The trek to Thadiyendamol peak is one of the best treks in the state of Karnataka. It is a pleasure to trek this range of the Western Ghats all year round. But, the biggest thrill comes during the peak of the monsoons when everything here is at its liveliest best.
At 5,730 feet above MSL, Thadiyendamol is the highest peak in Coorg (Kodagu) and the second highest in Karnataka. The highest being Mulaiyangiri, which is located in the Chickmagalur district of Karnataka.
There are two popular trekking trails that lead to the Thadiyendamol peak. The shorter trail starts from the Palace Estate in Kakkabe, while the longer trail originates at the Honey Valley Resort.
Personally, I have always preferred to start the trek from Honey valley as the trail passes through dense tropical rainforests that are infested with leeches and provides splendid vistas enroute.
The trail from Honey Valley is much longer and will take at least ten hours for a comfortable trek. In terms of distance, it should be about 27 kilometres for the return journey.
I have trekked to Thadiyendamol many times and have taken various routes. I would start at Honey Valley, take the longer route to the peak and come back from the shorter route through Nalnad Palace in Kakkabe. Sometimes, I would go and come back via the same long route.
There are no trekking permits required for going to Thadiyendamol peak, but please do ensure that you carry all your trash back to civilization.
The trails to Thadiyendamol from Honey Valley go through dense bushes, umpteen number of hills and lush green rainforests. Hence, there is a great chance that you can get lost. Hence, taking a local guide is highly recommended. Honey Valley Resort helps in arranging a local guide for a very reasonable cost.
If you are climbing from the Palace Estate side, then you don’t need a guide as the trail is large and cannot be missed. But, you can always get a local guide if you want to.
While trekking here, do ensure that you trek during daylight hours as wildlife is known to pass through this terrain during night times and the slippery terrain and the mist factor can contribute to slips and falls during night time.
A couple of weeks back is when I trekked to the peak yet again. And since I was planning to climb to Thadiyendamol from the Honey Valley trail, me and my friends made Honey Valley as a base.
We had booked a nice 5 person ethnic style dormitory for the four of us. An overnight Volvo bus from Bangalore brought us to Virajpet in the wee hours of the morning and a local bus brought us to Kabinakkad bus stop at 8 AM.
From here, we trekked the steep ascent of three kilometres to Honey Valley, checked into our room, freshened up, had breakfast and started our trek to Thadiyendamol. To give us company, 2 mutts belonging to Honey Valley joined us.
One of the younger mutts wore a shiny black coat and was called ‘Gundu’. The other older mutt seemed to be limping and returned a short while into the trek. Gundu kept us company throughout. In fact, he was instrumental in chasing away the cows and buffalos which seemed be grazing in large numbers on our trekking trail.
About an hour into the trek, we were joined by our local trekking guide, Mani, who cuts grass and does a little of farming to earn his two square meals.
The initial part of the trek was a steady climb. We ascended rapidly and arrived at an elevation of 4,800 feet. By this time, most of us had a lot of leeches in our boots and we could feel it, but instead of taking them out, we preferred to soak in the natural vistas and breathe in the fresh air.
During this initial climb, we saw a couple of waterfalls that looked milky white against the dense greenery. Soon, the rains began. What started initially as a persistent drizzle, turned into a heavy downpour in an hour.
This reduced our speed as the terrain became slippery, the cliff edges became threatening, visibility became weak and the ground turned slushy. And the best part is that the rains brought out the best in the leeches.
But, ain’t this the best part about a monsoon trek? Most of us were soaked to the bone, were tired and were getting bitten by leeches, but, we were truly lost in the fresh green views that were being presented to us in the rains.
During all this, we somehow managed to get our cameras out and capture these images in our lens. It was during lunch time I guess, we were all hungry, but we had to cross a dense slushy tropical rainforest to cross the fence to the Thadiyendamol range.
This slushy zone, in my mind was the highlight of the trek. The entire slushy trail was covered in thick bushes and small pink flowers were in full bloom on all these bushes. This was a very spectacular sight. Our guide Mani told us that these Pink flowers bloom only during the monsoons.
The bushes were so dense that we had to cut our way through to the other side, which led to a small rain pond, where we cleaned ourselves of the hundreds of leeches that had stuck onto us and proceeded to have a much required snack break.
During our entire trek, we followed a simple philosophy. It was to take it easily, but steadily on the grasslands, but rush through the leech infested dense tropical rainforests. And to enable this, we took short breathers before all the rainforest stretches.
It would be like we walk over a hill through grasslands, descend into the heart of the rainforests and then ascend from the other side of the rainforest to the other hill. We did this many a time during our entire trek. In fact, if I remember right, we crossed seven different hills.
This according to me is what makes the Thadiyendamol trek so enticing, memorable and challenging. I know a lot of people who have got freaked out in these rainforest stretches.
Finally, after about seven gruelling hours of trekking, we made it to the Thadiyendamol peak to have our lunch. We couldn’t do anything else as the entire place was covered in clouds and mist. Thankfully, the rains had taken a break.
Post our late lunch, we descended back through the rainforests to join a different trail, which was much larger and heads towards the Palace Estate in Kakkabe. This trail was much easier and safer than the one we had just come on. But, it did not provide picturesque views either. Instead it was a fast and steep descent through forests on either side, thus blocking all views.
Upon reaching the Palace Estate, one can stop by and explore the 18th century Nalnad Palace, which is quite popular in Coorg. Even we stopped by and explored this palace before heading back to Honey Valley making this day a very memorable day in Coorg for us.