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A long awaited trek to Kumaraparvatha in June 2005

Many has told me that a trek to Kumaraparvatha (Kumara parvatha, Kumaraparvath, Kumaraparvata) @ 1714m is arguably the most strenuous in Karnataka making this beautiful mountain in the Western ghats so enticing to me. Finally, on a friday evening - the first in June when the monsoon had just begun - we (a gang of 13) booked our tickets with KSRTC and started towards Subramanya.

Subramanya is situated at the foothills of western ghats in Dakshin Kannad district, famous for the Kukke Subramanya temple. The popular trail to the top of Kumaraparvatha starts from here. We reached Subramanya about 5'O clock in the morning and with some difficulty managed to get a room in one of the hotels there. By about 8 we were ready, had breakfast, packed some idly/vada for lunch/dinner, packed lots of water (about 1.5 litre each) and took a track going right from the front of Kukke Subramanya temple. The track took us along couple of shops and residential areas till we saw the first milestone indicating Kumaraparvatha to the left. Immediately there was another board, leading upwards through a small rocky path. The climb had just begun!!!

The gang
Ready to go ...

Couple of hours climb along this small foot path, at times steep and covered with trees and shade on both sides, finally we started seeing the sunlight. We encountered some leeches on the way, since the monsoon had already begun. The weather was pleasant and kept us going. For most of the distance, especially when you doubt that you might have lost the way, there are white arrow marks showing us the direction to go. I was somewhere in the middle of the troop. By this time, a small group was left behind. Tiju and Mahesh stayed with them when I moved ahead. Also, another gang, led by Boby kept in the front.

Break in forest
Taking a break ...

Next stretch was a bit more strenuous. The shade was less along this path and sun was getting stronger and stronger. I was very tired climbing this stretch. Frankly, it was not so difficult a stretch, but I guess the hunger and heat was getting to me. Thanks to a dose of milk and some biscuits on the way, we kept moving. Finally, about 1.00 pm or so, we reached an open area which is better known as Girigadde. Here is the famous 'Bhattara Mane' (Bhatt's house) where people stop over generally. They told it will take about two hours or so to prepare lunch. It would have been a good idea to send somebody ahead and tell them about the food requirement at the earliest. This should have saved a lot of time.

Kumaraparvatha peak
Long way to go ...

The food comprised of rice, sambar, butter milk and pickle. It would be just ok in normal circumstances, but extremely good since we were all very hungry and tired. A sumptuous meal, a short nap for some and we were ready to go again by about 3.00. Just past Girigadde is the forest office. One has to pay an entry fee of Rs. 20 there and an additional Rs. 15 for cameras. They also insisted not to take liquor or plastic along with us, which we werent anyway planning to.

Lunch break
At Bhattara Mane ... waiting for food

Soon, we were walking on a green mountain top, with some occasional steep climbs. After a good meal and less sun, this was a much better climb and we all moved ahead, slowly but steadily.

Climbing up
Past the green valley ...

Another break
Stopping by a tree ...

Around 5'O clock in the evening, we reached our next destination, the 'Mantap'. It was a small shelter made of rocks in the middle of nowhere. Our initial plan was to go all the way and come back to the 'Mantap' to spend the night. But, by the estimate of most people the peak was about 1-2 hours from the 'Mantap'. Going there and coming back may not be possible, considering that we were a large group. Also, some people were really tired and were far behind. So we decided to stay in the 'Mantap' for the night and try to scale the peak next day early morning.

@ Mantap
Cooling our heels at the 'Mantap'

By 6'O clock everybody was there. We split into random groups and explored different parts of the hill. We collected some firewood and spread our bed sheets. The 'Mantap' was a pretty small shelter and with the mist and the risk of a possible downpour, it was a bit uneasy. Soon, it became dark and the mist became pretty thick accompanied by a small drizzle. We took out our food reserves - idly/vada and kharabath (upma) - and finished it off during this time. By about 8-8.30 mist cleared and we started our effort to put up a camp fire. I had carried some petrol with me and with some effort from Boby, Rajesh and others, the camp fire came out all right, especially considering the mist and the drizzle.

Playing with fire!!!

In spite of the lack of space in the 'Mantap' most of us cramped in to the available space, with only the heads inside and legs outside. End of the day it was fine, though!!! According to the people who chose to sleep outside, sleeping outside in the mist and drizzle was even more fun!!!

When everybody was ready to sleep, Deepa started her incessant chat session with Rajesh!!! They were discussing about issues ranging from marriage to leather tanning and made sure that nobody got a good sleep. Allegedly, I was snoring all night ... but I am damn sure that I didn't ;) Also, Tiju had a nice story about Rajeev snoring right into his ears, but at a quite comfortable pace.

Next day most of us were up and proceeded towards the peak. Three of the girls decided to stay back 'and sleep'. Only Shyama came with us. Sajid was not feeling well, so he went back and gave company to the girls, later. I was really jealous of those who stayed back, especially Deepa, since she accounted for most of us not sleeping at all in the night. But, little did I know what they were going to miss, for the most exciting part of the trek was just ahead of us.

We started about 6 and soon scaled the first false peak, only to discover a bigger peak behind it. Almost on top of the second we could see the third one. By this time, the mist became very heavy and people were taking different routes. I could see Pappan in front of me and Mahesh just behind me after some time. One more false peak and we finally reached a peak which was taller than all the nearby peaks. Rajesh and Boby were lying there confused. I too thought this was it but on reaching the top, I could see another peak at some distance. But there were no direct routes visible. There was a path leading to the woods, which looked like leading to the main peak. The whole exercise took us about 40 mins and according to others, Kumaraparvatha top is about 1.30 hours from the 'Mantap'. So, the real peak was the one we could see at a distance, but the route was really unsure. Finally, Pappan and me decided to go ahead in to the woods and check it out. This was one of the best decisions we had made in a long time!!!

Later I realized that the false peak is called the Sheshaparvatha and saw similar experiences in many travelogues. What we also realized was that, had we tried covering the whole distance the previous day, it would have been suicidal.

We descended for almost 20 minutes before the ground became level. All this time, we could hear the rest of the gang whistling or shouting from behind and we too kept making sounds so that they could follow us. We could see a stream flowing just next to us and had to cross the stream at one point and then start climbing up. At this point there were two peaks visible in the distance, but the one on the left looked taller. Also, the white arrow markings really helped this time around. We thought of waiting for others, but changed our minds, when a fearsome leech gang attacked us. There were lots of them, all over our shoes and jeans. We ran ... ran for our lives.

There was couple of slippery rocks on the way. I slipped once and was about to fall. But it was all done quickly and we were soon approaching the peak. A group of guys had gone ahead of us the previous day and were telling that they will be staying atop the peak. Me and Pappan soon heard some guys talking and then spotted their tent. Voila ... we have reached the top of Kumaraparvatha!!!

@ the top
Wooo hoooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There was a small temple kind of structure there. We took some snaps there, had a chat with the other guys. They confirmed that this is indeed the top of Kumaraparvatha and showed us the route towards Somavarpet. We waited for couple more minutes for the rest of the guys, but there was no news from them. Finally, we decided to go down and show them the way.

After a 10 minutes descent, we spotted all of them near the slippery rocks. They were confused due to the mist and the second peak. Pappan and others dragged me along with them back to the top of KP, once again!!!

Near the cave
Back on the top!!!

Couple more snaps and some 15 minutes later, we were all descending down, with once again Boby in the front. Past the woods, past the false peaks and the mist, we covered the whole distance in quick time. When the 'Mantap' was at sight, Boby chose a steeper and straighter route as opposed to what is usually used. And I followed him, and almost fell nose down more than once!

By this time, Deepa, Uma & Dhanya had done a good job with the bread, butter and jam and converted them into nice looking sandwiches. As and when people reached they all devoured on them. The people who stayed back started descending as soon as we reached. In half an hour or so everybody joined us and we too started descending after a short break.

Return was swift and we made it to Bhattare Mane in less than an hour. We had asked them to prepare food for us by 10. And, by the time everybody reached, it was close to 11. Nevertheless, one more sumptuous lunch and we were up on our feet soon.

Boby, Pavan and myself decided to go down fast, to ensure that we get tickets for return. We met another gang in between, who were also planning to book tickets back to Bengaluru (Bangalore) from Subramanya. This was a catalyst for us and the descent became faster. In about an hour and a half we were in the streets of Subramanya, limping around looking for a travel agency, to book the tickets. In the end, we got them comfortably though.

Soon, we got back to the hotel room. I took a nice refreshing bath and sat in the balcony chatting. Well ... the scary part was yet to come, with Deepa getting really tired and finding it tough to get down. But, Rajesh, stayed with her and made sure that she was back to the base, before its dark. Here is an excerpt from Deepa's mail, which came to us the next day :
"At last reached office ... Since I never thought I will reach back to human settlement, I believe this is a miracle ... And I do believe in Miracles! Thanx Rajesh ... for being facilitating the miracle ..."

Well ... it cant be that bad ... isn't it?

Anyways, anybody who felt atleast a bit sympathetic to Deepa during that evening, changed their minds later in the bus, during our return journey, after she continued with the chat she had with Rajesh, the previous night. But, this time, I was not much affected. Firstly, I chose to sit a bit far from them. Secondly, I was busy planning and dreaming about another trek from Somwarpet to Kumaraparvatha!!!

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