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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Nandi hills does not need any introduction its Bangalore own hill station. But hardly any might know that there is a trekking trial to the hills and only handful of them might have trekked this trial.
Picture 001-1Among the selected 8 participants, only 5 turned up at the Bangalore railway station. We boarded Bangalore Chikballapura passenger train that departs at 8.40Am. There was another big group from BASC that was going to trek Bramagiri hills adjacent to Nandi hills. As we were approaching the Nandi station we could see both the Nandi and the Bramagiri hills at our left. It was a beautiful Saturday with a clear bluish sky. Finally we all alighted at Nandi station at about 10.30 Am. We the Nandi hills team hired an auto to Sultanpet, the trek starting point which is around 8kms from the station. The auto ride was good passing through small villages, watching people doing their every day chores. Took the drivers cell number and sent him asking him to be back at the same place by 3.30. The trek started with the customary introduction of participants.
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The trial is a stone stairway used during the king’s regime and most of the trial is intact even now. The trail is shady with huge trees planted along and also has small mantapas at frequent intervals to rest. We started to ascend slowly discussing about trekking, photography and taking snaps of the trail and the birds. The stretch has good number of birds too. As we gained altitude we could see the surrounding peaks and the development (read real-estate) activities happening at the base of those hills was quite disappointing. Never the less we continued to ascend at leisure pace. The cool breeze blowing through my hair made me feel free like a bird. The sky was colorful blending with the surrounding landscapes. Finally after one and half hour we reached the back fort entrance, continued further to find a cave temple, the place was very cool with fresh air. Another couple of steps and we reached one of the Nandi hills attraction Tipu’s summer palace, here onwards we will be seen as tourists.
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team to arrive, finally got a call from them saying couple of them are way too behind while descending and they would not be able to catch the train in time. Anyways we boarded an empty coach of the train and said good bye to the deserted station. On the way calculated and settled the expenses of the trek. After few power naps we could see our train lugging into Bangalore railway station around 6Pm.
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Information to the visitors:
Distance: Nandi hills is around 65 kms from Bangalore. How to reach:By own transport: Take Bangalore-Hydreabad highway, after Devanahalli bypass turn left at Nandi cross, drive straight till dead-end Karahalli cross, turn left and proceed further and then take the first right, you will end up at Nandi hills. There is ample parking space, cars are let till the Mayura hotel and charged Rs 80/car; bikes have to be parked at the main fort entrance.
By train: Take a Chikballapur passenger 8:40Am train, get down at Nandi station, hire a auto to Nandi hills. Return train is at 4:00Pm. Auto charge is around 100/head each way.What to see: Many tourist attractions as mentioned above. Recommended for trekking, macro & bird photography or just a relaxed outing.
Best time to visit:
Any time, winters will be a bit chilly. Early mornings and late evenings are foggy and chilly.Food: At hotel Mayura managed by KSTDC here the food available is lot better than the other KSTDC hotels. A ice-cream and coffee parlor is just beside this hotel. Also at the fort entrance (bustand) there are couple of small eateries.Accommodation: Hotel Mayura managed by KSTDC has 3 double rooms. Rooms have to be booked in advance. Click to Book.
Also the horticulture department of Karnataka has couple of guest houses (currently under renovation) for reservation contact. Things to remember: The main fort gate/s are closed at 6Pm (people who have reservations at hotel/guest-house are allowed inside till 8Pm) and reopens at 6Am so plan your travel as per above timings. Trekking solo or in a small group is unsafe. Do not litter and keep the place clean.
Cost: We spent around 200/head for a days trek.Picture 056-1

Written by: Mudassar
Event organized by: Mudassar
Image Gallery:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

 Kodachadri Trek , Hidlumane  Falls and Arishinagundi falls

The Sahyadris – Its majestic quintessence

Conquering a decent stretch of the Sahyadris is one of the things in my to-do list for this year. And I decided to make it happen despite the odds. I had returned home three days before the trek, after several weeks of on-site work. I was drained out and dead. I pushed myself to prepare for the Friday night. I sighed in relief when I made it to the pickup point. A cute and enthu couple gave me company as we waited for the others to gather. Soon many eager trekkers joined us one after the other.

The mini bus was filled with a motley set of 21 passionate trekkers. With an intro session on the move we bade goodbye to the hustle and bustle of the Bengaluru roads. We quietly chit-chatted and mingled amongst ourselves while some slipped into deep slumber, cautiously, saving their energies for the trek ahead.

Day 1 – Towards that much awaited twilight and the shimmering skies
A bright, misty morning filled with dew awaited us. We woke up to the winding roads with the view of the Sahyadris. Yes, the mighty Western Ghats would be another apt way of referring to it. As we yawned and stretched a peahen and a few flycatchers greeted us Morning!!Morning!!. We were famished and were looking forward to reach Nittur to nourish our souls. But, before that we had a surprise!!! We stopped on our way for breakfast in Nagara and paid a visit to an 18th century old ‘Shivappanaika fort’.

nagara fort sunrise

It was a quick, five-minute hike to the top and it offered a spectacular 360-degree view of the surrounding villages in the ghats. A scattered set of traditional houses amongst the plantations of Supari, Paddy, Coconut and Jowar was covered by a tightly clung chain of clouds resembling a giant puff of smoke from a cigar.

Nagara Fort

Some clicks and snaps for the cameras—a few up-in-the-air and capture-me-if-you-can jiffs from the peppy ladies and we juggled our way through the exit and drove ahead to the breakfast point.
The breakfast was simple and yummy. We gulped down hot idlys and vadas with lip-smacking chutney and sambar. The breakfast point had tender-coconut vendors and stalls selling topis made from quilted-supari leaves fashionably tied at both its ends. We hopped into the bus with happy bellies and reached Markutka in no time. We unloaded our backpacks and tucked in our packed lunch and were all set to go. It was past 9 in the morning on a sunny day. We followed the jeep trail that unwound itself into lush green cover and fresh-water creeks. The chirruping of the birds, the dancing butterflies and the line of trees with its tops touching the skies; it was the beginning of our trek to KODACHADRI!!!!


The trail was filled with Acacia trees; the bark of this tree is used for making paper. As we chatted and warmed up to each other a plethora of butterflies greeted us; yellow orange tip, crimson tip, swallow tail and common castors—were some among the many which I could identify. After some distance of trek we reached a tuck shop in a village that served butter milk and boiled corn. This was a perfect brunch on a sunny day. This was also the starting point to our trek down to Hidlumane falls. The peak looked closer and more beautiful from this spot. It was a post-card shot with silhouettes of green standing tall and still. I couldn’t take my eyes of it. It was an absolute treat to the eye.

hidlumane falls We began our trek to the falls and it was a downward, forest trail with mushy soil. A few miles down the path, we could hear a gushing sound and we knew that we had reached the falls. Many of us bathed under the force of the falls. It was a gleeful moment for many, as we played around in the splashing of the water. Around 2 in the noon we gathered for lunch and moved ahead on the hike to the sunset point. The trail to the peak was clear-cut and was uphill. The sun was at its peak, blinding us at every step. We continued to hike and take short breaks. The magnificent view of the Sahyadris looked larger than life. It was an entire range filled with a canopy of dense forest. As I ascended towards the peak, each step made me wonder what could lie beneath that canopy—may be, wildlife at its exotic best???, horn bills??, flycatchers?? And much more??. I secretly wished for a free fall into the underlying valley..”It could have been another place that I could have been, or could have seen”. Before I hallucinate more I thought I should get back to the trek. As we hiked and trekked we all made new friends and got comfortable with one another. Venu a fellow trekker injured his leg and was groaning in pain. He was escorted and taken care of by Lakshmi throughout the hike.   Only towards the end of that day could I realize this simple but magnanimous gesture of hers. Simultaneously, it also made me realize the human potential these activities can unleash.

towards kodachadri peak 

Kodachadri jeep track 
We had almost reached the peak. The plan was to reach a temple top with a food joint and from there hike up a few more meters to witness the dusk.

Kodachadri as we all know is famous for its setting sun and dawn.

After reaching the temple top we took a good hour’s break. We snacked and rested. Venu, tired and in pain offered to stay back at the food joint. He offered to keep an eye on our backpacks. We quickly gathered ourselves for the last stretch of the day and rushed uphill. The climb was short and we were just in time to witness the shades of golden yellow turn into a concoction of orange, pink, purple and grey. It was a perfect dusk in the quietude of the backwaters from the Arabian Sea. The valley slowly fell asleep as the colors in the sky disappeared giving rise to a galaxy of stars.

Sunset kodachadri

Sunset at kodachadri We decided to have some dinner at the joint and spend the night in the front yard of the Inspection Bungalow. While we waited for the food to arrive, the owner of the joint possessed some traits worth mentioning. He seemed to cast a magical spell on Venu’s leg.

Ayurveda/Acupressure/Blah—strange oils, violent attitude towards the patient etc…but, it seemed to have done some trick. Although I found him primitive and strange, Venu’s condition had improved a bit. However, he was unable to trek the next day and had to stay back.

The dinner was atrociously spicy, but, it didn’t matter to us. It was food nevertheless and that’s all we needed. We soon reached the IB premises and spread out the tarpaulin and fell right asleep.

Day 2 – A day of leeches and loathing, A trail through the woods
We woke up at 5 in the morning to see the sun rise. We had to pack up and hike. It was pitch-dark and I couldn’t take my eyes off the sky. I stared at its brilliance for a while. It was star studded and crystal clear. I could see the Milky Way and the planets shining bright. “Someday I shall make enough money to own a telescope”.

kodachadri cooking

There was hot, lemon tea being made by Jinu and Ravi. I missed out on it while the others gave it a 5/5 for its exotica. We reached the sunrise point just in time and bowed at its glory.

Sunrise at kodachadri
Sunrise Kodachadri
Kodachadri Sunrise
Kodachadri Grass lands

We moved downhill as we had a long day ahead. After a few hours of descent we reached Santosh hotel for breakfast. Post breakfast we began on our trail through the deep forest. We had to reach Arshinagundi falls which was a few hours away.

Santosh Hotel

The trail was uneven and led into deep forest. It was infested with leeches!!!!!!! I have a strong aversion towards them and to top it all, I had coin-sized blisters on both my feet. The leeches bit right in to them and I clambered in pain. They annoyed the hell out of me. I slowed down at several points and asked myself “ why are you putting yourself through this torture? ” . I wanted to scream and flee. I kept bugging the sweepers—Ravi, Suresh and Karthik by slowing down to clean up and shoe away the leeches. I had no choice but to trek.

Way to arishinagundi

We soon reached the falls and they were roaring in full force. Some of us took a dip while the others managed to make space for some fire. We made Maggie and soup and shared the other eatables.

arishinagundi falls arishinagundi waterfalls

We had to hike back the same way that we had descended and I was terrified by the leech trail again. I absolutely loath them, the very sight of it disgusts me. I quickly moved ahead. This part of the hike was the most difficult one. The ascent was steep and long with loose soil and mulch. After a good hike we reached a leveled surface and we continued to walk. The path was filled with bracket fungi emerging from the sides of the damp wood. We walked ahead for nearly 5 kms on a flat trail in the direction of the exit.
We were in the Mookambika wildlife sanctuary area. We passed through the markings in the form of mile stones reading MPCA-Medicinal Plants Conservation Area. The smell in the air suddenly turned fragrant and we were surrounded by many varieties of trees conserved by the forest department. It was 4:30 in the evening and we could see the exit gate ahead of us. It marked the end of a two-day trek.

Kodachadri Trekkers
The bus driver was happy to have us back and I quickly changed while the others took a dip in the nearby stream.
The last bit of our adventure ended on a soothing note. We paid a visit to the Mookambika temple in Kollur. It was an archaic structure with a deepa sthambha at its main entrance. The walls and the doors of the temple were carved in silver and bronze, each having a story of its own. The sight of the sthambha was biblical. It contained 1000 dias which are lit on a daily basis with contributions by devotees. I shamelessly gobbled a few ladoos from the offering counter and took an aimless stroll around the shrine.
With the last drop of energies being saved for a good night’s sleep we boarded the bus after grabbing a quick dinner. To my surprise this wasn’t the end of the day. We managed to turn the bus into a dance floor with rocking Kannada beats. The bus had a hilarious set of lights to complement our energies. YES, They were disco lights!!!! With in no time I could see everyone on floor swinging in fervor. The floor simply rocked till midnight and then we had to finally call it a day. We mulled over the panorama of the Sahyadris and surrendered to sleep.
What a glorious weekend it was!!!!

Writeup by:  Aishwarya

Another write up by Chandru : http://chandropanishad.blogspot.in/2012/10/kodachadri-trek-last-trekking-as.html

Another write up by Raveendra: http://mullukallupustakamatthunataka.blogspot.in/2012/11/the-trek-to-hills-of-kutaja-flowers.html
Kodachadri trekking information:

Altitude - 1343 metres

Places to see around: Sarvajna peetha, Iron Pillar, Ganesha Guha, Hidlumane Falls, Arasinagundi falls, Nagara fort, Kollur Mookambika Temple, Sunset and sunrise from kodachadri peak.

Direction to kodachadri : Bangalore-72Kms-Tumkur-75Kms-Tiptur-25Kms-Arsikere-65Kms-Tarikere-44Kms-Shimoga-70Kms-Hosanagara-15Kms-Nagara-24Kms-kodachadri( via Nittur)
Trek Guide: Guide not required as there is a proper trail till the peak. Arishanagundi may need a guide if you are not sure of the directions and terrain.

Food: Food can be arranged at the hotel before the peak. Also santosh hotel at Valur on the way to kodachadri can serve food. Also you can pack your parcels  from Nittur.

Best season: October to January

Accomodation: Can book the PWD guest house near the peak, or pitch a tent and camp.

Trek permission: No trek permission required for kodachadri peak but Arishinagundi may require as it falls in the Mookambika wildlife sanctuary.

Trek Routes:

All the trek routes end near the temple premises and PWD guest house before the peak.
There are 3 routes usually used,

Route 1: The jeep track which is 15Kms long. There are plenty of jeeps available in Nittur and surrounding villages which can take you through the mud tracks. In monsoons it will be fun and tough to go in a jeep.Negotiate for a better price.

Route 2: Via Hidlumane falls. From Nittur towards Kolur side continue on road for may be 1 or 2kms reach a small bus stop called Marakutka. The Jeep track starting from here Continues till Hildumane house.
There are some different jeep tracks in between going here and there. As a landmark you will see a primary school in between after some time. Take the right track from the primary school. If having doubts asks village houses which comes in between. Hildumane house can serve Butter milk, and refreshed start hilking from there to the Falls.
Also jeeps can take you till the Hidlumane house. In monsoons if Hidlumane falls is overflowing it may be difficult to walk in the slippery rocks and dense jungle trail to peak.Don't confuse with 2-3 small falls, go up little and you will find a vertical falls, thats Hidlumane fals. From there take the right side trail going up. Little steep climbs and we are in the grasslands. look behind and clear day you can see the backwaters.
Continue through the trail in the grass lands which will lead you to the Jeep track. Continue in jeep track for 2-3kms till you reach temple and then to peak.

Route 3: From Karakkatte.
From nittur travel another 6 kms to karakatte.There's a proper jeep track of 5 to 6kms till Santosh hotel, Valur and fromm there needs to take the trail going till te peak. From santosh hotel after food may be 4-5 Kms climb will take you to the temple before peak.

From santosh hotel needs to take a forest trail deviation downhill to reach Arishinagundi falls. Advise not to take this route with out proper route information and guide.This forest route can be bit dangerous in monsoons with lot of leaches and overflowing streams.
Also there's a proper Jeep track route for some extend and a marked trail from the Kollur side. The Jeep track starts from Kollur Mookambika wild Life Gate.
Take permission before venturing to visit Arishinagundi falls.

 Kodachadri – On Cloud Nine! K/4
Kodachadri Trek/2
Event organized by: Raveendra
Image Gallery:  Ashok , Krutika , Jinu , Navneet , Suresh
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Start of yet another cycling Trip after a long gap, I organised for BASC friends with help from Rajesh. Even after organising many treks & cycling events, still I feel the same excitation of my first event. After two cycling trips to Munnar last year, thought of doing cycling to famous Kodaikanal was there from many days,. Finally fixed the event on Nov 1 as we got long weekend, and thought Neelam cyclone will make cycling easy and memorable. Rajesh suggested to take two vehicles as many cyclists were waiting for a cycling event. So after hard work, planning we both did, and finally the day has come to kick start the event. As neelam bought heavy rain in bangalore, it made things difficult. Participants were late in reaching common pick-up point and tieing cycles on top of TT under heavy rain was a challenge. All these delayed our plan by 2hrs, and finally we left Bangalore by 11:45PM!

Day1: Palani → Kodaikanal → 55km

Day2: Kodaikanal Lake → Coaker’s Walk → Pillars Rock → Guna Caves (25km)

Day3: Kodaikanal → Manavannur → Berijam Road → Kodaikanal (70km)

Day4: Kodaikanal → Ghatt Road (Theni→Dindigul Highway) (55km)

I must thank Rajesh for supporting me in all ways to make this event successful and memorable one. Also thank all participants Ajitha, Amit, Anusha, Datta, Druva, Giridhar, Girish, Guruprakash, Krutika, Nagaraj, Naveen, Nitin, Rajesh, Sarvesh, Vinay and Viswanath.

Event Organiser: Ambareesh Karanth
Write-up: Ambareesh Karanth, Ajitha Madan
Ambareesh Karanth:
Rudra Aradya:
Vinay MP:
From Krutika:
From Nagaraj N:

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Event organized by: Ambareesh Karanth
Written by: Ambareesh Karanth