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Shishila - Ettina Bhuja - Bhairapura trek in November 2009

Some busy time at work and home had kept me away from the western ghats for a while. When Ina and Girish invited me for a trek to Ettina Bhuja, I was dying to go :) I first heard about Ettina Bhuja (and Amedikallu) while looking for information about Ombattu Gudda and was planning an Amedikallu trek for a while now, which never materialized. Girish promised that Ettina Bhuja is a precursor to the Amedikallu trek and is as good as the later. He had already visited Ettina Bhuja twice and when a man is ready to go there for a 3rd time ... its got to be good!

I got to know Ina and Girish by mail, discussing about treks, travel and then blogging [1] and was amazed by their spirits and passion towards travel and trekking. Girish had enough contacts in Shishila, near Dharmasthala were the trek begins and they took care of all the arrangments (including food and bus tickets to and from Dharmasthala). I just had to go along and why on earth would I miss it! But, as the day neared some personal issues creeped in - especially with me planning to go to Sabarimala and having to adhere to some practices like hygeine, which is usually quite difficult during treks and is usually ignored :) But, in any case, I decided to go ahead.

I, along with Amit, reached Majestic on the planned date to catch the bus to Dharmasthala. There, Ina and Girish introduced us to the rest of the gang - Subbu [2], Dhimoy, Vaisakh, Chirag and Rutuja. Most of the group, except Amit and Rutuja, have done many treks and I was excited to be with a group discussing every trek trail in karnataka and elsewhere! Even the passion for photography seem to match, since we had 5 SLR cameras and two advanced digital cameras between 9 of us :)

The bus started at about 10.30 and initially moved at snail's pace through the city roads. I drifted to a nice sleep as the bus picked up pace and the breeze came in through the window. The only thing that disturbed my sleep later was the small breaks at the Kamat hotel near Channarayapatna and at Sakleshpur, just before the ghats. Soon after the second break, the driver took on the pot-hole ridden Shiradi ghats and we had an interesting roller-coaster rides!

When I woke up at about 6, we were passing through a narrow stretch of road with thick vegetation on both sides. It was the first time I was passing through this road connecting Gundya and Dharmasthala. Soon, we were in Kokkada, from where the road to Shishila starts. But, according to Girish, the first bus to Shishila was to start from Dharmasthala at about 7.30 and there was no point getting down at Kokkada, unless we opt for a jeep ride. We were to go all the way till Dharmasthala and take a bus to Shishila.

At Dharmasthala, by about 7, the chances of any trekking looked very bleak! The sky was covered with dark clouds and a torrential rain seemed imminent. But, we decided to go to Shishila and then see what to do. Girish said that there is a (Bhairaveshwara) temple not too far from Ettina Bhuja where we can take shelter there if it rains in the night. Subbu, who had been to the place before, said that the villages of Bhairapura and Hosakere are also not too far from the peak.

The bus to Shishila started at about 7.30, headed back to Gundya - Bangalore road till Kokkada and then took the road to Shishila. On this road, we had our first views of Ettina Bhuja and Amedikallu, standing tall among the surrounding hills. Ettina Bhuja in Kannada means "Ox's shoulder", and is known so thanks to its unique shape. The peak looked spectacular and the thought of climbing it looked more and more exciting! The altitude of the peak is abt 1300m, which is much smaller than most other major peaks in Karnataka. In reality, even Nandi hills is at a higher altitude, but the fact that Shishila is at a low altitude made it a long way to climb up!

By 8, we were at Shishila and our guide Chennappa was waiting for us at the bus stop and took us to Gopu Gokhale's house, where we could freshen up, have breakfast and pack our lunch. It was a beautiful misty morning and all of us took out the cameras and started clicking at the arecanuts, tiny flowers and water drops. To add to the subjects, Gopu Gokhale's toddler son Sumit was very cute. This went on until the breakfast was ready and thats when I realized that - thanks to my Sabarimala plans - I had to take bath before having food and rushed to the bathroom.

We had idli, sambhar and chutney for breakfast and I hogged as usual. Then we were all given our lunch package to carry for the trek. Finally, at about 9.30 we were all set. A jeep was arranged to take us to the starting point of the trek which is a few kms off from Shishila. We headed back to Shishila town and took a jeep track to the left (as one approaches Shishila town on road from Kokkada). The jeep track was all spruced up thanks to the Prime Minister's Village Road Development scheme. We had a brief stopover at Chennappa's house, which was en route, so that Chennappa could collect a few of his things including a vessel.

Start of the trek and Ettina Bhuja peak
Start and the destination!

At about 10, we reached the end of the road, from where the footpath begins! The peak was visible from here also, but disappeared in between the trees as soon as we started the trek. After a small walk through the vegetation we reached near the Kapila river and had to cross it. The water was not much, but the current was strong and rocks were slippery making it a little tough to cross, especially with cameras held in our hands.

Banks of river Kapila
@ Kapila river

Soon after crossing the stream there was a tree fallen on the trail. This is a normal sight in a trek trail, but while trying to jump across it I landed on a twisted angle. It was a little painful but I kept walking, hoping that it will be fine after a while. I was OK after a while in spite of a slight niggle at the ankle. Little did I know then that the pain would cause me more trouble later in the day.

Few minutes after this, we reached near another stream, but this time with the flow in the opposite direction. This was a tributary to the mainstream Kapila river we crossed earlier. Chennappa mentioned that we had walked extra distance to avoid crossing the river multiple times and now we dont have to cross the river, but just walk along the stream. So we did, for almost an hour. The trail was almost flat here with only a gradual ascend and we maintained a decent speed, in spite of taking a few breaks. The gurgling stream to our right side provided us with some nice spectacles including a mini waterfall.

There were a few leech lands in between and a fair number of leeches clinging on to our shoes. But, they did not cause too much of a problem since all of us were prepared to ignore them. Even, Amit and Rutuja, who were new to these wonderful creatures, were already given lectures on 'how leeches are better than mosquitoes'. Now, they were doing practical lessons like 'hold it once - then you will not feel scared' to make them hard-core leech lovers! To top it, there was Dhimoy who insisted that fried leeches taste really good!

Mushrooms seen in the trail
Striking, arent they?

By 11.30 we started moving away from the stream and the ascend became steeper and tougher. For me, it was a test of the claim that 'age is just a number :)' This being a trek after a long time and I was a little short on confidence. But, once the initial panting was done with and the body warmed up for the task ahead, it was always going to be easy. One thing I noticed all along the trail was different varieties of Mushrooms and spent some time photographing them.

There was also a usual supply of small plastic covers and I picked up whatever I can. At some point, I even noticed a Foster's beer can and decided I will pick it up on my way back. There was no point carrying it up to the peak and taking it back to the base. But, the smaller ones - toffee and pan wrappers - which will fit my pocket was still up for grabs.

Amit and Vaisakh shooting each other
Shootout at the forest!

The trail was reasonably steep here and we gained altitude soon. The trees on both sides also became smaller and the trail soon started having more grass cover. At one point, while emerging from the forest into a grassy patch, we caught another glimpse of the Ettina Bhuja peak, still far away and across a few valleys. I could not help wondering how we would traverse those valleys and get to the base of the peak :) The person who first took this trail must have been an awesome pathfinder!

The rest of the trail was around a few hills along their ridges. We would walk along the ridge and cross over to another hill. Then walk around the ridge of a new hill and crossed over to yet another hill. Sometimes, we would pass through a shola forest while crossing over to the next hill. All this while we were gaining altitude and the trail was quite narrow - a little dangerous too, considering that there were deep valleys on one side. In one of those crossover points, covered with a shola forest, we took a good break. The heat was on and all of us were sweating profusely. It was time to re-energize our bodies and we took out our snacks and milk packets. The combination of milk and dates was good enough to give us the ammo for a few more hours.

Soon, we reached a small grassland offering a good view of the peak, this time a little nearer. Amedikallu was towards our backside and visible too. Evidently, we have gained a lot of altitude, but there was a lot more to go. It was already about 1.45 PM and most of us were hungry. Just after crossing this grassland we entered another shola forest and there, we took our lunch break.

The lunch consisted of, again, idlis, sambhar and chutney. This time, the idlis were a little harder too. Amit and Rutuja, especially, had a disappointed look on their faces as soon as they opened the packets :) But considering the tired bodies, no one wasted any food and could have always eaten more.

Ettina Bhuja from the grass land
Talk about color combinations!

We started our trek again in an hour and got out of this shola forest in no time to enter a larger grassland. This was one of a kind with tall shoulder-high grass and an awesome view of the peak surrounded with white clouds and a blue sky. It was a beautiful sight viewing the Ettina Bhuja framed by the greenery around us. We waded through the tall grass with our eyes and lenses glued to the peak. The face of the peak, which we were seeing now, looked almost vertical and impossible to climb. I was asking Dhimoy, who has some experience with rock climbing, if it would make a good target for rock climbing. With a sheer vertical drop of about a 100m, this rock face would be quite a challenge!

To climb it without any rock climbing equipment, we should go around the peak and reach its other face, which would be accessible on foot. As we approached the base of the hill, the trail started going up and around. There was thick vegetation at the foot-hills and we followed the ridge taking us to the other face of the peak in good time. It was a good steep climb, but the nearness to our final target charged up all of us. Dhimoy was already ahead of all of us and started climbing up the hill as the rest of us followed the trail.

It was almost 4PM by now and we were running short of water. By now, the twisting of the ankle, which I managed earlier in the day, started taking its toll and I was finiding it tought to keep walking. But, it was important to keep moving, since, if I stop, it will be tough to move again. Chennappa had told us that the only water source in this trail (after the Kapila river and its tributary) was here, in the shola forest below the inclined face of the peak. So, we had to follow the normal trail and reach the water source. In a while, we could hear the sound of a stream and it sounded like music for us, tired and thirsty souls.

Group at the base of Ettina Bhuja
To go now or later?

Meanwhile, Chennappa met some locals from Bhairapura whom he knew and seeked permission for us to stay in the Bhairaveshwara temple. We were granted permission as long as we doesnt 'mess up the place' and that was not a bad deal. While, we stopped at this point to take a break, Chennappa mentioned that there were signs of a rain coming and we should quickly get to the temple, instead of climbing the peak the same day. We could always get to the top of the peak, the next day. I was a bit reluctant to this idea, but agreed, since it made logical sense.

Dhimoy also came down and joined us, after having gone up quite a distance up the trail. He was wondering if the plan will stay as it is the next day. I assured him that even if it rains hard tomorrow, I will go with him to the peak and almost everybody agreed. It was a little sad to not go to the peak, after coming so close to it. I was sure it would be disastrous if we missed it the next day as well. So we had to go up ... come what may.

Chennappa told us that the trail to the water source is a little too steep and offered to fill our water bottles himself and we gladly agreed. It was time to remove the shoes and check the feet for once. There were a few little leech fellas inside my shoes spilling enough blood. But, like we mentioned earlier - leech bites are better than mosquito bites! I also felt a good amount of pain in the ankle as soon as I removed the shoes. Rutuja had a spray for sprain and it helped a little.

Soon, Chennappa came back with a few water bottles filled up with ice cold drinking water. We took turns and sipped the bottle, while talking about various things under the sun. Meanwhile, Ina spotted a bird in the woods and went ahead to identify it. The light was already a little low for Girish's tele photo lens and even our naked eye and the mission failed.

With the time showing 5'O clock, it was time to head to the temple and take shelter there, before it gets too dark. I put on the shoes and the pain had subsided by now. We just had to walk in to the shola forest and then follow a trail gradually descending down. The only problem we faced was the bevy of leeches throughout this trail. Especially so, when we reached a wet land were hundreds of leeches were literally standing on their toes to jump on to any victim that comes their way. We ran for our lives and stopped only after reaching some dry ground, where we picked up the little hunters from our shoes. Enough blood was spilled by then!

By about 5.30 we could see the Bhairaveshwara temple complex and a turmac road leading to the village. But, when we reached there, much to our dismay, the temple was locked and there was no good shelter where we could spend the night, if it rains. Infact, the situation was not much different from staying back at the peak ... may be except for the availability of water. There was a lake nearby and a water tank with a tap, so that water would not be a problem. But, the only available shelter was at the front of the temple and that was just big enough to keep our bags. If it rains, we were going to be in trouble.

Road to Bhairapura
Road to safety?

Vaisakh suggested that we should take the turmac road and head to the Bhairapura village which is a couple of kms from Bhairaveshwara temple. But, then we all wanted to come back the next day and go to the peak. We rued our decision to skip the peak and go back the next day. Otherwise, we could have peacefully gone and slept in the village and taken a bus to Shishila the next day. We discussed a few possibilities including breaking open the lock, but soon decided that it may not be a good thing to do.

With the sun going down, the temperature was plummeting. While Ina prepared some tea for everybody, I changed to my favourite dress - a lungi - and put on the rain coat as well to keep myself warm. Amit too had put on his rain coat. With his long hair and stubble added, he resembled a godman and was promptly coronated as the 'Baba'! Dhimoy came up with the right adjective too to make it 'Gaali vala Baba' aka 'Gaali Baba'. Now, we all requested 'Gaali Baba' to take care of the weather for the remanining portion of the trek as well ... as he did till now. Infact, isnt it a mystery that it never rained for the whole day, given the cloudy weather for the whole day? Now, we had the answers - it was all the power of 'Gaali Baba'!

By now, we could see strong lightning and thunderstorms. But, 'Gaali Baba' promised that if the rain comes in, he will redirect lightning towards the lock, so that we all can get inside ;-) With the rain imminent, we decided to heat some more water and took out our dinner - MTR 'Bisi Bele Bhath' ready-to-eat packets. But, by the time we could heat even one of them, the rain started and we rushed to our shelter at the front of the temple! We all gathered around 'Gaali Baba' and Dhimoy suggested that we should keep the torches on. His argument was that the lights will give us 'aasa' (hope) and 'aasa' is all that we had!

The rain did make our shelter a little wet, but it didnt last long - again thanks to the power of 'Gaali Baba'. We stayed there for some more time, with Dhimoy and others singing a few of their favourite songs to keep up the 'hope'. I chipped in with 'Tip Tip Barsa Paani' and was promptly asked to shut up! Dhimoy declared that songs about rain are banned and should not be sung. Me like breaking rules and could not help chanting it a few more times, before being ensured by Ina that she will do anything to keep me silent ;-)

With the rain abated, we resumed the cooking process. 'Bisi Bele Bhath' was never a favourite of mine, but in this circumstances, anything warm and spicy tasted like ambrosia and I finished the pack in no time! Now, with a satisfied stomach we all headed back to the shelter and one after the other settled down in reclining positions. The party continued for some more time, especially with Dhimoy in full form with some good songs and almost everybody supporting him. At around 9.30, Chennappa suggested that we should go to sleep and get up early morning. Everybody agreed and the lights went off soon.

I had taken out my sleeping bag and was settled at almost the center of the shelter. Dhimoy and Rutuja were also towards the center and with a few bed sheets for help, they were kinda comfortable. 'Gaali Baba' also had a sleeping bag and being 'Gaali Baba', he should take care of himself. Subbu was declared as a man-capable-of-sleeping-anywhere and he soon lived up to his reputation.

The others were less fortunate, but found various ways to achieve 'nirvana'! Chennappa took a sleeping mat from somebody and managed with it. Girish and Ina moved out of the shelter as it had stopped raining and managed with sleeping mats and sheets. Chirag had a sheet and stayed within the shelter. Vaisakh, when I last saw was in an awkward position - he had a sleeping mat but not enough space to open it up. A little later, when the cold became unbearable, he moved out, went near the fire and slept there. This gave us - myself, Subbu, Dhimoy, Rutuja, 'Gaali Baba' and Chirag - some more space to stretch our feets and the rest of the night is a little hazy in my memory. All I can do is thank 'Gaali Baba' to keep the rain spirits away for the rest of the night! Apparently, I did that by chanting 'Tip Tip Barsa Paani' a few more times and was adviced to shut up everytime ;-)

The morning was extremely cold and for me the day started listening to Chennappa asking for time, to which Rutuja replied - 'aaru ghande' meaning 6'O clock. She checked again and soon corrected it to 'aithu ghande', which is 5'O clock, but by then it was too late. Chennappa was already wide awake and started his morning exercises! I too was awake after this and saw Girish and Ina was already up and the rest of the group also followed. Vaisakh came in and joined us soon and narrated how he went to sleep near the fire. I was thinking about a slightly different problem at this point. It was an extremely cold morning and I was finding it tough to get out of the sleeping bag. But, I am suppossed to have a bath before having food. How on earth am I going to do that???

Day break @ Bhairaveshwara temple
Day break and the temple

Logic prevailed over lazyness soon and I figured out its best to finish the bath before the sun comes out. I declared my intensions to the others who responded with a bewildered look on their faces ... but my decision was final! After a few minutes hesitation, I managed to get out of the sleeping bag and then the rain coat, picked up my stuff, including a 2L water bottle to be used as a mug and proceeded towards the water tank. As expected, it was very cold to start with, but once I poured a bottle of water on myself, the rest was easy!

Vaisakh shooting the campfire
Shooter and the subject

The breakfast for the day was cup noodles and then we packed up for another eventful day. By 8.15, we were back on the trail towards Ettina Bhuja. The day was beautiful and the leeches were at their best. Never mind, we were all charged up and took the best action while on the leech land - walked (or, shall I say ran) as fast as we could and reached beyond them. In about 15 mins we were out of the danger area and in to the grass land.

Final climb to Ettina Bhuja
Almost there!

Dhimoy was keeping at the front as usual and I tried to keep up with him as much as I could. Once we started climbing up, the bags were left behind, making the climb even more easy. As we got nearer to the peak, the excitement also went up. We soon crossed the last shoulder and started climbing up the main peak. Me and Dhimoy were a little ahead of others and realized that the rest had taken a break at the shoulder. But, we were both very charged up and was in no mood to slow down. The final climb was a bit steep, but the fact that the bags were missing, made it a lot easier. Soon, the flat grassland gave way to a rocky criss-cross path and the climb became tougher, especially with a camera in hand. But, needless to say, we kept going.

@ the top of Ettina Bhuja
Back to the mountains!

As we gained more and more altitude, the views became majestic. The bright blue sky, with just the right amount of clean white clouds thrown in, was designed perfectly to go with the greenery. We could spot many hills around us - straight ahead, beyond Ettina Bhuja, was Amedikallu and behind us were the Ombattu Gudda and Deepadakallu (later identified by Chennappa) and thick green vegetation in between. At 8.50, we passed our final obstacle and were at the top of Ettina Bhuja. It took us a little more than half an hour from the Bhairaveshwara temple.

View from the top of Ettina Bhuja
Blue, green and white!

There was a rainbow on the other side of the peak and the grass was decorated with shiny dew drops. The light was also perfect, adding to the hill's charm. It was a great feeling for me, especially since I've done a trek after a while. This was not an easy one by any means and we had done it without any struggle. Age is after all just a number! Dhimoy was quick to declare this as one of his best treks and I promptly agreed.

Amit shooting Vaisakh at the top of Ettina Bhuja
Shootout again - now at the peak!

The rest of the gang soon joined us and the photo sessions followed. So did the 'identify-the-hills-around' session, guided by Chennappa. We spent more than half an hour at the peak, before the thought of getting back to Shishila came in. We thought, we should be comfortably back by about 2 and would take a bus from there. But, that was later in the day.

Group at the top of Ettina Bhuja
We did it!

Ettina Bhuja and Amedikallu
Whoz taller?

After a final group snap with the sky in the backdrop, we started our descend. We took another long break near the shoulder, one more water break near the stream and then bid adieu to Ettina Bhuja by about 10.30. The long breaks were soon compensated by a quick descent. We were at the 1st grassland in 15 mins, passed the lunch point and in between I stopped to tie my shoe-lace. Thats when I noticed a small snake, camoflagued among the dry leaves due to its dull brown color, right next to my feet. I had not idea, if its poisonous, but I finished tieing my lace and slowly moved away, without provoking it. Once, I was at a safe distance, it was time to take out the camera!

By about 11, we reached the 2nd grassland from where we could see both Ettina Bhuja and Amedikallu. Dhimoy, myself and Rutuja kept in the front, found ourselves in good spirits and preferred to carry on without much breaks. Subbu, Vaisakh, Chirag and Amit, the 'Gaali Baba' was just behind us and Girish, Ina and Chennappa were at the rear.

I had taken out a plastic cover and hung it on the bag strap so that I can pick up whatever garbage I could not pick on my way up. There was a good number of toffee, pan wrappers and plastic covers all along the trail, considering the fact that the monsoon has just stopped. Too much of litter at the beginning of the trekking season. I wish people followed basic trekking etiquettes!

After the 2nd grassland, we went though the ridges and shola forests and the canopy became thicker as we started descending. The day was hotter than the previous one and I was feeling dehydrated quickly. We gulped water at every short breaks and kept going. The three of us - Dhimoy, myself and Rutuja - were much ahead of the rest of the gang by now and hardly heard from them.

Soon, we reached a point where the trail was a little unclear. We were caught up with a 'whether-to-go-up-and-wait-for-others' dilemma. But, there was some trail ahead and we decided to follow it. My doubt grew further, when I saw bamboo trees all around the trail. Somehow, I had not noticed them on our way up. But, Rutuja assured me that there were bamboos atleast near the stream. Our confidence grew a little more, when we heard the sound of the stream. We walked for some more distance, descended quite some height and the stream sounded closer and closer. One of the best spectales in this area was the number of butterflies we spotted. There were so many of them coloring the whole forest and we saw atleast three different groups.

At this point, I spotted a set of mushrooms which I had photographed on our way up. I took out the camera and compared it with my shot and got an exact match! What a way to confirm the correctness of the trail :) Soon I spotted the Foster's beer can and a big green cover which I had seen while going up and was sure that we were on the right track. This will be the first and last time I would be thanking an empty beer can, carelessly thrown away by some *%!%#$&!%# into the wilderness!

By now, we were pretty close to the stream and then kept walking along it. Our water supplies were almost over and the stream was inaccessible at this point. Nevertheless, we were getting closer to the river-crossing point and I opened up the milk packet for now. Rutuja was hesitant initially, but like everybody else I know (who refused to have milk, initially) her face lit up as soon as she had it :) When you are tired, hungry and thirsty, nothing like a gulp of milk!

I was almost sure that we were on the right track, but somewhere towads the end we missed a trail to the right, as we hit a dead end with the river right in front of us. On walking back a few steps, we found another trail and followed it. After some more time, we reached a river crossing point. But, this was not the place we crossed the stream, the previous day. I felt that this is what Chennappa was talking about - of walking extra distance to avoid multiple river crossing - and moved up a little to find another trail. On following this trail, we reached yet another river crossing point. But, even this was not the place we wanted to reach!

Rutuja was almost sure that we are lost and started making plans to go back to Ettina Bhuja and get to the Bhairapura village!!! But, I was not too worried as the river bank was pretty flat and obviously the correct crossing point was not too far. So, we walked along the river for some more time without crossing it. We went past the merging point and continued further along the banks of Kapila river to reach another crossing point.

The place looked like the location we passed through on the previous day. There was a fallen tree here also and a trail was coming in from our right side which should be what we took the previous day - still we were not sure. Yet again, I took out the camera and compared the photos of the tree with what we see now and it matched! At last we should be back at the correct trail.

It was about 12.30 by then and given the heat, the only natural thing to do was jump in to the stream and I did just that. With the sun beating down, it was such a relief to be immersed in this cool, crystal clear stream! But, the problem was that, everytime I thought of getting up, the sun would push me back to the stream :) It took almost an hour for Girish, Ina and Chennappa to turn up and Rutuja let out a cry of joy - 'wow, we were not lost'!!! Apparently, she was still not sure, if we were at the right place and was contemplating going back to Ettina Bhuja and then get to Bhairapura village!!! But, now we had another problem - the rest of the guys should have reached before Girish, Ina and Chennappa. Also, Chennappa had noted a footmark towards a wrong trail and was already worried that they took a wrong turn. We had an agonizing wait for them contemplating different options, while Chennappa went searching for them.

Chennappa came back soon saying that the guys have already reached the jeep track and we could go there as well. I somehow understood this as 'they may have reached' and took a lot more time. Finally, by about 2 'O clock, we crossed the river and moved towards the jeep track. We spotted more butterflies here - this time bright yellow and white colored - and this delayed us further. But, once we started moving at a good speed, the jeep track was not too far and we reached there by 2.30 to catch up with the missing guys and a jeep waiting for us.

There, I figured out that Chennappa had infact spotted the missing guys and even asked them to get a jeep. Apparently, they had lost their way, helped by a tortoise (???) to get back to the trail and then lost the way again to cross the river at the wrong point. Amit, even had pictures of the tortoise which helped them find the way!!!!! How was that for adventure! But, since Subbu had taken this trail in his last trek, they were able to make it to the jeep track. They were spotted by Chennappa while crossing the stream and was waiting for us, last half an hour!

Once, at Gopu Gokhale's house, everybody wanted to have a bath. Vaisakh and Chirag went to the nearby river and Amit and I followed them, while rest of the gang used the bathroom. It was about 4 'O clock when everybody was done and a tasty meal was waiting for us!

Fishes at Shishileshwara temple
Count if u can!

After lunch, we had so much time left. So, we visited the Shishileshwara temple (also referred to as Matsya Theertha), on the banks of Kapila river. The temple is around a km from Gopu Gokhale's house and we decided to walk along the village road, which turned out to be a good decision in the end. Gopu Gokhale's elder son Siddharth came along with us to show the way. The temple is special with a thriving population of large fishes found in this area of the river. Fishing is banned near the temple and it seems they are fed and worshipped here.

By 7, we were packing our bags and thanking Chennappa and family for their wonderful hospitality. We hired a jeep till Dharmasthala and reached there by 8. After dinner at one of the restaurants, we headed to the 'new' bus stand, from where the Bangalore bus starts. The bus started at 9.30 and I remembered telling Ina that the worst part of a trek for me is the return journey, especially with a monday morning looming large! It was indeed a night mare come true!

This was undoubtedly one of the best treks I did, because of many factors, including the beauty of the place and the weather. But, the most telling factor was the group we went with - all of them very friendly and accomodating, with no week link. Ina and Girish has a few more plans in the pipeline, including an Amedikallu trek and I am sure not going to miss them!
  1. Girish keeps a wonderful travel blog @
  2. Check out Subbu's blog @

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