Wednesday 16 November 2016

Kumara Parvata - trekkers' ecstasy


Kumaraparvata fondly known by the acronym KP among the trekkers, is a strenuous trek in South India.  There are two trails to reach the peak, one starting from Kukke and the other from Somwarpert in Coorg. The peak is at 1712m. The trail from Somwarpet is not so difficult as the base is already at 1100mts and we cover a mere 600m altitude in 7km. Kukke on the other hand is at 125m, requiring us to cover 1500m in 15km. The region falls under Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary.


We joined the BMC India group to do the trek. Trekking began at a narrow trail near Kukke Subramanya Temple at 8am after a nourishing breakfast. The first stretch was 7 km which we could cover in two hours and reached the famous Bhattara Mane at Girigadde by 10a.m. This stretch goes through dense forest, hence most of the trail is covered. It was disappointing to see plastic littered all around, spoiling the serenity of the jungle. The climb is steep and the added weight of tent and sleeping bags made it a bit more strenuous. One can't miss the Bhimana Bande (Bhima's rock) on this route, a favourite for group photo. 

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Bhattara Mane is a time warped house of Narayana Bhatt. Built in typical Malanadu style, this house can accommodate any number of people with lots of food and hospitality. Like in any Malanadu region, there is literally 24hrs running water - cool and tasty. There are 4 restrooms to complete your abulitions. Typically they will dish up meals for 200+ trekkers on the weekend. Upma for breakfast and wholesome rice sambar pickle, with lots of buttermilk to wash it down, for lunch. It is a great place to feel nostalgic about childhood, if you grew up in rural village with cows and dogs running around and unpretentious people . The tea here reminded me of my ancestral home adding to the feeling at home. Remember, they carry all the supplies walking up the trail. We relished the meals with lots of respect thanking their hard work. 

(C) Vimal Samuel

Following an early lunch at 11a.m. few of us went ahead to unload the weight of sleeping-gear at our campsite near Forest Office, 5min walk from BhattaraMane. Keeping our bags as light as possible we commenced at 11.45am on the trail towards Shesha Parvata, the peak before Kumara Parvata. After a short ascent we came across a resting place with benches - this could be a brief stop to catch your breath. Next milestone is the stunning Kallu Mantapa. View from here is breathtaking. Just before reaching Kallu Mantapa there is a stream -a good refuelling stop. This trail between Kallu Mantapa and Shesha Parvata is the toughest with steep climbs and loose rocks. The view from Shesha Parvata is dazzling, if the sky is clear. Part of the trail from Somwarpet is visible from here.

A thick forest separates the two trails. The walk through this forest  gave us respite from the sun . A small stretch in this trail excited me a lot taking back to rock climbing classes, desiring for more of it. It was a huge rock we trudged on the extreme end pushing ourselves up with whatever we could get as support. It was very short but fun. It didn’t take much time to reach the peak from this point and we made it by 2.45 pm.


The cut off time to start our descent was 3.30p.m, as the clouds start covering up and gets darker, making it tricky to cross the forest.  We started to descend by 3.15pm, as the leaders were with the rest who were just reaching the peak. Keeping up with the tradition of getting lost we deviated the wrong way. After descending quite a distance we realized that we were on wrong trail. Shesha Parvata was on the opposite side so we had to wade through the enthralling jungle to get on the other side. There was no clear trail through this really thick forest, but what seemed to be an elephant trail with some dung (not fresh though). We decided to head back as the time was short. When we came out of the forest it surprised me to see some people. Talking to them we understood it was the Somwarpet trail. Pushing our limits and performance to the maximum, we reached the fork just in time to join the rest descending from the peak. The whole adventure took 45 minutes with minor ascends and descends.



 Descending to our campsite from the peak took two hours.  The trail seemed more pleasing with the sun turning orange and hiding behind the clouds intermittently. Watching the moon rise between the mountains was eye-catching.  Full moon was just 2 days away thus making it bright enough for us to get back to campsite, though we had to switch on our flashlights at some points.  Pitching our own tent gave a gratifying feeling. Wolfing  down a sumptuous meal we crashed into the sleeping bags and the next thing we knew it was morning with the birds chirping - and lot of people chit chatting and planning their day. It was surprising to see around 150 enthusiastic trekkers in one place. 


A healthy breakfast from Bhattara Mane and we started our descent towards Kukke. A little after reaching  the base, we drank tender coconut which gave us the much needed electrolytes. We were reminded of our trek to Sohkhmi (in Sohra) - though Kumara Parvata is not as strenuous as that - which had really tested our endurance. KP trek requires good endurance, it is like running a marathon, you need to keep going at a slow pace without stopping. This was a well deserved welcome back trek for us - three years since we did serious trekking. Now we are not able to rest our feet on ground and are already planning for the next trek!

How to reach: If you are driving from Bangalore, you can reach Kukke in the afternoon, post-lunch climb until Bhattara Mane and stay overnight. Start climbing at sunrise and reach the peak and descend which gives you lot of extra time.

KSRTC runs AC and Non AC buses to Kukke (Rs 600, Rs 300 respectively)

Where to Stay: There are many lodges around the temple in a wide range of prices, to stay at Kukke. Call up BhattaraMane if you need meals/stay. Carrying own tents is highly recommended. Mr Bhatt's contact number is +91-9448647947.

Forest Permission fee: Rs 200 per head, none is going to accompany you on the trail.

If you don't want to bother about these things, just join BMC on their well-planned trek by paying Rs 2700 per head.

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Day 1: Bangalore to Kukke overnight bus trip

Day 2: 6am : reach Kukke
8am to 10am:  reach Bhattara Mane and have lunch.
12noon - start from Forest Office and reach the peak by 3pm
3:30pm - ascend and reach Forest Office by 6pm to pitch the tent.

Day 3: After breakfast start at 8:30a.m and reach Kukke at 10a.m.
Leave Kukke by 12noon to reach Bangalore by 9pm.