August 29, 2006

Mullayanagiri - Reloaded (26th &27th August)

August 29, 2006 Posted by Vijay 3 comments
Reloaded, because Renjith and I (We) had been there on a partially successful trek on the first Saturday in October 2004, in what was a forgettably memorable trip which we cherish till date. I know the usage of the adjectives in the sentence gone by was nothing short of confusing, but the trip was all about each of those words and I couldn’t find a single word to fit in our experience.

Sanity was restored, when we again started planning for a weekend outing (from Bangalore) in the weekend (just went by) to whichever place held surroundings which would be on a hilltop. That’s all what we had in mind. Freak out and trek to some hilltop. We had been going through a lot of options like Thiruneli/Pakshipathalam, Brahmagiri and Babbudangiri/Mullayangiri. After enquiries at Pakshipathalam at the DFO we were told that it was unsafe after a lot of rain in that region and Brahmagiri too lies closeby. And since we hadn’t quite completed the Mullayanagiri (read MU) trek 2 years back (having lost our way and drenched away downhill in heavy rains!!), we didn’t have any problem in zeroing in on Mullayanagiri.

Sanity restored, because when we embark on such treks we seldom plan, which can have its pros and cons. But we have always been ready for them. Buying 2 tickets at the back, in an express bus, 2 days before the trek, is proof of what I just said. We bought the tickets for Chikmagalur which is where the beautiful hills of MU reside.

On Friday last, we did some quick shopping for food items which comprised of dry fruits, a pair of 2 litre bottles, biscuits, 3 bread packets and some water proof pants (you read it right) knowing its not the best time of the year to trek. But the weather Gods had given us a green signal it seemed, with the Lycos website predicting good to cloudy weather in Chikmagalur for the weekend. We though, were better prepared with 2 umbrellas instead of 1 in the previous trip, and with jerkins which were seemingly water proof.

The bus was to leave at 9:45 p.m and the rain Gods had made a compromise by showering Bangalore instead with pretty good rains. We though didn’t mind, and were treated to another mundane traffic jam in the chaotic Kempegowda bus stand amidst the heavy drizzle. Finally the bus left the city limits at around 10:30 p.m. and the back seats in the bus woke us up to the exhausting trip which we were about to start. I for one would have wished that the awakening hadn’t lasted for the entire journey till Chikmagalur. I was to realize the next day though, that somnambulism would actually help me in my trek.

Reaching a bus stand in the early morning hours when the sun has not risen is not the best thing to happen, especially when sleeping has taken a backseat in the back seat of a KSRTC Express Bus. At 4:30 in the morning when we reached we could only think of waiting for a local bus heading for the B.B Hills (Bababudangiri), which would take us to the foothill of the MU trek called Sarpadhari. Two plates of Idli/Vada and a nature’s call later, we patiently waited inside the local bus, which was to leave at sharp 8:00 a.m, or so the conductor said. After twenty minutes of going round and round in circles about the KSRTC bus stand closeby, the bus finally started the journey to where we wanted to get down, Sarpadhari.

Trekking up the highest peak in Karnataka (and arguably between the Himalayas and the Nilgiris) is not an easy task. But, as is evident, the bus drive to Sarpadhari makes it much easier to scale this beautiful hill. The bus drive helps you breathe the freshness that the air of the Western Ghats beholds; the serenity of the surroundings makes you wonder why one has to inhale the polluted air of the city. But that’s life. Whilst the inhabitants of the wondrous peaks in and around the Ghats yearn for a city life, it’s ironic that we should yearn for the life that they live. These random thoughts played on our minds as we neared the foothill at Sarpadhari.

Sarpadhari has an arch which is where the path for the trekking begins. Very soon we realized what lack of exercise had brought upon our bodies. Five minutes of upward climb and we were already panting for breath. But here I should admit that the climb is certainly steep, but a better maintained body might have fared far better we thought. It was 9:15 a.m when we started toward the hilltop. Lycos proved how good it is in terms of predicting weather, and there was clear blue sky all over.


At the Sarpadhari Arch

The climb up was fascinating. We kept taking snaps from Renjith’s cam, and were excited. Such experiences are the ones when tiredness becomes enjoyable. The dry fruits and water started disappearing as quickly as we moved up (sarcasm intended). But we were never let down because of the sheer fact that we were befriending the clouds and in a moment would be in their company. The mist covered mountains were a sheer pleasure to watch. Not a drop of rain, just the gentle breeze and the constant company of the clouds. The greenery around us and the smell of fresh mist laden grass invigorated us more. The sheer beauty of the mountain was all too evident as we caught some breathtaking views, which probably was just a glimpse of the vast beauty that the Western Ghats holds. Not to mention the small caves that we came across while nearing the top.

PrettierStillClimbingUp_1 CaveNearTop_1

We were atop the beautiful hill of Mullayanagiri now at 1930 metres altitude in an hour and 40 minutes, which we think was a very good pace that we had set. By now, we were in the company of the clouds and were enjoying every bit of the cool weather. BSNL lived upto its expectation of giving full coverage in the least of expected places, and we made calls from arguably the highest altitudes we have been to. We prayed at the temple and then decided to move on to save time. We didn’t want to lose our way like the last time and wanted to be sure which path led us to the road which would then take us to B.B. Hills. We asked the pujari, an old man in the mid seventies and he was quite willing to help us, if we could hand him over a cigarette or a beedi. He made no bones about it and that’s what I liked about him. He however did tell us that it was a 6 mile walk. By now we already had covered 4 kms walking uphill.


View From Temple At Top ..

We got the path and were a little bit apprehensive in the beginning to start off with, because of past experiences. But the clear skies helped us find the path lying far away, and we walked along, hoping that we were on the right track after all. We were still not too sure, but four hills later, we could clearly see the road below us, and also the tower atop the hill which is the trekkers’ destination to B.B Hills. By now, the biscuit packets also had reduced by half from their original number, and we had also drunk 2 of the 4 litres of water we had brought. We were only too happy to realize that sanity restored meant insanity gained and wasted no time singing Lose Control from Rang De Basanti. It couldn’t have been a more apt situation to sing it.

Road Ahead_1

The Road Is Clear Now …

Another 1 hour and 30 minutes later, we got down onto the road. We would later realize that the bus fare upto where we now were and from Sarpadhari was Rs.1, and to think that we trekked 10 kms instead!!!! But, as they say, it is not the destination, but the journey that one needs to enjoy. And enjoying it we truly were.

We had gone through some blogs and travelogues and had known that a bus could take us near the B.B Hills and then we had to trek from there. But since we could now see the tower more clearly from below, I had a better idea, or so I thought. Why not trek up the remaining 3 hills and reach the tower. After all we had come for a trek.

We enquired with the guard who was sitting inside the room near the tower there, as to whether we can trek up. He said it is 4 kms away and is a bit tough. That’s all I needed to hear and I took off. Renjith however was more skeptical and unsure whether we can actually complete the trek. Not heeding to his shouts, I went up. The path now was trickier, since it was virtually non-existent and later on I realized it was not even virtually non-existent. This hill had more rocky terrains and was steep on both sides. So, it ended up more like a rock climbing exercise than a mere trekking experience. But I was not to be stopped and soon Renjith too joined in. The view from this spot was even more breathtaking as the altitude at which we were climbing was truly mindboggling. We could see the various hills we had climbed earlier from behind and were quite amazed at the distance we had covered.


Vulture Perched Atop

Climbing further up, realization dawned on me that the rock climbing exercise, though thrilling, was not doing good to the overall objective, which was to reach the tower near B.B Hills. 4 kms seemed way far away now, and finally I had to give up. We had already climbed up for an hour or so and were losing quite a bit of energy. I turned around and told Renjith, that this was not going to be possible. My idea backfired, and we had to return back.

We came back to the road after 20 minutes or so of climbing down. At the bus-stop it was a bit gloomy; for us, because of the exhaustion and not being able to quite make it to B.B Hills; and also because it had started drizzling. We realized that we were too exhausted to go to B.B Hills even if we had to take the bus, which would take another half hour or so. It was 2:30 p.m now and we had decided to move on to Chikamagalur. But a tiring wait for 2 hours was more than enough to help us come to terms as to which body part was aching and how much. In the meantime we called up the Planters’ Court Hotel at Chikamagalur town and checked for available rooms. A Deluxe Non AC room for Rs. 750 seemed a bit costly, but we really didn’t have much of an option and were exhausted after trekking more than 15 kms to think about anything other than a good dinner and a decent enough bed to hit.


View From Bus Stop

The bus to Chikamagalur town finally arrived at 4:30 p.m and I was already dozing off even as I stood clutching at the modest railings in it. We immediately took an auto from the bus stand and went to the hotel and checked in. Not the best of hotels in terms of value for money, but we had to compromise this time. After a cold bath to a more than slightly aching body, (since hot water there is available only from 6-10 in the morning!) we had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, and soon were dozing off in our beds. Plans for the next day of visiting Belur and Halebidu had already been drawn.

The early morning sun had already risen, and we weren’t too keen to watch it, for we had already seen it the previous day, and we started getting ready to move on to the historical Belur and Halebidu in the nearby district of Hassan. Thoughts of covering Bhadra Wildlife sanctuary, located nearby also crossed our minds. But upon further enquiries we were told that the road was bad and it would take more than 2 hours to reach there. We decided to visit Belur, Halebidu instead and then finally return to Bangalore.

After inaugurating the first loaves of bread that we had brought as part of the breakfast ritual, we checked out of the hotel and were off to Belur at 11.a.m. After nature, and scenic locales, a bit of history beckoned. Belur is famous for the Chennakesava temple, which we did cover on the previous trip. The temple, around half hour drive from Chikmagalur town, with its marvellous sculptures and carvings owes its magnificence to the Hoysala dynasty of the early 1100 A.D. After exploring our hands at little bit of photography, historical reminiscence, and a quiet lunch at a KSTDC restaurant, we moved on to Halebidu around 15 kms from Belur.


A glimpse of the Belur Temple

We hadn’t visited Halebidu and were treated to more amazing artistic works in here. Another fascinating creation of the Hoysalas, it was the capital of their dynasty, and was built in the same century as the Belur temple. The large Nandi outside the Shiva temple is truly an art of its own, not to mention the innumerable carvings on the ceilings of the magnificent structure. Sadly though, it did seem the entire Hoysala dynasty would rise from the dead to haunt Halebidu, after we heard Himesh Reshammiya’s Aashiq Banaaya Aapne blaring away nearby.


Artistry at Halebidu

It was 2:30 p.m. by the time we completed our rounds of the Helebidu temple and planned to hit the road towards Bangalore. For this we had to catch a bus to Hassan and then take another bus towards Bangalore. At 4:15 p.m. we were at the Hassan bus stand and immediately got a bus for Bangalore. It was quite a short day when compared to the exhaustive one we had on the previous day. But overall it was a very fulfilling experience, since we could trek, watch some amazing scenery and then finally topped it off with some amazing historical masterpieces. At 7:30 p.m we were witnessing the dust and traffic laden roads of Bangalore and were left wondering, what Bangalore had come to be.

Head Back Home


Renjith said...

Good one V/J....


Anonymous said...

Good One man .... nice snaps.


pratapa said...

nice.. ones..

but the path to MullayanGiri is called
'SarpaNaadi' not 'SarpaDhari'..
If u know Kannada.. its actually two words 'Sarpana Haadi'.. Sarpa = snake, Haadi = Path..
means 'Snake Path'.. as u climbed u could have noticed the path goes zig-zag like a snake's movement.. thats why the name..