Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hiking in the clouds

I had been going on lot of trips since last month. I had been to Sirsi only the week but last. So I didn't had any personal desire for a trip except going out for Ankur or Hubert. This time encouraged by Hubert, We planned for a trip to Kakkabe on bikes. Initially we planned to ride to Ooty. But few dropouts and my disinclination to go for a two day trip to the tourist infested place at this time of the year resulted in dropping out from the trip. Last minute phone call from Hubert gave a push for a quick bike trip to Kakkabe. Kakkabe is a beautiful hill station in Kodagu district. It is 260 km from Bangalore and worth a 2 day weekened getaway from Bangalore.

Friday 11th May 2007
We started from Bangalore at 7:00 PM. Got out of Bangalore and reached the Mysore Hiway by 7:30 PM. Then it was a matter of zipping through the Hiway. Everyone was driving constantly at 75\80. Stopped for a quick Dinner at Mandya. Since we were already behind schedule, so we started immediately towards Virajpet where we planned to spend the night. Virajpet was still nearly 150 kms away. Moreover I was quite afraid of Mysore to Madikeri road which was in a unimaginably bad state last year. However, this time good road was laid and it was far better then the nightmare last time. The ride was pleasant as I was able to keep up with rest of the gang and never felt alone. We didn't took a break for 70 km after Mandya and hence it was time for a small break at the junction, 5 kms after Hunsur. It was nearly midnight and 4 bikers far away from home were munching biscuits on the road and in the dark of the night. I looked up and saw millions of stars in the sky. I guess, I had never seen so many stars in the sky (atleast not since the times I remember). It was such a beautiful moment. I was tired and sleepy but the beautiful occassion with friends at such a nice place was worth a payoff. From here we reached Gonikoppal. Enquired at a lodge but no rooms were available. So we started towards Virajpet, which was 17 km ahead. Lodges here were also full. We enquired at a lodge where no rooms were available. I pointed towards a locked door and asked the manager. He said it is booked from 2moro morning. I immediately told that we will vacate the room by 7:00 in the morning. And there we were in the room, lying on a nice bed with good blankets and pillows. Price 500\- for 3 hours of sleep. Who cares, atleast we relaxed our tired bodies and got them ready for an exciting day ahead.

Saturday, 12th May
we got up by 6:00 and everyone were ready by 7:00. Checked out and reached Kakkabe by 8:30. No rooms were available within our budget. There are only Home stays here and they charge close to 1600 to 2000\- for a 4 bedded room and food for a day. This was out of our budget. So we decided to have breakfast and think about lodging later. We had b'fast of Puttu and Poori. We met this guy who enquired about our accomodation. He helped us out by taking to "Twins cottage". The owner (Ashok) is a nice chap who is pretty interested to talk to you. We managed a room for 1000\- and meals for 50\- per head. Room was pretty decent and after freshening up we had 3 hours all for us to relax. Discussion on the bikes was obvious. Shash got a Bike magazine which fuelled the discussion. Shash took a small nap.
After having lunch we rested for sometime before starting towards Tadiyandamol. We planned to trek from Palace estate route. There are several routes to Tadiyandamol, most sceninc is the one from Honey valley estate. But the route from Palace is shorter and easy. From Palace estate it is a further up till the tar road ends. We parked our bikes here and started to walk. Tadiyandamol peak is another 5 km from here. We met a group of school students on our way. A girl in this group was the subject of discussion for number of times during the trek. Hey, I know it's bad but I never called myself good.

Initial trek is on a plain route. You have to just walk on this route till you reach the base of the hill.There is a route to the left. Initially we took this one and found that it is leading nowhere. So basically the thumb rule is that stick to the main route. No left, no right but just straight. After this the climb up the peak started. It isn't very steep and hence not that difficult. The most amazing part of the trip was that we were walking inside the clouds throughout the climb. Hiking inside the clouds was a feeling out of the world. I was in middle of the clouds. The same clouds which I see from the plain grounds of Bangalore. The clouds which every other kid wants to touch and play on. I was in middle of such a cloud and what a gr8 feeling it is. Completely calm, cool and peaceful atmosphere. I took some inspiring photos at few such places. After about a km uphill trek, we came across this forest patch. I saw my second snake of all my trips here. on hearing my footsteps, something made a quick exit towards the side. I turned back and expected to see a lizard. But there it was lying inside a bunch of fallen tree leaves, perfectly camouflaged. I was not able to see the head but tail and the lower part of the snake were visible. I stopped Kokil coming behind me and took a step closer to take a clear photo. But snake was smarter then me and slipped away. Snakes detect slightest vibraions in the ground and hence I should not have moved my feet. Anyhow, I missed capturing the photo of the snake again. We crossed the jungle and reached the grassland. Hubert and Shash were far behind and out of sight. Me and Kokil took some rest here and started the uphill trek. I was able to see the fast moving cluds in front of me. The clouds left tiny droplets on my hands and hair. The clouds blocked any sunlight from falling on the hill, this in addition to the dense white clouds themselves created an atmosphere from a different world.

The peak is not far from this point. In another 15 mins we were at the peak. There is a flag hoisted here. I took a Hillary style snap here. Took some rest and nice photos. There were a bunch of guys who pitched tent there and were planning for a night stay in the wild. I wished to do the same, perhaps next summer. Sometimes I craved for clouds to clear up so that I could see the beautiful landscape below. But the dense clouds didn't blessed my wish. Anyhow, after some rest, We got a call from Shash saying that they were turning back. We started back immediately. We met them near the forest patch. They were quite close to the peak and dropped the trek at the last moment. Prospects of rain were growing and hence we walked briskly towards our bikes. We found a large group of people going towards the peak at this time. Perhaps they were planning to stay on top for night.

By the time we reached the bikes, It started to rain. I was afraid that bikes will fall in the loose mud after rains. I started the bike and hurried towards our rooms. What a nice climate it was. Reached the room, changed clothes and sipped the tea and had biscuits outdoors. It was nearly 6:00 pm and evening was beautiful. Beautiful surroundings, fresh air , cool climate, sweet smell of plants, trees and soil after a short burst of rain, cloud covered hills, friends, a cup of tea and plateful of biscuits. Nothing could be perfect. We went for a walk after the biscuits. We sat in a small bus stand and then discussed about bikes and babes. Favourite bikes and favourite babes. The discussion went on for quite sometime, disturbed once by a piyakkad. It got dark and we walked back to our rooms. After a nice dinner where the speciality was a chutney made out of ripe mangoes and curd. It was a taste I never had before. Kind of a mixture of all the tastes blended beautifully.
We went to bed pretty fast after dinner.

Sunday, 13th May
Next day we took our time to get ready. I was ready by 7:00. Seeing that everyone is still sleeping, I decided to visit Iguthappa temple. It is few kms from kakkabe village. There is an arch at the village centre. The road goes through this arch and directions afterwards are quite clear. The Iguthappa temple was under renovation and hence main deity was moved to a temporary shleter. The priest here were very affectionate. First time in life a priest offered me a cup of coffee. He explained me the history behind the temple which I already knew. His intention was never to get money out of me but pure showing of respect, kindness and affection for the other person. In this case, I was perfect stranger. I was quite moved by this gesture. One particular information he gave me was that there is a 3km trek upto Mallamma hill from the temple. Twice in a year the god is carried up the peak for special poojas. There are couple of ponds up there. I will defintely go up Mallamma hill next time I am at kakkabe.

After few snaps with the priest and their lovely kids, I turned back to the home stay. Found Shash just woke up from the sleep and Hubert missing. Shash took more then half an hour to get ready and by the time he was ready, Hubert came back. We went to Chelavara waterfalls. It is few kms from Cheyandane village between Kakkabe and Virajpet road. From Cheyandane village it is 4 km away. There was not much water now due to summer. The water was shallow and I was able to reach the base of the falls. It had always felt good to be right under the fall. Soon we were joined by few more guys from bangalore. After some time we started back to Kakkabe. Paid our bill (1400\-) and started back to Bangalore.
We just raced our bikes home. Came across a gang of Enfield riders in there heavy leather jackets. Stopped for lunch at Hunsur and then it was everyone on his own. Reached Bangalore at 6:00 after few short stops on the way.

Destination: Kakkabe
Distance: 260 km (approx),
Best Time to go: Post monsoon (Nov to Feb end). Early monsoon (May end or June first)
Route: Mysore->Hunsur->Gonikoppal->Virajpet->Kakkabe.
Things to see: Tadiyandamol trek, Mallamma trek, Iguthappa temple, Chelavara falls, Nilakandi falls.

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