April 7th & 8th 2012
There are times when you ask God, why me?! And then God replies, why not you?! Only after the darkest hour of the night, do we see the first ray of light every morning. This trek started off with why this trek (and not Venkateshwara!)? (When we were walking on a dried up lake with no views around) to where the hell are we? (When we got lost on one of the ridges, en route Kodchadri) to thank you God for everything! (When we spotted the rainbow, the sunset, the moonrise, the sunrise and a gorgeous sparkling waterfalls). This trek was all this and much more, because when it rains, it pours! :)
At around 6:00 a.m., when 16 of us, got down from the disco light wobbly bus at the Nagara Fort feeling all drowsy, after a tiring night journey (Neelima felt we were off roading on a highway! :P – the bus was that shaky!) On entering the fort, I headed left, away from the group and walked along the walls of the fort. I could spot the road, with a lake on one side and plantations on the other, with mist above. I could hardly see anything 50 meters away. I could hear the chirping of a lot of birds and now, I was wide awake! :) I circled my way next to the walls and then headed to the top of the fort. There was fog everywhere and on one side I could see the Darbar and the kitchen area. We took a lot of pictures here and assumed that the rest of the trek would be like a trip. Neelima and Jinu were busy trying to get down some stairs (stones protruding out of a stone wall!), I thought the better of it and took a longer route to get down and sat down under a beautiful tree with florescent color leaves, listening to the birds chirp and staring at the sun covered in mist. Once they were down, we explored the darbar and the kitchen area and then joined the rest of the group.
On our way to Sampekatte, we spotted a peacock crossing the road. We had breakfast in Sampekatte and then realized that the bus got punctured, so we started off our trek from this village. The best part about trekking with Ravi is, he will not take the usual routes. He didn’t want to trek from Hidlumanne Falls. I am always game for exploration, so I was super exited about any route, but the normal one :) But we started walking on the tar road and this was not what I intended to do! Some of us were eating the cashew fruit on our way and a sweet lady offered us to give some from her garden. Part of the road was being laid and I felt like we were walking in the city! Finally, we hit the mud road which curved right and walked a little ahead, only to hear Ravi tell us that we have to take a u-turn! For those of us who have trekked with Ravi before, we know that this is nothing to worry about. We found another road at the curve, took it and soon all of us were walking in a land with thorny bushes here and there. We walked across a tiny patch of paddy fields jumping the fences and then followed an almost dry stream leading to a lake. Some of them wanted to take a dip in the lake and since this trek was supposed to be an othla trek, we decided to make it a pit stop. While some of us were sunbathing with the wind on our face, the rest of them were floating in the muddy pool having a goodtime too! :) Mat man was looking all pregnant with the mat stuffed to his shirt to keep him afloat!
|Why this trek?|
We met an old man, who told us that we would reach Kodachadri via the forest if we went left or via the jeep track if we went right. Obviously, we had to head…?? :) We now headed to our left towards what looked like forest from a distance, but as we walked into the area, we realized that it was a dried up lake and we could see bamboo plantations and thorny bushes here and there again! This was the point where I thought why this trek! Jinu, Vinodh, Neelima and I walked along the stream upstream, drank water near buffaloes (after warnings from Neelima, which had after effects) which was our last water point and then waited for the rest of the group under bamboo plantations. Once everyone were there, we went off stream, into the forest! :)
Finally the fun part started. We were now walking in and out of forests and trails on flat land. I was so happy to be walking amongst the trees :) After a few kilometers, we stopped for lunch. We had snake chappatis with ready to eat curry! All of us ate like we have never seen food before and fought for pieces of paneer! Once we were done eating, we could either head left, walk more and reach Kodachadri or head right and reach Kodachadri early. Guess where we headed?? :P We took the left turn and after a while, the ascent started. We were still at 500+ meters altitude and had to reach 1300 meters! It was around 1:00 p.m. and the weather was burning hot. We kept walking in and out of forests without losing altitude, to avoid walking on the ridges, as we would get drained by the sun.
|En route Kodachadri|
After around an hour, at every tiny peak, we could spot the dam from where we started our trek, some building which looked like a school which may lead to the jeep track and some peak behind which Kodachadri was there and then we would head right into the next forest! A few times, I was leading and I was having a good time finding a trail in and out of the forest. At one point, I could hear a waterfall but to my vain, it was the sound of the rustling of leaves. After walking for another hour, we realized that we were not covering too much altitude, as we were walking in and out of forests. So now, instead of getting into the next forest, we decided to walk along the ridges. After a steep climb, we reached a point on the hill where it was very windy! :) I happily spread my hands and walked up the hill. When we turned back, we realized that the dam where we started was to out right, and the school was to out left and we were taking a semi circle route to reach our destination instead of the straight path! Of course the journey is more important than the destination! :) As we headed up this hill, it started getting cloudy and misty. I dropped down my bag at a point where there were a lot of rocks and admired a 180 degree view of the forest below and the backwaters with islands far away with my arms wide open! I felt like I could just take off if I were a kg lighter! It was that windy! :) How I wish I could fly! :) Reluctantly, I followed Jinu almost being knocked down by the wind a couple of times, to the next ridge to our right.
|Where the hell are we?!|
When Jinu and I stopped at the next peak, I turned around 360 degrees to greenery and mist all around me! It was beautiful! :) We spotted birds that were in mid air and unable to fly, due to the wind. Soon we were joined by Neelima and the three of us sat on a boulder admiring the view, spotting a track and wondering which way to head next. Soon the rest of them came and we debated whether to follow the trail into the forest of walk up the next peak to our right. Ravi pointed right and we climbed two more peaks to our right and then came to a stop on a peak, as we couldn’t see anything 10 feet beyond us! It was very windy and we had no idea where we were! :) This was the point where we thought where the hell are we? Neelima and I relished on the melted Bounville :) Ravi asked us to head further right and all of us did. This walk turned out to be just amazing!! :) We were walking on a ridge with the wind blowing from left to right and all I could see was fog all around me. Just to make sure I was right behind Jinu, I called out his name every now and then and headed in the direction of his voice. Every 100 meters, we spotted 4 feet stones structures. The minute we spotted garbage, we realized we were near the jeep track and all of a sudden, the mist seemed to have cleared a bit and Jinu, Neelima and I spotted the jeep track. We ran towards the jeep track and shouted on top of our lungs to let the others know that we had reached it! :) Jinu’s GPS read 16kms.
|The beautiful clouds :)|
When we reached the sunset point, I was overjoyed! The sun was setting with the clouds below it! :) I sat on a rock admiring the sunset and soon the three of us were joined by a few more guys from our group. I stood on top of a rock and sang “Top of the world” as I was truly feeling on top of the world! :) Once the sun set, I stared into the twilight. After Neelima, Jinu and Thathagatha were done taking the pictures; I reluctantly headed towards Kodachadri with the others. Our torches were on now and on our way up the jeep track I was singing a nursery rhyme, “Thank you God for everything” and the best part of the trek was yet to come! :)
|"Top of the world" :)|
|I wish I could stay here forever! :)|
After another hour of walking in the dark, we finally reached the Kodachadri base – bhattre manne. We met the rest of the group here who were waiting for us, munched on some snacks and then headed towards the peak which was around half an hour away. We reached a clearing in 5 minutes and guess what! We spotted the full moon with dense clouds below it! I was totally stunned by this view! I felt like I was dreaming and pinched myself just to be sure this was real! It was heaven! :) I have never seen anything this beautiful. I have seen such a view only on paintings and wallpapers and always thought that it was too good to be true! But here it was, right in front of me; it was real! I was spellbound! :) Thank you mother nature for such a beautiful sight! :) Reluctantly we all walked towards the peak, as we had to camp at the top. I kept looking to my left and then kept looking back, not wanting the view to get away from my sight. We came to a point where we had to get into a small forest and once we were out of it, we would be at the peak (from which we may not be able to get this view or the moon would have risen more and this effect would be lost). The only problem was, I didn’t want to stop looking at the moon and the clouds below. I told Jinu and Neelima that I would come with the sweepers and asked them to carry on. Tushar and Imran stayed with me and the three of us sat down in peace admiring the gorgeous full moon with the dense sea of clouds below it :) Every 10 minutes we decided we will go after the next 10 minutes and we ended up sitting there for a really long time. Once the moon had risen quite a bit we reluctantly decided to go.
|The Dreamland! :)|
We finally reached the Shankracharya mantapa. Leaning on the stone walls of the mantapa, I looked at the beautiful moon and our camp site which was lit by its light! After a few minutes, I joined the rest of the group and I started stirring the pot of soupy macroni :) I was starving. Once Neelima and I gobbled down the soupy macaroni, I started the fire and we poured the groundnuts into the pot. Head chef Anala was now frying the groundnuts and I was popping one into my mouth every now and then to make sure it was getting cooked :P Once the groundnuts were done, Anala poured them into a plate and asked Vinod to keep them away from me! I tried to steal them, but in vain! Neelima and I went and sat on a rock behind the Shankracharya mantapa with the Kollur town in view and had talks about life! :) Once the avalakki was done, on hearing the group call out to us, we went back and gobbled on it. Thanks to Anala, it was delicious.
Jinu, Neelima and I, now headed to the next hill with the tower on it (which was at a lower altitude). We enjoyed the view of Kollur for a bit and then headed back to the mantapa. Neelima and I were back on the rock, talking about life till 1 in the night and then we decided to catch up on some sleep. I stared at the moon for a bit and then fatigue gave in and I was fast asleep.
|The Sunrise! :)|
Jinu, Vinodh, Neelima and I packed our bags and headed to the sunrise point. By the time we got there (6:30 a.m.) the sun was already out, but the view of the sun with the clouds below was beautiful! :) (But, nothing could beat the moonrise for sure! :)) The four of us sat down on our way to the sunrise view point and started at the ridges and the clouds behind. Looking at the closest ridge, we were wondering if that’s the ridge we walked on yesterday, as we could spot the stone structures at intervals on the ridges. Since the ridge was too close to the jeep track, we concluded that we may have been on the other ridge which was a little far away from this one. Neelima could now hear barks break in the forest below the hill we were on. After she told us, all of us could hear it and we were wondering if elephants were down there :) After a while we headed to the top of the sunrise view point and I enjoyed a 360 degree view around me :) To the east, was the sun and the clouds; to the north, was the jeep track and mountains far away; to the west, was the Kodachadri peak and to the south, were hills in beautiful shades of green and red :) we were soon joined by Ravi and all of us headed to bhattre manne. All of us munched on buns and mayonnaise. At 8:00 a.m., we took a group picture and headed towards Arashinagundi falls :)
|The Clouds! :)|
We were now descending to our left. We were in and out of clearings and finally on a trail from where I could spot the lush green Kodachadri peak and the one next to it to my left. I enjoyed walking alone, spotting no one ahead or behind me. After getting into the forest, I enjoyed the walk thoroughly. The forest was just beautiful. It was lush green with tall trees and huge roots :) After 50 minutes from our start point, Neelima and I were on a jeep track and to our right was Santosh Mani’s restaurant :) We ordered buttermilk, idli and puttu. As soon as we gulped down the butter milk, we were joined by the rest of the group. Neelima and I gobbled up the food, then went out of the restaurant, spread out the mat under a tree and took a nap next to a cow which was running around with the pole tied to it!
|The sparkling Arashinagundi waterfalls! :)|
Once everyone were done eating, I had another glass of buttermilk and all of us headed towards the forest leading to Arashinagundi falls. At the second clearing to our left from the jeep track, we found a trail going into the forest. We entered the beautiful forest and now, started the descent to the falls. Jinu, Neelima and I were walking ahead and I was mesmerized by the forest. After around an hour or so, we could hear the waterfalls! :) The three of us ran to the right and we were now at a pool, which was right above the Arashinagundi falls! :) This pool reminded me of the pools in Venkateshwara. The water was crystal clear and there was a small waterfalls which ended in this pool. I was tempted to jump into it! We could not head down to Arashinagundi falls from here, as there was a steep gorge ahead. Neelima and I sat on a boulder under a tree adoring the tiny waterfalls and the pool below us :) Reluctantly, all of us headed back upstream and then crossed it and started to ascend. The ascent was a little steep, once the three of us and Tushar ascended, we sat on a huge tree which was fallen and the three of us made plans to venture into a jungle sometime, and build ourselves a shelter to stay in, create fire, etc. (basically use all natural things to survive) :) Soon we were joined by the rest of the group and we started the ascent and reached the jeep track in sometime! We headed to our right (parallel to the water flowing downstream) and then found another trail to our right. Jinu checked the trail and once he okayed it, we literally jogged our way to the Arashinagundi waterfalls! :) The three of us were screaming on top of our lungs on seeing the falls! :) It was a gorgeous (around)100 feet waterfall! :) It looked like the waterfall was falling straight from heaven! :) I was sitting on a rock in the middle of the stream, staring at the gorgeous waterfalls! :) After a while, I joined Jinu and Neelima to eat Holige and then the three of us went up stream to get a better view of the waterfalls! I was hooting seeing the waterfalls and the beautiful green pool below :) I sat on a huge boulder I could see the sparkling water hit the rocks around 90 feet above, and then split into smaller sparkling water droplets, finally merge at around 40 feet and then flow down the rocks into the pool. The waterfall was in the middle of a huge rock wall which was curved around 140 degrees. To the left of the waterfall was a beautiful withered tree with red and golden leaves falling from it and there were groups of butterflies going in circles to my north east and North West near the rock walls. I felt like I was in dreamland! :) I lay down on the rock staring at the sparkling water droplets and every time the wind blew, I could see them drift a little to the right and I could also feel the water spray on me :) We were soon joined by the rest of the group and some of them had a good time taking a dip in the pool.
|I was in love with the forest :)|
I packed my bags and started back up the trail and waited for the rest of them enjoying the sounds of the jungle for some time. Once everyone came, instead of heading up we headed straight to walk parallel to the jeep track and get on it later on. I was in love with the forest. It was simply gorgeous :)
It got humid now and the ascent was a little tiring. But, after around 15 minutes of steep ascent, we had reached the jeep track which had a board saying “Way to Arshangundi falls” pointing in the direction we had just exited! :) I was sweating profusely from head to toe. I pulled out my mat and just lay down, waiting for the others. Once everyone reached, the three of us headed towards the exit point, which was supposed to be 9kms away! I walked and jogged along the beautiful jeep track covered in golden brown dried leaves, which was going up and down and finally reached a junction where we took a left turn and 2kms later, we were at the entrance of the medicinal plants area. Jinu’s GPS read 41kms (the jeep track walk turned out to be just 4kms). The three of us went to the stream below and I sat on a boulder dipping my feet into the cool water. After a while, I went back to the bridge and sat along the walls looking at the entrance to the forest, feeling glad that I came on this trek and thanked God it was me! :)
|Thank you God - it was me :)|
Thank you Ravi, Jinu and Tathagatha for organizing this awesome, othla trek which turned out to be difficult! :) It was superb! :)
Thank you Ravi, Neelima, Jinu, Tushar and Tathagatha for the beautiful pictures :)