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Narasimha Parvatha - Home of Cobras

The fog covered everything before my eyes and there was a drizzle, like a veil all around, and it kept on descending from the heavens, dawn to dusk. That, was bangalore on Thursday, another two days to Agumbe. And I wondered, if we could do the climb this time. Barely a month ago when I had been there, the rains had poured and all the areas were off limits.
Come Friday evening, and we assembled at Shantala silks, which has been become the legendary trek origin point for many trekking clubs over the years. There was another BTC group heading for KP that evening. After discussing some metrics(like the possible average Leech/feet sqr, snake spottabily index) and some intro(where a guy working for flipkart got quite a bit of spotlight) we started off on our separate ways.
We had quite a mix of people - the extremely talkative and easy conversationalist Sharath, the geographically aware and budding photographer Abhiram, the die-hard political fans Kabir and Abhishek, the swimmer Arvind, the motivator and co-organizer Sangameesh, the witty Virendar(half the time, I put my foot down on his comments only to realize that they were to be taken lightly), Premal also known as Big-B - for reasons unknown and Mahesh.
Sharath seemed to stay awake all night. I kept waking up every few hours, and wanted to know where we were heading, and Sharath was the guy to answer me. On the way, we wanted to take the Hassan bypass to avoid traversing the entire city.  And we saw a truck fallen out of   fallen on its side. The driver luckily unscathed was climbing out of it. A bizarre accident involving an unloaded tempo on an extremely neat  level road. We being the utterly benevolent, helpful, heroic guys, rushed to the rescue and  pushed the tempo back on its four wheels.  After concluding that it had minor damage and could be started, we started moving again. 
We reached Agumbe around 7am. We travelled to Malandur which was the starting point. We had to meet a Thimappa who would arrange breakfast, lunch and dinner and lodging here. As we entered the village, the first guy we came across said he was Thimappa(coincidence) and he was walking out to meet a group who he was going to guide up the hill(wow, we found the guy), but he says, he is not taking care of food or the lodging for the night.
We were pretty confused to the sanity of the guy. So, we concluded that there must be another guy with the same name. We proceeded to the house of the guy Thimappa only to realize that he was the same guy we met before. Now, we could have said there seemed to be greater things at work. And as usual, there were no mobile networks, so no way to reach the guy by phone.
Finally, we came across Venkatesh( the guy who had let us stay at his place the last time we visited) and he gave us his phone which had network connectivity when standing exactly next to his house on a particular stone. Now, the mystery seemed to unravel. Our lodging was at Sita river lodge which was at Someshwara on the Udupi road and not at Malandur. We had breakfast and drove there and came to our luxurious(in terms trek standard) dorm rooms with 'Real' beds. 
Having lost time in our ramblings, we decided to put off NP for the next day and decided to go to Kudlu Theeratha water fall which was a popular and well known. Our TT stopped at a bridge as the driver felt the vehicle couldn’t handle the roads further and we had to walk a long way to reach the entry gate for the falls. Meanwhile, a much bigger mini bus was able to negotiate the same road and we were put to shame. After paying Rs10 per person as entry, we started with the stream crossing. We had tried to cross this last time, but the force was such that we were almost washed away and had to turn back. However, with the rains having abated, the level was much lower. It had been about waist high the previous time. This time, we barely had to get out ankles wet. And then there was a long climb of continuous ascent. 
And then, came the beautiful, spectacular Kudlu Theertha water fall. From about 150 feel, there is a jet of water powered down, with such force that we couldn't approach its actual drop point. The rebounding droplets hit us like needles and we couldn't look at it as we waded towards it. The pool bed was very rocky and irregular, but closer to the waterfall, it seemed almost consistent and we could swim around. Also, the water was chest high, but with the water force directed towards the shallower area, it didn't feel threatening. But the shards of glass from broken glasses seemed a very real threat. The guards near the gate had cautioned us of this, and it was pathetic to see that people had not only consumed liquor but also broken the bottles near the waterfall. To our good fortune, none of us got hurt and had an awesome time in the water. My suggestion would be to use the slippers here to be safe.
As we were returning from here, we met an another trekking group , a YHAI group from Mysore wing. And in the group, a 63 year old woman, who had trekked this way and back. We were quite surprised that she had enough will to do this. As we talked to her, we found she had also not only completed EBC but Annapurna circuit twice! We were amazed at her achievement and her spirit to keep doing this. She gave us her blessings and told us to conquer more and more mountains, after all what else life is for!
We headed back to our Sita River Forest lodge. It was close to 3pm and we were like hungry tigers. No food was spared that day ;)
We had planned to do trail route available in the camp, but it rained heavily for about two hours, so we took the day off and relaxed, talked ghost stories, other treks and so on till the night.
In the evening, Sharath heard a disembodied female voice in the bathroom asking “What are you doing here?”. He was pretty jittered after that. I kept thinking of  Stephen king’s book “IT” where voices can be heard from the gutters.
As we planned to sleep, Sharath suddenly woke up with a start and mumbled something like seeing a ghost, only to realize that it was just Abhiram who got up to get something from his bag. Poor fellow, he was rattled by the bathroom experience. Ghost stories in the night are good for imagination!
The next morning, we woke up at 5am. It was only mildly cold, for a forest region. Today, we were to conquer Narasimha parvatha. 
We had hot mangalore buns and idli at the Agumbe bus stop hotel. Then headed for Kigga picking up our guide from the road to Malandur.
We had initially planned to ascend from Malandur and descend from Kigga. But our guide - Venkatash was adamant not to use the Malandur route as a wild elephant had been spotted there a week ago. So, we were to ascend and descend at Kigga.
Along the way to Kigga, we visited Kundadri peak. There is drivable path to the top of the mountain. There is an ancient Jain temple at the peak. There was a pool of water at the top. There was a board warning us to stay away from the water. Upon gazing into the waters of that pool, we found a huge shoal of fish in them, all grouped around the corner where we were standing. They seemed to be waiting to be fed. We looked at the board again, and took two steps backwards. Caution was the word! . The view from the peak is magnificent. All of agumbe and surrounding areas are seen - including Narasimha Parvatha.
Then we headed to Kigga where the trek begins. Our driver parked the TT near a green moss covered lake. We had to walk a short way through the village before hitting the fields. The trek is mostly through a forest route and there is a continuous moderate ascent all the way. We met a group of seven trekkers resting mid-way. They told us they were ascending. Later we found they were descending after spending the night at the peak. I wonder why they would lie to us. 
We took about two breaks inbetween and did the ascent in 1.5 hrs. At the top, there is a two room house with the roofs caved in. Only the roof seems to be the problem though, the floor and the walls look good. A good place in non-rainy seasons to rest for the night, but if its raining, getting tents is the only way.
We kept our bags in the room and headed to the peak above. There is a sacred stone which is worshipped as Lord Narasimha. After taking a lot of photos here, and enough selfies to keep Viru ticking, we headed back like the wind to the start point. We then headed to Sringeri after having lunch on the way. The temple at Sringeri is vast and beautiful. We bought some puffed rice and fed the fish. We had fun feeding it and then trying to touch it. I didn't see anyone getting into the water here, unlike Kumaradhara at Kukke where man and fish share the same few feet of water. Long after everyone was gone, the fish still stayed at the steps leading down to water, while the tunga river flowed on.
We met the same YHAI team again. Its like we keep bumping into each other. The world is a small place. We visited all the temples there. And at the right time, we visited the prasadam hall and had dinner. The dining hall is huge and clean. Everything there seems to be of a massive scale. The total seating of the hall must be over 600 people at one go. The food was simple but delicious and filling. 
Abhishek had a wish to meet the Sharada peetha head, and they had given us an appointment at 8:15. So, we headed there after dinner. The place was absolutely serene and peaceful. With the crowds abating, silence presided and the nocturnal noises increased from the shrubbery around. Unfortunately, the high priest was busy and said he would be available to meet after 8:45. We had a long way to get to bangalore, we started back to bangalore without being able to meet him. We were back at bangalore by 4am.

Written By     : Srivatsa
Organized By : Sangamesh & Virander
Date of event : 15th & 16th, Nov 2014
Place             : Agumbe
Photos           BTC Facebook
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