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Mullayanagiri and Baba Budanagiri: Off the Beaten Track

For the weekend, we BTC trekkers had decided to do not only something different (read trek) but also to do it differently. So laden with tents and sleeping bags and sleeping mats, 12 adventurers set off from Majestic to Chikmagalur. No longer had the team comprising of Monisha, Gaurav, Neha, Eshwar, Anish, Sudesh, Sandeep Biswas, Giri, Ankit, Saurabh, Sandeep Paul and myself (Nasreen) settled in the TT for a beauty sleep that the driver decided to stop for tea. To increase our energy reserve for the trek next day, some of us decided to hog there in the middle of the night on some unexpectedly good thatte idlis and rice bath. With stomachs filled and satisfied, we got back for a bumpy (roadwise and headwise) ride to Chikmaglur wherein we encountered quite a few miscalculated sleep...sorry...speed breakers. The sound system would suddenly start blaring some very unexpected songs of which I remember ‘tip tip barsa paani’ quite distinctly playing at 2 AM! :P 

On reaching Chikmagalur quite early, we had another round of sleep while waiting for our guide. After freshening up, we zeroed in on Hotel Annapurna for breakfast. The breakfast seemed like a mini feast what with Idlis, Dosas, Vadas and Kesari Baths. Soon with some sweet, savory and spicy food memories we set out on our adventure. The TT was to drop us at the trail start and meet us somewhere further up with our luggage and tents. So here we got off and immediately after a few steps from start of the trail decided to have an introduction session for the first time probably in a U-shaped formation. Some of us were standing at some steep and uneven ground which made it difficult to catch the names and faces.

So with the warm sun on our faces and the cool breeze through our hairs, we started off on our mission. The trail was steeper than we expected and soon there were a few of us lagging behind. The rising sun was adding to the heat and with not too many trees on the trail, we were relieved to find a spot covered with trees. Out came the almonds, chocolates and dates! With a new stock of energy, we were on our way soon and came across some caves. While some were curious to enter the cave, it did not help much that the cave ended abruptly. Stories of secret passages started going around but soon turned into grins, smiles and laughs as the cameras came out of their hiding. The path further up seemed less sinister as the highest peak in Karnataka was not very far now. Reaching the peak we were gifted with a beautiful view of the other side of Mullayanagiri which is accessible by road. The road seemed to wind around like a serpent. In comparison to the stairs connecting the road to the peak, the trekking trail we had just taken seemed less challenging. The hills around seemed to spread like waves. The peak has a temple in memory of a saint who, according to legend, was buried alive there. We went into the temple and soaked in the serenity. The temple priest was dedicatedly making sandalwood paste for the aarti which he offered in the temple sanctum in isolation.
After taking in the view around the hill from all angles, we decided to move further on, mostly downhill this time. The view was mesmerizing and in some places quite intimidating with sheer drops. At some points, the wind would be so strong that we had to consciously keep our balance. In the distance below we could see coffee processing units, with coffee spread out on the ground in its different stages giving different colours. We soon reached the checkpoint where the TT was supposed to pick us but it was missing! And what with bad or no mobile network, the driver could not be contacted. After some help from passersby, we got our TT back! After a short lunch break, it was time to visit Baba Budanagiri. By now the sun was at its scorching best as we wind our way through the steep slopes of Baba Budanagari. The ground and grass around were black and burnt out. We came across several snail shells which were empty, the fire probably having killed the dwellers. Soon a lake came into sight. It was surrounded by cows on one side while a group of people had pitched their tent on the other side. The cows didn’t seem very friendly as they were ready to charge us anytime as Monisha will tell you :P. After a lot of debate about the camping site, we decided to not camp near the lake. The way back to the TT was full of stories and some unusual sights. Monisha and me saw a lone tree near the edge of the hill and decided to give it company for some time. The tree did hold quite a surprise. Monisha had just noticed several nails on the tree trunk! I was horrified with thoughts of black magic and the likes. But hey...hold on! For those of you who thought finger nails (just as several others from the group and I thought initially), a small wave of relief passed when I realized they were just iron nails :P. It only got our spirits soaring while we got out our scarves and let it fly total filmy style. The incident set off the story makers in the group. We encountered another tree on the way with coins embedded in the trunk. Amidst all this, we reached the camping site which was to be near the Baba Budanagiri dargah.
After a recce of the surrounding ground, we decided the camping site and got out our tents. Some trials and errors later, Neha, Monisha and me had successfully pitched our tent (almost) single –handedly while some of the boys still struggled around us! The inside of the tent felt so cozy and comforting that it reminded me of the childhood games which were more under an umbrella in the corner of the home rather than a real tent! It was getting colder now and so we headed for some tea and snacks in the only shop available there. It was like a small isolated community there more so after the other tourists had left. The street lights seemed to have minds of their own as they would switch on and off regularly. Thankfully the sky was clear and the more we stared at the sky, more was the number of stars we could see. Woooooosssshhhhh...there went a shooting star (without the sound effect of course)! One could make out several satellites crossing paths and as Gaurav claimed, the “Brihaspati” or as we know it better Jupiter. As he could provide no proof, we concluded it to be the Pole Star. Huddling up to stay warm (or out of fear), some paranormal stories and experiences were shared. After dinner, we settled into our tents. The wind was blowing strongly and loudly. Being inside the tent only added to the effect. It was a struggle getting used to the wind noise and the expanding and contracting tent. At the same time, the thought that the tent is capable of flying off was scary. The only things between us and the cold starry night were two layers of tent cloth and a rod holding them :P.   Finally after having fallen asleep and a well deserved rest, we set out next morning later than planned to the Mullayanagiri peak by TT.

Things which seem normal at first can also take a turn anytime just like our TT ride. Contrarily, our TT could not turn at a particularly uneven and steep slope. After some nerve wracking attempts, the TT safely climbed up the slope. We followed thereafter on foot, soaking in the view and sun. On reaching the base of the top, we offered some huge business to the icecream vendor what with some of us gulping down up to 3 choco bars or cornettos! The starters at Mullayangiri  were followed by the main course in Chikmagalur. With stomachs full, it was decided that we would give Kemengundi a miss and head straight to the Kallathi falls at the entrance of which is a temple. Owing to human tendency, the waterfall and the small pool of water at the base was quite crowded and unclean. Hence we decided to do some barefoot trekking to upstream parts of the waterfall. After getting refreshed in the cold water of one of the cleaner waterfalls (and bath after almost 2 days), it was time to head back. Everyone was tired by now and enjoyed a quiet lunch. Since we didn’t have much time to spare thereafter, it was decided that we would head back to Bangalore without the pit stop at Belur. Since the first introduction session had been quite a hurried one, it was decided that we would have a second one while the feedback session thereafter went on for quite some time.

Amidst the music, tiredness, food poisoning and traffic, we were back to reality. Sandeep Biswas was welcomed to Bangalore by a special ‘hiii’ at the toll naka :P at which he promptly slid the window shut :D. As planned we were back on Sunday night giving us ample time to recover and get our thoughts together for the Monday blues.
The experience was altogether new for me for I had never been to a two-day trek before. Got the chance to meet many new trekking enthusiasts, had some good discussions and learnt to pitch a tent securely (yayy!). What more can you ask for in a weekend! The team was a very enthusiastic one indeed! Next on my list: Visit Mullayangiri in winter!

Written By      : Nasreen Choudhury
Organized By  : Monisha & Gaurav
Date of event : 30th Jan - 31st Jan, 2016
Place               : mullayanagiri and Bababudangiri, chikkamagaluru, Karnataka, India
Pictures          : Album
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