Wild Wonderful Karnataka

Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary trek

S Laxminarayan's suggestion of Brahmagiri peak turned out to be an ideal 2 day weekend trek. The plan was to leave Bangalore on Friday night, reach Irpu on Saturday morning, take permission from Srimangala forest department, trek to Brahmagiri and spend Saturday night at Narimale IB. Trek back Sunday towards Irpu and then back to Bangalore.

We started from Bangalore at 10:45 to board bus towards Virajpet, Coorg. Once we reached there we came to know that we could have got down at Gonikoppalu which was 16 Km earlier to virajpet. So, try getting down at Gonikoppalu which is before Virajpet. After having breakfast at Gonikoppalu we took a private bus to Srimangala. Srimangala has a forest office very close to bus stop, just ask people around to get to the office. Since the trek was for 2 days, we had decided to stay at Narimale Camp IB. So, we had to pay rupees 170 per head which includes charges to stay at IB and also entry fee for Brahmagiri Sanctuary. Apart from this we also had to pay rupees 200 as guide charges. Having paid the amount we took a jeep to Irpu falls which is another 9Km from Srimangala.

It was 9:00 when we reached Irpu falls, here we met Suresh, a forest dept official who would be accompanying us for the rest of the trek. It was a beautiful morning with bright sunlight and no signs of rain. We started our trek towards Narimale Camp IB at 9:30 in the morning. It's a trek of 4 Km whose trail is through forest, walking along the edge of hill range crossing along and across them. After about 3.5 Km we gained considerable altitude and took a break to view the amazing viewpoint looking past the Brahmagiri range. Suresh suggested to maintain silence and pointed us down to group of wild elephants happily wandering in the sun. we could spot around 12 of them in 2-3 groups. To our left, we had a waterfall as if it was drawn in the middle of green forest, to our center we had the elephants and the valley covered the rest of the view. It was picture perfect and a moment of bliss to remember. We took few pictures and continued our trek to Narimale Camp IB, the time was 12:30.

We dropped our luggage, had parcled food and chocolate for lunch and started trekking towards Brahmagiri peak at about 2:00. Brahmagiri peak which itself is divided between Karnataka and Kerala border is 6 Km from IB. The trek is along an open area crossing various green hillocks inter spread with small forest where streams flows. When we tried to enter one such area Suresh suggested us to take a detour, as he saw an elephant playing in water. So we had to walk around this and rejoin our track. At about 3:45 we reached base of Brahmagiri peak. It was the only peak taller than any other for far far distance. Couple of us decided to take rest and few of our friends started climbing the peak. We sat there watching guru, manja and anil finish it and return exhausted. The view from here was breathtaking. It's the biggest valley/hill range we had ever seen. With a satisfaction of having been visited this amazing place, we headed back to IB. Not to mention another 6 Km of walking to add to our days trek. At about 5:30 we reached Narimale Camp IB.

It was dinner time and we had to cook for ourselves. IB has all cooking the utensils, plates and a fireplace. Suresh also pointed us to a stream which is 2 minutes from IB where we fetched stream water for washing utensils. One has to carry food items as we do not have anything here. We lit up fire with all enthu and started preparing noodles. It was the best noodles we had, topped with pickles, chocolate and some junk food we carried. IB has 2 rooms and a hall, but no bed or blankets. So please carry your sleeping bag or other materials. Night did not go as smooth as expected despite the pain in legs.

Couple of us woke up early and lit some fire and sat beside it chatting about the trek plan. We could have walked to Munikal cave which is 3 Km from IB, but none of us were interested. So we decided to head back to Irpu after having our breakfast. (One can trek to munical caves the next day and return back to IB covering another 6Km totally ). While having breakfast we could hear elephant trumpet. After washing all utensils we started packing our bags. Took a group snap and continued our trek back to Irpu. Weather was perfect and elephants were already out in the open field for breakfast. We again spotted few in groups. Trek was easy as compared to previous day and we managed to reach Irpu in about 1.5 hours. While we were swimming in Irpu, Suresh called for a jeep from Srimangala. We reached the base and jeep was waiting for us to drop us to Srimangala. From Srimangala, we came back to Gonikoppalu. One can catch a bus to Bangalore from here. We spent the day by visiting Mysore and then back home to Bangalore.

This trek will remain in memories for its wildlife, encounter with wild elephants and amazing views of brahmagiri.
Few things to keep in mind
- Dec-Jan is considered the best time, due to pleasant weather and added advantage of no leeches.
- Contact details of Forest Range Office, Srimangala. +91-9448813835. Try calling them up 2 days prior you leave for trek.
- Do carry food items & match box, you only get utensils and nothing else.
- Carry enough sleeping material, you do not have bed or blankets at IB.
- Leech count can worsen during rainy season.

More pics can be found here, here and here

Lohit Vijayarenu