Sunday, June 8, 2008

Journey to Kodachadri

This is taken from Shivaram's write up on Kodachadri.

Date: 18th May 2007

"Ganguly eyeing 100 on Bangladesh tour", as if that was the achievement he waited all his life. But who cares what our cricketers do.
But you might be wondering what is that quote had to do with our trek. Well it's nothing, just wanted to start off with a eye-catching phrase. Could have started with anything, something like "Mutual Funds and securities investments are subject to market risks. Please read the offer documents carefully before investing", wouldn't have made much of a difference.

Hopefully I would have caught some attention for people to read the second paragraph. It's the end of summer; the initial showers (Mungaaru Malhe) are just around the corner in the Western Ghats. So, the Western Ghats beckoned us. Initially I had decided to go all alone, but Deepak pitched in later as his other trip got cancelled. In the last moment Poovi got in as well for our sojourn to Western Ghats.

So, we started off on Friday 18th May 2007 from KSRTC bus stand towards Kollur via Shimoga. Had dinner in the bus stand before we boarded our bus. We had a talk with the driver to drop us at a place called Karekatte which is 20 kms before Kollur. In the morning we all got up early so that we do not miss the stop, otherwise would have to walk all the way to Karekatte gate or take a jeep or auto to it from Kollur.

As decided we got down at the stop at 6:10 & started our journey towards Kodachadri. What a change from the shrieking honks & the pollution of our Bengaluru to chirping of birds & cool early morning breeze. The path for the next 4-5 kms was a straight lift from a jungle portrait. My favourite painting during my primary school days was that of school with a big field, a mountain as the backdrop, river flowing, birds flying & fields all around. Saw the exact same setting when we came across a Sarkari Hiriya Prathamika Shala(Government Higher Primary School). This was the first stop as we came across a Malyali Hotel(You will find lots of Mallus here as Kodachadri & Kollur is a sacred place for them), had our breakfast here which was a simple Kerala dish called Puttu. Just before reaching the hotel, when we enquired the localite about the distance to Kodachadri, he wanting to impress us with his English said it was 1 & half years, not sure whether it was slip of the tongue or tongue in cheek looking at Deepak's huge ruck sack.

From here on our ascent started up hill towards Kodchadri with greenery all around inspite of it being a dry season. Forests shed their leaves in order to conserve water during summer season, but Western Ghats was beautiful in this season as well, can't wait to see her after the rains. The trek involved following a single track in the jungles, some times 45 degree or a 60 degree climb but always having the ghats as background & to relieve our tiredness. The walk till the temple was a 6-7 kms walk. Do not want to talk about the distance we covered, as I & Poovi would always get into fist fights for the distance we covered. He always doubled the distance which I claimed was right (If left Poovi would also add his walk to complete his morning ablutions as part of the trek).

From the temple after a short break in Bhattara Mane(Bhatta's house), we climbed to the tip where there is a Shankara Peeta, the place where Shankaracharya went to meditate(we atleast had Malyali hotel & Bhattara Mane for our stomach, do not know what this guy had during that time). The last part was mostly a walk through the clouds.
After lunch rest of the day was spent in various places around the peak like Chitramoola Caves, Ganesha Guhe including a bath in one of the small water falls called Agastya Theertha.
Rest of the day was spent in waiting for the show we were waiting for all day, our Hero of the show Sunny Boy(SUN, our shining star) making a grand exit. The wait also included watching the visitors come by to visit Shankara Peeta. It included a Mallu Girl who became Poovi's favorite muse for the next 2 days. Kodachadri is one of the places where we can see Sun rise & Sun set at the same place, Kanyakumari is another I remember. Clouds played villain for our Sunny Boy's show as they didn't seem to stop coming between him & us(there were greater villains, will talk about them later). We sat at a vantage point with the clouds hitting us on our faces, but that didn't stop us from clicking some snaps when the clouds relented. With dark skies looming large & our Hero Sunny Boy resting till the next show began it was time for us to have our dinner by the fire camp we had prepared.

Any bollywood formulla would not be complete without an Item number; we also had one with the cresent moon swinging in a suggestive manner with stars surrounding her completing the group. We retired at the feet of Shankaracharya in our sleeping bags, whenever we opened our eyes to the new surroundings we had mist flowing across us or the item dancers dancing sexually in the sky.

Morning we got up early to watch the second half of our Sunny Boy's performance. This time he didn't disappoint us & no villain to stop him now. The Sunset & Sunrise would be etched in our memories for some time to come. We started our descent after our breakfast towards Arishinagudi Falls which would be the main attraction on the second day. We reached the Malyali Hotel well ahead of the schedule; from there we hired a Local Guide who would lead us to the falls through the jungles with no proper track in place. It is advisable to take a local guide here as it is very easy to get lost in the jungle with no track to lead us to the destination. Also this place would be infested with leeches after the rains, so anyone wanting a treacherous trek could go there after the rains. So started our journey with a visit to Lord Krish in the ISKCON temple (these guys seems to be everywhere) in the village.

It took us almost 1 & half hours to reach the falls in the middle of the jungle. One thing to remember is never believe what the localites say, whenever we asked him how far is it? His answer would be "Innen banthu Saar, ondu kilometer idhe"(It's just nearby, just 1 km). When he finally told that it was just half a km, we knew that it was just gas, but there we were, to the virgin falls one could get. The falls was not spectacular as it was the dry season, but the surroundings & the forest made it a surreal experience. Just the sight of water made us get into one of the safest spots in the falls. For the next 2 hours we were in the water enjoying our experiences & Poovi still contemplating on his favorite muse. After finishing our left over snacks we had got from Bangalore we left the falls, our guide had left us now showing us the way which was a single track to go to Kollur town. Off we went for the next 3 hours chatting, resting, watching our final view of Kodachadri & Western Ghats.

We reached Kollur & gave a visit to Goddess Mookey(Mookambika), one of the things we did in this trek was to give pet names for various gods. You might have noticed a few pet names in this write up like Sunny Boy, Lord Krish, Goddess Mookey, along with it we talked about Lord Venky of Tirupathi, Lord Maddy(Malai Mahadeshwara), to name a few.

Talking about the villains I had mentioned earlier, there cannot be a bigger villain than Homo-Sapiens, given a chance they would destroy any place in no time, looking at the plastic engulfing the place it is very disheartening, if this goes on, in no time it would become another Nandi Hills. Also for few boys the very idea of coming to this place was to thow the waste around & throw around bottles emptied by them, if that is the idea of a nice weekend, Bangalore would have been a better place.
Do not want to sound preachy, but for the sake of our natural resources we need to stop this & next time we trek atleast can clear a few of this mess instead of waiting for authorities to do it.

So, off we left Kollur to return back to Bangalore to be back to our favorite shrieking honks, thankfully Ganguly scored a century, his fans can have a sigh of relief, still Mungaru Malhe songs played on all FM stations (I think they will play this for another 5 years), people still wanting to know whether Shivaji will be released in Bangalore or not & still getting some really ridiculous & interesting queries on Bangalore-misc.

Anyways nice to back.

No comments: