Sunday, October 22, 2017

Face to Face with the Horse's Face : Kudremukh (Part 1)

This was my first trek after my wedding, and luckily I was able to make it for the Kudremukh trek, that was hosted by Summiters Adventures led by Mr. Vishwanath.

My wife (Manasa) accompanied me for her debut trek in the ghats. It was totally a new experience for her, as she had never ventured into such terrain before.

I could see her excitement while we were preparing for the trek even though she was worried about the cute leeches of the ghats :)

All things went as planned, and we departed Bangalore on Sep 1st, 2017 around 10.30 PM in a Tempo traveler. Myself and Manasa boarded the vehicle near Jayadeva hospital, and eventually many trekkers joined us.

It was wonderful to meet a whole new bunch of people from different walks of life, and hearing their experiences added to the joy.  

A small jerk in the vehicle after a few hours made me realise we were in Hassan. In no time from there, we reached the village of Balgal.

Day 1 : Sep 2nd, 2017

Balgal is a small sleepy hamlet situated in the western ghats of Chikmagalur district which is almost 10 kms from Kalasa. We alighted at Balgal by around 6 AM, and waited for the 4x4 jeep to pick us. 

Balgal is the last place where buses or tempos ply, and from here onwards one has to go in a 4x4 jeep. The road from Balgal to Mullodi(which is further 7kms) is narrow & rocky.

Since our accommodation was at "Shola Heights", the staff had come to pick us up from Balgal. The journey was literally a back breaking experience and by the time we reached "Shola Heights", I had to count if my bones were intact.

However, the view from "Shola Heights" reduced my pain and stimulated my ecstasy at the same time.

"When the golden rays of the sun kisses the mighty mountains, everything turns magical "

I had never seen a rice field isolated in the ghats.

Tricolor flag in Nature

Shola Heights :

Shola heights is a unique home stay nestled on the fringes of the Kudremukh national park. It offers very nice view of the Kudremukh peak and the adjacent hills surrounding it. 

Kudremukh peak and the "Shola Heights"

The breakfast comprised of fruits , Uppittu (Upma) , Shavige (Vermicelli) and Gasgase Payasa (porridge). These delicacies filled our stomach and triggered the energy levels of the team.
A small briefing session led by Mr. Ananth made the team aware of what to expect, how to react in case of a leech bite and overcome the fear of creepy reptiles in the jungle. 

Most of the team members were new to trekking and I could see their excitement grew as Ananth described the forest.

With packed lunch in our bags, we were ready to summit the peak of Kudremukh

The Team :

(From L to R : Sundar , Parul , Shreya , Ramya , Ananth , Vishwanath, Agni , Amrita , Manasa , Arjun)

Surmounting the Horse's Face :

Kuduremukha(1894 m) is a mountain range and name of a peak located in Chikkamagaluru district, in Karnataka, India. It is also the name of a small hill station situated around 20 kilometres from Kalasa. The name Kuduremukha literally means ‘Horse-face' in Kannada and refers to a particular picturesque view of a side of the mountain that resembles the horse's face. It was also referred to as 'Samseparvata', historically since it was approached from Samse village. Kuduremukha is Karnataka's 3rd highest peak after Mullayangiri and Baba Budangiri.

One has to take permission from the Forest department office situated at Mullodi near Rajappa's house. Once the entry fee and guide charges are paid, we are allowed to trek to the peak.

The back gate from the forest department office leads one to the peak. However, there are some small routes that appear to be marked as a proper pathway, but they do not lead to the peak. These routes are used by villagers to graze their cattle. Hence it is advised to go in a group with a guide.

The initial path is well marked and there are no gradations for the first few kilometres.

There is a small stream that flows elegantly in the valley below and the sound of the gurgling water can be heard from a long way. This stream is one of the many sources of water, where one can refill their water bottles and energise their souls.

Since there were newbies in the team, we had to match the pace with them. Though our guide asked us to walk fast, frequent water breaks reduced the pace.

The streams were flowing with all its might, and crossing them made it challenging.

Gang of girls crossing the stream.

As we were crossing the stream, there were few jumping jacks on the rocks below. On further inspection, I could see small croaking frogs jumping here and there.

The most challenging part of the trek was to cross the streams, and even more challenging was to cross it without wetting our shoes. On some occasions this was pretty difficult to achieve, and I had to dip my shoe in the chilling water. 

The water in my shoe made a 'Kluch Kluch' sound every-time I walked. Though this was irritating initially, I got adjusted to it every-time I crossed a stream

Once the stream was crossed, the gradient of the terrain changes gradually. It becomes a steady ascent till the grasslands.

Thirumaleguppi and Irumaleguppi peaks were quite intriguing, and can be easily seen on the way to Kudremukh. 

 Peeping Tom - Horse is seem to be peeping :)

 Blue tiger moth seen on the way

The shola forests slowly transformed to emerald grasslands. The vast green carpets welcomed us with a cool breeze and slight showers of rain.

Even though the peak seemed near to us, it was very far.

Monsoons had turned the whole range into a paradise and you can see nothing but greenery.

The sheer beauty of trekking in monsoons is the mixture of Temperature &  Colors. While the temperature soothes your body, the color of the forest soothes your eyes.

 Flower offering to the Horse god

 Onti mara - One of the many rest points

Our guide was forcing the team to walk fast considering the climate and time in hand. However, by the time we reached 'Onti Mara' - lone tree , it was almost 12.30 PM, and it was too late to scale the peak and return the same day(as camping is not allowed). 

You can see few trekkers resting under the 'Onti Mara'. The peak is almost 5 kms and another 1.5 hours trek from this point. 

Considering the time delay and growling stomach, we had to halt there.'Onti mara' was our pit stop, and it provided us with lot of photo opportunities.

While few of the team members decided to continue the trek towards the peak, few others resisted going ahead. It was about to rain heavily, and light began to fade.

The lunch comprised of Puliyogre , Pakoda and Banana. Trust me, when you are exhausted, even a small candy will be equivalent to nectar. 

The joy of simple yet sumptuous lunch made the team to jump in ecstasy.

 Enjoying the Emerald gardens

Welcoming the rain

Enjoying the beauty of the forest , relishing the delicious food, and spending time with my better half diminished my vain.

A few of us started to descend early sensing the circumstances. However, 4-5 members from our group wanted to summit the peak, and they went ahead.

I regret for not having trekked the peak, but cherish the moments we spent near the place. 

The descent was pretty challenging, as the downpour was constant. We had to halt for sometime and wait for the rain to recede and mist to decrease.

Infact, the weather was playing a game of hide and seek with us. By the time we moved out of the Shola forest, the weather became clear.  Kudremukh trail is abundant with water sources such as small rivulets & streams. That's the reason why Kudremukh is one of the most beautiful trek in the Western ghats.

We reached our accommodation by 6 PM as planned and the hosts had prepared hot 'Mensinkai' bajji for us by the time we reached there.

A smoky cup of fresh Malnad filter coffee and hot Mesinkai(chilli) Bajji made a deadly combination, and added to the beauty was the mesmerising sunset. 

The whole trek was a spectrum of lovely colors, and the way nature had managed them was indeed a play of God. 

The Turquoise valley of the dawn and the Emerald gardens of the day followed by the Golden Sky of the dusk made the trek even more colorful.

Thus, we called it a day and hit the bed by 10 PM for a hard earned well deserving sleep. 

What happened on Day 2 ??, click here to know more.

Camera used :

Nikon D500 + Nikon 24-120mm lens
iPhone 7 plus

Useful Information

Location :  Kudremukh , Chikmagalur(District) , Karnataka (State)

Distance from Bangalore : 330 Kms

Trek starting point : Mullodi  

Trek difficulty Level : Moderate

Kudremukh trek distance  : 9 Kms (One way)

Kudremukh peak height : 1894 mts

Time to trek : 4-5 hours (one way)

Camping : Not allowed

Best time to trek : Sep to Jan

Permission : Required, should be taken forest office at Mullodi

Trekking fees : Rs 350 per person (with guide fee)

Contact Number : Raje Gowda, 9481179008(M)

Jeep charge : 600-800 per group ( from Balgal to Mullodi)

Nearest bus stop : Balgal , Kalasa

Shola Heights 
Samse - 577124
Chikmaglur district
email :
Phone : 9449620070

Summiters Adventures
Vishwanath : +91 97403 60365

Please do not litter. Save Nature and Wildlife
Happy trekking !!

Thank you

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