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Monday, August 16, 2010

The AQI (Air Quality Index) in Bangalore shows it’s one of the most polluted metropolises in India. The ratio of Oxygen to other gases that we breathe is enormously less. Therefore, some of us from Bangalore ASCENDers (BASC) decided to refill it and replenish our body with enough of Oxygen till our next trek. To do this, we set out to Brahmagiri and Irpu Falls Trek on 13/08/2010 at 11:45 PM. Our organizers Sudheer and Mithun had booked for a private transport. The blend of the Bus and the driver was infuriating for most of us due to the frequent stops during the journey. On the contrary, we reached Ponnampet at 6:45 AM, had coffee in Ponnampet and left to Srimangala. 

We arrived at 7:45 AM in Srimangala to obtain permission from the forest office. We all got freshened up in a small stream and explored Srimangala in the hunt for a proper eating place; nobody could find righteous restaDSC01099-1urant in Srima ngala as it simply don’t exist. However, some of them had breakfast in one of the accessible restaurants. As there was no proper eatery there, the only steadfast place that we could find was a vegetable store. Mithun had tomatoes from that store, guess what, even I got some tomatoes from there and had 3 of them. Earlier than that, the Avalakki (Poha) offered by Rajesh was delectable. In due course we got the permission from Forest Office at 10AM and left to Irpu falls, reached Irpu at 11:15 AM. We took another 45 minutes to settle down, have breakfast, parcel it and convene our team with the prearranged forest guide. We decided to bathe in Irpu falls before the trek. So, few of us (Myself, Ganapathy and Harish) plunged into Irpu without waiting for others to come. On the other hand, they had altered their plan. They had planned to take a dip at the top instead of the base. So, some of them left us and proceeded to hike.  However, I bathed there for some time, changed my attire and then started to hike. I met Karthik, Rajesh, Sreedhar, Lavanya and Santhan before hiking. I see that there were array of Anti-Leech elixirs (Trust me, none of them works) available for me to apply on my foot. I didn’t go for any of it but others applied generously to their shoes and legs. Then we started to hike towards Narimale.

Leeches: The Bloodsucking Annelids
The trek to Narimale had a variable landIMG_0519-1scape. The site had a variation from a gradient of 30 degrees to 60 Degrees.  The panorama of mounta ins was astounding. Most of us never realized the hike looking at the spectacle of the mountains. Sudheer was heading the ramble as he started hiking before than anyone else. Yet, myself and Ganapathy surpassed our gang to reach Narimale first. On the way to Narimale, we found oodles of leeches. I at least spent 30% of my time and effort to get rid of those leeches glued to my shoes.
The most irritating and upsetting theme of this trek was leeches, no matter how much you take them away; there are still zillions of them ready to assault you. I could call leeches as miniature vampires as they share same persona, both of them suck blood, they cannot withstand Sun, they reside under tree in obscurity, but these miniature vampire leeches can withstand garlic, silver and even infrared. They are only allergic to few things such as, salt, tobacco, perfume, limestone, neem oil...etc.
After trekking for 2.5 Kms we came across a soothing stream (Origin of Irupu FDSC01310-2alls). Sudhee and Ganapathy bathed in that relaxing stream while others were busy in crossing it. Our prearranged  Irupu guide had his lunch alone in the stream, after finishing his lunch. He showed us the way to Narimale. We proceed in the trail to Narimale. The dramatic view of the mountains that appeared after the stream was incredible.  As we hiked; we found that the mountains were long-drawn-out with purplish-blue flowers. It looked like there’s purplish-blue blanket spread-out on the mountains. The trail after the stream had an ascent of 70 degrees.  We trudged another 1.5 Kms to reach Narimale.

 Narimale Guest House: Virtual Blood Donation Camp
After reachin g Narimale, everyone started to remove their footwear to look for the leeches  glued on to their foot.  It seemed like there was a Virtual Blood Donation Camp Setup in Narimale. Most of them weDSC_0425-1re bleeding, feet and the legs were dribbling with the blood that was oozing out from the leech bitten cut. The major blood donors were Sudheer and Harish. I was in high spirits at that point of time as there was not even a single leech bite on my legs.  {I call it a “Virtual Blood Donation Camp” because that entire place was blood spattered. If a leech bites you, the blood never stops as its salivary glands contain enzymes that act as Anti-Coagulant which disables the clotting ability of blood. The blood only stops oozing out once the Anti-Coagulant runs out of the leech bitten cut}. Well, I didn't want to post all the leech bitten images as the images are graphic.

Munikal Caves:
Later, after cleaning the blood, we decided to have tea using the utensils available in Narimale Guest House and then proceed to visit Munikal Caves (3 Kms from Narimale). The guide utterly denied taking us there after 5:00 PM. So, few of us decided to go to Munikal Caves without even having a tea. As the niImage1725-1ghtfall was impending on us, we had to trek faster to Munikal Caves. Not sure whether the guide took us in a right path because it seemed like the distance to Munikal Caves was more than 4 Kms from Narimale which is supposed to be 3 Kms. Even though most of us didn’t like the Caves, all of us irrefutably were impressed with the trek route as we were divulged to the mountains, the grasslands; the clouds were passing right in front of us.  The Visibility was merely 50 meters. As th is trek was swift, and due to low light, I didn’t have enough time to look at my feet and remove the leeches. So, even I was bitten but not to Sudheer’s, Harish’s and Manjunath’s mark. After reaching back Narimale at 7:30 PM. We removed our shoes and got rid of all the leeches from our legs but the bleeding never stopped. Thanks to Jagadish, Sudheer and few other members of our troop for staying back and preparing food for us. We had Noodles and Chapathi/Curry prepared by few of our bighearted trek comrades and also thanks to Rajesh for bringing variety of victuals including some kind of onion sauce (Made in Dubai according to him :-)) which went well with chapathi as a fine combination.  After having food we had a gathering. I dozed off in the gathering after my introduction. I know, I remorse for it. It went for 1.5 hours then we all went for a nod off.

Brahmagiri Peak: Reach the Pinnacle
Next day, we all got up at 6:00 AM and got freshened up in a rivulet that flows 250 Meters from the Narimale Guest house.  My therapy for the leech bites was simple, for most of us the blooDSC01132-1 d flow had stopped.  However to clean the clotted blood at my legs, I stayed in the stream for about 15 minutes. There were also fishes which cleansed my legs by gobbling the desiccated blood came out of the body. The wounds were clean. Freshening up took around 45 minutes, soon after that we started to trek to Brahmagiri Peak which is 5 Kms from Narimale. Harish, Raghavendra, Santan and Lavanya stayed back in Narimale guest house. The initial stroll was again a varying landscape. We crossed around 4-5 streams. One of the streams among them was relatively large. We also speckled Elephants and Deer on the way but they were grazing at a very safe distance from us. After trekking for an hour and a half, we reached place where the incline was almost 80 degrees. This was the main incline for Brahmagiri apex; we took 15 minutes to hike this part which is around 500 meters. The Karnataka-Kerala border trail passes on the center of the peak, the North belongs to Karnataka and the South belongs to Kerala the view on both the sides is stagge ring. On the peak, the appearance of the grasslands keeps changing due to the wind blow; we were suffused with the clouds. The blowing wind keeps constantly changing tDSC_0295-1he scenery as the clouds coat the mountains for some time and steadily move away due to the breeze. The day was August 15th. So, we celebrated our Independence Day eating biscuits, fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs. Once again thanks to Karthik and Rajesh for distributing variety of foodstuffs on the peak. We also sang National Anthem standing on the Karnataka-Kerala Border; this was indisputably a distinctive way of celebrating Independence Day. After celebrations we spotted Elephant’s herd from the Brahmagiri Peak. We took some snaps of those Elephants as well as ours from the peak and started to descend.

The Descend: My Unparalleled Experience
As the path we hiked had an incline of 80 degrees for 500 meters, few guys wanted to trDSC01301-1yout a different route. Anyhow, I detrained through the same trail that we hiked, but I descended down in a “Z” formation due to which I was able to get to the base very swiftly. Other p eople behind followed me as the path I took seemed to be easy for them. When I looked back, I see that they were miles away from me. So, I thought of trekking alone. I met the guide and informed him that the group might be little late and started to trek further. I was clearly instructed by the guide to follow the trail that you get only towards your right never take a trail that comes to your left. I was at least 45 minutes ahead than others.

I reached NarimaleDSC_0266-2 and packed my backpack and left to the large stream (Origin of Irupu Falls) to snuff out till our troop arrives. This stream is 1.5 Kms from Narimale. The bathe in the stream was a thrilling and intimidating experience as the water was cool and I was the only one dousing in the stream in the middle of the jungle. I spent around one and a half hours in the stream but the crew didn’t turn up.  So,  I changed my apparels and decided to trek alone to Irupu which would be another 2.5 Kms of trek. While descending to Irupu, lot of “What if’s” struck my mind as I was alone and unaided in the middle of the jungle.

What if I am ambushed by a Big Cat?
What if I am attacked by an Elephant?
What if I am bitten by a Snake?
What if I lose the trail and get into limbo?
What if there’s a Landslide, Earthquake or may be even Tsunami? (You know I am Kidding, at least in this last point, Never mind)

In fact I didn’t get aggravated about those “What if’s” thoughts and advanced towards the Irupu. I reached the Irupu falls safely, got rid of those leeches, and cleansed my shoes, socks, and feet, and dipped my legs in Irupu for some time to stop the bleeding bl ood. When I had my legs soaked in Irpu I thought for a while about t his 27+ Kms trek and got a profound feeling.  I felt that vitality within me. I was astonished to know that the second day 14+ Kms trek was done without a breakfast. I stayed at Irpu for 35 minutesIMG_0490-3 and had lunch at a restaurant. When I finished my lunch, our troop arrived, shared our experiences, also got to know that few of them had a close encounter with elephants. We left to Bangalore at 5:45 PM. Before leaving to Bangalore, there was a team drill which brought smiles in all of us even after that exhaustion. On the way finished our dinner by 8:30PM in Gonikoppa. Reached home by 4:30 AM, slept for 3 hours and was back in office at 11:00 AM. I wish we could have camped on the Brahmagiri peak by hiking to it on the first day itself instead of Guest House and could have visited Munikal Caves while descending from the peak.
This concludes my blog on Brahmagiri Trek. All the partakers were actually Overrun with Oxygen and of course we procured some authentic energy as well.
Credit goes to the organizers and all the great patrons I met in the Trek.

Picnik collageMost Memorable Moments:
The most memorable moment for the team would be the time spent in Brahmagiri peak itself. You got to see it with your own eyes to believe it. Persistently changing  scenery due to moving clouds, the view of the grasslands, the immaculate air, the mountains extending to infinity and much much more. For me though, the time I spent alone in the stream was a terrific experience.

Route: Bangalore>Gonikoppa>Srimangala>Irupu waterfall.
KSRTC buses are available till Gonikoppa, then board a local bus till Srimangala and from there hire a Jeep to Irupu falls.
Hiring a private vehicle from Bangalore is an prudent option.
Permissions are needed from the forest department, contact RFO Pramod @ 9448813835 at-least 3 weeks in advance.
Camping at the peak or anywhere else in the forest is not allowed.
Single day trek to the peak is not advisable.
Trek to Narimale peak is recommended, Munikal caves can be visited once.
Silence is the key for wildlife sightings.
Best time to visit is September to December.

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Written by: Lakshmish (Courtesy: http://lakshtravel.blogspot.com/)
Event organized by: Sudheer
Image Gallery:
Mithun, Karthik BS, Prasanna, Shreedhar, Mahesh


  1. Amazing Write-up and a beautiful place.. wish to visit..:)

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