Last saturday(29th september) we trekked & scaled Kotebetta Peak, third highest in Coorg (Tadiyandmol and Brahmagiri are 1st and 2nd respectively). Totally there were eleven participants: me, Rohith(Roti)[main organizer], Harish Malleshappa[accountant], Harishchandra(Ghat), Jatin, Nagesh, Sanjay, Manohar, Sai Sudha(SaiP), Harshad and Bangari.
A 'big' dilemma
I was not certain to be on board for this trek, since I had some personal work in Bangalore. On wednesday(Sep26) Harish M had already booked the tickets (excluding me). In order to be in trek I had to book tickets individually. Next day, I got infected with traces of cold and cough. Before booking ticket I informed Jatin that I might drop out if cold and cough turns severe. I managed get tickets for 11.31 pm KSRTC semi-deluxe bus, the same bus for which Harish M had booked the tickets. Next day cold increased a bit. In afternoon for a while I decided to drop out, somehow decided to go. when came back to home at 6 pm, I realized that A/C in office was the culprit. The cold and cough were not severe at home as it was in office. I stuck to my decision to be in Trek, in spite of several warnings from my mother.
Journey without headlights !!!
I reached KSRTC bus stand at 10.45 pm, as per plan we gathered at platform 5. The bus departed as per schedule at 11.31 pm. The journey was going on as usual. I was in my moderate sleep. At 3.15 am, after Hunsur suddenly something happened to the bus. Sparks started coming out from the battery. the driver detached the terminals with lot of difficulty as he didn't had proper spanner do the same. other bus driver too joined for the struggle, ultimately they were not able to fix the problem. So no electric supply for the bus. our driver was able start the bus by some crude technique with the help of other bus driver, but in order to proceed ahead headlights are must. The incidence reminded me of Ombattu Gudde Trek, where condition was slightly better. Atleast headlights here working partially(dim and dip mechanism was not working). The driver decided to continue without headlights. Initial part of the journey he drove with other bus right behind, so that people coming from opposite end would be able to make out that there are two buses - Awesome technology !!!. unfortunately the other bus came behind us for a while, as it was going thru different route. I am still puzzled how the driver managed to drive later part of journey that too without headlights. Was he chewing happy dent chewing gum ? :)
in front of PWD guest house
After eventful overnight journey, we reached Madikeri around 7.30 pm and freshened up at PWD guest house(courtesy Manohar). Later, we had breakfast at Athiti. The quality of food was not good. After breakfast we took local bus to Madapura, which is 8km from Madikeri.
After sufficient brainstorming and enquiry at Madapura bus stand, we took a jeep (driver's name Naresh) and travelled 6 km till the start point of trek. The ride on open top jeep was amazing, it was like going on a jungle safari. The one-way ride cost us Rs. 100.
After getting down from jeep we had photo session and started trek. The initial trail was tar road. After trekking for a km or two we started feeling the heat.. we took off the jackets. The stretch had everything to shoot for macro photographers due drops, rain drops, beetles, flowers etc. SaiP's luggage was overweight. Harish M and Sanjay helped her by sharing the stuff from her bag. Actually, the culprit of her bag(trolley backpack) which was more than 2kgs.
After walking for a while there was transition trail from tar road to mud road(motorable). At some distance(500m+) there were 2-3 four legged animals. Harshad and Rohith hyped it as Bison and Tiger. After taking snap of those in my S2 IS and I found that it is some cow or buffalo :).
Since I was taking photograph of every moment, after a while my camera started showing low battery. Since then, I strictly started conserving the batteries by using camera in view finder mode. Then we came across a parked maruti omni car. some people in our group shouted wild card wild car ;) there one house next to the path, also there were 2-3 pigs around it hunting for truffels. we named the house as Handi Mane.
walking further we came across damp region (leech pradesha). as soon we sighted one leech I took out nashya powder and applied on the shoes and socks. looking at me sanjay and nagesh did the same. when we reached a open area came we made sure that there are no leeches inside our shoes, all because of leech phobia.
At 1.30 pm majority of people felt hungry we decided to have Lunch, against the wishes of others who were planning to have lunch at the peak. we had MTR read to eat as food. Harshad and Bangari had got bread. we had rice items sandwithced b/w the breads.
The timing of lunch turned out to be perfect, because as soon we started ascent after lunch, it started raining like anything. After a km ascent the at a particular stretch the wind was blowing like anything. since we were using umbrella to protect ourselves from rain, the ascent become more difficult. the wind so strong that we were unable to fold our umbrella also. can't forget the experience. after a while we came across rocky region with grass and shrubs in patches. whoosh so many obstacles. we proceeded by putting each and every foot cautiously.
we were sure how far/how close was our destination as the peak was covered with mist.. Every 100 m ascent used to unfold next 100 meters. Finally we came across some flat region and realised that we are on peak. Atop the peak there is a Shiva Temple, we had darshan by removing our shoes. as it was slightly raining and taking photographs was difficult because of moisture deposit on camera lens. we took 2-3 shots in a hurry. while taking photographs in front of temple i pressed video button of my S2 IS knowingly. harish took the snaps in the video mode. the video has came out very naturally because actors are not aware that my camera is captuing video :). after darshan harish had some matrimonial photos.
Our actual plan was to camp at the peak, but due to unfavorable weather conditions we decided to start the descent immediately as the camping would be very difficult. the descent was was equally difficult as ascent, because of chances of slipping. I descended cautiously by keeping my foot on patches of grass because there will be less chances of slipping. we even lost the way slightly as the trail appeared completely different.
The intensity of rain also increased and we entered the damp regions (leech pradesha). Ghat turned out be ----( i donno exact english word) in this stretch. whenever he used to warn that the place is bit damp, put foot cautiously. someone used to fall. sanjay had horrible experience, he feel 2-3 times after listening to Harish's cautions.
Protection from Rain
when we reached Handi Mane we had a small break, had the biscuits which we were carrying. the trek continued. some people got curious about on going cricket match between India and Australia. Ghat called up his home and updated us with latest score. while descending also rohith was ahead of us.they had reached the place where jeep dropped us in the morning. he had already called up Naresh(driver) requesting for drop back to Madapura. when we reached the place jeep had already arrived. we boarded and had lovely ride again, this time back to Madapura.
Three wickets down
Roti's actual plan had allocated 2-days for Kotebetta and 2-days for Brahmagiri. After experiencing unfavourable weather condition we decided to ramp up further trekking and remaining one day we decided to go for sight seeing around Madikeri. we reached Madapura around 7 pm had coffee and plum cake at a bakery(can't recall name). Harshad and Bangari, had already decided to travel back Bangalore. our trip accountant Harish M settled their expenses and they parted away.
Remaining 9 of us, took local bus back to Madikeri. we checked in at vinayaka lodge next to bus stand. as soon as we checked in Ghat got a call from his Boss that he has to fix a critical customer issue and rush to Bangalore ASAP. He left by next available bus. one more person down. the group strength reduced to eight.
our first task was to change our wet clothes. There weren't sufficient hangers in the rooms. we tied the ropes in the rooms which we were carrying for climbing purpose, to dry our clothes. later we had chappties, jam, chutney powder(courtesy Harish M and Manohar) for dinner as no one had energy go out to hotel and have food. :).
After dinner Jatin and Rohith decided to play cards. they introduced us a game of poker. heard about this game many time, one of the variant of this game was featured in latest 007 movie Cansion Royale. I am not sure which variant of poker we played. 5 ppl ( 2 experts and 3 L-boards) played for 5 hours. we managed to complete 2 games both won L-boards Sanjay and Nagesh.
Maja Bardha Ediya, this phrase Roti repeatly started to ask me since evening at Madapura. After 9-10 counts, myself and nagesh started counter attack and ask him the same every 5 minute till we slept.
next day i got up after deep sleep. I realised that cold which was bothering me in bangalore is no longer there. my last minute decision to be in trek was perfect. we had breakfast at hotel guruprasad(udupi vegetarian).
After breakfast we took jeep to Abbey Falls. enroute to Abbey falls driver took us to Gaddige, samadhi of Chikkaveera Rajendra(), last ruler of Coorg Kingdom. The samadhi had influence of islamic architecture. the guide there explained us various things of the structure. i like the flooring made up of clay+limestone+egg white.
next destination was abbey falls. this default location to all the people who tour to coorg. I happen to visit this place in my third trip/trek to coorg, that too after ramping up trek prematurely. Abey falls was graceful, because of overnight rains. There is a hanging bridge in front of the falls. we took photograph of the falls from each and every angle. Jatin and Rohith managed go to downstream of falls, by calling themselves as press people to the security guard. he was fooled by their DSLRs.
group photo in front of viewpoint
Walk from Abbey to Madikeri
while coming back to Madikeri we got down at a view point 2 km from the falls. we settled the amount with the driver(rs. 250), as we thought it would be nice to walk back to Madikeri. after photo session at viewpoint and started our walk back to Madikeri. we came across many sites such as proposed site of Crescent school. we met french people walking towards the falls, had photo session with them. they complemented us that Indian people always will be smiling.
with French people
We were back in Madikeri at 1.30 pm. had lunch at the same Hotel Guruprasad. it was sufficient to fill our stomachs. our evening plan was to go raja seat. before that we thought of covering some other place. ultimately we decided to stay in lodge and play Poker :). I won the first game of the day, throughout the game I was defensive. Jatin won the second game.
By the time second game was over time was 5.30 pm and we decided to start to Raja Seat. we walked to Raja seat, which is just 2 km from Madikeri bus stand. the entry ticket to the park was Rs. 2. when we were about enter the park they were testing musical fountains. first we see the viewpoint. the view was good but not so clear. the sunset was not so exciting because of cloud cover in the horizon.
View from Raja Seat
when it was about to get dark we came back to see the fountains. the show started at 6.45 pm. the some of the tunes were same as that of KRS, where I had been recently. but to be frank the entry fee Rs. 2 really worthed. in krs it is Rs. 15 for entrance and rs.50 for camera extra.
7.15 pm we walked back to the lodge. on the way had coffee at Athiti. after coming back to the lodge we packed our luggage. at 8.30 pm we had dinner, again at Hotel Guruprasad. we had become loyal customer to the hotel. Udupi brand really sells a lot. actually we didn't go to Bangalore Tiffany's nearby. when it comes to food brand Udupi is ahead of brand Bangalore!!
At 9.45 pm we boarded raja hamsa bus. The bus departed at 10 pm on time. when the bus picked up speed we realised the conditions of bus are very bad. the window panes were making a lot of noise. somehow i managed to catch sleep. when I opened my eyes next it was dark and the bus was in some bus stand. I thought it would be some bus stand between mysore and bangalore. I was shocked to hear from Manohar that it is KBS majestic. 4.05 am back in Bangalore. driver has slogged like anything. The trek/trip was concluded by having Badam Milk at the bus stand premises, Rohith & Jatin do this after every trek.
Sanjay: battery charger
my camera batteries got exhausted second day even though I charged them overnight, all because of cold conditions. Sanjay was real saviour for me. Since his hands always used to be warm, he charged the batteries 2-3 times for me by rubbing them in his hands. His charging was so sufficient, I took pictures entire day without even charging batteries electrically.
- when you suffering slight cold & cough don't hesitate to go for a Trek. Actually, you are more prone cold and cough in Bangalore.
- Avoid trekking in rainy season, because you won't able to enjoy much, won't be able to camp, won't able to capture decent photographs.
- In you planning to take 'MTR ready to eat' for trek, avoid dry items such as jeera rice, lemon rice. Instead carry items with more liquid content pongal, sambhar rice, rajma chawal.
- If u are carrying a camera. carry genuine lens tissue(sound's obvious for SLR guys), it would be very handy. I have to really thank Jatin for this.