Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Solitary trek up Kumara Parvatha - Day 1


I just wanted an adventure and to take some photographs. And a two-day trek in Kumara Parvatha, the 1712m high mountain range south of the Vindhyas seemed just like the right place. After the usual suspects (read friends) dropped out with lame reasons, I found that I was the only willing to make the trip.  A tinge of fear at traveling alone and the scent of an exploit I could call mine alone were enough to nudge me into deciding to go it alone.
If you are expecting encounters on the lines of Discovery channel host Austin Stevens kissing the forehead of a King Cobra in this blog, time to move on buddy. What you will find here is the story of a guy looking for adventure, but the lonely trek up the forbidding mountain shows him that in nature’s scheme of things, he is very puny.

Kukke Subramanya Temple
I reached Kukke Subramanya, the temple town located around 280 kms from Bangalore at around 6 a.m. after an 8 hour journey by bus. Freshened up and first visited the temple to deposit money given by friends and family. To think that the mighty Snake God would stop sending his minions to your home for a paltry sum of money is debatable, but a postman just has to do his job. I later visited the mantap where the Naga dosha yagna is performed to bless childless couples with children and cure skin ailments. Visiting any temple in the wee hours is a serene experience and visiting Kukke Subramanya when the early morning fog has just lifted is a sight to behold. Makes you wish you were a theist, almost.
I then started the trek after breakfast at around 8 a.m. The destination for the day was the house of Girigaddhe Bhatt located around 7 kms from the temple complex.  Not even a km or two into the trek, I decided to stop to catch my breath and immediately became aware of the sounds of nature- the cadence of the drizzle, the chirping of crickets and this distant gushing of water. Add to this the smell of fresh sand after rains and it will explain the reason why I trek...

Pushpa giri's beauty unfolds
The joy I mentioned above evaporated once I laid my eyes on fresh elephant tracks and dung around a km or so later. The most dangerous animals I could face in Kumara Parvatha are solitary male elephants or bisons. This is the point in time where I started asking myself some uncomfortable questions I had avoided – “What were you thinking? What are you doing in this forest all alone? You are a computer engineer, not John Rambo...” Add with this the constant chore of removing blood sucking leeches from my legs and the questions begun playing in my mind with increasing frequency.  Not sure how many elephants were there, but figured out that they were heading away from the trail. Took some pictures and hurriedly put some distance between self and the herd.

My experiments with the SLR. Depth of focus especially

 After walking for around 3 hours, I reached the household of Girigaddhe Bhatt, whose small farm house is an oasis for many-a-weary trekkers. The self sustained Bhatt household is sandwiched in the midst of the climb from Kukke to the Kumara Parvatha peak and is 7kms away from any pesky neighbour dropping in for tea at odd hours. Girigaddhe Bhatt, the 53 year old proprietor spends time grazing cows, growing betel nut that generally turns bad due to the heavy rains and feeding the multitude of tired people who end up at his doorstep without warnings. The mildly pot bellied man is at peace with himself and curious about what everyone else does for a living. He calls himself a “Kaadu manushiya”(a man from the wilds) but is more sophisticated in thought and speech than loads of city folks I know!

One the few pictures with  me in it
 Lunch prepared was simple with sambar, rice, chutney and curd. After a short siesta, one of my friends who knew I was on this perilous journey alone called up Girirgaddhe Bhatt to inquire if I had reached his home safely. Just a short call to see if I was still alive and kicking. Yeah partner; everything’s fine. I never pay much heed to weather reports when I plan for treks/trips since I think they are just reasons not to travel, but this time the cyclone decided to make its presence felt that very afternoon. Any plans of landscape photography I had were totally put to rest. Instead had to satisfy myself with the company of the loud mouthed but amicable folk from Magadi who had just arrived before the sky opened up.

House and farm of Girigaddhe Bhatt
 The day ended with heavy showers late into the night while I was battling my own demons in my mind – Will I be able to cover the toughest part of the trek alone or should I tag along with the Magadi folk? The trail is dangerous enough and with such heavy rains will I be able to climb/descend any of the slippery hills that I knew are waiting en-route to the peak. Sometimes all it takes to slay your demons is to go to sleep and look at the world afresh the next morning, which is exactly what I decided to do.

To be continued...

3 comments:

Shree said...

If not for the overenthusiastic twitter update the suspense quotient would have been upped for the part 2! Admire your madness to trek alone in the rains...

Bharath said...

I had to let people know that I was still alive. No better way than twitter.

Rahul said...

beautiful...one of the best trail through absolute wilderness...amazing peak to accomplish...