Kumara Parvata ( KP ) Trek
Finally my long time dream of trekking to KP ( Kumara Parvata ) was fulfilled. It was fulfilled with a great company and lots of fun and adventure.
After the Dal-Housie Trek, one of us got this idea of going on treks once in a month. Immediately the first location we thought was undoubtedly KP. Almost everybody had the same idea. Immediately we started planning for the trek, though it got postponed couple of times as some guys had other plans during the weekends. Finally 25th and 26th February was selected as the D-day.
All of us(12 in all) met at the KSTRC bus-stand on the 24th night and took the bus to Kukke Subramanya at 11PM. We had planned to climb from the Kukke side and get down from the other side i.e., Somavarpet side. But none of us had enough info about getting down from Somavarpet side since we could get any info in the net, all though we had booked our return tickets from Madikeri assuming we will get down from Somavarpet side.
We reached Kukke at about 5.30 AM and went in search of room to refresh ourselves. We found a hotel where we were given place in a Dorm. We refreshed ourselves and started from the place at 7.30 to visit the temple. Some of the guys visited the temple while some of them stayed away watching the bags of everybody. By this time lot of people including me were very hungry. All of us went to Restaurant Mysore Cafe and had our breakfast. We could not fill our stomach as we had to trek uphill.
As we came out, some of the officers from the Forest Department who were in the jeep approached us. There were couple of AFOs and a DFO. They enquired as to what was our plan and informed us that we could not trek unless we have the permission. A lot of my friends had been to KP before but nobody had taken any permission. Sometime back there was a scientist from IISc who had gone for a trek and lost his way and had to struggle finding the way out for 10 days and was lucky to be alive. Since then the forest department was very strict about leaving people for the trek. We got the information about this much before we left for the trek. We went around enquiring about the permission from the Aranya Bhavan or any such places. Luckily Abhilash met a retired Forest Officer in his apartments and through him we got the contact of Forest Officers and got the verbal permission for the trek. We informed these forest officers in Kukke about the permission and the DFO(lady) was kind enough to wish us for a good time and asked to go ahead.
Now it was almost 9.00 and we started towards the base of the peak from where our trek starts. As we approached the base we came across a signboard which said the peak was about 18 Kms. At this time we did not think what was to come ahead. We had read a lot from different sources that this is the toughest trek in Karnataka. As we started on our trail there was a very good view of peak and we were excited about the trek. Now our Abhilash found that he had not got his belt and his trousers were loose and had to find a belt from someone. He tried my belt and was amused to find that the belt did not even touch the buckle. Then we had to juggle around the belts and finally got the belt of his size.
As we started the trek it was quite steep and it was through thick forests. This shade helped a lot. There was some bit of exhaustion, but we could manage because of the shade. Ajay, Niara, Bel, Abhi and Vikram were always leading and we had to catch up with them. Here there was not much problem catching up with them. After trekking about 2 hours we reached dry land and we had come to the end of the trek through the forest. At this moment I did not realise how the shade of the forest has helped all this while.
We trekked for another half an hour through this dry land. From here we were about 10 minutes away from the famous Bhatta's house where we were going have our lunch. Here we found a small peak adjacent to the trail we were taking and all of us left our bags next to trail to started towards this peak. The scenery here was absolutely fantastic and we did spend a lot of time here and took lot of group snaps with KP in the Background. Here as we started towards the trail to collect our bags and reach Bhatta's house we saw a forest guard waiting near the trail. He was angry that we were going away from the trail and crossing the boundary of the reserved forest. We had to apologise and then start towards Bhatta's house. Here he told us that they had received a message of our coming from the forest officer who Amith and Abhilash had spoken to. By 12noon we reached the house of Bhatta(place is called Giri Ghaddhe) and everybody crashed there. Here we came across another group also from Bangalore.
After resting for sometime we went around the house and found a small stream. Here our Vikram gave some Gyan about his SLR camera and we were really happy to learn about the difference in the pictures the SLR camera and our cameras. Soon we got to know that the food was ready and went to have our lunch. The lunch was really good, prepared from the fresh vegetables grown in Giri Ghaddhe. Soon we enquired about the distance and the time it would take for us to reach the top and also some information about the route to Somavarpet where we planned to descend. But the other group did not join us as they did not have any permission before coming here. We felt a little sad for these people and started towards the peak at 1.30PM.
Walking for about 10 or 15 minutes we came to the Forest Check post ( also called Anti-Poaching post ). Here we paid the fees for forest entry and also for the cameras and he gave a map of the KP and also showed us how to get down from the other side. Amith took a snap of the map in his camera so that it might be useful on our way down. From here there was no trace of any shade and the sun was also scorching hot. From here we felt the toughness of the trek as we were full after the lunch and also because of the heat. I felt really exhausted in this trail. Every now and then I used to stop and gasp for a breath and then move ahead. Finally after about 2 hours at 3.30pm we reached a small place covered with shade. From here we could see the Mantap which is one of the landmarks on the way up the mountain.
The place where we were resting was the place we were supposed to get water till the top of the mountain. But here we could not fill our water bottles as the water here was stagnant. After having some fun here we started up the mountain. We thought the peak is very near from here as lot of people had told that they had halted in the Mantap for the night and next day went up the mountain and return back after collecting the baggage from the Mantap. But we could not do this as we had planned to get down from the other side so as to have the experience of both sides. Now we were running short of water and the heat was also taking its toll. We climbed up assuming the peak coming ahead was KP. Each time we reach the peak we could see another peak in the front. The trek here was really tough as the way till the top was continously steep and there was no flat trail.
About 5.30pm, we reached a point where there was forest again. Some of them had already gone ahead and we could see people(must have been the others) far away trying to climb a steep rock after the jungle in the next hillock. At that point I thought it would not be possible for me to reach by 6.00PM and it was also getting dark very soon. Now the forest was in front of us and there were 2 routes into the forest. We had to take the correct one as we could not afford to waste time as it getting dark, also we did not have the energy to come back if it was wrong route. I asked others to wait there and took one of the trails and found it lead no where in another 10 or 15 steps. Luckily this did not take a lot of time!
As we entered the forest and walked some distance we could hear a lot of people talking and we thought our guys must be waiting for us. Actually it was some other group of people who had probably climbed much earlier and they were returning back. They told us that they had seen our group a little ahead and the peak is not far away and it would take about 15 or 20 minutes. This info really brought life in me as our climb was finally coming to rest for the day. Finally all of us(the remaining people at the end) came out of the forest and came across the steep rock which we had seen our guys climbing sometime back. This rock was small but very steep. We have to be really careful as it is very steep.
After climbing this rock we could see the others on the top cheering us. Now even though the peak was so near, it took really a long time for me to reach the top as this part was also a little steep(not as much as before), more because I was really tired and exhausted than it being steep.
It is at this point, the place from where we could see the guys at the top we have to take left to go to Somavarpet. Finally I reached the top at 6.15PM, the second highest peak in Karnataka at the altitude of 1750mts(6000 feet) or so.
After relaxing for sometime, we started preparing for the fire for cooking and also for warmth as it was getting very cold though it was the end of Feb. Three of them Ajay, Niara and Amith went to collect the wood from the jungle below and I actually went into sleep for some time. As I got up I could see some anxious faces as these 3 had not yet come back by 7.45PM. Three of us left in search of these people but by the time we walked a few steps we could see some flash of lights towards us and we realised it was them. As we approached, we saw Ajay carrying a really huge log of wood(man he is really got great stamina). We three shared some wood from these people and started climbing.
At the top we were now greeted from another group of about 12 or 15 guys and we had to move a little distance away. We searched around in the dark for a place to sleep in the night and all of us moved. We created a small place for the camp fire but could not cook any food as we had no drop of water for cooking. So shared the Chapathis whoever had carried sitting around the campfire. Now the problem was there was no water to drink after the small meal. I had conserved some water in my bottle so were other 1 or 2 people and all of us had one sip each and went to sleep.
Before going to sleep we decided to be awake in turns through out the night. But in no time everybody was fast asleep and nobody did the watchman duty. The night was really very cold and without the proper sleeping bag, jackets and Sleeping mats it would have been very tough.
Next day morning we got up around 5.45 or 6.00 and everybody started taking snaps. The view in the morning was awesome. We explored different view points in this time and took a lot of snaps. But I have to accept that the best sunrise I had ever seen was not this. The best sunrise was by far the sunrise at Devarayana Durga(the photos in no way tell the actual view- the view was something I can never forget) where we had been on the morning of 5th Feb after the whole night drive. But I tried couple of tricks in the camera and new tripod I had purchased. Meanwhile, Amith who is always planning ahead got hold of some localites and enquired the route towards Somavarpet. These people had climbed over night for the special pooja they themselves perform on Shivarathri Day on top of KP.
The localities were helpful enough to show us the way to the trail towards Somavarpet and also were waiting for us to pack ourselves. Finally the decent started at 7.30AM on the 26th of Feb 2006.
This trail starts of through the jungle from the very beginning. On the way they showed the place where they had slept during the night in the forest to avoid the cool breeze at the top. Here we have to cross a big rock( a bit on the steeper side). These people were surprised to see Gals in our group as the locals would not allow the girls to climb from the Somavarpet side coz some customs. Here they prepared some food and also gave some to us. The trek through this path is actually more steep for about half the distance than the Kukke side but it is through the shades of the forest trees. After passing one of the viewpoint we finally reached the source of water for the first time in the morning at around 9AM. This stream was really clean and had fresh and water was very tasty. We climbed up the stream and spent a lot of time chatting and pulling each others leg and more often than not Niara should bear the brunt of whole group when pulling each others legs. We started to move forward from here without the company of the locals as they had left long back. Now we realised we had a lot of food still remaining in our bags and started having breakfast.
At 10, all of us were ready and started moving ahead. We have now to cover only half the distance from the stream. The stream was half way down from the top. After moving ahead in a line formation(most of the time) we came across a log of wood(from a fallen tree) across the trail and people started showing some of their tricks of balancing on the log, etc... In half an hours time we started moving ahead. We had not even gone for about 10-15 minutes we heard a stream flowing beside our way. We kept our bags beside the trail and got down to find the stream but to our surprise it was not just a stream but also a small water falls(our trip was complete fun). The water here was damn cold and initially I could not keep my foot inside the water.
We got down to the bottom of the falls and took some snaps. Here our Photograhic expert Vikram showed us some more of the tricks which can be done in most of the cameras and some tricks that can done with his SLR camera. This was really cool to know. This made me realise how under utilised my camera was. After spending half an hour we finally had to start on our way as it was getting hot and it would be difficult to trek.
By 12Noon we crossed the forest checkpost and reached the temple(famous around this place). Here we saw a lot people and also a film shooting going on. Now I realised the people had come to the top for performing pooja as it was Shivarathri today. There was pooja going on in the temple and after the pooja all of us(organised on the occasion of the festival for the village) were served a special lunch. They served great food and best part of the lunch was the Hollige(or obattu) which was very delicious and everybody wanted to have one more but nobody dared to ask. But after the lunch was over, Niara approached the ladies who were preparing the Obattu for some extra Obattu and got 2 of them for Ajay and Belmeera who were really craving for more.
Meanwhile there was a function on the occasion of the festival where the local MLA was the chief guest and the organisers requested Amith and Swaroop to take snaps for their local newspaper. During this time Amith managed to arrange for a open top Mahindra cab which would take us till Madikeri. As we were waiting for Amith and Swaroop to finish their lunch some ladies were very eager to know how the girls could trek to the top as they were not allowed by the locals. After getting the info that we had climbed the top from the other side, they also discussed among themselves to climb from the other(Kukke) side(probably without the knowledge of the other locals).
We started in the cab at 2PM and reached Madikeri at 4PM. The journey was great with all the songs we were singing and fun when the Jeep hits the bumps on the road. The coffee estates all around the road was like icing on the cake.
Since we could not book tickets for all us for the return journey we booked the tickets for another 3 people. Unfortunately we could not get the tickets on the same bus. Now we had plans to go around the place as we had time till 9PM when the three people leave. But most of us were not ready as we were really tired and wanted to retire. So we went in search of a hotel and got into Hotel Castel Rock in front of the private bus stand. We took a lot of time to freshen up and finally we were ready to go out of the hotel at 6.15PM.
The famous places in Madikeri - Raja seat and Fort were very close by and started towards it. On the way we went to a restaurant and there we could not come out till 9PM and actually Abhilash, Bel and Vikram had to rush to the bus-stand to catch their bus in time. We chatted in the hotel till 10.15PM as our bus was at 10:30. Here we were planning and discussing the pros and cons to decide the date for our next big trek. Finally we could not come to any conclusion as the dates were not matching for all of us.
At last we landed in Bangalore at 5AM and I really had a very nice sleep the whole night. We did not have the energy to chat as we did in our onward journey.
We parted each other in the Bangalore bus-stand and had a real great feeling and lots of unforgettable memories to carry with us.
PS: For some very good snaps check out Vikram's Snaps.
PS: Team - Abhilash, Amith, Akshatha, Ajay Rao, Swaroop, Niara, Belmeera, Aashish, Sindhu, Ajay A, Vikram and myself.
Dates: 24th night from Bangalore and came back to Bangalore on 27th morning of February 2006.