Monday, 22 October 2007

Kodachadri - A Walk in the Clouds

Starting Point: NITK Surathkal
Places Visited: Kodachadri Peak, Kollur
Date: October 8, 20:00 to Oct 10 - 20007
Conveyance: Bus, Jeep, Foot (No, I'm not joking! Read on...)
Approx cost: Rs.500

It all just happened in a snap. That Monday evening we were discussing how best we could arrange a trip to Kodachadri. Some guys had already been there, so things would be simple and easy... or so we thought!! We were advised that if we had to see it all, we'd have to set aside 2 full days - one for the ascent and another for the descent. That was kinda outta question... I mean, can a bunch of tronix nerds ever bunk classes( the topper incl.)!!?? God forbid. Wednesday was a holiday. So after much deliberation, we decided to skip ONE class the next day (It took us 5 mins to decide just that!). And then another and then...the whole day!! It was decided that we'd leave early the next day before the crack of dawn. But it turned out that even that would not buy us sufficient time! That was when the decision was made... NOW is the time to leave. It was 7:30 and we'd be leaving at 8:00!! I'm sure we will not forget [or regret] this decision ever! Not many were willing to come along. Commitments [read projects] and Mahalaya Amavasya were among the most popular/interesting excuses. So it would be just the 5 of us. Ajay, Dha, Chappar, Takaal and myself. I rushed back home and gave mama a nice shock, telling her that I'd not have dinner and instead just pack off to Kodachadri! She shrugged a nervous okay (my sweet mama hardly gives me a NO) and helped me pack.

Within no time we were there at the bus-stop in front of GH. As we waited for a bus to Udupi, having narrowly missed one, we contemplated about what we'd do for dinner and where we'd spend the night. All along we dreaded the thought of having to dine and board in Udupi itself, for it would be nothing short of disastrous start. Lady Luck shined on us and we presumably took the last bus from Udupi to Kundapur. Whoa! And we learnt that the next bus we could hitch to Kollur would be only 5:00am the next day. So Kundapur had it would be. We had a spartan dinner (okay, count out the ice-creams) and lodged at a Hotel Hariprasad, as was the advice given by the bus conductor on the way to Kundapur. "Cheap and best", he said. Precisely what we were looking forward to. The room was nice and clean. We somehow managed to overcome space and resource constraints, thanks to Chappar's generosity ( just wanna make u happy dude...we all know the truth) and spent the night in peace, planning to get up at 4:00 the next morning.
Thanks to the cold, I was wide awake way before 4:00 and just waited along for the alarm to ring. As soon as the formality was over, I wasted no time kicking the rest 4 awake. Dha and Ajay WOULD take a bath, come what may. I and chappar din't mind not having the bath, for we were sure we'd have to have one at the end of the day's trek. Takaal did mind.... having a bath that is. But by 5:00 all of us had bathed [Takaal had had his 2nd bath in under 24hrs and hence, if the sun would be rise that day became a matter of serious concern to the rest of us]. I had been nominted/elected/selected/cursed to be in-charge of all the monetary activities during the trip. So, I dutifully haggled over the bill amount while checking out, as some charges had not been brought to our knowledge while checking in. With some quick maths, I realized that he had taxed us in excess. Consequently, we succeeded in saving a handsome amount of money! Our bus arrived shortly before 6:00 and we reached Kollur shortly after 7:00. After some enquiries in the temple premises, we knew we were in trouble. A bridge enroute our intended destination had collapsed 2 weeks ago. There were no buses plying and jeeps were the only option. Not surprisingly, their charges were exorbitant, but we had limited choice. So after a quick darshan of Goddess Mookambika, innumerable plates of idlis and dosas and a purchase of some supplies, we were on our way to Karkatte.

Kodachadri is an 8km trek from Karkatte, provided you take the direct route. But fortunately, we had no intentions of doing just that!! Our trek began with some enthusiastic leech sightings which soon turned out to be dreadful menaces.
We decided to walk fast and not stop unless absolutely necessary, to avoid giving the suckers a joyride [yeah, refreshments included].
Concepts like 'leech stop' and 'leech scan' were formulated! It turned out that Dha was their hot favourite. Not because he was of royal blood, but because his socks were slack and leeches love nice bare legs!! I was of the opinion that by the time we finished the trip he'd be reduced to a half blood prince. We meet some locals on the way who happily cut out some staffs for us, which helped us in the latter part of the journey when we had to really trek.
In about an hours time, we reached this clearing which housed Hotel Santosh [maybe Santhosh's hotel would be more appropriate].

It was our first pit-stop and we discussed on how to proceed. We decided to take a detour and visit the 'Hindalamane (/Hiddalamane) Falls'. This brought us to a house - a rustic thatched one. When we asked its residents for directions, they were skeptical as to if we could make it through the forest on our own. One of them offered to take us to the fall in return for a small price. The (over)enthusiastic lot [names withheld to safegaurd privacy] in the group said "What fun is a trek if you just have to blindly follow a guide. C'mon...we can figure out the way once we are in there." I thought otherwise. After a heated debated, we decided for the moment to follow our provisionary guide upto a distance, after which he'd give us the directions on how to proceed. Fortunately, he happened to mention tigers and bears during our conversation and this turned the tide. The trail leading to the falls was hardly visible at places and had numerous detours and deviations. By the time we got to the crossroad where he'd leave us, the number of people in favour of having him outnumbered the others. I'd say, Lady Luck shined again. As we progressed through the jungle, we were all glad that we had with us.

We hit the falls by noon, a short distance from a house which we think is the mane part of Hiddalamane.
Surrounded by lush green and sceneic fields, and with blue-grey hills in the backdrop, its a scene to behold; a feast for the eyes.

We were more than glad to arrive at the falls. The fact that only Takaal had swimming trunks didn't discourage rest of us from settling down for anything less. We had an amazing time at the '3-stage cascaded' falls!! We shot numerous photos from every conceivable angle and in poses. [Some shall, regrettably, remain a secret].

We dug into the biscuits and other edibles that we had got along and then bid farewell to our hero soon after. He said the way to Kodachadri was just a climb away from the falls. What a stab it turned out to be! The climb was easier said than done. The rocks were steep and slippery. As luck would have it, some Good Samaritans popped out of nowhere. We asked them for directions. It brought us back to the mane. After a call back to our hostel for direction from [the now Kodachadri veteran] PV, and a few enquiries with the residents of the mane we were on our way.

THIS was the 'trek part' of our trekking!! And easily THE thing. We had to walk until we got to a grassland. From there, the trail was supposedly hassle free. But the grassland seemed evasive! We walked and walked.. on and on... The typical engineers' instinct kicked in and we defined wherever we were, as grasslands and approximate grasslands!! As if that would help... But after 2 hours of trekking, under Chappar's able guidance from the front, PV's guidance over Ajay's cell [ya ya.. CellOne rocks.. but hey.. only interms of coverage], Takaal's advice [Takaal helidd mele aag hoytu!], Dha's rantings and my skepticism, we finally made it. Glory!!!!!
We were out in the open... the RUSH... the feeling of triumph... the joy of the moment!!On the top of the world! To my surprise I suddenly had coverage [even though Kollur didn't]. I called back home and talked to dad. Sent off a few messages and then settled down for the ambience to sink in. The view of just breathtaking. Open blue skies, loads and loads of mountains and a distant glimpse of Sharavati!

After having sufficiently basked in glory(!) we set off towards the peak, for the best was yet to come! Our morale high, we hiked our way to the very top. After another 30 mins or so we were there. The summit. The pinnacle.

That was it...indescribable!! Phew!! We just spent more time... clicked more pictures.

Whatever little breath was left in would also be taken away soon. The onward journey from this summit brought Near Death Experiences (fondly referred to as NDEs). The DE never came and we all made it across!

And a small ascent from there and it was like the gates of heaven were suddenly thrown open!

We were there.. in the clouds.. as they swept past us, engulfing us in its (her!?)chilling womb. There were clouds everywhere.. below us, over us and under us. Cloud nine - literally.

We gaped, we gasped. We clicked, we shot. It was just too much for our senses to taken in all at once. It had was eternal and ethereal. In short, it had to be experienced. We walked on and before long, we were on the the jeep track. It would be a straight forward walk from here...another 5 kms. We took a break, ran leech checks, refilled our batteries and then proceeded. After a long arduous trek, we finally made it! We were in Kodachadri, all worn out and exhausted. Kodachadri is a small village with just 2 houses, a couple of temples and the guest house.
The peak, a sunset view point, is a short trek from here. But we were sapped of all our energy and so decided to call it a day.

We spent the night sleeping in the hall of the PWD guest house. Cheap but definitely not the best, as the following night would teach us! It was a bitterly cold night and we were more than glad to see daylight.The only positive point being that Dha and Chappar woke up as more 'intimate and warm' friends!
All plans of going to see the sunrise were shelved thanks to the cold. So we got up late and made our way to the top. Fresh, cool, misty air to breathe.
But whats the point? The scenes were just breathtaking!
We trekked a couple of kms from the GH to the top. Up here is the Sarvagna Peeta which Shri Shankaracharya himself established and a short distance from there is the Chitra moola.
Nice cool spring water from the rocks! Against our expectations Chitramoola turned out to be dead end and we had to trek our way back up the hill to the peak and then back to Kodachadri.
The sun was out and shining brightly by then. We freshened up and checked out of the guest house. We bade little Kiran a nice goodbye.

We left at about 12:00 for Karkatte. Before leaving we requested the guest house caretaker to call the jeepwallah. Ajay suggested that he be there at Karkatte in 3 hours. But I insisted that he be called in 2 hours, for we were 'young and energetic teenagers'! I was wrong and that proved to be a bit costly. Anyway, the downhill trek was obviously easier and we were taking the direct route back to Karkatte.The return path was no different. More NDEs. More scenaries. More flora and fauna.
We walked non stop with occasional leech breaks and a lunch break. In about 90 mins, hungry and tired we made it to Hotel Santosh, where we treated ourselves to sumptuous lunch of idlis.
The idlis tasted extremely good, which I'm sure they'd not have if circumstances were normal. Dha got rid of more leeches and put up a gory show of oozing blood!
There were two dogs here. Nice and friendly. Unfortunately for me, none of my fellow trekkers would agree on this one point. They were somehow exceedingly paranoid about dogs, animal et al. Beats me why! Anyway, we left and in an hours time, the last leg of the trek was over... Or was it!??

We had taken 3 hours to get to Karkatte, almost running to make it for the fear that the jeepwallah would be waiting or even worse, he'd leave. When we got there, our worst fears had come true. The jeep was nowhere to be seen. As to if he had left after having waited for us or if the caretaker had forgotten to call him is still a matter of debate. We could have called him up ourselves. But hell No! "Real men take challanges head on"[LOL]. We decided to walk back to Kollur. All the 12 kms!!

Our legs were in shambles... battered and bruised by the walking we'd done thus far. But our spirits were not! So off we went walking, numb to the pain. It was a long walk.
We clocked an amazing 4.5kmph despite the apathy of our feet. By the time we got to Kollur, the pain had turned to eternal bliss! To get this state of bliss, all you need to do is walk 40 kms in two days [and not have walked more than a km in any other day of your life]. But we made it - ALIVE! The most elevating part being that our legs were still carrying us and none of us were carrying our legs! And if you thought the adventure was over.. NO! Not yet!

The last of the buses had already left Kollur as it was 7:00 pm. Private buses that is. There still was this KSRTC bus to B'lore which would be leaving at 8. We had classes to attend the very next day[How we'd walk to the class is another matter altogether]. The bus did come but it would only take us till Udupi. The thought of having to spend a night in Udupi was agonizing. However, after a round of enquiries with friends back in college we had a ray of hope. We still could make it back to college as the bus would reach Udupi by 10:00. The last bus from Udupi to Managalore supposedly left at 10:30. But Lady Luck shone one last time on us and the conductor now told us that they would go to B'lore via M'lore. We could not have asked for more. Our tired bodies went into deep slumber...

PS: This has been one HUGE post. Wonder how many of you will actually get here. But the fact is, on the pretext of writing this, I relived every single moment of this fanastic trip. Man..I really enjoyed that!! If however, you've read the entire post and liked/disliked anything, I'd definitely want to know... for this has actually taken a LOT of my time and energy. Cheers!


Ajay said...

Awesome detail and nicely put...Happy to be a part of "the trek team"...VK has posted almost all the photos we took there...Hope we will have more to come!!!

Anitha said...

Yeah agree lot of much so that I read just the half (rather 1/4) and reserved the rest for far intresting I must say :)

Ishwar said...

amazing detail, lively, gr8 peppering of humor(best was 'half blood prince' part)good set of photos and picturization. though, i must concede, the adventure itself was overwhelming and i am sure none of these words could actually capture it..
i dont kow who u are, but u've inspired me to take a trip to kodachadri
(btw, i am 3rd yr engg student too)

vk said...

Thanks Ishwar. I'm flattered! Now that so many ppl are getting inspired to go to Kodachadri, i guess its time for me to negotiate a commision with the guys incharge of boarding and lodging there;-) And btw, i'm in EC final yr.

fragmented fragrance.. said...

hey buddy....i must say it was a breathtakin journey for the reader...ur famous snippety snippets with illustrous picturisation..n the rock cutting sense of humour has bowled me over wid laughter...well the scary part were the leeches...n my heart felt sympathies to the victim...gooood going..!!

vk said...

@ fragmented fragrance
Hey.. Thanks for your generous shower of complements!!