Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Backpacking through the Western Ghats – Day 7 and 8: Kodachadri Hills, Karnataka, India

The rains pelted all night, but let up by early morning. Our campsite in the Mookambika wildlife sanctuary wore a very clean wet look in the morning. The world around us didn’t look as scary as it did the previous night when we were walking in pitch darkness in heavy rain.

Shortly, we packed up our camping gear and started trekking towards the Kodachadri mountain that stood like a monolith in front of us. Soon, we came to a badly rutted jeep road and kept following it till we reached the Santosh hotel, which is run by a local Keralite family.

Since it was early morning, the food was yet to be prepared. While our breakfast was getting ready, we washed ourselves at the gently flowing stream of icy cold water that was tumbling from the hills. After our dip, we had a hearty meal of puttu, chana and piping hot tea. The breakfast was extremely healthy and yet yummy. We also got proper directions from the hotel owner.

Thus fortified, we continued our trek towards the foothill of Kodachadri. A short while after leaving Santosh’s shop, we found 3 paths and took the hardened path in the middle as advised by the hotel owner. This was one of the toughest sections of the trek as it was steep for the most part. Bamboos, thorn bushes and shrubs with spiky leaves adorned this trail. There were red ants swarming all over and leeches were having a field day thanks to the heavy overnight rain.

We had been climbing for almost an hour when the steep incline gave way to level ground. It is here that we took a short break and began taking in the sights of the green vistas and meadows on the surrounding hills and valleys and the Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary nestling way below in the valley to the west. The left side of the hill is an almost perpendicular drop of 1,150m.

After another 3 hours, we reached Kodachadri, which has a PWD bungalow and Shiva and Shankaracharya temples. We cleaned ourselves at the near water stream, offered our prayers at the temple and had sumptuous lunch served by the temple priest’s wife. We replenished all our water stock and headed further up. We climbed for another 3 kms before we came to a little temple-like structure called the Sarvajna Peetha that marks the spot where Shankaracharya is said to have meditated.

We found ourselves a nice flat spot to pitch in our tents at the edge of the cliff, set camp and set out to collect firewood to build our camp fire. The howling wind made it difficult to get a proper fire going, but we somehow managed to cook our dinner and keep ourselves warm as the temperature started plummeting.

The next morning, I woke up groggily. I felt uneasy in the stomach, but didn’t give much thought to it. We built a small fire, cooked a quick breakfast and started our trek towards the nearby waterfall and Ganesh caves. It was during this trek that I realized that I was running a fever. Somehow, I laboured back to our camp and we packed all our stuff into our backpacks and headed 3 km down to the temple.

We had lunch at the temple priest’s house. I popped in some pills and went to sleep. In the evening I felt slightly better. Had an early dinner,popped in some more pills and slept again with the hope that I would be fit by the morning.

Total Distance Trekked: 31 Kms
Trekking Time: 10 hours

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

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