Often called the Cherrapunji of South India, Agumbe is known for its scenic beauty and bio-diversity. Nestled on a plateau on top of Someshwara Ghat, it is located at a distance of 380 km from Bangalore. Situated in Shimoga district of Karnataka, Agumbe gets its sobriquet because it receives 7,640 mm of mean annual rainfall, the second highest annual rainfall in India.
Agumbe is surrounded by rich biodiversity and the hill station borders one of the last surviving lowland rain forests. Since Agumbe is home to several rare species of medicinal plants like Garcinia, Myristica, Listsaea, Diospyrous, Hoiligarna, Eugenia and Ficus among others, it is also called ‘Hasiru Honnu’ which means ‘green is gold’. The whole area and the reserve forests around Kundapur, Shankaranarayana, Hosanagara, Sringeri and Thirthahalli are collectively referred to as the Agumbe Rainforest Complex and form one of the largest contiguous forest stretches left in India. During rains, Agumbe and the surrounding region come alive with several waterfalls; Kunchikal Falls, Barkana Falls, Onake Abbi Falls and Jogigundi Falls are some of the popular ones.
Most tourists visit Agumbe to trek through its forests or to visit the waterfalls. Trekking to the Kudlu Theertha Falls or Nishani Gudda offers a once in a lifetime experience. (But also beware of the leeches that infest the forests.) The high points of the treks are the visual treats that Agumbe offers. Sunset Point, a gallery erected to view the sunset, offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and even the Arabian Sea on a clear day. Remnants of temples dating back to the Hoysala Empire are also worth a visit.
Agumbe served as the setting for India’s most popular fictional town, Malgudi in the TV series Malgudi Days (that itself was based on the eponymous book by R K Narayan). Doddamane or the Big House, which Swamy lives in, is over 100 years old and still stands proudly here.
India’s sole permanent rainforest research station is based at Agumbe. It is also equipped with India’s first automatic weather station. The station exclusively monitors changes in rain forests. Agumbe is also called King Cobra capital because of the high number of snakes of the species being found here. Interestingly, despite the high density of King Cobras in the region, incidents of snake-human conflict are rare. The Agumbe Rainforest Research Station has pioneered the world’s first radio-telemetry project on the King Cobra. Insights gained from the ecological study are being put into practice into King Cobra management.
The best time to visit the place is during monsoon, when the hill station is full of sparkling streams and several waterfalls.