Saturday, March 28, 2015

A memorable trek to Kodachadri and Arishinagundi Waterfalls: Part (1) -- Kodachadri Hike

Read Part-2 here


Just before spring could begin, we thought of hiking beautiful western ghats. It is difficult to hike mountains during summer. We heard that Kudremukh hike has been banned by forest department temporarily due to fear of forest fire. Ever since Kudremukh area attained status of National Park, authorities have enforced stringent restrictions to curb any malicious activities. Consequently, it was decided to hike Kodachadri ranges and if possible arishinagundi waterfalls. This was massive 25km trek till now for everyone. We did trek for 25kms for 2 days covering the ecstatic western ghats of Kollur and Kodachadri. For 2 days we were in middle of deep dense rain forests and enjoyed our time in the lap of nature with beautiful birds, tall thick woods and sometimes wild animals. Fortunately no snakes this time :-). I have divided this write-up to 3 sections to describe individual day activity. Hope you enjoy our experiences. At the end of blog, I will leave some details if you plan for same. To give some heads up, it was self-organised trek and luckily everything was smooth and worked out as planned (Thanks to co-operation from everyone). This time we were four including me. All of the three were my office colleagues and happily agreed to join the trek. The troop comprised of myself, Rajesh, Ashutosh and Balajee. Our plan was to trek to Kodachadri peak and later down-trek to Arishinagundi waterfalls if possible. Arishinagundi was of low priority though but things twisted in middle of hike. It turned out to be favourable and we enjoyed combo offer :-).

We booked sleeper bus to Kollur (onward and return) in advance to avoid ending up in last seats during weekend buzz. Later on we called Forest guest house person to book a slot in Kodachadri. A shocking news of forest guest house closure struck us and we did not knew as how to proceed. One of the blogger had provided contact of priest Mr.Nagendra located in Kodachadri. We called him and he was happy to accommodate four of us for a night. We were enthralled after Mr.Nagendra provided positive nod. Al-right! everything is set now. What next! Prepare for journey ;-). We listed down all essentials and distributed items amongst ourselves. Few things, we decided to pack from Kollur. It was all set for a great memorable trek along splendid rain forests of Kollur.

31 Jan 2014

Being in IT field, everyone is apprehensive of planned journeys. Nobody can even predict instant tremors one could face during weekend. Ours was also no different; Imbroglios continued to haunt till last moment. Fortunately all obstacles smoothed by end of Friday and we were poised to set our foot on verdant rainforest. Ashutosh had reached Durgamba office at Sheshadripuram earlier than us. Rest of three congregated at Majestic and caught up with bus to Sheshadripuram. In matter of few minutes we assembled at the prescribed point. We had light dinner along with fruits and waiting for bus to arrive. In middle, lots of discussion items popped up including the fighter planes, bullet trains etc.. as pass time. The bus arrived at 10:15PM, 15 mins late than scheduled time. We started our journey in sleeper bus hoping for sweeter dawn.

01 Feb 2014

Early morning, no trace of Kollur yet. The bus was moving at snail's pace along dilapidated road from Hosanagar to Kollur. We were relieved as we heard cleaner announcing the arrival of Nittur. From here, Kollur is around 16kms. The last few patches were laid with concrete but it was difficult for bus to glide along narrow hairpin bends. I enjoyed the first clear glimpse of those mighty evergreen tropical rain forests of Kollur. OMG, those tall thick woods just heaven to watch :-). We would be trekking along these beautiful dense jungles in few hours. After negotiating the curves, the bus finally reached Kollur at 7:30AM. We found a room to refresh for 2hours. It seems like the summer has already begun in coast. Consequently, did not have problem of taking bath in cold water backed by humid weather of Kollur.

We checked out from lodge in matter of 2 hours and ready to begin day activities. We deferred darshan of goddess Mookambika to subsequent day. After relishing breakfast at Adiga's hotel, we packed necessary stuffs like water bottle, lunch and some fruits. The day, Adiga's hotel was crowded and the servants were feeble. The hotel caretaker expressed his inability to parcel lunch for us. Later we packed lunch in another well known hotel and ready to start. Around 10:00AM we caught a bus to Kodachadri cross and reached the destination in matter of 30 minutes. This is the end of Udupi district jurisdiction and beginning of Shivamogga district. Here we begin the actual journey to trek. We noted down the time and it was 10:30AM.


We started walking along the beautiful dense rain forests along the jeep trail. The region was under utter darkness even in mid-day Sun. All along the path we could hear soothing sound of chirping birds and enjoyed the strolling along trail flanked by tall woods. Recently the region has been converted to wildlife sanctuary to preserve these beautiful treasures of western ghats. The jeep trail is somewhat straight with manageable ups and downs. 2kms later, we entered inhabited area and it was plain grassland region. The forest cover had finished by this time and we had to  walk along with scorching Sun. We could even see the Kodachadri peak from a distance which was our target! After few kms along the plain road we reached Santosh hotel which was start of trek point. The time was 12:00PM. We had covered 4kms by then. We refreshed ourselves with full glass of tasty buttermilk and few snacks. Rajesh asked if we can obtain a guide to Arishinagundi next day. The owner of hotel nodded positively and we payed an advance amount for the guide. The hotel owner said he would manage the forest permission with guide and asked us to call him before starting the down trek from Kodachadri. This is how Arishinagundi was planned ;-).


12:45PM, we were ready to start the trek :-). For first 200mts it is the plain road and later on we enter jungle. Here starts the steep sections of trail. Now we know the trek trail has begun. From Santosh hotel, its well defined trail till the Kodachadri peak. There is no way you can get lost ;-). Earlier, only few forest portions nearby Kollur were covered under wildlife sanctuary. Recently all these hillocks including Kodachadri peak, the forests of Hidlumane falls carry the tag of officially conserved area. Consequently one can expect tight restrictions enforced by forest department in coming days. Moving on, due to ample time, we hiked comfortably along those steep trails and in no mood to rush. Our tiredness was low since the trail was under thick cover of western ghats. Only at few places, the hike is around 50degrees in angle. All along the trek, we were making sure four of them are together and everyone was in a comfortable position to move further. Being almost spring time, we did not encounter leeches :-). As we reached high altitudes, the weather was getting colder too! Kodachadri peak is almost 4215ft. above sea level. The forest cover in this area is home to valuable medicinal plants and diverse wildlife [especially snakes ;-)].


A healthy 1hour trek lead us to grassland area from where we had to trek under the Sun :-). This was difficult patch of the trek. The Sun combined with steep gradients required bit more time than usual. Initially we enjoyed the panoramic view of cascaded hillocks from here. Later we were profusely sweating and had to rest frequently. Sometimes the ridge is very narrow that gravity of valley tend you to push down the hill :D. The gradients are almost 70 degrees steep at few places. We did have lot of water too! Fortunately after few mtrs of hike, the patches of clouds blocked considerable portion of Sunlight entering the ground. That was kind of temporary relief for us. Toiling our way hard along the grassland, we finally reached the forest patch again. Phew man, that was tiring. Now everyone was hungry and it was time for lunch. We had packed pulav from Kollur and it was OK. Due to hunger, we found it to be yummy since there was no other option :-). We also made sure to carry plastic waste with intention of maintaining cleanliness of western ghats. Even before onset our journey from Bangalore, we had pledged not to litter the dense rain forests with indecomposable wastes.



The 3rd section of hike is along the dense jungle again! This was pretty normal hike with smooth gradients. We also spotted some birds here! Many of these sections consisted of eroded soil land which might have formed during monsoon season. We could even see the trail of gushing water at some places. Once we are done with this section we entered a small field where we spotted wild hen. Could not take pictures of them due to their shyness. Those birds run away from humanity pretty fast. After a small field, we entered the last forest trail and we spotted forest guest from distance. This was quite tough since it requires steep climb. The last 50ft, we unintentionally predicted false trail path because of which we climbed a 80 degree stretch. That was bit adventurous but was unnecessary since easy path was available. We presumed this steep path to be actual trail but things turned out quite complicated for us at the end. After this climb, here we are at the Kodachadri base camp at 4PM! That was pretty much tiring but we were happy to reach the first target. We kept our bags at the priest house and booked our dinner. After short tea break, we started hiking towards peak to enjoy Sunset at 4:45PM.

It was again pretty hard climb towards peak. We enjoyed the cascaded jungles from elevated point. It was marvellous to watch Sharavathi river backwater even! On the way to peak, we visited Ganesha cave temple. It is believed that Shankaracharya started holy pilgrimage to kaashi, Gokarna and Badri from passage located near the cave. Few more climbing, we were at the peak at 5:30PM! We had darshan of Lord Shiva constructed by Sri Shankaracharya at the top. It is called as Sarvajna peetha. Later we sat on the rocks awaiting beautiful sunset. The Sun was dazzling and waiting for its time to set down western horizon. I kept camera for sunset timelapse mainly because of push from Rajesh :-). Few hours later, the whitish Sun cooled down, painting the horizon with beautiful orange splendour. That was great sight to watch along with western ghats. Once Sun set completely, it was time to return to base-camp. We did not visit "Chitramoola" which is birth point of Sowparnika river :-(. I guess we were bit lethargic and not so much excited. Anyhow, one of shop vendors said there would barely be any water there. We were hungry and dinner was ready. We had good meals but was very spicy. Anyhow the buttermilk compensated the spiciness to large extent. Ashutosh wanted to capture star trails and he did it too! Even I wanted to grab some but did not have tripod :-(. We three, fell asleep. The fatigue body had turned us to deep slumber instantly.




We had lot of fun in middle of sleepy night. That was very small room without any light. The priest had arranged mat and bedsheet and we had extra bed sheet to cover us under cold weather. Every movement within room was making people suspicious of reptile presence :D. We woke many times with torch to make sure everything was right. Even though we were sceptical during night time, we laughed at ourselves repeatedly after waking up realizing that our assumptions were fake :D.

What's up this time

Here are the panoramic shots.


I did compose lot of HDRs but only one turned out to be good :-) [Need to work lot on compositions. Ashutosh composes far better pictures than me!]. The darkness required tripod to stabilize the long exposure images which I did not possess. Consequently, this affected the sharpness of shadow images.

Related Blogs:

i) Sunset and Sunrise timelapse at Kodachadri peak

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