“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
A very apt quote for my experience of the kodachadri Trek. I pen down my experience of Kodachadri with mixed feelings it was something like plan the unplanned,certain things went off smoothly while a bit of it went hay wire but we learn from our experiences and become wiser.At the end of the article I will give you a few tips how to make your trek smooth,which we did not have the foresight, while planning the trek. Kodachadri is amongst the most favourite trails in Karnataka for trekkers.So like most trekkers this trek was a favourite one for me too so I booked the trek along with my friend with Darkgreen Adventures.We were 12 of us including the Trek leader.
We boarded the Matsyagandha express and although we were in different compartments we sat together till dinner time and shared our dinner with a lots of chatting.The people in the group were very friendly and we immediately bonded which was very heartening.A trek or a trip becomes more pleasurable if all the members gel.
After dinner we all slept off as our destination Mookambika was at 4.30 am.I am very anxious whenever I have to alight a train at this early hour.I slept intermittently and got up at 4 am and woke my group member too.The train pulled in at Mookambika at 4.45 am.It’s a very small station and the train stops only for 2 mins.We freshened up at the station.
We found Sanket the driver of the tempo traveler waiting for us and at about 5.30 am we all hopped into bus.The bus sped along the winding roads to Kollur Shri Mookambika Temple,our destination.We reached the temple at 6 am its about half an hour drive to the temple from the station.
The temple is dedicated to Mookambika Devi, the only temple dedicated to Goddess Parvati. The Goddess Mookambika is in the form of Jyotir-Linga which combines both Shakti and Shiva. Mookambika is regarded as a manifestation of Shakti,Saraswati and Mahalakshmi. She is often depicted with three eyes and four arms with a divine disc and conch. The goddess has a large following among the people of Kerala,Karnataka and Tamilnadu states of India popularly being known as Mooghambighai Amma or Thaai Mooghambighai, where Amma and Thaai meaning mother.
As per legends, there lived a sage in ancient years named Kola Maharishi, who was troubled by a demon The demon was in penance to obtain boon from gods, only for the sake of troubling more.Goddess Parvathi made the demon dumb (meaning: Mooka), so he cant ask for boons. The demon was called as Mookasura (meaning: Dumb demon).The frustrated mute demon started creating even more problems to the sage and the people around.Upon the appealed request of the sage, Goddess Parvathi descended in a powerful form and killed Mookasura.So the Goddess came to be hailed as Mookambika. The sage requested the Goddess to stay in that place and so Goddess took her abode in the same place, called Kollur.
The opening timings are 5.30 am-1.30 pm and 3 pm-9 pm.There is a dress code for men and women to enter the temple premises.Women are allowed with full sleeves kurtas and salwars or a saree,western outfits are not allowed.Men must remove their shirts/kurtas etc and enter bare chested.We finished the darshan at about 7 am.Photography inside the Garb-Graha is not allowed, we however took lots of photographs inside the temple complex.
After the darshan it was time for breakfast.After looking around we finally selected Hotel Shivsagar.
Greedily we ordered whatever was there on the menu and hungrily polished off the lip smackng contents of the plate.We tasted varieties of Dosas,Uttampam,Vadas.idlis and Puri-Bhaji and wrapped off our breakfast with delicious tea/coffee.The restaurant is clean and has clean wash room facilities.
After a satisfying breakfast we thereafter proceeded to our destination at 8 am to the Bhaktivedanta Eco Village, which is 18 kms from Kollur We reached there at about 9 am and now it was time for the customary intro,after the the intro we proceeded to the guest house.We were disappointed as there was some confusion regarding the bookings.I was really disappointed as stay in the eco village was one of the reasons I booked the trip.The people in the eco village are not very co-operative and I think its not a good idea to do your bookings here.
We were alternatively booked in Santosh Guest House.It was some distance from the eco village and after walking for about ten minutes we spotted the place.It’s a simple home stay with three rooms with attached toilets and a restaurant. There is a small verandah and ample space outside the house.We were 12 of us thus we had to adjust in the three rooms,the open space outside the house looked quite inviting.
Before we reached the homestay we were stopped by the forest officials for checking our bags they noted down the number of plastic bottles and other eatables in plastic packets.We deposited a refundable deposit of Rs 200 which would be returned after we showed them the bottles and empty packets.This is a good initiative by the Karnataka Forest Department to keep our forests plastic free.Pitching of tents are not allowed on the peak so if you have carried one you must leave it behind at the hotel.There is a entry fee of Rs 25 per head for entry in the forest.
We all freshened up and sat for a game of mafia.An early lunch was served at 11.30 am.We enjoyed the tasty hot lunch of sambhar rice papad,cabbage sabji and pickle and not to forget the buttermilk and omelletes.
The Restaurant in Santosh Hotel
With lot of energy and enthusiasm we got ready for the trek we left our bags in the hotel and just carried bare minimum essentials like wallet,phone, a light jacket. When we started the trek it became cloudy so I left my cap behind( which I regretted later).The trekking distance is of 5 kms and the average trekking time to reach the peak/ Sarvajana Peetha a small temple dedicated to the sage Adi Shakaracharya is 2.5 /3 hrs.The trail in the beginning is a narrow muddy one.
Which changes to a path laden with deep roots of trees and several logs on the way which became a photo stop for us.
After walking for half an hour we walked through thick vegetation of trees and shrubs,I spotted some beautiful ferns.The sun was suddenly shining relentlessly and I regretted leaving behind my cap.We walked amidst thick grass with beautiful purple coloured flowers on both sides of the path.
We were an hour into the trek and the track was quite easy.We stopped and clicked innumerable photos of the mountains across the valley.The climb got steep as we entered the second hour of the trek,but I enjoyed mainly because there was no bag to carry which gave a sense of freedom.
Some more pictures of the Trek(PC Ankit)
We passed another beautiful trail with bright purple wild flowers in full bloom.The walk along the path of grass was a bit treacherous so one needs to be careful particularly while descending.
The uphill climb just before the jeep stand is very steep and it left many of us breathless.It was 4 pm by the time we reached the jeep stand and we took a much needed break with fresh juicy pineapples and cucumbers.We paid 200 and all of us enjoyed a slice of each.From here we had to further climb 2 kms. We also had a glimpse of the Moolmookambika temple of Goddess Aadi Parashakti and we did a quick darhan.
Uphill my friend spotted the Ganesh Gufa,so we too took a detour of maybe ten minutes to reach the cave.We paid our obeisance to Lord Ganesh and I prayed for the safety of the whole group.We also clicked a few photographs of Vighnaharta and continued walking.
As we were nearing the temple we walked on a narrow path where we met many devotees, who kept us encouraging that the destination is not far off.The view of the valley below was not only spectacular but also looked very dangerous.The sun was slowly coming down and the sky was crimson with colours of the setting sun.It was 5.10 pm when we finally reached the temple.
After darhan we clicked some photographs.Most of the group rested here but some of us who were more adventurous ventured to the hill beyond the temple.To reach the path one had to squeeze oneself down from gaps – a kind of stone steps.My friends were already down when I hailed Krishna the Trek leader to help me down which he did and I was soon on the way to the hill.When I reached the hill rest of the group were feasting on theplas and pickle made by Shweta.I too grabbed some, as it was much needed after a hard climb.
We enjoyed the glorious view all around us and witnessed the most enchanting sunset.A group photo was taken by the trek leader.
It was now time to descend,we walked fast and reached the narrow stone ascend and climbed up one by one.It was 6 pm by the time we reached the temple, where we found the others waiting, Krishna took another quick group photo and we started the descend to the jeep stand.It was decided that since it was dark we would hire a jeep for going down, so Krishna along with some members of the group went ahead to fix a jeep.By the time we all descended to the jeep stand it was 6.30 pm and it was dark and quite cold.To our dismay no jeeps were available.A marathon conversation in the local language was done by Rashmi with the temple priest of the Moolamookambika Temple who was trying to help us get a jeep.The cost of the jeep varied from Rs 2500-3000.We chatted while Rashmi tried to negotiate a deal,but to our disappointment the jeep drivers were not ready to take the risk to drive down and permission from the forest officials for descending was also not granted.After sunset its not safe to venture out as you may have a tryst with the animals of the forest particularly the bison.According to the plan we were suppose to descend and stay the night at Santosh Hotel since we didn’t descend,now we had no place to stay for the night, the Inspection Bunglow and few home stays were all full.We had not carried our bags so we were without our warm clothes and other essentials like medicines.Meanwhile Santosh was informed that we wont be able to make it for dinner.The temple priest was however kind enough to arrange for our food in the bunglow.We walked uphill for about ten minutes and reached the bunglow.We enjoyed the hot Sambhar-rice pickle and cabbage sabjee and buttermilk.The cost was Rs 70 per person.My wish for a cup of tea was miraculously organised by our efficient Shweta which was really welcome since we were tired and cold.After filling our tummies we returned to the temple.
The priest gave us shelter for the night in his home but of course at a price of 200 per person.We got a mat and a bedsheet for two people.The women made themselves comfortable on the floor on the covered verandah, the guys slept at the entrance some part of it was uncovered.We chatted and laughed and tried to make the most of the situation and finally we dozed off. Needless to say we had a very uncomfortable night we slept intermittently. Ankit had the energy and got up before us and climbed up to see the sunrise.We got up by 6 am and it was decided that the Ladies would leave by the jeep and the temple priest himself drove us down.The charges were Rs 3000, after the payment was done we left the place at 7 am. While going down by the jeep we realised why the drivers would’nt drive at night.This is a longer route and the driver has to be an expert one, for about 2 kms there is no road at all, some patches do have a muddy trail.As we held on to our dear lives that didnt stop us from enjoying the scenery.We stopped to click some photos of the sunrise.
The Bumpy Jeep Route
I thought trekking down would have been a better option.After a bumpy ride we finally reached the highway for about 15 minutes we had a smooth ride ,we took the muddy trail and reached Santosh’s homestay at 8.15 am.The guys trekked down and reached almost at the same time.
After a refreshing cold water bath we proceeded to have breakfast.We relished the hot Puttu,Sambhar,idli,lemon rice and coffee.Three of us had decided to proceed to Udupi the rest of the group visited the beautiful Hidlumane Falls.(Which I regret missing it 🙂
Although we had some hardship during the trek we bonded well and I enjoyed the trek. The group bonded so well that some of us from the group have planned another trip together to Gandikota and Belum caves.I thank Krishna for organising this trek, Rashmi for bailing us out with her Kannada and Shweta for her hospitality,Jessy for her humour,Vamsi,Ankit,Ram for the support and beautiful photographs and Mritika for her friendly chatter and Bhagyashree and Seema for giving me company when I could not match up with the others. Abhijeet for encouragement by saying “we are almost there” every time I felt tired 🙂 I returned home with memories and definitely learnt a lot from this experience.
“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” – Frank Herbert
Tips for the Trek
Here is how you can plan your Trek better.If you want to take the easier route via Santosh Hotel.Target to reach Santosh Hotel by 8 am and start after breakfast around 9 am.It will take maximum 2.5 hours to reach the jeep stand and another half an hour to the Temple.You can spend an hour on the peak and if you want to go to the hill beyond the temple another half an hour to reach, spend some time and start descending.Descending is always faster so you may take another two hours to reach back to the hotel.Even if you take a bit longer you will definitely reach by 3 pm and then have lunch.You can call and book Santhosh Hotel on this number – 09483816911-You can google search and get the location.
Another alternative is to start after lunch around 2 pm and reach the top enjoy the sunset and stay the night on the hill.You can contact Rajendra on these numbers for booking the Inspection Bunglow 09449145540 (Courtesy Jessy)
09242892299.For cheaper options you can call the temple priest. Nagesh on these numbers 09632847302/9482209551/8971202848(Courtesy Bhagyashree)
If you decide to take a jeep while descending you can book a jeep through any of the numbers given.
Carry at least a bottle of water,ready to eat snacks and fruits like oranges and dates are very helpful.Dates give you energy oranges quench your thirst.Carry something warm as the mornings and evenings are quite cold on top.Carry power bank,camera,mobile,Sunscreen,Cap,Sunglasses. a trekking Pole if you think you need one. I managed comfortably without one.If you are trekking in the Monsoon a rain jacket is a must.Make your backpack light as you will be climbing with the load.
To Be Continued……………More about my Trip to Udupi in my next post