Friday, September 26, 2008

Kodachadri trek

After the Sarpass trek in May there was a lull in our trekking activities. It is not that we were short of any plans, but at the last moments, we found the number of drop-outs reducing the team size next to nothing. So finally when the trek to Kodachadri was planned, we decided to book the tickets 4-5 days in advance without giving the option of canceling the tickets. This ploy worked and four of us (Krishna, Radhesh, Pradeepa and Myself) boarded the 8:30 Rajahamsa bus to Kollur on 19-09-2008. Unfortunately we found ourselves gracing the back seats of the bus and the night turned out to be a roller coaster ride.
Finally in the morning the bus reached Nittur(Some 22 Km before Kollur) at 6:30 and broke down. We knew this place to be one of the starting points to the Kodachadri peak. Our original plan was to go to Kollur, rent a room and to have darshana of the Goddess there and then to come back and trek, even though the trek starting point is some 18-20 Km from Kollur and falls on the way to that place. But with the latest turn of events we decided to start the trek directly. We got down from the bus and bought Lemons, Offerings for the Leeches. After making some enquiries we came to know that the path from Nittur is difficult to trek without a Guide, for at least this time of the year. The alternative was to start the trek from Karakatte. This place was around 5 Km from Nittur, and as we were thinking of how to get to that place, Our bus started on. So we climbed in to it and got down at Karakatte, The conductor knew the place. This place is approximately around 16-17 Km from Kollur.
Before embarking we applied the lemon juice on to our feet, this proved to be a very effective solution resulting in zero leech bites for me. The trek route is through a Jeep track for the next 3-4 Kilometers. But this is not the jeep track to the Kodachadri peak, This leads to some other place. But we knew the deviation is not until we reach the Santhosh Hotel. The trek begins in a dense forest and then slowly we start getting lush green, lawn like open spaces. The terrian becomes very friendly by the time we reach the hotel. Throughout this whole trek there was complete greenery every where, cooling the eyes and bringing a sense of peace to the mind.
It took us about an hour to reach the hotel. At the Hotel we ordered Dosa and Tea, By this time the clouds had gathered overhead and there was heavy rainfall, but luckily it lasted for only 15 minutes. We moved on after the rain stopped and after just a few meters from the hotel we came to a fork, One leading up into the forest and the other being the Jeep track continuing on. We were unable to decide on the route and so went back to the hotel to ask for directions. Finally we came back and took the right path moving up the hill.
Now again the path was through a thick forest and the number of leeches here were more. After a walk for more than half an hour through the stifling humid conditions we broke open into an open space, which was a relief. For the most part from there on, the trek was through grasslands and we started getting some fantastic views. We reached the Guest house by around 12 noon. There were a couple of homes beside the guest house, which provides food and also space for sleeping. We decided to order our lunch at one of the place and unloaded our bags in the house and went for the peak.
The path from the guest house to the peak is really beautiful, providing for some fantastic views. But the flip side is, there will be lots of people, as a jeep track is present till the Guest house, people who come to Kollur usually make it a point to come to Kodachadri also. Unfortunately this is not a situation a trekker would like to encounter after spending so much of effort to be lost in nature and it's beauty. We visited the Ganesh gufa on the way to the top, and also encountered a group of college students sitting and drinking out in the open. I was filled with indignation as to how people can waste their life and health in this fashion.
The peak has a small temple dedicated to Adi-Shankaracharya as it is said that he had meditated here. We relaxed at the top for some time, taking in the view and fresh air. Finally, made our way back to the bhattare mane. All these trekking years has taught us one thing, that is a good long trek will tell you how beautiful a meal can taste. After the heart fulfilling meal we decided to take a jeep back to Kollur rather than trek back through the forest. We also decided against staying for the night here as it would not serve any point due to the cloudy weather. This in turn would not give us a glimpse of the sunrise or sunset. The decision to take a jeep in fact turned out to be a bad one ,considering the condition of the jeep track which was really hopeless, It was by the sheer skill of the driver that we found ourselves alive in Kollur.
The Hotel we put ourselves in Kollur was Mayur lodge. The rooms here were pretty spacious and clean. The next day we went to the temple and sauntered of the time in Kollur before catching the 7:00 pm bus back to Bangalore that night.

Info for the trek

1) Karakatte is the starting point for the trek, though it seems there are other routes. Karakatte is on the way from Bangalore to Kollur and the trek can be begun without going to kollur.
2) Jeeps are available from Nittur for those who are not interested in trekking.
3) In this time of year, September, water is not a problem at all. There are many small streams you will encounter.
4) The best solution for leech bite prevention as we came to know during this trek was lemon juice.