Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bababudangiri to Santaveri trek

[Dec 21, 2009]

Fact file:

Trek route: Bababudangiri to Santaveri village (Karnataka)

How to reach:

Vehicle: Bangalore - Chickamagalur - Bababudan Hill (on the way to Kemmanegundi)
Trek: Bababudangiri to Santaveri

Let the vehicle pick you up at Santaveri and come back to Bangalore

Best time to visit:Winter

Trek duration:
1 day

Complexity: Easy


The deadline to reach Santaveri village was 16:00 hrs. One of our trek mates, Gupta had to catch a train from Bangalore to Chennai at 23:15 hrs and the only way it was possible was to start from Santaveri at 16:00 hrs. Now, the time was 14:00 hrs and we were nowhere near Santaveri. It looked like we have lost the trail somewhere which could lead us down to the village. We could see some settlements far down, but how to reach there was the question. The valley was steep and thick jungles posed a challenge for us. It was time to take a break and deliberate on the different possibilities. We went up to the highest point on the plateau where we were held up and tried to have a good view of the surroundings. Kottada and Pradipta then climbed to the top of a nearby hill and after a tiring effort found that we could take a jeepable track to get down to the village. The decision then was to go back to the fort ruins which we had left 3 kms behind and then start from there. The sad part was that Gupta was going to miss his train and we can't help it :)

We came back to the fort and from there followed the jeep track down. Probably, this trek route has not been in use as the thick undergrowth made it very difficult to go ahead. But, we had to and also fast as it was getting dark. After crawling through thick bushes, we finally landed on open space and in another 30 minutes of trekking, we saw a gate which marks the entry point to Santaveri. We could see the village quite below meaning that we have a lot of distance still to cover. All of us were very tired and a couple of them were limping. We somehow managed to walk down for another 45 minutes or so on a road filled with lot of stones. Our vehicle was there to take us back home and we were relieved. We freshened ourselves and sat in the vehicle for the trip back to Bangalore.

Now, exactly 36 hours before, we were sitting at Prof. Choksi's lab and were trying to find out a suitable place for a day trek. There were several constraints for a leisure and longer trek. We had only 24 hrs at hand to reach a certain place, do the trek and get back to Bangalore. After considering several options, we decided to go with Kottada's suggestion to trek from Bababudangiri to Santaveri which it seems he had done it several years before and was doable in a day's time. Immediately, a vehicle was arranged and we decided to start for Bababudangiri around 01:00 hrs in the morning. We were seven of us for the trek. It was Rajesh's job to arrange the logistics for the trek. Time passed very quickly, the vehicle arrived dot on time and we were on Tumkur road by 01:30 hrs on the 20th. When I had left Bangalore, there was heavy construction going on at Tumkur road. I found the situation still the same, but we were traveling in the night, so there was not much of a problem with traffic jams. Most of us were in a tired state and very soon, we were transported to the sleeping mode. Kottada and Kiran were the active ones amongst us, so they maintained the task of sitting besides our driver.

We probably stopped a couple of times midway, but I was totally unaware till early in the morning when the continuous swirls of our vehicle due to the winding roads woke us up. We were on the stretch of road between Chickmagalur and Bababudangiri. The sun was just about to rise and the sky horizon was lit in orange. Kots could not resist the temptation to take a few snaps and for some of us like me, we wanted to answer nature's call. So, we stopped for a while to finish our respective tasks and within a short while we were at the Bababudangiri shrine. It was very foggy and very chill. Rajesh suggested to have bread omlette for breakfast at one of the shops around and after filling our stomachs, we marched along the trek path which goes towards Kemmanegundi. It was around 08:30 hrs. The initial stretch of road was tarred and the trek was more sort of an early morning walk. Thick mists engulfed our path and also restricted the visibility off and on. On the way, many of us had to answer nature's untiring and repeated calls and all along we kept trekking. Very soon, we reached a lake on the bank of which we could see a small makeshift temple. This spot was a photographer's paradise and everybody took turns to pose for a few snaps. Thick mist challenged our photographers and it was the right time to display their skills in handling their sophisticated equipment. Right after we crossed the lake, we could see that there was no tar road ahead, rather it was a regular trekking path cut along the side of the hills. Soon, it became sunny and we all had to remove our warm clothes. There were very few uphill climbs and it was a pleasant walk through open grasslands and occasionally through thick jungle vegetation. This trek doesn't seem to be frequented, so the there was no clear trekking path which could be seen. One has to use their sense of direction, a GPS or intuition to move ahead and it is fun. Soon, we were hungry again and we decided to take a break for some snacks. The place was near a communication tower on top of a smaller hill. The diet was as usual a combination of bread, jam and pickles with slices of cucumber and tomato in between, maybe together I think we can call this as the sandwich.

With a bit of recharge, we started our march. We were basically following another batch of 4 trekkers who were quite ahead of us. After an hours walk, we could see that there was no trek path as such, but then at a distance we saw the guys ahead of us, and we thought they were in the right direction. We followed the direction but very soon, we realised that we were lost. We were atop a hill and from there, we could see that the actual trekking path was on another hill which looked quite far. The problem was that there was a very deep valley of jungles in between these two hills which we have to cross. We found out from where we have to cross this valley and barged through the thick undergrowth of the forest and soon emerged on the other side on the right trek route after overcoming a steep climb. Now, it was around 2 hours from our last long break and friends decided to break again for a so called lunch. Again, it was the same stuff. We did not want to waste much time since our deadline to reach Santaveri was 16:00 hrs. We finished quickly and proceeded for the next target and thats the ruins of a fort. Within half an hour, we could see the fort ruins at a distance. We realised that now, we are within our time targets. Me and pradipta were the first people to reach the fort, but once we reached there, we could not see any trek path which could lead us down. We were stuck. We waited for our friends behind to reach us and they told that they saw the other group go in a particular direction. So, we too headed in that direction. The sun was right on top of our head and after eating the food, we were finding it lazy to walk. We kept on walking for maybe around 3 kms when we reached a dead end. There were no trek path at all ahead of us now. We looked around the valley from the highest point and we could see a village down, but how to reach was the question. We spent almost an hour deliberating on the directions we should take. Then, we realised that the group before us had vanished in thin air. We looked all around and at distance, we could see sort of a path which leads into a thick jungle. We felt that the trek route is probably there and then proceeded in that direction. Then we could hear some voices from inside the jungle. One of us went and then came to know that there was no route in that direction at all. Now, the time was 14:00 hrs and we were nowhere near Santaveri.

This trek is a very average trek and is doable by anybody of any standards. The distance is long maybe around 20 kms, but the route all along the side of a hill and I can recall only a couple of steep climbs. The only issue is that people should not get lost. It is a day's trek to cherish....

Team members: Kots, Kiran, Ramkrishna, Rajesh, Pradipta, Gupta and Santanu

Photographs courtesy Kots and Kiran.... That why I am in most of the snaps :)

Till the next one... Adios