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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

11 Gorgeous Monsoon Weekend Treks from Bangalore

I love Bangalore for many reasons. One of the main reasons I love this city so much is because of its proximity to the Western Ghats. I am into nature, forests, wildlife and basically the outdoors. This gives me the perfect opportunity to indulge in all of this every weekend. And these monsoon weekends, I think they are the best time to explore the Western Ghats. The sight of fresh green, the full waterfalls and rivers, the dense dark clouds, the floating mist and the pitter-pattering rain make it the most exotic place in the country. Of course, this is just my opinion.

The best way to experience the Western Ghats during the rains is via a trek. If you are into tropical treks and are looking forward to exploring the Western Ghats this monsoon, you might be interested in these 11 gorgeous monsoon treks that you can go on every monsoon weekend.

1) Green Route Railway Trek, Karnataka

Green Route Railway Trek, Donigal to Kukke Subramanya

I went on this trek over 10 years ago and till date I feel this is one of the most exotic treks I have done in the Western Ghats. 52 kms of railway track from Donigal to Kukke Subramanya with 51 tunnels, 107 bridges and countless waterfalls. And all of this within a green carpet. That is how exotic this trek is. When I trekked this a decade ago, the railway track was abandoned. Today, trains ply this route, but only during the night or early morning hours. Technically, trekking is not allowed on these tracks, but many adventure aficionados seem to ignore this message as the calling is strong.

Duration of Trek: 2 days | Trekking Distance: 52 kms | Adventure Meter: Very High |Star Attraction: High and Long Bridges | Distance from Bangalore: 260 kms | Is Permission Required: It might be sensible to let the stationmaster at Donigal know of your plan | Is Guide Required: Not required |Fitness Level Required: Easy to Moderate (Strong Calf Muscles Recommended) | Starting Point: Donigal | Ending Point: Kukke Subramanya | Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear | Food Availability: Personal Food | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Kukke Subramanya Temple

2) Narasimha Parvatha Trek, Karnataka

Dense Western Ghats as seen from the Narasimha Parvatha Trekking Route

The Narasimha Parvatha Trek is one of the most underrated treks of Karnataka. Trekkers talk about Kumaraparvatha, Kodachadri, Kudremukh and Mulayangiri, but they don’t seem to talk about this. I think this is the best tropical rainforest and evergreen forest trek in the state of Karnataka. And it is a dream trek in the rains. It is one of the least trodden trekking trails and it is one of my favorite rainforest treks. On this, you will see rich and true rainforest jungle. If you are lucky, you might see the king cobra mating dance during the rains.

Duration of Trek: 2 days | Trekking Distance: 20 kms | Adventure Meter: Moderate|Star Attraction: Total Remoteness | Distance from Bangalore: 355 kms | Is Permission Required: Yes, from the local forest office | Is Guide Required: Definitely required |Fitness Level Required: Moderate to Difficult | Starting Point: Agumbe | Ending Point: Sringeri | Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear | Food Availability: Personal Food | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Agumbe, Hebri, Sringeri

3) Blue Mountain Trek, Tamil Nadu/Kerala

Misty Trekking Trail on the Blue Mountain Trek

Tropical forests to mountain lakes and from pine forests to tea estates, the blue mountain trek from Kodaikanal to Munnar has it all. Starting in the hill station of Kodaikanal, this ancient route and prime elephant territory weaves by lakes, vantage points, dense jungle and mist forests before it ends in the tea estates of Munnar. I think this is the best way to experience the true beauty of two of South India’s best hill stations.

Duration of Trek: 2-3 days | Trekking Distance: 70 kms | Adventure Meter: Medium |Star Attraction: Lake Crossing and Vantage Point | Distance from Bangalore: 450 kms | Is Permission Required: Yes, Kodaikanal Forest Department | Is Guide Required: Yes, it is compulsory|Fitness Level Required: Moderate | Starting Point: Kodaikanal | Ending Point: Munnar | Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear or Basic Forest Rest Houses| Food Availability: Personal Food | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Kodaikanal and Munnar

4) Moyar River Trek, Tamil Nadu

Start of the trekking trail at Kodanad

Another off beat trek and possibly the best wildlife trek. Starting in the mountains of Kodanad, the trek is along the Moyar river and into the Masinagudi sanctuary. It definitely needs permission from the forest department and an armed forest guide, but once you have both, you will experience everything from tea estates, mountains, rivers, wildlife, tropical forests to deciduous forests. It is the best way to experience the deep jungle that is normally off bounce for regular wildlife enthusiasts.

Duration of Trek: 2 days | Trekking Distance: 35 kms | Adventure Meter: Very High |Star Attraction: River Crossings and Wildlife Sightings | Distance from Bangalore: 300 kms | Is Permission Required: Yes, Masinagudi Forest Department and Ooty Forest Department| Is Guide Required: Yes. You would also need an armed Forest guide |Fitness Level Required: Easy to Moderate | Starting Point: Kodanad | Ending Point: Masinagudi | Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear and Forest Rest Houses | Food Availability: Personal Food | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Red Hills, Ooty and Bandipur Tiger Reserve

5) Thadiyendamol Trek, Karnataka

Dense Green Trekking Trail to Thadiyendamol Peak

I have completed this trek 14 times. Thus, you can guess how much I like this part of the Western Ghats. Overlooking Kerala, Thadiyendamol is Coorg’s highest peak. But, I like it for its leech jungles. I started my active trekking career in these leech infested jungles and vowed to climb every leech riddled forest and mountain in the Western Ghats. I have not looked back ever since. It is easier to climb from Kakkabe, but if you want to experience tropical rainforests and leech jungles, try the trail from Honey Valley. Certain times in the monsoons, most of these forests are covered with pink flowers, thereby making it look like a pink carpet, a sight worth seeing.

Duration of Trek: 1 day | Trekking Distance: 25 kms | Adventure Meter: High |Star Attraction: Leech Jungles | Distance from Bangalore: 255 kms | Is Permission Required: No | Is Guide Required: Recommended|Fitness Level Required: Easy to Moderate for most part and difficult for one tiny part | Starting Point: Honey Valley| Ending Point: Honey Valley after you have conquered the peak| Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear or any of the homestays in that belt | Food Availability: Personal Food or the homestays | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Nilakandi Falls, Chalavara Falls, Nalnad Palace, Iguthappa Temple

6) Kumaraparvatha Trek, Karnataka

Misty Kumaraparvatha

Considered as the mecca of all trekkers in Karnataka, the Kumaraparvatha is a classic trek. What is lacks in view and character, it makes for in steep ascent, especially if you are climbing from Kukke Subramanya. The green carpet of rolling hills makes for a stunning sight on a clear day during the monsoons. Sometimes, you can also come across elephants here.

Duration of Trek: 2 days | Trekking Distance: 25 kms | Adventure Meter: Moderate|Star Attraction: Green Carpet view from the top | Distance from Bangalore: 320 kms | Is Permission Required: No| Is Guide Required: Not required |Fitness Level Required: Moderate | Starting Point: Kukke Subramanya | Ending Point: Kukke Subramanya after staying on the top | Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear or Bhattar Mane on the way up | Food Availability: Personal Food or Bhattar Mane | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Kukke Subramanya Temple

7) Kodachadri Trek, Karnataka

On the top of Kodachadri and overlooking the Linganamakki Reservoir

Tucked away in the Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary, I would do the Kodachadri trek just to see the lovely aerial view of the Sharavathi reservoir. In fact, I always camp at cliff’s edge to catch the first view of the reservoir right from my tent’s window. This trek is a mix of wildlife sanctuary, grasslands, tropical forest and a temple. The Shankaracharya statue on the top is a great place for camping.

Duration of Trek: 2 days | Trekking Distance: 18 kms | Adventure Meter: Medium |Star Attraction: Linganamakki Reservoir view | Distance from Bangalore: 380 kms | Is Permission Required: No| Is Guide Required: Not required |Fitness Level Required: Easy to Moderate  | Starting Point: Kodachadri Bus Stop enroute Kollur to Shimoga | Ending Point: Kodachadri Peak| Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear or basic accommodation at the temple| Food Availability: Personal Food or at the temple | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Kollur Mookambika Temple, Maravanthe Beach

8) Chembra Trek, Kerala

Green Chembra Peak Trek

Another popular trek. This time in the hills of Wayanad in Kerala. It used to be a fairly easy trek and one could camp on the top, but due to a lot of elephant trouble, one can only do it as a day trek. It is still very much worth it. Starting in a tea estate, it crosses grass lands before it gets lost in the clouds. I would wait for it to rain 2 months before I go on this trek.

Duration of Trek: 1 days | Trekking Distance: 14 kms | Adventure Meter: Medium |Star Attraction: Heart Shaped Lake enroute | Distance from Bangalore: 320 kms | Is Permission Required: Yes| Is Guide Required: Yes |Fitness Level Required: Easy to Moderate | Starting Point: Chembra Forest Department| Ending Point: Chembra Forest Department after you have visited the top | Accommodation Availability:  In nearby Meppadi town | Food Availability: Personal Food and in nearby Meppadi town | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Meenmutty Falls, Soochipara Falls, Lakkidi, Kuruva Island, Banasura Sagar Dam, Edakkal Caves

9) Baba Budangiri Hills Trek, Karnataka

Tropical Forest Trail that leads to Hebbe Falls

I call it the wind tunnel of the Western Ghats. I still remember very vividly the night when the wind was howling at the top of its voice and we had to battle to keep our tent in one place. The Baba Budan hills are famous for their high speed winds especially in the night. Starting from the Chickmagalur Serpentine path and making it way through Mulayangiri peak, Baba Budangiri and Kemmangundi, it finally lands at Hebbe Falls. This is one exotic combination of Bhadra wildlife sanctuary, Kemmangundi hill station, rolling grasslands, dargahs, remote villages and a sensationally beautiful waterfall.

Duration of Trek: 2-3 days | Trekking Distance: 54 kms | Adventure Meter: High |Star Attraction: Wind Tunnel Effect and Hebbe Falls | Distance from Bangalore: 320 kms | Is Permission Required: No | Is Guide Required: Not required |Fitness Level Required: Easy to Moderate  | Starting Point: Chickmagalur Serpentine Path| Ending Point: Hebbe Falls | Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear, though you might find some basic accommodation at Baba Budangiri and Kemmangundi | Food Availability: Personal Food, Mulayangiri temple, Baba Budangiri and Kemmangundi | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Chickmagalur, Sringeri, Agumbe

10) Kudlu Teertha Waterfall Trek, Karnataka

Enroute to Kudlu Teertha Falls

I would embark on this trek just to see the beautiful Kudlu Teertha Waterfall in full flow. Tucked deep in the Someshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, this trek makes for an excellent monsoon weekend when you couple it with the Sita Nadi river rafting trip. One day you go rafting and the other day you go trekking. You couldn’t ask for a more diverse weekend in the Western Ghats.

Duration of Trek: 1 day | Trekking Distance: 20 kms | Adventure Meter: High |Star Attraction: The Waterfall | Distance from Bangalore: 360 kms | Is Permission Required: No| Is Guide Required: Yes, as it is difficult to find the waterfall |Fitness Level Required: Easy to Moderate  | Starting Point: Hebri| Ending Point: Hebri | Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear, Hebri, Udupi or Agumbe | Food Availability: Personal Food or restaurants at Hebri, Someshwar, Agumbe or Udupi | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Sita Nadi River Rafting, Malpe, Agumbe

11) Ombattu Gudde Trek, Karnataka

Fresh green of the Western Ghats during the monsoons

Ombattu Gudde or Nine Hills is a pretty off beat trekking trail in the Kabinahole Reserve Forest of Hassan district. It is one of those treks where people seem to get lost consistently. If you are not lost, you definitely have reached the wrong peak unless you are with an experienced group as there are lots of peaks that you can be easily confused with. Throw a river, a reserve forest, some wildlife and confusing trails into the mix and you have got yourself one of Karnataka’s mysterious trekking trails.

Duration of Trek: 2 days | Trekking Distance: 35 kms | Adventure Meter: Very High |Star Attraction: Mystery and view of nine peaks at sunrise | Distance from Bangalore: 300 kms | Is Permission Required: Yes, from Sakleshpur Police Station| Is Guide Required: Definitely recommended unless you are with an experienced group of trekkers and reliable GPS systems |Fitness Level Required: Moderate | Starting Point: Gundiya Check Post| Ending Point: Hosakere Village| Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear | Food Availability: Personal Food | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Sakleshpur



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