Sandeep 's World >> Trekkalogs >> Kurinjal Kurinjal Trek - Photo Album

Bhagavathi Nature Camp - Kurinjal trek in July 2015

  • Location: Chikmagalur district, Karnataka
  • Highest altitude: 1160m at Kurinjal peak
  • Start & End point: Bhagavathi nature camp, off Kalasa main road (SH66), Chikmagalur district
  • How to get there: Overnight KSRTC buses are available to Kudremukh or Kalasa. Bhagavathi nature camp is about 11kms from Kudremukh town, where auto / jeep is available for hire.
  • Distance to base: Kudremukh is about 325kms from Bangalore.
  • Trek distance: 15.1 kms
  • Trek difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Places to see around: Kudremukh, Hanuman Gundi falls, Kadambi falls, Gangamoola ... etc etc
  • Permission & Guide: Permission is a must and can be taken from Kudremukh forest office. Contact and guide details are available at the FAQ section in 'Contact Me' page.

Couple of months after the Roopkund trek, I was still dreaming about the mountains. While, another Himalaya trek soon may have been difficult, a weekend at the western ghats was always an option. Thus, a plan from Vishwanath[1] for a Kurinjal / Kurinjikallu trek was so welcome. Western ghats is always beautiful, but, in the middle of the monsoon, it just flourishes in to an ocean of green. I was at Kudremukh hill ranges with Vishwa for Mullodi - Hiremaleguppi - Navooru trek in December 2013 and the prospect of Kudremukh hill ranges during monsoon was really exciting! Kurinjal being in the Kudremukh hill ranges was sure going to be as verdant as any one can imagine. Due to slippery trails and the presence of leeches, monsoon season tend to get a little difficult for treks though, but Kurinjal being a moderate trek, even that may not be an issue.
In short, I registered, along with Abhishek, Vinayakam and Madhu, whom I had met during the Roopkund trek. Waiting at the Jayadeva junction for the tempo travel, I met with Arjun Harith[2], his sister Ambika and a few of his friends, who were also joining for the trek. It was nice to meet Arjun in person, as I had seen a couple of his blogs before. Once, everybody was picked up, we were headed towards Tumkur road and the lights went off. By morning we were in Kudremukh town - at the forest office, where Vishwa had to complete some formalities, before heading towards the Bhagvathi nature camp, which would be our camp site for the trek.
View from Bhagavathi nature camp
Green ... all around ...
Tented cottage @ Bhagavathi nature camp
Even the cottages were color co-ordinated!
Bhagavathi nature camp is off the SH66 (aka Kalasa main road, as it connects Kalasa to Solapur - Mangalore national highway via Kudremukh), on the banks of Bhadra and surrounded by thick rainforests and beautiful hill ranges. Vishwa had opted for tented cottages fitted with a bathroom and two beds, with myself and Vishwa taking up a tented cottage. The highlight though was the greenery all around us - even the tree trunks had tiny leaves sprouting out of them. The water front next to Bhadra river at the back side of the nature camp was also a good location, where we spent some time till the breakfast was ready.
Sandeep near the Bhadra bridge
Crossing the Bhadra bridge - yours truly
Soon after breakfast, we packed up for for Kurinjal. It was about 11 by the time we started walking towards the main road, where we headed towards north-west - further from Kudremukh town. A few minutes later, we turned in to a village trail to our left, with a few trees on either sides. A short walk on this trail took us to a bridge - across river Bhadra, which is a wild stream here, with thick vegetation on both sides.
Misty canopy enroute Kurinjal
Misty canopy ...
Ascend gradually started after the bridge, with the trail passing through open terrain for some more time. The ground looked very colorful here as the rain seemed to have washed in many a colorful stones in to the trail. By 12, we entered a thicker forest region and it started getting misty, coupled with some light drizzle. The ground was now covered with wet dry leaves and the visibility quite low. It was eerie, with tall trees around us and canopy barely visible in the mist.
Trail to Kurinjal
Wet and green ...
The rain coats and umbrellas were out as the drizzle steadily increased. The whole trail was drenched in rain, with fallen trees, dry leaves and the green around us, creating myriad reflections of the light seeping through the canopy. We had to take shelter under tree cover when the rain became too strong, but it eventually slowed down. By 1, we came out of the forest cover in to the grass lands.
With a bit of a drizzle, still on, we started gaining altitude. A few turns later, we could see the mist billowing out from the valley behind us. One more turn later, the Kurinjal peak was in our line of sight. It was a conical shaped rocky peak, shrouded in mist. All the greenery that surrounded us seem to go till the base of the peak, where we could spot a house. Above the house, it was mostly rock, with just small patches of green. Vishwa told that the trail to the peak is from the back side, which goes around it.
Gang and the Kurinjal peak
Lets take a group pic - in front of Kurinjal
We spent a while there admiring the peak and the views of the valley. The drizzle and the mist had magically cleared by then and we had very good views all around. The ascend was steep from here - there was an especially tricky section, where the trail was covered with bushes on both sides and we had to literally crawl through this stretch. By 2, we were at the base of the peak, at the house we saw from a distance. It was in a dilapidated condition with algae and moss growing on the wall - even that looked bright green! There was some deliberation whether to complete the lunch now or on our way back, but, every body was eager to make it to the peak first. So, we left the lunch packets at the abandoned house and proceeded towards the peak.
Umesh at the final stretch to Kurinjal
Come on guys ... just a bit more - Umesh
The trail was even more steep from here and mostly went through a slippery rocky patch with only some bushes to hold on to. The camera was tucked in safely in to the bag to avoid any mishaps as we negotiated this stretch. There were a few rock balsams in full bloom giving these slopes a touch of color and I was quite tempted to take some pictures. But then, they were growing out of a vertical rock face and it looked tough to get a clear short. It was indeed amazing to see green leaves sprouting out of these rocks and blooming in to such beauties - 'life finds a way' as Dr Ian Malcolm[3] famously said!
Grass lands from Kurinjal peak
Green green ... all around ...
After what felt like an eternity of climbing - which was in reality only about 15 mins - we were eventually at the top. It was mostly rocky with thick vegetation and tall grass growing all over it, creating a nice contrast between the black rocks and the light green vegetation. We were also greeted with magnificient views which made it all worth it! It was verdant all around - needless to say - with a few puffs of mist rising from the valley. We could see the green hills of the Kudremukh range, but the peak itself was shrouded in mist and not quite visible.
Gang at the Kurinjal peak
One more group pic - at Kurinjal peak
Southern edge of Kurinjal peak
Southern edge of the peak ... and the valley
We moved to the center of the peak, which had a nice set of boulders, comfortable for sitting. It was time for a few group pictures and catching up the views. The Lakya dam - built to collect the silt from mining - was also visible from here. The southern edge of the peak looked very beautiful from here as well, with pointed boulders jutting out of the greens all the way till the cone shaped rock face - which we were seeing on our way up.
Rock Balsam near Kurinjal peak
Beauty out of nowhere - Rock Balsam
We were quite hungry by now and it was time to head back. The descend felt a bit easier than the ascend :) and I did manage to take a pic of the blooming beauties which we had seen on our way up. It was bit risky though - with one hand holding on to some shrub, stretching as far as I could and the other hand supporting the heavy camera gear ... was worth the effort, though!
Algae patterns on red stone
Green and red patterns ...
Back at the abandoned house, it was time for the lunch - chappathi and tomato curry similar to what Vishwa had packed for the Mullodi - Hiremaleguppi - Navooru trek. It was yummy and I had to thank Vishwa for sticking with this as I had loved it last time as well. It was also time for some leech culling as we found a few sticking inside the socks. I was quite lucky not to have attracted many, but not everybody was as lucky. By 3, we were on our way back in to the grass lands. We could observe a lot more on our way back as there was no rain now. The algae on the ground at some places formed interesting patterns on the red soil, which was worth a few shots.
Mushrooms on tree trunks
Dead tree trunk and mushrooms ...
Back at the forest cover, the small mushrooms growing out of tree trunks made wonderful subjects. Even with all the photography, the descend was a lot quicker and we were out of the forest cover by about 4.30. It took us about half an hour more to reach the Bhadra river bridge and soon after that we were back at the main road. The shoes were all wet and they were off as soon as we stopped for a break. A few more leeches were found inside them and Abhishek had a particularly bloody feet.
We sat there on the tarmac for about half an hour, waiting for everybody to arrive. It was a pretty difficult task getting up and putting on the shoes once more, but we had to do it again! Eventually, by the time we reached back the nature camp, it was past 6. I roamed around some time in the camp with the camera, before heading back to the cottage. We had to wait a while for the dinner and soon after that the lights were off.
We had a slow start next day and by the time we checked out, it was about 10.30. The original plan was to trek to Gangadikal on day 2, but there was a permission problem and Vishwa had got the permission to go to Gangamoola, instead. Gangamoola hills is considered as the origin for Tunga, Bhadra and Netravathi - all three flows in different directions from these hills. While Netravathi flows towards West and heads to Arabian sea near Mangalore, the Tunga river heads north and the Bhadra river flows to the east for some distance. Tunga and Bhadra eventually merge to become Tungabhadra near Shimoga and flows further towards Bay of Bengal.
Stream near Gangamoola
Wet and wild - near Gangamoola
Since, the Gangamoola trail is further from the camp, we were headed there in the tempo traveller. We got a view of the Kadambi falls from the road side soon after we started - this falls is on Bhadra river and visible from a bridge across the river which flows down from the falls. But, there was no parking space on the bridge and we could not stop longer. The trail to Gangamoola starts about 3 kms from this bridge - 6 kms further north of Kurinjal trail. The initial part of the trail was on a flat terrain, but soon, we entered in to thick forest cover. After crossing a slushy stream, we took a flight of rocky steps to pass through a cave like formation of hills. With a bit of drizzle and mist to go with the greenery of the forest, it was beautiful - wet and wild, literally!
Abhishek and Vishwa near Gangamoola
Bird's eye view - Vishwa and Abhishek with the forest guard
With the monsoon at its peak and many fallen trees all around us, the trail was not very clear. We found ourselves crawling through a very narrow slippery trail for some time, before reaching near a stream with no signs of any trail. Even though we had a forest guard with us, he also did not seem to be sure how to go. While, the rest of the gang was looking around for the trail and trying out following the stream uphill, Vinayakam and me were perched on top of a nearby small hill, which gave an excellent view of the forest around us. Eventually, everybody came back, before we gave up on the trail and decided to head back.
Hanuman Gundi falls
Hanuman Gundi falls at full flow!
By 1.15 we were back at the tempo traveller munching on to some bread slices. Next destination was Hanuman Gundi falls - on Tunga river, located about 3 kms further north from the Gangamoola trail and about 23 kms from Kudremukh town. Also known as Suthanabbe Falls or Soothanabbi Falls, it is a famous tourist attraction, as evedent from the weekend crowd which had gathred around. After paying a nominal fee for the entry tickets, a flight of steps lead us from the entrance to the base of the falls - which was quite voluminous. We spent a while there, listening to the thud of water falling from about 20m height, before settling in to a wild stream.
At about 2.30, we took the steps back to the top. Packed lunch was done at the tempo traveller and then we were on our way towards Kudremukh / Kalasa. We reached Horanadu by evening - a small detour to visit the Annapoorneshwari temple. Post dinner, we were on our way back to Bangalore.
Kurinjal trek was everything I wanted from a monsoon trek. A lot of greenery, lovely streams, misty mornings, but clear views at the peak and effortless trekking in a light drizzle. Stay at the beautiful Bhagavathi nature camp was beautiful and is worth a trip on its own. The Gangamoola trek, even though not completed was an interesting experience with the wet and wild forest at its full vigour. Finally, the visits to Hanuman Gundi falls and Horanadu temple were added bonuses. Thanks again to Vishwa for yet another memorable experience.
  1. Vishwanath runs an adventure organization called Summiters.
  2. See Arjun Harith's blog here.
  3. Jeff Goldblum's character in the 'Jurassic Park'(1993).

© 2019 Sandeep Unnimadhavan