Wild Wonderful Karnataka

View from the Heavens
Trek to Kumaraparvata: 5th-8th October 2002

  Standing at about 5000 feet tall, Kumaraparvata is one of the tallest, well known peaks, located in the beautiful Western Ghats in Karnataka. It stands as a majestic backdrop to the Subramanya swamy temple located in Kukke. (Kukke is about 2 hours drive from Mangalore and about 6 hours from Bangalore).

  Our trek to Kumaraparvata was the 3rd trek of our group in under 3 months... Our earlier treks were to Sakaleshpur and Sagara/Jog/Honnemaradu. We left Bangalore on the night of October the 5th by the 9 PM 'Dakota' bus that goes directly to Kukke. The best time to goto Kumaraparvata is just after the monsoon season ends and just before summer starts...by the end of September till the End of February.

  The journey from Bangalore to Kukke takes about 6 hours and goes through Hassan, Sakaleshpur and Gundiya. The route till Sakaleshpur is almost a flat land but from Sakaleshpur onwards, one gets to view the beauty of the Western Ghats in all its glory... the winding roads, the blinding fog, the endless curves and the innumerable waterfalls by the roadside, not to mention the hot piping tea at the dhabas....(One can even trek from Sakaleshpur to Kukke on a now-defunct railway track... it takes about 3 days and is the best way to experience the splendor of the western Ghats)... We reached Kukke by about 4 AM and all of us(totally 11 guys in our group) had a nice sleep till 7 AM..

  After finishing off our daily chores, a few of us who were daring enough took bath in freezing cold water in the free bathrooms provided by the temple. We then had breakfast (idli/sambar) and by about 9 AM we started off on the trek. The only information we had about KP (Kumaraparvata) was that it was visible from Kukke. We enquired at one of the hotels and got the required information. From Kukke, there is a distinct path along with a few signboards on the way that leads to the base of the hills. From Kukke, the trek to the top of KP takes a total of about 8 hours at a leisurely pace and moderate luggage.

  Initially there is a steep climb for almost 2 hours that takes us to an altitude of about 3000 feet... this part of the trek is through thick forest and offers shade from the sun. Our trek through this part was uneventful except for the fact that there were lots of leeches and we had to keep stopping every 10 minutes to check if there were any leeches inside our shoes. (Leeches don't die if they are cut... they can be burnt by a flame or killed by putting salt or salt water on them) It is very difficult to find a water source (stream/waterfall) in this part of the trek, so you need to carry your own water, atleast for this part of the journey.

Once the forest portion ends, the grassland begins and the land also evens out somewhat... even though we are still climbing, the climb is gradual and not very steep. There were supposed to be lots of streams in this area but at the time we went(October 2002), most of them had dried up but we did manage to find one stream, albeit very small, at the bottom of a small valley like area full of trees and it was sufficient to quench our thirst and refill all of our water bottles (each of us carried a 1.5 litre pepsi bottle). By the time we reached the stream all of us were tired out from the steep climb and we had a good rest of more than 1/2 an hour. From this point, the Bhattas house is about an hours walk. By the time we reached the bhattas house, it was about 1 PM.

  Nestled among a coconut plantation and surrounded by hills lives a family... known as 'Bhattara Maney'... they give food(about 20 Rs per meal per person) and accommodation (don't know the rates) for the exhausted trekkers. We took a much needed rest and had a nice meal (Rice, Sambar, Curds along with pickles). We left Bhattas house at about 3:30 PM. We had decided to camp in a small mantapam that is about 2 hours climb from Bhattas house. We were warned of cobras in this part of the trek though we didn't come across any. But there were other surprises in hold!!

  This part of the climb is the most scenic of the entire trek if there is no fog. The climb is not too steep but is not too easy either. By the time we started on this part, fog had started to close in and we learnt that it is very easy to get lost. There are multiple paths here and we chose the wrong one and had to do some rock-climbing in near darkness to get onto what we hoped was the right track. By 5PM it was already dark and because of the fog we couldn't see more than a few feet in front of us and we were losing hope that we had chosen the wrong track and were planning to go back. We decided to walk for another 1/2 an hour and see if we get to the mantapam or else return back to bhattas house. As luck would have it we did reach the mantapam by about 5:30PM. But one look at it dashed all our hopes. It was a very small stone mantapam (we had expected something like a temple) where about 4 persons could sleep and there was no way 11 of us could sleep there and moreover the roof was anything but a cover... But somehow we managed to put up a sort of a tent while a few others tried to start a campfire. Unfortunately the weather out there was so cold that the diesel we had brought wouldn't catch fire at all...luckily someone had left kerosene in a bottle which we used to light a small campfire but only for few minutes...

  It started raining at about 6 o clock and my god, how it rained....there was nothing we could do...our plastic sheets which made up our cover was no match for the rains there....within a couple of minutes everyone of us was completely soaked and shivering because of the cold....the rains lasted almost 6 hours and at the end of it everyone was cold, hungry and frightened....we were stuck in a lonely place with the nearest help about 5 hours away....

  In the cold, dark night people started having hallucinations....one guy saying he is hearing something hissing beside him, another saying he can hear something moving about in the grass a few feet away, one more saying he can hear people talk...it seems like fun now but at that time ;-)......anyways after the rains stopped we took out our dinner (wet chapatis, wet chutney pudi and wet pickles) and ate whatever we could...luckily for us we had left all our belongings except our dinner in bhattara maney, so we were certain to have dry clothes for the journey back...the night passed slowly but a few of us enjoyed it very much....doing push-ups , sit-ups etc. to ward off the cold seemed like fun at that time....

  At 6AM we started seeing the first rays of the sun on the beautiful clouds which stretched away like an ocean in front of us...Out of the 11 guys, only two still had the courage to go to the peak....while the 9 of us returned to Bhattara-Maney, 2 guys went towards the peak..the peak is about an hour and a half from the mantapa and the view from the top is simply fantabulous...photos don't do justice to it...from the peak the Kukke temple is visible!!

  the 9 of us left the mantapa at abt 7 AM after watching the sunrise and arrived at bhattara-mane at abt 9AM...the walk was slow because the path had become extremely slippery because of the previous days' rain...we did however take a detour and had a few seebekaayi fruits...the 2 guys who had gone to the peak came back to bhattara-mane at abt 12PM....all of us had a nice hot bath and changed into dry clothes and had a nice lunch and we started back towards kukke at about 3PM..

  During the return journey we encountered hundreds of leeches that had come out because of the rain and halfway through the journey rain started again and it rained continuously till we reached Kukke....enroute one of our guys also sprained his ankle by stepping into a water-filled hole but all of us managed to arrive back in Kukke in one piece after an arduous trek at about 5PM. We had our dinner in the Subramanya temple and left Kukke by the 10:30PM Ultra Deluxe. Even though it was the toughest trek for us...it has been one of the most cherished....we hope to be back there once again and this time the peak awaits us!
Guru Prasad
guru_prasad (at) softhome.net

Trekking group :
GuruPrasad, Vinay, Kushal, Pramod, Nikhil,Harsha, Rohit, Anil, Puneeth, Siddesh and Bharath

P.S: During a particular season (generally October), guys come to KP looking for a mysterious Mani (Jewel) at the peak. It is supposed to bring luck or good fortune to those who find it. Our 2 guys tried their luck but couldn't find it.

PS 2: If you can take some rice to Bhattare-Mane, it will be helpful because sometimes they may run out of it and you may have nothing to eat and they also reduce the price of the meal if you give them rice. You can buy rice in Kukke itself.

PS 3: The Bhattare-Mane is owned by 2 bhattas - Venkataramana Bhat and Mahalingeshwar Bhat - Mahalingeshwar Bhat has his own hotel in Kukke.
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