Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kemmannugundi Trip

What started off as an ambitious trek started to fall apart as murphy's law reigned over the two days in whatever we did. This time the tripmates were Muthu, pramod, prabhu, DP, Sens, Subbi, Musi, Bharathi, Peter and thirukumaran. Armed with the Survey of India Maps and a compass, we boarded the shimoga express and got down @ Tarikere. From there we took a bus to Lingdanahalli and from there a Tata Ace(Kutti Yana) to Kemmannugundi. Finishing off the Idlies @ the Guest house canteen we boarded the jeep to reach the start of the trekking trail from KG to Mullayanagiri.

Our plan was to Camp that night @ Galikere. The nascent greenish cover due to the recent monsoon showers made a whole place a dreamland to be in.Enjoying the view and taking snaps then and there we moved on. At one point the trail started to lead through some dense cover and before we could enter that, Leeches started their attack.To avert them we took a detour from the trail to the top of the nearby mountain. At the top we rested and cleared up the sticking leeches and started moving forward.Again the dense cover obstracted our way, and the impending danger of another leech attack sent shivers down the spine. A light discussion revealed that even if we cross the forest cover uneventfully, another 6-7 hour trek awaits us to reach Galikere is what we estimated. Let down by this info, leech attack and the dense fog which covered up the whole trail we reluctantly retreated back. Taking a long circuitous route we were back in square one.

We rested our bones at a nearby scenic pond and continued with the lunch. Two or three trips back and forth from the start of the trail to KG town by walk to figure out a way to reach Galikere exhausted us and the efforts too went in vain as the jeep driver were scared to drive back from galikere after 6. Nowhere to stay(as one of the tent had a damaged rod) , we stayed for the night at the guesthouse. Next day, we hired two jeeps and we went through to Hebbe falls. It was a real jungle safari by all means (bumpy trail which a 4wheel drive alone could survive, thick forest cover) A punctured tyre saw us walking a little extra through the greenish path to the falls. The leech kept us at bay and finally we reached the falls. We were the only group at the falls by that time and we had a really good time bathing and playing in the waters. A marathon run through the unwinding path to the jeep to escape the leeches did the trick and we reached KG back in time to catch the bus to Tarikere. From there we came to Chickmagalur and from there to bangalore.

This place for sure needs another visit during the monsoons with much better planning. Probably next time we should take the route from Mullaiyangiri to KG.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta Trip/Trek

When it comes to deciding between blood sucking leeches/venomous King Cobra filled Agumbe and Wild elephants residing Gopalaswamy Betta, it is tough. During monsoon we thought it was a bad idea to visit Agumbe, the Cherrapunji of the south, that too especially for a trek. Hence we zeroed up on Himavad(meaning fog/snow in kannada) Gopalaswamy Betta(meaning mountain in kannada) near bandipur. The Inmates were Dilip, Sharath, Praveen V S, Rajesh, Chaitanya and myself. Too bad Shrikar missed this trip.

We burned the midnight oil @ Dilip's house as we had planned to start by 2 AM on Sunday. Jubilant over India's victory against Bangladesh in the ICC 20-20 match, we started exactly as planned. By 4:00, we were in mysore and by 5:30 we hit Gundlupet. The route to Himavad after crossing the Gundlupet village was scenic as it was a wide landscape without any object of obstruction except for the silhouette of the mounatin ranges at the horizon and the first rays of the sun illuminated the horizon in vivid flaming hues. The intermittent rain added spice to the whole scenary. By 6:00 we hit the Forest department gate at the foothills of the Himavad Gopalaswamy betta. Nothing to do except for sitting in the Car till 7:00 (the gate would be open only by then) as the the rain was taking control outside. As it started to drizzle, we ventured out to explore the area a bit and to click away something.

As we gathered some altitude, we started living up in the land of clouds and fog. It was a breathtaking experience to be there. It was a dream come true for me, to walk through fog filled dark roads with trees on the sides like an avenue, whose existence is visible only for the next 5 - 10 metres. The drizzle continued, partnering with the heavy violent winds and literally we had to stick hard to the ground. We took up some trails from the top to reach the adjacent ranges enjoying the lush green grasses and the fog filled pond on the way. Wave after wave, the army of clouds conquered the mountains, and we could not view the whole ranges filled with sholas + the green valleys (even though we were there till 1:00PM) The fresh elephant's dung here and there always reminded us of the prevailing danger somewhere near shrouded in the mist.

We reached a stone hedge formation and here we sat for sometime, chatting and then we started playing throwball, it was funny to watch the ball drifting, the direction in the heavy winds that was blowing throughout on the top.As another Praveen developed a cramp, we abandoned our trail from then on to the next range, as already we were at a distance from the vehicle. As we walked up and down landscape, the temple shrine came into view, and we headed directly to the temple instead of taking the roundabout route which we took up while coming up.

We went to the temple, and the main pooja was going going on, and the main priest orated about the sthala purana(history of the origin of temple) in kannada. From my friends, I came to know that it was built by a chola king 700 years back and is considered to be a papanasa(Free of all sins).While we were draped in the jerkin in that teeth clicking cold, I saw some devotees taking bath, whew!! what guts!!! My cell picked up the TN network, and the truth dawned in me that we were actually on the border just few good kilometres from Mudumalai.With a heavy heart, we descended down the Betta and were on the way back to the concrete jungle.In Sharath's slang, the trip was "Chammak"

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