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.
|Steep climb after the falls.
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.
|The red muddy jeep track
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