February 4, 2015

Kodachadri Trek and Hidlumane Falls


Kodachadri conjures up a lot of images right from Mookambika temple to Sarvanjapeetham. But what remained in my mind from my last visit (read here) was the off-roading jeep ride from Mookambika temple with magnificent vistas and the final climb to Sarvanjapeetham where the scholar Sankaracharya once meditated. I had then decided to trek Kodachadri from the base, but it turned a reality only a couple of years later.

When it dawned, the bus with a group of strangers (had enrolled myself with BMC for this trek) from Bangalore was heading past arecanut trees on either sides to the home stay. Most trek routes across the western ghats in Karnataka have a Bhat's house (usually a priest) somewhere close to it and this was no different. Post freshening up and breakfast, we headed to Katinahole, from where trek trail begins. From the asphalted main road, we took the muddy jeep trail that leads to Kodachadri. The muddy track is used by jeeps to ferry pilgrims to Sarvanjapeetham.


It was the onset of summers and the sun was out pretty early. A quick introduction later, we were on the trail following each other, building camaraderie and getting to know the fellow trekkers better. Less than a kilometer later, we took a detour off the jeep track, crossed a stream, went past a few paddy fields and entered the jungle trail. From the muddy wide road, it was a drastic change in the landscape to the narrow jungle trail with bushes, fallen trees and foliage. Sparse canopy allowed sunlight to percolate onto the thick dry foliage which had fallen and covered the pathway. Slowly, the bushy path turned into a forest trail with thick dangling roots and giant tree trunks.Not being thickly vegetated and a couple of short breaks helped us trudge faster along the gradual descent and keep pace with our local guide. Laced with beautiful tall trees, brown fallen leaves and intermittent sunlight, this gorgeous landscape ended with an open vast land with sparse vegetation, distant hills and a house with a small shop in the middle of nowhere.




The first taste of buttermilk which was to be a constant partner through the trek was at this tiny shop. After gulping down a few glasses of the spicy thirst quencher, we walked down onto the ridges of  paddy fields and cut across them to re-enter the forest trail. A small stream flowed alongside us as we went deeper. A while later, what lay ahead of us was a huge rocky terrain with a tiny perennial stream cascading its way to the small pool below and then further down. For a moment I mistook this to be Hidlumane falls, which we were to encounter during the trek. The trek from here was a steep precarious short climb to the right of the huge rock. The narrow path after the rock climb was a short trail that led to Hidlumane falls. The falls wasn't impressive with very little water sprinkling over the rocks covered with green overgrowth and dangling creepers. We climbed over a few boulders to get close to the falls. It did not seem as trickle as we went closer. There was enough water to get under the falls and refresh yourself. Apparently there were a few hooligans enjoying their act under the falls that made me stay away from the same. I happily gazed at the falls and the natural setting from a boulder as the sun rays cut across the frame.




Hidlumane Falls
The climb from the the falls was quite an interesting one. It was a vertical climb where we had to hold on to the bulging roots and pull each other up. This was probably the toughest part of the trek and it led to further jungle trails. It slowly opened out and what lay ahead was a long trail over tall brown grasslands with gorgeous vistas on all sides. For the first time during the trek, we felt the heat beating us down. Vast open grasslands isn't the ideal place to hike at mid noon during the month of March. Respite from the heat came in the form of panoramic views of the brown hills, thick canopy, distant water bodies and a couple of vantage points. The climb was quite steep and the gravel track made the hike an exhausting one. On reaching the top, we could see the the trail meandering its way further, past tiny brown hills onto many more. The long hike finally led to a small shola grassland where the trail ended and we opened our lunch packs. 

Steep climb after the falls.
Gorgeous vistas
Steep climb

Meandering trails
 The packed lunches was gobbled down quickly and washed with loads of buttermilk. It was another long climb to reach the jeep track which we had parted ways with at the beginning of the trek. A look back from the jeep track and we had lovely vistas of the trail we had taken alongside beautiful hills. All frames had the evident brown, while green was minimal. We hiked along the jeep track from there on with magnificent deep valleys and intermittent hills on to the left. The muddy jeep track ended at a guest house which is also the drop off point for jeeps. One needs to climb the last stretch from there even if you hire a jeep.

More buttermilks and refreshments later, we began the final hike to Sarvanjapeetham. Unsurprisingly, there were more pilgrims and buttermilk vendors on this stretch. The path slowly turned into a ridge walk as we trudged carefully amidst fog that wrapped us without a cue. The sun had become milder and there was chillness all around for the first time during the trek. Onto our left were breathtaking views of the valley  which was incessantly covered by fog. It was a sheer drop and the views left us spellbound as we made our way through the fog. This definitely had to be the best stretch of our trek. We climbed higher and the Sarvanjapeetham was visible covered in fog after a while. We had conquered Kodachadri! The small shrine is where scholar Sankaracharya had once meditated.


Valley view




Sarvanjapeetham
The vantage points from the shrine were mind blowing as floating clouds and fog wrapped  the enchanting valley. Despite disruptions by the fog, photography session continued for long. Undoubtedly a delight for landscape photographers. The sun was about to set and we made a quick dash back through the fog to the guest house to gulp more buttermilk. The return trek was along the jeep track throughout and not the trail we had taken during the day. Layered with red mud and stones which kicked up dust every time a jeep crossed us, we trod on them and raced against the setting sun. As the sun set, red became the explicit and prominent colour everywhere, be it the sky or the jeep track. The white fog however, made its presence felt amidst all those redness as we made our quick steps with flashing torch lights. 


The red muddy jeep track
 The last hour was amidst pitch darkness following the person in front with flashing lights. Though the trek seemed never ending in the darkness, a while later we were at the point where we began the trek in the morning. Gulping more buttermilk, we ambled into our bus to head to the home stay after a successful, refreshing and exciting trek. A sumptuous dinner later, we were offered one of the best beds ever- open to sky. How exciting is that? The day long trek had its tiring effect as we succumbed to deep sleep amidst the arecanut trees despite gazillion stars twinkling at us.

The ideal time to trek Kodachadri would be between the months of September and January when the vegetation is lush green and Hidlumane is at its best.

Signing Note- A trek that offers everything to the nature lover- shola grasslands, waterfalls, rock climbs, ridge walks, unending trails and breathtaking vistas...!!

Trek distance- 14 Kms (approx.)- depends on the route you take
Distance- 385 Kms
Route- Bangalore- Tumkur- Tarikere- Shimoga- Arasalu- Hosanagar- Katinahole- Kodachadri

54 comments:

  1. Nice pics. Should have been a wonderful feeling seeing clouds beneath.

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    1. Thank you, it absolutely was a mesmerising experience.

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  2. Love the brown mountains. Look so enchanting!

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  3. Wow such a beautiful place.Adding it onto my personal list of places to go near Bangalore with friends :)

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    1. Head there post monsoons, you would love it.

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  4. I'm sure the views on the top (and the long trek :) ) literally took your breath away. Truly worth it, huh?

    You've vividly described the way up. Nice pictures too. The last few pictures -- simply awesome!!

    I'm sure the buttermilk did magic. :)

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    1. Thank you. It was absolutely breathtaking, Divya. :)

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  5. Amazing pics!!! Enjoyed reading too.... Excellent work!

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  6. Wow. Amazing trek. The photos have captured my imagination. Stunning.

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  7. Great shots. This sure is a wonderful experience.

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  8. Seems very close.
    May be we travel bloggers can go there some day.

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    1. Cool idea, Indrani. We should work towards it.

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  9. Would love to do this. We did the jeep ride a few years back. :)

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    1. It is a wonderful experience. Do trek post the monsoons.

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  10. What picturesque vistas from the top! Love the little shrine as well. Well captured Niranjan.

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  11. Long time since I went there... should try again

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  12. Beautiful photos and indeed information

    Thanks niranjan

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  13. Lovely pictures of the trek. The pics at the summit are bewitching & stunning.

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  14. Gorgeous views and the trek looks very inviting; would love to be there someday.

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  15. Beautiful captures... Vivid mode ..super contrasts ..lovely

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  16. Great pictures and description :) Last year we trekked to Kodachadri but we took some other route. On way back, we trekked to Arishinagundi waterfalls rather than Hidlumane falls. Try visiting Arishinagundi waterfalls during next trek. I will try to blog on our visit in coming days.

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    1. Thank you. Yeah, have heard a lot about about Arshinagundi. Should visit next time. :)

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  17. that is some great view and nice greenery :)

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  18. You have a beautifully vivid style of writing which takes the reader along with you on your journey. Great piece, and lovely pics! And spicy buttermilk set off a craving in me which I shall now proceed to quench by heading to my kitchen!!

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    1. Thanks a lot. :) Hope you had a nice buttermilk.

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  19. Nice write up with beautiful pictures. Adding to our wish list.
    Krithiga S
    http://www.srikri.com

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  20. Lovely pics! This place enters my list of "To Visit"

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  21. This place is simply awesome, would love to do this trek again in monsoon. Lovely pictures.

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  22. I went on this trek long ago! I love this place especially those beautiful sunrises! Sadly the waterfalls doesn't have much water in winter! Otherwise, it is a beautiful!

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    1. The trek offers beautiful vistas all the way. It is advised to trek post the monsoons as it is green all around and the waterfalls is at its best.

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  23. Wonderfully atmospheric shots.

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