October 5, 2009

Conquest Of The Enchanting Kodachadri

Just 2 weeks down after a major trip to Wayanad and suddenly Prasanna started proposing to go for another trip(Since he had skipped the Wayanad trip and was now repenting :P). I was a bit apprehensive in the beginning, so prasanna decided to take all the responsibility regarding the trip and me just playing the supporting role. Initial plan was to go for a single day trip to Kodachadri and spending 2 days in Honnemaradu. But because of the weekend rush we could not find any slots available in there. Also because of the same reason we could not find any bus tickets on Thursday night(1st Oct, since 2nd Oct is a national holiday). This resulted in drastic change of plans and resulted in 2 days plan to kodachadri. Booked the tickets for friday night to Kollur even though there was a lot of confusion resulting in booking and cancelling done every other minute. Also called the Bhatta’s mane in kodachadri and booked the accommodation for the night, since the Govt PWD guest house was undergoing some renovation work. Anyway in the end 6 people were confirmed for the trip (manju,prasanna,shantu,umesh,chandan and myself)

Day 0(2-Oct-2009)

The trip was officially thrown open when all of us assembled at the KSRTC bus stand in Majestic area. We graced the last row seats making us feel at home (have been gracing these seats throughout my schooling and college years :P). The Rajahamsa bus was pretty decent apart from the occasional "touch the sky" moments gifted to us. After so much of "jhataks and mataks"all we could manage was a few hours of sleep (3.5 hrs in my case).

Day 1(3-Oct-2009)

During the wee hours of the day the bus broke down just around 70-80kms from kollur. Now the group was divided into two, one wanted to directly start the trek without going to Kollur and other which wanted to go to kollur and get freshened up and then attempt the trek. Anyhow after debating, the later was decided since everyone dont have the same storage capacity :P....

We reached kollur quite late at around 8 in the morning against the expected time of 6. Booked a room for a couple of hours and got freshened up. Had one of the worst breakfasts in my memorable life-time at Hotel Mayura having idlis and rasam(ya strange combination). So barely able to eat those couple of idlis we decided its better to leave the place for good than filling up our tummies with junk.

Moved towards the Kollur main bus stand (just around 200m from the temple) in order to board a bus to our trekking start point. Initially we had decided that we start the trek from the Marakuttaka point which was much difficult and via the Hindlumane falls. But as soon we boarded the locals told that climbing via the Marakuttaka point at this point of the rainy season was a very bad idea and its better to climb via the Karakatte point. So taking the locals advice we decided to climb via the later. The ricketty bus was filled to the brime and we moved from the Bus stand.(and to the bad luck of some we again got the back seats :P )

Got down at the Karakatte point and a milestone gave the distance to Kodchadri as 10km. We were joined by another group from Bangalore. No soon as we got down the bus we started applying all sort of anti-leech agents(tobacco, calcium carbonate, lime juice, eucalyptus oil) on our legs,shoes and what not ;). The other group which came with no such preparation were staring at us in some sort of ridicule. And off we started on this route at around 11.30 a.m..

The initial part of the trek was a jeep track leading to some place other than Kodchadri.

This path was flat with very decent gradients and passing through dense forested area. It was a very good experience passing through the rain soaked dense jungle. But we had a bigger surprise in store for us. Within 5 mins of the trek we had a first sighting of the dreaded leech. The first one had got stuck to prasanna’s shoes. As we stopped to clear that we could find a lot more of its buddies crawling towards us. Hence started the race against time. We walked continuously without taking a break, never stopping, never sitting, never giving the leeches the opportunity, or so we thought.

We caught up with the other group. Now they were freaked out like hell, having been attacked by the leeches mercilessly. The leeches have a tendency of climbing on the souls of the shoes and then working their way to the top……to achieve their ultimate goal…..human blood….. For every step we kept we would find a couple of leeches sticking to our shoes, with a lot more, less fit leeches trying to climb :P….

Anyway because of all the preparation we had done we had very few bites so far….So far only Chandan got one bite. Anyway after the initial leech scare we gradually started to shift the spotlight from them towards the natural surroundings which we were supposed to enjoy in the first place. The trek was very good, greenery everywhere, lawns of grass…..sunlight hardly penetrating through the army of trees at some points. After not so exhausting walk we reached the opening where a school and the famous Santosh Hotel was situated. This opening was completely surrounded by the mist covered mountains. Was a very pretty sight.

Entered the hotel to have some rest for the first time in the trip. There was another group which were descending from the peak and they told that the entire path is infested with leeches more so as we move further. Anyway by this time we hardly bothered about the leeches. Got some sort of salt-sunna solution which we applied on our feet. After having a really strong drink(it was passed to us as lime-soda…….but I really doubt it :P ) and resting for a couple of minutes we started to move further. Now there was the cross-road, the jeep track which veered to the left and a path to the right . Confused as which one to take we went back to the hotel and asked for the clarifications and finally taking the path to the right.

Now the actual trek experience started. We started the accent of the kodachadri peak.But as always it suddenly started to rain very heavily(count is 5 :D). We started to experience a phenomenon we had not experienced earlier. The rain water which was collected in the top of the mountain would rush towards the base following the laws of gravity…….in form of small, strong rivulets. Now we were not traversing along the jungle path but along the jungle streams flowing with such a might that they would even make their bigger cousins proud J. It was an awesome experience. Anyway the ascent was slow thanks to our backpacks weighing nearly 15kgs each and on top of that the around 1-2kgs of sleeping bags. This entire weight was nothing more than dead weight which we were to discover much later.

After the rain we were completed attacked by almost all the elements of nature (fire was the only thing missing………but thinking about it , its better to leave that for good :P ). The initial path was pretty steep and we moved at snails pace, but not resting at any place (you will be knowing the reason for that by now J ). Reached a small opening after traversing through the dense jungle. Here the view which we were able to see was beyond description. Saw a group of trekkers coming down saying the path further up was blocked by a water stream and path was not at all visible.

Now the other group which was following us reached this spot and hearing this statement from the descenders made them nervous. So they decided to return back along with the other group. Anyway the majority of us were in favour of going up and finishing the trip,but there was some murmer within the group to reconsider the ground realities……. By this time Shantu was pretty much exhausted and he was pretty much sitting everywhere possible….following the statement given by a fellow trekker at Hotel Santosh …….”f**k the leeches” :P…..

Anyway after debating for a couple of minutes and making a few calls to the Bhattra Mane(Ya u get Vodafone signal up here and no airtel …strange :P …same it is in kollur)we decided to press on towards the peak. Now we got one opening…….now the scenary here was the baap of all the sceneries we had encountered earlier. We could see rows and rows of mountains covered with virgin forests and a few water falls we were able to sight. These mountains were covered with a hint of mist, not too heavy so as to block our sight….just perfect. After spending a couple of minutes at this point we moved further. The path now was passing through high risk-high excitement-high adrenaline region………….on one side was the beautiful mountains and on the other were the sure death drops. So moving slowly we moved to a point where started to sight the Kodchadri village at some distance even though in different mountain shoulder.

Exhausted, we moved slowly again we entered a dense jungle. By the time we came to another clearing we were able to hear jeeps sounds. So sensing the trek (at least the difficult part) was about to end we pressed on after having snack break (first and the last one.....ate apples….felt like hadn’t eaten in the thousand years :P ). Finally we reached Kodchadri at around 4.30 p.m. a good 5 hr trek.

After posing for a few victory snaps we went directly to the Bhatta’s mane. Now this guy gave a good shock. Even though he had accepted that he would provide accommodation and food for the night he was now backtracking saying it was not possible since the roof of the house was leaking. Anyway since jeep service was available and we having no other option ,we booked one for 7.30 pm to get us back to Kollur and dumping our luggage(at this point it was clear that the carrying of our luggage on the entire path was of no use L ) at bhatta’s house and proceeded towards the peak. Now this path was infested with tourists instead of the leeches since they had taken a jeep directly to this point.

We had hoped to catch the sunset on top of the peak but the entire peak was covered with mist giving the visibility to more than a few meters. As we were climbing we saw a sign board saying the directions to another spot Ganesh Guha with some 20-30 meters detour. This spot had a Ganesh idol inside an overhanging rock. Hence the name Ganesh Guha. Anyway we moved towards the peak. There was a mantap on the peak believed to be the place where Adi Shankaracharya had meditated. View wise there was nothing visible because of all the mist. By this time Manju and Shantu discovered that they too had been bitten by a leech long back in the medieval period :P.

When we started to descent towards the Bhatta’s house it was getting dark and we had to use torches to reach down. Time was around 6.45 p.m. So happy that we had to wait only for 45 minutes we started to kill time in the open. Slowly time moved to 7.45 and there was no sign of the jeep. We called the owner and he informed us that he has already dispatched the jeep. So we waited and waited…in the cold…..wind…..mist …freezing…..and to our bad luck it started raining again……Anyway after waiting for nearly 3 hrs in this inhospitable conditions the jeep finally arrived.

The driver told that the jeep had got stuck at one point while climbing up and they had taken all this time to cross it. Anyway as soon as the jeep arrived dumped all our heavy luggage into the jeep and jumped into it. I was sitting in the end of the back seat.

Although I consider my stomach to pretty tough having undergone through rigorous testing in all the rides of wonderla, essel world etc with flying(or non-flying :D) results, here while riding in the back of jeep driven a near maniac in a close to nothing road, my stomach started to give me weird signals. I had thought the roads to my maternal grandparents house to be worst of all…….. but this Kodchadri route made the former to be considered a minnow.

Anyway after clenching my stomach not to throw up we reached at around 12 in the night. We were put up in an expensive lodge with hopeless facilties since we had turned up so late in the night and we didn’t have any patience to search for some other cheaper and better hotels.

Had a dinner of Lays,Kurkure,Biscuits etc……..hence completing the entire day without proper food L. Had a refreshing cold water bath before going to sleep.

Day 2(4-Oct-2009)

After an exhausting and tiring previous day this day was pretty much chilled out. Got up late in the morning at around 9.30 , had a bath and went directly to the temple. Had one round of darshan and Shantu made us to go for another round of darshan, testing some peoples patience :P. Anyway by the time the second darshan was over the time was around 12 and there was no point in having a breakfast. So off we went to have the prasadam lunch served by the temple. Had a proper meal/food after nearly 39hrs……the lunch served in the temple was good.

Anyway after having our lunch we returned back to the hotel room and chilled out a bit……doing time pass enacting a drama and so on. In the evening we went and lazed by the banks of the river Soorpanaka. Visited another Guha temple nearby.

Came back and packed our luggage in order to catch the 7 O’Clock bus to Blore. But now there was some confusion regarding where does the Bus actually stop. I expected that it would stop at the Bus stand(simple logical reasoning :P) but it was not so. It was waiting in front of the temple………..Anyway Shantu became very happy(atleast he was from inside) when he got a female co-passenger……..maybe he had prayed for the same when he went for the second round :D.

Reached at around 5.30 am the next day bringing to end the Kodachadri adventure.

This was a one of the more memorable trips which had tested our nerves in extreme conditions. Be it rain, wind, leeches and what not. As Chandan had rightly put it.......It was more like a boot camp for some army commandos, carrying nearly 17kg of dead weight and traversing through a highly inhospitable jungle terrain. The results of the boot camp???????.......well we passed it with flying colours.....I am sure about that :P.

Total Trek Distance-> ~14km

Total Cost Per Person(including bus travel,food,lodging)-> 1.7k

Bhatta's Number-> Rajendra Bhat -> 9242892299



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