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Monday, November 30, 2009

Backpacking through the Western Ghats – Day 1: Chickmagalur to Mulaiyangiri Peak

Me and my friend (Vishwadeep Anshu) had trained hard to improve our stamina and endurance levels for the past couple of months. The reason being: We were attempting to trek the Western Ghats of Karnataka over 9 days in minimalistic fashion and like a true backpacker.


So, loaded with heavy backpacks that contained our tent, our sleeping bags, our boots, rain gear, first ait kit, food ration and water supply, we went to the KSRTC bus stand at Bangalore and boarded the bus that headed towards Chickmagalur – the coffee capital of Karnataka.


We landed at the Chickmagalur bus stand in the wee hours of the morning. Checked into a nearby hotel for an hour to complete our morning ablutions. Then, we had a quick breakfast at a nearby shack.


Post our refreshments, we proceeded to walk on the tar road that leads to Kemmangundi. After 3 kms, the road begins to twist and ascend. Coffee estates dot the entire hillside and it is a very pretty sight. We walked for another 4 kms and came across the Sarpandari (the trail of the snake) arch. This is where we left the road and took the dirt trail that wound its way up to the peak.


As we climbed through the narrow dirt trail, we came across our first hill adorned with slippery rocks, bamboo and thorny shrubs. As we crossed the first set of plateaus and hills, the gradient kept increasing. At some stretches, it became close to 45 degrees. After climbing for some more time, we came across a narrow ridge that provided us with panoramic views of the plains and the Chickmagalur town and the villages far below.


On our way up, we also spotted laterite caves with huge colonies of bats. Finally, we reached the Mulaiyangiri peak (1,925 m) after the steep climb. There is a Shiva temple on the peak and a flat surface just outside its walls. this is where we pitched in our tents.


After setting camp, we went to the Shiva temple to offer our prayers. Post that, the temple priest offered us lunch at his house. In the evening, we met a noted musical troop who had driven to the Shiva temple to offer their prayers. The evening was spent enjoying the views, grabbing some rest, lighting a campfire and cooking food over it and enjoying the stiff breeze.


Total Distance Trekked: 21 Kms
Trekking Time: 5 hours and 30 minutes

To view the entire set of photos, click the album below.
Backpacking through the Western Ghats of Karnataka, India



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