Wild Wonderful Karnataka
  MuLainagiri Ė Right on the Top !

  This august 15th was extra special for 10 of us. Not just because it was a day of patriotic fervor, also because we were all set to celebrate it on Top of Karnataka at a height of over 6,000 feet !
MuLainagiri is the highest peak in Karnataka and happens to be one of the topmost heights between Himalayas and the Nilgiris. Phew, quite a big reputation !

  We guys were excited with this trip. It had been quite some time since a we had a 3 day vacation and more people had come on this trip. Last time we went as a group was to HonnemarDu, which was a super success. We guys boarded a Chikmagalur bus on Thursday night and landed at around half past four. Our plan was to trek our way to the summit from a spot called 'Sarpandari' (Snake path in Kannada) on the road to Kemmangundi This place is on the road side and has an arch as its entrance and a path that goes uphill and nothing else. On knowing that the first bus during this time of the year started only at 8, we decided to take an auto (true bangaloreans :)) to Sarpandari. This auto journey was some 20 km long, and as we moved out of the town limits, the mist and the chill caught our imagination.

  The entrance to Sarpandari has an arch which tells you when it was erected etc., MuLainagiri (AKA mullainagiri, mullenagiri) is also called MuLLaina maTa. Sarpandari true to its name has swirling pathtrails. The excitement begins at the onset itself. I found it slippery. We found it slippery. Added to this was the dew in the grass. There are many deviations all along the way. Make sure you take the one which goes up and most of the times itís the left one. This is not very tough to find out though. There are pockets where the slope is close to 40-50 degrees and can really freak you out. The small guy in our group needed lots of moral & physical support to get through this stretch. Once, this is over, its cake walk. There are places where you can rest, be amazed at the path you have taken and look beyond that to appreciate the heights ! Even perhaps, leeches cannot climb these heights :) But, we guys were unlucky, blinded by the cloud and mist. Sometimes, reducing visibility to not more than 10 feet.

  There are a couple of small caves just below the peak, you can go exploring into them for some 100-200 ft. There are a couple of statues of nandi (bull) along the way. One of them was below a tree, and there were beautiful pink flowers which simply magnificent. Instantly cameras clicked here.
  After some 2-3 hrs of trekking, we reached the top of Karnataka ! Its an awesome experience, which is tough to describe, easy to feel. You see the clouds coming into you, accompanied by some rain. You feel like shouting Ė shouting that you are over 6000 ft. You feel like running around the place have a glimpse of the cliffs, look for any remote villages which look like miniature pictures, search for any rivers flowing nearby. But, most of the excitement was dampened by the poor visibility and the chill. So, summer seems to be the best time to come here but itís a tradeoff, like lotsa things in life. True enough to the spirit of the day, we guys held the flag we had taken high in the air.

There is a temple out there, dedicated to God Shiva. The priest's home is also there on the top of the mountain. We went around the place. Anyways, were were happy with the place and after some breakfast, decided to head towards Bababudangiri.

  But, donít know what happened after we got off from the summit, we lost the way. We were told by the priest that Bababudangiri was close by and trekking was possible. But, just after 10 mins from the summit, we were truly lost in the mountains and clouds. In spite of following the specified path, we had in fact headed back to Kemmangundi rd and were intercepting the road before Sarpandari. There was no use heading back, since we did not find any other probable path. The path that we followed (inevitably) got us back to Kemmangundi rd, along some jeep track. This route passed through some place called 'Seethayyana maTa'. Some informed souls may laugh at us for taking this route. But, we were truly lost. To top it all, it was raining quite heavily, but we kept going because there was no place for shelter.Along the way, as we mul_steep2
descended from the heights, we were moving away from the thick clouds, visibility was getting better but, we did not have the heights to have a great view. This walk was some 10-12 km and it was about 3 when we landed on the road.

mul_peak_iday   After some quick chapathis and jam, we waited for the Kemmangundi bus to come. This blessed bus (with a blessed driver) came at 5 and carried us to Bababudangiri. It was around half past 6 when we came to Bababudangiri, and we're greeted with heavy mist and rain. We tried to seek some decent accommodation, but all we got was some petty room, which was intended to be a shop during the Urs season. We decided to head back to Chikmagalur. Before that we made a brisk visit to the Shrine. This particular shrine is housed in a beautiful cave, and legend has it that Baba Budan (known to be a great healer, who is also credited with bringing coffee to this part of the world) meditated here and disappeared through a path inside the cave.
Samadhis of 4 of his followers and his mother are also here. This place is worshipped by Hindus and Muslims alike. One peculiar practice for offering prayers here is to tie a lock to a window pane inside the shrine.

 I must mention about the bus ride back to Chikmagalur. This blessed bus passed thro' some of the narrowest roads and carried anything from people to bikes, yes motor bikes ! We only hoped that the prayers offered at Bababudangiri will carry us through till Chikmagalur. Chikmagalur was a haven for us. We got into some good accommodation and were fast asleep without a sound. We could have boarded a bus to Bangalore but decided to go to Kemmangundi the next day and thus stayed on. goddam_bus

Facts :
Height : 6317 ft, heighest in Karnataka, heighest peak between Himalayas and Nilgiris
Distance : about 20 km from ChikmagaLur which is 4 hrs journey from Bangalore
Nearby places : Bababudangiri, Kemmangundi

- Compiled by Nithin on 4/9/2003

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