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Registration open for, Exploratory Monsoon Trek in Madikeri from 30th to 2nd October, 2017

Monday, December 20, 2010

The konkan coast is famous for its beautiful beaches, landscapes and lush green forests. Planned to trek from Gokarna to Honnavara. Worked on the trail along with Mudassar and finally prepared the route map.  Sent the invitations to the Bangalore ASCENDers group. Huuuhhhh.. the registrations were flooded like Tsunami. Finally confirmed 23 participants and booked to and fro bus journey tickets.

Monday, November 29, 2010

This was my first trek with Bangalore ASCENDers (BASC) and definitely the most adventurous trek I've ever had. The experience was just great as it was full of challenges and uncertainties. The way we overcame all these challenges with the great teamwork made it a successful trek.
As a first timer , few words on BASC:

I just loved the care taken by everyone while disposing the garbage. No one threw plastic covers or any garbage and on top of that, they made sure that others dint throw! Hats off guys!!
The way we did the trek was great, Sudhir leading the group, Shreedhar as sweeper making sure that everyone is in front of him and bunch of experienced trekkers in between motivating others.
Food! Having a sip of hot lemon tea or hot noodles really pumps up our spirit. Thanks to Sudhir, Shreedar and Saroja for your cooking efforts :)
Opportunity to make friends: Most of the people dint know each other. And the trek really helped in uniting us and form a good team and make new friends :)
This is how we finished trek and reached our destination :

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DAY 1:

* We reached Sakleshpur Bus station at 4.30.Had an early  morning breakfast @ 530, bought vegetables,packedfood and then we took the bus towards Kaghinare @ 7.30
* Reached HongaDahaLLa (last stop ) .After talking to the localites, we decided we'll start the trek from that place. There's a clear path from that place to Yedakumeri. Once we started, everyone felt its not fun to walk on a road. So came back and took a Jeep to Kaghinaare!!
*
After finishing the breakfast near a school building, we started walking towards Kaghinare Ruins. Panoramic view from the ruins was beautiful. One must be a great nature lover to build a watch tower there :-)

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* From the ruins, we started walking into the WILD :) Jumanji Started! We knew the direction but there was no trail.  Series of Grasslands,mountains,valleys,streams was on our way to destination. The forest was very thick . Rotten leaves/twigs, loose mud, leeeches , thorny plants , Elephant footprints: these things dint let our spirits down :) Finding a way to the railway track was all in our minds!
*
We kept on walking and somewhere ,in all of our minds, we had a thought of being lost in the wild. But we alwaays knew we are heading into the right direction.   @ around 3.30 , we saw the Dam built across the Kempuhole and after crossing couple of peaks,We could see the Track, down the mountains.
*
Sun was signing off and it was getting darker really fast. The track was getting closer but we didnt have the time to make it when the day light is on. Camping on grasslands/forest was highly risky and we dint have water.  After a quick round of brainstorming, we decided to move on! All of our torches were on and we had to cross forest and green land twice, before we almost reached the track!106

* There comes another challenge! around 20 to 25 feet of vertical drop was in between us and the track! It was dark and 830 in the night . But Sudhir gave us the confidence and showed that we can descend it down ! We had support till first 5 feet. After that we had to jump or slide down to reach the ground.All of us held our nerves and overcame the challenge! Huh! It was scary!
*
It was easy once we reached the track. We got water and saw couple of railway workers. After waiting for the Bangalore-Mangalore train to pass, we had the last 4kms walk for the day and reached Yedakumeri station at 12.30 in the night !:) Thanks again for people who cooked the food. Especially Saroja - You are awesome! The energy and the enthusiasm is inspirational! :) It was around 2 am when we were done for the day and to have good night sleep :)

Day 2:

* New day! New beginning and new challenges were ahead of us ! Sipping Hot Lemon Tea with the cool breeze made a great start for the day :)
*
We walked back along the tunnels and bridges . The valleys beneath the bridges/the roaring stream/narrow pathway is challenging.026

* After walking some distance, we got the jeep trail which leads us to the highway.We were walking through the heart of lush green Forests.Serene nature gave us the spirit to move ahead :) We were walking in the land of  "Jugaari cross"!
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There were elephant dung everywhere and fresh footsteps. We caught a resting Black cobra. He was silent and was in no mood to bother us :)
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We stopped at a stream ,which joins Kempuhole, and prepared food,had a bath and walked towards the highway.
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Kempuhole was ferocious and was eager to take everything on its way with it . Rocks were slippery .It wasn’t deep though. After initial round of investigation, we thought it was impossible to cross the river and started walking towards dam . But we couldn’t find it and also we could not find another easy path  to the highway. Result: We came back to the same spot again!
*
By that time another group of trekkers were crossing the river with the help of a rope and they did it successfully. They came back for us and helped us in crossing . ah! finally we had crossed all hurdles and reached highway.Bliss :) :)  We walked around 5 kms before we got a jeep and reached Subramanya.Image2836

2 days were just great, full of  extreme experiences and fun in the pure nature, far away from the civilization . I'm looking forward to participate in many more treks. Thanks to BASC for organizing this. You guys rock :)

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Written by: Chethan
Event organized by:
Sudhir
Image Gallery:
Chethan, Shreedhar, Jinu John

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I had no clue what is in waiting for me when I joined the Bangalore ASCENDers (BASC) team at the esteem mall bus stop whenDSC01477-1 I decided to scale Skandagiri on the night of 27th Nov'10. I knew its going to be fun as Skandagiri challenges your ability to climb altitude’s and my very first visit to the place was nothing but a hilarious one.
Having nothing much to do on a weekend, I insisted that Arun joined me for the trek. He did, happily. The other reason why I chose to go with BASC is Satish. This man is made of Red bull, Gatorade and laughing gas. His sense of humor will keep you alive and active. A good leader who can lead his pack to the destination with nothing but a fun-filled journey. There is a lot to learn from him as he carries a deep character and maturity . We started as decided and t ook the road to Skandagiri betta. Azhar in his Hero Honda Hunk proved why a 150 CC bike is always better than a 125 CC one. A few Royal Enfields joined us with its signature sound. I really want to own a royal Enfield, a Thunder B
DSC01370-1ird would do.
When we stopped at the T-junction where the road leads to Nandi Hills, for all to re-group and go together, the cops came with their so called authority and abused us that the youth is making Nandi hills a wretched place. True, may be a few... not all.
3 bikers showed us an interesting fireworks by pressing the center stand against the road while the bikes were on the move. That created sparkles on the road. At night, it was even more fascinating. Now I knew why the policemen were mad at us. After parking the vehicles at a safe place near the base and while waiting for others to join, I took a power nap on leaning against a temple pillar.
Carry a torch, a litre of water, wear a good Jerkin, travel lite and go with friends. My personal opinion is
DSC01451-1 to carry a beer. ( Not allo wed when you go with BASC). Drop that idea when you have girls in your gang. The trek started very smooth. You know very well, that anything starts very smooth wouldn't remain that way for too long! After 3 hours of various pace in climbing, breaks and jokes, we reached the summit.
It was dark and Ice cold, but it was filled with energetic people who braved to push the mountain beneath their feet. Hurrah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We made it!
Wait the best is yet to come...
Our antakshari at the chilly mountain moved the nature Gods and ordered the sky to throw a silver lining on the horizon. All rushed to the sunrise point to get the best view of Sun that was ready to come out of its blanket of clouds. There started the inexplicable display of mother nature's soap opera.
Blue, magenta, orange, Sky blue
DSC01400-1, green, white... She changed her attire every second making us marvel at her abundant ability to be volatile. Thank God! I didn't carry my camera along. The clouds caressed us with its invisible touch, paraded in front of our eyes in all possible shapes. Moved around, ran around, covered the near by hills and disclosed it again after a breeze drove it away. Nandi hills was a visual treat from Skandagiri. It looked like a black forest chocolate flake inserted on a vanilla ice cream bucket! Someone help me in describing it Please. Now I learn, the best things in life are the ones that are very hard to explain in words. Cos when you fail to explain, perhaps, there are only three reasons.
1. Its really awesome
2. There is no equal or matching vocabulary
DSC01457 to key in exactly what you experienced through your eyes, nose and all the senses that made you feel that experience.
3. The impa ct was too huge, you went numb!
Think again, how many times you've used the word "Awesome"? On all those instances, you've failed to explain things as it is. Awesome!!!
Thank you Satish ( BASC ) for arranging such a wonderful trek. I caught up with a lot of friends that have been appreciating and criticizing my photography through face book and Orkut. It was nice meeting all.
Trust me BASC changes your life for good! It did for me!
Let me know your comments. Good and constructive, it makes me write more! 
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Written by: Yadhunandhan (Courtesy: http://yadhunandhan-iamwhatiam.blogspot.com/)
Event organized by: Satish
Image Gallery:
Chaitu, Mohammad Rafi, Naveen, Jags, Ravichandran, Anand, Ameet Pai

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ettina Bhuja of EB2OG/1 Trek
Ah(!) or an Aaaahhh!!
One couldn't really mark the difference between the two exclamations after ending the EB2OG trek. At any given time, one emotion paved way to the other. The first one being ultimate satisfaction and the other being pain.
I, for one can vouch for both! However, the spasms that hit me on the first day was clearly overshadowed by the glee at the end of the trek, when the group reached the Gundya highway. It was evident that the final stretch took a lot out of everyone involved, more so, since the invitation to cleanse ourselves in Kukke Subramanya and have a good meal was too enticing.
I am sure that everyone had been looking forward to the 19th of November to start the exploratory expedition. Blogs had been read and memorized; Google Maps had been re-visited, items had been bought and checked.
The group met at Majestic at 10 PM and informal introduction were exchanged. First timers like myself, kind of bonded immediately given that the lost look on one's faces was met by another. Organizer Ambareesh was the single point of contact at that time and he definitely looked like he knew what he was doing. We loaded ourselves and our bags onto the bus and set off for Mudigere. An hour of idle chit-chat was enough to rock us all off to a brief nap. We were jolted out from it almost immediately when we crossed Bangalore. Given the road infrastructure and the chronic battling with pot-holes, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. A good night sleep would have done a world of good, though.
We landed at Mudigere at around 5:30 AM and scouted for the only public washroom which didn’t have electricity. There is something about the human mind, that doesn't complain much when it knows that the next two days is going to be impossible to find a man-made toilet!
Bhyraveshwara Temple, Bhyrapura. Starting point of EB2OG/1 Trek
Once we were done with our morning ablutions, we had breakfast in Mudigere Bus-stand Hotel. And then we started our journey at 6:30AM in an arranged mini-bus and landed at Bhyrapura temple by 7:30AM. The first hour was spent in getting ready in our trekking gear, photography and formal introductions. This is an old Temple and adjoining it there is a Pond/Kalyani to the left of it (have to go down a bit, using steps), in summer this is the last source of water. Ettina Bhuja (EB) can be seen from the Temple and a foot path follows behind the Temple towards the peak. Before leaving, a formal Intro was done, for some reason all members looked a bit embarrassed while doling out personal info!
Ambareesh and Abhiram in the meantime scouted the topography and discussed the (hopeful) marks. I trudged along just to get my own whereabouts and check my compass.
At about 8:30 AM approximately, we were ready to go. Ettina Bhuja looked majestic from where we started. It really stood out due to its unique shape and the cloud wavering around it gave it a smoky look. We started our first descent with some trepidation but as the trek began, some of us got quite vociferous and the excitement took over.
Ettina Bhuja from backside of the Bhyrapura Temple
EB was worth the climb as all around it, one could take in nature's beauty and eccentricity at the same time. Eccentricity can sometimes be fortunate, as in this case Nature has taken into account every measure to keep this place as virgin as possible!
From the Ettina Bhuja peak, we can see Amedikal Gudda, Deepadakallu, Jenkal Betta, and Ombattu Gudda (OG). We could even see the Jeap track near OG, which was Day1’s camp site. As we could see, we have to cross a thick jungle between valley of EB and one more peak. After that we have to climb a few peaks to reach Jeep track.
Ettina Bhuja peak from north side, its very steep climb to the peak
After photo sessions by 11AM we started getting down from EB, its normal descend. But after that the Jungle was very thick and there was no path to reach next grassland. We took almost an hour to cross the jungle as it was thick and of loose mud. EB was now to back of us, and we could see the other face of it. We had lunch by 1PM and after taking brief nap, by 2:30PM started again. From here we have to climb a peak in grassland, which was the toughest part of the trek. Being an exploratory trek definitely meant that the trails were very difficult to find and that was the icing on the cake. There was one such when we weren't able to find the best path and that resulted in a virtual 80 degree climb using just bunches of wild grass for pulling ourselves up by nearly 3~4 feet. A 21 gun salute to those savannah grasses for holding our weights through the entire journey.
Abhiram and Rajesh were excellent compatriots for Ambareesh and I guess their company gave him a lot of confidence in this expedition. Between the three of them, they exchanged the roles of trek leaders and sweepers. Lakshmish and Suman volunteered on quite a few occasions to check out new paths and were successful as well.
It was at this juncture that the group had its first casualty in me. After negotiating a goat path, I had multiple sprain spasms which resulted in a blackout due to loss of salt. At this juncture, I must thank Priyanka (for electrol), Rajiv (trekking poles and accompanying), Laksh, Ravindran and Neelima (accompanying) and everyone else for offering to share my backpack. I hope, my stubbornness to carry my sack wasn’t misconstrued. I just felt it was unfair for anyone else to share another's burden while lifting their own.
Walking towards Day1 halt point, i.e., Jeep track near Ombattu Gudda (OG)
After much travail, we landed at the first campsite on Jeap track near OG. I was the last to make it up there. Until that point Vasant, Neelima, Ravi and Laksh had already characterized for the fourth innings of the LORD OF THE RINGS: The Indian Version! Their taunts hung around until the very end.
Ombattu Gudda (OG) was now very clearly visible, may be just half an hour walk. Jeap Track will link between Saraswathi Estate and Lakhsmi Estate. As soon as we landed, Ambareesh and Priyanka brought out their cooking gear and lit the stove. It took a bit of time, but they finally were able to shield the stove from the gusts of wind. The first item to be dished out was hot soup; half a cup for each of the members. The warmth of the soup brought back some life and a bit of energy. Most of the members had bought along food packets. I had mis-interpreted instructions and had come in with just biscuits, cake and an apple - a beggarly meal. Hari was gracious enough to offer me a packet of MTR pongal, which was a big help. A thousand thanks to him for that!
We could not make camp fire, as we arrived here in dark, so searching woods was very difficult. Once we had our supper at 8 PM, the sentry duty was spread across 14 people. Karthik and myself were exempted. I strongly believe that that night's rest was one of the major reasons for my quick recovery. Rajesh's wild staff was our only means of defense and the sentries held on to it dearly. We had spotted enough and more bison dugouts and elephant dung along the way and that was enough to help us be on alert. We unpacked our sleeping bags/mats/ tent and went to bed. At the time we did, it was quite warm, but as the night progressed, mist covered our covers and a cold draft was in the air.
Ninth peak of OG series, on Day2 morning of EB2OG/1 Trek
6:30 AM is an ungodly hour to wake up and a few of us struggled to snuggle out of our respective bedding. Weather was pleasant and sky was very clear. At 7:30 AM we started our journey towards OG. The path was precarious as ever. There was no dearth of loose mud, tricky rocks or ill-traveled ground. Every one of us had our share of nasty, embarrassing falls but none of us looked deterred. We were on top of OG (ninth peak) by 8AM. Now Deepadakallu and Jenkal Betta was opposite to us. From here its full descent till Adda Hole, i.e. we have to climb down nine hills (OG) to reach a stream called Adda Hole.
We trekked via forests, hills, streams, banks and ledges. All of them had a trick up their sleeves and doled them out generously. En route one such, some one spotted a baby snake and the excitement and fear was palpable! Being an animal enthusiast, I somehow made my way from the back of the line to right where the snake was. An inconclusive debate between Ravi and myself left the snake to decide for itself whether it was a viper or a constrictor.
Viper seen, while getting down to Adda hole from OG
During the whole trip we found gushing streams on both days, which was against our analysis, but boy was it welcome. We re-filled our water bottles whenever such an opportunity presented itself and drank to our heart's content. The pristine quality of water was over-whelming and a complete contrast to what we are used to from our city taps!
This whole region is Leech kingdom and they are abundant. We lost a lot of time trying to pry them out using salt, snuff powder, lemon and fingers but there was no real respite. Every time we checked our legs there were always a couple making their way up the shoe to a more comfortable spot up our limbs. They just wouldn’t bog down and after a while, I left them to take whatever they could. However, with 24 bite marks discovered later, I am still quite sure I was least affected. The others had a worse experience. It can be a problem when nature is your adversary. The terrain is a hotch-potch conundrum which primarily needs luck to unravel it. After a few hiccups, we finally found the path and religiously followed it in the hope of find the junction. When the front liners hit it, there were loud cheers all around and we immediately took a breather. We gathered our wits and our resolve and made a final check of our water and food supplies. It was at this point that my shoe which had been faithful to me over the last 6 years broke down and wilted. When I inspected it, the sight was pure torture. There was no sign of soles left and the punishment seemed a lot worse than it deserved. I had to donate it to the forest as my last homage and piously tied it to a tree as a warning sign for future trekkers. It was a peace offering.
The last 8kms from the Kabbinale river crossing until Gundya highway was the most arduous. It was evident on everyone's faces. We were begging for a sight of civilization but it didn’t relent for two hours. The leeches did give us faithful company though, all along the way. It seemed like the longest 2 hours of our lives and the darkness all around didn’t help a bit. Fortunately, there was a visible jeep track from the river to the highway and all we had to do was follow it. However, the woods still had one last boomerang to throw at us. About 3 kms into our walk, we found ourselves following a deviation which in no way resembled a jeep track. After a few minutes of deliberation we decided to back track until we found the elusive jeep trail. The sign we were looking for was the under-growth between the legendary jeep tires marks. A minute later we found it and realized the reason for having missed it. Where there was once a clear pathway, there lay debris of fallen tree. Ambareesh traversed the blockade and found the trail and we set off once again.
Finally 2 kms later, we heard the alarmed bark of a pariah dog kept by the village folk and then some lit bulbs. To me, it was like Diwali! The relief at hitting the pit-riddled highway was amazing. It was 8:30PM in the night. We took a left and sighted a small roadside drive-in shop. We converged on to it like starving wolves and finished off 16 cups of tea, 14 packets of BOTI, 4 packets of Bingo chips, 1 packet of popcorn, 1 plate of double omelet, an idli plate among others!EB2OG/1 Trek Team
It was 9 PM by then and we were too weary to make it to Gundya checkpost and bless the eatery owner's kind soul; she called us a jeep and a van to take us to Kukke Subramanya for Rs. 325 each. The drivers used their skills to maneuver past the beaten roads and brought us to Kukke in half an hour. We took a hasty bath in the filthy river, had a hearty dinner and paraded into the waiting KSRTC VOLVO bus, which left at 10:45PM. It had never seemed as comforting! We reached Bangalore at 5 AM on Monday morning.
As tough as the narration might sound, this had to be one of the most rewarding treks of my life and I am sure the feeling is mutual with my team mates. It took a day to recover but the sense of fulfillment and the terrific experience we had, ranks as high as the sky and beyond. And I heartily thank Bangalore ASCENDers (BASC) for arranging such a challenging trek.
Karnataka is certainly a boon for the avid trekker and I am sure we will all get together for our next adventure soon.

Note: Need permission from Forest department as this is restricted area.

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Written by: Brighu and Ambareesh Event organized by: Ambareesh Karanth
Image Gallery:
Muralidhar, Karthik H K, Ravindran, Harimanjesh

Its Almost more than a month now in Europe, and almost every weekend I had been to some or the other place for sight seeing.  Also visited to some neighboring European countries too and found that almost all the countries looks more IMG_2042jpgIMG_2042jpgIMG_2042-1or less the same especially one non-ignorable similarity is all of them have their history as main attractions. After covering most of the tourist towns, stumbled across the official Austrian website and in particular the Vienna [wien] official website and one particular topic caught my immediate attention, that's  hiking in and around Vienna and its beautiful Woods. After going through the details, finally decided to try Hiking/Trekking in one of the trails which is laid out by Forest Department here in Vienna. This  particular path includes some part of city and most part of Vienna woods and reserved an weekend for it.

The Day:
Sunday; 27th Nov the day was set for this hike, which is of 11Kms in distance and includes some 30% of outskirts of city and 70% of Vienna woods. And obviously this is special for me in many ways, it’s my first hike outside India,and I’m the first Bangalore ASCENDers (BASC) member who is organizing an event outside India. Hopefully this new trend of hiking in Europe will followed by many soon. By the time I packed everything and left my room it was almost 11AM in the morning and outside weather was bit cold and cloudy [A typical European Winter]. The route which I choose was from Station "Ottakring - Ottakring" whicIMG_2105jpgIMG_2105jpgIMG_2105-1h covers many places. Took a underground train [U3 Ottakring] to reach the start point, which was incidentally the last stop of this train. Once you come out of Underground train station, you will enter the street and just before the street found a big board from Forest Department giving complete route map of the hike; this made me bit relaxed, and after 10 min loafing the place started the hike.

The Hike:
As I started I had the map and name of each check points which needs to be crossed along the way; the initial start was in the city and as it was Sunday there were very few people on the road, unlike in India where for us weekends are meant to be on the roads. Experienced this cultural difference since I come out on weekends [LOL...hate to stay inside during weekends]. One more thing to notice is the weather as it was winter there was lot of coldness in the air. When I reached the 3rd checkpoint, started to notice the difference in the surroundings in term of buildings, roads and the way the city is built. Here it’s very calm and beautiful and each house is independent with lush fresh wine-yards and the terrain is hilly, which made me more relaxed and happy. All this time since from the start point was very much eager to see the Vienna Woods and now its almost very much near, as I cld sense the freshness of air, fragrance of wild and woods and also cold had increased now.

Nature Always Wins Over Man Made Wonders:
After almost one and half hour of hike reached Vienna woods entrance and was filled with joy after seeing it. Took some time to relax
IMG_2090jpgIMG_2090jpgIMG_2090-1 a bit and checked near by boards which explains the path that needs to be taken for different destinations through Vienna woods and also spoke to few fellow trekkers about the details of this hike. As the entire path is laid by Forest Department  they have made good markings along the way on every couple of kms with different color paint on trees for the each path. Later also came to know that in deeper woods they have put up separate boards to indicating the hike path. As I started the hike in woods was very much surprised to see many ppl walking in these woods which made me 100% worry-less and here the coldness in the air increased exponentially. As it was winter all the trees had lost leaves and stood there bare and the ground was totally covered with the dead leaf, the view of these sky high trees was really mesmerizing. When reached deep in to woods the visibility narrowed down and cld barely see 10 feet ahead, the fog engulfed and the chill of the winds made me freeze. Although I had brought good winter jacket and glouse, the freezing cold numbed my face and ears and it started to pain for a while before the view around made me to forgeIMG_2089jpgIMG_2089jpgIMG_2089-1t it. During the hike in these woods one can take ample time to relax and enjoy the landscape and every now and then one is able to see few hikers in groups and as well as solo.
After almost two hours spending in the Vienna woods, reached my next check point which enters the city again and I must say this part of city is also equally beautiful as other side from were I started into the woods.
Finally after covering all the checkpoints, reached the entry point from where I started the trek,and was damn happy about my adventure :)

Summary:
1. This was my best weekend ever in Europe, and this place scores num 1 in my list.
2. I suggest everyone who visits Europe to explore the possibilities of hike/trek. Trust me you will not regret it.
3. The route which taken was U3-Ottakring --> Thaliastraße --> Gallitzinstraße --> Funkengerngasse --> Rolandweg --> Johann-Staud-Straße --> Pelzer Rennweg --> Andergasse --> Eselstiege --> Savojenstraße --> Sprengersteig --> Paulinensteig --> Wilhelminenstraße --> Kollburggasse --> Erdbrustgasse --> Ottakringer Straße --> Weinheimergasse --> U3-Ottakring
4. Total trek distance 11Kms
wanderweg4aVisit our Group @ CLICK HERE
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Written by: Nagoo (Courtesy: http://nagoo-trek.blogspot.com/)
Event organized by: Nagoo
Image Gallery:
Nagoo

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kodachadri has always been famous – famous for a blazing sunset and an unforgettable Arishinagundi. I have been in Bangalore for two years now and not once could I manage to get hold of an opportunity to visit this place amongst so many trips. So much for someone who is interested in hiking, photography and waterfalls.

FieldsPano1

Anyhow, when I saw the mail from Bangalore Ascenders (yea, a new group I discovered. They are good – check them out!) I had little going against the thought of joining them to Kodachadri apart from the teeny tiny fact that I did not know a single soul on the trek. So many treks and trips yet, but every single time I had at least one acquaintance to begin with. And I also knew that once on the trek, conversations flow freely for all of us have at least one common interest. But what the hell, for someone who is aspiring to be a solo world traveler someday, there’s always a first time. So if you are one of those who have been thinking to go for a trek for a long time but lack of company has been setting you back, here’s your moment of truth. Going alone isn’t half as bad as going with the wrong company. Next time you see an invite, register! :P 

Kodachadri – A Dreamer’s Reverie
In fact there are many benefits of going alone which I’d like to save for another post. Getting back to Kodachadri, at an altitude of 1343 meters above MSL, forming a pretty background to the famous Mookambika Temple of Kollur, 40 kms off the west coast, it is surely a place that can exceed your expectations. The backwaters of Lingamakki Dam on Sharavathi River create a stunning landscape view all around the peak. The 360 degree panoramic view from the peak is one of the best that I have seen so far with clouds below, the reflecting backwaters, hints of the coastline and a front row seat to an extraordinary sunset.

sunset-1

Getting there and more FAQs –

So what’s the way to paradise you ask? Well I cannot guide you to the hypothetical gateway to the celestial kingdom, but I sure can tell you how to reach this piece of heaven very much located on our planet earth.

Nearest Place – Kollur/Nittur in Karnataka. 

How many approachable routes to Kodachadri are there? – Two. One from Marakutaka Bus stand which takes you via Hidlumane falls to the jeep track going all the way to Kodachadri.

The second one starts from Karekatte gate near Kollur, this route goes through thick forest and then into open grasslands. Arishinagundi falls on this route. 

So to cover both the falls and Kodachadri, one could start at Marakutaka gate, hike to Hidlumane, then climb up to the grasslands, go towards the jeep track, reach Kodachadri peak, get down via the trek route starting just near the temple where the jeep track ends, reach Santosh Hotel at Vallur, hire a guide to go down to Arishinagundi from here, reach the falls, then climb up to the jeep track that will lead you to the gate of Mookambika WLS 2 kms before Kollur. 

What else can we see around?
Well, there is the famous Mookambika Temple of Kollur. 

You could always hit the beach for it is so close to coastline anyway. Maravanthe beach near Kundapura can be a good spot for yet another mesmerizing sunset along the western coast of 

What’s the USP of Kodachadri?
A blazing sunset and sunrise above a sea of clouds!

What about camping?
You can camp on the peak. It is vast and has ample space. No water source though. There is a small temple atop called Sarvajna Peetha where Shankaracharya is reported to have meditated. ;)

Just below the peak, you can also rest at Bhatta’s house or the PWD guesthouse for nominal charges. Food is available at Bhatta’s place. The peak is a 30 minute climb from here. So incase you spend the night here, you’ll have to run up in the morning to view sunrise.

Are there sunrise and sunset points?
Yes, when you climb from Bhatta’s house towards the peak, few minutes later you’d find two diversions on the trail - one to your left and one to your right. The right trail leads you to the peak and the sunset point to the west while the left trail is for sunrise view to the east. 

Is there any other way to reach Kodachadri?
Yes, the jeep track that I was mentioning earlier is operational. You can hire a jeep at either Kollur or Sampakatte village of Hosanagara. I must warn you it is going to be a very bumpy ride. After you reach the temple near Bhatta’s place, you will still need to hike up for 30 minutes or so to reach the peak. The jeep track ends here. 

What is the trek difficulty?
I’d say it is a moderate trek. If you walk through the jeep track, it makes life a little bit easier than climbing up from Karekatte gate. 

Okay, so you still haven’t answered my question. Where do I get down to start the trek?
Marakutaka bus stand falls to your left and is 2 kms after Nittur on the Nittur - Kollur route. 

Karekatte jeep track, again to your left, where a small stone saying Kodachadri 10kms will be found, is 11 kms from Nittur on the Nittur – Kollur Road.

Mookambika WLS gate is 2 kms before Kollur on the Nittur – Kollur road. 

Depending on from where you want to start the trek chose an option from the above. 

Now can I tell you how awesome the trek was?

So here’s what happened. 
It was a while since we started walking towards Hidlumane Falls. Long gone was the jeep track and we were walking on narrow jungle paths now. After few more minutes, we managed to reach Hidlumane Falls passing by another small stream en-route. The falls looked divine with the vertical rock face, greenery along the rocks and the pretty vines that hung from top to bottom. But the whole joy was short-lived only to find a huge group of tourist crowd already inundating any decent frame for photography.  While the rest of the troop also had their good fun I tried to salvage of what remained in the situation and managed this mediocre shot. But trust me, the falls look much better in full frame.

HidlumaneFalls

 One lost cause and with a new anticipation for the rest of the day, I started the climb to reach the grasslands above the falls. To the right, you’d find a huge rock from where the trail leads up again. Following the same, we climbed to reach the grasslands soon enough. It was a short yet stiff climb, yes. All the time while climbing up, I could spot glimpses of wide spread water body all around through the tree cover. I was wondering about its existence which was made clear once we were out in the open. These were the backwaters of Lingamakki Reservoir spread all around the hills. It was a very pretty setting – white fluffy clouds, blue skies, green mountains and veritable forest cover interspersed with backwaters to endless bounds. This is my world alright! What better place for an afternoon siesta?

water

  The monsoon effect was still in place rendering the mountain sides resplendent with lush greenery. Clouds passed by us, above us and below us - so far so good. In the far of distance, the jeep track to Kodachadri was visible and that would be our next destination, the only sore point being, we had to get down this hill into the valley and climb up all the way again to the same height. Looked tiresome but wasn’t so. Soon enough we all gathered at this buttermilk tent on the mountain top, much appreciated refreshment. Clouds engulfed us every now and then on our walk along the jeep track in pleasant company. A short walk led us to the end of the jeep trail where you’ll find a temple and two houses vying for profit from the trekkers and the visitors. The thing is, from here the peak is a good 30 min walk above.

walk

There is always a fine line to cross when mediocre turns extraordinary. So far the trek was just okay but it was about to change for good and it changed big time, let me tell you. After packing our dinner, the rest of the team headed towards the peak while me and Laksh stayed back to come along with few who were freshening up. Time was on our side and we were in no hurry as the trek was done with lot of light left for the day. 

Slowly and rather lazily, 6 of us start the climb. We were loitering here and there until two of us came onto the hill just below the peak and the show unraveled! The entire valley next to us was shrouded in a layer of cottony clouds. 270 degree view was above the puffy cloud layer while the peak rose above in the west. It is a pity that the show lasted only minutes and before the rest came here, we were all in the cloud.clouds A lazy walk from here led us to the peak where yet another spectacular show was about to unravel. The grand sunset Kodachadri is so famous for! Overlooking the west coast in a distance, a clear unobstructed view with only clouds daring to get in the way which we have no complaints with whatsoever, was awaiting us. The sunset shoot was an elegant affair anyway. The entire sky was painted in shades ranging from the calmest of blues to the fiercest of reds. All this while the red blazing ball of fury was playing hide and seek with the playful clouds. With such panoramas in the offing, who wouldn't call this place a photographer’s delight! The changing colors sure kept us busy for quite a while.sunset2The stunted or non-existent foliage at the peak was giving us no protection from the cold winds as temperature dropped with the fading light. A quick dinner later, everyone got comfy in their sleeping bags while I knew better not to crash at such a place which as it later turns out, came to be my own undoing. Karthik accompanied me as we sat on the edge talking about everything under the sun ironically as we sat under the stars, soon to be joined by Laksh. The three of us had good conversations - meaningful, meaningless and all such kinds. It was definitely one of those evenings that I’d remember for along time to come. The night was cold and sleepless. Again few of us got up to chat away to glory till sunrise and the sleeplessness came back with a vengeance as you’ll find out soon.  sunset3What makes Kodachadri a special place, is the unobstructed view of sunset and sunrise on either side of the peak. After a pretty sunrise, we went down to the same temple near the jeep track for a quick breakfast. Now here, going by the previous day’s experience, I expected this day to be no less than yet another picnic. Why this is relevant is because I want to stress on the fact that I did not have breakfast today either expecting no tough terrain whatsoever. And now, why this is relevant is because I was about to have the toughest of times in couple of hours.  rainbow There is a trekking trail right from here that goes all the way to Santosh Hotel at Vallur and then the trail meets a jeep track that takes us to the Karekatte gate. We started getting down and few of us stuck to the end for there was no reason to rush. The trail opens into the grassland for some distance before entering forested area. This part of the trail is comparable to the initial stretch of Kumara Parvatha trek. Soon enough we reached Santosh Hotel and the string of decisions followed that will change the entire equation of this trek for select few. ;)

Reaching Arishinagundi Falls, A Quest in itself!

Flat trail? Yea right!

We’re supposed to be walking on an easy flat trail leading to the falls. But that claim has as much truth to it as saying the earth is flat!  We completely loved the experience of slogging to get to the falls and the propensity to torture ourselves until we got there. Why you ask? Now that would require for me retell the story and you would be required to sit through it. If you are not the kinds who care about the journey and only destination matters then scroll down to the bottom of this post and see the glory that we witnessed. ;) 

This was day 2 of the trek and the previous day was a walk in clouds. One of those days where you can say views to efforts ratio was off the charts! It was a nice and easy trek and today was supposed to be no different. Considering the picnic mood that we were already in, no one cared to eat or sleep properly. With such a laid-back demeanor we start the trek to Arishinagundi not knowing the rollercoaster ride we were about to embark upon. So that’s the prelude. 

Arishinagundi - A Wonderwork

Now coming to facts, Arishinagundi falls is one the spectacular falls of Western Ghats hidden deep inside the jungles of Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary near Kollur. Set amidst luxuriant greenery and wilderness, the falls are a sight to the sore eye. Few places are left here, where you can be so close yet so far, to civilization that is. A few kilometers of walk will take you into the heart of the jungle where sunrays find it hard to get through and the track seems to be either never-ending or disappearing into oblivion.

The usual and saner approach would be to reach Santosh Hotel at Vollur and take a guide from here to the falls. This hotel is on the way to Kodachadri peak and while returning back, one could go to the falls which is a 2 hour steep descent through the thicket. Then after visiting the falls, you could climb up from the other side to reach a jeep track which meets the road head to Kollur, 2 kms before Kollur to be precise. Since everyone does this, coming down on a jeep track wouldn’t make you realize the fact that the track is not flat and instead it goes down steadily. This would mean the track goes up steadily should you start the trek from this side. 

But you’d think who would do the trek in the reverse way. Who would try to make their lives miserable by taking the tougher route when there is an easy way down? You’d be wrong to think none, enter us, the people. Of course it was not a conscious decision and it so happened that we could not get a guide at Santosh Hotel and hence we came all the way to Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary gate and started the trek from here. 

It was 1.30 PM. Spirits were soaring high and most of the team wanted to enjoy a nice bath under the swelling cascade. We were told the route is flat with little gradient. Equipped with no more than cameras and a change of clothes, all of us set towards the falls on the jeep track. We were also told that after 3kms or so, we would spot a 90 degree diversion to Arishinagundi falls. Reality bites and we find ourselves tired out and climbing up. But we still proceed, it is strange how mind can take you to great heights or bring you down to unfathomable depths, like we would know in a while. 

The slogging begins

After a kilometer or so we spotted a diversion already but no signboard was visible We contemplated for long if this is the diversion to the falls but since no expert help was available, we decided to go ahead on the jeep track. It is hot and humid and we are tired and hungry. The track was consistently going higher showing no signs of respite. Few of them turned back here while the rest of us proceeded further. As we went ahead, something strange was happening. We could see no signs of streams and the deafening roar of waterfalls was fast disappearing. If Doppler’s effect has any truth to it, it was safe to assume that we were moving away from the waterfalls. Soon enough we reached a small clearing from where we could spot the falls on the other mountain range opposite to the one we were treading upon. The track which now reduced to a small pathway was like the road to perdition. It did not seem to be taking us to heaven; instead it looked very much ready to have us on our way to eternal damnation. Dark and abandoned appearance it bore without a semblance to a pathway that was used in recent times. Further leading us to believe we were on the wrong track. While the rest of us decided to go back to the diversion, Karthik and Karthik following their intuition, decided to go ahead till they find the waterfall.  

One wrong turn…

Something was telling me to go ahead but I ignored the call and walked 2kms back to the earlier diversion. Only to find out we were actually on the right path to Arishinagundi! A quick reality check said we were all too hungry and tired and so not prepared for a tough trek but the mind was not ready to accept defeat yet. While many turned back from here, it took a lot of courage for four people to take one decision – to go back on the same trail to find the waterfall again. Once your mind is set, it takes little effort to get past the hurdles overlooking the obstacles. Like I said before, the route looks completely abandoned and forests have a way of making one feel claustrophobic. We literally dragged ourselves up the slopes. It was 2.45 PM when we decided we’d try again. Three of us were actually living the saying one step at a time while Apoorva raced ahead. No water, no food and no sleep were showing its effect – I was feeling giddy and I desperately needed water which none of us had. But I kept saying to myself “Mind over body, Neelima. If you can’t, nobody can" and it seemed to work so far. But that was not enough. We needed some sign to know we’re on the right track, signs that were none. Amidst all this, a packet of glucose restored our life force to an extent. It was already 4, the trail still trailing high, light fading soon and still no signs of the bloody board saying this way to Arishinagundi. Just when we were contemplating return, the board made its appearance. Oh the sweet rush of adrenaline I cannot explain. We whizzed past through the forest now with such a rigor, we reached the falls in the next 15 minutes. Once you spot the board, the trail goes down into the forest towards the falls. 

The Redemption…

I was so glad to spot the other three guys near the falls. Once the initial euphoria passed, I stopped to take in the beauty of the falls. It was stunning, the setting, the force and the effort. We spent quite sometime reveling in the lap of wilderness and the realization of actually having made it to the falls. We had a long journey ahead of us, back to the road head. With invigorated mind and body, the return journey wasn’t much of an effort. Yes, we did encounter leeches, snakes and darkness but nothing could erase neither the fury of the falls nor the state of euphoria.  We made it back to the road head by 6.30PM and were welcomed to a warm applause from the team. 

The Satisfaction.. :)

The trek to Arishinagundi and back would be close to 16kms (8 + 8) and the route as such does not have a heavy gradient. Then you might wonder what made the trek so tough for fit trekkers that we were. Circumstances! Without lunch and a drop of water, and the most important thing – without a ready mind it can sure turn into a challenging task at hand. Having trekked for more than two years now, a tough trek is usually not a problem and the body handles it well. But for the first time in months, the mind had come into picture. I had to constantly try and motivate myself to take each step forward. Body had given up long back but the mind continued to push forward – a true mind over body experience it was! Loved the challenge and loved the group – Laksh, Satish, Apoorva, Karthik, Karthik and yours truly. Arishinagundi will always be a special memory. 

Look at the falls and tell me, was it worth it?  Arishinagundi

How to reach –

Option 1 - 2 kms before Kollur, while coming from Nittur, you’d find a Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary gate to your left. There is a stream running here and a bridge crossing over. You could start the trek here like we did and walk on the jeep track, a long walk.

Option 2 – 11 kms before Kollur, while coming from Nittur, you could get down at Karakatte gate, you’d find a jeep track to your left heading into forest. 4-5 kms walk along this route will lead you to Santosh hotel near volur, take a guide trek down to the falls and come back to Mookambika WLS gate through the jeep track. 

Difficulty – It is fairly difficult with tricky section of descent from Santosh Hotel or from the jeep track to the falls. The jeep track would easily be 7-8 km walk and you wouldn’t find much water until you reach the falls itself. 2-3 hours of trek from either side would be my best guess. 

Best Season – Post monsoon as the water will still be full and the leeches might not be in their best form.

By the end of it, it was a knock out trek. Mind-blowing views, good company and for the fitting lesson taught to a complacent me in thinking Kodachadri – Arishinagundi trek is just a picnic. In hindsight, it was definitely not a picnic, had we taken the right route from Santosh hotel, it still would’ve been a moderate trek. While Kodachadri lived upto its expectations as a photographer’s dream come true, the killing trek to Arishinagundi catered to my deep-rooted need to find some adventure and drama. 

Phew, Whattay Weekend!

Also read other blogs:
By Lakshmish @
Lakshodysseys
By Karthik B S @ Unplugged

Also read kannada blog:
By Apoorva @
Apoorva's Blog

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Written by: Neelima (Courtesy: The Wandering Soul's Wander Tales 
Event organized by:
Mudassar
Image Gallery:
Anand, Karthik, Sudhansu, Apoorva, Karthik B S

Monday, November 8, 2010

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

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Monday, October 25, 2010

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There is/was so much talk about Ombattu Gudda in the trekking community: its very tough, so many people have got lost conquering it etc., etc., that interested me. It was in January 2007, during Green Route Trek – Sakleshpur, that we heard about Ombattu Gudda. The talk at that time was the finding of three human bodies/skeleton, on the DSC04725-1banks of Kempu Hole river. Naturally everyone thought that they had died conquering the Green Route as we have to cross Kempu Hole in one of the trails. But it turned out that they were into Ombattu Gudda range, that too during Monsoon. Three years on, with all the modern maps, devices, it has become easier to conquer these trails. But still one has to do it right!!!
Now Arun gave us that break. Due to some reason, the initial plan by Bangalore ASCENDers (BASC) got postponed to 23rd October weekend which was ideal for us. And the monsoon was still active in that region, which is a bit unusual. After all the usual emails, purchasing of food, all of us met in Majestic. We were seven of us, Arun MS and MB, Conrad, Krishna Murthy, Rakshith, Me and Suman. The entire group was big 23 in size, managed by Mudassar, the founder of BASC.

Saturday, 23rd October, 2010
It was 5 in the morning when we reached Gundya check-post. We had tea in one of the petty shops, which was horrible to say the leastDSC04752-1. But everyone needed that. Then we started walking on the highway;NH-48 till we had crossed a bridge (On Kempu Hole), to reach the jeep track. Now we got to know why we did not get sleep in the bus as we had a glimpse of the highway, after crores of rupees spent on it to get it repaired, the condition was pathetic. I pity the drivers of heavy vehicles. There was a small house at the start of the jeep track, and we decided to wait there till sunrise. In the meanwhile everyone were busy getting ready, with some repellents for the leeches viz. Zandu Balm (which never worked on l eeches), Tobacco Powder, Salt, Lemon, etc., etc., I decided to do the trek in Sandals. After the makeup to our legs, we had a brief intro session, and by this time it was already 7. I opted to be the “sweeper” of the group, so that no one was left behind, I was given one Walkie-Talkie to communicate with the lead.
The jeep track was straightforward, and within 15min, Arun, MB that is, and me stopped for ablutions. Here we took a long break and the main group went way aheaDSC04760-1d. They kept pinging us on the Walkie-Talkie telling us to keep to the jeep track. At one place there was an Y fork and as luck would have it we took the wrong way which went directly to a local’s house. Luckily they guided us. After 15min for ablutions and 15min searching the path, we were on right track. The main group kept pinging us on our whereabouts. After some 45min of separation, we joined the main group. During the course we had crossed many streams. After sometime we hit a road block. There was one more Y fork, one led to a dead end and other ended up on the banks of Kabbinale River, which was impossible to cross. It was time to get the GPS out. I switched on my N900, after 5min it gave us the coordinates. This with analyzing the Survey of India maps, told us, the Jeep track ended here and we had to make our own way, along the river till we encounter a split in the Kabbinale River. Initially we were on the path where a stream would have flown during peak monsoon. But after sometime we were on a clear man made track. After an hours trek we reached a spot where we had to cross the Kabbinale River. We decided to have breakfast here. Bread and Jam was on the menu. After a quiDSC04764-1ck bite, some of us decided to take a dip . The water here was calm and one could even swim. Then it was river crossing time. It was pretty straightforward. Nobody had any hiccups in crossing.
After a while, the forest began to thicken, and we were lagging behind. We spotted a small snake, supposed to be a Viper. It was a tough and tiring since we had to make our own trails. Mudassar was leading the pack. Few t imes we hit a dead end. Each time Mudassar, sometimes assisted by Ashish, were scouring through the dense vegetation to find a trail, be it an animal one or the one made by the flow of water. At around 4 in the afternoon, we hit one more roadblock with many of us lagging behind. This time Mudassar alone went in search of the trail. In the mean time all of had assembled at the bank of the Kabbinale River eagerly waiting for some good news from Mudassar about our heading. He took more than 30min to get back, that too with a bad news. We were 2 hours behind schedule. We had to reach an Island where the conditions were ideal for camping. But that is out of sight for us now. The only option was to trek for 15 more minutes, to find a inclined rock face, wDSCF6669-1hich would be our camping place. When we reached the spot it was around 5 in the evening. My god we had to spend clos e to 12 hours on that inclined rock face. After the some soup and MTR ready to eat for dinner, we prepared for the night ahead. Each one of us pretended we had the best place on the inclined surface, but we didn’t. Each one struggled the entire night. I remember Arun and Suman getting up in the middle of the night and started chatting. I myself woke up several times hoping that it wouldn’t rain or the level of water would rise.

Sunday, 24th October, 2010
We woke up at around 6 in the morning relieved that the ordeal is over. But we still had to reach to the top and we didn’t know that we would be successful in that. We started at around 7AM, again along the river, led by Mudassar. After a couple of hours walk, here we were again, having to cross a river. Here we decided to have breakfast, in our case maggi cup noodles, which was way too littlOmbattu Gudda 127-1e in quantity. As usual people in the group were carrying excess and were kind enough to share with us. It was chapati with pickles and “chutney pudi”. Ill have to thank Harish Malleshappa and one more guy (Sorry forgot his name) for sharing the extra food they had got. Time to cross the river!!! At first it looked easy but it wasn’t. After a few initial trials which indicated the depth was way too risky to cross, we decided to use the ropes, build a human chain, pass on our luggage and finally we ourselves would cross. It took us an hour and a half for the entire ordeal. But there were no hiccups. After all this, we realized that we were on the wrong trail and we had to cross back. This was after Mudassar, Harish and Ashish, who went in search of the trail, realized that we should not have crossed the river. Not again!!! But we had to and after 45 minutes, we again crossed the river. This time it was relatively easy though. On the same bank we were, where we had our breakfast and it was time for searching th e trail once again. And we got it, this time though, we had to do ~70deg ascent to get on top of a ridge. Slowly and steadily everyone made it. And after an DSCF6798hours walk on the ridge, we reached the grasslands. This was a great relief, as we were in the final stages. After a couple of hours climb we reached the top, where we had a sumptuous lunch of MTR ready to eat pongal.
Mudassar’s condition had deteriorated, they (Mudassar assisted by Harish and Rafi) reached the top an hour later. My god he has survived till now with a little bit of badam milk. After all the photography of the scenery, taking group photographs, it was time to head home. We had to find the jeep track after about 45min walk, through grasslands, coffee estates, we found it. It was a great relief for everyone, that we reached civilization again. And it started raining.This was probably the most boring part of the trek, walking on jeep track, full of leeches (more leeches here than inside the forests). At about 6 in the evening we reached the estate building where we cleaned ourselves. A mini bus had been arranged  to take us to Chikmagalur. And from there back to Bangalore.

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Written by: Sandeep (Courtesy: http://sandeepprakash.homeip.net/myblog/)
Event organized by: Mudassar
Image Gallery:
Arun M B, Harish, Rafi, Sandeep, Santosh kumar