Sunrise at Kolukkumalai, ShoePenLens, Shwetha Krish

A trip to scenic Kolukkumalai and Meesapulimalai

A trip to scenic Kolukkumalai and Meesapulimalai

With a week left for my friend’ and my birthday, we decided that Munnar is the place to go. We found a decent stay in Suryanelly, 20 km away from the Munnar town, through Airbnb. After an exhausting travel of 14 hours from Bangalore, we reached Munnar only to be welcomed by the lush tea estates and bountiful rains.

A quick breakfast at Saravana Bhavan gave us the energy to get to our home-stay in Suryanelly. We found a warm friendly Share-Auto person who took us to the home-stay  and enlightened us with places to visit in Munnar. The ride was beautiful. The tea estates were a treat to the weary eyes. After a quick picture and two we reached our home-stay. It was more than what we saw in the pictures on Airbnb and we were elated.

We enjoyed rest of the day, lazing around, watching TV, drawing and reading books. The next day we ventured out to explore the Suryanelly town and we had to book a ride to Kolukkumalai tea estate which happens to be the World’s Highest Organic Tea Plantation. We found a very genuine person(a travel guide cum driver) who gave us a short itinerary on the things that can be visited in and around in a day. After much contemplation, we gave a positive nod for him to take us along in his Jeep.

Before heading back to the stay, we explored the nearby tea estates and had a lovely stroll through the scenic roads.

The following morning we left quite early so that we could catch the sunrise at Kolukkumalai mountain range. The ride was pretty eventful as it was a bumpy ride all throughout. We did get a massage naturally.

Well, as we reached the mountain ridge, there the sun was climbing its way up and we were mesmerized by the spectacle. I felt on top of the world to start my birthday filled with wonder. After taking a few shots of the sunrise and the mountain ridges we took to a spicy breakfast as in spicy Maggi noodles and omelette.

Sunrise at Kolukkumalai, ShoePenLens, Shwetha Krish
Sunrise at Kolukkumalai

After a while atop the scenic mountains, we hiked to the Meesapulimalai mountain. With winding paths and ridges we made it to the gorgeous peak. We were on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The panoramic views, the gushing wind and the mind boggling silence had us glued to the place. We then trudged back to the jeep.

Scenic tea estates, ShoePenLens, Shwetha Krish
Scenic tea estates

 

 

We went about a tour of tea-making at this beautiful estate. A guide told us about the entire process and also involved us in few of the steps. It was quite heartening and hilarious as well.

At the World's Highest Organic Tea Garden
At the World’s Highest Organic Tea Garden

 

Post lunch, we headed to our home-stay to freshen up. An evening of Kathakali was waiting for us. We were happy to be the curious audience at this program. I had always felt scared seeing those colorful faces on TV as a kid but today I was here, right in front enjoying their performance.

 

After the lovely performance we headed to our stay for a relaxing night by the stars.

The next morning we went towards Thekkady and visited the Spice garden. We were educated on the various benefits of the spices. The short trail in the garden mesmerized us in a spicy way. Later on, we whizzed past lovely bridges between the tea estates.

It was a nice tour and after some shopping we headed for our bus to Bangalore.

Well all in all, it was a beautiful trip where we rejuvenated our tired souls ūüôā

The beauty of the mountains spell binds any traveler any day.

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Kuduremukh

It was mid-September, when I got the opportunity to cherish the beauty of the Western Ghats.  Rolling hills, lush landscape, pink flowers blooming, grasslands ahead : It was a view right out of a picture postcard. The view made the trek, all the more beautiful and worth it.

The rolling hills
The rolling hills

I¬†was at Kuduremukh, also spelled Kuduremukha, a mountain range and name of a peak located in Chikkamagaluru district, Karnataka, India. The name Kuduremukha literally means ‘horse-face’ (in the Kannada language) and refers to a particular picturesque view of a side of the mountain that resembles a horse’s face.

Kudremukh_TheHorseFace
Kudremukh_TheHorseFace

It is a mountain range in Western Ghats and is a tropical wet evergreen forest.

Along with my fellow trekkers, I started from Bangalore on a Friday night  to reach Kalasa, which is a temple town in Chikkamagaluru district, on Saturday morning. From there we hired jeeps to take us to the home-stay. The ride to the home stay was on a slushy uphill road, which was scary but thrilling. It was drizzling and the weather was pleasant. We freshened up, had a light breakfast which was sumptuous. Later the owner of the home-stay, gave us a home-made lotion to apply on our legs to keep the leeches away as we were going to be in the leech-zone for a few hours that day.

The Homestay
The Homestay

We started our trek which was initially wayward into the forest and across small streams. After a couple of hours we reached the grasslands and they looked beautiful. It was drizzling, the lush landscape was adorned with the rain drops which looked like pearls on the flowers and grass. We saw the clouds passing by and I was mesmerized by the beauty and serenity of the place. It then started raining but we continued our upward trek on the grasslands to reach the peak.

Mesmerizing landscape
Mesmerizing landscape
The Pink Flowers
The Pink Flowers

The trail wound its way around the ranges and then we came upon a small forest on the way. It was a slushy and a wet trail. The highlight of the trail was obviously the leeches which were waiting for a ride on us. There were zillions of them and each 100m of the trail we trekked, we stopped for a couple of minutes just to shake off the leeches, be it real or imaginary ones. But the feeling of being one with nature surpassed all the leeches and the imminent pain in the legs.

Beauty of the Ghats...
Beauty of the Ghats…
The Forest
The Forest

The final mile was up the peaks but by this time it was raining cats and dogs and the path was very slushy. We climbed it nevertheless and then  we came upon a short straight path leading to a small hill. I presume that the view from here is amazing but as it was cloudy and raining, we could not see anything. We climbed the final peak but we could not see anything around. It was freezing cold and was raining heavily. There was no shelter at the top. We just sat by the rocks, hydrated ourselves with Frooti and a bar of chocolate. It was a serene place. We walked down a bit where we stopped at a clearing. There was a stream flowing by and we had our packed lunch of mango rice. It was delicious. After resting for about 15 mins, we started off our downward trek.

The lone tree
The lone tree

Trekking down was very difficult, as the path was slippery, slushy and water was trickling down the paths. After slipping and falling down a couple of times, I held on to a good pace. We finally reached the forest, the streams that we passed were now over flowing. We made it through, together. It was getting dark and we had to rush to the home stay. The pain in my legs and exhaustion was pulling me down. But finally made it to the home stay just before it was pitch dark.We put our jackets and shoes next to a bonfire so that the leeches, if any, would fall out.

We were all exhausted and famished. My body was torn apart, I was trekking after 6 long years and I could see that I had lost stamina over the years. We later tended to our leech bites and had dinner and chatted away into the night.

I thoroughly enjoyed the trek, it was my first monsoon trek. Though I was trekking after 6 long years, it brought back the feeling of euphoria and it was a thrilling experience.

Kumara Parvatha

” We know what we are, but know not what we may be” – William Shakespeare

Well the uncertainty of completing the trek always bogged me , for KP being the toughest trek in South India, I was apprehensive about the whole trek.

It was mid-December that we decided to scale Kumara Parvatha (KP). We planned to go in late January as the weather would be perfect for the trek .

Kumara Parvatha or Pushpagiri , 1712mts(5617ft) is the highest peak in Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in Western Ghats of Karnataka. It is the 2nd highest peak in Kodagu district and 6th highest in Karnataka. The best time to trek is between Oct РFeb as the weather is cool and perfect.

We were a group of 8, amateur and experienced trekkers brave enough to take on the road ahead .Kukke Subramanya is a small temple town which is 230km from Bangalore. Subramanya temple is one of the pristine pilgrimage locations in India. Overlooking the temple is the Shesha Parvatha and Kumara Parvatha peaks. And is a popular trekking destination owing to KP. We boarded the Kukkeshree Travels from Bangalore on a Friday night ( 11:45 PM) and reached Kukke at 8:30 AM , Saturday.

There are a few hotels about 500mts from the bus stand . We took a couple of rooms in one of the hotels to freshen up and get ready for the trek. And after a mini breakfast at one of the hotels just opposite the bus stand we started off at around 11:00AM.

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Geared up!

The trail is of 13kms one way. The trek is difficult and challenging as it is a steep climb throughout and the last 7kms of the trail is under the open sky through grasslands so, with the sun beating down on you, it is really exhausting ! Bhattaramane is the only Oasis / house you can find throughout the trail and is found after completing 6kms of the trek. And it is the only point of access to Food, water, accommodation( if you have not got tents of your own). And the stay at Bhattaramane has to be booked well in advance as it accommodates around 15-16 people alone. For all the amateurs, the best bet would be stay at Bhattaramane before you go on further ahead. Aiming to take on the peak in one day is utterly stressful and the chances of reaching the peak and enjoying the view may be lost.

The trail starts right next to the temple and leads to a winding road of about 1.5kms where the forest area begins which marks the start of the Kumara Parvatha trek.

The start of the trail

The trail is through a dense forest but its an uphill climb and it¬†drains out all the energy. ¬†We enjoyed the trail thanks to all the snacks, Coke,¬†glucose water¬†which was the most refreshing drink ever.¬†After almost 2.5hrs we rested at a big stone boulder to soothe our aching muscles¬†, the limelight was the CUBAN COFFEE ! ūüôā After quenching our thirst we started again and after 45mins we reached the top where¬†the trail¬†gives way to open skies and grassland terrain.¬†The sun was right on us which made it all the more difficult as we were thoroughly exhausted. 3 of us planned to rest for a while at a small area covered with trees.

Our resting place
View of Shesha Parvatha

After a quick drink of glucose and electoral and a few clicks ūüėČ we¬† started again with all our might. But much to our surprise , Bhattaramane was just 20mins off from there. And at this spot you get to see the Shesha parvatha peak¬†and ¬†Kumara Parvatha is hidden behind that.

On reaching Bhataramane at around 3PM, we were welcomed with the aroma of food and of course a lot of other trekking groups who were headed to Kumara Parvatha that same day.

We washed our faces  with cold stream water and got to down to eating the most delicious and simple veg food of hot rice and sambar , pickle and buttermilk. It was the best food ever !! After lunch we had a small siesta and explored the gardens of Mr.Bhatt. There are 2 man-made View points just about 200mts from the Bhattaramane and we went to watch the sun set for the day.

OASIS !
OASIS !

As we saw the sun go by, we¬†savored Haldiram’s Bhel Puri ¬†and posed for the photographers ūüôā It was an ideal, calm and peaceful¬†evening as we watched the sun¬†SET in all its glory¬†and so did our tiredness and exhaustion.

At the sunset point
At the sunset point
The beautiful SUNSET
The beautiful SUNSET

We later had tea at the Bhatt’s house and packed only the essentials for the next day as it was gonna be a long one. We¬†packed our bags¬†with loads of water, energy bars, dry fruits, a few snacks and of course glucose and electoral. We had our dinner and hit the sack early. We planned to start early and cover as much distance as possible before the sun was up and¬†would bake us all royally. And owing to our exhaustion the entire day under the sun we wanted to make the most of the early morning weather.

We started at 5:30 AM. About 300m from the house there is the Forest dept. office where we have to give our credentials and pay a registration fee. Once it was done we started off our climb. The weather was perfect and the view was beautiful and the place was serene. We held onto a good pace and were able to reach Kallu mantapa which is an open stone pillared structure and has a water source nearby the place and is a camping place for  some trekkers.

View of the range
View of the range
Amazing view at sunrise
Amazing view at sunrise

It is a very steep climb from this point on and the path is very slippery owing to loose sand but there are alternate rocky paths as well which is comparatively easy to tread on. The sun was up and the place was pristine and beautiful. After a few clicks with the moving clouds we reached Shesha Parvatha, this is the peak which is visible from the Subramanya temple. We rested for a while and clicked a few selfies ūüôā

At Shesha Parvatha
At Shesha Parvatha

The last mile to Kumara Parvatha peak is through a small forest¬†which gives way to a rocky terrain¬†that marks the peak of Kumara parvatha. We reached the peak at 8:30 AM after 3 long hours of trekking. At the peak there is a sacred area of Lord¬†Shiva’s Ling.

At the peak!
At the peak!
The peak !
Sacred area of Lord Shiva ling !

We were elated that we made it through the most toughest trek and celebrated with the Cuban coffee. After exploring the peak we came across a View point from where we could see the passing clouds beneath us ! The view was amazing and marvelous.

The passing clouds at the very peak of Kumara Parvatha
The passing clouds at the very peak of Kumara Parvatha
The world at our feet !
The world at our feet !

We basked at that very place for a while before we started our downward trek.

The downward trail was more tough and the sun was now in all its glory.  We were thoroughly exhausted by the time we reached Bhattaramane. We had the sumptuous meal again and rested for a bit and then started off to reach kukke. Because of the heat it was getting all the more difficult and strenuous. We rested at frequent intervals and kept ourselves hydrated time and again and that kept us on the move. And we made it to the bottom around 6:30 PM.

The entire trek was challenging¬†but the strenuous trek did have its perks, for the view at the top was just beautiful ! And the people with whom I trekked along were brilliant and could not have done it without them.¬†¬†Highlight was the “Swachh Bharat” Initiative which was being taken up quite seriously by a couple of them in our group. And Kudos to them for all the patience and effort !

I thoroughly enjoyed the trek though it was exhausting. The view and the company was the icing on the cake and made it all the more awesome!

Tips to trekkers:

  1. Carry a light backpack, more fluids( Glucose, Electoral is a must), a head torch, a cap, trekking stick.
  2.  Best bet is to reach Bhattaramane on Day 1 and stay there and take on the peak and way back on Day 2
“Believe in yourself, take on your challenges, dig deep within yourself to conquer fears. Never let anyone bring you down. You got to keep going”.- Chantal Sutherland