Friday, May 4, 2007

A Gruelling Trek

After a gap of 2 weeks from our Udupi trip, we decided to trek to Kodachadri on the weekend of 7-8th April. We were quite close to Kodachadri during our Udupi trip couple of weeks ago, but never managed to see this place. I was interested in this place as it had good waterfalls besides trekking upto Kodachadri. Certainly temple town of Kollur is an additional bonus. Located near the famous temple town of Kollur, Kodachadri at an altitude of 1800 mts is a beautiful hill in western ghats of Shimoga district. It is most famous for Sunrise and sunsets. One can see the Arabian sea on a clear day. It has significance as Adi Sankaracharya meditated on top of the hill and mythologically believed to be the Sanjeevani Parvat carried by Hanuman.

So it was a complete trekking trip after KP trek last year. Ankur\Rami from my team agreed to join. Sahil and Kokil among Ankur's acquintance joined us as well. We booked the tickets a week before but just managed to get last seats. We decided that we shall take the most difficult route to Kodachadri (via Hidlumane falls). The required information was obtained from This article has good details about the route. One can simply follow this article by word (except after reaching the top of Hidlumane falls). We took the bus from Majestic at 8:00 PM after having dinner at the Andhra restaurant at Majestic. Except me, others were sitting in the last row and had a bumpy ride to Kollur.

We reached the Sigandur cross at around 5:00 AM in the morning. It was a pleasant morning. The fresh air and the calm surroundings were good. From Sigandur cross we have to walk back for a km towards Nittur till we see a bridge. One will see Marakuttaka bus stop before the bridge on the right side. Take the right deviation here and walk straight. After few km, one will reach a small stream. Here we finished our morning activities. Completely refreshed we marched ahead till we got the Yemmehonda junction. We have to take right here to reach the Yemmehonda school. From there we walked till the road ends at a house. It will be Gururaj house. Now here there are two routes to go to Kodachadri. One from the left and one from the right. By default Gururaj's family will direct to left. If the intention is to go via Hidlumane falls then it is good to ask the direction for Hidlumane falls, which is towards right. We initially took the left. After finishing the breakfast I realized that way to Hidlumane falls shud go thru GuruRaj's fields. Since this route didn't had any fields we went back and took the route to the right. Gururaj is a very helping person. He is ready to provide free guidance to Hidlumane. But we didn't bothered him as the route was pretty clear. On asking If we can go to Kodachadri from Hidlumane falls, he told us to come back from Hidlumane and take the route to the left from house to avoid any misadventure. We nodded our heads and then left for Hidlumane. The route is quite rocky and there is good chance of slipping on these rocks. Not sure how one can trek here in monsoon. Hidlumane is a series of waterfalls. Didn't counted how many but there are many. :) The final waterfall is nearly 50 ft tall and quite nice. We took a bath at this waterfall.

Now trekking from here to Kodachadri was going to be tough as there is no proper trekking route. There is a small route on the right which ends at a big boulder. The goal is to get to the top of the falls. Hence we crossed the boulder. Now there was no proper route to go to the top of the falls. Kokil and Sahil took initiative and went up to find the route. They didn't came back for some time and then I had to go behind them. With no idea of the way they went, I just climbed up the hill. I was able to locate them after good enough screaming. They were sitting at one place and were insisting on a route nearby. Not sure y they insisted to go to right when Kodachadri was on left. Anyhow with few more screamings, I convinced them to come down. After reaching Ankur\Rami we just walked towards left. There is no route and one has to make their own. After few steps we reached the top of Hidlumane falls. As per the dreamroutes article, we have to follow the stream till we find a path to the left. We never found this path and after quite a bit of dangerous jumping on these rocks we decided that we shall simply climb the hill on our left. It was little tough to climb it as there was no route and mud was quite slippery. The thought of getting lost in jungle is little troublesome. After a treacherous uphill trek we reached the top and were delighted to see a small route towards right. I was pretty much sure that this route will lead us to Kodachadri. We had snacks break there. Then we walked on this route. After crossing couple of hills we reached the Gowrikere-Kodachadri jeep track. From here it was an hours trek to Kodachadri. The mud here was quite soft and deep. We were completely covered by the mud raised by incoming Jeeps.
After a muddy trek on this Jeep track we reached the PWD guest house at Kodachadri. We managed to get some sleeping place in a dormitory for 25\- per head. The lunch, Dinner and B'fast is serverd at the guest house. After a refreshing bath and a fulfilling lunch (25\-) we went to sleep for sometime. We woke up by 4:00 and went up the Kodachadri hill. There is a very small temple housing Adi Sankaracharya. Had few drinks here. Then we proceeded to chitramool caves. This route is from behind the temple. This takes nearly a 30 minutes to reach this cave. It is said that Sankaracharya also meditated here. Now a sadhu is perfroming meditation here. This place is nothing spl and can be avoided if you are too tired of trekking. The climb up from Chitramoola to the temple was a strenuous task again. I always find climbing up to be difficult. We reached the peak and then relaxed and had snacks. Waited for the sunset. A cool breeze had started to blow at this time of the evening. We just chatted and were having good time. Soon a dense cloud was flowing toward the peak. It was a nice view.
After taking some nice snaps of the sunset we trekked back. Reached the guest house just in time. Sahil was waiting for us there. After freshening up we waited for dinner. It was such a relaxing moment. My body was tired after a long gruelling trek but my spirit was completely relaxed. A cool breeze of the night, countless stars in the sky and jovial friends made my time there. We stood in Q for dinner. After first round, the rice was over. We have to wait for nearly 0.5 hrs for next round to commence. We had lot of jokes there. Myself and Ankur loved to scare others by telling them about next day's gruelling trek (20 km). We went to sleep pretty fast.

I promised Sahil to accompany him for sunrise next morning. So I was woken up at 4:30 AM. I was feeling quite sleepy and showed no inclination to stand on my words. Sahil insisted for sometime and gave up after finding no response. I didn't fell asleep after this disturbance and hence decided to take Sahil up to the peak and see the sunrise. It was almost time and hence we started to run towards the peak. We were close to the temple when we stopped and decided to see the sunrise from there itself. The sunrise was real good. We captured the sunrise in the cameras. We visited the temple and on the way Sahil gave some spiritual enlightment lessons. While coming back I visited the Agastya teertham. It is a small waterfall from where water is supplied to guest house.After refreshing back at the guest house we had breakfast. Paid the PWD manager and started to trek downhill.
I shud say that trekking downhill was pretty quick. We took few breaks and were at the Kaka's hotel. We inquired for a guide to take us to Arsinagundi directly from that point. It is a dreaded route through thick jungles and I wud have loved to do that. Santosh (Kaka) gave us a rough route towards the Arsinagundi. With few doubts here and there we reached the pole from where we were supposed to take left. There was a small route and we did took few steps down. But after few steps it was felt that it is quite risky to venture inside without a guide. Lot of earlier trekkers have warned not to venture this route without guide. With not much time left before we have to leave for bangalore we decided to go to main road. From there we can catch a bus to the Arisinagundi gate near Kollur. It is a straight jeep track to Arisnagundi from that gate and hence much easier. So we started towards main road. It was a long walk and almost tired us out for the day. Just walking and walking on the jeep track. When we were close to the limits we saw the main road. What a delight it was. Relaxed for sometime there and boarded the bus to Kollur. After nearly 20 mins we reached the Arisinagundi gate. Trekking here is prohibited (legibly written on the gate) but not strictly followed. We ventured inside. It is a 4 km trek to a board and another km from there. So the trekking started, Initial 1 km was fine but then there were these ups and downs which took lot of energy out of already tired beings. After another 2 kms, even taking a single step was becoming difficult. We took breaks wthin 5 mins of last break. Going was getting tough and our bodies were giving up the challenge. Stories of ppl giving up in the middle of Arisinagundi trek was ringing in my ears. I didn't wanted to be counted one among them. At this moment we saw the board to Arisinagundi. With a renewed energy we took the left here and it was a steep downhill. Unlike the way we thought, the falls was still far. One has to get down the valley and climb up the adjacent hill. I was hearing the sound of waterfall since long back. But there was no sight of the waterfall. I was anxious to see the waterfall and hence went ahead fast. A plain 0.25 km on this hill will take us to Arsinagundi falls. Finally I was standing in front of Arisinagundi. What a nice waterfall it was even during summer.
Not many people visit this place and the peace and solitude at this place was truly touching. In the middle of nowhere, We cracked few funny jokes imitating a news channel anchor famous for his loud crime quotes. It was time to reap the rewards of the gruelling trek by taking a dip in cool refreshing water. After that we had lunch of breads and buscuits.Sahil was not able to eat the stale bread and jam. Immediately after lunch we started back. It was real tough to retrace the steps we took. Now it was a climb down the hill, reach the valley and climb a steep hill to rech the board. This was one of the toughest single patch of trekking I ever did. Taking a step forward was tough. Ankur had wonderful ability to climb (perhaps attributed to his long legs) and reached the board well in advance of us. Rest of the gang dragged themselves up. I just fell to ground after reaching the board. After few mins of huffing and puffing there, we started back to the main road. It was again a long and never ending trek but atleast this time we knew the distance and had the sweet feeling of goiing back. Though it was tiring but we somehow managed to get back to main road. Kollur is 2 km from here. I shall remember this day for long long time. 20 km of gruelling trekking in a day. We reached kollur and freshened near a borewell. From there we visited the Mookambika devi temple. Once outside the temple we dragged ourselves to the bus stand. There we were having snacks when we almost missed our bus to Bangalore. Once on board, I was thinking of the trip for a long time. The beautiful place we had been, nice trekking we did, the physical hardships we went thru, the challenge we stood up to and feeling of making it back home successfully.

As I learnt from NGC,The most beautiful places at the ends of the world have to be reached on foot. One has to endure the physical hardships to reach them. The picture of these beautiful places have become my wallpaper. Whenever I see these images, the feeling of "being there, done that" is priceless.


kavi_neha said...

Gang of Trekkers are really very good advernture treekkers. This article is very usefull for first time trekkers. We can get lots of info from this. Had put lots of efforts for this.

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