Sunday 29 January 2012

Kudremukh Peak Trek


Kudremukha is not there in the tourism map yet, but it is definitely a trekkers' paradise. A treasure in Western Ghats-one of the wettest places in Malnad region. Kudremukha is getting more importance now, KSRTC has started Airavat class service to Kalasa - a small town 20km before Kudremukha National Park. KIOCL (Kudremukha Iron Ore Company Limited) was once the biggest employer of this region. Later this mining company was closed due to environmental issues. When you drive through the national park you will see the remains of the erstwhile factories and staff quarters on both sides of the road.

Kalasa is the town where one should stay to get public transport or hired taxi, auto easily. Thotadur Yatri  Nivas is a well run budget hotel with rooms Rs 300-700 (Tel:08263- 274699, Mob: 094480 07014) with basic clean rooms with squat toilets and bucket shower. Hot water shower is available between 6am-8am. For a serene family home stay with authentic Malnadu vegetarian food Upasana (Tel: +91 8263 249288, Rs 2000 per day per person including meals) is the best choice for a very tranquil stay  Ask for Sukumar Shetty's house after turning left at Samse junction 8km from Kalasa town. Upasana has been renovated extensively with an artistic touch to each room. Check for more details. Ask the host for a spot of Yoga, if you are keen.

For trekkers, there is an ideal choice at Mullodi- Rajappa's Mullodi House (Tel: 08623-249333, 9481179008, 9483983324) located at the base of Kudremukha Peak trekking trail. You can reach his house by hiring a 4WD jeep from Kalasa for Rs 500. It would be two hours walk from the main road where there is a big signboard "Trekking path to Kudremukha Peak". If you are sharing a seat with others, pay Rs 100 per seat for one trip. Rajappa will arrange forest permits for Rs  275 per head.

We started on Jan 26th at 4:30am from JP Nagar, Bangalore. NICE road from Kanakapura to Peenya and taking NH4 to Nelmangala. Turn left at Nelmangala to NH48 towards Haasan via Kunigal. Turn to Belur road at Haasan and follow NH234 via Mudigere. State Highway via Khotigehara to reach Kalasa. We reached Kalasa by 11am. After lunch and a short nap, we visited Sukumar Shetty and Leena at Upasana and they were so happy to meet 'Joseph from Kerala' after 3years. We were chatting about different topics under the sun and Sukumar is a charm to listen to his stories from life. Leena made sure we were fed coffee and snacks and later a sumptuous dinner.


Next day, at 6:30am we started from Yatri Nivas to Rajappa's house. After breakfast, we started trekking at 8:30am. Hire a guide, as you may get lost on this trail. Every mountain, stream, valley look alike. The trekking trail is not so wide and smooth. Rocky path may hurt your toes badly. Scorching sun can hit you -carry a sun block and hydrate yourself with water and electrolytes. Whenever we crossed a stream, we filled our water bottles with water. After crossing a multitude of valleys we reached the peak by 12noon. After having the upma packed by Rajappa's family we took rest for a while inside the forest listening to the Cicadas' music. At 6214 ft, Kudremukha (horse-face) peak overlooks Chikmagalur, Uduppi districts.

This part of Western Ghats is blessed with evergreen rainforests and wildlife is not so common. Aravind, Aditya, Nicholas trio was part of our group with the guide Keshava. He was happy that we were relatively fast enough though we took occasional breaks to relish some dry fruits and nuts. We started back at 2pm and descending was equally demanding. We spent some time gazing at the ruins of a church built by British. On the way, we met Rajappa's first wife's father with a herd of cows. He was our guide for a while as the other trio decided to stay back at the bank of a small stream on the way. We reached the base at 5:30pm and hot coffee was waiting for us. After a fitting dinner and two hours of rest, we started back to Kalasa on a 4WD jeep at 8pm.


Sleeping early at 9pm did not require any extra effort after a 7hours (16km) trek -one of the most difficult trek in Karnataka.  A good 8 hour sleep recuperated us from the body ache. Saturday, we spent the morning driving through Kudremukha National Park visiting Lakya dam, Gangamoola and Hanumangundi waterfalls. At 12noon, we started back to Bangalore.