“even if you give me 10000/- I won’t come anymore”
(8 years back Rs. 10,000 was big enough to be considered as prize money)
“this hill itself is outstanding, how can be Himalayan valleys?”
“come on, just few steps to reach the peak”
(understand the negative tone !)
“how much distance still we have to climb”
(do we really need to climb?)
“I can have second thought on another trekking if these blood sucking leeches are not there”
(then forget…you can’t have another trekking)
“I got shiver by looking into the depth of valley”
“I am the only son to my parents; we have climbed enough; let’s get down”
Well…everything started with Harsha…. (It is not complaint as such). He gave us this suggestion to have an adventure on Kumara Hill. Total 15 friends got ready for the trip. Puttur bus stand was our junction point from where we have to catch bus to Subrahmanya. You can’t imagine a bus plying for every second (or even an hour, sometime) in a village city like Puttur. We had enquired about the bus to Subrahmanya and we were in time in bus stand by half an hour. I felt, after looking into the heavy carry bags, we are here to conquer Himalaya (a ‘sherpha’ may laugh at this point, sure!!). Since the buses are less frequent and Indian population is overwhelming, one has to fight to catch seat in a bus and that’s what we exactly did! (Even NSG commandos may learn something from us). We started at 5.30 PM and it was 7 while we landed at Subrahmanya bus stand. City is illuminating with street lamps. Our stay was already booked at “Mayura” lodge we headed straight forward. While most of we stayed back at hotel for rest, some of the friends who wanted to find the breadth and width of the outside world ventured out!
Very next day first thing we did was to take blessings of god Subrahmanya. Hotel Kumara was waiting for us to serve hot breakfast.
(They make very well ‘buns’, a kind of snack prepared from Banana fruit. Recently 2 years back I and one of my friends have traveled Subrahmanya city for another friend’s marriage. We went for the same hotel for breakfast at around 7AM. I ordered for the buns. He returned back after a while saying only one bunse is left. I thought he is serving us buns prepared yesterday and I directly asked him the same. Grinningly he replied “we prepared morning but everything is over”. That’s the popularity of ‘buns’).
Bermuda shorts and T shirts were out and with complete make over look we left the lodge. Kumara hill was calling us from the back of temple with its open arms. Subrahmanya was our guide as he had been there once. (Its not god Subrahmanya… it’s my classmate Subbanna). All were ready for the kill. Time is 8AM. One needs to walk around a kilometer to reach the starting point of the trek. Some time after we heard subbanna shouting “from here trek starts”. I suddenly looked at a hanging board on which it is clearly written in kannada: “way to kumara hill-distance 13km”. I caught shivering cold even under the sunlight. Subbanna is flying like supersonic missile and tirumaleshwara is zooming like PSLV rocket and it seemed like both of them climbed 70% of the trek. One has to appreciate their interest while walking. The python like path ahead buried under thick forest is full of rocks smoothened by flowing water. Once we are inside the forest we lost all materialistic connection. Naturally when you are free, you bound to become more natural by showing your all naughtiness of the world. Don’t you think that even if you have born and brought up in the modern world you can’t forget your root? Right?
When we started the journey it was comparatively easier. It became suddenly steeper after 15 minutes of walk. Walking speed is reducing slowly!! If there is anybody who is running like race horses then it must be Subbanna and Tirumaleshwara. I was stunned by the stamina of race horses. Some how I was trying to walk me heard second grand announcement from Subbanna: “there are leeches; come fast; else it will suck your blood”. I have seen several signboards which warn about existence of dogs “beware of dogs”. I couldn’t understand the meaning of “beware of leeches”. I was under the impression that subbanna is a talkative person and hence he has good habit of murmuring something always. My thought process suddenly stopped as I could see one of my friends is picking something from his leg. Upper portion of his foot has completely become red due to blood. Somewhere on the path, after sucking stomach full blood, leech has released itself. I was digesting Subbanna’s word slowly.
We have completed steep trek of around 2-3 km distance. We took rest for a while on a huge rock. Venkatesh is murmuring “I can’t do this, I will stay at Bhats house, you all carry on…” We gave him water with full of glucose and electral. It seems he got electrified by that treatment and again started the next trek before any of us could stand up!!
Slowly zig zag paths open up. Forests have become thinner. There is no reduction in steepness of the path but since it is more even now that makes it more walkable. It is mesmerizing to see distance hill peaks and spread out forest. Subrahmanya city and Kumaradhaara river looks tiny. As you walk on you will find level ground (when I say ‘level’ it means comparatively level). People are singing, dancing and ask me what are they are not doing? There were no leeches as we have crossed forest area. We could see several different kinds of flowers never seen in earlier life. (I knew rose and lily, even though nobody presented me neither of those!!!). At this point of time I could see a hut kind of house in some distance. Subbanna told that house belongs to forest officers. Nearby (even then it is 100-300m, I don’t remember exactly!) we can find Bhats house. We are eagerly waiting for this house. Two days back Subbanna and I came to Subrahmanya city to inform about trekking to Mr. Bhat so that he can prepare for our food. Mr. Bhat is a daily visitor to Hotel Kumarakripa and you just leave a note there with anybody that reaches to the halfway peak of the hill!!
(but now things have changed I feel…I have seen Mr. Bhat’s mobile number in some other blog post. So he can be directly contacted.)
Forest officers checked our bags for any alcoholic drinks; and might have disappointed after finding nothing from our gang! As per theoretical law alcoholic drinks are banned in hill. They didn’t forget to warn us to come back on same day without trying for overnight jungle stay as it was raining almost every night. We were not in the mood to entertain him even though we accepted his suggestion for that moment to just please him.
(Again things have changed now…..recent visitors to the hill say that there is an entry fee that you have pay at this forest check post, hope it is not more than Rs.100)
Their hut was made up of local tree material. But you can see two solar cell plates and a solar light. One can’t imagine having electricity connection to that height. You can also see old almost fallen wireless antenna tower.
Whole world looks beautiful from this viewpoint. Breeze makes atmosphere more pleasing even under the scorching sun. We have already completed around 5-6 km journey. Dominating view of the topmost portion of the hill is now viewable. Reflecting bright sun light from the falling small water streams from opposite hills can fire any imaginations. “Suuuuuuuyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” sound soothe eardrums from bottom portion of the jungly hill. Any nature lover has no choice but to bristle.
Its 12PM now. We are at Bhats house. Naturally chilled buttermilk was ready in Bhat’s house. Stress and strain we faced while walking up to here had gone beyond the hills immediately after buttermilk entered stomach area! It was 2PM when we again started the trek after lunch.
We won’t see anymore forest in the next 6-7km tough trek except at one place. This entire snake like steep path is covered by waist level grown grass. I suppose a measurement on angle of the hill at any where here can be never less than 40 degree! We were walking on heavy steep path. After 2-3 Km journey a tank and a pendal made up of rock is built by some kings of earlier generation. Where king can take rest when he comes for hunting? Tank is almost damaged and hence doesn’t hold water; but then water flows freely in good amount we refueled our self. We made sure that our bottles are completely full. We knew that we don’t have any more clean and pure water resources. When we reached rock pendal (Mantapa) it was 4PM!
Clear sky has become violent suddenly. We observed thick black cloud fast approaching us. Within a minute of time clouds are flying over our head. Cloud got shattered after hitting the tall and defiant hill surface. When cloud surrounded us it is completely chilled coolness, like we were within freezer….such an icy feeling!! Forget about watching distant hills, we could not see ourselves within this cloud campaign. Within no time rain started pouring. Ooooooooooophs……….I felt sad by the imagination canceling of further trek. It’s dangerous to continue the journey as further root is steeper and difficult. But there is no meaning in cutting the journey halfway. Dilemma of whether to continue the trek or not still continued in the mind.
We were taking shelter at rock pendal. Slowly rain drops reduced. Clouds melted away. We could see walking root. Without wasting single seconds we hailed “Jai Bhajarangabali” and we took off from that place. (To match with the time I should say “Jai Ho”…thanks to A.R. Rahman and “Slum Dog Millionaire”). Weather variations happened within short duration of time gave us glimpses of difficulty that Himalayan trekking face!
“Attention, that is “Shesha Parvatha”” somebody from the front pointed out. “Shesha Parvatha” is standing tall in front of us with dignified and elegant look. Hill looks like a paddy field as it is completely covered by grass. Hence people also fondly call it as “bhattada raashi”. You cross this hill by its sideways then go through a small forest area then climb a little bit through a big rock structure then you can reach top of the kumara hill. One can see top portion of the Kumara Hill as you are crossing the Shesha Hill. Even you have to cross through a narrow path beside which deep valley resides. Shyama honestly agreed that he felt little nervous to cross that area! (Recently he got married….hence I assume he might have gathered more fearless mentality and courage!!). You can’t see bottom of this 90 degree valley. Even if you shout it won’t echo back.
Well… let us continue….. Again back to the forest………same blood sucking leeches……..since we had already good experience and exposure of these leeches we ran though the forest as quick as possible. Suddenly we encountered a big rock which is almost 70 degree angled. We are almost near to the end of trekking and top of the Kumara Hill. For a moment I felt like rock is laughing at us. Plenty of bushes were there on the sides of this rock. We all took support of these bushes and climbed across the rock. Now I was smiling at the rock. Rightfully it chuckled back with its grand dignified presence !
While crossing this path I observed broken trees and bushes vertical against the common path. It was almost new, may be maximum one day old. Slowly I digested the fact that that path where elephants made their way. I could understand the saying as well “where elephant puts its step that itself is the path”. I could see elephant dung here and there in that broken forest. We all are discussing elephant stories and root suddenly took a right turn and that’s it……. I can see almost plane top portion the hill…and yes we made it!
Here is temple kind of structure made up of rocks. Lord Shiva is being worshipped. Annual rituals and prayers are held to Lord Shiva by Subrahmanya Temple priests.
You can see a man made small pond nearly 100m away from this temple. This pond is believed to be the initial start Point of Kumaradhara River which traverses through part of the western hills, Uppinangadi city nearby Mangalore-Bangalore NH47 (I still have a doubt that whether its is NH47 or NH 48 and here is my cousin giving good idea of tossing a coin to resolve the issue. If head comes its 47, if it is tail then 48 and the result is…… head!!), finally joining western Arabian Sea. I really wonder how water oozes out from that height. (Of course science always has an answer!). Worst part of our Indian culture is that even in this pond people have thrown plastic. We filled our water bottles and went back to temple premises wherein our group fellows were preparing tent for night stay. Some friends collected dry wood sticks for camp fire. Time is 6PM.
Black and cool night life is engulfing us step by step. Each and every creature in the animal planet is making some uncomfortable noise. On the other part, from deep valley of the hill chilled breeze is flowing making some king of Beethoven strings! Goddess nature is in her best spirit and we 15 human creatures are struggling to adjust for the torturing cold. Sweaters came out. When least expected, Mr. Murphy is remembered. Rain showed its face again. Friends surrounded around camp fire quickly finished off chapatti that we carried all along from Hotel Kumarakripa. All 15 people can’t take rest within that amateur tent. I and 4 other friends stayed outside the tent. We had only 2 umbrellas to cover ourselves from rain. We tried our level best to keep the camp fire alive but all in vein as it was raining cats and dogs. I was shivering due to heavy breeze and cold. Human beings are fighting to survive one night in mighty personality of nature.
(when we went second time after 3 years o this trek we had taken precautions…we had umbrellas…jerkins….we took only food and cold protecting luggage, everything else we kept in lodge)
I worried due to increasing rain every second. Even we prayed god, especially Subrahmanya God! Still rain continued to conquer. But next day we learned in Mr. Bhats house that rain has shown lots of courtesy to us. It rained for more than two hours in the slope of the hill. I can’t imagine the situation if it had rained the same in top of the hill! All we 15 might have caught cold, fever and what else!
Prasanna was shouting every minute to put “search light”. I was just doing that to satisfy him. Of course our “searchlight” was two 1.5v battery operated torch light!! But when whole world is covered in darkness even a candle light gives light of star. We were trying to locate any wild buffalos or elephants! Shyama was telling stories of Mr.Shivarama Karanth. When Karanth was young, he and his friend showed great courage by running away from the place after finding group of wild buffaloes even when they had rifles in their hand! These wild buffaloes were psychologically troubling us whole night.
Early morning 3 o’clock, when our tent ripped off completely due to heavy wind flow, it again justified that how much small we are against mighty nature. There is no rain, but thick clouds are passing over us as if they are having running race.
Somehow we spent the night. Everybody started packing their bags. Somebody around in our group told that there is elephant dung. We went there and could not believe ourselves. It was the proof of wild buffalos who visited our camp yesterday but we didn’t notice that! I really feel thrilled by the imagination of watching wild buffalo face to face. Don’t ask me for my reaction even if it might have happened. I really don’t know!!
There is no toilet bathroom to refresh you. Use open ground completely surrounded by bushes. Take water from the small pond and enjoy pure village life to refresh yourself. Our return journey started at around 7AM.
I was thinking coming down easier but when we started the return journey I understood difficulties associated with this. Heavily blowing wind is almost displacing us from our balance. One has to be very careful that the step you have put is firm and steady. Once that is confirmed take your next step. It was bright clear morning sky. We could see splendid beauty of nature to the finest level. We could also see trench kind valleys through which we passed yesterday midst of heavy cloud. Venkatesh slipped his steps one or two times. Thankfully, every time he is saved by thick grass of the hill. Else trekkers count has been lessened by one!
We took hot breakfast at Mr. Bhats house. It was 12 noon when we reached Subrahmanya city. We visited temple again to thank god that he was so helpful to us! Bus was waiting for us to ply us back to Puttur.
Suppose if you want to go don’t forget that after this trek next day I got fever due to muscle crack. I took bed rest for two days!
Question remains unanswered how Mr.Bhats family reached that hill station? It seems some unfavorable situation forced their ancestors to come and settle at that area. Anyways, their family is having happy life. Every noon Mr.Bhat walks 5km down to hotel Kumarakripa to sell milk. Whether you inform him or not, he will prepare your food only after you reach his house. We paid Rs.35/- for lunch and breakfast. Ofcourse this is around 5 years back. Do the inflation correction for above charge to match it for present price!
Subrahmanya is very famous temple of Karnataka. Main city is nothing but both sides of one single main road leading towards temple. There is good bus connectivity to this bus from most of the prominent cities. There are plenty of lodges nearby temple. First time when we went (~5 years back) to Kumara hill we spent just Rs.150/- (per head for a group of 15 members) for complete trek. Second time (~3 years back) we spent around Rs.350/- (per head for a group of 5 members).
No need of any guide for this trek as path leading towards the hill has any diversion anywhere and it is well walked path.
There is no worry for water till you reach Mr.Bhats house. After that at the place of rock pendal (Kallu Mantapa) water resource is available. At the top of the hill again no problem for water.
October to May is best time to trek. If you plan for a night stay at the top of the hill, make enough preparation to protect from heavy cold and wind flow. Camp fire is a must to avoid wild animals. So carry small bottle of kerosene to start fire.
If you are lucky enough you can get small octagonal stone. It is believed that if you get this precious stone all of your desires come true!