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Fast trek to Kodachadri - Jasmine of the hill

Kodachadri - jasmine of the hill, the name in itself commands huge respect from nature lovers to adventurers to spiritual seekers to environmentalists. Legend has it that this was the place where thousands of years ago Goddess Mookambika fought and killed Mookasura in a fierce battle. Such is the might and beauty of this hill that noted Kannada writer and Jnanpeeth awardee Dr. K. Shivarama Karanth, placed Kodachadri as the most beautiful of three mountain peaks of coastal Karnataka (the other two being Kuduremukha and Kumara Parvata). Covered by thick shola forest and running streams - Kodachadri beckons every trekker.
The wonderful opportunity to trek this mighty hill was provided by Bangalore Trekking Club. I was in waiting list for this trek, but I got a call from organizer Gaurav on Thursday evening for the Saturday's trek because of a drop-out. I was very happy to get this opportunity.

Next Friday night I reached boarding point on time 8.45 pm, met with the ever helpful Veena and Gaurav. The beauty of BTC is even though you are new to the club, they make you feel you are one among them. Slowly many trekkers started coming to the pickup-point, they also had another BTC trek scheduled.
The whole area around pick-up point was buzzing with enthusiast trekkers !!!

Once all the participants made it - we started off around 10 PM. By then - some of us got acquainted with others. Organizers had a brilliant idea to make sure that we get to know all the participants well. Gaurav and Monisha made each participant tell his/her name and a brief introduction about themselves. The next participant should tell his/her name along with all the previous ones. So by the time we reached the 11the participant Sanket - we got to know everybody's name and even their interests. Well - there was one common interest among us all that was - trekking.

We reached Kattinahole, Prabakar Bhat's homestay at around 6.30 AM. Previous night's interrupted sleep was in no trace after seeing the lush natural greenery outside the rustic homestay. After freshening ourselves - we were served with traditional Malnad style hot Chitranna with high tea and coffee made from jaggery. We had already spotted a leech inside home and as per suggestion from organizers we applied oil on the legs to prevent leech bites while trekking.

We started our trek with brief instructions from Gaurav and Monisha.
On the left side of the homestay there lies the mud road from where we started our trek.
 We crossed two water streams and after an hour of walk through initial forest areas we reached open fields.
There is a small shop here - we all had buttermilk and got some chikkis and groundnuts for the further journey. On the way to falls there can be seen open paddy fields.
From this initial trail point - the path to Hidlumane falls is slippery and it started raining, and many of us already had experienced leech bites. Leeches started finding their way inside shoes too. Fun part was Gaurav and Jose seemed to be enjoying leech bites and they let leeches happily feed on their leg, saying they are helping leeches to attain mukthi 
Breath taking Hidlumane falls:
Getting drenched in Hidlumane falls:
The second phase of the trek starts after Hidlumane falls. It was 10.30 AM. From here it is upward trek - through slippery rocks along the falls and on wet ground, the hill gets steeper up to 70 degree. Though arduous from here, trekking through thick shola forests amidst the engulfed clouds with constant encounter of running streams - the second trail was an amusing experience.

After ascending through the lush green patches and open meadows - we reached Jeep trail. Few of us were lucky enough to spot a small pit viper passing quickly.
 Upon reaching the second leg Jeep trail:
After another one hour of trekking from second leg point - we reached IB around 1PM.   We were all hunger wolves after the trek and we satisfied ourselves with pickles and grated coconut at the IB's kitchen as food was still being prepared. Monisha advised to complete the last phase of trekking ~2kms, before having food.

There are few temples around IB and as many trekkers can be seen we could see many devotees too. It is said that Moola Mookambika temple of Kollur is here.

After ascending the final leg of 2kms trek along with other co-trekkers and devotees we reached the summit. It started raining heavily and the view was hardly seen because of the rains and mist. Each season adds its own beauty to Kodachadri and reaching the peak of the summit was enchanting for all of us. The peak hosts a small temple dedicated to sage Adi Shankara. It is said that Adi Shankara visited this place and meditated here.

After spending some time in the peak, we started descending and reached IB. The food was ready by then rain gods were not showing any mercy either.
We all had piping hot rice with sambar and rasam, with heavy rain lashing and tiredness of the trek made the food taste dearer to taste buds.

After food – Gaurav asked if anyone wants to take jeep ride but everyone insisted on walking down. We started descending on Jeep trails around 3.10 PM. The distance from IB till checkpost is 9 Kms and from checkpost to homestay it is 1Km.
Jeep trail:
By the time we reached homestay it was 5.45 PM. Shinto was the first to reach as he sprinted off while descending and he had reached at 5 PM. We were provided with hot tea/coffee and bhajji upon reaching homestay and after a hot bath we started our journey to Bangalore.

My Takeaway:

Ernest Hemingway says: ‘Never go on trips with anyone you do not love’

Most of us did not know each other and it was a first trek for me, but before the trek started, conversation started flowing freely as all of us had one common interest.

Thanks to all the other participants who made my first trek with BTC memorable, filled with cherishing moments - be it Veena who was always helpful and kept the trek lively with her talks, Shinto with his views on any topic which you toss upon him, Jose and Sanket who always stayed behind to make sure I was not left behind in trekking, Priya for being so friendly, Mandar and Monisha for their inspiration – though they were hurt they did not take Jeep offer ride and stayed with the team, Vinod and Soumya  who shared experiences from their previous arduous treks, Arun - the local guide.

A big thanks to Gaurav, Monisha and BTC Admin for providing us all an opportunity to experience this knockout trek and tell stories back at home. You guys made sure everything was in place and it was very well organized.

So if you are one of the souls like me who want to go on a trek but do not have the company, do not hold back – get yourself registered in BTC and watch out for their events.

Written By     : Shubha Shivanandappa
Organized By : Gaurav & Monisha
Date of event : 5th August, 2017
Place              : Kodachadri
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