Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kumara Parvatha Trek - Day2

      We started out on saturday morning at Kukke subramanya and trekked all the way to the Mantap( about  an hour away from the Kumara Parvatha peak) to spend the night. Here’s what happened on day two of my trek.
      We woke up early and could hear, I could have sworn, was a cheetah cub calling out to its mother. Lenin wanted to check it out but I was sure we’d only become breakfast to some cheetah/leopard out to feed her cubs. Now that I look back at the incident, I have managed to convince myself that it was actually some bird because the implications what a feline could have been hunting near mantap are too gory to imagine. To this day, Lenin says that he would have checked it out if he had had a knife. It’s earned him the sobriquet of “Cheetah Hunter” amongst our trekking group.

The would be cheetah hunter - Lenin

      We headed towards the peak at around 6.30 in the morning and soon reached what we thought was the KP peak. We learned that it was a false peak named Sahayadri(I think). The next peak was indeed the right one and we finished up our last loaf of bread and chocolates over there and turned right to trek to Bidahalli(near Somwarpet). On the way we met folks who had chosen the opposite route for the trek i.e. from Somwarpet to Kukke. They warned us about a tough trek route ahead. I did likewise. While the trek from Kukke to the KP peak is a scenic one with mountains and streams, the other trail from Bidahalli is thru dense forests and some steep hills and tougher to climb/descend too.

Deep in the jungle

              A long trek always manages to teach you something about yourself. How you react when you are tired, without food and water? How angry you get when something does not go as you had planned? I learnt that not all things can be planned. Just to enjoy what nature throws at you! Also knowing the general direction of your destination helps when you aren’t able to make out the trial. We had a similar experience after descending 2 kms from the KP peak on our way to Bidahalli where the trial seemed to vanish at a steep hill going downward. We wasted around half an hour retracing our steps to ensure we had taken the right route. I think this was the only point in the trek where in we were not sure what to do. We split up – not a great thing to do for a group of three - Yogesh went back to check for alternative trials, I descended the hill and Lenin was in the middle directing the search. Ultimately he found the trial at the bottom of the hill before I did.
      The rest of the trek was done in relative silence as nobody seemed inclined to speak and waste energy unless necessary. But somehow Yogesh’s enthusiasm for taking photos was not dimmed. Walking amidst the huge trees and shrinking streams is a surreal experience that kind of shows you your place in nature’s scheme of things. We reached the forest check post at around 2:15 p.m. and we were ravenous. We had to trek for a further 4 kms to find any signs of human inhabitation. We asked for food at a few places in the village but no luck. Frustrated we trudged on and soon stopped for rest just before the tiny village ended.
      A few minutes later, a boy walked past with what seemed like a cucumber in his hand. Food! I called out to him and talked about mundane stuff like his name, school etc. while planning to get him to part with the cucumber. He seemed a bit apprehensive at first and replied only in monosyllable to our questions. Lenin and Yogesh insisted that my long hair had started to frighten kids and it was time I cut it. I just pretended not to hear them. Yogesh continued to converse with the kid and convinced him to not only give us the cucumber but also get a few more. The boy gave us the cucumber he had and ran back. We were not too sure about seeing him again.

Feeling the pangs of hunger

  We used the salt we had bought for the leeches to add taste to the cucumber. By the time we were done, we could see the boy returning with two more of the precious vegetable. He also had the good sense to add in a few guavas. Dear boy, you have more kindness in your heart than all the adults in your village put together. If I ever choose to believe in miracles, I promise to make you my archangel. The boy ran back home with a smile on his face, a more than generous tip and our heartfelt gratitude.

Trek done. Waiting for the Bus

      The last bus from Bidahalli is around 3.45 p.m. We got in just in the nick of time. We headed towards Mysore(via Kushalnagara) to my place instead of returning to Bangalore. I know for certain that my mom hid her surprise well on how much I ate that night. Home sweet home after an amazing trek. I promised myself that I would soon trek the route from the other side i.e. Somwarpet to Kumara Parvatha to Kukke. That, I am sure, would be even better …

Some Useful Info:
  •  Bhattar’s phone no: 9448647947. Please call him up in advance to inform about you visit.
  •  List of items that I suggest you plan for if you are a trek organizer: Dry food, glucose, fruit juices, some citric fruits, first aid kit, knives, bread, butter and jam, bananas, chocolate, salt to avoid leeches, torch, emergency whistles, insect repellant, Camera.

But like they say the most amazing things in life don’t always need pin-point planning. Get your ass to Kumara Parvatha. I promise you’d have an amazing time there as well.

Liked the second Part?? Here's what happened earlier Kumara Parvatha trek - Day1

Monday, December 14, 2009

Kumara Parvatha Trek - Day1

           Kumara Parvatha(also known as Pushpa giri), situated around 280 kms from Bangalore near Kukke subramanya, is around 5600 feet higher than sea level, a trekker’s paradise and once of the most scenic places I have ever seen. Having never organized a two day trek before, I have no trouble recalling how I managed to botch up quite a few vital ingredients of the trek.


Sunset at the Mantap

What originally started as an eight member trek whittled down to five after rumors of the king cobra and a treacherous trail at Kumara Parvatha went round. Two more withdrew a day before the trek for personal reasons. In spite of an alluring temptation to cancel the trip citing the dropouts, the final three warriors stood resolute: Me, Lenin (my college mate) and Yogesh(my colleague).

            We had booked tickets in the KSRTC bus to Kukke leaving Friday night. I decided against taking out my swift as we were planning to start the climb from Kukke and make the descent on the other side at Bidahalli, Coorg. Come Friday, Yogesh and I had a client deliverable to complete. Pressed for time, we couldn’t hire a tent, buy provisions or supplies satisfactorily – these contributed greatly to our fall later. Have you ever been on a trip where you aren’t sure it’s on until the bus conductor hoots and the driver puts his foot down on the accelerator? Nope. At least hope you understand how I felt!

            Reached Kukke at 4 a.m., rented a room and slept for the next 4 hours. Skipped the customary temple visit in the morning and started the trek immediately after breakfast. The way to the top is very picturesque. The valleys and the peaks proudly let you know why nature is personified as a woman. Our next pit stop was the famous Bhattar’s house situated midway to the peak, around 4 hours from the Kukke. More than the free lodging (for around 50-60 people), delicious meals and other mundane comforts, it’s the willingness to support and help people that sets the Bhattar household apart. This place is an oasis for the weary trekker. Many trekkers camp near the Bhattar house for easy access to food and water. Thank you Mr. Bhattar, you simply rock!

Yogesh trying to build up some energy 


       We left the Bhattar household at around 4 p.m., paid the entry fee at the forest department and headed to the Mantap – the place where we planned to stay the night. Mr. Bhattar had kindly lent us mattress after we informed him about our plan and warned us about the strong winds at the Mantap. To all you folks who read blogs and think the Mantap is some sort of Kalyana Mantap that can house around 12 people – brrrr, snap out of it. Take a tent if you want comfort! The Mantap is a shackle, a stone hedge sort of a structure that couldn’t accommodate more than 5-6. And unluckily for us, it was already occupied.

Why nature is personified as a woman


                Our hopes faded when we saw quite a few people already settled at the Mantap. And we had no hope of making it back to Bhattar’s house as darkness descended quickly on the valley. With only a few stars around, rains seemed imminent and sleeping under the moon was not something we were looking forward to. We reached the mantap and made a few enquiries. Fortunately for us, the others were sensible enough to bring tents. We heaved a sigh of relief.  The mantap was all ours for the night!

 No Kalyana Mantap this!

            Bread, jam and butter never tasted better for dinner and the campfire we got going enlivened us in more ways than one. The trekking group from Tyco industries pitched tent beside the mantap and we discussed about other possible treks in Karnataka and Kumara parvatha peak. They informed us about another group that had gone to camp at the peak to catch the sunrise. And thanks for the warning regarding the heavy winds Mr. Bhattar, the gales were a bitch. Dearly held on to the mattress and bed sheet against the howling winds throughout the night.

Liked the first Part?? Here's what happened next kumara parvatha trek Day2