Wild Wonderful Karnataka


Yashavanthi Niranjan
Anand Kumar SP

         Edakumeri, is a station on the railway track known as "green route" from Sakalesh Pura to the Subramanya Road station. This railway station is a unique beautiful spot in the whole railway track because of the dense green forest in which it is situated. This stretch of the track with length about 12+kms has around 20 tunnels and 20 bridges with length varying from few meters to 0.75km and height varying from few meters to few hundred meters. The track will be operational in a few months from now.

After all permutations and combinations of organizing a trek to Edakumeri, through Karnataka Mountaineering Association (KMA), with the help of Anand, Deepak and Kiran(Mr. Diploma)who are the active team members, we finally brought out the dates for 2 consecutive days, obviously Saturday and Sunday. With time constraints, day and date constraints, personal and professional constraints, we started off the journey to Donigal, which was supposed to be the starting point of our trek.

We were 16 of us, everybody from different streams of life. Two of us, Shruthi and I were from a Biotech company, 12 from software company and other 4 from different companies. Friday night 22nd of September, we very vaguely got introduced to few of the lot 16 members. Trying hard to keep our eyes wide open after a strenuous day work, involving in the masti of the gang, Hindi translation of Kannada jokes by Deepak Srinivas , fooling Anand that I am a non-kannadiga killed time so fast that the clock had struck 3.30am.

We all tried to adjust ourselves in small place (a tea shop) till we could see the first glimpse of sun. People like Surekha were trying to keep themselves busy by taking the photos of sky studded with stars. It sounded very unusual but the photo was really very outstanding.

We all freshened with the flowing water nearby, had a cup of tea, collected food items like biscuits, chikkis, chocolates of our share and started journey on the RAILWAY TRACK TO YEDAKUMERI, approximately 14 kms after a small formal introduction.

Least we expected that this would be so thrilling experience. Nikhil stood always last not because of his pace, but because of his extraordinary skill of taking photos.

With a breathtaking drop on one side and steep mountains on the other, the high elevation railway track offers magnificent views of far away mountains and valleys... soon we have the first tunnel. It is pitch dark inside, and small torches are of no use except to see only the ground before the next step. We continued further, and the bridges became scarier and scarier – the longer the scarier. More than anything, the slippery wooden planks were asking us to take a careful step whenever we stepped across. After setting each step, watch down carefully before you move ahead for the next one. Few people in the course of watching their steps lost the view of beautiful scenery around. Few of my friends found a kind of roundabout way to deal with this. Instead of walking in between the rails, where you stare right into the depth while stepping from plank to plank, they found walking on the sides (outside the rails) much easier! I, on the other hand thought of walking outside the rails was not a good idea because if you fall down, there’s nothing you can hold on to.

As we passed across, found KEMPU HOLE, which was gushing down amidst the rocks with full force. It was a thrilling, fantabulous, scary experience, which I have ever had. We crossed the first tunnel, which were around 300 mts. It was time to fill our stomach. We helped Deepak and Anand in cooking by cutting vegetables, in the process of making avalakki.

This I considered as the family with joy, happiness and never sorrow. Everybody wanted to help each other in all deeds. Whether it be washing the utensils, cutting, cleaning, cooking (too many cooks did not spoil the food...ha ha...) and of course eating (I mean sharing). I would like to explain the first unforeseen incident that happened to Vinay. We all were in 9th cloud mood, that we didn't pay much attention to the mishappenings. Vinay drank more than a mouthful of colorless water, which tasted so good (I suppose...) even went for the 2nd gulp and only minutes later realized that it was colorless KEROSENE. Oops..!!It sounded very funny and everybody laughed (including me), but the burning sensation or whatever it is….was so awkward, that even I could sense his struggle against hiccups, burps, and puking sensation. His every breath was filled with kerosene smell, which I myself could not bear it. Little everybody realized that it was a major issue, but indeed it was.

This was the unforgettable bridge that we came across. It had everything necessary like wooden planks, grips, but the iron strips that will join the two planks were missing!!!! This means, that you are placing half of your foot on this plank. How could in the hell of the dreams can anyone imagine that we crossed this bridge where there was vehement river flowing down in the gorge, thick jungle beneath and deep pit? If you are into it, samjho...you are gone. It was all in the balancing act we do to cross this bridge, but indeed it was everything. Surekha had a tough time.

We reached probably 17th tunnel, cooked the food, ate sumptuously and headed further. Pitch dark inside, nothing to be seen. Luckily we didn't come across any bats.

We at last managed to land in Edakumeri railway station. CARE OF PLATFORM for one night.

We slept instantly as we were tired. We were asked to wake up only when the food was ready. Ate nicely and again slept. God alone knows what after this happened. Only thing I could hear is snores from Gowda, Praveen and 2 engines that passed during the night.

Next day morning, got up at 5.00, tried to take snaps of sunrise, but I think sun was feeling very shy to even sneak through the clouds. All we could capture is slushy greenery, huge mountains, floating clouds, and exotic scenery. One has to go here. We had breakfast and started off our journey to the hill. We tied salt in our socks and handkerchiefs to avoid leeches. They were smarter than us.

The trail from Edakumeri to Kaginahare was really fantastic. The forest was full of bamboos. All I could see throughout the jungle was multistoried trees, climbers, more of lianas and epiphytes. The rustling sound that we could hear was mainly from the rubbing canes and bamboos.

The ground vegetation forms the luxuriant carpets of many species. This vegetation consisted of low, open forests, intermixed with thorny shrubs and grasses. We rested for a while in open grassland took a deep breath and saw the greenery around. We again started our trek, this time without rest till we reached the old, abandoned fort called as KAGINAHARE. We, by now had trekked almost a total of 15 kms. This was the highest point in that forest, 873m from the sea level.

Now, the time had come to get down from the highest point. I thought getting down was much easier than you climb. Much to my surprise, it was the other way round. We, from now had a tough time. Perhaps, God Varuna Deva was angry with all of us and so started pouring very badly. The path that we were passing became so slippery that one wrong step will take you down the hill. Our walking pace became very slow. Much because of so called leeches, which were happily feasting our legs. Everybody had leech bites all over their legs, except our Reddy. There was reverse osmosis that was taking place with Reddy.

We walked as fast as our legs could take us. We reached, a heavily flowing stream, which is otherwise not so heavily gushing. By the time we reached, it was 5.15pm. Now, the idea was to cross the stream, and then walk for another 1 hour and reach the main road. But, we had something else in store for us. This is the second unforeseen incident that happened. We were asked to wait for sometime. Meanwhile Deepak went across the stream to see for its depth and the current flow. He tried two- three times but alas in vain. All this took around 30-40 minutes of our precious time. It was getting darker and darker. We can’t even sit and relax for a while because of leeches all over the ground. The proportions of the leeches getting into the shoes were comparatively less when you are walking than when you are standing still. So, now the leeches started climbing from your shoes and sucking blood. We then sat on the rocks that was next to the water and left our legs in water. Later, suddenly Sandeep came up with an idea of crossing the stream by keeping long bamboos and logs across from this end to the other.

All our boys put their strong hands together (for what reason do you think they have such strong biceps), cut the long, narrow trees, chopped off the side branches and placed 3 such long logs, tied with towel, T-shirt, made strong enough and placed between the 2 sides of the stream. The moment, Deepak reached the other side; we were all so happy that we yelled, screamed, clapped and rejoiced. Now, was the time for each of us to cross the stream. Arjun, Anand in the beginning, Sandeep (strongest man in the team) in the middle where there was heavy current and Deepak in the other end.

First, two – three guys crossed and then came the turn of girls. Surekha and Shruthi crossed much easily with the help of guys. Next was my turn. Although I went with all bravery, I could not bear the water force when I was nearing Sandeep. He asked me to keep my foot next to his, and I followed his instructions. He told – VERY GOOD! This boosted my confidence. I took the other foot of mine and could not place it properly. My leg didn't land on the pebbles and stones underwater, but started shaking and went towards the water flow. I was holding the bamboo tight and trying hard to bring back my leg. This time, I sensed the severity of water force. I was almost under the bamboo and was being carried away. My heart was pounding and all guys could do nothing but to watch. I fear a lot even to think of this situation. Water is indeed dangerous. Deepak and Mr. Diploma pulled me with greater force. I started rolling upside down on the water and again a heavy pull brought me to the shore safely. It was an experience to be counted. If I had left the bamboo, I would have gone forever. Luckily, I came and sat. I was shocked, my mouth dry (though I came water). Everybody, by this time had crossed the stream, along with bags. I regained my energy and again started our journey. It was 7.00 in the evening and was pitching dark. No howling of foxes, no elephant grunting, but only silent breeze. We could not trace the path in the dark. Deepak went in search and came back helplessly. It was time for us to act cleverly.

So, we all unanimously accepted to stay back in the dark and deep jungle for one night. This is my longest night I have ever spent. Every 5 minutes you look to the watch and its still only 5 minutes gone. We cleared the ground, spread our mattresses, kept our bags all around, poured kerosene in the border, removed our shoes, checked for the leeches, cleaned and one by one got inside the roughly, temporarily made thatch above our heads. Don’t even think of going out of this area for any reason because once you are out, you are again prone to carry lots of leeches inside. I was almost awake for the night, catching and taking off the leeches that made an entry even after so many restrictions. We, all 16 of us were under one roof of area 8feet by 10feet.

Next day morning, we got up, freshened ourselves and started finding for the way that leads to the main road, after 5 hours of our active search( not research…), we got into a small village, drank water , took the help of the village person and came to the main road after all circus.

We then took a bus to Kukke Subramanya and ultimately landed. The moment we stepped out of our bus, people started gazing at us like they have never seen us earlier. We were like "LOST AND FOUND" people.

It was wonderful trek in a low budget organised by KMA for us and the whole team.

Negative things - we assumed that it was a two day trek, but it is not.
Should have carried lot of eatables like chips, bananas, other fruits apart from carrying rice, dal...

Positive things -
1) Cooperation among the team people.
2) Amazing strength
3) Outstanding confidence and enthusiasm along with the leadership quality of Anand and Deepak, kept up the spirit of the entire team throughout.

Useful Info: - After crossing the stream keep walking on the river bed till you get a jeep track (Old abandoned), Then stay right side of the river till you reach manimunda.

Route : - From Donigal (Walk on Railway track for 14kms), take left near the 1st tunnel after Edukumeri station (Steep climb of 3 hrs) Spend night at Kaghinahare village—Next day finish breakfast move (climb up till fort and get down on other side, than steep decent for 3 hrs) reach river kemphole, finish lunch move (towards right along the river for 9 kms or 5 hrs walk) reach katte.

Petrol bunk :- Subramanya
Shelter :- Kaghinahare village, katte or Edukumeri.
Hospitals : - kukke subramanya,
Things to carry : - insect repellent, machete/sickle for the forest walk, tents (if one goes in rainy season).
Watch out for : - Leeches, ticks, insect, and snakes.
Suggestions :- Avoid going in Rainy season and Its better to go with an experienced trekker.

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