With a fit body, strong mind and the will to hike up to the peak – one among a few dream trek trails, Kodachadri, I managed to complete about a month ago.
The baffling shola forests and the grasslands of Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary, now declared as a natural heritage site by the Karnataka Government – located in Shivamogga district of Karnataka State in India, is a part of the famed western ghats. One of the most popular trek trails of Karnataka, Kodachadri, takes the adventure-seeking trekkers through the heart of this sanctuary and leaves behind imprints of a memorable trekking experience. Situated at an elevation of 1,343 metres above sea level, the trek route from Patalagere village is picturesque even while it poses a good challenge.
The joy of walking under the pleasant blue skies in the open through the cultivated lands in the village to the thrill of entering the eerily silent dense forest, with a thick canopy of leaves of the tall trees covering the entire sky above; listening to the quaint music of the water flowing in the streams or brooks nearby, an occasional shrill call of a bird piercing through the silent forests; a giggle or two from the fellow trekkers during a pit stop to catch up on the much-needed breath while walking through the leaf-littered path inside the humid forest or our very own heartbeat racing with the loud pounding noise as we climb the uphill path…the experience is surely enjoyable. The creepy crawlies and the colourful butterflies now and then distract us and take our minds into dreamland and the picturesque vistas keep one gasping for more.
If the first half of the trek keeps us under the shade of thick forest cover and treats us to a waterfall here and another there, the second half provides for an amazing bird’s eye view of the mountain-surrounded valley with different shades of green beneath, as we walk out of the forest and start steep ascent towards the peak. Strength, stamina and endurance along with a packet or two of electrolyte, will keep you going further under the scorching hot sun – post lunch. With a good leader motivating all through the trail and mentioning every 15 minutes that we are almost there…all through the second half of the trek, we somewhat make it to the major point of interest, Shri kshetra ( the temple premises and the Jeep parking area).
It is from this place, a further climb of another 30 minutes at least, among the fluffy floating clouds or a walk under the sudden drizzling raindrops from the passing clouds that puts you right in front of the much-awaited Sarvajna peetam! It is this humble stone mandap that announces the completion of our journey to the peak!! Kodachadri, also known as Kutaja giri, or Kutachadri n Sanskrit, meaning mountain of jasmine flowers, wasn’t exactly a path of jasmines!! But the immense satisfaction of reaching the destination we intended to touch, completely masks the hardships one endures and leaves behind an unimaginable joy in our hearts.
Notable places of interest while one starts from the base at Pathalagere, the last hut on the path towards Hidlumane waterfalls – could be considered as the forest department checkpost too! It is here that the forest department staff check backpacks for plastic covers/bottles, wrappers, boxes etc. They will be duly listed and checked at the exit points. Littering and discarding plastic covers, bottles etc is an offence which is being dealt seriously.
Hidlumane waterfalls, would be the next major point in the trek path. The jeep track intersection, where the trekkers cross the path where the jeeps ply. The Shri Kshetra, temple premises visited by devotees and also the jeep parking area (Jeep ride to the temple premises and a hike further up to the peak, is an option, although an easiear one). Sarvajna peetam, also known as Shankara peetam is the last point until where the trekkers hike.
About the trek group: Adventure Buddha; reliable organisers is one thing that I emphasize at the outset. Travel, stay and the trek details perfectly chalked out and taken care of from the start till the end; I would definitely recommend if one is interested in traveling and trekking in groups, to checkout their website. Suraj, the organiser is the go to person for all enquiries and the trek leader for Kodachadri, Rajesh, is one of the few smiling faces who can motivate even a stone to trek and not give up whatever the circumstances. Sunil is the person who excels in the ice-breaking group intros which is yet another important factor while trekking with a group and knowing each other is vital when one spends considerable time together.
Starting around 8 am after a light breakfast at the at Pathalgere homestay, the pleasant walk along the mud road, soaking in the village vistas slowly led towards the dense shola forests. A happy and enthusiastic group of trekkers led by an expert trek leader from Bangalore and a local guide to keep us on the right track till the end is another highlight of this trek. A challenging trek this one, was completed around 4.30 pm when we reached the point of Sarvajna peetham. Tiny pit stops for buttermilk, a flip-flop moments around the hidlumane waterfalls, a leisurely lunch break was the notable rest breaks along the trek path. An exuberant photoshoot of the group at the peak, cannot go unmentioned. But if you have accomplished the feat of reaching the peak, then the return back-breaking joy ride in a 4 x 4 jeep is your reward!
Travel details: 11 trekkers from Bangalore
Mode of transport – Tempo Traveller
Stay: Pathalgere Homestay premises – Tents
Date of travel and Trek: 15th January 2021, night drive to Pathalgere homestay. 16th morning, trek to Kodachadri, return to base same evening (Jeep ride back to base). Night at homestay. 17th morning, post breakfast started back towards Bangalore. Enroute visit to Nagara fort in the morning & Kavaledurga visit late afternoon. Night drive and early morning arrival in Bangalore on 18th.
Some tips to make the trekking experience better
- Best time for this trek – post-monsoon, October till February
- A fit body and a strong mind – most vital while trekking on this trail
- Trekking with a group is advisable
- Trek Leader and a local guide familiar with the terrain make the trek possible without any hassle
- Start early
- Trek light. Carry a backpack for convenience
- Comfortable cotton wear, a good pair of sneakers & hat (poncho in monsoon)- your trek friends
- At least 2 litres of elixir – water!
- Electrolyte would kick in that much-needed boost when one feels completely drained after a steep climb, post-lunch. Energy bars also would be a welcome addition in the backpack
- Carry simple lunch with a handful of dry fruits to munch will prove beneficial
- Take small breaks & hydrate your body at regular intervals
- Stay with the group all along
- Jeep ride, back to the base is my recommendation! And I expect no one to curse me for that recommendation. That backbreaking thrilling ride is an experience in itself.