The alarm started buzzing at 6:30 and we were in no mood to wake up, for it was cold outside and the mist condensed into water drops and kept dripping inside the tent. But then the very thought of missing the beauty of early morning urged us to wake up and get out of the tent. As soon as I unzipped the tent, the first sight itself was scary. The mist was gushing out through the gap in the hedge with so much force as though there were gigantic fans down the mountain blowing fog with all its might. It wasn't that cold, but it was extremely windy and misty with very low visibility and the mild morning sunshine which I had pictured was totally out of question.
We went out for a stroll, the same place where we had watched the sunset on the previous evening. The valley was totally invisible covered with the densest fog and the winds were extremely strong. At times the winds blew off the clouds which unveiled the sun which almost resembled moon with a golden tinge. We came back to the tent, undid it and packed our bags. We started off our descent after having a light breakfast of oranges and apples.
Our plan was to descend on the Kukke side, so after half a kilometer of descent we had to deviate left in the direction of "water source". The landscape looked splendid at that time of the day, all the nearby hills were dark while a distant mountain was well lit by the morning sunshine. We descended slowly along the rocky part of Pushpagiri and passed through a stretch of canopy. Suddenly I remembered that that was exactly the place where we had camped during our last trek to Kukke about 8 years ago. We saw many tents still lying there without any people in it. Most of those who climb from Kukke side camp in this lee shola (a valley with dense forest growth in it) region, which overs a good protection from the wicked mountain winds.
We then started ascending KP, the neighbouring mountain. Just before the summit we stopped at a viewpoint for breakfast. Shashanka was the mother of the group, he was kind enough to spread the marmalade on bread and give it to each of us. It was very breezy and we were on the edge of the cliff, we had to gain a purchase tightly on the rocks and have our bread. We then ascended to the summit of KP. The panorama of the surrounding mountains was stunning from KP summit, the winds were almost pushing us despite heavy backpacks. From KP its a strenuous descent all the way to Bhattara Mane. The path is stony and the gradient is very steep which makes the legs terribly sore.
Bhattara Mane is like a temple to most KP trekkers. It was almost 11 by the time we reached Bhattara Mane. It's a small house with a big courtyard and areca plantations in the front. Trekkers are served here with delicious food prepared by Bhattru, some of them also use this abode for overnight stay. Its sheer social service that Bhattru serves food to trekkers amidst such a desolate mountain range. Everybody will be so tired that the food he serves will be almost an ambrosia for the hungry tummies. It's a very simple food usually contains rice, sambar, pickle and butter-milk. They charge as less as Rs. 50 per person and it's upto you to pay them. If you're in a big group then its better you inform them beforehand to avoid waiting, the contact number is +91-9448647947. We were served with rice, unripe banana sambar, lemon pickle and butter milk and we devoured it like pigs. By 12, we took leave from Bhattara Mane.
The journey ahead of Bhattra Mane is the most difficult part for three reasons. Firstly, the sultry weather of Dakshina Kannada district sets in and drains all your energy out in no time. Secondly the heavy food at Bhattara Mane makes the trek very exhausting. Thirdly it's a steep descent all the way till Kukke with very stony and irregular path. It took about two hours for us to reach the civilized world, the heads-up of which we got by the sounds of barking dogs and water pumps when we were close to Kukke. The distance from where the trail meets the road to Kukke town is about 1.5km.
Our legs were paining like hell, we ambled all the way to Kukke bus-station. Kukke, is a crowded town with many devotees visiting the famous Kukke Subramanya temple which is known to be miraculous. KP peak is visible behind the temple tower. We had tender coconuts and cucumbers to beat the heat and also ate delicious "Kaltappa" a thick akki-rotti sort of a dish, typical in Dakshina Kannada. We bought bus tickets and had to wait till 4 for it's departure. It was a pathetic bus service (some SRT travels), it was probably the slowest bus on road which reached Bangalore (via Hassan) by midnight.
Definitely the trek was a memorable one, thanks to Shashank for pushing me for the trek. Also the climb from Somvarpet is definitely much better (better in terms of terrain, weather, water sources, landscape and distance) than from Kukke side. It's considered to be the toughest trek in Karanataka, for me it was a great feeling to be there again for it brought back to me the memoirs of my college days.
Below are some informative excerpts from the flyer given at the forest office:
Nearest Towns: Makideri (24km), Swmvarpet (26km)
Nearest Railways Stations: Mysore (120km), Bangalore (250km), Mangalore (130km)
Climate: 10 degrees in winter to 34 degrees in summer
Major peaks: Pushpagiri (1712m), Parvathagiri betta (1571m), Kumaraparvatha (1399m), Mandalpatti (1306m
Mandalpatti - Hullubane (1km)
Mandalpatii - Kothanadaka - Marigundi (22km)
Beedahalli - Pushpagiri - Girigadde (14km)
Girigadde - Damangudde - Marigundi (10km)
Mandalpatti - Hamiyala - Bakthi - Beedahalli (24km)
Mallahalli Waterfall (18km from Somvarpet towards Beedahalli & 3km on the right)
Beedahalli Waterfall (near Beedhalli anti-poaching camp)