Sunday, January 6, 2008

Trek above the clouds at Kodachadri

We finally embarked on our long-aspired & planned-for, but never-materializing trip to Kodachadri hills - a peak in the Western Ghats ranges standing tall at a height of 1813 metres above sea level near the famed Mookambika Temple at Kollur. Me (Rakshith), Mithun, Gaurav, Sushruth and Safwan boarded a bus to Udupi at around 12.30 on the 5th of Jan 2008. We were joined at Udupi by experienced trekkers - Dr Sachin Pai and Dr Ananth Pai. From Udupi, we boarded a bus to Kundapur and took another bus to Kollur from there, finally reaching Kollur at 5.15pm. This delay of more than an hour from our scheduled time meant that we would not make it in time to catch the magnificent view of the sun setting from the peaks. For your information, there are a few 'direct' buses to Kollur from Mangalore at various times of the day, but, we couldn't take them cos of our plan to meet up with the Docs at Udupi.

We continued on our journey on a hired jeep which taking the route leading to Shimoga from Kollur. After picking up a few necessary items at a town called Nittur, we finally took the right-turn to Kodachadri. (This takes about 45 mins from Kollur). This turn took us into what seemed like unmotorable roads - unmotorable, except for our very own All-Terrain Vehicles, ie Mahindra Jeeps & also few bikes, under the hands of an experienced and daring rider. I say unmotorable cos there are huge crevices running in between the roads at some parts & it is dotted with huge boulders over which the jeep jumps along. This must give you an idea about the ride comfort of the occupants & that too in a jeep. We went through a highly Topsy-turvy ride that would have loosened quite a few of our dental fillings!!! After motoring along on this hairpin curve infested narrow "road" for close to 14 km & passing through a no of valleys, catching glimpses of the neighbouring hills, we finally reached the "Bhattra mane", ie (the pooja pundit's house) & the Government-run
Inspection Bungalows at 7.30 pm.

Both the above mentioned places were pretty crowded with other groups of people preparing to spend their night there. Having said that, the pundit will usually try and make arrangements for the people at neighbouring houses also, in case of capacity crowd. We, however, weren't thinking of using that privilege, as we were planning to spend our night at the peak, battling the darkness, cold & loneliness which were to be expected there. When we told the Bhatta this, they asked us to be cautious, cos not many groups do so, but assured that we can stay up there, if we were ready to face the challenges that the place had to offer. We were game to it, cos our leaders - Dr Sachin & Ananth had both braved the night at the peak during their last visit here.

So, our proper trek to Kodachadri began at 7.45 pm in the pitch darkness. For most of us, it was a first experience of trekking at night. And to add to it, we were a little short of torchlights, having to make do with only a couple of torches & the brilliant flashlight of 2 Sony Ericcson phones, used economically, so as to last us the night. We just walked on on the used-path which our lights showed us, hoping that it would take us to the peak. At certain areas, the light shed outside the cleared area failed to hit any solid object, cautioning us never to even dare venture outside that path!!! After one such heart-stopping incident, we finally reached our desired destination at around 8.30 pm after trekking for about 3 km.

The Saint Adi Shankaracharya is said to have meditated at the Kodachadri peak & the Sarvajna Peeta established by him can be seen here, housing an idol of the revered saint. After offering our prayers at the Peeta, we spread out in search of wood, twigs, shoots, grass & any other material which would help us to set up & maintain the campfire-which was our main hope for cooked food, light and warmth.

The peak is a cleared area, where many inflammable articles cannot be found. We had to trek down along unknown routes around the peak to fetch wood. Having started a small fire, we cooked noodles in the utensil which we carried, which was very tasty. The eggeterians feasted on the egg-bhurgie, while everyone played their part in finishing off the other eateries.

All this time, the weather was turning cooler & the air windier. As time passed, the winds started posing too much of a problem for us, chilling us down & making us draw closer to the Campfire. But we were in a dilemma because of the challenges the campfire had to offer. Our eyes started stinging badly because of the smoke, while our noses started 'running'. The pitch darkness allowed us to treat our eyes to the splendor of the starry sky. Many of us were off the opinion that we hadn't seen so many stars & planets in the sky & so clearly ever before. After star-gazing, photo-clicking & playing detectives in an analytical game by Dr Sachin, we started humming some of our favourite songs around the campfire. Not only did we enjoy spending time this way, we might have inadvertently ensured that any uninvited animal would run away from us!!!

We finally got down to taking a short 1-hr nap in two shifts at 4 am. On waking up, not only did we find that the added dew had further chilled the region, but, the much-awaited colourful sky caused by the rising sun was taking shape brilliantly, with a small, crescent-shaped moon showing up for a couple of hrs. The sky was at its photogenic best between 5.45 & 6.45 when finally the sun made itself visible in a royal manner. The view from the peak with the fogs & clouds below you, is to be seen to be believed.

We next set out to go to an area of Kodachadri which not many are aware of. The route is steep, with inclinations of upto 70-80 degrees at some stretches. The route starts off behind the Sarvajna Peeta & goes downhill for about a KM and half, finally revealing us a small stream of fresh water amidst the crevices in the rocks at a place called Chitrakoota. These rocks are home to a few Sadhoos who come there to sit and meditate. The climb uphill back to Sarvajna Peeta is very tiring, but, we reached by 8 am. Bidding our goodbyes to the peak, we started on our trek downhill back to Bhatra mane, where we had asked him to keep a breakfast ready for the 7 of us. This route is actually very scenic, taking us along the top & sides of many hills around the peak. The view offered along this route is breathtaking, with the bright blue of the morning sky forming an excellent background to the Golden brown grass.

After the breakfast, we returned back to our waiting jeep & came downhill experiencing the Topsy turvy ride all over again. There are people who take a bus from Kollur, which will drop them off at Nittur & after that its a trek on those 'unmotorable' roads, but taking short cuts through many of the bends on the way. The jeep journey saved us a lot of time, though at an expense of Rs 1500 for the 7 of us, which we found quite reasonable. Another trekking route for the hard-core trekkers is straight from Kollur, through the forests, which is a 20 km long trek.

Anyway, our final leg of the journey was our 'direct' return bus from Kollur to Mangalore which was spent in catching some shut-eye.

In all, the Kodachadri trek was AWESOME where we enjoyed to the max & also gained valuable experience in survival skills while being audience to the spectacle of the Kodachadri region.


Sush. said...

Woww!!! Too cool Rax...the place sounds super... :)

Rakshith said...

Yeah, it is Sush!! One helluva place, whr v'v been plainning to go for a long time now.. A wonderful experience

sweetie said...

hey amazin rax... real gud pics too.. bet u had a ggr8 time.. lucky u :).. ive always jus gone upto mookambika temple.. nxt time sure thing to go to kudachadri! :)

Rakesh said...


Nice piece on a great place. I too had an amasing experience in Kodachadri. We stayed at the Bhatra Mane and they were just amasingly hospitable. Next time skip the jeep and trek all the way up from another way. That will be a great experience tooo.

Vasanth said...

a great piece of writing.This was the same experience i had when i had been with my friends to kodachadri.Your blog reminds me of my experience and makes my experience refreshed.

karthi's said...

nice writing...but kodachadri is not 1813m above the sea level...its 1343 m.......thanks