Saturday, July 16, 2011

Trip to Jog Falls and Kodachadri trek

Since last 4 months we were planning to trek Kodachadri, until the opportunity came on 15th October 2010, which was an off day at office. Which meant we had 3 days at our disposal. 4 of us ganged up together for this long awaited trip. Vijay Rawoor, Satish Gokale, Bheemashanker and myself formed the 4 member gang. Not to forget my Ford Ikon Flair which was to ferry us along to our destination.
We started from Bangalore on 15th October 2010, at 5:30 AM. Picked up the others from their homes and started off towards Tumkur. The plan was to see the Jog falls by evening and stay the night at Sagar, and next day we would trek the Kodachadri peak. We took the following route : Tumkur-Tiputr-Birur-Arsikere-Bhadravati-Shimoga-Sagar. The roads between Tumkur and Bhadravati were in worst condition since there were numerous potholes all along this route. We took about 11 hours to cover 400 odd kms, which is ample proof of the pathetic road conditions! At 7:00 PM we reached Sagar and gave up the idea to visit Jog Falls on that day, since it had become dark and we were totally exhausted after our 11 hour drive. Checked in at a decent hotel at Sagar, and enjoyed the evening over a bottle of VAT 69. After making merry, we went to bed by 12:30 PM after confirming that we needed to wake up by 6:00 AM and continue to Jog Falls.
We woke up at 6:00 AM sharp and by 7:00 AM we were on our way to Jog Falls. The road to Jog Falls was superb and the picturesque surroundings all around made us nostalgic. We saw a Lotus Lake enroute Jog Falls and took a photo break. By 9:30 AM we reached Jog Falls. The water was not what we expected to be. Yet we took some photos of the tallest waterfall in India and enjoyed the misty views all around. Next was breakfast time. Had hot breakfast of Masala-dosa and Idli-Vada with hot tea, and we were recharged fully to continue towards Kodachadri.
Kodachadri is around 92 kms from Jog Falls. We reached the base point of Kodachadri by 1:00 PM and started inquiring about the route. We had read in blogs that there were jeeps available which can take us upto the Kodachadri peak, but came to know from the localites that the jeep route has been closed for sometime now due to some dispute. So that left us with 2 options....either to take the jeep path and trek for 9 Kms, or trek the peak through a shorcut through the Hidlumane Falls, which would take 6 kms. We opted for the later. Parked the car at the basepoint and got ready for the adventure. Our guide Raghupathi arranged for a jeep which wuld take us 3 kms onwards the trail. The jeep ride was fascinating, and only a Mahindra Bolero and the immensely skilled drivers would be able to negotiate the path...well if we can call it a path after all. It was just a 5 foot wide path strewn with boulders and totally mud filled. After around 40 minutes of rough ride, we reached the starting point of the trek. The jeep driver pointed upwards towards a distant peak and said that is going to be out path to Kodachadri. Looked interesting :)
Our trek started at exactly 2:30 PM. The initial path was through paddy fields and as far as the eyes go, we could see greenery all around. Add the misty surroundings to that, and we felt as if we are seeing something out of the world. Took some snaps as well. Our guide constantly chided us for carrying on walking and insisted we would get more breathtaking views later on. Then started the ascend up the jungle path. It was about 80 degree steep ascent on a path only 2 feet wide, with only jungle shrubs to hold for support. After climbing like this for half an hour we spotted a small waterfall. Everyone was overjoyed to think it was the Hidlumane falls, but our guide confirmed it was not and we had to climb 2 similar falls to reach the main waterfalls. Somehow we managed to climb the 2 other falls and reached the Hidlumane falls. Cannot describe the beauty of the falls in words. The most natural waterfall one can see. Since it is located in such a wild location and inhospitable terrain made it almost impossible for all to visit this falls, so it is beautiful in its own rugged way.
We immediately stripped down to bare essentials and waded in the falls to take a bath. The shiny waterdrops pounding on us from quite a height, and the coldness made us feel that somebody is cracking at us with a cold whip :) After bathing for about 30 minutes and taking some pictures, we dressed up and started for the trek again. It was the same 80 degree steep path, with loose gravel and stones underneath, and a slip here will ensure one is lost to oblivion. So we trudged on literally on all fours. At one point came a 90 degree steep rock face which we have to climb. Somehow huffing and puffing we managed to climb it. Now in front of us, lay the beautiful grasslands which we had to climb. Everywhere around us we could see green peaks, with clouds covering some of them, and a steep 80 degree narrow path in front of us leading to Kodachadri. We came to know from our guide that we had to cross 2 similar peaks to reach the top. It was at this point everyone became skeptical. Bheemashanker from our gang constantly urged us to carry on further. Finally after a lot of efforts we crossed the first peak. Took some rest on the top and carried on. Covered another 2 such peaks and finally reached the temple on Kodachadri peak at 6:00 PM. That meant we covered 6 kms uphill in 3.5 hours. It is said that sunset from Kodachadri top is one of the best in the world, and on a clear day one can see the Arabian sea at the horizon. The peak or Sarvagna Peetha is where the sage Adi Shankaracharya performed meditation. It is another 2 kms from the temple, and we had just 10-15 minutes for the sunset! Bheema and I carried on while Vijay and Satish decided they will witness the sunset from the temple itself instead of going to the peetha as they were literaly exhausted. Myself and Bheema too did not manage to reach the Peetha before 6:15, and we watched the sunset from half-way. But I could guess it was nowhere near in beauty what we could have witnessed from the Peetha. After watching the sunset clouds, we came down to the temple. There is no electricity at that place and it was completely dark all around. the calmness cannot be described in words but best felt! We stayed at the PWD bungalow and all 4 us were accomodated in a tent. At 8:30 PM we were served with a hot meal comprising of rice, sambhar, rasam and pickles. The hot meal tasted heavenly and we ate like we have not since sometime. After finishing off our meal we got back in our tent and tried to sleep, since we had to get up early at 5:00 AM to see the sunrise.
Somehow we spent the night, and woke up at 4:30 AM. It was pitch dark outside and also was drizzling slightly. We were apprehensive as to whether we would get to see the sunrise or not. Finally at 5:30 AM the drizzle stopped but the cloud cover was too much for watching sunrise. My other gang members preferred to sleep instead of going for the sunrise, but I trudged on alone hoping faintly that I would be able to watch the sunrise. Climbed to sunrise point, but was disappointed to see the thick cloud covering. Anyway, enjoyed the serenity and calmness for a couple of hours and came down. My team members were up and ready by this time, since we had to trek downhill for 9 kms and then drive another 480 kms to reach Bangalore. Started the downhill trek at 7:30 AM. On the way down, we stopped for a photoshoot at the shooting point of movie "Gaalipatta" which is a famous Kannada movie. It took us 4 hours to climb down the hill and we were utterly exhausted when we reached the basepoint. Near the basepoint, there is a small rivulet where we had a bath in the cold water. Then we had soda in the hotel at base point and started our drive towards Bangalore.
It felt wonderful after having completed the arduous and strenous trek of Kodachadri peak. At the same time felt little apprehensive at having missed the sunset after having been so close! Glancing a last time towards the hills, I promised to myself I will again come back to Kodachadri after a couple of months to catch the sunset!

Sunset clouds at Kodachadri

Mystic Kodachadri

After sunset at Kodachadri

Landscape at Kodachadri

At the base point of Kodachadri trek

Starting the trek

Bathing in Hidlumane Falls

Hidlumane Falls, at the base of Kodachadri

Landscape enroute Kodachadri peak

Sunset at Kodachadri

Clouds at Kodachadri


Bheema at Kodachadri

Vijay at Kodachadri

Clouds and greenery

Satish at Hidlumane falls


The mystic Kodachadri peak

Fog and clouds make Kodachadri a mystery

Walking through the clouds

The majestic Jog Falls

On the way to Jog Falls
Vijay and Satish, enroute Jog Falls

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