SHIMOGA: Once known as the Cherrapunji of the South, Agumbe today can no longer carry this sobriquet as this awesome, pristine rainforest region in the Malnad heartland has been witnessing drastic changes in its climatic conditions for almost a decade now. Known for its chilly weather and beautiful sunsets, the tiny village of Agumbe is situated on the picturesque Shimoga-Udupi border. The misty, silvery dense fog over the Western Ghats adds to the beauty of the sylvan surroundings here.
Considered a haven by naturalists and tourists, the sunset point, where one can see the sun setting over the distant Arabian Sea and the innumerable waterfalls, attracts people from all over the world.
But, in the recent years, Agumbe of the Malgudi fame has been reeling under vast fluctuations in temperatures during the daytime and chilly, cold weather conditions in the nights, which is considered an unusual development during the winter season.
Recent weather statistics show a minimum recorded temperature of 8 degree Celsius and a maximum of 32 degree Celsius, while on some days the temperatures falls as low as 4.5 degrees.
According to the Meteorological Department, the lowest ever temperature of 3.2 degrees was recorded in 1975, and 4.8 degrees in last January and February, while the highest ever temperature of 37 degrees was recorded in 2008-09. The sudden rise and fall in temperatures, in fact, have resulted in varying rainfall pattern in Agumbe region, opine experts.
Vaman Rao, a climate veteran who has been recording the temperatures at Agumbe since 1969, says: “Although the intensity of cold is less compared to earlier days, the variation in the temperature is more.” Prof Raju Gowda of University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, who has been studying these developments for the past eight years, says, “Agumbe has been witnessing high rainfall till October, but this has been tapering off significantly after this, resulting in warmer days .”
When Express spoke to the local people, they said they had been experiencing severe cold conditions this year compared to last year, and complained of joint pain. Kasturakka, an old resident, says, “I have never seen such a variation in temperature in my life as it is happening now, with intolerable heat and cold conditions “.
The climatic variations have had an adverse impact on the agricultural activities and crop yields as well. Farm labourers are unable to engage themselves in areca nut processing works due to numbness of fingers while the heavy mist and cold weather had affected the crop yields, causing heavy losses.
With Agumbe losing the tag of “the Cherrapunji of the South” in the last one-and-a-half years and research studies still inconclusive on the reasons for climatic variations, the locals and old timers lament over the bygone good old days in this bio-diversity rich region.