Updated: Jan 29
Date Oct 22-24th, 2022: Not a lot of planning went into this trip, just a desire to hike and ride my Harley before spending a month in Thailand. Kumara Parvatha is the second highest peak in Karnataka, part of Western Ghats, the first being Thadiandamol Peak in Coorg. The place is between Sakleshpura and Madikeri. The hike was fabulous with beautiful views, worth doing at least once.
Road Trip: We started early morning Oct 22nd around 5:30 AM from Bangalore. I rode my Harley and Samir was on his Benelli. We began by taking the route from Nalamangla; however, my friend got diverted and took the shortest-distance path, which took lot more time as the roads were quite bad. I went through Hassan via Sakleshpura. The road is very bad for at least 50 kms around Sakleshpura on NH 75, supposedly a national highway 🤨. However, the 40 kms to Kukke is really wonderful road and you can enjoy lot of greenery on both sides. Sadly, I had not clicked any photo shots. I met with Samir at the Kukke Forest check post, which would be the second time we meet and would be final time I could see him. Read further on the sudden disappearance of my friend.
Anway while returning I took the same route going through 50 kms of bad roads, which took around 6 hours with some stops.
Hike: At the check post, security personnel had to check all the bags for any plastic so that folks don't leave litter on the trail. It took around 30 mins just to finish that process. Meanwhile, Samir had already checked into some resort to let his lazy ass relax.
Finally I managed to persuade him to come with me, as this would be the last time I see him. Since he was not a practiced hiker, the trail was more difficult for him and he plodded on slowly. We started around 1:30 PM and by the time I reached Forest Camp it was around 3:45 PM, with 6.2 Kms behind us. The trek was tough and we had to stop multiple times to recuperate before moving on again. We could not find any sign of animals or birds along the way other than hearing some birds chirping. I could not spot Samir afterward, and waited till 7:45 PM before checking when he would join me but to no avail. Apparently he slept at the lunch place just 100 meters away at Bhattara Mane where they serve lunch and dinner. I met Anmol and Udit who are working in Bangalore near the Forest Camp and I joined them for the next day's hike.
Food: At Bhattara Mane the fare is below average, as you get some sambhar, almost like rasam, rice, pickle and butter milk. I think butter milk is the best. I would suggest anyone who is hiking add some butter milk in their water bottles as this adds flavor while hiking. I brought some nuts, raisins and protein bars, however they are not sufficient to power one on the trail. Better to bring a good amount of food items as the food at Bhattara Mane is just not that nutritious. The stream water at various places is pretty good and pure. Hikers just drink it directly from the stream as though there are no bacteria or any other harmful agents unlike when I did hiking in US where we filtered and boiled the water.
Camping: One has to book early for the tent by calling the forest camp office so that they can setup the tent, it costs around 400 Rs per tent for 2 people however, only one person can sleep in it comfortably. If you do not book you have to carry the tent along with you. Sleeping at camp sites is really annoying with so many unenlightened Indian people. They do not share simple basic common civil ethics as they shout and play loud music till very late. I hate it but had to live with it I guess. Next time better get some ear plugs 😝.
The next day I joined Anmol and Udit to hike to Kumara Parvatha, a hike of around 6.5 kms from the forest camp. We started at 4:45 AM. Generally I do not do very early morning hike as there is such poor visibility and I did not carry any torch. However, Anmol and Udit were using their phones' torch lights 'til around 5:30 AM when the rising sun began giving more visibility. The hike is difficult one but totally worth it, offering amazing views towards Shesha Parvatha which is around 5.5 Kms from Forest Camp.
Kumara Parvatha is around 1 Km away from Sesha Parvatha, however the views from here are not that great compared to that of Sesha Parvatha. To get a better landscape pass around 50 meters from Kumara Parvatha to get some decent views. Overall it took us 3 hours to reach to the peak from forest camp ground. While coming down I took some good time to relax and soak in the sun.
Returning to the camp ground I still could not discover what had become of Samir, but the next day I questioned a couple of tourists, and they were able to tell me that he had left the previous day without completing the hike.
Kukke Shri Subrahmanya Temple: This temple is pretty famous for Lord Subramanya Swami, son of Lord Shiva. I was there on the Diwali day while coming down from Forest Camp. Unfortunately I could not take shower but despite that I went in to check out the place. Lot of visitors from various parts of South India come to visit the temple. Photography is not allowed inside the temple so unfortunately I do not have anything to show off 😢
On the way back to Bangalore met these 3 kids selling grape fruit. While I was not really in a mood to eat, just to support them I ate a slice of it. They were pretty curious kids and they were enquiring about Harley. This day had started at 5:50 AM from forest camp and I finally reached Bangalore at 3 PM sharp and totally exhausted.
Finally, my first hiking shoes, that I bought from REI in US have worn out, after surviving for almost for a decade :).
After some hundreds of miles it's finally time for a new pair of boots.