June 05, 2006

Monsoon Forest Trek - Sakleshpur to Hongadahalla et al.

Introducing :
Your Truly and Manish
Starring : Harshad, Ganesh, Vishnu, Laksmhi, Meeliya, Vathsan, Rahul
Start Time : June 3rd , 2006, 10:00 p.m
End Time : June 5rd , 2006, 2:30 a.m

Day 1: 15-17 Kms
Day 2: 7-9 Kms

The starcast was asked to assemble at Platform#3,KSRTC Bus Stand,Majestic at 10pm on June 3. We boarded a bus to Sakleshpur at 11:00pm.The bus was pretty decent and almost everyone was asleep by around 1am. We reached Sakleshpur by 4:30am and were told that there were no direct buses to Bisle and would have to go to Kodu-Raste and continue to look out for options from there.The Bus to Kodu-Raste was supposed to be at 7:00am. In the meantime, myself, Rahul, Manish and Harshad went around the Sakleshpur Bus Stand. Manish enlightened us with his entrepreneurial experiences and the chat mainly centered around the possible entrepreneurial ideas and experiences. Though it was pretty heavy topic to discuss at around 4 in the morning, but it was quite enlightening.Meeliya had a nice sleep till the bus arrived, while Laksmi & Vathsan were having a fun-time with a puppy in the bus-stand.

Finally the bus came at around 7:30am and we proceeded to Kodu-Raste.The bus was a typical red-color(match-box) bus.Though the seats were straight and hard, we managed to sleep for an hour and reached Kodu-Raste at around 8:30am.Then we freshened ourselves and had steaming kodugu , dosas and chappati at a local hotel.Kodugu is a special kind of a dish(similar to Idli) that is made out of rice powder.The owner of the hotel had a sweet little cute toddler(Megha) which winked at everyone whoever said 'kannu-nodu'(blink your eyes). The owner kept referring to Lakshmi as 'young lady' which was quite amusing (was it an 'oxymoron' ??).The sun rose a little up ; the slight drizzle along with the Sun's rays bisecting these water droplets was a treat to watch.

The owner offered to drop us at Haddaluguddu(obviously for Rs.200!!), from where we could actually start our trek. He had a small auto(truck) which is used for transporting goods in this part of the country. 7 of us managed to sit(packed) at the back , whereas Ganesh and Vathsan sat along with the driver. It was a forty minutes drive along sinuous curves and bends; with greenery everywhere - it was a neat-jumpy drive.

We reached Hoddaluguddu at around 10:30am and started the trek after taking a few snaps/snacks here.Ganesh was busy feeding a couple of stray dogs.[ During the entire course of the trek, Ganesh was kind enough to feed all the stray dogs].Lakshmi was the first victim to the leeches. A leech was feeding on her right leg whereas another one had already had its adventure on her left leg and abandoned the place.Ganesh's snuff box came to use and the leech collapsed after he sprinkled some snuff powder on it. We proceeded with the trek after everyone checked their shoes.We continued and climbed up a hillock and had some snacks on the open scrub.In the meantime Harshad ran and climbed up an adjacent hillock , he stood on top of the hillock and waved his hands .I sprinted towards the top and was there in 2 minutes. It was great to see the other 'junta' sitting on top of other hill a few hundred feet away.

From here we had to decide on which path to take to reach the next destination. There were 2 options -
(1) to cut across a forest , climb the hill and reach the other end or
(2) to follow the foot-trail which was already present.

We resorted to the former.We had to wade through dense bushes and plants , and this was the most arduous path of the entire journey.Finally we reached the hill top after almost an hour. As we were about to relax a bit, it started to pour heavily. Myself, Vishnu, Manish,Rahul , Ganesh and Lakshmi went ahead to stand next to a tree whereas Harshad,Vathsan and Meeliya didnt follow us. Rain was pouring heavily and visibility was droppin badly.The cold wind coupled with heavy downpour drenched all of us.The water-resistant bags and wind cheaters were of no use. But, Vishnu found out an ingenious way to light a bidi(country form of a cigarette) and smoke it. Rahul and Ganesh accompanied him.We stood in this heavy downpour for almost 40 minutes. Then we decided that it was of no use to continue standing there and we better move forward, as we had to reach the next destination before dark. Vishnu went back to call the other 3. He went and returned back after 5 minutes to tell us that those 3 were sitting under the tarpaulin and were having panner-butter-masala(we all turned green!!!). Vishnu also happened to see that middle-finger of a guy(Vathsan, of course!!) emerging from the tarpaulin. After sometime Vishnu and Lakshmi went back and snatched the tarpaulin from the top of the guys. Having no options left, the three had to follow us and we continued again.

We reached Mainur at 12:30pm. It was a small village with half-a-dozen huts. We enquired about the route ahead to a couple of localites. One lady said that the route ahead is filled with leeches. We trekked further along paddy fields and land-slidden countours.We had to cross a small-river which was flooding badly and we were looking out for options. There was a burma-bridge(constructed with the locally available bamboo sticks/ropes and coconut tree bark). It was great fun to cross this bridge. Occasionaly, someone would find a leech in his shoe, and Ganesh would be there with his snuff box to lay the leech to rest. :-)

And we finally reached Hongadahalla via Jadagatta at around 6pm(June 3).We had tea and hot upma(with chatni) in the local hotel(Rs.110 for 9) and spent some time there. In the meantime Vishnu and Ganesh hunted for a suitable place to stay during the night.We checked-into the kalyana-mandapa(marriage hall) at around 8:15pm.We spent the night here. The kalayana-mandapa was under-construction. It had a clay floor and an asbestos roof, opened at one end and closed at the other three.The 2 walls on either sides had openings for the windows to be fitted. We spreaded the newspapers and feasted(dinner). Menu included paneer-makhni , Chana-Masala, Cheese-Spreads and slices, Breads, Bisi-Bela-bath and Palak-Paneer (all these were packaged foods that we had brought from Bangalore). Meeliya, Ganesh and Manish had sleeping bags and settled themselves inside it, whereas others had to satisfy themselves with Newspapers. My jeans and t-shirts were wet and heavy. The cold air hitting against me and my clothes were tormenting me and i was shivering badly.I could not sleep for the entire night ; I could hear Rahul(who was sleeping next to me) and Manish snoring to their fullest.

I decided that I would rather opt out and return to Bangalore than continuing with the Day-2 of the trek. I was unsure whether the wet clothes would help me with the trek.

At almost 3.00 am , I found a semi-wet jacket lying on the tarpaulin and tried my luck . I pulled it over myself and slept for around 1 hour 30 mins before someone's voice woke me up. Vishnu lighted the used newspapers outside the kalyana-mandapa. I sat next to the fire and dried myself. For the first time I was feeling 'dry'. My jeans were now crispy dry and my hands were warm.In short, this feeling was far better than the cold night that made my teeth go tittering.All of us vacated the mandapa and went to the hotel and had tea/breakfast(Rs.120 for 9).Ganesh fed 3-4 stray dogs with all the bread packets that we had.

Vishnu, Harshad, Ganesh and Vathsan were planning on the possible routes to trek on Day2. I was still sceptical of whether I should continue or return back to Bangalore.We were told that the bus to Bangalore was at 9:30am. Finally the bus came at around 10:15am and all of us boarded the bus.Meeliya, Manish and Rahul opted out and went back to Bangalore whereas the others(incl me) got down at Kodu-raste and prepared for Day-2 trek. Harshad wanted to go to a 17m water fall that was on the map , but none of the localites knew about the same.We also asked about the KumaraDhara Waterfalls and we were told that it was near KumaraParvatha, which was pretty far from Kodu-raste.We decided to trek to the 17m waterfall.We started at 12:30pm from Kodu-raste in search of the 17m water fall.We walked for around 3 hours before we reached a place

We halted near a streamlet and had lunch.Menu included Paneer-Butter-Masala, Pongal, Masal- Upma, Cheese Slices, Bread and Jam. Rain started as we were in the process of satisfying our apetite , but we continued our rendezvous with the food, as were drop dead hungry.

We continued to trace back the route to reach the bus-stand ; but took a minor diversion to have a view from the top of a hillock. The view from this hillock awestruck me.These were the Western Ghats with the densest forests I have ever seen. We could spot KumaraParvatha and Doddhebeddha. The summit of KumaraParvatha was covered with clouds and mist.The valley was looking beautiful, with hills on either sides. We sat here for around 20 minutes and continued our trek. { Sorry, i dont have words to describe this scenic beauty }

We reached the bus-stand , wherein the bus to Sakleshpur would arrive at around 5pm. [Hence, we did not retrace back the route till Kodu-raste.]We had some biscuits and chikki. The idea of maggie stuck me and i thought about the option of getting hot-water from the local hut. Vathsan had a couple of bites of raw-noodles and in the meantime Ganesh got the hot water(in exchange for a MTR Pongal packet). I mixed the noodles along with the spices in the hot-water (guess this is the easiest recipe that i can prepare !!). All of us had hot semi-cooked maggie. Harshad filtered the spicy-water from the maggie.Just as we were waiting for the bus, myself , Vishnu , Harshad and Vathsan resorted to some 'intellectual' discussions on cross-breeding. We were exploring the possibility of cross-breeding a hen with a dog ; and Vishnu baptised this 'possible' creation as 'Den'. All during the course of this discussiom, Vathsan gave a puzzled look and a question mark hovering over his face (guess all this was above his wavelength!!). The dicussion progressed to a yet another possiblity of cross-breed between 'our-creation' Den and an elephant. We finally abandoned this topic as it was getting highl y scientific and us mere mortals werent aware of the Laws-of-Science and Evolution.

The bus finally arrived at 5:30pm and we reached Sakleshpur by 7:30pm. We were informed that the Bus to Bangalore was rare, and it is better to leave for Hassan and catch a bus to Bangalore from there.We had tea and waited for the bus to either Hassan or Bangalore.Just as we finished our tea a bus to Bangalore arrived and we happily got inside. The bus halted for dinner on a highway stall and we had hot rotis with tea. We reached Bangalore finally at around 2.00 am and officially ended the trek by having a hot-watery-yucky tea in the KSRTC Bus Stand.Myself and Harshad were all game to trek back to Koramangla from Majestic; however, we(incl ganesh) finally hired an auto(at double the cost) and came back home.

As I look back at this trip, I must say without any qualms that this trek was a beautiful trek to start with during the monsoon season. The nature's pristine beauty coupled with a neat clean air gave no room for any kind of cold/fever to affect us.As I pen down this experience, i must say that the trek-group was awesome and I am looking forward to more treks in the coming months with them.
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