Updates
Registration is open for 1Day Trek/Cave exploration to Anthargange on 21st Sep 2014

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Hike to the Horse Head Hill.

As I left home, on the evening on the 7th of September, one thought kept eating me. I wondered why I was about to travel almost 400km to a tiny village called Kalasa for a single day of hiking. The hike in question was one to a hill called Kudremukh  (roughly translating to horse face), in the western ghats of Karnataka, organized by the Bangalore Ascenders group.
I reached the pickup point on time, exchanged pleasantries with our 20 strong travel party and braced myself for the bumpy and sleepless night ahead. It was about 6.30am when we reached Kalasa. The plan for the day was little more than sightseeing around the area.  The places we covered that morning were a lovely stream just a kilometre from Kalasa, the town itself, a rather crowded waterfall by the name of Hanmangundi, and a spot called Ganga Moola, apparently the origin of three rivers.  Ganga moola seems like an interesting place as there is a trail that follows a small stream up into the hills. Unfortunately we did not have time to explore the trail but I’d recommend the curious among you to check it out.

Lakhya dam road A view of the road from the windshield
 
I found the time spent in the bus itself to be the most enjoyable. I sat right on the front stairs of the bus revelling in the stunning vistas as they zoomed by.
By midday most of us were itching to get on foot and roam about.  The next agenda for the day was to get to the base village for the Kudremukh trek. This miniscule village, by the name of Mullodi, can only be accessed on foot or by jeep. We decided on the latter. The jeep track appears treacherous to say the least. With 11 of us stuffed into a single vehicle and me right at the back, every muddy switchback, and every boulder had me gripping on to anything I could get my hand on and holding on for dear life.
We reached Mullodi in about an hour and a half, but I swear it felt much longer. At the village we had a pre arranged homestay and a very pleasant one at that. We enjoyed a late lunch and proceeded for a dip in the stream that runs near the homestay.

Damselfly - mullodi stream A Damselfly spotted by the stream. ID needed.

The evening was spent playing a multitude of campfire games….rummy, dumb charade et al. Post dinner everyone retired into their sleeping bags hoping to get a good night’s rest for what lay ahead.

The Need to Know Bit:
Kalasa, is 360km from Bangalore by road. KSRTC buses to the place are available. I wouldn’t recommend any of the tourist places close by. An ideal plan would be to head straight to the hills on arrival and spend the entire weekend trekking. There is more than one route to the peak, the easiest being from Mullodi.
Permissions for the trek and hiring a jeep can be taken through homestay owners in Mullodi. The place we stayed was called Mullodi house, owned by Rajappa, who can be contacted on 08263-249333. Food, accommodation, guides and hot water is available at the homestay.
Cost of homestay (inc of food): Rs. 500 per head, cost of jeep: 2000 for a round trip (depending on your bargaining skills)
We set off for the Kudremukh peak at about 8am.This was more than an hour later than we had planned.

Kudremukh peak trail Harish moving along on the trail

At 8 we finally set off.  The weather seemed favourable, with sun playing a constant game of hide and seek and occasional bouts of rain. The terrain itself isn’t too taxing either. There is an omni-present trail all the way to the peak.
The route started off with many ups-and downs constantly moving from grasslands to forest and crossing many flowing streams along the way. I waited and waited for the ascent to get steep, but such a section never really came.

Kudremukh Shola forests A picture perfect example of Shola forests
 
What makes made this trek exciting was the effort to reward ratio. For very little effort one is treated to some amazing vistas of the endemic Shola forests. The stretches of Shola here are some of the most intact, continuous and pristine sections I’ve seen anywhere in the Ghats. Due to this fact, the Kudhremukh range harbours a wide array of bio-diversity. Kudremukh would make an awesome hike for any naturalist.
With a group of 20, it was highly unlikely that any wildlife sightings would happen. We still managed to glance upon Chital and Gaur in the distance. I get an equal kick from the little things on the trail and the variety of wildflowers and insects present was simply amazing.

flower on the way to kudermukh peakThis pretty pink Impetiens was to be seen all along the trail, near water bodies.

The peak can be reached within 4 hours time if one moves at a decent pace. I have to give a shout out to my group mates, many of whom were on their first real trek, all of whom made it to the peak in good time.
Once on top everyone was eager to see the horses face only to be told they were standing on it and it is only visible from the adjoining hill. Here we broke for lunch, some rather nasty packed upma.
Unfortunately, the forest department doesn’t provide permission to wander off further than the peak.  To the east (i.e other side) of the peak is never ending undulating terrain of prime un-explored Shola habitat. If I had my way I’d keep wandering there till the sun went down. There is also a prime camping spot by a stream just near the peak.

Lobos church kudermukh Arches of the Ruined Church.
 
I was informed at the peak by our leader, Jinu that I had missed checking out a ruined church on way up. Ruined Church I quizzed, with a whimsical look on my face. All the way up here? Who would build such a thing and why? I never did find the answers to those questions but I did find the ruined Church. It is quite a sight, bang in the middle of montane rainforest.  I entered the structure hoping to find some creepy crawlies but no such luck.
The way back was a bit more treacherous. The bouts of rain had made the trail rather slippery and each of us landed on our bottoms at least a couple of times. The group was divided and this gave me time to amble down at a slow pace clicking photographs.  It took us about three hours to get back to Mullodi. Most of us concluded the hike with a dip in the stream followed by a warm bath and some tea at the homestay. Thus, concluded our trek, well almost. We still had the bone rattling task of taking a jeep back down to Kalasa and getting into the bus. And the even more bone jarring task of getting into that nightmare of a bus that was to take us back to Bangalore.

Kudremukh monsoons on flower A hibiscus like flower spotted after a brief downpour.
 
So to answer the question I had kicking off this trip was, yes, it was worth it. We had a fantastic team and each one of them made it a memorable outing. Though, I’d love to visit the area again for a more thorough exploration.

The Need to Know Bit:
The Kudremukh range was declared a national park in 1987. It is one of the largest Shola forest corridor in India and may soon be declared a Tiger reserve.
Officially, one cannot enter the forest without a guide and permissions are only given to hike till the peak and back. Camping in the National Park is banned. The trek is made easier by the fact that luggage can be left back at the homestay. Packed Lunch is provided at the homestay. Kudremukh has all the ingredients for a perfect first trek.

Chances of wildlife sightings are good. To spot wildlife, set off before sunrise and maintain silence

Geographical Co-ordinates: 13° 7′ 46.24″ N, 75° 16′ 6.79″ E
Write up by: Aniruddha Gupte
Original Post at: http://footloosegups.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/a-hike-to-the-horse-headed-hill/

The team,

SONY DSC


----------------X-X-X-X---------------

from Surendra,
Came bit late to the shantala house in a hurry assuming that i am "THE ONE" for being late....but like u know "har ek friend zaroori hota hai" i too have who follows me...:). As always i started thinking(after seeing lot of new faces) why am i going to make my weekends busy again....
Not like usual way...introductions started on the journey itself including the funny ragging too...:)


Villager kalasa

Morning refreshments happened in a really natural way...with the morning walk.. gone to some water stream....after that got energized with garam garam idlies, dosas....and the last night poories..:)
Fun has started with Hanumangundi waterfalls...now most of the "UN KNOWN" become "KNOWN"...started enjoying the team...
Had Adventurous jeep trek while going to homestay in kudremukha. Last but not the least day ended with "bathing in nearby water falls", "home-made bhel-puri" and the "Dumb-C". i won't forget the "PC-2....." by utkarsh and the trend set he made...:) and had a singing performance by an upcoming singer swetha...:)

Kudermukh stream Stream near Kudermukh

Kudermukh rainsMonsoon ride through Kudermukh 

Day 2 has begin little early (by 6am...sunday morning 6am..seriously it's too early.haa:))...with few leach forests, grass lands ,small water streams  and what not ....we ended up reaching the top.. not able to fill in words abt what i felt while travelling..."too awesome" is too small word to say...while coming down it was a different experience...people are creating their records in falling down....but luckily we didn't have any serious injuries...
Don't want to finish without saying abt "seema"...cute little baby, daughter of Rajappa (who was our guide and the owner of the homestay)....now also i can't  stop smiling if i remember her face....also thanks to Jinu for having  an organized and fun-filled trek as usual....

----------------X-X-X-X---------------
from vinuthna,
Kudremukh is the first highest peak,Second and a challenging trek for me.

Sep8th,
We had a cup of tea at 4am @ Kottigehara,This place is very cold and fully covered with mist, We explored Amba Theertha stream near Kalasa by 6.30 am, its very beautiful and the road we walked is covered densely with different trees,bushes and monkeys too.

lakhya dam Lakhya Dam

Lakya dam is the next place and we are there by 10.00 am, From the dam One can have a view of lush green mountains all around,Kadambi waterfalls will be viewed from the road side and we reached here by 11.30 am. We went to the Hanumangundi waterfall by 12.15pm,

kadambi waterfalls
Kadambi waterfalls from roadside

Hanumn gundi waterfalls Hanuman gundi waterfalls

The water strikes on to the rocks from 100 feet.We started walking in between the green mountains which are covered with midst to reach Gangamoola and reached there by 2.00pm, This is a water stream flowing through a cave. We are at Belagal by 3.30pm and from here we need to take a jeep to reach Mullodi House which is 5-6kms from here.Atlast reached our home stay Mullodi house around 4.30pm,In the evening we went to the near by water stream and enjoyed for a while,I’m very much scared of leeches. All these places are full of leeches only,First day is almost like a horror movie for me, I’m not able to enjoy the beauty of Nature in fear of leeches,That night I realised I came to feel and enjoy the beauty of Nature and so I stopped thinking about them.

Sep9th,
We had our breakfast and we carried lunch with us. We started trekking by 8am and crossed through the thick forests,Streams,You can hear the sounds made by different kinds of birds, Flowers will be like welcoming us, Streams make a background music, leeches will be start dancing by seeing us,Green grass on the mountains and the cold breeze to make u feel fresh, Slippery rocks to alert ur steps. Slightly raining in the journey towards the peak, We spotted Deer and Bison on the mountains. There are many Streams in our journey, the water will be sweet and pure. I was not even looking on my feet for leeches, I’m just enjoying the nature to my best. After seeing many breath taking views towards Kudremukh I felt that these leech bites are nothing, Reached the Kudremukh by 12.30pm.

IMG_6873Kudermukh grass lands

Enjoyed a lot on the top of horse shaped mountain Getting down from the peak is very challenging as its raining slightly and slippery too, Finally reached down by 6pm.We walked on the jeep track road for 1-2 kms in the night and took a jeep from there, This is the painful and horrible journey for all of us. Finally we successfully completed the trek and back to home. I was called as Virtual trekker by my trekking friends and now I’m not a virtual trekker any more. My happiness after doing the trek is inexpressible in words. My dream to do a trek in monsoon that too in a lush green mountains is fulfilled.
Thanks a lot Jinu for giving a chance to prove myself as a beginner because I was rejected for Moderate treks by many organizers due to my health concerns.

----------------X-X-X-X---------------

from Viswanath HN,
Can I also write-up on my experience of horse face hiking? Cos I fear that my story will not be shared as I am banned from BASC. ( for drinking honey in Beer bottle...)
My 4th trek with BASC and third with Jinu, I have seen people sticking to Brand Jinu (Trecknics), cos he really cares and makes every body feel not the difficult during the last lap.....Hats off to his patience and enthusiasm to encourage more and more people to trek. Thought this was not really a trecknic...
We started the journey from bangalore and reached a place ( i dont remember the names), went in search of a stream and relaxed there for some time, had a wonderful poori (though it was made the day before) and dosa break fast, went around the kudhremukh mining areas, factory, residue dam and many other small stream and water falls.

Amba teertha kalasa Amba teertha

Kudermukh team at amba teertha Kudermukha team posing near Bhadra River

Hanumagundi on day 1 was the highlight we took bath under the falls, the pressure of water was pushing us down in to the water which was at places extremly deep and at places slippery stones to push us in to the deep rocks.
Had some leech bites on the way up and down. Pineapple was yummy and the fight with monkeys was good. Jeep ride to homestay was scarry... and evening bath in the near by stream was relaxing and soothing to the body....

Day 2
I was really excited to see the horse face (shaped rock), but to my utter appointment clouds played spoil-sport and we did not have a proper view during the hike, initially it was a little hike but later on it was comfortable grasslands, while crossing from one hill to another we had to bargain hard with leeches, with presence of trees and water streams.
The last hike on the hill was too steep and very slippery due to algae and the path we used to hike must have been where the water runs down during heavy rains, had a tough time, I felt very scared at times,one skid could end u down in some forest. But some guys managed to trek very fast and reach the peak 30 mins prior to the rest of others (Navneet, vijay etc.,)

IMG_6891 Kudermukh range


Had a very tasty upit on the peak brought from the home stay, any food could have been good at that place and after a hard hike. Coming down was a tremendous task considering the slippery path and the terrific view ( it rained a bit to add to the difficulty). It really took a long time for us to get down. but Marathi gang to much of our surprise were down too early and by the time we got the home stay they had finished their bath in the near by stream. Had some snacks cum dinner kind of food lemon rice and idlys, packed back-packs and walked down to reach the jeep which could not come till the home stay.

IMG_6863

The jeep ride down to the road was horrifying experience, many a times i thought we will fall from the jeep thanks to the Jeep driver he got us down to the  Mini bus safely.The ride was made more horrifying thanks to the rain again...
Night travelling back to Bangalore the people were suddenly charged up thanks to Vijay and body builder (harish) (jai mathadi).... Had fun singing.. sharing experiences about the trek....
Good morning and we are back to Garden city ready to go back to our routine life.... :-)
----------------X-X-X-X---------------
from Vijay Mali,

Kudermukh iron ore Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited

Thank you so much for organising the trek and allowing us to participate. The best thing about trekking with Bangalore Ascenders is, we not only get chance to explore the nature but also to learn how to protect and love nature. This was my second trek with BASC and each time when we reached the peak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mullayanagiri and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kudremukh), we felt as if nature is thanking us for taking the efforts to walk through the dense forest, steep hill, encounter with leeches....., by allowing us to enjoy the splendid view from top of the green lush mountain, amidst the misty fog, up above the clouds and cool us down by the fresh breeze...!!! 1hr walk in any shopping mall in city could make us tired and exhausted, but trekking for 10km uphill and 10km downhill that too at fast pace never made us feel tired and exhausted.

IMG_6926 Waterfall on the trek route

Infact, after the trek taking a bath in the near by stream was much better then the jacuzzi. The Jeep ride and yes...that was another added bonus adventure ride this time...believe me that was a best adventure ride. Hats off to Mahindra (...after all apni desi company) for producing such a beast at no price. I still can't forget the mud road.....the bumpy, suuuuuuper slipppppppery, narrow road with deep hill on one side...damn !!! and fully loaded with 11 passengers....yet conquered successfully....pheeeeeew!!! Thanks to the well experienced driver...its a no non-sense job guys...believe me!!! Last but not least...the BASC gives us an opportunity to meet like minded people, make new friends...and every individual in the group made the whole trip so much fun. Trust me...I enjoyed each and every second of the trip !!!
So, looking forward for more and more such treks.

----------------X-X-X-X---------------
Event organized by:Jinu John
Image Galleries: Vijay, Sreeraj, Jinu

2 comments :

  1. Great writeup... Nice pics... Can u tell me where is the photo "stream near kudremukh" taken... Where is tat spot in kudremukh.. Iam going there next weekend

    ReplyDelete
  2. It is fantastic place i had never seen. But please make sure you taking all necessary items like food, fruits and water with you for trekking. Because if you start climbing the hill it will take complete one day to come back. You will not get anything in the middle of forest.

    ReplyDelete