This trek was organized by Rohit(Roti) and Harish Malleshappa, other people on board were Jatin, Subhajit, Praveen, Nagesh, Sai Sudha(SPai), Rajesh, Meeliya and Srikanth.
Friday Dec 7th 4.30 pm, my manager Ramesh called for a team meeting(which supposed to be at 3.30 pm). But, I had to leave immediately in order to be at KSRTC bus stand by 7.45 pm to catch 8.00 pm bus to Ujjire. Understanding my situation, Ramesh allowed me to carry on without any additional queries or explanation (thanks a ton to him!). The 30 km travel (or rather journey) back home was unexpectedly horrible. The BMTC bus towards K.R. Market used to get stuck at each and every junction and my watch seemed to be ticking very fast. I managed to reach home by 7.10 pm, packed all the stuffs in a hurry. At 7.45 pm, as soon as I came out of my house an autorickshaw stopped right in front me and the driver immediately agreed to take me to Majestic, without any nakhras. 7.58 pm, I was at the entrance KSRTC bus stand and 8.00 pm on dot I was at platform-5. There, Harish Mallesappa was standing behind the in frustrated mood. His expression seemed like as he is going to blast me next moment ! But he replied that I am relatively early, only three people are there in the bus and rest of the guys are on the way :) Harish thru his negotiation skills managed convince the driver to hold for a while as we had reservation of ten seats ! By 8.15 pm everyone came and also there was a last minute entrant to the trek. It was none other then Praveen(Narayankar). At 8.15 pm, he was still stuck in Shivajinagar, so we had no choice of leaving him but instructed him to take next available bus towards Ujjire.
ಮಜಾ ಬರ್ತಾ ಇದ್ದೀಯಾ - Maja bartha iddiya
The ‘Maja bartha iddiya’ saga of Kotebetta trek continued. Infact, it was the first question I asked to Rohit as soon as he boarded the bus and it continued entire journey as he was sitting next to me. The journey was surprisingly normal. Harish was expecting headlights go out of order in mid journey as it happened during onward journey of Kotebetta trek. Thankfully no such scary incident happened but there was one funny moment. Legs of a kid started protruding from the seat front of us. The parents being unaware of this of they were wondering why their kid is crying like anything. As soon as I got to know about the problem I showed parents the exact the reason using my mobile phone lights. This minor incident was sufficient for Rohit to come up with many funny theories and tried to pull my legs in the entire trip.
Next day at 5 am, we reached first destination Ujjire. Actually Charmadi Gate comes 15 km before Ujjire. Our main intention was to be in Ujjire was for morning ablutions and there we had to wait for one hour for sulabh souchalay to open. When we were done with the ablutions Praveena arrived and the our group was harmonised for breakfast at Hotel Guruprasad.
After breakfast, we bought fruits and snacks, and took bus back to Charmadi Gate. On the way to Charmadi gate the hills on left were looking brownish. Jatin immediately jumped to conclusion that greenery is very very less. I argued it might be because of ‘Raman effect’, due to morning sunlight light the vegetation is emitting only brown component.
7.30 am, we reached Charmadi gate. There we went to Isubu’s shop in order to get guidance for our trekking route. As Isubu didn’t have bandwidth to accompany us, he introduced us another person. That person went somewhere and came back after long time at 9 am. Till that time, to pass the time we had tender coconut water, and almost started playing poker. Praveena had a good time reading Udayavani newspaper. Since he was reading a Kannada newspaper after a long time, I guess he wouldn’t have left even a single letter in it.
Our first spot was Alekal falls. To get there we tried to get a lift from a lorry. As we were 11 people we couldn’t find a right lorry to fit all of us. The remaining option was KSRTC bus. 2-3 of them didn’t agree us to drop. Finally, one bus conductor agreed. The short journey to the falls was full of excitement. We were standing in the last row and experience was like earthquake of 5.0 in ritcher scale. In this journey myself and Nagesh decided to set a 5 minute timer for Maja barthaidiya and periodically shoot the same at Rohith. The maja continued the entire trip of course with periodic timeout !
Around 10.00 am, we reached upstream of Alekal falls, right below the one of the hair pin bends of Charmadi ghats. Initially myself and Subhajit decided stay on the road by looking after the bags as others went down stream. But SPai was stuck in initial part of descent itself. Subhajit pulled her up using all kinds of techniques and made her the caretaker of baggages :) This gave us a chance to go down and take photos of waterfall in various modes.
From Alekal falls to Annappa swamy temple is 4 km. The temple is right at the foot of Jenukallu Gudda. The 3-4 km walk was exhausting as the sun was shining like anything. The umbrella which we were actually carrying for the rains became handy as a protection from Sun. While walking many KSRTC Lakshadeepotsava special buses to and from Dharmasthala passed by us. The passengers on board the buses had curios glance at us, wondering who these crazy people are ? that to walking in middle of ghat section with backpacks and umbrellas :)
Around 1 pm, we were at temple. The temple authorities allowed us to dump our luggages in a room. In the same room we had Lunch(chappattis, MTR read to eat, fruits). At 1.45 pm we started our ascent of Jenukallu Gudda.
Jenukallu Gudda - Ascent
I struggled in initial stage itself. After a few minutes we got to know it’s not a trek rather a hike of 70 degree gradient. Also, we were carrying water bottles as it is and it made our ascent difficult as we had climb literally with four limbs. The first half of the hike was not so difficult. In the second half I just had a glance downhill. Oh my god what am I doing. meter off ... ! I thought of giving up, but there was no way I cud have descended, it was next to impossible. Bitter memories of Savandurga lingered again. But I didn't give up, took three deep breaths and continued the ascent. Thanks to Harish Malleshappa, he pulled me up with his hands literally 2-3 times. Also, there was a big relief after getting confirmation that we will be descending by an alternate (easier) route.
Finally finally we were on the peak, I was exhausted like anything, mainly due to mental trauma. The hike was one of riskiest I had in my life so far. At the peak we had video and photo session, had all the food items we were carrying. Well, my reply to Rohit’s Maja bartha idiya was “No Comments”. Getting down thru alternate route, was not that easy, we had to hold on to suspending branches and had to do some monkey tricks, it reminded us of mowgli ke karname from jungle book :)
We came back to temple at 5.30 pm. The group had mixed opinions about camping at night. Jatin and Rohit were very much particular about camping, as they had not camped anytime previously even after carrying tents for entire trip. After brainstorming and discussions we decided to camp somewhere downhill next to a river. We descended from a route which starts 200 m from the temple. After 2 km the downhill path joined a jeep track which took us to a estate house. The caretaker of the estate house warned us of Elephant menace.
Two km further we reached bank of a river. The place was just awesome and an ideal location for camping. There was a wooden hanging bridge and a mini waterfalls at a distance. Rohith, Nagesh started pitching the tent and the rest collected firewoods for camp fire. After having good, we started brainstorming started ‘what if elephant comes’. Srikanth who was from Kerala, shared many tricks which learned during childhood days for handling naughtiest animal. Harish came up with a proposal of sleeping in shifts. Myself and subhajit decided to be awake till 2 am and to hand over the charge Harish after 2 am.
Our choukidari duty went on for half an hour with glances for elephants eyes all sides. 9.30 pm, some three people came with torches. There was instant jhal in our hearts. Naxalites !!!. One of the persons came towards us and asked Uta aaitha. Then we came to know that it’s none other than caretaker of the estate, Abdul Qadeer(AQ) on a night patrol. He was shocked to see us camping right next elephant's routine path. He advised us to shift to safer location either on hanging bridge or right next to mini waterfall. Latter place was very safe, the elephants could not have managed come there even in their dreams. But the safe place was not suited for sleeping as eleven people couldn't sleep simultaneously on it. Further, the accessibility to the place was very difficult, shifting all baggages would have been very difficult that too on a 'new moon' night.
Then on special considerations AQ allowed us sleep in veranda of estate house. We discussed all ifs and buts accepted the offer. No point in taking risk, who knows what gonna happen if an elephant comes and attack us in reality. Anything can happen when humans are in panic ! So 10.15 pm we aborted the camping and walked back to estate house and slept immediately and of course no choukidhaari this time.
Next day at 6 am, we went back to river for ablutions and other morning activities. The hanging bridge turned out be a major center of attraction for our photo sessions. We had ‘n+1’ number of photos with it. Also went next to mini waterfall, to see how the place looks in daylight. We figured out that our decision to sleep overnight in estate house was apt.
9.30 am, we started trek back to temple and reached there by 10.30 am. Our initial plan for Day 2 was Saint Mary Island, Udupi and since we didn’t have sufficient time the plan was changed to Kapu beach. From the temple we got a bus to Mangalore. Since the journey was boring we decided to play Dumb Charades(DC). The best moment in DC session was enaction of 'Mission Impossible' by Srikanth.
1.30 pm, we were in Mangalore city. Due shortage of time, we changed plan again from Kapu beach to Panambur beach. First, at KSRTC bus stand we booked ticket to Bangalore(8.30 pm Rajahamsa). Then for lunch there was a big confusion. Non Veg people wanted to treat their tastes buds with ‘mangalore fish food’. After all discussion Non-Veg people went to different restaurant and veg people had normal plate meals in a normal hotel. At 3.45 pm, we walked to bus stop and took a local bus to Panambur beach. The bus doesn’t take us directly to the beach, one has get down on NH-17 and walk for a km.
After getting down from the bus Jatin and Roti decided have a coffee, rest of us sat on a Katte. Then came a physically handicapped person Mr. EKP(Encyclopedia of Karnataka Politics) started asking us many questions. Where are u from ? Which place? Where exactly from Bangalore ? etc etc. Suddenly, he switched to topic of Karnataka politics and started giving us lecture about Deve Gowda, Yediyurappa, Bangarappa, Gundu Rao, local MLAs MPs. We got bored like anything and Nagesh(Nageshanna) was the major victim. EKP also suggested us to take then newly started Mlore-Blore Train for return journey. He told us this 3-4 times !!, eventhough we clearly mentioned that we had already booked our bus tickets.
Somehow we managed escaped from EKP and 4.30 pm we were in the beach. We immediately headed towards rocky partition between port and the beach. We sat there and relaxed watching the sunset. I got a chance to experiment with Silhouette photography and a few photos came out very well.
As it got dark, we took local bus back to KSRTC bus stand, had dinner at KSRTC restaurant. The bus arrived at 8.15. Inside the bus it was like an oven and the relief came when the bus started moving at 8.30 pm. In the mid journey at 2 am we realized various issues in the bus. My push back was defective, it used to come to its mean position whenever I used go to sleeping mode. The Anku-Donku roads added more to horrible journey and the shocked absorbers of the bus were absolutely out of order. Rubbing salt to the wounds was observing 2-3 normal suvarna karnataka sarige overtaking us!!. Wake up, KSRTC authorities it’s time to phase out Rajahamsa and introduce new buses for the executive segment.
Slowly Slowly the bus proceeded and we were back in Bangalore at 7.30 am. to conclude one of memorable treks which was more like a hike and a trip.
More photographs are shared in my picasa album.