June 17, 2011

Brahmagiri : A "Wet, Wetter, Wettest" Ride

Along with the change in season, changes the character and the mood of  the Nature. And its always fun to explore nature in all its forms and we usually make it a point to have atleast one trek in every season, be it rain, sunshine or chill zones. Within a week of monsoons hitting the west coast and Karnataka we were all set for the 'Monsoon Trek ,2011' (2010: Kumaraparvatha, 2009: Kodachadri), and Brahmagiri (1608 m) was our choice. The  reason being this trek is reasonably easy in normal sense(read post monsoon, winter etc) and it has got a forest guest house enroute, a permanent shelter so that we wont have to slog out getting drenched in the rain during the nights. Quite shockingly initially there were 18 people ready for a monsoon trek which somehow in the end normalized to 12 (Prasanna, Manju, Raghu, Umesh, Subith, Prashanth, Shashi, Shravan, Harish, Jenny, Sai and Myself)

Day 1 : June 11, 2011 (Irupu Temple- Irupu Falls - Narimale Guest house ---> 5 kms)

Bcoz of the huge count we thought it was more economical and comfortable to book a private vehicle all for ourselves and we ended with a 18 seater mini  bus. Since the distance to Srimangala from Bangalore is just 250 kms we decided to leave quite late in the night and we left Bangalore only at 12.30 am with everyone picked and tucked in their respective seats. Had a not so comfortable sleep thanks to bed bugs. We took the route of Blore-Srirangapatna(Bypassed Mysore)-Hunsur-(Virajpet Route)Gonikoppa-Srimangala-Irupu Temple. The deviation route after Hunsur towards Virajpet was potholed and the bus kept jumping over them like crazy. Reached Srimangala at around 7am and started to wait for the forest officials to arrive. Meanwhile had our Breakfast at a nearby shanty hotel and finished our morning chores at a nearby guest house, where shockingly the bathrooms where humongous, nearly 12*12 feet size :P. 

Finally the forest guards arrived at around 9 am and we got our permission , but with one catch : that there is one stream which might be pretty strong in the this season and already 2 teams have previously returned back from this stream this season. This somehow made us to rethink our plan, but in the end we decided to proceed with it, the main cause for confusion being that the entire permission cost and Narimale Guesthouse rent came to a whooping 7.5K. The costliest trek in South India I suppose , but I understood the logic, more the cost, less will be the tourist inflow and only serious trekkers will be interested. Its more or the less the weeding out process. Also we were the only team attempting to scale the peak on this weekend.

After we reached the Irupu temple (9 kms from Srimangala), the starting point of the trek , the forest officials over there started a drama and started to question the Forest Officers at Srimangala as to how they provided the permission in such a weather , but after persistent effort by Shravan we got on with the plan. All this drama was to get some more extra chai-paani for the Forest Official guide who would be accompanying us. After waiting endlessly near Irupu falls for our guide he finally showed up and by this time we were all loaded up on anti-leech stuff(salt,calcium carbonate,tobacco,zandu balm :P). and of started the trek at 11:30 am. Initial path was through dense leech infested forests and these bloodsuckers were clinging on within no time. Soon enough it started to rain, which more or continues for the next 2 days with some small breaks in between for our photo breaks :). Reached the famed stream which was hyped up by all the officials , but surprisingly it was just a piece of cake to cross it, dont know if we were damn lucky with our timing or the forest officials were lying shamelessly :P.

  Monsoons In Forest

Finally reached Narimale Forest Guesthouse , a house in the middle of nowhere and interestingly all the raw materials for its construction were carried along same 5 km trek path which we traversed, it gotta have been a very tedious process. This guesthouse has 2 rooms and 1 hall, and lighting based on solar energy. We reached this Guesthouse withing 1.30 pm taking just about 1 hr 30 mins from the Iruppu falls. Since the peak was 6 kms away the guide refused to attempt the peak on this day and we had all almost the entire evening for us to kill. Played some games to entertain ourselves till the nightfall since even strolling out of the Guesthouse was not an option with the entire surroundings teaming with blood thirsty leeches. The entire night it rained and rained. It was quite reassuring that we were inside a warm and cozy structure and not out there getting drenched in the rain water, which we might confuse with something else in our sleep :D.

Narimale GuestHouse
Also the guide informed us tat recently all trekkers who seek to trek from Kerala to Karnataka and vice versa  along the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary are never given permission due to some dispute and therefore permission for Karnataka side to Munikal Caves (in Kerala) is never entertained. Hence out goes our plan of exploring these caves. There is a small rivulet which flows pretty close to the GH, which being the main source of water for the GH.

Day 2 : June 12, 2011 (Narimale Guest House - Getting Lost(2kms detour) - Brahmagiri Peak - Narimale Guest House - Irupu Falls - Irupu Temple -----> 19 kms ) 

At 6 am our Guide woke us up saying we have to start early to order to scale the peak, since the rain had subsidized a bit. We were leaving back all our luggage at the GH since we had a long day ahead. We had expected the 6 km route from the GH to the Peak to be completely in grasslands and hence we wrongly assumed that we wont be bothered by leeches and hence no one took any precautions and this was probably the biggest mistake of the day. In the end we had a blood bath with some even getting 30 odd bites :P. (read Prasanna :D). Even in the grasslands the leeches were thriving bcoz of the total absence of sunlight. 

Kerala Checkpoint In View
The grasslands had become more or less marshlands with such heavy rains. Walking through these marshlands pretty much brought the memories of childhood when we used to splatter water puddles by jumping into it."SPLAAAAT !!!!!". With such heavy rainfall the sun dried grasslands had a transformation to lively green within a matter of weeks , giving us awesome views. At some point walking through the grasslands everyone got distributed with Manja taking the wrong but logical route(hence without a guide) and all of us following him. This route headed towards Kerala border and man this route had both beautiful,breathtaking views and highest density of leeches anywhere in the trek, more or less in "femme fatale" kinda situation :P. When we were wandering in this route like a headless animal our guide appeared from nowhere and pulled us back to the main route. Later he informed that anyone wandering into Kerala Border will be detained and will have to take the motored roadway back to Karnataka and not the trek route. During the time when we were lost and roaming aimlessly the the team which were on the right path caught sight of 2 elephants grazing at a distance, and from the number of droppings we came across it can stated easily that there is a high density of  tuskers in this wildlife sanctuary. 

The Peak

The Climb
Finally back on track and the we were getting some good views of the grasslands, pretty much to infinity and thus came into view the Brahmagiri peak , which from below doesn't seem that difficult or steep at all. Infact the first impression is that its just a piece of cake , but the last section has the most difficult gradient of the entire trek. A nearly 65-70 degree upright climb and thanks to the incessant rains this part was damn slippery. After 20 min session of struggled climbing we reached the top .....and to noone's surprise there was no views thanks to the mist :P. Infact we were the first team to reach the top since the monsoons hit.... "1st team to successfully scale Brahmagiri peak in monsoons 2011"... sounds heroic :D.

At The Top
Group Snap - Minus Prasanna
 The climb down from the immediate peak was much difficult, with almost all slipping and falling down atleast once with Jenny even pulling a muscle. The return journey back to the Guesthouse was eventless apart from regular rainfall and de-leeching activity. Reached the Guesthouse, quickly packed our belongings and started the return journey to civilization. As we neared to the Iruppu falls our guide decided to fatten his wallet and took an extra baksheesh from 2 separate groups , more or less double crossing us :(. 

Iruppu Falls
 Reached the falls and there we unloaded our trekking gear and more importantly removed our shoes, and seeing the bloodied legs,hands etc the normal tourists to the falls got freaked out and some of them ran helter-skelter without even visiting the falls :D. In the end my leech bites just made it to the double digit mark and for others it varied from 1 to 32. Had a refreshing bath at the falls , in ice cold water and walked the last 1 km barefoot , which believe me is a very painful affair.

    [Through the Marshlands.. baccha style :P]

Boarded the bus and started the return journey back to Bangalore. Had lunch at a Kamath Hotel in Gonikoppa which was quite good and reached Bangalore and my home at 11.50 pm. Hence completed the last major trek before my college starts , resulting in no such trek/trips atleast for me in the next 3 months :(. Recently read a quote from  George Mallory(1886-1924) when asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest and his reply was simply "Because It's There". This 3 letter quote has made itself as the "most famous three words in mountaineering"  and more or less our motto to keep conquering more and more peaks :).

The Path To Enlightenment

Trek Details --->

Total Trek Distance --> 24 kms (including the 2 km detour)
Difficulty Level ---> Intermediate (In Monsoons and bcoz of the steep & slippery final section) else Easy in other seasons.
Total Cost Per Head --> 1800 bucks
Srimangala Forest Office Contact No ----> 08274246331, 09481989970
Mobile Signal Info---> BSNL/Vodafone at falls, BSNL/Airtel at guesthouse

Snaps Link ---->


  1. Sooper trek mom idantu....even better in monsoon....the last part of hike to the peak is full benki :-) Nice Snaps.

  2. second video has come nice.. sound is appearing as thunderstorms!!

  3. @Chethan : Ya maga... Last section full benki :D
    @Jenny : Thanks le... not sure whether they are actual thunderstorms :D

  4. Super write-up!!! Chethan...We making to happen this weekend..


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