Wednesday, August 27th, 2014
Bangalore, 9:15 AM: I was at my office desk staring at my computer monitor when a message from Aaquib popped up asking if I have any plans for the upcoming weekend. It was about to be a long weekend for Friday was a holiday owing to Ganesh Chathurthi. He had a road trip plan to Western Ghats in Karnataka. Head over heels, I blocked my seat for the trip. Super excited that I was to drive through Kudremukh forest range, trek Kodachadri hills and enthral in Jog Falls that my mind unconsciously cancelled all plans I had had and pledged it to this trip. The trip was set for 3 days — Friday through Sunday. I was later informed that Deepak, Abhilash and Srikant are there in the pool and our ship would be Abhilash’s Ford Figo.
The five members of the trip share various roots. While Deepak, Aaquib and I had been batch-mates in training, Deepak and Srikant were college-mates and now are room-mates. Also, Aaquib and Abhilash are colleagues and Deepak was an ex-colleague to them. Of the members, I personally knew Deepak and Aaquib only.
Friday, August 29th, 2014
Bangalore, 12 AM: The journey was to embark at midnight from Abhilash’s place where Deepak, Srikant and I had to reach. Aaquib would be picked up later as his place falls en route. I had to reach Deepak and Srikant’s place first from where we would ride to Abhilash’s place. We three reached Abhilash’s place by 12:30 AM and journey finally began at 1 AM, an hour late. Aaquib was picked around 1:30 AM and believe it or not, the trip was on.
Belur, 5:30 AM: After driving for 4 straight hours and 250 kms, we took a break in Belur. We had tea and rejuvenated we were for the rest of our journey. We reached at our first stop, Horanadu, at around 8 AM.
Horanadu, 8 AM: We visited Sri Annapoorneshwari Temple, famous for its edibles. The meal time (7:30 AM to 8:30 AM) beat us by half-an-hour as we got engaged in prayer. Nevertheless, we had breakfast in a nearby restaurant and set forth for our next destination, Kedremukh forest range. We stopped by a small waterfall at around 10:30 AM en route and had a natural shower there.
Kudremukh, 12 PM: We entered the forest range of Kudremukh around noon and went on driving for an hour. Hand on my heart, this one hour drive was god’s drive. I was in nirvana for the mesmerising beauty of this place. The greenery, the valleys, the mountains, the fog, the drizzle. Ah, I can just keep going on and on. Though we were not permitted to come out of the vehicle, for a tiger could save a meal for us, we stole wild guava from its tree and rejoiced it for rest of the drive there.
Agumbe, 3 PM: We set forth to our next stop, Kudlu Theertha trekking towards Seetha Falls after having lunch in Karkal. The drive through hair-pin curves in Agumbe was adrenaline rushing. We then set forth for trekking which was of about 4 kms one side and where I encountered my first ever leech bite. We had to cross a river to complete the trekking which unfortunately we couldn’t. The river turned to be a torrent and we had to back off. Detested, we retired for the day in Thirthahalli.
Thirthahalli, 7:30 PM: We had dinner at around 8 PM and were set to retire for the day. Our drivers — Aaquib and Abhilash — retired early as they were awake driving all night. Deepak, Srikant and I roamed around the town for a while long and set shopping umbrellas and raincoats for our big trekking, Kodachadri, the next day.
Saturday, August 30th, 2014
Kodachadri, 1 PM: Drive to Kodachadri from Thirthahalli was for about 2 hours and owing that we lost the way a couple of times and delay in breakfast among others, we reached Kodachadri around 1 PM after starting at around 9:30 AM. We had packed our energy supplies and lunch meal for the trek.
We started our trek at 1:15 PM. 9 kms long it is, a trek of ups and downs, in drizzle and deluge, in forest and grasslands, in fog and haze. Abhilash, who had trekked this a while ago was to be our guide. The first part of our trek was in a human habitat forest. Leeches to the disgust, we had to rush through this place. We came to a break in a small shop at the end of human habitat, after about 3 kms, where we energized ourselves with snacks and drinks. We also got salt packed in pouches as an anti-leech tool.
The real trek was to begin now. We went on trekking for about a km more where we reached Hidlu Mane waterfalls. Crossing the river, and climbing to the start of the fall, I accidentally deviated from the route and escaped a near fatal experience. I went along the falls and reached a point where there was a dead end. The steep, slippery rock abandoned me a revert. The rock under me started trembling and I had to jump towards waterfall to get stability. Moments later I saw that I was still alive and continued towards correct path.
The trek continued into dense forest and thankfully leeches were absent at this path. We continued trekking for another 3 kms where we reached grasslands. We still had a long way to go. Drizzle and deluge were along all the way and all of us were drenched and exhausted. We pulled ourselves together and continued trekking through forests and grasslands on for about 2 kms.
I reached at a point where Aaquib, Abhilash and Srikant were ahead of me and Deepak was behind me in the trek. I was looking down most of the time to see the path and then came a time where I raised my head to see what’s ahead, but was astounded not to see anything beyond 50 meters. I was in a cloud. Ecstatic that I was, I continued walking on what I thought as a path and after a while saw shadows of people that were supposed to be the ones ahead of me. I walked towards it and we were at a point that met trekking path with a jeep route towards the peak of the hill. Deepak joined us after a while and we continued on the jeep route that took us toward a small house that provided accommodation to trekkers hilltop in which we were to retire for the day.
We reached hill peak at about 5:45 PM after trekking for 4.5 hours. We met a group of people who trekked and reached before us. Accomplished, we took a shower in a small but heavy waterfall near the house and spent time chatting and reliving the experience of the trek. We had a late lunch then and retired for the day after dinner cooked by the godsend man who also runs the accommodation there.
Sunday, August 31st, 2014
We woke up at 6 AM and embarked down trek at 7 AM. Deepak and Srikant preferred they come in jeep organized by the other group as Srikant caught influenza meanwhile. Aaquib, Abhilash and I down trekked the jeep route and reached down at around 9:30 AM. We had breakfast at a small restaurant and set forth to our final stop, Jog Falls.
Jog Falls, 12 PM: Jog Falls was at 2 hours drive from Kodachadri but we saved ourselves some half-an-hour and 50 kms by taking a shortcut through the lake by transporting our car in a launch. Upon reaching Jog Falls and seeing that sky is pretty clear, we took out our cameras and started clicking pictures. Selfies, portraits, landscapes with group, solo, and tried out various panorama modes. Though the torrent of water was not quite much, it was luxuriating to watch it pour down. The clear sky suddenly turned cloudy and there came drizzle out of nowhere. We took shelter and as rain stopped, we drove to the other side of the falls. We had snacks, took more snaps, and set to finish our journey and drive back home.
It was about 2:30 PM when we finished our trip and started driving back home. We stopped at Sagar for lunch and continued our drive to Bangalore. We passed Tumkur and reached Aaquib’s place at around 11 PM and Abhilash’s place, where the drive ended, at around 11:30 PM. Abhilash’s place brought end to the 70 hours and 1120 kms car drive. Now, Deepak, Srikant and I had to continue our journey to our respective homes. While riding my bike back to my place, a roll of that 70 hours replayed in my mind. I reached my place at 12 AM where the trip came to a closure.
In a nutshell, I will safeguard this trip in my memory lane forever. Thanks to everyone who were with me in the trip. Peace.