Kumara Parvatha - A Distant World Apart
Western Ghats.... A Tryst with Nature
Our romance with this Western Ghats refuses to die down and obviously one can never visit any of these places just once. Moreover, the entire stretch is not just a journey of few miles, it is a journey of thousand miles with deep lush green forest, myriad waterfalls and mountain peaks, more than 100 species of mammals and 600 species of birds, number of reservoirs and wildlife sanctuaries, and of course not to forget cobras and leeches …. What an exciting thing it would be to cover the entire thousand miles in one go,…. just hoping and of course hopping to do that soon like Janet Jackson in Runaway…
KUMARA PARVATHA OR PUSHPAGIRI -- TOUGHEST TREK??
This time we zeroed in on Kumara Parvatha, also known as Pushpagiri. Just hearing the name itself is intoxicating for someone who has already been to this place. It was an obvious choice for us because it has been almost 6 years since we last visited this wonderful place. Now, many of us wonder how could we resist the temptation for six years?
Every time we finish a trek trip, the same question starts to hunt all of us.. Was our last trek the toughest one we ever had?... but it is indeed one of the toughest treks in many ways. And this trek is also unique in its own way because from the starting point which is Kukke Subramanya we have to hike only, but it never discourages anyone for many reasons. Once you finish the initial forest cover, the majestic mountain peak in front of you challenges you as well as inspires to scale it, and your date with grassland and clouds slowly starts. It is like an old saying come and explore a new world. Yes, we always felt the toughest part of this trek is the initial forest cover, even though we get some cover from the blistering sun, the high humidity takes a toll on our bodies. But this time it was a different experience, we had to hike in rain in the forest. We were just an hour into the forest, hiking laboriously and sweating like dogs, it suddenly started to rain, nowhere to run for cover, we just toiled our way up. First time we had this experience while leeches feasting on us. When we reached the open grassland, rain had already stopped and sky was clearing up with a fantastic view of the mountain range with peaks covered in clouds. From here, the real journey towards Kumara Parvatha starts as we go on scaling peaks one by one and yet the highest peak taunts and dodges us. This grueling trek is somewhat made easy by Girigadde Bhatru mane. We get a safe shelter there at night especially with the naxal problem blighting the trekkers and forest department’s unwillingness to allow further our way up during the night.
Dropping most of our backpack at Girigadde, we started our next leg of journey early in the morning after forest department clearance. Have to cross many peaks, and the sheer experience of hiking in open grassland is unique… small valleys covered with forest, sound of distant waterfalls, occasionally passing cloud dimming everything in front of us momentarily… it is like entering a new world... and all the while it is the peak in front of you which intrigues the most and the question that hunts is how it would be to be on top there…..
MARIGUNDI VALLEY - A PARADISE ON EARTH
Just before the last leg of the trek to the peak, there comes the Marigundi valley (don’t just go by the name), the most exhilarating spot on the whole stretch. From the Batthada Rashi peak, dense lush green forest and valley stretches in front of you to the horizon. From here, it does not take much time to reach the final summit, the peak, Pushpagiri, a distant world apart, where the earth meets the sky.
Night stay with tents and campfire was allowed until a few months back, but due to the naxal problem night stay is not allowed now. Have to admit here, coming back is not at all a happy thing because it is such a beautiful place, and no one wants to end this journey.
Unlike many trekking routes, the entire stretch is visibly without any littering, thanks to Karnataka Mountaineering Association and forest department who frequently clean up the Pushpagiri.
I am not sure, but if someone proves me wrong I don’t mind, but I always felt this: Kumara Parvatha is one of the most photographed places; most of the trekkers who come here become habitual trekkers because of this tryst with the nature they experience here; many come here like nomads searching for their own wandering souls, and it feels like we all belong to a different cult.
It has been almost a month now since we returned from the trek, but we are all haunted by the same longing for the endless grassland and green peaks.....
How to get there: From Bangalore, Kukke Subramanya is roughly around 300 km (KSRTC runs number of buses daily). From Mangalore, Kukke Subramanya is roughly around 100 km. From Kukke with little help from locals, you can start off this wonderful trek on your own.
Girigadde Bhatru - A Shelter in the Middle
As told earlier, this laborious trek is made somewhat easy by Girigaddhe bhatru - two brothers offering shelter and food in an otherwise uninhabitable mountain range. Before venturing into the trek, one can always talk to them about the condition up there. Contact them through these numbers: +91 9945618495, +91 9948647947, and 08257281501.
NOT ENOUGH -- HERE WE GO...
For ardent and avid hikers, this place offers unlimited vistas to explore. Apart from this usual trek route, Kumara Parvatha offers more trekking routes also.
The longest one is of 15 miles from Mandalapatti Hills to Bidalli. You have to get to the Mandalappti Hill base from Coorg side with prior permission from forest department and with a trek guide. For beginners, the Mandalappti hill itself is a arduous task.
One more trekking route for habitual trekkers is Bidalli to Pushpagiri peak and descending in the opposite side to Girigaddhe. This is about 10 miles trek which also requires proper permission from forest department.