(PC: Vinay KGS, Ashutosh, Sandeep K)
It was the month of June and my college was closed for vacations. A whole month had passed by and all I had done was watch episodes of Doctor Who and go out birding now and then. So when this trek was announced I jumped into action. I had never been on a monsoon trek before and my patience was wearing me thin as I was put on waiting list. Soon there was a dropout and I was in!
On 27th of June I made my way to the starting point in the Majestic. Vidyasagar was already there and all the others started to fill in one by one. We introduced ourselves and not surprisingly I was the youngest member. By 10:30 PM the group of 21 was complete, we hopped on to the minibus and off we went to the land of Kodavas.
The morning of 28th saw us reach the serene land of Bhagamandala. It would be 9 AM until we got the permission from the Forest officials. We washed up. Shrinidhi Sir and yours truly bathed in the chilling and pure waters of the Triveni Sangama. Soon we made our way to Sri Bhagandeshwara Temple which was built in the Karavali Style. After the darshan we answered the call of our stomachs at a nearby hotel and also packed our lunch for the noon.
We were drawn to the sacred Talakaveri, the source of river Kaveri. Drinking the pure and holy water we made our way up the Brahmagiri Hill and had our first photo session. After our descent we prepared ourselves mentally. The trek was a moderate one involving 16-18 kilometers of trekking. We packed our bags and readied ourselves for the trek. This included smearing our legs with anti-leeching agents like snuff. We would soon find out that leeches were not perturbed one bit by all the precautions we were taking as they drank our blood away to glory.
The trail started off pretty straight and soon it was twisting and turning into the woods. We were accompanied by two forest guards. While Vinay Sir was leading the party, Suresh Sir was sweeping. The path was laden with elephant dung and the guard remarked that it was just a day old. The forest was dense and I had the feeling of being in the cradle of nature. Beautiful cold streams of water running through the trails, refreshing us every now and then and so we moved on. This was my singular most experience with the leeches and the path was laden with tons of them. Soon we found them sticking to our shoes and some already busy feasting on our blood. Those wearing anti-leech socks were more fortunate!
After hours of trekking our stomachs were craving for food. The guide made a detour and took us near a fresh stream of water. We were soon gobbling up our packed lunch, pulav and all the other snacks. Filling our bottles with the fresh mountain water, we got back on our journey. The trek was labeled as “Monsoon Trek” and rightly so it started raining. Initially the rain was a delight but when it started pouring, our shoes, clothes got heavy and the ascent became more challenging. The rain was to me the least of worries.
In the Rain
I was more worried about the leeches which seemed to have increased after the rains and were sucking blood like crazy but we were too distracted by the climb to notice them. Anyway the path tested our grit and determination. The way up was not easy but we were tougher. Enjoying the forest produce (Guavas) on the way we kept climbing.
The climb became very steep for a few hundred meters and I had the feeling that this would be the stepping stone to the Himalayan Trek we all dream of. Ashok was a real motivation to many who were at the back. The view up top was mesmerizing. We were surrounded by hills covered in dense forest through which streams of fresh water ran like the arteries.
The peak itself was a small area where we could stand comfortably. There was a pile of stones flying a flag marking the summit. We had a group photo session and all that was left was to make our way to the base camp. The light was fading and the sun would soon set heralding the night. So we made our descent taking in the view, savoring each moment of the trek.
By 7 in the evening we arrived at the base camp only to be greeted by ferocious barking of the dogs. We changed, bathed in hot water (that was a great relief),and checked our equipment for leeches. Soon our hosts got a fire going and we warmed ourselves. Vinay and Suresh prepared ‘Pongal’ for dinner and everyone had a nice meal. While most of the group retired for the night at the base camp, six of us retired to bed at the house of a farmer nearby. We slept like stones. The sleep rejuvenated us but many were still tired from the previous day’s arduous events. I was more tired of the bloodthirsty leeches than the trek itself.
The Base Camp!
Vidyasagar resting at the base camp.
The second day was supposed to be a visit to Kurudi waterfalls. Soon the general opinion emerged and it was decided that we would make our way down and start back for Bangalore. The way down was pretty easy and quick. The path was slippery but nothing more. Once down I was already starting to miss the place. Our ride arrived and we got into the bus. Peering through my window I realized how different this place was and yet very similar.
The ride back was memorable. We had an ‘intro’ session in the bus and got to know each other really well. The time just flew on. We had our lunch in Kushalnagar. After that we enjoyed a matinee show of ‘Ugram’ in the bus. Taking one last break in the evening we were back in Bangalore. One by one we departed, bidding farewell to everyone.
Personally I enjoyed the trek to the last and many thanks to every member of the group , for without you the trek would have been meaningless and not as fun as it was. I only wish and hope that we meet on more treks like this and share many great moments like this in the near future. Many thanks to our organizer Vinay KGS for a wonderful trekking experience. Looking forward to meeting you again.