such attachments generally work only with the primary cameras. However, as both the cameras in Zenfone Selfie are of the same size (and have almost the same specs - both are 13 MP cameras equipped with dual tone flash; primary camera also has laser focus), I was also able to get some interesting selfie shots using the attachments on the front camera.
We reached AjjanaMane well before the lunch time and had enough time to explore the place. The fact that it was raining on-and-off added to the kids’ excitement and before we knew, little feet were jumping up and down in rain. I should say the Zenfone Selfie did a pretty good job of capturing these shots. After clicking a burst of shots, it also let me stitch them into an animation.
The primary camera of this phone has laser focus, and that lets you quickly focus and click nice close-ups even when the subject is not perfectly still (e.g. flowers when there’s some wind).
As you can see, close-up shots are quite impressive. Indoor images, too, are a lot better compared to many other phones. Many innovative modes (like night mode, depth of field, time rewind, smart remove, time lapse etc) give some more freedom to showcase creativity.
By this time, it was time for lunch. And boy, what a lunch it was! I would go back to AjjanaMane anytime just for the food!! (PS: None of us remembered to click even a single photo of the food; we were all too busy with eating you see!)
Sightseeing Stories - I
As I already mentioned, the area around AjjanaMane is drenched in various shades of green. With so much of greenery around, there should be a lot of water as well.
Many small streams from the surrounding hills converge at a place called Nipli and form a beautiful reservoir. The reservoir overflows in the rainy season, creating a small but beautiful waterfall. This was our first sightseeing stop of the day.
Being a holiday, the fall was somewhat crowded. But we could quickly find our way into the backwaters of the reservoir. This is a great place where people can literally walk on water, as the water level - in some parts - is very low. All of us spent some time playing in water and enjoyed.
By the time we came back to AjjanaMane, it was already time for tea. And the rain gods set a perfect scene for us by staring the shower. And, there were lots of hot and spicy aloo bondas!
We spent more time around the fireplace chatting, and getting to know more about the area from Sri Sharma. We even got to taste the cocoa fruit. After another round of fantastic food at dinnertime, it was time to go to sleep.
Jog falls is undoubtedly among the most popular tourist spots of Karnataka. According to Wikipedia, it is also the second-highest plunge waterfall in India (Nohkalikai Falls in Meghalaya holds the first spot).
With the fame come the crowds. Aiming to avoid the Sunday rush, we left AjjanaMane very early and reached Jog. Jog falls in rainy season is a sight to behold. Streams of water plunging down the heights play hide-and-seek with clouds. After spending enough time watching this spectacle, we started back to AjjanaMane. There were many photo-ops along the way, of course!
After breakfast, we had some leisure and I spent this time trying out the combination of Zenfone Selfie and the various lens attachments that I mentioned earlier in this post.
Two attachments that I liked most are the fish eye attachment (sample in one of the previous sections), and the macro attachment. Close-ups that were already quite impressive were made better by the macro attachment. I could even clearly focus on one portion of a tiny flower!
However, as the attachment was something external to the phone (and of course of a cheap China make), some differences in quality were quite obvious. Like how they designed the LolliFlash as a great accessory, I guess Asus should also consider creating some more stuff (like the lens attachments) that we can happily use with their phones. Asus, are you listening?
By the time I was done playing around with the camera and attachments, it was already lunchtime. After another round of great food, we started our journey back home: With loads of good memories, and with an intention to come back and spend more time - as soon as possible.
Zenfone Selfie, thank you very much for capturing the beautiful memories of these two days. You have a great camera!
You can buy Zenfone Selfie on Flipkart. Prices start at Rs 15999 (for the 2 GB RAM - 16 GB ROM variant).
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Please note: Neither Asus nor AjjanaMane has paid the author for this trip, or the write up. Asus provided the Zenfone Selfie for use during the trip, and all expenses at AjjanaMane were borne by the author.