Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Kodachadri Magic !!!

Kodachadri was on our wishlist from a long time and more so after the recent kannada movie "Gaalipata", conquering kodachadri was on the top of our list which finally came true in the summer month of April 2008. As refereed in the movie, (referred as Mugilpete), Kodachadri is always covered by clouds. Sun is allowed only to play hide and seek here and it’s not for a longer duration you get to see him. Finally 4 of us achieved the feat in the summer of 2008. (Many suggested avoiding the summers, but we went on and we were convinced either summer or spring or winter or monsoons, Kodachadri could be visited anytime).

Kodachadri is the second highest peak in Karnataka at 1813m (next only to Mullaingiri) located in the Shivamogga district nearby to the pilgrim center Kollur in the Western Ghats. It’s around 380 kms from Bangalore and about 20 kms from the temple town of Kollur and can be reached by either a trek or a rough jeep ride.

We had 3-4 days at our disposal and we clubbed Kodachadri with a few other places to suffice the days we had. We covered Bangalore-Sagara-Sigandoor-Kollur-Kodachadri-Byndoor-Murudeshwar-Gokarna circuit. The second part was quite tiring and we struggled a bit because of the weather and the travel part...

Our journey: 25th 26th April 2008 – Took off from Bangalore by the Kollur bus (those who plan to go to kodachadri directly can board this bus and get down at the Karakatte gate - one of the gateways for the trek), which leaves razor sharp at 8:30pm from the KBS. Reached Shimoga somewhere early dawn, got into a hotel with influence for the morning duties and left for Sagara to head towards Sigandoor, which was our planned destination. Private buses rule in this part of the state and they are very dependable and convenient. Sigandoor is around 35 kms from Sagara town wherein you need to ride on a launch (Crossing the river on a launch with the bus, cars bikes and people on board) and further ahead can reach Kollur via Nittur. The launch ride was itself an experience with the surprise that such mode of transport still exists.
 
 
(1)early moring at Shivamogga ..... (2) posing at the now defunct sagara railway station....

 
 
on the way to sigandoor... (below).. the launch ride....
 
 

(below)... disembarking from the joy ride; (2)the sigandoor temple....
 
(below).. the kollur bus stand; (2)posing at byndoor beach....
 
27th April 2008: The D-day... There are 4-5 trekking routes to reach Kodachadri in addition to the jeep track. Advised not to take the jeep ride unless you have strong backs and are lazy enough not to trek up. The experience, excitement, freshness added with the opportunity to view nature at its best is only when you trek and not in the tiresome jeep ride. We started off at 6.15 from Kollur, 15mts delay from our scheduled departure, had a quick breakfast (eventually missed the 6:15 bus) and managed to reach Karakatte gate(our starting point) at 7:10 after paying 200 Rs for the auto ride of around 20kms in the ghat section. There is no gate as such but only a wide mud path, which is to the left when coming from Sagara, which is known as Karakatte gate. From here the peak is about 10 kms, the first 4.5kms on an almost straight wide path ending up near the mallu hotel “Hotel Santhosh”. This is the pit stop for all trekkers passing by where idlis and puttus are available to regain your lost energy because the trek ahead is completely uphill and quite straining for lazy people like us. We reached here at 8:40, a good 90 minutes from the start; it was a nice walk amidst the forest with only the buzz of insects and the chirping of birds to accompany you. With a rest of 40 minutes, with our batteries recharged we started off from there with no idea of what lay ahead but with lots of zeal and enthusiasm to conquer the beautiful peak which lay around 5.5 kms ahead...


 
(1)warming up...notice my juttu.. (2)... ready..steady..go... at the karakatte gate...
 
 
(1)take a break...; (2)posing yo yo guys...; (3)the terrible foursome....
 
(1)long way to go... (2).. at the mallu hotel santhosh.....
 
 
(1)mouth watering idlis & puttus..; (2)a view of the valley as we ascend...; (3)tired ???

The wide jeep track, which we took till now suddenly turned into a serpentine narrow path ahead of this hotel and the ascent, starts from here. In this trek, follow the straight path ahead and you will surely reach the top, don’t take diversions unless you are sure of it. We went ahead passing through dense jungle and suddenly on to bare stretch and again through the foothill of thick forests and again through a bald patch of a hillock, it goes this way as almost you trek through 3-4 smaller hillocks with mesmerizing scenes of the kollur forest range all around you. You can spot the guesthouse from quite a distance, but it’s not as close as it appears. The trek through the forests is quite exciting and frightening sometimes when you suddenly hear growls around; the ideal way is to trek as a group not letting anyone stray away. As it was summer, it was dry around and with no leeches around; still the pale green hillocks offer a soothing scene for us people who are getting used to see no greens at all in Bangalore.
 
 
(1)posing for a shot; (2)see the valley behind; (3)the much needed pit stop.....

At a place where we were exhausted and tired and were about to breakdown, we suddenly spotted a makeshift shop where the person was selling juices and cucumber for the trekkers. It was rather surprising at this place, somewhere in the dense jungle, with hardly few people coming by, made us realize what all people do to earn a living. From this point, the guesthouse is around 30 minutes trek, but we went ahead lazily and casually stopping even for a dance in between with those heavy sacks just in excitement, as we were almost near the peak. Finally after almost 3.5 hours of exciting, entertaining, frightening, water dripping, exhausting trek, we reached the guesthouse, which is the base of the peak. Here there are few bhattara manes and also the guesthouse where you get accommodation as well as food. Half the mission accomplished.. what was a dream just hours ago was achieved and we couldn't believe ourselves that we were really atop the pristine Kodachadri...
 
 
(1)the guest house atop; (2)We did it mate....... ; (3)its just 2pm and the cloud cover.. truly amazing...

It was a bright sunny afternoon and the skies were clear and suddenly at around 2 pm, thick clouds engulfed the sky and the sun was shadowed completely, this hide and seek continued almost till the evening when it was time for us to trek to the peak for the sunset. A 30 minutes trek (the mindblowing valley view..) to the ultimate peak at the right side from behind the guesthouse passing by the ganesh guha, walking amidst the clouds blowing directly onto you (the cool breeze of the clouds is best experienced and not described) the shankara peeta can be spotted with the background of beautiful clouds and the golden sun setting up for a beautiful photo shoot (THE best sunset i have ever witnessed)....
 
 
 
(1)ganesh guha; (2)on the way to shankara peetam; (3)the sunset magic unfolds.....

The thick blanket of snow white clouds huddled together with the golden rays falling on them and topped up with the cool breeze and the calm surroundings makes you feel ecstatic and the scenery mesmerizing. Sitting on the rocks watching the sun go down, with the cool breeze is itself rejuvenating and exhilarating making you forget all your city blues. Chitramoola and Agastya theetha (a small waterfalls with leeches) are the places around which we could not trek due to lack of time. We came back on a slightly different route, but fast paced with the help of a high beam torch we had to the guest house, gobbled up what was served for dinner, chatted for quite some time sitting in the cool breeze and finally laid down and almost everyone dozed off instantly after an exciting day and mind load of memories to cherish.
 
 
the pictures tell it all...........................
 
 
 

28th April 2008: We planned to catch the sunrise atop another peak, but being lazy enough, got up only at 6:30 and lo behold the sight outside was awesome - zero visibility, thick fog cover and forget the sun, nothing could be seen. Still we started our trek to the opposite peak of shankara peeta where supposedly the sunrise had to be seen. Halfway through we were lost because of the fog cover, forgot where we had seen the route the previous evening and just stood still with no idea of where to go and hardly could see anything leave alone the peak. Luckily a strong breeze cleared the fog cover for us and the route became visible and we just followed the path, sometimes the path wading ahead at the edge of the cliff with only the fog blanket which could be seen below. Atop the peak, with only fog-covered landscape to see accompanied by strong winds, it was time again to dance and cheer with the gaalipata song playing in the background aloud to express our excitement and happiness.
 
 
(1)na nai na na nai !!!; (2)poor visibility.. foggy morning... Back to the guesthouse and after having the breakfast we moved ahead next to the peak where supposedly shots of the movie Gaalipata were filmed. The peak is itself a treat to the sore eyes covered by small green plants presenting you a green blanket with a background of a thick green forest covered hill to one side and a beautiful valley on the other side.
 
 (1)the peak; (2)the valley view; 

We started back by 12pm with a promise of coming back here again and again more rather as and when time permits, to rejuvenate ourselves, find solitude and to rediscover oneself amidst the nature. It took us almost 3 hours to (with the customary break at hotel santhosh) descend savouring the beauty of the hills and wading goodbye to them to reach the main road (karakatte gate) at around 3:15. We had to camp on the roadside for the next 2 hours as we had missed the bus at 3 which went off early at 2:45pm. So utilized the time effectively once again dancing away and playing with the amused stares of the passer bys encouraging us all the more. Thus ended our most memorable trek coupled with a few more first experiences and memories to cherish forever... Hail Kodachadri !!!

The only thing that haunted us was the disposal of plastics near the guesthouse as well as the shankara peeta, why are people so callous towards nature even in such a place? Also alarming was the no of people who undertake the risky jeep ride... ??? and when we came back, the place was crowded with jeeps all around confusing us whether did we descend directly into Bangalore or what !!!!
 
(1)dump of plastics; (2)the board telling the history of kodachadri; (3)the numerous jeeps lined up near the bhattara mane......
 
 
(1)bye bye kodachadri; (2)long wait for the bus at the karakatte gate....

Came back to kollur, made the customary visit to the mookambika temple and rested for the day... Still the feeling of conquering Kodachadri was sinking in...

29th April 2008: After a good mosquito night's sleep, woke up and left kollur by 10am to cover murudeshwar and gokarna for the day and return back to our place by the night sleeper coach of vrl from gokarna. The travel turned out to be quite hectic and with the sun blazing hot along the coastline, showed no mercy on us (2 days.. two sides of extreme temperature was felt).... After visiting this, finally left for bangalore from gokarna after 4 days of travel with loads of memories and lots of fresh zeal and enthusiasm to carry on our mundane jobs left behind !!!

Tips: Trek route: We took the karakatte route as this was the most publicised on the net. There are also routes form Kodachadri cross and Nagara. Al routes converge near the mallu hotel. Distance: rather time: Approximately 4 hours even for the laziest bums... Carry light baggage, lots of water and fruits, avoid oily snacks and NO PLASTICS please. High beam torches and sufficient battery backup for the cameras as electricity is only for 2 hours in the night at the guesthouse.

Accomodation: available at the govt. guesthouse as also the few bhattara mane's present there. guest house contact person: Mr. Rajendra - tel no: 092428 92299; 08185 290368 atop kodachadri.

Bus: Direct bus from bangalore to Kollur at 8:30pm everyday, get down at Karakatte gate. Time to visit: All round the year, but avoid peak monsoons. Surf the net and you will get loads of information. Happy Trekking! The team: Nagaraj, Siddesh, Gururaj and Santosh.

Care for the nature and the nature cares for you!








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