Thursday, December 11, 2008

Trek to Brahmagiri - from Iruppu side

[December 20

Brahmagiri was very enchanting when we trekked there earlier this year from the Thirunelli side and during that time we had decided that sometimes again, we will return to this place. And little did we realize that the day would come so soon. Probably, the best time to trek in Karnataka is from November to March when the rain gods would be taking rest. We planned to visit Brahmagiri again during the first weekend of December but this time from the Karnataka side in Iruppu, near Coorg. Brahmagiri is a much frequented place from the Iruppu side based on the numerous blogs available on the net. We collected two important points from all such available informations: (a) one needs permission to do the trek from the DFO at Srimangala and (b) the trek can be a one-day trek or a 2-day one with the possibility of an overnight stay at Narimale, almost halfway between the base and the peak. We planned to do the two-day trek and so called up the DFO office at Srimangala to book accommodation at the Narimale rest house but were dejected to know that the place had already been booked. But they told us to come down there and check for the availability as there were chances of last minute withdrawals.

For most of the treks, our team remains the same and we travel on bikes. As always, myself and Kunal were there and this time we had a new member, Samy for the trek. Unlike earlier occasions, when we used to start from Bangalore in the afternoon, this time we decided to start in the morning instead and reach Iruppu, which is more famous for the Iruppu falls by afternoon. This will give us sometime to rest and then do the trek with full energy the next day. Iruppu is in Kodagu district and it’s around 280 kms from Bangalore on the way to Madikeri, the headquarters of Kodagu. Iruppu can be reached from Bangalore by two ways, one via Mysore and the other via Hassan, the Hassan one being a bit longer. Either way, one has to reach Hunsur and from there proceed towards Gonikoppa. At Gonikoppa, one has to take the road going towards Nagarhole, Srimangala and Iruppu Falls. Based on the inputs from one of our friends (who had gone to Coorg a few weeks back) regarding the road conditions on the Mysore-Hunsur highway, we decided to take the Hassan route to reach Iruppu. Although our plan was to start around 7:00 o’clock in the morning on Friday, 8th Dec., it was already 9:00 when we actually hit the Hassan highway at Nelamangala. We traveled at an average speed of around 60 kms an hour and reached the Hassan city bypass around 11:30AM. We need not go into Hassan and proceeded on the highway going towards Mangalore. We took a small break just close to the bypass for a quick tea and hit the road again. Just after 4 kms, we came to the circle where we are supposed to take the left to go towards K R Nagara and further towards Hunsur. The roads were in excellent condition except for small patches which were under construction. We reached Hunsur pretty soon via K R Nagara and from there we were on our way towards Gonikoppa. Around 5 kms after crossing Hunsur, we reached a road fork. For people traveling to Madikeri, one can take any of these two roads. The one on the right goes straight to Madikeri, whereas the left road goes via Gonikoppa and Virajpet. We took the diversion on the left for Gonikoppa, which was around 45 kms from this fork. Very nice village road with open land on either side gave us company till the entry point of Rajiv Gandhi National Park. A brief stretch of road (around 10 kms) inside the forest before reaching Gonikoppa is in pathetic condition with potholes spread out like bubbles in water when you blow with a pipe. We had a tough time negotiating this part of the road and with lot of pain in our hinds and back, we reached Gonikoppa. Samy, on the pillion with me had a really horrible time. But still more was in store for him. After filling our petrol tanks at Gonikoppa, we took the road going towards Nagarhole. The road on this stretch was even worse. It’s difficult to understand why roads inside a forest area are always in bad shape. We took around an hour’s time to reach Srimangala which was just around 20 kms from Gonikoppa. We directly reached the DFO’s office at Srimangala and enquired about the trek. The office bearers in the office spoke good English and Hindi, so we had no trouble in conversing with them. They told us that it would not be impossible for them to provide accommodation at Narimale since it was already full. They gave us the option of doing a one-day trek which would be slightly strenuous. We had no other option and we decided to go for the one-day trek the next day. After paying our trek fees at the office, we started enquiring about the accommodation for the night and we were told that some accommodation would be available at Iruppu which was around 5-7 kms from Srimangala. We had not taken any proper food since morning and all of us were very hungry. We started to look around the Srimangala bus stand for some solid food, but it was not available. We had ice-creams and cookies and immediately proceeded towards Iruppu. We reached Iruppu in around 15 minutes. Except for a temple and an eating place, there’s absolutely nothing in Iruppu. As told to us, we contacted the eating place for a place to stay the night. The temple had a small resting house called the Lakshmanateertha Guest House just close to the waterfalls and it seems only one room was vacant at that time where we can stay for the night. We were more than happy at getting a place. The eating place can provide dinner also if informed in advance. We asked them to prepare dinner for three people. It was already 5:00PM then. We dumped our baggage in the room, took a quick shower and then went to Kutta which was around 7 kms from Iruppu to buy some necessary stuff for the trek. By the time we came back, dinner was already prepared. The dinner was simple with two chapattis, potato curry, rice and sambar. We needed good rest for the trek the next day and lo, we were in bed immediately after dinner.

We didn’t need a wake up call the next morning. Our neighbors in the adjacent rooms were up pretty early and their loud talk regarding the availability of hot water for bathing cut short our cozy sleep. We were ready for the trek by 8 and we reached the eating place where we were supposed to meet our guide. Our guide was already there in full readiness, but we were told that another group would join us and so we had to wait for them. The other group was there in a short time – 5 members in their 40s. We started our trek from the restaurant at 9:00AM towards the waterfalls. On reaching the waterfalls, a path is seen going up towards the right and the guide mentioned that this was the trekking path towards Brahmagiri peak. We slowly started the climb. Having experienced the problem of leeches in this part of the region, we were in full gear. We had realized earlier that it was difficult to repel leeches with any of the available traditional solutions like salt etc. Since the most common path for the leeches to enter into blood territory was through the socks and shoes, we wore 2 pairs of socks with a polyethylene wrapping between them to prevent any chances for the leech to contact the skin. The initial stretch of the climb was little bit steep, but trekking was not very tiring. Narimale was around 5 kms up from the falls. We were truly amazed by the stamina of our co-trekkers from the other group who in spite of their increasing age were able to climb pretty comfortably. Leeches were definitely less this time, very few of them sticking to our shoes. This is the time when Kunal got a novel idea. By some thought he was carrying his deodorant with him and he wondered whether this would have any effect on the leeches. He sprayed the deo on some of the leeches on his shoes and to his surprise found that the leeches became immobile and it was easier to remove them. Life became very easy afterwards. Just spray deo on the leeches whenever you see them on you. The forest was not very thick and the climb was comfortable. Except for few obstacles in the form of thick shrubs on the way and crossing a bridge made of two bamboos with no sidebars to hold, we were in Narimale by 11:00AM. There’s a house at this place, where one can stay overnight if they are on a two-day trek. We stopped at this place for around 15 minutes, filled our water bottles from a small stream nearby and went ahead for the final onslaught towards Brahmagiri peak. Brahmagiri is around 5-6 kms from Narimale. The guide told us that the trek from this point on would be very easy and only the last stretch of around 700 meters would be the toughest. We kept on walking in the midst open grasslands. After crossing around a kilometer or so, we could see at a distance Brahmagiri peak on our left. In the meantime, 3 of the 5 “uncles” with us decided to drop out. They were having problems with their knee. This stretch was more like doing a long walk beneath the open sky and of course elephant dung gave us good company throughout. This was elephant territory and without the guide we may not be in a position to react if at all we encounter one of them on our path. In another hour or so, we were right below the Brahmagiri peak. As mentioned by our guide, the climb from this point to the peak was really steep. It was more like looking straight up towards the sky. At the base, another uncle dropped off citing knee problems. We started our climb slowly up the slope. We had to crawl also in between. We were surprised to see lot of elephant dung on this steep path too. We began to wonder as to how such a huge animal could go up and down this slope. The distance towards the peak was not much, but the climb was tiring. When we completed around 70% of the climb, we looked down to see how far we had hiked. Well, well, the next level of thought struck us. How are we going to get down now from the top? It’s so damn steep. Within a short time we were right at the peak. Another peak to our list. The view from the top was just amazing. Down on the other side, we could see the Thirunelli temple, the place from where we climbed a few months back. The entire Brahmagiri range spread far and wide was awesome. We rested for sometime here, had fruit juice and buns. From our other group, only one person could finish the trek. We started planning as to how to climb down. Maybe sliding would be a better choice with a very low risk of tumbling down, but our trousers would be scraped clean on the hind by the time we reach the base. Finally we decided that we would get down slowly with a sitting posture but with the bums not exactly touching the hilly surface. I was the first to climb down. I found a better technique instead. I started sliding on my shoes with my hands for support and within 15 minutes, I was at the base. Our guide was waiting for us at the base. He mentioned that he has become sick of climbing the peak everyday and so he usually drops off at the base. The others also came down without much of a problem in a short while and we all started our way back towards Narimale. While walking back, occasionally, we would turn around and appreciate each other on the steep climb upto the peak. We took an hour and 20 minutes to reach Narimale rest house through the same road. On the way, we passed a group of 7 students on their way to the peak. When we reached Narimale, we found that the place was full of activity. There were so many people. Everybody has the same urge to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life the moment they get a chance. A big group of BPO folks numbering around 35 were there to stay at the guest house in Narimale for the night. I strongly feel that trekking is probably the best exercise for building teams and enhance interactions amongst people. We rested for around 20 minutes at Narimale and then started our descent towards habitation. I wanted to climb down as fast as possible, so I broke away from the group and started walking down at a brisk pace. I reached Iruppu falls within 40 minutes from Narimale. In another 30 minutes or so, our other friends also arrived. This trek to Brahmagiri was the least troublesome of all the treks we did and we really enjoyed a lot. We bade goodbye to our friends from the other group and returned to our room at the Lakshmanateertha Guest House. During our interactions with the “uncles”, we came to know of something very interesting – it seems there is a Shiva linga just behind the waterfall before it falls to the bottom and during Shivaratri day, this place sees a festive atmosphere with pilgrims from several parts of south India gathering together to seek the Almighty’s blessings.

Our next plan was to leave Iruppu that evening and stay for the night at Gonikoppa. After a quick shower and a small rest, we started our drive towards Gonikoppa. It was getting dark when we reached Gonikoppa and we straightway landed at Hotel Nandanavanam (as suggested by our trekking friends earlier in the evening) for the night’s stay. We dumped our bags in the hotel room and decided to search for a nice eating place for dinner. We checked with the hotel reception and they suggested Silver Sky restaurant just opposite the hotel. Still we wanted to check out for any other better place. Gonikoppa is a small town and all the business activity is dominated on a 1km stretch of road on the highway. A quick search later, the only choice was Silver Sky. We had a sumptuous dinner and a long chat pretty late into the night and finally crashlanded for a good night’s sleep. The return trip was already planned. We wanted to take the Mysore route to reach Bangalore.

The day dawned pretty early for us on Sunday and we were on the road immediately after a quick breakfast. We reached IISc at around 3:30PM and dispersed. Brahmagiri is a nice place for trekking and all trek lovers would like it. We would suggest people to go for the two-day trek and make a night’s halt at the Narimale guest house. You can either take your own food for the night or cook there itself with firewood. The stillness of the night in a jungle with the constant fear of elephants giving company, the stay would be exciting and memorable.


Brahmagiri Hills can be accessed from Coorg on the Karnataka side or Thirunelli on the Kerala side. With a height of approximately 1600 meters, Brahmagiri is well known for the famous Iruppu Falls and the Thirunelli temple and also for the enormous opportunity to do trekking. On the Kerala side, Brahmagiri falls in Wayanad district with headquarters in Kalpetta. The entire Wayanad district is abound with natural beauty and has several places of historical importance making it the ideal place for nature lovers and bhakti tourists alike.


Rs. 300.00 for 3 of us (including guide charges) to be paid at DFO Office, Srimangala.

- Lakshmanateertha Guest House near the waterfalls. They charge Rs. 100.00 per head per night from us. Only during Shivaratri, that place would be crowded. The charges go for the development of the temple.

- Narimale Rest House on the way to peak (5 kms from Iruppu Falls). To be booked well in advance at the Srimangala Forest Office.


Moderate to slight difficult towards summit.

Muthati - A day's outing

[March 2006]

Muthati is a very nice place to go if you want to just get out of Bangalore for a day's relaxation. This place is best traveled on bikes. Go out early in the morning, do a short trek till noon time in the nearby hills with the help of the forest department people (a forest office is available there). Ensure that the trek ends at Bheemeswari, then walk towards the banks of the Cauvery at Bheemeswari after crossing the road, then start a walk along the banks of Cauvery from Bheemeswari towards Muthati. The walk is troublesome due to the presence of several rocks all along, but the cauvery flowing alongside gives you enough enthusiasm to go for it. You can take food along with you and you can stopover for lunch at some nice place along the banks, go for a short swim, relax and then start your walk balk to Muthati. All this can be done easily on a single day. If you are not interested for a trek, then you can reach there around 10:00AM or so and have a very relaxed time along the banks of the Cauvery. You can also cross over to the other side of Cauvery by coracles and enjoy your time there. The only important thing to keep in mind is to carry food with you...

The best time to probably go there is during December and January... One can go during other times also as long as it is not raining. But during summer, the trees are all dry and its gonna be hot if you prefer to trek.

My friend and regular trekmate, Santonu Ghosh again has a great write-up on this.. Do check out the link for some more details on the route and how we spent our time there:

Bandaje Arbi trek

[April 2008]

The trek to Ballalarayana Durg and Bandaje Arbi was one of the most exciting treks we have ever had. Santonu Ghosh has a nice trekologue on this particular trek and it can be accessed at the following link:

For all those people who enjoy trekking, this particular trek is certainly a challenging one and I would strongly recommend them to go for it. In fact, you will love the trek if you take the route from Bandaje Arbi to Ballalarayana Durg where the climb is steeper and also you have to overcome the attack by leeches which are available in thousands... You just can't stop to relax... You have to keep climbing continuously at a very steady pace otherwise you will have leeches all over you !!!!!

Have a go at it, folks !!

Cool Coorg - Trek to Tadiyendamol

[December 2006]

Partners in crime: Santonu and Santanu

Trekologue author: Santonu with some additions and limited editions by me

The same is available also at the following link:

Blame it on Thursday! Yes, because that was the night we decided to disappear from the IISc campus and travel to Tadiyendamol. If you give a google search you will surely land up on hundreds of pages delivering several details about Tadiyendamol. Hence, it is quite evident that the place must be infested with trekkers. It was not good news because most of the times we become busy in collecting the plastics or other junks ‘sensible’ trekkers throw on the way. We had a different plan for the trip, we wanted to travel to Coorg by bike. It wasn’t an easy job since it was 300 km away from Bengalooru and major part of it was a drive through hills. Santanu is an able rider and was too confident about making it happen. Hence we caught a couple of hours of sleep and started out journey towards Kodagu district in Coorg.

There are different routes to reach Tadiyendamol. For the first route one can take a right diversion just after Srirangpattanam on the Bangalore-Mysore highway and travel towards Virajpet, this route goes via Gonikoppal and Hunsur. Once you are in Virajpet you have to take a left to reach Kakkabe. It is near 25 km from Virajpet. Kakkabe is well connected to Virajpet, though Bangalore is not so well connected to Virajpet. The second route is to go to Madikeri and from there you can come to Kakkabe through Nopoklu. This distance is 37 km. Madikeri is well connected by bus from Bangalore and currently the road from Bangalore is in excellent condition. Once you reach Kakkabe you have to look for the Naalkunaadu Palace! It’s not a very big one but this was sort of a mile stone from where you start your trek towards Tadiyendamol.

We took the Virajpet route. Kodagu district welcomed us after we crossed the Mysore industrial area; the forest check post announced the area to be under Rajiv Gandhi National Park.
The road was beautiful; wide 4 track black tar road was tearing apart the green forest which soon ended up in the coffee plantation area. The area appeared to be quite rich; we were in Coorg after all. The beautiful coffee estates were really a treat to watch, from Virajpet the road turns up to the hill and nice valleys started appearing on the screen. Kakkabe is a very small village, typical Coorgy in nature and we reached there around 12:30PM. The Mahindra jeeps and different attires of females will surely catch your attention. One of the admiring sights was to see Coorgi ladies driving open jeeps and going around the place. We did not stop anywhere except for asking for the route, Jackies’s steady hands made the travel a comfortable one. We had couple of plans, either to stay at the hills or reach Madikeri and stay there. Near Kakkabe there are many coffee estates which provide ‘home stay’ accommodation, but most of these places were very expensive. We had planed for one such place called Honey Valley next to Kabinakad post office. The place is around 3km up the hills, and we found it difficult to take our bike to the top, hence we started looking for some other place, There is another place called Palace Estate near the Palace, it’s a beautiful place but very costly for our budget. Then we found a place slightly cheaper than the other cottages. Most of the cottages there bear a sign board but not this one! You can identify it as the cottage just next to a so called resort called Coffee County and named as Twins Cottage. The owners of that place, Mr. Ashok and his wife allow people to stay there and provide nice food too. We paid around Rs. 800/- for both of us for two days. It was a nice place and we found a shelter, now we had to arrange for our next days’ provisions for the trek. We decided to travel to Madikeri. The road which took us to Madikeri wasn’t the kind through which we traveled till then, it was quite worse, lots of hairpin curves, so it took us more than an hour to reach Madikeri. We had a nice lunch there, it was good and cheap, and since we had time we had decided to see Abby falls. Its not far from Madikeri, the road was good and picturesque for the forest and hills. We both had visited Abby falls earlier so not much charm was left for us, still it was nice to come back to find the same place. I came here with our TMS gang, and had a major game session in the open field near the Abby falls, unfortunately that open area no longer exists, there are plantation, it is hard to find that beautiful grass meadow. Then we started back to Kakkabe, it took us 1 hr. from Madikeri to Kakkabe and it was already dark when we came back to the warm shelter.

Thick mist covered the whole valley the next day morning with flesh piercing chill that led us to start for the trek a bit late. The breakfast at the house was quite heavy and we, at once, realized that it would take some time to digest, but again I liked the coffee more. From Twins cottage, we had to travel to the Palace. The road is a tarred one and so one can take their vehicles upto the palace. My imaginations ran wild regarding the palace, but this palace was a small one and enough to disappoint me. So we practically started walking towards Tadiyendamol from there. There was a tar road where it was possible to travel by one’s own vehicle, but we decided to walk; calm, steady and experienced legs were moving at a speed we are so used to. The tar road is through a rain forest covered hill and goes by the side of a small stream; we were thoroughly enjoying the silence. The trek rout is very clear; in fact it is possible to travel by jeep for one third of the trek route. The tar road stretches for 3 km and then the mud road starts, there are diversions on the way but the trekking rout was very much in sight. After crossing a couple of more streams, we could see a glimpse of Tadiyendamol peak at a distance. We were right in guessing that it will be almost 6 km away from the end of the tar road. So we continued our journey on this bright winter morning though the endless grass land with cool breeze and nice sun to keep our tempo up. After an hour of walk we stood near a big stone and decided upon further journey details! You should remember that, at this stone, you have to take the trek route on your right to reach Tadiyendamol. Once we started climbing up, the wind started gaining speed. The chill wind became unbearable after half way climb, till we entered the jungle. This trail for trek never enters the forest except a small part and I can assure you these are the dense most forest in Western Ghats, once you are lost inside, it requires GPS or a mobile phone to track you down. 10 min walk inside the forest was enough to give us this feeling. It was very similar to the one we experienced during our trek to Agumbe. The time we reached near the peak it was too windy. We reached the peak around 10:30 a.m., it was breath taking, if there is a place called heaven, I sure it wont be better than this. We chatted for a while there; gossiping at 1748 meters was a rare opportunity. Airtel welcomed us to Kerala with a full network signal in the cell phone at the peak; it was a worse feeling to be in touch with the world even there. We were told by Mr. Ashok that on a clear day, one can see the Arabian sea from the peak. Unfortunately, we could not see anything because the far sky was full of thick clouds. The wind was not allowing us to sit there, so we started climbing down and planned to climb up the other smaller peaks in the vicinity of Tadiyendamol. It was too early for lunch. When climbing down, you will reach a place where a boundary wall of some sort is there. We decided to climb the hill on the left of the trek route adjoining this boundary wall. This hill is slightly steep, but not a difficult one to climb. Once we were up on this hill, we could see several other smaller hills joining this one. We trekked the hilltops around and had our lunch on a rocky hill top below which there is a steep gradient. It was standard lunch, cucumber! We couldn’t eat the bread or tomatoes we took with us. The breakfast was still going strong. It was probably around 1:00PM when we decided to climb down. We had plans to travel to Madikeri again and spend some time there. It was December 16th, Saturday; we expected several trekkers to be around, but we crossed a group of only 6 trekkers on the way back. We walked back to the foot of the hill and cleaned ourselves in a small stream inside the forest. We reached the palace around 2:30 p.m. Since Jackie was insisting we went to see the palace, it was disappointing and I was happy that now visitors are not allowed inside (it was under renovation). There is a school near to the palace and I saw some kids playing some game, I took the picture, can you guess the game? Hockey!!! Of course and amongst them, a small girl was playing better than her boy mates. Surely IHF will have a morale boosting. The night was very calm at Twins Cottage, except for some noise created by a small group of people who were playing Antakshari outside around a bonfire. We were also in good mood and we also started singing while lying on our beds. The only difference was that we were singing all old Kishore Kumar numbers, mainly the powerful sad ones. Mr. Ashok and his wife’s hospitality again touched us. It was a beautiful experience staying with them. The next day morning, we had breakfast again and started our way back to Bangalore. Jackie’s steady hands on the bike made the 300 km journey like a 20 km one; the tough roads didn’t affect him and his driving much. The bike did not give much trouble either. We came back to Bangalore by 3:00 p.m to witness India’s fight back in South Africa and my usual place where everyone was worried and complaining for disappearing without any information and there was somebody oblivious to all the happenings.


Tadiyendamol is the highest peak in Kodagu district with a height of approximately 1800 m. The nearest village to start the trek from is called Kakkabe. Kakkabe can be reached from both Virajpet or from Madikeri (35 kms) as per your travel directions. The roads from Virajpet and Madikeri to Kakkabe are not in very good condition. The Naalkunadu palace is the starting point of the trek. From the peak of Tadiyendamol, one can have a very good view of the valley and the hilly range.


Route: Bangalore – Srirangapatna (on Mysore road) – Hunsur (take diversion towards Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary just after crossing Srirangapatna) – Virajpet – Kakkabe (on the way from Virajpet to Madikeri) [around
250 kms from bangalore]


Bangalore – Srirangapatna (on Mysore road) – Hunsur (take diversion towards Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary just after crossing Srirangapatna) – Madikeri – Kakkabe (on the route from Madikeri to Virajpet)

Trek Difficulty level for Tadiyendamol: Moderat
e (one – day trek)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Narasimhaparvata - Beauty in the peril

[April 22-24, 2005]

Trekologue Route: Agumbe - Malandur - Narasimhaparvata - Kigga - Shringeri - Bangalore

Duration: 2 days

logue Author: Santonu Ghosh, Metallurgy Department, IISc, Bangalore

They say mid April is not a good time for trekking, but when the spirits are high and challenges abound, one can certainly beat the heat. Our trekking group was a five man army: Ravisankar, Santanu, Kiran, Srinivas and me. For 2-day treks, this is approximately the number you look for. Just before a week of the trek, we had decided on the place. Since our last trip was towards Coorg, this time we planned to go to Agumbe, and Narasimhaparvata was the obvious destination. Our plan was to reach Agumbe, trek upto Narasimhaparvata, camp there for the night, trek down to Kigga, visit Shringeri and then return to Bangalore. Agumbe is around 385 km from Bangalore by bus. Agumbe is a place where the famous “Malgudi Days” was shot. Nearest town from Agumbe is Shimoga which is around 275 kms away from Bangalore. Most of the travelogues mentioned that a guide is a must to trek in Narasimhaparvata and a person named Raghavendra Pai, working in Syndicate bank, Agumbe, helps trekkers in getting a guide and also gives proper information on the route. So, before we started from Bangalore, we called him up and informed him that we are coming, but the first damping response came from him when he mentioned that trekking in Narasimhaparvata is not possible as the place is having naxalite problem and guides won't be ready to take people there. In addition, one has to take special permission from the police also. Still we decided to go ahead with our trip. We had all the necessary stuff for the trek: rucksacks for each one of us, 2 tents, sleeping bags, MTR instant foods for breakfast/lunch/dinner, lots of fruits/fruit juice and a kerosene cooking stove. Quite a number of buses are available for Agumbe from Bangalore. Along with our back packs and enthusiasm exceeding the uncertainties, we boarded the Rajahamsa bus for Agumbe at 10:00 PM from platform no. 4 in Kempegowda bus station on 22nd April (Friday). The bus goes via Tirthahalli and reached Agumbe around 6:00 AM. There were very few passengers in the bus when it reached Agumbe, probably people got down on the way. It appeared that it had rained the previous night and it was cloudy in the morning. around 5:30 AM and as usual we were back to our regular chores. Our first task was to find Raghavendra Pai and it was not very difficult to locate him. As mentioned in several other travelogues, Mr. Pai was on his morning stroll and he welcome us on seeing our heavy bags hanging from our backs. The few things you notice in Agumbe is a police station and a school. Though the meeting with Mr. Pai was pleasant, the discussion dented our enthusiasm. His version was like this: You go there on your own, the place (Narasimhaparvata) has quite a number of naxalites lurking around in addition to the police task-force who are there to catch them and both these groups of mankind can trouble us. Since we were decided to go for the trek, we went with our plan and requested Mr. Pai for the minimum help possible. He told us to go to Malandur village, around 6 kms from Agumbe circle and find Krishnappa who, if at all we are lucky, may agree to take us to the peak. After thanking him, we started walking towards Malandur. On the way, we stopped for sometime and served ourselves with hot idlis in a hotel owned by Guruprasad. We resumed our walk and after around 1.5 kms, we came across a bunch of cops, who were on their routine exercise and they asked us to register our names in the police station which we had left behind. We started our way back. The police station guy was cool and on seeing proper students ID cards from IISc, Bangalore, he left us without much of a trouble. In fact, the coming back from to the police station was a blessing for us since we realized that we do not have kerosene for the stove. After a little bit of struggle we got the kerosene and some other required stuffs, and then started walking again towards Malandur. It's an asphalt road from Agumbe to Malandur and you will surely like to walk on this stretch of road as thick rainforests on either side of the road creates the perfect blend of peace and serenity. On the way, we kept on asking whomever we met about “krishnappa mane” and the distance to Malandur. On one such questioning, the person answered that he was Krishnappa and that he was going towards Agumbe for some work. He told us that he cannot guide us, but he recommended us to contact his brother Thimmappa who was in the village. We were welcomed to the village by the constant barking of the dogs. The village did not look very prosperous and that shows why naxalite movement is gaining mileage there. Somehow, we could locate Thimmappa's house and requested him to guide us to the peak. Initially, he was hesitant and scared to guide us, but we convinced him that we are students and that we have nothing to do with naxalites as well as the police and so finally he agreed to take us to the peak. He demanded Rs. 300.00 for his services and without hesitation, we agreed on the amount. So the plan was to trek till Barkhana Falls and have lunch there, then proceed towards the peak and reach there before dusk. We decided to rest for a while at Thimmappa's palace. From Agumbe we had started walking at 8:15 AM and reached Malandur at 9:30 AM, it was around 6 km. Mud houses, nice sheds gave us a chilling effect before the start of the real stuff. There was a small shop which was opened just in case we require to buy something, We had enough of food stuff along with us, so decided against increasing the weight. Thimmappa was on his chappals and the path was also not very difficult for him, but it was for us! For the first half an hour of trek, the forest was not thick and for the first time I thought probably April is not the time for this trail but I was proved wrong very soon. The thick vegetation started after a while and the defined path slowly disappeared under a thick layer of dry leaves. There were places where it looked like day light has never penetrated through, but water surely does. These are the places where leeches will be ready to welcome you. After few leech attacks we put our pants under the socks in order to discourage unauthorized blood sucking. As we kept on walking, we realised that there's no defined route at all for the trek in the thick jungles and that's the reason why a guide is a must here. After walking for about 2 hrs, we found a thin clear stream under a dense jungle. Thimmappa told us that we are very near to Barkhana waterfalls. We started walking again and after a up and downhill, we reached Barkhana falls, it was 12:15 in the afternoon. On seeing the surroundings, the most important question which came to mind was where is the falls? I could see a rocky river, and then we realized that we are actually on top of the falls. It was a breath taking view! Huge hills surrounding the valley and the river falling from a height of 300 m. We could not see the bottom clearly as it was just straight down. Surrounding the river, there were hills which we were planning to climb, and this sight was really majestic. It was just green all over the place. We had our lunch here. High food value bread with cucumber. We had biscuits that sucks very little water, had fruit juice and mostly some other dry items. We took a nice bath in the river, though it was not very neat like our IISc swimming pool, but the water was good for drinking. After a quick rest, we filled our water bottles and started our onslaught towards the peak. Thimmappa told us that it’s a steep climb and it really was! Unlike other trails, there were no flat surfaces where you can take a breath. This stretch of forest was really the thickest one I have encountered; even if you are 20 meters away from the guide, there was a finite possibility that you might have lost your way in the jungle! Fortunately we traveled without any such problems. On the way up, we met some wild animals also, Kiran told that they looked like "junglee cows", some of us thought they were bisons, finally we settled the matter by accepting that the animals were actually "white bisons". After some distance of steep trek, the forest gave way to a place without any trees. It was a rocky grass land. By that time we had trekked for almost 2 hrs and it was difficult for us to make out the distance to the peal as there was no proper tool with us to approximate the distance. The 2 hrs did not provide us with any flat land so we took a long rest before leaving for the last stretch. We finished the last stretch without much trouble. We had finished quite a bit of water and our bodies started slacking a bit. Thimmappa though did not show any signs of tiring! Before we reached the top, there was a forest office slightly down below. The place was flat and the office was deserted, so we decided to pitch our tents there. From this forest office, there was a way down towards Kigga and on this way, you can find the source of water in the form of two natural wells. The left well was for taking bath (not so clean) and the right one was for drinking water. We reached our destination around 4:00 PM. After reaching there, we bade goodbye to Thimmappa who went forward towards Kigga from where he wanted to reach Malandur the same day. People were extremely hungry and so we lit up the stove and started preparing noodles. Before dusk, we had noodles with gongura pickles (you can't avoid eating some hot andhra stuff when gults are in majority in the team) and boiled eggs, and to be honest it was a superb combination. It suddenly became cloudy, rain started pouring and we found ourselves in the midst of clouds. Before dark we put our tents in place and after a chatting session with warm tea prepared by Santanu, we started preparing our dinner. It was a grand dinner, MTR ready made vegetable pulav, chana masala and ufff, again gongura pickles. It was a full moon night! The heavenly ambience took away all our tiredness we had gathered during the whole day. We chatted for a while and then decided to part for sleep. The moonlight was quite bright and it was penetrating the magnificent tent Ravishankar took. We went to sleep pretty early, it was around 9 and its unusual for nocturnal animals like us who prefer to stay awake at night and sleep during the day. We were all enjoying the night out of the city civilization nose and cell phones, but then Oh no! Not out of Cell Phones! Around 11:00 PM in the night, Santanu’s cell started ringing, it was one of his friends, we though it must be a great Hutch ad line for Air Tel connection - where ever you are our network follows! Night was quite warm. The sleeping bags were of no use. We woke up a bit late it the morning, sun was already in the sky but it was very soft. All the small hills were covered by white clouds with their peaks peeping out of it. As Kiran said, if you look suddenly at them they appear like still sea waves. Our activity started immediately as we wanted to climb down early so that we can spend some time at Shringeri. We had a nice breakfast of Maggi noodles with boiled egg along with a cup of fuming cappuccino. We finished our packing, took lots of water and started walking back It was 10:15 AM by my watch. Our first destination was Kigga, a small village around 5-6 kms from Narasimhaparvata. The downhill way was quite broad and clear, so our average speed was also quite high. There were few nice spots from where we were able to see the villages in the valley. We took around 1& ½ hrs to reach Kigga. Kigga boasts of the famous Rishi Sringa temple and we spent a little while in the temple premises admiring its architecture and beauty. This was the end of our trek but not the journey. It was around 12:00 noon and we decided to leave for Shringeri. Shringeri is around 30 minutes journey by bus from Kigga (around 20 kms). These two places are well connected by bus and tempo. We boarded the bus, it was almost empty probably because it was a Sunday. The road from Kigga to Shringeri was quite good as god has ornated the place with greeneries. Shringeri is a big temple town and you get in touch with all the city effects immediately. First we booked the tickets for Bangalore, it was Rs. 255/- per head and the bus was scheduled to leave at 9:30 PM, so we had solid 8 hrs in hand. We decided to visit the Sharda Devi temple for which Shringeri is famous for. Before that, we wanted to take a shower and refresh ourselves. As mentioned in many of the earlier travelogues, we started our search for the TTD (Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam) lodges, which is supposed to be cheap for poor trekkers like us. That was not too difficult to find and we booked a room in the lodge at the reception of the Sharda Devi temple. The room was enough for at least five people and facilities were also good. We had a proper bath after 2 & ½ days. We went for lunch a bit late. There are lots of hotel near to the temple and you can have lunch in the temple also if you reach there before 2:00 PM. It was now time for a temple visit! Normally temples are the places where people leave the dirt of their mind and make the place really Dirty! Shringeri temple is really an exception, its an extremely neat temple on the banks of River Tunga. The old temple is made of granite and it resembles a lot with Hoysala architectures, although Hoysala temples were built from soap stone. The temple inside was very cool but not so calm. Steps have been made from the temple straight to the river. Tunga was infested with fishes, not the tiny ones you see in the aquarium, they were of the order of 2-3 kg and some are so big that you will feel they can match your size! Crossing the river, there's an animal park and residences for big “Math” guys. After a successful effort to capture the silhouette of the setting sun, we came back to our room to pack our things for the journey back home. Pulled each other for a while and then went for dinner to the temple. The dinner hall was literally huge and probably it can accommodate around 2000 people at a time. The food was not so nice, but still we had the pleasure of dining with 500 fellow citizens! It was dark in the bus stop and we somehow managed to postpone our sleep till we were allowed to enter the bus. Rajahamsa was packed and except the one seat next to Ravisankar, we started our way back. The last thing I remember was the passenger who sat next to Ravi. Next morning we reached Bangalore. Mission accomplished.

Some important details


Bangalore to Agumbe: 385 kms, Fare Rs. 275.00 [Rajahamsa]

Contact person in Agumbe: Mr. Raghavendra Pai [Phone No.: 08181-233023]

Agumbe-Malandur: 6 kms [walk or take a tempo]

Guides for the trek: Thimmappa/Krishnappa [Phone No.: 08181-233213/233219 [speak in Kannada]
Guide charges: Rs.300.00 - Rs. 400.00

Malandur-Barkhana waterfalls: 8 kms [approx. 2 & ½ hrs of trek]

Barkhana waterfalls-Narasimhaparvata: 5-6 kms [approx. 2 -3 hrs of trek] Narasimhaparvata-Kigga: 6 kms [approx. 1& ½ hrs of trek]
Kigga-Shringeri: 25 kms [30 mins. by bus, bus fare Rs. 5.00] TTD lodge: Rs. 25.00/day [booking at the Sharda Devi temple reception]
Shringeri-Bangalore: Rs. 255.00 bus fare by Rajahamsa