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Travelogue- Kumara Parvata

I am quite new to Trekking in general, but I just love the idea. I went for a medium difficulty trek in Feb 2015, that being the first ever trek for me. It was near Kudremukh range- Dudipe and Elaneer falls. It was a fun filled trek with waterfalls, bouldering, night trek, camping under clear star lit sky and making friends with so many like minded people ( believe me! That’s very hard for a person like me!).

During that trek, I was told that Kumara Parvata is one beautiful as well as difficult trek. Guess who added this to her wish list immediately! ( No brownie points!!)

I joined the Hydventura Trek group. You can check their website or subscribe to their fb page and you’ll keep getting updates about the treks they plan. The group was started by Infoscions apparently but  It is open to everyone. As soon as I got to know of this plan for October 2-4 weekend, I immediately made a few mandatory calls ( To home ofcourse! I still need to get permission and all that!), transferred the trek amount, blocked my calendar and was waiting for this long weekend to come.

Breathtaking View from Kumara Parvata Peak

Breathtaking View from Kumara Parvata Peak

About Kumara Parvata

Also known as Pushpagiri , the highest peak in the Pushpagiri wildlife santuary in Western Ghats in Karnataka.It is the 3rd highest peak in South India, highest being Mullayangiri/ Baba Budangiri( Also in my wish list).

Its altitude is 1,700 Mtrs ( or approx 5,700 ft). We covered the trek in 3 parts.

Day 1, 2 Oct 2015 : 6 km trek to reach Battru- Mane base camp from Subramanya village side.

Day 2, 3 Oct 2015 : Start trek of 6-7 km to KP peak crossing Seshagiri mountain. Camp at Pushpagiri Peak

Day 3, 4 Oct 2015: Descend KP from Somwarpet side

DAY 1- The Start of the Legendary Trek

We started the trek in a group of 21- mix of souls from Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai.

Me and 3 other friends left Chennai on 1st night in SETC bus from Tambaram, to reach Bangalore Shantinnagar by 5:30 AM. The meeting point was at Majestic railway station, from where we were to start in a booked vehicle by aorund 6:30 AM. As usual, people from Bangalore were late to start and everything got delayed. We eventually left from station at around 7:30 AM.

Chennai folks had breakfast in railway station itself. Always have  good meals to keep your body energized and drink lots of fluids. However, do not luxury and proper sanitation in these plans. Eat proper but not in excess. Keep your body hydrated throughout.

We all left from Majestic station and started in our booked vehicle towards Sakleshpur village. Everyone else had breakfast at New Agarwal Bhavan in HMT main road. We left from there by around 9 AM.

By the time we reached Sakleshpur, it was nearly 1 PM. Tired that we were after playing cards and Dumb C and random chit chatting in bus, we all hogged meals and dosa and idli at Hotel Srinivas ( in Sakleshpur market area). Th food was decent and was cheap. We made sure we all sufficient water bottle. Ensure to carry minimum 2 L water with you as availability of running streams in KP is less and you find it only near base camp.

We stated after lunch and started base of Subramanya temple where all of us changed to comfortable clothes, packed our trek bags, left unnecessary items in vehicle itself ad started the trek by around 4 4:30 PM. We were accompanied by a local guide till base camp.

The forest is full of leeches.To remain safe, buy coconut oil and tobacco powder, mix and apply on all sides of your shoes. It acts as excellent repellent for leeches. Volini sprays on hands and legs will keep you safe too. While you are trekking, ensure you check your shoes for any leech whenever you’re halting. Also, try standing on a rock rather than wet ground when you’re not walking.

We started walking along the trail with the help of our guide. In a group of 21, it is natural for some to be fast and some to be very slow. Always ensure to stay close to each other and divide your group so that we have strong leading embers in the front as well as the back.

The initial 6 km of this trek is quite steep with brief periods of flat ground in between. It will be tiring. However, take deep breaths, drink as much water as possible and keep walking so as to reach base camp before it is too late.

Since we started the trek late evening  and the forest being dense, it was dark soon and we had to use our torches to move ahead. Carry extra batteries and do not waste torch power when it is not necessary. The path is pretty straight forward and chances of getting lost is pretty low. However, the person or the group leading the pack should check once in a while if he’s able to see everyone following. The benefit of being in the quiet forest ( except the eerie noises made by birds and insects) is that you can call out names of people in the end to check if you need to halt or keep moving.

We took close to 3-4 hours to trek the 6 Km, attend to the slow , tired and “falling sick” people and reach Bhatru-Mane base safely. This part of the trek was tough more because your body takes time to adjust to the steepness. Also, it was quite humid and dense forest doesn’t allow for much breeze. Trekking at night is just awesome. Gives you a sense of accomplishment even when you’ve hardly covered 6-7 km!

There are multiple places to pitch tent. Since we reached by nightfall, we weren’t very clear as to where to go. Our guide suggested to go further down from peak to find a hut where you can stay and get paid dinner and breakfast the next morning.

Being a long weekend, the hut was full. We found a place near the hut to pitch our tents. The surrounding was practically a dump yard, We somehow found clean areas and camped there. We were given Rice, pickle, butter milk and Sambhar (almost yellow water) for dinner. But I thoroughly enjoyed having the hot rice after a tiring climb!

Day 2- Trek to Kumara Parvata/ Pushpagiri Peak

We slept long hours and got up by 6 AM the next day. Breakfast for our group was scheduled at 8 AM and after freshening up, we had free time to kill. What better than exploring nearby forest and smaller peaks, sit at the top and watch the sun rising through the clouds! Basking in te shimmering rays of early morning sun is something we can never experience in the city.

I took some rare samples of purple and pink flowers which I couldn’t find at the bottom and we came down right on time for breakfast. We were given lemon rice, daliya upma and butter milk. It was not that great but since we knew the trek ahead will be even more tiring and after this, all that we’ll have is packed food, bread and butter/cheese, we ensured we have good quantity of whatever was being offered to us!

We packed our bags and started for the next part of our trek- reaching the peak.

This track is also the most scenic. Since we had the entire day to cover the stretch, we took lot of breaks to take photos everywhere. The climb initially was relatively flat and not as steep as it was the previous day. The view of the mountain, both on the sides and above where we were heading was breathtaking. People who probably had reached almost the top looked like tiny insects to us and it was overwhelming for me to imagine myself over there in just a couple of hours.

You’ll find a few small streams on this route before you reach a Mandap like structure. Make sure you fill in your water bottles wherever you can as sources are quite few. if you wait to do it later, you may end up coming back and ascending again, which is just a waste of energy.

We halted at the Mandap for refreshments- bread and cheese and Kurkure, snacks, dates and dry fruits etc. We had also carried Tang and glucose powder. People carrying 2L bottle usually mixed and we used to share it as and when required.

After an hour long break, we started again. This is where the tough trek begins. The next 3-4 km is quite steep and it is trickier because the altitude keeps increasing fast. After a point, you can only see where you’re coming from and where you’re headed, but sides will be just cloud and mist! Feels awesome!!

Make sure you enjoy the walk rather than focussing on reaching earlier. This stretch will be lush green and the beauty will be at its best!

To reach KP peak, you need to climb Seshagiri, descend and then climb again on to Pushpagiri. They are adjacent mountains and you have to cross Seshagiri to reach Pushpagiri. The descent for Seshagiri is fairly easy. It is again into the forest and hence full of leeches.

The ascend to Pushpagiri is more like bouldering. There is a small stream at the beginning- this is the drinking water source as well. the stream is really small. So ensure you find the right spot to collect clean water.  The stones will be slightly slippery, but the climb is just for some 15-20 min to finally reach the peak.

We all successfully reached the top. It was so misty that we could hardly see beyond a few meters. Also, it was really cold!! After long hours of ascend and descend, we were all really happy to have made it and were looking forward to camping at night. We started collecting dry twigs and branches to light a fire.

Half of us were so tired that they slept for a while on a flat stone, while the rest of us were exploring the different view points. Nothing was visible but we had to be sure where to catch the sunrise, if at all the cloud clears the next morning!

There is a small Shiva temple on top. Nothing fancy though.

Little did we know that soon it will start raining heavily and we hadn’t opened our tents! As soon as it started raining, we all had to run to cover our bags, open the tents and do it as quickly as possible. We spread one tent and moved all the sleeping bags to it. Slowly, we opened all the other tents as well. However, in a haste, half the tents weren’t properly hooked and water started to seep in some of them from sides.

It rained throughout the night and it was slightly risky to be at the peak with frequent lightning. But then, what’s a trek without few risks! Our little gang of 7-8 members were crouched together in one tent and we were playing cards and playing new ( and weird!!) games. Due to insufficient sleeping places with tents getting wet from inside, most of us were sleep deprived. But what the hell!! It was like the coolest night out. Eventually, we all however managed to get some sleep.

Day 3- The Descent

We all woke up at 6 AM, but it was so cold outside that we hardly felt like going up. But having gone that far, we had to somehow wrap ourselves in warm jacket and rush to the view point.

Let me describe the view in the best possible way- Imagine a layer of greenery, then a layer a cloud, then green mountain, layer of cloud again, rays of sun in between and alternate layers and mountain and clouds, mist all around and the sun at top! If you’re thinking that’s how heaven might look, I’ve probably done a good job here.

It was magnificent! We all stood there enjoying the beauty and no-one spoke for next 10-15 min! Then we had photo session. The clouds didn’t fully clear,so there was no proper sunrise pic. It is hard to catch sunrise during monsoons. Jan/ Feb probably will be an ideal time to view the golden mornings on the top of KP. Anyways, what we ended up with was far better than what I had imagined!

By around 8, 8:30, after having light breakfast, we packed out tents and bags and started climbing down from Somwarpet Village side.

The initial part was mostly sliding down rocks. It wasn’t very risky but we had to be careful as the rocks were slippery. Always trust grass more than loose rocks, Step wherever you have a grass patch and you can maintain friction.

The route was fairly easy and straight. We kept refilling our water bottles at streams. We reached the bottom in 2-3 hours where there was a big running stream. After 3 days, it was good to soak yourself in the water and play around splashing water on everyone. We relaxed for almost an hour before we all changed and started again. We had already asked the vehicle driver to reach this side of the village by this time. We made a brief halt at the forest office to grab a light bite while someone made a call to the driver to check his location. It was less than a km walk from here to reach the bus.

We again halted in Sakleshpur market to have our lunch. This time, we found another Vegan place- Hoten Surabhi. Te meals was really nice with variety of curry, curd, sweet, rice/roti, butter milk, sambhar and rasam. We also had option of noodles and fried rice but those who ordered weren’t very happy. Anyways, in such places, it is always better to order something conventional rather than ordering fancy stuff! The meal was really and priced low.

We then left Sakleshpur by around 3 PM for Bangalore. However, due to continuous rains and traffic and our driver who was unsure about routes and was quite slow, we could reach Shanthinagar bus stop only by 10:15, right on time for our bus!

Day 4- Back to Pavilion!

And so, Our wonderful journey came to an end with us landing in Chennai, reaching our home, getting ready and boarding the office bus!

Below are the pictures from mobile. The full set of pics clicked by all of us are yet to be shared and collated. Will post more once I compile all of them!

Things to carry on a trek

Comfortable clothes and change if clothes, shoes with good grip, 2Litre water bottle, a torch and additional batteries, polythene covers to keep your stuff dry, a warn jacket, a raincoat, waterproof bag/ rain cover for your bag, sleeping bag and tent if you plan to camp, first aid kit, specific medicines that you may need, glucose, snacks and energy bars/drinks, you may carry a utensil if you wish to cook Maggi on top!

Mountains, Mornings, Mist and more..

I went for a trek few months back, near Kudremukh in Karnataka.

Below are a few pictures from the trip-

View of the Kudremukh hill

On the way to Dudipe Falls

Early Morning mist in a nearby village

Tea Estate on our way back to Bangalore

Tea Estate on our way back to Bangalore

The below pic was taken a month before the trek at Jim Corbett national Park. The animal is an odd one out here, but look how pretty it is!!! 🙂

Spotted Deer at Jim Corbett

Spotted Deer at Jim Corbett