Call from the mountains – Kudremukh Trek

It was a working Thursday morning and I was busy packing clothes for my upcoming Gokarna beach trek as a trek lead with the company @plantheunplanned. Then I got an unexpected call from Jatin asking me if I would like to lead Kudremukh trek as the person who was supposed to go had cancelled for a personal reason. I was ecstatic; one because I have been wanting to go to Kudremukh since about 2 years now the day I got to know regarding the trek. I obviously jumped at the opportunity and took it as a calling from the mountains itself!

Some facts about Kudremukh:

  • It is known as the most beautiful trek in Karnataka having wonderful views around during the climb.
  • They are also called “Himalayas of the south”.
  • The name “Kudre mukh” means “Horse face” in Kannada language because the peak along with its ridge appears in the shape of horse face.
  • It is the third highest peak in Karnataka with an altitude of 1894m.

So we a group of 9 people left Bangalore on Friday night and reached Bella homestay (basecamp for Kudremukh trek) in a village called Mullodi, Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka. We all slept for few hours before waking up and getting ready for the trek. Finished our breakfast and we all were ready with our daypacks having a water bottle, poncho and packed lunch.

All ready to start the trek

The trek starts with a jeep ride of 10-15 mins from the homestay to the forest check-post where the trek actually begins. There is checking of permits which has to be taken prior(only 50 people allowed in a day) and also checking of our bags because it is a strict no-plastic zone. Not even chocolates or candies shall be allowed to carry for the trek. So it is always better to carry better alternatives like dry fruits (preferably dry grapes) or fruits in a lunchbox. Also a local guide is mandatory to trek inside the Kudremukh National Park.

The guide started leading from the front and I was the sweeper from the end. We started our trek at 8.30am and walked on enthusiastically. After about 20mins of climbing we got our first milestone- The Peace Tree. We continued as the path was changing from open view of the surrounding rolling green hills to forest patches to crossing numerous streams. Our next milestone was after 4 more kms where we get a signboard showing us the path and telling us that 7km is left to reach the peak. This is also the point where we can first catch a glimpse of the peak, playing hide n seek with the clouds.

We then came onto an open meadow giving us the first glimpse of our destination. First view of the peak is always exciting and everyone was clicking videos/pictures of the view for sometime. Immediately next comes a tricky part where it is rather a steep ascend with the path covered in slippery mud upon rocks. Climbing this takes some amount of effort as the walk till now was kind of easy. After this part is done, it is again just a flat walk taking in the views around till you reach the next milestone – “Ontimara” meaning “The Lonely Tree” in Kannada. The name comes because this is the only tree which is in vicinity as compared to the open views of the hills around.

A glimpse of the forest trail here.

We were so lucky that the weather today was so perfect; cloudy but no rain and very less amount of sun. Also another point that there were absolutely no leeches on the trail which is almost famous for it! Thanking our stars we were adamant to reach the peak as everything that day was almost in our favour.

Views along the way here.

One of the trekkers retired here as it was tiring enough till here and would wait for us till we came back. So remaining 8 of us continued further where we encountered several more streams and the path was continuously going on and looked like we were climbing one hill after another. These streams were our only source of water and each time we crossed one, we would directly drink from the flowing water which I personally feel is 100 times better than the water we drink here in cities everyday.

3 more people had backed out by the time we had only 3kms left to the summit. The guide suggested to the tired trekkers as not to proceed further if not confident of getting down because getting down was equally or more tiring than climbing in Kudremukh. Hence they took a responsible decision of staying back as one of them also had a knee issue. So 4 people in our team had already went far ahead and supposedly reached the peak too. Only 2 of us were trailing behind, and I was crossing and chatting with other groups on the way.

I got to meet and interact with so many people on the way; a group of friends called themselves “Cheetah Boys” who were a group of 12 people and all of them were friends since almost 20-25 years and were passouts of the year 1995! A little further I spotted another couple mostly in their early 50’s and the husband was so energetic wanting to take all the steep shortcuts and teasing his wife on the way. They had come with a group of 10th standard and PU boys who were ever so energetic but still this man seemed to match their energy. Seeing such people even my enthusiasm was beginning to grow and making me want to be like them in the future 🙂

The last 2kms has almost a km of ascent followed by a ridge walk at the end. By this time when we looked around we were already engulfed by the clouds and the views were gone. We still continued and reached the peak by around 12.30pm. Settled in a location where the view was amazing and had our packed lunch – tasty puliogre (tamarind rice) packed by our homestay guys. After this we all united and took lots of good pics with good views around.

Ridge walk to top video here.

Video of the view from the peak here.

Another video of the clouds here.

One more thing I was surprised to see that the wife from the couple I met was getting draped in a saree which she had carried and also put on matching bangles. They did a complete photoshoot with her posing like a star! I did go to her and compliment and then asked the reason for all this to which she replied that her dream was to climb a mountain and take pics in a saree! Since it is difficult to climb in a saree she just took the alternative. I was so amazed thinking that there are some of us in cities who have already lost interest in the many of things we do and there are these people who still dream and conquer irrespective of their age, capabilities and responsibilities. There is indeed no limit to a person’s dreams.

Video clip here.

Another video clip here.

We had time only till 1.30pm to spend at the peak after which we were supposed to descend down because the descent also takes much time and there is a restriction to be at the check-post within 6pm failing which there is a penalty. We started our descent and it did take quite some time because some parts were tricky and steep. On the way we met with our other group members who were waiting for us and we again continued down.

Since while climbing up we had not taken much breaks at all, we slowed down and took some time out near the “Ontimara” again. We just chilled for some time here chitchatting before again continuing our walk down. After a point everyone was getting tired as the path seemed even longer as we walked on. We all were just talking and walking among ourselves and somewhere around 5.30pm we reached the checkpost.

There are little kids who are locals and sell fresh grown fruits like banana and wild goosberries over there. Everyone was starving and bought them and ate it just taking rest for a while. After everyone reached, we hopped on to our jeep and made our way back to the homestay. Some people had joint pain, leg pain, body ache by the end of the day but it was all worth it 🙂

And to all the fellow trekkers and mountain lovers, wishing you a Happy International Mountain Day 🙂

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