A free weekend, a good pair of shoes, appetite for adventure, love for nature - if you've got all these then plan a trek to Kumaraparvatha, better known as KP among the trekkers. After many futile attempts of planning this trek, we had an impromptu one last weekend. Four of us (Shashank, Tejaswi, Anand and myself) met at KSRTC bus station in Majestic and realized how difficult it is to get a seat without reservation. We finally had to travel to Kushalnagar though our destination was Somvarpet, due to unavailability of seats. The bus finally departed Bangalore at midnight and we arrived as early as 5 in the morning at Kushalnagar.
We had a delicious coffee at the road-side while we waited for the bus to Somvarpet, which came at 5:45 and left to Kushalnagar at 6. It was an hour long journey in which I tried to catch some sleep, but it was again a vain attempt. The roads were too bumpy and curvy which kept tossing me badly. At 7, we alighted the bus in Somvarpet and we had to take another bus to BidhaLLi at 7:15. We quickly devoured idlis at Sharada canteen near the bus stand, bought pickles, onions and water bottles and boarded the bus. The bus was crowded by trekkers like us with backpacks and knapsacks. The entire gang of trekkers alighted at Hegde Mane village.
After walking for about 10 minutes, we encountered a bridge across a small river. We got down to the river and finished all our morning routine and started the actual trek at 9:15. The road keeps ascending all the way till the village Heggade Mane. The landscape in Heggade Mane is beautiful, you get to see farmer plough the land surrounded by verdant mountains all around or a gracious country lady carring her child on her waist. There is a steep ascent after Hegde Mane, which leads to Malleshwara temple. The tarmac ends there and a dusty trail starts. At 10:30, we were at the forest office.
At forest office, we had to enter the details (name, address and contact number) and sign a kinda of indemnity certificate which states that "Forest department is not responsible if u're hunted down by a wild animal", of course in a nicer way and in Kannada. A trekking fee of Rs. 75 and a camping fee of Rs. 40 per person is to be paid. On the back of the receipt, they gave the contact number of the forest department and asked us to call them in case of any problems. They also gave an informative flyer that contained available trekking trails, the fauna of the region, altitude of the mountains and a small map. We thanked them profusely and took leave from them. They've also constructed a hanging bridge just outside the office to cross a small stream.
There are signboards at prominent places indicating the distance to Pushpagiri summit. After few minutes of walk, we came across a waterfall, definitely not a very beautiful one, but it's a good place to relax for a while. We spent about 15 minutes there, had some cookies, took some photographs and continued ahead. The trail is a very pleasant one - lots of small water sources, most trail is well canopied, mildly steep gradient, not too stony unlike the one from Kukke side. We reached the view point by lunch time, we had Jolada rotti with pickle and it was very satisfying to lunch with a beautiful vista of mountains before us.
We continued our journey ahead, the trail started becoming more and more rockier as we ascended. There are two stretches of very steep rocks that we had to scramble up slowly. Though it was not at all difficult to ascend, it tired our calf muscle greatly. Actually these two stretches are the best part of the ascent, a mild adventurous delight for the newbies. The vegetation changes after these two stretches from dense jungle to a sort of taller shrubs. That change only means that you're close to the summit and it's time to just unload your backpack, turnback and have a look at the panoramic view of the landscape. It was breathtaking.
At about half kilometer below from the summit, you see a board that says "Water source". Thats the direction to head to KP and Kukke Subramanya. Since we had emptied already 3 bottles of water and we had a whole night to spend, we thought of replenishing our bottles. We dumped our backpacks, Anand and myself went to refill the bottles while Shashank and Tejaswi stood sentry for our luggage. It was a laborious task of filling the bottle since the stream was very small and I couldn't get some great idea like Bear Grylls to fill our bottle. Though I got an idea of dipping a clean cloth and squeezing it into bottle, but we didn't have a clean enough piece of cloth. We came back and continued to the summit.
By the time we reached the summit of Pushpagiri, it was exactly 3:30, the weather was extremely pleasant with gentle breeze and warm evening sunlight. We pitched the tent in the middle, but then Tejaswi was smart enough to suggest that we pitch it closer to the hedge on the lower part of the mountain. That was definitely a great idea, it was the best lee side on the mountain which was well protected from winds. As I pitched the tent, boys collected firewood for the bonfire. We had two pegs of Black Dog scotch, I also prepared a makeshift bhel-puri sorts (spiced peanuts, avalakki, crispy jolada rotti, pickle, onions, chakli) which was greatly appreciated by the boys.
At about 5, we went for a stroll to explore the mountain. On the west side there is a viewpoint with stunning views of sunset and the surrounding landscape. We went there and relaxed for a while. It was a beautiful day with fleecy artistic cloud patterns, blue sky, red sun - as though we were watching a cinema on an infinitely large screen sitting on a balcony. It was a delight for my camera too, I saw it more through view-finder than my eyes. We walked around the place till sunset after which we returned to our camp area for the Black Dog was waiting for us!!!
We sucked at lighting the bonfire, it took nearly half hour for us to get the flames unfurling brightly. Bhel-puri was repeated, Black Dog was repeated and blabbering started. We kept talking for a long while about marriage, about girls, about Aindrita Ray, about the pretty lady in the green shirt in the other group, her curls, her voice and lots of other unmentionables...until we got bored and took to singing. We sang (in the most cacophonous way) at the top of our voices as though we were the Kishore Kumars and Sonu Nigams and SPBs. At 9:30, we were all terribly exhausted and sleepy, we hit the sac and, it seems, I was snoring in no time while others suffered from cold and space congestion.
Apparently there is a confusion among many about the names of the mountains Pushpagiri? Kumaraparvatha? What I was told was that when we trek from Somvarpet side we first get Pushpagiri (the tallest mountain) and then when you continue towards Kukke you hit KP. Some told me that it's the same mountain, climbers from Kukke side call it KP and the ones from Somvarpet call it Pushpagiri.
Things to carry:
Snacks and fruits
A little kerosene would make your life a lot easier
Don't forget your cameras, landscapes are truly breathtaking.
Day 2 to follow soon...