Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kodachadri Trek - The last few hours

The last evening of our trip was spent at Malpe Beach. Malpe Beach is about 5 km from Udupi. One can witness some of the most beautiful sunsets here and especially days where the clouds are present near the shore and are a bit scattered, the light patterns make for some of the most stunning landscapes. Malpe is also a quaint little fishing town.

A new dockyard is coming up where they have started to make mechanized trawlers for the local fishing industry. Close to the mainland of Malpe are four rocky islands

* Daria-Bahadurgad is the northernmost island
* Kari-Illada-Kallu is the southernmost island
* Daria-Gadara-Kalluthe is situated in between the two islands mentioned above
* The fourth one is St. Mary's Islands, also called thonse paar.

Regular ferries are available though your return is entirely dependent on the boatmen. They usually give it a couple of hours to drain the engine off the water and also let the engine cool down. God knows why they do that but you've been warned.

The usual fun in the beach started off and all the troubles faced the previous night were all forgotten. When you're in the midst of doing what something you enjoy doing, you never know how time canters off. Spend sometime in the company of some brilliant friends, u could practically declare that time is faster that light.

Here are some pics

Sunset at Malpe:

The bunch of amazing people:

Next day, Valentine's Day of 2011, it was time to get back to our routines. The place of farewell ironically was Mangalore Central Station, the place where all this started, our rendezvous point. Bidding goodbyes is always the hardest thing as far as I am concerned. This was particularly overwhelming. After 4 days of togetherness, fun and laughs it was particularly hard. But life as usual goes on. We bid our goodbyes, promises of doing such things again were the order of the moment. I hope this group, plus the people who we missed this time come together for another fun filled trip.

I might call myself a LoneWolf, as I do travel alone most of the times, but trips with my gang are any day an icing on the cake and I do pray we do get to do such trips again.

The Sri - Krsna Temple at Udupi

Kodachadri Trek - The D-Day.. contd..

Until now it was a perfect little day was it not? So, here we were back from the sunset point and in search of the accommodation we had booked. That's when things started getting murkier.

Shocker #1
The accommodation which was supposed to be on the peak was not. It was at the base of the hill.
Ok, so I made a mistake. All we had to do was take a jeep to the place and we'd be there. Not much of a problem is it?

Shocker #2
We dint know the jeep drivers owned more than one jeep. So while we negotiated with a jeep which was to start late, all of us grew anxious and wanted to be there ASAP. So we flagged another jeep n drove down to the place where we'd 'booked' the rooms(Significance of 'booked'? Curious? Read on). On reaching there we found that the driver who'd promised to come back for us was still there. And he'd sent another jeep of his to the peak which we dint know. Pandemonium reigned as usual and the mud slinging started.
I for a change was pretty calm and tried negotiating this first and managed to settle it with them.

Shocker #3
In parallel, the people at the homestay said we were not booked and there was no record of us registering with them. Pretty appalling initially as we'd paid an advance over the net already. On calling the contact numbers given, we found that even this site had been a victim of phishing, they'd been impersonated. But even worse, I was the fool as I'd been the one to pay the advance.

Big problem aint it? We were practically marooned in the middle of nowhere, no mobile network, no practical means of communications other than a nondescript BSNL WLL which did not work half the time.

It had been a tiring day, a perfect day but tiring. All we wanted to do was rest but we had a li'l problem here. All I could do was try talking to these people and convince them to give us at least a room to spend the night.

I don't remember speaking so much Kannada before and to be honest surprised myself. I was able to tell them what happened and they too felt guilty about their site being misused. They went out of their way to get us all in by giving us a room in their house itself. They were truly god sent that day and if I ever felt a divine force acting on us, it was this. Silently uttered a prayer and settled in.

They made dinner for us. It was the best, literally as well as figuratively. Best South Canara delicacies were served. Ravenous as we were, we gulped it all. The way they went out of their comfort zone to accommodate us was gratifying as well as a bit embarrassing.

To all you people planning a trip to Kodachadri, this place is one I'd recommend you to book your accommodation at. Consider it marketing or pitching a sale for that homestay but the treatment we got there makes me owe them this much.

Contact Person: Dr. P. V. Bhat
Number(s): 09945321561/09480822308/08185-253653

Accommodation can also be booked at:'d personally recommend contacting them directly)

Bhat Uncle and family, A heartfelt thanks from all of us for everything you did that night.

I don't think any of us slept that much in the night. At least I did not. No fun to have been right royally phished. Also, a recount of the day's events kept me awake. We woke up early the next morning. Got ready, thanked them as much as we could and took a bus to Kollur and from there back to base in Udupi.

The evening of 13-Feb-2011 was a memorable one again. We spent it on the shores of Malpe Beach. A separate Post on that later. Hope you enjoyed the Kodachadri journey. Later!

Western Ghats ecosystem

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Trek to Kodachadri - The D-Day

The D-Day finally arrived, the day all of us had been looking forward to. All of us rose..well..relatively early and got ready by 0830. Had a quick breakfast, packed a few Mangalore buns for the en route munches at took the bus to Kollur at 0915. Till Kundapura the route's pretty normal. The real fun starts 5 km after Kundapura when the bus starts its arduous climb. It gets very very scenic with the idyllic and imposing Western Ghats providing a real treat for the eyes. Come monsoon and the beauty of this place just blossoms manifold. One of the best routes to drive/ride on if you ask me.

The journey took about 2.5 hours and we reached Kollur by 1145. A quick refresh, stock up of water and of course coca cola and we were on our way to Karaikatte Gate in India's traditional 3 wheeled tuk tuk, otherwise known as an auto. Karaikatte Gate is the starting point of the trek to the Kodachadri Peak.

1. Jeeps are available, but they wont drop you here and will insist on taking you all the way up to the peak.
2. An auto costs you 200 Rupees till Karaikatte Gate. Pretty normal rates as it is about 10Km from Kollur bus stand and pretty uphill.
3. There are two paths diverging from the gate, make sure you take the one with a marker that says "Kodachadri - 10 km"

We started at around 1230, after taking a lot of pics of course. The initial part of the trek was relatively easy, a very small gradient which was undulating. Half an hour into the trail, we found ourselves in the midst of a thick forest. Tall dense trees, which made almost the entire sunlight disappear save for a few streaks from the small gaps. Bird calls, insect sounds, sounds of our footsteps crackling the dry leaves on ground, we found ourselves truly on the lap of mother nature. Gaea was in her pristine beautiful form and we just soaked in the sights and sounds which were truly overwhelming.

The Trekkers:

Click En Route:

Half way into the trail, we came across a small ramshackle shop where we took a snack break n merrily munched on the Mangalore Buns. Coca Cola and water kept running out on the way. Some distance after this came a very small village. I have never seen more contented people before. All satisfied with basic needs, kids playing worry free cricket was indeed a sight to behold. We took a pic on their ground with the peak in the background.

From here, the trail started to increase in gradient. Slowly but steadily, the toughness kept increasing. We were starting to tire, but we had each other for company, not to mention the Dairy Milk Fruit and Nut. The cocoa and humour kept us going. A click in one of the steepest places

We kept going, step by step, egging each other on which was a brilliant thing to happen. When spirits sag, encouragement does keep you going. People had actually hyped it all up saying its just a 3 hour trek, which we knew by now is not the case. To all my fellow trekkers, if you cant give accurate details, please admit it. Your ego can cost others big time.

By 1600-1630 we knew we were 3/4th up as the forest had cleared and from our research on this trail we knew the forests clear out 3/4ths into the trek. Buoyed by this, it was time for pics again :)

Other people on the trail scared us saying its a tiger area. We DID get bloody scared at that time. Afterthought is always a good thing as later we'd deduce this could not be a tiger trail. Tigers usually don't prefer high grounds devoid of water or meat and this was one such area. Another group spread rumors that they'd seen a mad bison. Guys, a plea here, again yes, I know. Please do not circulate unfounded rumors. Think for yourself and the impact your statement could have on your fellow trekkers. Spreading panic and fear does not help anyone's cause.

After an hour's worth of a tough trail, we finally reached the peak. Just in time for the sunset. The best sunset point is reachable by jeep, best mode of transport here. Will set you back by 200 rupees on a round trip. We reached there and clicked away as much as we could. A couple posted below.

We were super tired, yet all jumpy, exhilarated at such a wonderful sight and a sense of accomplishment prevailed amongst us all. All the fears we had, irritations, frustrations on the way just melted away. Reaching a goal does that to you I guess.

Coming back to the peak, the Lingamakki Dam and the Jog falls are visible from the sunset point. Just at the end of the trail lies the Adi Mookambika Temple, supposedly the one installed by Sri Adi Shankara himself. A further 2 km trail uphill leads you to the Sarvajna Peetha, a place were he's supposed to have meditated for 10 years. We unfortunately could not make it there this time, but its on my to-do list for sure. I'll do that n blog about it.

Post the exhilarating trek, we felt it was a brilliant and perfect day. Little did we know we'd not seen the other side of the coin yet. About that, is my next entry.

A bit of stats for people intending to do this trek
Distance: 11.5 km as per GPS reading
Gradient: Moderate to a 'wee bit' tough
Time: approx 6 hours (with a total break time of an hour)
Starting Point: Karaikatte Gate, about 8KM from Kollur on the Kollur - Shimoga State Highway
Ends at: Adi Mookambika Peak, or Sarvajna Peetha

Jeeps avaiable at the Peak to take you back to Kollur. Else trek down to Karaikatte Gate and take a bus to Kollur.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Trek to Kodachadri - Part 2

Alright, so we started off on our first leg of the trip. Destination, Maravanthe Beach. Its a beach just 50km from Udupi and is one of the most serene and tranquil beaches of the West Coast. The NH-17 is flanked by the beach at one side and the Souparnika River on the other side. We reached Maravanthe at around 1530 hours on 11-Feb-2011.

Maravanthe: 11-Feb-2011: 1530 - 1645

Time for loads of fun and pics in the beach. All 5 of us darted off into the sea and enjoyed as much as we could, took loads of pics, got super soaked playing in the water and were had an extremely brilliant time. My first moments of fun in quite a while as office has become pretty deserted of the term friends. A word of caution to visitors here, the people who beg here are extremely dogged and will never let you be until you part with your food or a bit of money. I'll leave it to your creative minds to devise a plan to dodge them.
Coming back to the fun part, it was loads of fun pushing each other into the water. Taking pics was even more fun as none of us were in the mood to just pose normally. What I mean, look no further.

I would not recommend going very deep into the water as currents are pretty strong 15-20m into the sea and can catch you unawares. So do exercise caution and have loads of fun here. Its never too crowded and you can have a gala time.

We started with no mood to leave, but we had another super beautiful place to cover, which is Murudeshwar. After a fun filled tea break in Bhatkal, we were en route. The roads were pretty bad and it was 1800 by the time we reached Murudeshwar.

Murudeshwar now has the second largest statue of Lord Shiva, which is situated right on the coast and provides a brilliantly pretty sight with the sunset forming a halo on the Lord's head. For the not spiritually inclined ones, its a haven for water sports, especially speed boating and paragliding.

Murudeshwar: 11-Feb-2011: 1800-2130:

It was speed boating time and we jumped into a pretty looking boat called 'Shambhavi'. We were to take a 1km ride into the sea and back. The feeling on the boat getting launched into the air due to the strong waves is one to be experienced. The boatmen here skid the boats by playing with the throttle and rudder and the seemingly out of control ride was brilliant and stomach churning at the same time. But all of us had some cool fun in the ride.

It was time for a visit to the lord overlooking us from the high pedestal after the high adrenalin ride. The temple has one of the tallest gopurams you can ever come across.

Done with our prayers, we grabbed a quick bite in the seaside restaurant, the sound of the gentle waves soothing our ears. Its an excellent stress reliever, I tell you. I was as relaxed as I have ever been, cradled in the arms of nature, in the company of people I love, I could really not have asked for more at that point.

We started back home at 2130. The return journey was pretty uneventful, each of us thinking back on the best moments of the day, dead tired but happy. All the others fell into a sleep of tiredness. I was tired too, but with a content smile on my face all along, letting myself fall into the bliss of the best I've ever felt in quite some time.

The actual trek log's coming up next... Stay tuned! ;)

Trek to Kodachadri - Part1

Back with my next trip log. Its been a while has it not? Well, how did the trip turn out? Read on. Me n me buddies have been planning on a trip for quite a while, and after 3-4 months of planning n talks it finally came together, much to my relief. I had not been a part of their earlier trip due to a broken hand and was pretty keen on one. Others were as keen on this as we could be heading to different directions in sometime. How life works, we'll never know. But we were determined to make the most of what we had now.

We deliberated on quite a few places and zeroed in finally on a trek trip to the famed Kodachadri Hills, near Kollur. We did consider Jog Falls and Nagara but at this point in time there's no water in it.

The ones to take this trek up were yours truly, Raghu, Preethi, Kanchana and Esha, all close friends since the past 4 years. Me and Raghu were to join Esha in Bangalore, Preethi would join us in Mysore and Kanch would head to Udupi directly. Our jaunt was my house in Udupi. So me, Raghu, Preethi and Esha would join Kanch in Udupi.

10-Feb-2011: 0600 - 1945:

Raghu n I headed to Bangalore in the Shatabdi and had a quarter of a day to cut till Esha joined us. We headed to INOX in Mantri Mall and tried to catch up with a movie. "Biutiful" they called it. What we thought would be good was a complete disaster. "Biutiful" was nothing beautiful. It was horrible!!!! Wonder which moron had the heart to name it that way.

After the travails of that, we headed to the Hard Rock Cafe where i got myself some memorabilia. Time for the train and we headed to the City Railway station where we caught up with Esha.

10-Feb-2011: 2035 - 2345:
Train started well on time. 3 hour journey till Mysore. We caught up with what was happening with each other. Not a moment was boring and it was super good to be back in the company of people whom i adore so much. Preethi joined us in Mysore at 2345

10-Feb-2011: 2345 / 11-Feb-2011: 0815
All the leg pulling and laughs kept us busy till about 11-feb 0230. People started cribbing about our noises but I seriously wonder how could they ignore the snores of them and the ones around them. It was a minor irritant to a perfect day. We too dozed off and woke up to a wonderful day. Train was late by half an hour and reached MAQ only by 0815.

11-Feb-2011: 0815 - 1430
We grabbed a bit of grub at a nearby hotel and hopped on to a bus to Udupi. The journey is pretty scenic with loads of backwaters which all of us enjoyed. Reached Udupi at around 1130. The destinations today for us were Maravanthe Beach and Murudeshwar. We had booked a cab to take us around which helped a lot. A sumptuous lunch at home and we would start only by 1430 thanks to our laziness.

More on the actual trip that day to follow. Keep reading!