How/Where To Go: Hop on your ride, get the hell out of Bangalore, and start driving towards this small hamlet called Kattinahole; nestled in the Western Ghats in Shimoga district. Kattinahole will be your base camp, and the trail starts from here. A good 450 kms from Bangalore, it had taken an entire night for our Tempo Traveler bus to reach there. These rides are a far cry from any sort of comfort ( read, cramped seating ), but most of the time you’ll find yourself in one of these ; being the only travel option provided by trek companies ( I had taken this trip through BMC; Bangalore Mountaineering Club ).
At least our ride wasn’t bumpy during the night; while the next morning enchanted us with views of greenery all around. I could not help but notice that we were actually passing a jungle ( perhaps the Shettihalli wildlife sanctuary through which the route winds itself ). And yes, the wind on our face was much cooler than when we had left Bangalore. The morning started to weave it’s magic on me, and soon my eyes were all but open ( not that I had had a sound sleep anyway ), trying to enjoy the views around me. My nostrils were happy too, taking in all the fresh air that they could !
Where to Stay/Eat: Soon, our ride wound it’s way in to our home stay, and we had some time to freshen-up and have our breakfast. It looked like a basic home-stay ( read, common bed-halls, common toilets, a good enough dining area, and very basic but fresh food ). I did see a few individual rooms as well though. This place is called ‘Kodachadri Hallimane Home Stay’ ( 9632549169 ; 9482352368 ; http://www.gokodachadri.com ). I saw a few other home stays nearby, so looks like there’s no dearth of them here, and they may as well be the chief economic activity of this place ( I read that somewhere ).
We parked our luggage wherever we could, and got ready for the trek soon after. The trek starting point is pretty close from this place, and can as well be walked over to. Your home stay guys should be able to arrange a guide for you, but this needs to be confirmed before hand I’m sure. We were with BMC, so no worries !
What To Do: I can’t emphasize much on this you know 😛 ! There’s not much else that you can do here, but climb over hills, and tread near waterfalls ! It’s a moderate trek, which does tire you in parts, but then it’s all worth it. An hour of the trek leads you below the famous Hidlumane Falls, where you can rest up for a while, as well as clean yourself up 😉 ! The trek route is a little treacherous near the falls, what with lots of haphazardly laid rocks to traverse. It was December though, and water on the rocks had all but dried up. Monsoons will surely be a challenge I’m sure. You will, however, get rewarded with a better looking waterfall, and better views in general; the mist adding to the magic quite much. Ours was a beautiful trek too, nevertheless.
The climb after the waterfall is steep as well, so yes, by the time you reach your next stop ( One of the summits nearby ), you would have already made some stops in between, and would have been panting at intervals I’m sure ! Fear not, as you can take ample rest at the summit, and enjoy the view around too. That is, before you start again !
The trek route, now running down and up another hill, joins the jeep trail after some time. There is one small shop here which serves refreshments ( fresh fruits/vegetable variety ). You will, for the most part, gobble up all you can. This shop will serve as your resting point as well, before you continue your journey further ahead. It’s been 2 hrs of your trek already.
The jeep trail is a mud track, and as can be guessed, dust from the ongoing ( and incoming ) jeeps will trouble you for a bit. Half an hour of your walk will lead you to the famous Mookambika temple, which is where the jeep trail ends. You can have your lunch here ( we had got our stuff packed from the home stay, which seems quite a good option to me, considering the rudimentary nature of arrangements on the route and at the temple ).
It’s a brief walk up from the temple and till the Kodachadri peak now. It will still take you close to an hour I’m sure, as the climb becomes steep at intervals. Once at the peak and near it, you will enjoy magnificent views of the scenery around you, while a small temple ( dedicated to Adi Shankara ) at the top will pique your curiosity.
Now, depending on the time at hand, you can either wait for the sunset ( we did not ! ) and explore the environs around, or head back to reach down before the same. This a place of historical/mythological importance, and there are some sites keeping in tune with the same. Your Wikipedia print-out should be sufficient for you to ask around I guess. There are plenty of people to help you out here, as this place is quite sacred for the Keralites. Whole families turn up, and that is because the jeep trail exists, and it is pretty busy in fact.
The trek route for the families is a bit different. It starts at the temple where the jeep trail ends, and meets up somewhere with the other trek route which we took. We decided to go back via the ‘family’ route as it was supposed to be a bit easy on our knees; now that we had completed the first, and better half of the trek !
Once at the temple, you have the option to walk down the jeep trail ( The trek route through which we came in is rightly deemed to get quite difficult once the sun goes down ), or hitch a ride on one of the jeeps. We decided to go with the former option, as we had come here to trek anyway. But at the end of it, I realized that it was not worth it, as the dust from the jeep traffic troubles you quite a bit. A trek, as far as I want it, should take us through pristine jungle routes, and not subject us to the very issues that we leave our cities for ( read, dust and pollution ).
So, for me, I’d definitely recommend you to take one of the jeeps back from the temple. These jeeps will get you all the way to the trek starting point, and from there you can walk back the last half mile to the home stay.
You arrive at the home stay, chill out in the evening for a bit, and go to sleep early as you’re pretty tired I’m sure. Next day needs to start early too if you want to visit a fort nearby before heading back to Bangalore. This place is called Nagara, and the fort here had been constructed by a famous ruler of this region, Shivappa Nayaka ( 17th century ). Though not much remains inside the fort now, but you can walk your way to a very interesting hill inside it ( yes ! ), and reward yourself with surrounding views !
An hour is easily spent, and you now head back to Bangalore through Shimoga city ( where you can have your lunch ), and beyond ! We started off from the homestay not later than 9 am, and managed to reach Bangalore after 13 hrs or a little more. We had 2 stops on our way as mentioned earlier ( the fort and for lunch ); a little more than an hr each for both of them, and then there was a brief chai-stop in the evening as well. The traffic on the highway did increase in the evening, even as we approached Bangalore ( The usual story near Bangalore over the weekends ! ).
Last but not the least, When To Go: Well well, except for the hot summer months ( April till June ), and peak rainy season ( July-August ), this trek can be done at any time of the year. Not to mention, just after monsoons will be great timing ( Sept-Oct ), with greenery in full force all around you. Even the fort looks pretty different after the rains ( check out it’s pics on the web ).
We had been here in December, and it was reasonably hot during the day. The green patches had already started to become quite brownish ( dry ).
It was nevertheless a very fulfilling weekend. Wishing you guys a happy Kodachadri !