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Archive for the ‘Karnataka’ Category

Sunrise

Sunrise at Mundajje


This place was haunting me from a long time. Twice had failed to make it to this place. This time, luckily, was serendipitous as there were no dropouts – Thanks to the enthu gang, good weather- Thank God, bookings done in time – Thanks KD and flooding the mail servers and inboxes with hundreds of mails(Spam?) – Thanks ME!

I had tough time porting 8 sleeping bags and 2 tents plus my backpack from my office to the Majestic bus terminal. Thanks Srushti and KD for offloading a few. The Rajahamsa left on time without Cuba and Hemanth, who boarded it running haphazardly at the exit of the terminal.

We filled up the last 1/4th of the bus. As usual soft targets were in the firing range with KD, Hemanth, Cuba and myself taking turns at the trigger. Benjamin was busy watching some soap in his ipod. We had to bring down the noise levels whn rest of the passengers looked annoyed. After a small tea break at kamat’s in Hassan, the bus took us to Ujire nonstop. At the end of the journey, I along with Cuba was sitting on the engine bonnet and bus driver was very enthusiastic in informing us about the places nearby and how adventurous he was during his childhood. The bus dropped us at Ujire by 6:30AM.

Narayan gowda's house


After a quick breakfast and packing up lunch at a local hotel, we hired a jeep to Mundajje Narayangowda’s house. The jeep driver charged us Rs 300( a bit exorbitant but considering 10 people and lot of luggage we thought not to negotiate) for a 12-14km drive. KD and myself stood hanging outside the jeep while the rest were stuffed inside like vegetables inside a veg bun. It was an awesome experience to stand outside a speeding jeep and at the end of the journey we could even spot the massive Bandajje falls at the hill top(People inside the jeep were not that lucky).

Narayan gowda(NG) was standing outside his old fashioned antique looking yet majestic house( reminded me of my Granny’s house). He asked us to get refreshened and leav asap and the guide(not one, but 2! – He had called another fellow as backup!) was already waiting for us. NG’s wife came out with their grand daughter Tanvi and girls set busy playing with the baby. NG went on to explain that he is a member of zilla panchayat and has plans to come up with a trek guide with trails in the surrounding areas to promote adventure. We appreciated his effort and bid goodbye and started our trek on a trail that begins right beside his house.


Stream

Stream no less than a waterfall


There is a definite trail for a few kms(until the stream) and it passes through the elephant trench(made to prevent elephants from attacking villages) and is fully leach infested. The stream crossing without dipping our backpack/shoes/sleeping bags was a little tricky and most of us managed to do it. After a short break, we entered the jungle where there was absolutely no route and the guide’s knowledge of the area was all we had to trace the correct route. The climb was quite steep and after about 3 hours of uphill and missing the route once or twice we managed to reach the exit point of forest. It was 1:30PM by then and we decided to have lunch before hitting the sunny grasslands.

Grasslands - Finally, the No leach zone


Arbi(Bandajje) falls - front view

Benjamin , Sangram and Poonam had gone well ahead of us and we started very late after lunch.The uphill trek continues even in the grasslands and one can see the head of the Bandajje waterfall after about an hour of trek. We found some shade under a tree and rested for an hour or so( No water). The discussions and topics in that one hour was one of the most fun filled times in my trek life!!(@Srushti, Bindu, KD, Saritha, Cuba and Hemanth: I’m too much tempted to write! but, i’ll hold on 😉 ) Its only when someone stopped laughing – after a good one hour or so, that we realized we are far behind an d the guide was waiting for us a KM away under the hot Sun.

Bandajje falls - Breadthtaking top view!


Razor edge!


The next 2 hours was a steep, never ending uphill climb on the grasslands. The surroundings looked hazy because of the heat. On reaching the top, we could see the head of the waterfall faintly visible behind the tree line. We climbed down the slippery path to reach the head of the Bandajje falls. In no time we dumped our bags and ran with our cameras to capture the bewildering drop of the waterfall and stunning sunset. It takes more than courage to bow down and look at the chasm from the cliff.

Sunset as seen from Bandajje waterfall


Mesmerizing!


Bonfire!


Chanda maama


Back at the campsite just beside the watercourse, Benji was busy fetching firewood and preparing tea while the rest of us started pitching tents. It was fast getting dark and the gushing winds repeatedly blew away the pitched tents. Later we had to dump bags stones inside to keep it at one place. Benjamin was more than happy to boil water for the ready to eat cuppa-mania dinner and prepare tomato soup to everyone. The spicy khatta meeta topping added the flavor to the dinner. The after dinner discussions was filled with PJs and anecdotes. It was a full moon night and the wilderness of the forest was getting creepier when the topic turned to ghost stories. Girls escaped one by one to the tent and hid inside their sleeping bags(out of fear? 😉 ). I had a good night’s sleep but somebody claimed they heard elephants nearby (later villagers confirmed it).

Green carpet welcome


Ballarayana Durga

Come Sunday morning, we could not afford to be lazy. We had to leave early and it is not so easy to pull people out of water when they are in playing mood. We had to smother a few, threaten the rest before everybody were set to start. The trek continued in the grassland. It was very sunny and we could spot Elephant dung everywhere. After crosing a few hills, we could see the Ballarayan durga fort a sweet 3 hills further. I paced up along with Benjamin, Bindu and Srushti while the rest were far far behind. On reaching the base of the hill on which the fort stood, we could see a gunman and another fellow. They had disappeared when we reached the fort though. (There was another group who had come from sunkasaale just to visit the fort – They had a gunman too! )

Watch tower


Little wall of ballarayana durga

The fort is a ruin. There is nothing inside apart from a compound. It looks like a small wall of china :-). There is a watch tower which gives 360 degree view of the surroundings. The place offers breathtaking view of western ghats and the green carpeted mountains are just mind boggling!

The GANG


Temple at the base of the hill


We rested for a while inside the fort and had our lunch by the time rest of the people dropped in. By 2PM we started downhill which seemed to be a easy route. After about 2 hours of trek we reached a temple at the base of the hill and rested there for a while before hitting the jeep track. It is about 8Kms to Sunkasaale from this place and we availed auto service available for the last 5kms. On reaching Sunkasaale we bid goodbye to our guides (paid them Rs.700, 300 per day and Rs.100 for traveling back). By the time we had tea at a local shop, A bus to Horanadu stopped at the bus stop and we got in. There is a bus every half an hour from 5PM to 6:30 PM to Horanadu, the autowala said. Horanadu is about 30kms from Sunkasaale and the bus passes through Kalasa.

We had our bus booked at 9:30 from Horanadu. Since we had wnough time, we booked 2 rooms to freshen up and visited the famous Annapoorneshwari Temple. We had the prasadam dinner at the temple hall and boarded the bus on time. (Just on time, as 4 poeple went missing and the rest had tough time finding them!)

The bus dropped us in Bangalore Majestic bus terminal by 6:30 and we all parted promising to meetup on a dinner someday the same week. And, we DID. Had a rocking time, AGAIN!

Summary:

* There are two possible routes: Mudajje – Bandajje falls – Ballarayandurga fort – Sunkasaale in that order OR in reverse order. I do not suggest reverse order as it takes out the fun and beauty of the route.

*Take a bus from bangalore to Ujire (All Kundapur bound buses ply this route)

*Jeeps are available from Ujire to Narayangowda’s house. Call him up well in advance and know the weather conditions, rainfall and guide availability.

*For the return journey, book Horanadu – bangalore 9:30 PM bus. One can reach Horanadu comfortably from Sunkasaale. About 32kms. KSRTC buses ply this route from 4:30PM to 5:30PM (around 3 buses)

*camp just beside the Bandajje falls. There is a small campsite where one can pitch 3 tents.

*On the 2nd day, Leave the campsite as early as possible. One can enjoy the mist filled meadows on the way to fort. It gets really hot later.

*Carry fire crackers (Helps scare elephants away)

*carry enough water. Only water resource – Bandajje waterfalls.

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Kumaraparvatha

Kumaraparvatha


Kumaraparvatha is one of my favourite places. I had always wanted to visit that place again. The time came when Neeraj announced classic treks and pinged me if I would like to join. I had no second thoughts before saying yes. Finally it was on 19th june 2009 we decided to go to that place. We were 12 people together and for a change Sheshadri had come with Sunffy( a trekker Labrador!) . We watched Wall-E before we slid to sleep in our Tempo travellor. I was cribbing how bad the road was after sakleshpur but i was taken by surprise to see newly laid roads.
Welcome KP

Welcome KP

We reached Kukke by 5:30 in the morning and then started our search for morning works! Since I knew a place a few people with me had no problems so to say. Later we realised that its already 7AM and we were getting late. We decided to skip breakafast and started our trek. It starts from a gully to our right just before the main temple. After a kilometre of road walk there is a board welcoming the trekkers of Kumaraparvat. We were expecting rains and hence without wasting time ew started our ascent.

Run- Leech attacks

Run- Leech attacks

Leeches leeches and leeches everywhere! We had just hit forest and they attacked from everywhere. They were on the ground, on the rocks and the barks of the trees and on the leaves. I ran along with Vishal stopping for every 15 steps to de-leech our legs. After 3kms, we reached a huge rock where we met another group of college students. After resting there for 5 minutes we again started running up the hill. It started raining heavily. This part is very steep and one hits grasslands after about 1.5 kms from the rock. After crossing the grassland it is about 1.5kms to bhatta’s house. Vishal and I reached his house and ate a few methi chapatis and maggi we had in our bag. After about half an hour one by one came in completely tired. A few were badly bitten by leeches and were bleeding profusely. Treatment took some time.

View point

View point


Mantapam

Mantapam


After about half an hour’s rest we went to forest guest house. After obtaining permission we started our trek further up. There is a viewpoint half a km from the forest guest house which offers scenic view of the mammoth mountain. The next 2km till kallu mantapam is very strenuous. There is a campsite and a small stream beneth Mantapam. We rested for a while at mantapam until everyone came and started further up. We could see a peak and the guys of another group were happy thinking that was the final destination, which looked nearby. They frowned when I said that was a false peak and there are two more peaks to be crossed before we could reach Shesha Parvat. Kumar parvata is 1.5 km from sesha parvatha!
Shesha parvatha

Shesha parvatha


After we crossed mantapam we were at the cloud level and it was continuously drizzling. After a while it was pouring and mercury level reduced rapidly. Vision was reduced to a few feet and we had no clue where we were heading to. After about an hour of trek we reached sesha parvatha. I had seen it in clear skies and had admired its beauty. Now it was foggy and the 1000ft free fall was completely masked by the cof and rain. I rested on the summit of sesha parvatha with 4 others and waited for rest of the group. When we couldnt find them even after half an hour, we decided to go further ahead.

Waterfalls

Waterfalls

The trail after Seshaparvatha goes through thich jungle infested with deadly leeches. It goes down hill for about a kilometre. We literally ran all the way stopping once to pluck all the leeches trying to getcin the shoes. Soon sfter the jungle there is a waterfall( which had no water this time) We have to climb this steep rocky path which is a 200 ft ascent. Once we cross this, the kumara parvatha summit is just half a km. The mercury level falls further down at this place and rain had worsened the conditions.

Summit

Summit


Soon after reaching the summit we opened our bags and ate anything and everything we could find. I did not even had a rain jacket to keep some warmth. After a while Sheshadri and Sunffy joined the hogging party at the peak. We explored the place for a while taking photos( yes, in that foggy misty drizzling wether Karthik vishal and Benjamin dared to take out their camera).

There was no sign of rest of our group. Unable to bear the cold, we decided to start our descent. By the time we reached the falls, we met rest of our group and told them the way up. (It was then Neeraj suggested a better route to go down the water falls which led us to nowhere and wasted half an hour of our time in that cold. I’m still waiting for a revenge). After crossing the jungle, we rested for a while at sesha parvatha. It was 4PM and the rains showed no signs of stopping. It was a marathon run downhill. 5 km nonstop. I reached Bhatta’s house an hour ahead of others and hence was lucky to get some food to eat. I slept for about 2 hours and woke up at dinner time. Everyone ate Rice and rasam af if they had not seen food for days. After dinner no further discussions – straight to sleep!
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Next morning we got up early and left the place by 7:30 in the morning. Vishal, Benjamin and I ran ahead of the rest and reached downhill by 9am. There were more leeches this time and we made sure to pluck them every now and then. unable to find our vehicle, we ran straight to a hotel for breakfast. After about an hour and a half rest of the folks reached the civilization. After their breakfast we left to Bangalore. The vehicle had a good tv and sound system. Result? 3 animations back to back! – Finding the Nemo, Madagascar and The Incredibles! What a finish for an incredible trek.

Info: One can contact Bhatta’s house with numbers 9448647947 and 9945618495. Do remember to contact him before hand if you plan to have lunch/dinner at his place. He charges Rs.50 per lunch/dinner and some Rs.50 per head for stay.

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No trek for a month?! No, I cant live with that. My greatest of passions, with the never ending list of ‘Must see before I die’, I cannot afford to waste a weekend. I was successful in convincing Saurabh to come along with me.

Destination? Mullayanagiri –Bababudangiri- kemmannugundi trail.

Though I had been to the same trail twice, I had the same enthuse and eagerness as the rest of the group who were waiting for the bus. Day:April 17/09, Time:10PM, Location:Symphony theatre, Bangalore. A few known faces – Janak, Harsha and Poonam and rest 20 odd friendly souls busy talking within their small groups. A few had packed their homes inside mammoth sized rug sacks – all ready for relocation. I still cannot believe they had read the entire instruction manual and were prepared for worst of the scenarios, even a Tsunami. I could have easily tucked my backpack in one of them.

Making sure everybody had arrived, we boarded the bus. It was not a cozy one and had very less leg space. The journey had a dinner stop at a panjabi dhaba, bumpy ride, driver’s half an hour restroom time out in the middle of nowhere, diversions and numerous stops. On reaching Chickmaglur we checked into a hotel named Woodlands – Well don’t fall for its name; It was only as good as a public toilet. It did not take more than an hour to get ready and have a light breakfast at a nearby hotel.

Sarpadaari Begins

Sarpadaari Begins

After reaching the beginning of trek route called ‘Sarpadaari’ at the base of Mullyanagiri and a small round of introduction we started climbing the hill. We had Janak with us leading the way and Harsha (and Poonam, asusual) at the tail end. I was amazed to know there was a girl with acrophobia! (fear of heights) and it was fun pulling her legs (Not literally) – the first one to talk to among 20 so friendly souls. By half way numerous photos were clicked and water bottles were emptied.

Gufa

Gufa

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After a short break under a tree 300mts below the summit, we went to explore a cave nearby of whose existence I wasn’t aware of. The cave with multicolored walls was pitch dark. Torches flashing, we wasted no time in exploring all possible routes crawling on our knees. Harsha showed us a hidden route where we found a bat hanging by its wall and decided to go no further. It took a while to dust our clothes after coming out of the cave.
Mullayanagiri peak

Mullayanagiri peak


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Mullayanagiri to Bababudangiri highway!

Mullayanagiri to Bababudangiri highway!


We reached the top in another ten minutes and roamed around the stupa for a while. After refilling our bottles with super tasty water and a few more snaps on top of the highest peak of karnataka, we started our descent towards Bababudangiri. The surface of the hill was barren but during my last visit the whole mountain was covered with blue and yellow flowers. This was a very easy descent where Namratha refused to give up her lead until we reached our bus for lunch. Sitting inside a small bus stop we had parceled lunch- pulav, raita, curd rice and pickle which tasted like a million dollar meal.
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Campsite - Galikere

Campsite - Galikere


Sunset at Galikere

Sunset at Galikere

We then traveled for half an hour after which we got down and started our trek towards Manikyadhara falls. Our guide Krishna took us to the place. We were surprised to see the 50paise entry fee. After paying it(well 2 rupee for 4 people) and getting an yellow chit we entered the stairs that leads us to the falls. To our great disappointment the falls was just like a sprinkling shower which would take hours to wet surface of out body. We started swearing at our guide and made fun of Vani who actually took bath in it and Swetha who was cribbing for losing her hard earned 50 paise coin. It was late in the afternoon when we started our trek towards Galikere – our camping site for the day. This was a fascinating path revisited for me. We walked through the thin strip of hilly pathway with gush of winds threatening to take us off our heels. Saurabh and I were deviating from the trail every now and then to reach the verge of the hill. We reached Galikere just after sunset. The place had a small lake(galikere), a few shops, a small temple and our campsite was barren with chicken feathers and bones.

We sat on the resin sheets spread on the camping site where all our backpacks, sleeping bags and tents had been dumped. We first decided to sleep under the sky and not pitch tents. But later somehow everyone wanted to pitch tents for the sake of learning the art of pitching one! Harsha and Janak went on to give the demo and we followed. A few misplaced the colored sticks resulting in a handicapped tent and it was fun watching the fight between girls and guys over a cursed stick which girls finally managed to snatch!
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Campfire!

Campfire!

After setting up tents Janak, Harsha and others got busy preparing soup and demanded money for the same. Finding no buyers they had to give it for free. There was roti and ready to eat MTR channa masala and Paneer masala for dinner. Our Harsha CHANDRA SHEKAR ate all extra roti (all? I’m not sure). We brought a huge log from somewhere for campfire and there was a fight between Janak and another girl(Swetha if I’m right) for lighting the bonfire .
Then started a session of extreme PJs where everyone gave a tough competition to crack the worst possible PJ.

“How do you find out if a housefly is male or female?
– Usko darao, agar uda to Male, udi tho Female “ for a sample.

A few of us got our sleeping bags and slept outside near the bonfire while the rest settled inside their tents. After a while, one by one came out with their sleeping bag to sleep outside. It got cold and windy later that night and even showered a few drops of rain.
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We got up early in the morning (by 6 AM) and wow! The clouds were right beside us. I could see the ocean of floating clouds below our level, slowing gaining altitude and coming towards us. The panoramic view forced the cameras to come out of their bags. Poonam(christened chaiwali) prepared tea which was called “makki ka chai”, well yes there were a few insects which committed suicide wanting to taste the tea. After tea and breakfast (bread and jam), we packed our tents and bags and dumped them in to the jeep. We saw tens of villagers climbing the nearby open hillock for their morning works. By the time we started wondering how can they be so foolish to have chosen such an open place, the clouds had gained altitude and covered the entire place! Within seconds we couldn’t see ten feet from us. What timing!
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From the sword of Zorro

From the sword of Zorro


We started our trek to kemmangundi by around 7AM. The trail was more friendly, foggy and cold. We had made good acquaintance with rest of the group and it turned out to be comfortable morning walk with lot of witty conversations (well yes, on a moony day ;-)). We stopped by a small falls at a stream and a few of us took a dip in it. It got sunny by the time we reached halfway and most of us were burnt and out of fuel by the time we reached Kemmanugundi. Here the guide dragged us further down from the guesthouse where he said the food was available. We fell for it and reached to find out nothing was available to eat. Too bored to go back I slept in the bus for a while. After an hour filled bellies came back with packets of Bisibelebath for those who stayed behind. How sweet of them!
Indian Hummer

Indian Hummer


Hebbe falls

Hebbe falls


We then decided to go to Hebbe falls. Having seen it twice before, to make up for Manikyadhara’s disappointment I was pestering Harsha to visit it. We booked 4 jeeps which took us for a heavenly ride . These jeeps are super old killer Indian Hummers driven by super kids and has modified engines which can conquer any terrain. Run by half diesel half kerosene mix they even have a 2 wheel/4 wheel drive toggle! Attached photo is of one such hummer I traveled during my last trip. We got down at the estate house and after passing 3 streams reached the massive 2 step falls. Within no time we were in the cold water sitting under the falls and enjoying the water massage which was thwacking us with all it force. After an hour of play, we returned to our bus via the same route.

It was 7PM and we did not want to reach Bangalore at some odd hour. Hence we charted out a plan to delay everything so that we can reach the city not before 4AM. We left to Bangalore after a round of tea and some snacks. The bus broke down(No this was not part of our delay plan) at Arasikere and we used this time to have dinner in some stinking restaurant. After the dinner, our laughter for Harsha’s anecdotes were never ending. Finally we reached Bangalore by 4:30 AM. I could not say bye to every one of them but their smiling faces saying adieu would remind me of all the fun I had during this trip. The trek was partially successful in bring together a group of strangers and creating a clique out of it. Miss you all!

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