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Raid D'Karnataka - 2004

Region : Karnataka- (Kodagu, Chickmagalur, Beltangady, Shimoga & Mangalore Dist's)
Expedition Date : 18th & 19th Dec'04

It's been quite a while that I have been contemplating of trekking outside Maharashtra . After having visited Karnataka umpteen times, I decided to go on a proper expedition there and check out some of the treks in Karnataka region. After chalking out an initial plan, Ruzbeh, my co-trekker, and I decided to head for Mangalore, the base city for our expedition. Fortunately, Dharmesh Desai, another avid Himalayan trekker joined us.

This was R&D Treks first ever out of Maharashtra expedition, with many other firsts…first time to do a cross country peak to peak trek, first ever summit at 6,328ft in Western Ghats …. I had researched on quite a no of trekking peaks and had 7 days in hand for the entire expedition. However, it was decided to keep all treks schedules on a ballpark map and take it as it comes as we were to venture into unknown territory where language & transportation would be of prime concern.

About Western Ghats in Karnataka:
The Western Ghats that stretch thru Karnataka and Kerala are ever filled with ample, rare flora and fauna, wildlife, lush evergreen dense forests and tall standing peaks of which some are between 5500-8000ft. With an all conducive atmosphere, trekking and adventure related activities are conducted at various places. Trekking is Karnataka is immensely popular amongst number of groups from Bangalore apart from other activities such as river rafting, canoeing, and jungle safaris to name but a few. The prominent trekking and adventure clubs in Bangalore and around have taken active interest in developing these so called adventure hotspots.

1). Tadiyandamol Betta / Nalknad Palace / Madikeri Fort : Coorg

2). Mullaiyanagiri to BabaBudangiri : Chikmagalur

3). Dharmastala

4). Jamalabad Fort : Beltangady

5). Kudremukh - KNP : Chikmagalur

6). Kudajadri : Shimoga

7). Kudajadri - Arsanagundi Falls - Kollur : Shimoga

8). Sultan Bateri / Thannir Bavi Beach : Mangalore














Mount. Thadiyandamol : 1750mts / 5742ft
or Thandiyandamol Betta as it is commonly called as in Coorgi is at 1750mts & is the highest peak in the Coorg (Kodagu) district. In Kodava language this peak means ‘highest point'. This trek is probably one of the most varied and dramatic treks one can do in Coorg. It includes native forest, high grasslands, ridge walking, mountain, paddy and coffee plantation terrain with huge views throughout the trek.

Plan of Action :
As per our initial plan, we decided to reach Mangalore on 28th Nov'04 . I was already in Kerala for my annual Sabrimala pilgrimage and so I took the West Coast Express (Chennai – Mangalore) train at Palghat ( North Kerala ) on 27th night, whilst Ruzbeh and Dharmesh took the Matsyagandha Express (Mumbai LTT – Mangalore). Both the trains reached early Sunday-28th Morning and we all met at the station. After an initial briefing we decided to go to Coorg (5.5hrs) on our first leg of the expedition from where we could climb Tadiyandamol Peak .

We departed from Mangalore KSRTC Bus stand by the 7.15 Semi Luxury bus to Madikeri (127 km) in Coorg / Kodagu districts. Some of the prominent towns that we passed Dinesh in Bus enroute Coorgwere Puttur, Sullia and Sampage.. We reach Madikeri by around 12noon and fortunately took a private bus to Napoklu and another connecting bus to Kabbinakad junctionRuzbeh & Dharmesh at Kabbinakad (There are also private buses to Kabbinakad from Madikeri however, we could not get one in our timing). Kabbinakad is the base village for Honey Valley Estate. We were well received by Mr. Suresh Chengappa, owner of Honey Valley Estate. From Kabbinakad, it's a 3 km.rough ride by jeep to ‘Honey Valley Estate' (alt : 1250m/4101ft). Honey Valley Estate (63 acres) is extremely beautiful and was once the largest producer of Honey in India , hence the name. This is a home-stay and home cooked food is served. Mr. Suresh along with his wife Mrs.Susheela & their daughter, Savitha manage the entire estate. Till date there are 18 treks recorded in and around Honey Valley . And there are still many unexplored places.

Honey Valley Estate

We reached the estate by around 2:30pm and after dumping our rucksacks and freshening up, were treated to one sumptuous noon meal consisting of rice, chapattis, vegetables, chicken & pork delicacy. Post lunch followed a quick briefing of the trek route and some important inputs about the route/region from Mr.Suresh. We took enough food for the night and left for Mt. Tadiyandamol at 4pm . 

We climbd from behind the estate and reached a wide path that leads us to the junctionStart of the Trek. This junction is the base for many of the treks that originate here. We took a right and started climbing steadily uphill keeping Choma Kund (1,605 mts) on our left and headed in the direction towards Madanda Abbi Falls. Walking thru small acacia and casurina plantings that partly obscure the path, we skirted the deep native forest on our right, crossed some fencings and within minutes we found a clear path that lead us again to the right, where we reached a small pond, which is supposed to be the origin of Madanda Abbi Falls.

Crossing the pond we finally emerged onto a ridge from where one could get to see First view of Tadiyandamolthe first view of Tadiyandamol Peak . It's about 5pm and kind off getting dark. From here until the pass at the mountain base, we periodically saw or passed rock cairns marking the top of the ridge. We steadily walked towards the mountain and cross a fence. Soon the trail drops the left-south below the ridge, contouring above a steep drop-off. We then returned to the ridge and crossed another fence. Enroute we passed thru several thickets of wild hibiscus, as tall as, us and rock cairns markings. Here Enroute to Tadiyandamol we missed our path and threaded off to the south side of the steep ridge…the time was already 6:30pm and quite dark too ….We knew for sure that we will not be able to summit that night but our prime task was to cover as much as we can. We dangerously walked thru tall grass, unaware of the dangers that lied in our paths, whether snakes or wild animals. We traversed a forest and by that time it's was 7pm, and to our sheer good luck we stumbled upon a path that came from Dinner Time the other side of the forest. This is the path we should have taken initially instead we descended south of the mountain. We walked ahead and reached a huge boulder. Out of the blue! We found two trekkers camping there with their tents. Nicholas, an Australian backpacker and his Indian tour agent, Dev Balaji from Nature Admire, Bangalore. It had become extremely dark, hence we decided to stay with them for the night. We had a good time conversing about various trekking spots with some foreign treks info from Nicholas. Unfortunately, it was quite cold and we three crawled into our sleeping bags below the boulder. We woke up by 5:30pm and were ready to go to the summit. We decided to dump our travel packs in Dev's tent. Just behind the boulder, there is a path leading to the forest below. There is a small stream flowing here and this is the last water point before the summit. Dharmesh,Ruzbeh,Dinesh & Nick Atop SummitWe left for the summit at around 6am and continued steeply uphill all the way to the narrow ridge between the main peak and a smaller, very pointy mountain to the right. There are some old stone walls here. The trail curves to the south & uphill through grassy slopes towards a forest. Climbing thru the moist forest, the trail comes out into the open again, and close to the summit it splits into many paths which climbs steeply up over boulders to the top. We finally summited Tadiyandamol at 7:20am. Being the highest point in Coorg, the view from top is extremely beautiful & fascinating. An irregular trekking route from the summit goes straight to Bhramagiri hills. The Bhramagiri hills (1340 mts) can be seen far off towards from the south of Tadiyandamol.

After a quick photo session followed by breakfast, we descended back to the base. From here we decided to visit Nalknad Palace. So we descended onto a more prominent route (jeep track) which goes onto Aramane Village. We reached Palace Junction after about an hour's walk and took a right to the village school adjacent to which lies the Nalknad Palace.

Nalknad Palace :- Built by Doddaveerarajendra in 1792 A.D. safe in the depths of aNalknad Palace dense jungle at the base of Tadiyandamol, this elegant two-DODDAVEERARAJENDRA KING OF KODAGUstoried palace served as the last refuge for Chickaveerarajendra before he surrendered to the British in A.D. 1834. Ornamental pillars and verandahs with carved windows and door frames are its notable features. The roof here was originally thatched. The Cobra looked upon as a Scourge & Savior is common in these parts of the region. It inspires fear, but also plays an important role in controlling rodents which are its normal prey. The Cobra symbol carved in various places in the building was probably meant to warn enemies in times often plagued by intrigue.

After a quick tour of the palace, we walked back to ‘Palace Jn.' (Aramane stop) and got a lift to Kabbinakad junction (3km). Unfortunately, we could not get a pickup back to the estate so we trekked the entire stretch of Honey Valley . After a quick bath, followed by lunch we departed for Madikeri. From Kabbinakad Jn we hired a Maruti Omnivan to Madikeri. We reached Madikeri in about an hour's time. While Dharmesh & I, we went off to the bus stand to check bus timings to Hassan, Ruzbeh took off the Madikeri Fort which lies in the town area. Unfortunately, Mondays the fort is closed for public, hence Ruzbeh just got a sneak peak of the fort area.

Madikeri fort & palace :- Coorg / Kodagu was ruled from 1600 to 1834 by the Lingayat family of the Haleri dynasty. The fort at 1525m was initially built of mud by the MadhMADIKERI FORTu Raja I, the third ruler of the family. It was captured and then repaired and built of stone by Tipu Sultan in 1781. He then called it Jaffarabad. The fort came in the hands of the British in 1834.Inside the fort is the palace of Lingayat Rajendra Wodeyar , a simple two storied structure built in European style. This palace is now converted into Deputy Commissioner's office. There are beautiful paintings inside. The St. Marks Church built by Rev. A. Fenell in 1856, is now converted into a Government museum ( 9am to 5pm / Monday closed). One chapel is dedicated to Field Marshal K. M. Carriappa which includes his portrait and memorabilia. At the second entrance where the District prison is situated, are two stone elephants, a monument set up by the Vir Raja II (1780-1809) who went mad, the story for which goes like this: There were these two elephants during Vir Raja's days that blew their trumpets everyday at dawn inside the fort. One day he asked his mahouts not to be woken up at dawn but they did not get the message. In fury, he had both the mahouts and the elephants put to death. After that he felt bad and asked the two statues to be built, subsequently he became ill and after sometime turned mad.

Thus we bade goodbye to Coorg and took the 5:30pm KSRTC bus to Hassan (120km/3hrs) and onwards to Chikmagalur.














Mullaiyanagiri to BabaBudangiriBabaBudangiri Peak as seen from Mullaiyanagiri Peak


Mullaiyanagiri Peak : 1925mts / 6317ft
Baba Budangiri Peak : 1878mts / 6161ft

This was the 2nd Leg of our Expedition. We departed from Madikeri at 5:30pm and arrived in Hassan at around 9pm . After about 15min we caught another bus to Chikmagalur and reached there at around 10:30pm . After dinner, we checked into Prakash Lodge, situated closeby to the bus stand, were we stayed for the night.

Chikmagalur : - Chikmagalur is a town that one passes thru and forget's immediately. The charms that once qualified Chikmagalur to become dowry for a daughter of the local chief (the name means younger daughter's town) are no longer obvious. One can still buy Coffee here as Chikmagalur is famous for its coffee. Chickmagalur district is a petite, misty mountain territory home to the highest peak in Karnataka – Mullaiyanagiri, which is a part of the Baba Budan ranges that streak across this area.

Next morning (Tuesday), we checked out of the lodge and deposited our travelpacks at the KSRTC Bus stand cloak room. We then took the 1st Private bus (dep 8am) from Chikmagalur which headed towards BabaBudangiri. The bus journey was enthralling with a total jam packed bus and another 20-30 locals perched on top of the bus. After an initial straight road for about 0.5 hrs the road started winding up the hill and finally after about an hour (14km) we were dropped off at Sarpanidri, below the Mullaiyanagiri Hill. An Arch shaped entrance is put up here denoting some Kannada words saying about the peak. This is where the Mullaiyanagiri Trek starts.

Sarpanidri ArchIt was 9am and roughly it would take us about 45min-1hr to reach on top, so we decided to climb slowly. Sarpanidri in Kannada means ‘Snake Path'. Climbing uphill a steep snakEnroute to Mullaiyanagiri Peake winding path we reached a rock patch (15ft) in about 30mins. Just about the patch is a small natural cave. We climbed further onto a grassland and finally reached a huge banyan tree with a small Nandi temple at its base. This is a good resting place as well as a vantage point. On the left we could see Baba Budangiri Betta (Peak) which we had to reach in the later part of the day. We rested at the temple for about 15min and move further up. In about 15mins time we reached the rock walls of the Mullapswamy Temple, built on top of Mullaiyanagiri hill.

Lord Shiva is the presiding deity of the temple and is referred to as Mullapswamy here. SRI MULLAPSWAMY - PRESIDING DEITY OF MULLAIYANAGIRIThe Temple dating back to 10th Century has been renovated few years back. There is a road (Jeep track) which comes right from below (starts about 1/2km before Sarpanidri) and reaches right up to the temple. The temple complex is housed in a cave like structure housed inside a huge dome. The exterior of the dome is completely covered with grass, hence it's difficult to know that a temple exists inside. Mr.ShivshankaEnroute to BabaBudangirir takes care of the Priestly duties here and is supported by his wife and a caretaker- pujari. There is electricity and telephone connection inside the complex and trekkers can also camp overnight here. The view from here is excellent with some good views of Bababudangiri Hills, Kudremukh range, Chikmagalur town, vast tracts of forests etc. After offering our prayers here, followed by a cup of coffee (courtesy – Priest), we left for our cross country trek to Bababudangiri at around 11am . From the temple a path descends steeply crossing a rock face and climb onto a ridge. We now walked in the direction of Bababudangiri. After crossing many small hills (3-4), we steadily descended and reach K.K.Gundi (Kaikalgundi).

The Chikmagalur – Bababudangiri road (29kms) intersects at KK Gundi. Just before VIEW OF MULLAIYANAGIRI TEMPLE FROM KKGUNDI CHECKPOSTreaching the road, there are some old stone structures, it is said that Swami Vivekananda had visited this place. On the road is a water tank and a stone carving of Lord Hanuman. There is a board showing the map of the Tiger forest reserve that forms a part of the range. We crossed the road and climbed onto the opp hill & reach the KK Gundi Forest Receiving Station. Its about 2:30pm , thus we haveRIDGE WITH MULLAIYANAGIRI IN BG our lunch here. From here, the path (as mentioned by the temple priest) goes further down the valley to Konhalla Falls – Attigundi Village and finally bababudangiri. However, instead of going down again and climbing up, we decided to go thru the difficult ridge path and climbed the Bababudangiri hill. Just after, the Handpost (Rec Stn) we climbed onto a rocky & grassy ridge. There is no route defined here. On both the sides there are steep slopes that fall into the valley some 1000 ft. The ridge about 1-1.5km long is hardly 2-3ft wide and we thread it with utmost care. The entire ridge walk is so enthralling. We realized that we would have missed it if taken the other route. After about 1 hr we reached an open area on the outskirts of a forest. We were still high on the mountain and the forest slopes downwards. We traversed the forest from its top and started climbing a huge hill after which we traversed the same and reached the base VIEW OF BABA BUDAN BETTA WITH THE BSNL STNof Bababudangiri hill. After about ½ hr climb Ruzbeh and myself, we reached the top of Bababudangiri Betta (Peak). This peak is the tallest in this range. It houses two towers of the BSNL Microwave station. We check out the tower and the views from the place. We can see Mullaiyanagiri temple far away and realize what a wonderful peak to peak trek we did. Meanwhile, Dharmesh, who does not climb Bababudangiri traverses the hill and reaches, Manikdhara falls. Ruzbeh and myself, we descended Bababudangiri and proceeded to Manikdhara falls. We reached there in about ½ hr. Its about 4:30pm . Manikdhara is a perennial waterfall with is source unknown. The falls are located high up on the mountain & the views are excellent from here. A small shrine dedicated to Bababudan is here (legend says that he used to meditate here). This place is frequented by a lot of Bababudan worshippers and tourists too. There is a vantage point here. One can see Devlama Betta (Peak) from here. (it's a tough trekking route from Manikdhara falls). There is a Devi Temple on top of the hill. The actual route is to approach Devlama Betta from Manehalli Village which is at its base. We then walk up the road (3km) pass a small pond called Moti Talab and reach Bababudan village.

The small town of Babu Budan peeth consists ‘Sri Guru Dattatraya Baba Budan Swami MOTI TALAB ON BABA BUDAN BETTAdargah'. This is a place of worship for both Hindus and Muslims. In the 1670, a Muslim saint Baba Budan smuggled 7 coffee beans in his belt from Yemen and planted them here. It is he who introduced coffee hereWAY TO THE BABABUDAN PEETH for the first time in India . The saint Hazrat Dada Hayath Meer Qalandar was also known as Sri Guru Dattatreya Baba Budan Swami. Mysore rulers like Krishna Rajendra Wodeyar were ardent devotees of Dada Hayath whom the Hindus believed to be Sri Dattatreya, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Krishnaraja Wodeyar frequented the CAVE ENTRANCE AT THE PEETH shrine and had long discussions on spiritual subjects with the dargah's priest. For his stay near the shrine, he had asked his engineers to construct a building. When it was ready, he found that the holy cave shrine was below his new structure. His unrivalled devotion to the sufi saint compelled him to abandon the building. Remnants of the edifice can be seen even today (on the road to Manikdhara falls). The saint meditated at the cave which is the peeth today. After that he entered the cave and disappeared. The samamdhi of his four followers and his mother are also there in the cave. Every 5 years the ‘Urus' festival is celebrated here and it attracts pilgrims from all over the world. 

After a visit to the cave shrine and briefing by the priest there, we returned to Chikmagalur by the 6pm bus (last bus to Chikmagalur) and reached at around 8pm covering a distance of 29kms. After dinner we collected our bags from the cloak room and took the11:30pm bus to Dharmastala.


















We reached Dharmastala at around 2am and checked into one of the guest houses there.

SHRI MANJUNATHA TEMPLEDharmastala is one of the many holy towns of Karnataka which houses the famous temple of Manjunatha Swami (Lord Shiva). The town is well planned and is extremely beautiful. The entire Dharmastala town including the temple complex, schools, museum, colleges and other infrastructure all belong to the Hegde Family with Mr. Virendra Hegde at its helm of affairs. The initial temple built of stone is centuries old. There is lot of modern construction around the old temple. Males have to remove1938 DAKOTA DC AIRCRAFT PARKED SINCE '96 their shirts when entering the temple. Opposite the temple is the Manjusa museum. This museum has a superb collection of lot of pre-historic stuff and ancient goods incl antique carvings, costumes, notes and coins, statues, weapons, phones, cameras, typewriters and also a backbone of a whale. Just outside the museum are 5 Ancient Rath's donated by various other temples of Karnataka. All of them are made of wood. A 5min. walk from the museum leads us to an antique car museum housing several antique cars (about 50). There is also a 1938 Dakota (DC3) Aircraft donated by Birla Jute Industries Ltd., Bombay , and another old small turboprop parked there.

After spending ½ day at Dharmastala we proceed to Belthangady on our quest to Jamalabad Fort.














Jamalabad Fort or Jamalagadda as it is known in the local dialect was built by Tipu Sultan in 1794 on a previously exiting fort called ‘Narsimhagudi'. He renamed it ‘Jamalabad' after his mother Jamalbee. In 1799AD the fort was captured by the British and finally re-captured by Tipu in 1800AD. The fort lies on the summit of a lofty granite hill. The flight of steps on the eastern side of the hill is the only approach to the citadel. They are cut out of solid rock. The walls, bastions and gateways are built of carefully cut granite blocks. Inside the citadel there are two tanks and small springs. One of the ruined bastions has a dismantled iron cannon. This fort at 1700 feet and built entirely on a rocky hill is detached from the main Kudremukh Range .

This Fort falls under the purview of the ASI and lies in the Kudremukh Forest Range (Karkala Division). At the base, there is a forest office where one has to pay entry fees to visit the fort (Rs.15 per child / Rs.30 per adult). Entry timings to visit the fort is 6am to 6pm . While stay on top of the fort is prohibited, the rules are misused by locals as well as various other groups and picnickers who frequent the place.

We reached Beltangady after ½ hr bus journey. We took up accomadation at a local guest house, had lunch and hired aFLIGHT OF STEEP STEPS rickshaw to drop us to the base of Jamalabad Fort (8kms). From the main road, we took a left towards Navoor. After about 5kms is Manjite Village from where we took a left turn crossed over a bridge and moved towards Jamalabad Fort. We passed the Entry Arch of the fort and proceed further to the base from where the steps lead to the fort top. The Arch is situated about ½ km before the base.

We started our trek at 2pm. Steps (1ft to1.5ft high) right from the base lead to the top, however many of them are in broken condition until you reach the second entrance of the fort from THE STEEP STEPS OF THE FORT HEADING UPwhereon the steps are good. There are approx 1876 stone steps and 24 recently constructed cemented steps (at the base). Enroute we pass thru the lower walls of the fort. The first entrance is a simple one where we found a broken cannon after which there is a steep climb of steps thread thru a narrow path and reached the second entrance which is broken. Here too we find 2-3 cannons strewn around. From hereon there is a continuous flight of steep steps leading to the top of the fort. The steps circumvent the hill walls on the right whereas the left portion is open and falls deep into the valley (somewhat like Harihar in Nashik District). We now FORTIFICATIONS ON THE BIG HILLreached the main entrance which is arch shaped, in good condition and also cemented, probably done in recent years. After the entrance the path leads left emerging out in to a gully between two hills. The one on the right is a big hill and houses a small microwave tower. The one to the left is a smaller hill and has a small house with Graffiti defaced on its walls. Its 3pm and so we decided to checkout the big hill. We circumvented the hill, climbed and reached the microwave station. The entire hill is covered with tall grass (7ft) and is quite a dangerous proposition to walk thru the same due to fear of snakes and other reptiles. However, not bothering too much we checked out the entire hill. We find portions of the fort walls & broken bastions.

The view from here is good as one can get a clear view of the Kudremukh range consisting the Kudremukh peak and Hiremar Guppe mountain. We returned and climbed the View of Kudremukh Range shorter hill and moved towards its edge. The views from here are simply superb. There are several portions of the fort walls in intact condition along with its bastions. We then checked out the barren house, empty stone house which was completely defaced…We then descended the hill and moved right towards a water tank which is quite empty now after which we returned to the main entrance. It took us about an hour to see the fort. We started our descent at about 4pm. We reached the base at 5pm and walked upto the entrance. This entrance is square in shape and quite tall, There are no doors, just the square frame and about 20ft wide walls on both side. We then walked upto Manjite Village from where we took a bus to Beltangady.























Kudremukh Peak - 1905mts / 6250ft
At Belthangady we visited the Forest Range Officer to know more about how to trek to Kudremukh since we were in its vicinity. We are well received at his office and after getting all the necessary information, we paid the necessary forest entry fees, guide charges etc.

About Kudremukh :- This peak at 1905mts / 6250ft is the second highest peak inKudremukh Peak Karnataka. The peak looks like the shape of a horse's face and hence the name (‘kudre' means horse and ‘mukh' means face). The peak falls in the Kudremukh National Park and permission is required to visit the same. One has to pay entry fees, trekking fees and also camping fees if you do an overnight. There are Range offices at Karkala, Kudremukh town, Kerekatte, Belthangadi, Hebri and Kollur where one can get all the necessary information and guidance to visit Kudremukh and various other trekking spots in the region. Kudremukh peak should not be confused with Kudremukh town, also present inside the park.

There are two routes to climb Kudremukh….
Route 1 :-
Samse – Ballegal – Mullodi – Nashele – APC - Lobo Mane – Kudremukh Peak
Route 2 :- Beltangady - Navoor – Kaikambi – Kasravali – Lobo Mane – Kudremukh Peak

The first route is a common route and is a gradual climb upto Lobo Mane. Samse which is already high up in the Kudremukh range so the climb part is not too much. There is a jeep track coming right upto Mullodi village. There are some villages too on this route.

We decided to take the second route as we are in Beltangady. Beltangady lies in the plains and therefore one has to climb of about 5,000ft upto Lobo Mane. Moreover, this a difficult route thru dense forests infested with wild animals and reptiles and without any villages enroute. The advantage of this route is to get a chance to see the exhilarating views of the ranges and the entire Hiremar Guppe mountain. A Guide is very important on this trek.

Its was Thursday (2/12/04) and we checked out at around 4:30am from our Beltangady hotel and proceeded to our guide's house at Kaikambi. Unfortunately, our guide could speak only Kannada. We left his house by 7:30am, crossed the check post and entered the forest KUDREMUKH TREK STARTSreserve. There is a small jeep track which goes for about 3.5km into the forest. However, we avoided taking the track and climbed straight uphill thru the forest. Point to be noted is on this particular trek we were carrying our entire load, especially I was carrying roughHIREMAR GUPPE IN BACKGROUNDly about 18-20kgs in my huge haversack. We climbed further and reached an open area where the jeep track seems to send and we get the first view of the massive Hiremar Guppe. Here you will find a rock cairn with 3.5km written on it. We took a left here, climbed upwards into the forest. The forest is dense & we walked on a narrow trail without making much noise. One could see several snake holes in the walls adjacent to the trail. Whilst walking we also got a chance to see Tiger scat and as per our guide there are a couple of Tigers in Kudremukh range. The trekking route criss-crossed the track many times with several cairns placed at intersections. The KFD has erected cairns all along the route with markings in kilometers. All along the trail one could see the various sides of Hiremar Guppe. At Pt.19, 7.5km the entire south face of Hiremar Guppe can be seen. At Pt.9.5km there is a small waterfall. This route has plenty of water all along the way so one need not carry much water. After a 10km climb we reached one of the Lobo Mane's (house), a complex of 6 abandoned Christian houses. (Rented out only to trekking groups mostly from Bangalore ).

As instructed, by the Range officer we proceeded to the APC (Anti-poaching Camp) which is RUZBEH RESTING AT THE APC about 1km away from Lobo Mane. Its 11:45am and we are well received at the APC by the forest dept workers Sudhir Kumar Shetty & Team. The APC is a small shanty built in a open space at the edge of a forest. Their prime duty is too prevent unauthorized entry into the Park and prevent poaching of wild animals. After dumping our sacks there, we tookour daypacks and left APC at 12:30pm for the Kudremukh summit. We returned back to Lobo Mane and walked towards the peak and after a short climb we reached a small trail were we could see 2-3 fields and a few more of the Lobo Mane houses. From hereon we steadily keep climbing, traversing a no of small hills (looks like manicured), CLOSEUP OF THE BISON passing thru Bamboo forests and traverse the kudremukh mountain and climb up. Here there are two routes (1) goes towards an waterfall and then onto the abandoned church (2) climb straight ahead towards the peak. We take the second route and fortunately, after walking for about 15min to our utter surprise we found a lone huge Bison (Gaur) grazing. A huge animal, resembles a Yak with big C-shaped horns. Slowly we tried to get close to him and avoided much noise as to not distract the Bison. We got as close as 7ft and he was not bothered (Check the photos). We retrieved our steps back to the trail and moved further to reach a forest patch, traverse the same and finally summited Kudremukh. A sense of accomplishment was felt by all of us.

We could see Jamalabad Fort hillock right in front, Hiremar Guppe Mountains to the left DINESH RUZBEH AND THE GUIDE ON THE SUMMITand the Kudremukh National Park area surrounded on all sides. Next to the peak there was another high point (looks like that one is higher that Kudremukh, but actually not) it would take about an hour to reach there. However, due DINESH REJOICING WHILE DHARMESH LOOKS ON-ON THE PEAKto lack of time we did not venture too much. After a brief photography stint on the summit we returned back and enroute we visited the abandoned church. There were about 3 such churches at different locations on Kudremukh built during the British heydays. Now they are in absolute ruins. We descended after the church and entered the forest and came out where the route from the summit emerges. We descended hurriedly before Sunset and reached APC by 5:20pm . Enroute, one can see beautiful evening views of the surrounding hills and area. There are three streams enroute to the summit, only one of them being perennial.

At the APC, we took rest for sometime and then headed for the forest stream which is about 2-3min walk downhill from APC. The water here is extremely cold and all of PREPARING DINNER AT APCus have a good bath. For me, I just simply got into a rock hole amidst the stream and lied there for at least ½ hr in that cold water. Complete relaxation, just like as in a jaccuzzi. As the APC shanty was small we accommodated ourselves in the open behind the APC where we borrowed some utensils from the TERRACED FIELDS AT NASHELE VILLAGEcamp guys and cooked our dinner and finally got into our sleeping bags and called it a day. Sleeping in the Jungle, that too in the open had its own set of fun & fears. However, there was no other alternative. We woke to the chirping of birds at around 6am , freshened ourselves, thanked the APC guys for their hospitability and departed the camp at 7:30am and proceed towards Ballegal-Samse. Enroute we passed the serene villages of Nashele, Mullodi and finally at about 10:45am we reached Ballegal. KUDREMUKH COLONY-BEAUTIFUL AND WELL MAINTAINED Just before, reaching Ballegal town, we had to cross a stream and there were only two ways to cross it is (1) a diaplated Bamboo bridge (2) cross the stream where the water is shallow. Ruzbeh and Dharmesh managed to cross on the bamboo bridge, whereas I with a heavy haversack had to take the second option. We rested for a while in Ballegal from where we took a express bus to Karkala. (2hrs - roads are good). 9kms from Karkala is Kudremukh Colony where the KIOCL (Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited) is situated. The town developed entirely by KIOCL is well-kept and gives a feel of a typical Himalayan town surrounded by beautiful hills. Enroute we passed Lakya Dam (5km from Kudremukh Colony) which was built by KIOCL to deposit red sludge has a stark industrial beauty.

We reached Karkala, took another bus to Udupi via Manipal and another bus to Kollur (3hrs) via Kundapur and from Kollur the 5pm bus to Karankette on our quest to the beautiful Kudajadri Peak .























Kudajadri Peak 1411mts / 4630ft
My quest to climb Kudajadri was both Spiritual and Adventure related. The sublime heights of the Kudajadri Peak invites all lovers of nature. From its top, one witnesses God's boundless glory in the beauty of Nature. It is a place rich in historical importance and mystic significance. From ancient days, this distinctive peak has been a well known landmark for sailors, as it is visible at a great distance. Last year when I visited the Mookambika Temple in Kollur, I was very much fascinated to see this giant triangular hill at a distance, completely engulfed by dense forests. Further investigations revealed that the actual Mookambika Temple and the devi's idol installed by Adi Shankaracharya was on the summit of Kudajadri. So I decided the next time I am in Karnataka I will attempt to climb Kudajadri and visit the shrine there.

Our bus took of from Kollur at 5pm and by 6:15pm and after climbing the range KUDAJADRI AS SEEN FROM KERAKETTEpast kollur the bus dropped us off at Karankette (13kms). We took a right turn and headed into the woods towards Kudajadri. From Kollur, one can even hire a jeep (Rs.1000 for return trip) upto the Shrine on top of Kudajadri. The road and the trekking path bifurcate just after Vallur. We walk for about 1hr (8kms) and reach the tiny hamlet of Vallur.RUZBEH AND DHARMESH POSSE DURING THE NIGHT TREK TO KUDAJA On way about 1 km before is ISKON'S Bhaktivendanta Eco-village. The lone tea shop at Vallur is owned by Mr. Tangappan (a native of Ernakulam, Kerala) but having settled there for about 30 years. He was extremely helpful and allowed us to keep our huge haversacks and so we could take along just our daypacks. It's already 7:30pm and we decided to trek at night. Taking the route details from him, and torches in our hand we start climbing thru the dense jungles upto the temple complex (4kms). (Point here to note is most of the groups that have done the trek contemplate trek duration at 3-4hrs climb time, however we climbed the entire stretch in 45min-1hr that too at a medium pace). We finally reached the temple complex at 8:30pm .

The Siddeshwara Huliraya Moolamookambika Temple complex consists of two temples. In the first shrine the Goddess is worshipped in her terrific aspect THE SIDDESHWARA HULLIRAYA MOOKAMBIKA TEMPLEand here meat is often offered in rituals. There is a rectangular iron pillar, about 7 mts high in front of the temple. It challenges time and is there like the famous iron pillar in Delhi . A little further, on a higher elevation is the second temple where the Goddess is worshipped in her most beautiful and merciful form as 'Uma' and where Vedic rituals are performed. Around this temple there are four sacred springs. There is a small pond ‘Kamandalu Theertham' on the courtyard of the temple where one can have a refreshing dip The sacred springs are ‘Sanghu Theertham', ‘Naaga Theertham' and ‘Gauri Theertam'. From here one gets a marvelous view of the awe-inspiring mountain ranges all around. The temple complex houses many other deities too, but the presiding deity is DAWN AS SEEN FROM SHANKARA PEEDAMthe 'Mookambika Devi'. The temple priest stays with his family and has built rooms for people to hire while visiting the temple and are priced very cheap. Food is also provided here at reasonable rates. We settled down in one of the rooms, and early next morning at around 5pm headed off to the summit to witness the sunrise. Sunrise as seen from Kudajadri is said to be a memorable event. It took us about 45mins to reach the summit in dark. Here, there is an ancient Devi temple (the actual temple) where the devi's idol was installed by Adi Shankaracharya and hence its called as ‘Shankara Peedam'. We stayed there for about an hour and witnessed the beautiful mesmerizing sunrise. The morning view is superb as the entire Shimoga district can be seen from here. One can even see the Arabian Sea on a typical clear day.

Just behind the summit on the western side, a path precariously leads down into the forestON THE WAY TO CHITRAMOOLA CAVE (1/2 hr) to the holy, Chitramoola Cave. The cave is perched midway in the rock. A young sadhu, follower of Adi Shankaracharya was in the cave meditating. He saw us and told us to climb up the cave. The cave is small and can accomadate 3-4 people. He spoke Malayalam and it was easy for me to ask him the legend behind the cave. “In the DwaparaYug, Kollamaharishi, DINESH & RUZBEH WITH SANYASI IN CHITRAMOOLA CAVEa powerful sage used to meditate here. In the Kaliyug, Adi Shankaracharya had meditated here for several days”. Below the cave sprawls the lush, almost impenetrable forest of Ambavanam (Mother's Gardens). The cave is a part of Ambavanam and is infested with wild animals and deadly snakes. A remarkable feature of this unique mid-mountain cave is the perennial dramatic flow of water towards the southern part of the opening. It originates somewhere near the mountain top, flows down towards a convenient part of the cave as if to supply the needs of the occupant in the cave. Except this there is no trace of water anywhere nearby. Tradition has it that the water course sprouted miraculously to serve Sri Adi Shankaracharya, when he was meditating in the cave.

The sadhu also told us that even now whenever any person meditates in the cave during the nights, 2 snakes come and sit besides and a wild bison climbs up the forest and rest near the cave. The cave is also infested with snakes but you will hardly see them during daytime and if you happen to see one them, they do not attack. It was kind of eerie sitting in the cave as we saw a long shedded snake skin. It is said that they are there to guard the pilgrims meditating in the cave. There is a route which climbs down from the cave into Ambavanam and reaches Kollur, however a few have threaded thru this path never to return and their fate remains unknown.

CLOSEUP OF THE GANESH IDOL AT GANESH GUHAAfter spending about ½ in the cave we climbed back to the summit and returned on our path to the temple complex. Enroute there is a deviation on the left where there is a board giving direction that leads to ‘Ganesh Guha'. Ganesh Guha is indeed a very mysterious cave. Inside it there is an ancient and graceful stone idol of Shri Ganesha and also a recently installed statue of Sri Adi Shankaracharya. The cave top slopes down to a small crevice at the far end which has a mysterious tunnel. One would not believe that the simple crevice is, in fact, hidingAGASTYA THEERTA IN THE FOREST some mystery. After visiting the cave, we descended carefully into the forest and reached a small waterfall called ‘Agastya Theertam'. This is a good water source and one can even have a cool bath. We traversed thru the forest and reached the temple HOTEL SANTOSH IN VALURcomplex in ½ hr. After finishing our morning chores and offering our prayers at the temple we descended to Vallur. Whilst returning, we got a good chance to witness the abound beauty of nature that we missed while climbing in the night. We reached Vallur at around 11am. This was supposed to be our last trek of the expedition, but to our sheer luck we were informed by the hotel owner that there is another beautiful short trek thru the deep forests from Vallur to Kollur which passes thru ArasanaGundi Waterfalls. One undertakes this trek if one needs to avoid the walk upto Karankette and the 13km bus journey to Kollur. We decided to do the trek…after all it would be a bonus trek for all of us.



















Kudajadri – Arasanagundi Waterfalls – Kollur
Prelude :- After descending from Kudajadri We reached Vallur at around 11am . Kudajadri was supposed to be our last trek of the expedition, but to our sheer luck we were informed by the hotel owner that there is another beautiful short trek thru the deep forests from Vallur to Kollur which passes thru Arasana gundi Waterfalls. One undertake this trek if one needs to avoid the walk upto Karankette and the 13km bus journey to Kollur. We decided to do the trek…afterall it would be a bonus trek for all of us.

Dharmesh on the track comin from KudajadriWe hired a guide cause actually there is no route thru the forest. Malle, our guide who took us thru the forest had Forest entry for Arshinagundia thorough knowledge of the route and how to reach the other side. We started our trek at 12noon. We walked back towards Karankette. Enroute we passed a broken electric pole and here we have to take a left and head into the forest. It was quite eerie walking in the forest. Though it was afternoon time, the Dinesh inside the forestfeeling we got was quite scary. We just walked and walked. The guide carrying a sharp huge Koita in his hand would chop his way thru the shrubs making way for us. Here we got a first hand experience of how a dense forest would look like. We also got a chance to see huge Cobra snake mounds and we would walk pass them (but never got a chance to see one).

After about 1hr we reached a stream called Kaasi River. There are huge boulders here and we walked on some of them and crossed to the other side. Instead, of walking next to the river, we did some steep climbing to reach a high point within the forest.

AfterArshinagundi Falls another 45min we reach Arasana Gundi pond, where the Kaasi River flows into the pond and is therefore called the Arasana Gundi Falls (120ft high). Permeated with the scent of forest flowers, the Dinesh & Ruzbeh at the fallssurroundings of the pond gives one a perfect sense of spiritual solitude and peace. The river overflows the pond and moves downwards to join, in due course, Agni Theertham at Kollur and then merge into holy Souparnika River . The centre of this small lake is said to be very deep and the legend has it that the Goddess after destroying the demon Mookaasura immersed her golden chariot in it. Taking bath in the cool waters of the pond is invigorating. One may notice, for a few moments a light golden hue over the body when one takes bath here – considered as a unique phenomenon. That why the pond is known as Arasana Kundu, the ‘Pond of the Turmeric'. When the water from the falls hit the pond, one can see varied colors emitting out.

Ruzbeh & Dharmesh at Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary Entrance at DaliWe spent about ½ hr there. Whilst we were there, some more groups from Bangalore had come to visit the Kudajadri from Kollurfalls. However, they came from Dali, from where a proper cart track comes upto a point, from where one has to descend into the forest and reach the falls in 10min. This was our route to reach Kollur. We climbed uphill and reached the cart track and walked for about 1.5hrs and finally reached the Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary entrance at Dali. We bade goodbye to our very helpful guide (he took a bus back to Karankatte). Unfortunately, due to odd timings we could not get a bus but surely got a lift from a trucker and reached Kollur town in 20mins.

This was indeed our last leg of the trek. We thanked our stars and offcourse the almighty that all went of well without any mishaps or difficulties inspite be being in unknown territory. We caught the 5:30pm bus to Mangalore and passing thru Kundapur, Udupi, Suratkal, we reached Mangalore at around 9pm. We checked into a hotel situated at Hampankate circle close to the railway station as the next day we were to depart to Bombay by the Matsyagandha Exp departing at 2pm .














After a quick dinner, we all crashed into our beds and woke up quite late the next day. We still had 4-5hrs in hand before our return journey so we decided to checkout a few of the tourist spots in Mangalore.

Mangalore, deriving its name from the goddess Mangaladevi, lies along the backwaters formed by the Netravati and Gurpur rivers on the Western coast and is bordered by the Arabian Sea.The most popular spoken language is Tulu. The place is blessed with green fields, waterfalls, beautiful beaches and a rich variety of flora and fauna.

Milagres Church

Just across, our hotel on the other side of the road stands the beautiful Milagres Church . The church has lot of murals and paintings inside. We could not venture much inside as the Sunday Mass was underway. We then proceed to Sultan Bateri.

Sultan Bateri :-
Not to be mistaken by another place in Kerala bearing the same name, this one is situated in Boloor, 6 km from the city. Sultan Bateri was built by Tippu Sultan Batteri - Profile viewSultan to prevent warships to enter Gurpur River . It is also called ‘Ganapativattan'. It consists of a single bastion reached by steps and big enough for mounting guns. There are two underground tunnels from here and legend says that Tipu Sultan once escaped from one of them. Today, the black stone fort wears a deserted look, and only some parts of the fort are still standing. One of the remaining structures, Tippu's Well gives a visitor the charming beauty of the original construction. Although it is a watchtower, it gives the impression of a miniature fortress with its arrangements for mounting cannons all-round. The government, particularly the ASI has done restoration work by cementing the top.

Sultan Batteri from Sea

The view of the Gurpur river, fishing village and the boatsRuzbeh & Dinesh at Thanir Bavi Beach sailing all are a pleasant sight to see. We cross the creek and reach Thannir Bavi village. After visiting the local church there, we cross some beach shrubs and reach the pristine clean Thannir Bavi beach. The beach is long and commonly frequented in the evenings by the people of Mangalore.

Finally our expedition
came to a full stop here. Quite a hectic week…covering a motorable distance of about 900kms and trek walking of upto 150kms.

Matsyagandha Exp

We departed Mangalore on 4th Dec'04 by Matsyagandha Express and arrived into Mumbai LTT at 6am the following day, thus marking the end of a remarkable expedition.

We learnt several lessons during this expedition namely route planning and thoughtful execution of the same, surviving in the wilderness, never to get disheartened, tired or retreat but to always be on the move, stay and work in a group, sort out various logistical issues which sometime would erupt between the three of us and once again unanimously stick to a common decision.

Hoping to return in 2005 for another Raid D'Karnataka Expedition…………

Widen Your Horizons…..Keep Exploring….

Dinesh Nair……with inputs by Ruzbeh Billimoria.

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