Tuesday, January 3, 2006

The B R Hills Trek

Trek Name: The B R Hills Trek
Peak: M M Hills, B R Hills
Dates: Some time in Mar-2001
Participants: Daiju(Koilu), Dennis(Deeku), Dinkar(Dinkan), Kannan(Chetti), Sangeeth(Aliyan), Sanjeev(Khoj), Sreepad(Pad), Suresh(Warri), Sushen
Photos: Analog Days. Nothing Digital. Will scan and upload some. Watch this space.
Route to Base:
Bangalore => B R Hills
Trek Route:
Road => Forest => Forest => Forest => Some Peak
Trek Map:
Altitude Profile:
Bunch of Useless Facts:

This happened sometime in March 2001. Nobody remembers the exact date. Who would, when the trip itself was planned on a Friday night at 11:00 pm.

It happened like this. After the Kemmannagundi Trip, we had not gone anywhere for a long time. On a particularly hot Friday night, Khoj and I decided to call the other trekking enthusiasts and go for a small trek somewhere. Nobody had mobile phones back then. The only mode of communication was to go and meet the guy personally atop our trusty two-wheelers.

Thus Khoj and I started on my Hero Honda Splendour. We went straight to Aliyan's house in Murugeshpalya to muster up people. Aliyan, Warri, Chetti, Deeku etc. were engrossed in a movie. Our intent forgotten, we too started watching the movie.

Once the movie was over, I explained the reason for our sudden appearance etc. Chetti jumped at the idea. I suggested calling a van and leaving then and there. Chetti and Warri pushed off to Chetti's office to browse for a suitable place. We went back to our Koramangala house to get Pad.
After collecting Pad we went straight to Chetti's house. We were surprised to find, the normally lazy, Dinkan and Koilu there. By then Warri and Chetti had found a place (Shivanasamudra, M M Hills, B R Hills) and had telephoned a Tours and Travels company (which he found in the net) and had arranged for a Tempo Traveller. This was our first association with Prerana Tours and Travels, Jayanagar (Phone: 91-80-2664 2223).

Soon Aliyan and Deeku arrived and we started by 4:00 am Saturday morning. When we told the driver the destinations, he was reluctant to go to B R Hills, saying that the road was bad. He took us straight to Prerana Tours and Travels office. The proprietor, Mr. Sudhindra was all apologies and arranged another vehicle. The driver was Mr. Ramesh, a real nice and cooperative chap.

Thus finally we were on our way by 6:30 am on Saturday. We had lost some 9 hours as well as a lot of sleep.

The first stop was at Shivanasamudra. The Cauvery was at her best that day. At first, we went to the hydel power station located a few hundred feet below. Initially the people there were reluctant to let us in. But Ramesh, talked for us and we got into the lift to descend towards the power station.

We saw many Francis Turbines running with a huge roar. Well, it was almost like the way, our teacher Prof. Ramaraju had explained in his Hydraulic Machines class, way back in 1996.

After getting back to the van we went to see the twin waterfalls, Barachukki and Gaganachukki. The descend to the base of the waterfalls was quite tiresome. Chetti and Deeku managed to get close to the waterfalls and had a nice bath. We sat in a rock nearby and meditated in silence.

The climb back up, as expected was strenuous. Thankfully, there was tender coconut water (Ilaneer) available on top. We drank our fill.

The next stop was M M Hills or Male Mahadeswara Hills. The abode of the great God Siva. But except for the temple there wasn't anything to see there. We had tea in a tea-stall by the side and asked the shopkeeper for things to see around. He explained that it is better not to venture into the jungle as the dreaded sandalwood smuggler Veerappan was sighted in these jungles a few days ago.

We did not need any more persuasion. We started straight-away for B R Hills. It was already dark and a few kilometres later we stopped near a stream to have a camp fire. The season being dry, without much effort we were able to get a fire going. In the mean-time many of us went into the bushes and unloaded. We washed ourselves and set about enjoying the fire.

We took rooms in a hotel in Chamarajanagar. Being the district headquarters, Chamarajanagar was a decent town. Ramesh was our translator everywhere. Also he insisted that he be allowed to sleep in the van. We agreed.

The next day morning we set out for B R Hills (Biligiri Rangana Betta or Biligiri Rangana Hills). Here too there was a temple right at the top of the hill. Ramesh took us directly to the temple. We wandered around the temple for some time. There was a sheer drop at one side of the temple compound. From there Chetti sighted another hill which was almost as high as the one on which we were standing. Reluctantly we agreed to go down to the base of that hill and trek.

Ramesh must have been bewildered to see us getting off on the roadside and amble off into the jungle. He promised to meet us at the same spot a few hours later.

We crossed a small farmhouse and entered thick jungle. The going was really difficult. At times we had to stoop and walk for almost 100 metres. Well, all this trouble came to a naught as we promptly entered a well-tarred road. We could as well have asked Ramesh to drop us here.

Exhausted, we decided to eat the bread and jam we had brought with us. Thus rejuvenated, we crossed the road and started climbing again.

After many sightings of tiger turd (Aliyan, the walking encyclopaedia, told us so. God knows how he figured that out) and enlightened quotes from Deeku (like "This whole forest seems to be an area" ) and continuous whinings from Dinkan and Koilu, we finally reached the summit. Exhausted most of us fell asleep.

By 5:00 in the evening we started our trek back down. Lazy Dinkan did not want to move. It was after much persuasion that he got up and got going.

We lost our way somewhere in the middle and ended up a few kilometres away from our starting place. Seeing a tea shop, we decided to have tea before walking down to the van. Thankfully, not seeing us at the starting spot, Ramesh came further down the road and met us at the tea shop. After many stops at different roadside dhabas we finally reached Bangalore, early Monday morning.

Monday, January 2, 2006

The Kemmannagundi - Agumbe Trek (Or So We Thought)

Trek Name: The Kemmannagundi - Agumbe Trek
Peak: Kemmannagundi
Dates: 23-Dec-2000, 24-Dec-2000, 25-Dec-2000
Participants: Kannan(Chetti), Manesh(Nair), Sangeeth(Aliyan), Sanjeev(Khoj), Sreepad(Pad), Sujith(Mootta), Suraj(Susu), Suresh(Warri), Sushen
Photos: Analog days. Nothing digital. Will scan and post some. Watch this space.
Route to Base:
Bangalore => Kemmannagundi
Trek Route:
NA. (Read on. You will understand)
Trek Map:
Altitude Profile:
Bunch of Useless Facts:

This was my first trip with my old batchmates of REC Calicut (Now NIT Calicut). I had come down to Bangalore from Bombay after a job change. Chetti suggested going to some place during the long Christmas weekend. Mootta as usual was enthusiastic and arranged the whole trip.

The main place suggested was Kemmannagundi and Kudremukh. The former for a visit and the latter for a trek. Mootta suggested that we visit Shringeri Mutt also which was on the way. We booked a Tempo Traveller from Jet Tours and Travels, Koramangala and were on our way by 8:00 pm on Friday, 22nd December.

We took the Tumkur road upto Nelamangala and turned left for Hassan. By 10:00 pm, we stopped at a roadside dhaba to have food. Most of the time self-styled cinematographer Warri, was handling Mootta's camcorder. Seemingly, most of the time was spent on learning how to operate the thing-a-mi-jig.

Almost 45 minutes after we left the dhaba, Mootta realized that his camcorder is missing. He had left it at the dhaba. We took and U-turn and raced back. Fortunately, the watchman there had noticed the camcorder and had kept it safely. Overjoyed, Mootta gave him 100 rupees as a present.

We reached Kemmannagundi, by 9:00 am on Saturday. The place was not as we expected. It was commercialized, and we saw a lot of tourist buses, with scores of people. Disappointed, we decided to get away from the civilization by climbing a nearby hill. After a few step Warri started having dizzy spells. A few more steps later he started vomiting. There was a big tree on the way up. Chetti and Aliyan took Warri to the shade and left him to sleep.

We continued our way up and reached the top. The view was breathtaking. We decided to stay there for some time. Some of us even slept for a while. It is not everyday that we get such fresh air to breath.

On the way down we took a slightly different route. We were soon surrounded by tall grass. We were walking in a line and I had Mootta in front of me some 15 metres ahead. Mootta had a straw hat on and that was the only part of him that was visible among the tall grass. Suddenly the straw hat disappeared. Khoj, Pad and I ran towards the spot where we last saw the hat. Not surprisingly Mootta had fallen into a ditch and was trying to climb up. Owing to his height which is all of 5 feet, he was finding it difficult to climb up. Pad and I lent a hand and got him out of his predicament.

Warri was awake and ok by the time we reached the place where we had left him. We had found a small stream on our way up. Though we did not have soap or towel, we decided on taking bath there. The small waterfall served as a lovely shower.

Our next destination was Shringeri. Enroute we stopped by the roadside collected a few twigs and made a campfire. Susu, Warri, Mootta, Aliyan, Khoj and me slept in the open, while others slept inside the van. By early morning, when I woke up, I could find only Warri sleeping next to me. All others had taken refuge in the warmth of the van.

We soon reached Shringeri and took a couple of rooms in a hotel to freshen up. Wonder of wonders - Warri, who generally hates water was the first one to take bath. After the bath we proceeded to have a darshan in the temple. We took a few photographs too.

Since the visit to Shringeri got over very fast, we had time to kill. We decided to go to Agumbe which was supposedly nearby. Again, supposedly it offered a lot of trekking oppurtunities.

We reached the place by middday. The route to the view point was unsurfaced. The driver refused to take the van through the kutcha road, saying that the tyres might get punctured. We decided to walk. When we asked a villager about the approximate distance, he said it would be about 3 km. After 3 km we met another chap who again gave the same answer to our question. Perplexed, we walked on. After walking for about 7-8 km through thick jungle, we reached the view point. We could see a couple of waterfalls in a distant mountain. Chetti argued that it was actually nearb and wanted to trek upto it. Even though there was no path, Chetti, Nair and Mootta decided to descend the hillock we were in, cross the jungle and go to the waterfall. The rest of us blankly refused.

For some time we could hear Mootta and Nair, shouting. Phrases like "Step on that boulder", "Catch that creeper", "Swing like Tarzan" etc. wafted through the air. There was no sound from Chetti. A few minutes later, Mootta and Nair came back up announced, "We tried our level best, there is no way we can reach the waterfalls through such dense jungle". We were surprised to see these dare-devils fresh and without a mark on their clothes. A few minutes later an exhausted Chetti came back up, full of bruises and muddy clothes. It was then we realized that Mootta and Nair were merely directing Chetti, by sitting comfortably on a piece of rock.

We had supper from a nearby Muslim home. They had prepared tasty fish curry and rice for us. The charge was very nominal. The lady of the house explained to us in broken Malayalam that she was from Kasaragod, the northernmost district of Kerala.

After supper, we proceeded to Kudremukh. We soon fell asleep inside the van. When I woke up at 5:30 in the morning we were standing still. I saw the driver sleeping bent over the steering with his head on his hands. Everybody woke up one by one and asked the driver, what the problem was. He explained that the van had broken down. We were only a few miles away from Kudremukh. But the van had to be repaired first.

As soon as it was light enough to see, the driver started towards Mangalore (which was nearby) to get a mechanic. Susu accompanied him, since he knew his way around Mangalore.

Khoj and I soon started having the call of the nature. We went to a nearby secluded area and got it done behind some shrubs. We cleaned up with some leaves, and were soon as good as new. We looked around and saw that the van was actually parked in a very beautiful area. It was the beginning of a ghat section on the road towards Kudremukh. Mootta was still sleeping inside the van, when we decided to hunt for a tea shop. When we came back after the tea, Mootta was nowhere to be found. Soon enough we could see him running down a nearby hillock, with his camcorder. Seems, he had woken up to see the van stopped by the roadside and nobody to be seen around. He had climbed the hillock to see if he can spot us anywhere, through his camcorder's zoom lens !!!

We started playing cards on the road. The passing motorists were all staring at us. We had played for almost two hours by the time Susu and the driver came back with the mechanic. After some pushing and starting we were on our way again.

We soon reached Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd. (KIOCL). We saw a huge dam constructed to contain the affluents from the factory. Even then we could see what this factory was doing to the fragile ecology of the area. We were not allowed to take photographs. But we did sneak in a few.

We took bath in a stream nearby. We didn't stay long in the water because we soon realized that it was polluted.

The only disappointment was that there was no proper trekking to be done. The actual Kudremukh was around 100 km further. We decided to call it a day, and returned back to Bangalore.

Sunday, January 1, 2006


There are a lot of places in India, that remains unexplored and untouched by the so-called civilization. If you are an ardent trekker you will agree. Such pristine beauty as we find in the peaks of Kumaraparvatha, Kudremukh or Kodachadri is to be experienced at least once in a life time. Here I will detail about a few experiences I have had in the past few years on the mountains and forests of India.

The first trek I ever had was sometime in 1993. I dont remember the exact dates. Along with fellow-members of the Interact Club (student wing of Rotary Club), I went for a trek in Thusharagiri, near Kozhikode, Kerala. The season being rainy, the scenery was breath-taking. The second trek was also to Thusharagiri, this time during an NSS camp organized during college days in 1996. We had a guide then, who took us to the falls above the first one. (Thusharagiri is a series of waterfalls. To reach the first one, the bottom-most, is very easy. The second and third are slightly tricky).

Again I had to wait a long time before my third trek. That was in 1999, when a few colleagues from COSL (Citicorp Overseas Software Ltd), Mumbai dragged me out for a trek to Bandardhara near Karjat. The memories of Thusharagiri came gushing out and I was hooked to trekking for good.

I will try to give details on how to get to the place etc. in the following trek reports. In May, 2006 I bought a GPS. So the reports for treks done after May, 2006 will have a small map attached to it to make things easier for wannabe trekkers.