Pushpagiri peak is usually referred as Kumaraparvatha from the Kukke Subramanya side and Subramanya - Kumaraparvatha trek had been one of the most strenuous our gang had done. The access to the Pushpagiri peak from Somwarpet / Somvarapet is considered easier and I'd been planning this for a while now. Going with other groups never worked out and since 23rd Nov 2008, spending a normal weekend on a trek looked difficult amidst a tight 'visit all friends and family' schedule. Our opportunity came when Preethu got an unexpected two days off and I 'planned to fall sick' on those days. We were all set to make this our first 'official' 'doubles' trek.
Thanks to Sai, Shrihari and Benny for sharing some first hand experiences and all the information required, we planned to do the usual - trek up the Pushpagiri peak from Somwarpet, camp at the peak and descend towards Kukke Subramanya via Girigadde / 'Bhattara Mane'. Tickets in a 11PM KSRTC bus from Bangalore (Bengaluru) to Somwarpet and a 10.30PM return from Subramanya to Bangalore were booked. On a tuesday evening, we left office as usual, did some shopping and packed our stuffs. After the Ombattu Gudda trek, I had decided to reduce on the luggage and skipped a few items I would normally take, including the extra lenses. We still had two heavy bags, mine with a tent, a sleeping mat, camera and ration for a couple of days and hers with clothes, makeup stuffs, more clothes and more makeup stuffs :)
At Majestic bus stand, it felt so much like a weekend trek that to Preethu's query of 'Why is it so crowded here today?', I was saying 'Its usually crowded here on fridays', only to realize later that it was a tuesday. Then, why is the bus stand so crowded? The stand was jam packed and all buses were stuck - things easing out only by the time we left at 11.30. Now I know why some of the buses (including the ones to Kozhikode) were shifted to the satellite bus stand.
Somwarpet is reachable from Bangalore via Mysore (Mysuru), Hunsur and Kushal Nagar. But, I guess the bus took the Nelamangala, Channaraya Patna route to take us to the small, sleepy, cozy town of Somwarpet by about 5.30 in the morning. Benny had told that Somwarpet has a small lodge good enough to refresh and get ready for the trek. But, one of my biggest tensions while planning this trek was getting the 'bathroom approval' from my better half :) To my utmost surprise, the lodge and its bathroom did get an 'OK' and I knew that the remaining part of the trek should be a cake walk now :)
Once the room was approved, I went out searching for a few things, like a bath towel, soap and food. The bus to 'Bidalli' was supposed to leave by about 7.15 and couple of decent looking hotels were already open (@ 6 in the morning - shame on u late rising Bangalore)! One of them promised to have something ready for breakfast and lunch parcel before the bus leaves.
By about 6.30, Preethu was ready after a nice refreshing bath (according to her). I chose to skip it as always ... for me the trek starts as soon as I am in the base camp. Booking rooms ... etc is all meant for the more civilized lot :) So, we checked out and headed towards the hotels, only to find that the hotel which promised yummy tasty food for breakfast and lunch parcel only had idli. So, we opted for a idli breakfast and I headed to the other hotel to see what I can get for lunch. They had 'puttu' .... yummy, but only green peas curry to go with it ... still yummy :)
|Me, her and the bus to Bidalli
The bus we had to board would head to 'Bidalli'. We had to get down @ 'Heggade Mane' and walk for another 2-3kms to reach the forest office. This bus started around 7.15 and the next one to Bidalli seemed to be at around 9. The road was narrow and curvy with good landscapes and villages all along. The journey took us a little less than an hour. We got down at the Heggade Mane junction and took the tarmac road heading towards the forest office. As soon as we started, there were a bevy of orange birds flying by and for a moment I missed my telephoto lens ... but my bag was already heavy and I couldnt have taken it anyway. Besides, I can always come back here on a birding trip ... cant I ;-)
First view of the Pushpagiri ranges
We met a bunch of school kids on the way, enthusiastic to pose for my camera, and then went past a bridge across a nice looking stream, good enough for the morning chores (had the lodge not been opted / approved). Then the road went through a village with paddy fields, chicken, cows and a few houses apart from our first glimpse of the Pushpagiri ranges. In between, there was another tarmac road going towards the right and we had a little confusion ... but with houses nearby and people to check with, we were soon back to the correct road. Then there were a few ascends and descends and we gained some altitude in the process. About an hour on this road took us to its end leading to a temple and two mud roads forking towards right and left. One person at the temple pointed to the right side when we asked for the 'forest office'.
As we were taking that mud road, a red swift car came along and was parked in the temple premises. Two people dressed in sports attire came out of it, along with a villager carrying their stuff. The villager turned out to be their guide and the guys (Diwakar and Amaresh, who do some business in Bangalore) were all set to conquer the Pushpagiri peak and return back to Somwarpet by evening. We were glad to get some company, especially in talking to the forest office guys and procuring permissions (a guy and a girl trying to go inside a forest can always look suspicious ... isnt it?). The forest office was just around the corner and we tagged along with our new friends.
I had some doubts about obtaining permissions, especially for camping at the peak. I was warned that the guys at the forest office may refuse camping permissions at the peak, ask us to go down till 'Bhattara Mane' and camp near it. But, we only had to enter our names and address in the register and pay the entry + camping fee (Rs. 75 + Rs. 40 per head). They already knew that we are heading towards Subramanya (which is what everybody seems to be doing here) and only told that we had the option of skipping the peak and taking a bypass towards Subramanya ... but why on earth would we do that :) The guys also told that the distance to the peak was about 5kms from the forest office. Finally, when we started at about 10AM, we were sure that there was enough time to reach the peak before its dark.
Just after the forest office, we crossed over a small stream by means of a hanging bridge and indeed entered the forest, which is part of the Pushpagiri wildlife sanctuary. The forest had a decent canopy and some of the trees had plates saying which species they are. Since, my knowledge of flora is close to nuke, I hardly remember any of the names :) Anyways, the path was easily visible and it also had clear red marks to indicate the way to Pushpagiri peak whenever there is a slight chance of missing out. The guys ahead were much faster than us and we chose to let them go and that left the two of us alone in the semi wilderness. For almost an hour, it was an almost plain path with small ascends and descends. Preethu preferred to walk slowly enjoying the surroundings and I had to walk up and down to warm up myself. In short, I covered the first couple of kms almost twice :) and we progressed at a very slow pace.
Peeping into the deep valley ...
Apart from the red arrow marks, there were also some waste bins placed at strategic locations. It was quite heartening to see that the forest department is making good use of the entry fees and maintaining the trail well. After about 2kms and more than an hour, the path started getting slightly steeper and we slowed down further. Most of the streams en route had dried, but a few were still around. At one of these streams we filled up our water bottle. We expected to see more streams on our way up and preferred to carry lesser weight, hence deciding to leave couple of bottles empty. This turned out to be a disaster in the end, since most of the streams ahead were dry and the one we used turned out to be the last one till the peak. The tree cover also came down and soon we could see small rocky patches with very little canopy. We were mostly walking along the ridge of a mountain, but, with some trees still around, it didnt look so. At about 12, we were at a junction with a view point to our left, which offered a breath taking view of the valley.
From here on, the big trees were almost gone; but, with so many shrubs, there was thick vegetation. There were a couple more rocky patches on the way and no signs of water. A nice stream would have been an ideal place to have lunch, but we never found one. At about 12.30, we reached another junction with a path going towards the right. The sign boards there told that this path goes to Kukke Subramanya / Girigadde bypassing the Pushpagiri peak. The board also had 3.6km written on it against the direction to Pushpagiri peak. I was under the impression that the distance was only about 5kms and we should have done more than 3kms already. Now, this was confusing. Does it mean that the peak is further away than we first thought? Or, is it that a 'km' known to the forest office guys is more than the 'km' known to me? I wasnt so sure at this point of time!
Anyways, we decided to use whatever water we had and have lunch. The packets of 'puttu' and green peas curry were opened up for a yummy lunch, supplemented by bananas, chocolates and dates. The one thing we didnt have was water and that was scary. I had hope (because of numerous trip logs stating that there is water, even near the peak) that we'll ultimately find some water source. But, in case we dont, it would be scary staying over @ the peak with only half a liter of water!
A session on rappelling ...
Soon after the lunch, we encountered our first long rocky stretch at abt a 60 degreee incline. We clambered up along the sides, holding on to the bushes and using them as purchase. This one was not so difficult but I knew that there were more to follow! At the top of this rocky patch, we met our earlier partners - Diwakar and co who was already back after spending a while at the top. During our chit chat they told that there is absolutely no water source ahead. After, figuring that we are low on water, they offered us one of their bottles. I accepted, they were anyway going down and would find water in less than an hour. We may not ... for the whole day or more. So, they filled one of our 1L bottles from the 2L bottle they had and we thanked profusely. Diwakar also told Preethu that the peak is more than 4.5kms from here, albeit in a light hearted way, but that alarmed Preethu! They even told her that there is a sign board saying so, just ahead of us. I was sure that we would somehow make it to the peak before dark and consoled her saying that. At the end of it all, it was good for us, since our speed improved dramatically :)
There were more rocky patches ahead to climb up, none too scary, but they sure did slow us down. Otherwise, the path was mostly through shola forests with a view of the valley at the right side, whenever we came out of it. In about half an hours time, I could see a peak jutting out of the forest on to our right side and immediately recognized it as Seshaparvatha. Since, I knew that Seshaparvatha was almost as tall as the Pushpagiri peak, we should be nearing the top. But, just to keep Preethu on her toes, I didnt tell this to her :) Couple more shola forests later, I saw a red marking saying 4.5kms and an arrow towards the Pushpagiri peak. This marking is very similar to the markings and could not have been fake. It was past 2PM already and Preethu looked worried and wondered if we can make it to the top before dark. For me, the marking looked like the distance back to the forest office in 'kms' as known to the guys at forest office. In other words, we had only 0.5kms to go to the peak.
Just after this point was another small rocky patch and from there, Seshaparvatha looked at the same height as us! I knew what that meant, but was still not ready to break the suspense :) On looking around for sign boards, I only saw one marking saying 'Water' and pointing to the left. This should be the water source near the peak that everybody was talking about. I asked Preethu to stay back, left my bags, picked up the empty bottles and went looking for water. But, in spite of looking around the entire region there was no sign of water. On my way back, I recognized a dry stream which could be a water source earlier in the year! Now, its confirmed that we'll have to survive on top of the peak with just one bottle of water.
On reaching back at the trail and Preethu looking very worried and scared, I finally told her that we are almost at the peak and survived a mauling from her :) A little ahead on the trail was yellow markings indicating a trail to Kukke Subramanya on the right and I immediately recognized our last stretch during the trek to Kumaraparvatha from Kukke Subramanya. On looking up, I could see the pile of rocks so unique to Kumaraparvatha aka Pushpagiri peak. A few more minutes of dragging ourselves and we were near the temple premises, with valleys on all four sides. We have made it by about 2.45 - embarrassing, considering the fact that another group came up and may have almost reached back by now, but - good enough since we still had enough time and sun shine to explore the place and setup our camp.
All exhaustion and pain was forgotten and we hurried to our left (the eastern side) which had a beautiful view of the same valley that was visible from the view point couple of hours back. It was almost a vertical drop of abt a 1000m and the valley beneath had a thick multi-colored canopy of trees. With the cool breeze blowing in, it was already cold by now. Thats a place were one can sit and forget about the rest of the world!
At the top of Pushpagiri!
A little later, we were back at the temple premises for a photo session. Near the temple premises, there was enough flat space for the tent. There were a few fireplaces also, already setup by previous campers and enough firewood scattered around. All we needed was some thin twigs and leaves to bring up the fire and we could collect enough of them in no time. Now that all is well, we headed back to the view point at the eastern side and sat there for a while munching on some snacks. Water was still an issue; so we opened up the only packet of milk we had as a temporary relief for the thirst.
The valley beneath!
There were a few marks even in the view point leading to a slightly better vantage point, ideally suited for the sun rise. It was great to sit there and watch the valley around us and feel the enormity of nature and insignificance of the human race. This went on till the sun came down a little allowing us to head towards the western side for the sunset view. We found a path among the bushes leading to another open space overlooking a steep mountain face right next to Kumaraparvatha peak. Wind was blowing so heavily that it produced a sound similar to the thunder of a waterfall and for a second I thought that there was water! Anyways, when the wind went quite for a few seconds, it took away my hopes as well.
The mountain face just opposite to the sunset point was the 'Siddha Parvatha', the third member of the Kumaraparvatha / Seshaparvatha / Siddhaparvatha trilogy. It actually looked slightly taller than Kumaraparvatha, about 1714m. Siddhaparvatha is deemed inaccessible by many, but it looks connected to Kumaraparvatha at some point. It may require some exploration inside the dense forest to make it to the peak though, worth trying out once.
Meanwhile, it was a long wait for the sun to go down. Initially, we found the sun a little too bright and went back looking for some shade, lied down there and fell asleep for a short while. Once we got up, it was time to go back to the sunset point. Though, the sun was nowhere near down, its brightness had come down considerably and we could lie down there waiting for it to go down. A little later, I started snoring and Preethu got up, all scared, telling me that she heard the growl of a big cat! The growl of a big cat indeed! - this should make us feel a lot more safer. Now, even if a big cat turns up, its just a question of who snores louder!
Moments later, the sun turned reddish and started falling along the face of Siddhaparvatha. With a few nice looking cloud formations, this was indeed a treat to the eye. We clicked pictures and I rued not bringing the telephoto lens once again! Never mind, its all captured in my mind ... but unfortunately, I cannot take any soft / hard copies and share it here!
With the temperature going down faster than the sun, it was time to get back to the temple premises, setup the tent and light up the campfire. While pitching the tent, something bad happened. I ended up pushing around the props to fix it in the ground and slightly damaged one of the joints. It didnt look very serious then and the tent came up nicely in spite of the small instability at one of the joints.
|Watching the sun going down!
Once the tent was done, we moved on to the camp fire. While packing I had forgotten three key things - a torch, a lighter and a swiss knife. I had lost all three of them when I carried it in a cabin luggage, earlier this year and was forced by the security person to throw them away, if I had to board the flight. I could have managed replacements, but simply forgot to do it ... and now we'll have to do without them.
On the plus side, I had a small amount of petrol and a matchbox concealed deep inside the bag in a way that the forest officers could not have found it, even if they frisked me and my bag. Anyways, to cut the long story short, with the help of petrol, the twigs quickly caught fire and so did one of the logs and maintained the fire easily inspite of the heavy wind. But, the heavy wind kept the temperatures very low and the fire was hardly of any help. We had a light dinner (cream bun and some other types of bun) and decided to get inside the tent to escape the cold and the wind. So, as soon as about 7PM lights were off and the tent was closed, for what turned out to be a very long night!
Wind was blowing so strongly and it kept hitting our tent violently. We were quickly reminded of our 2nd trek to Ombattu Gudde at the beginning of monsoon, where we had to face heavy rain and wind throughout the night. Atleast, this time the rain was missing, but the wind and the chill was still unbearable. We both had our jackets on, but I didnt have the socks on for a while. But, it didnt take much time before I put them on to prevent my feet from freezing.
The first disaster struck us soon ... and I felt something wet near my feet. The wind had toppled our only bottle of water and the cap came off. One corner of the tent was now inundated; we lost half of the water we had and were left with just a couple of sips! I picked up the 'lungi' I was carrying and used it to clean the tent. Now, that left me missing the only cloth I had to cover us from the cold.
As time went by, cold and the tempest outside became more and more unbearable. My feet was already very wet and it started freezing. Preethu had a shall and was sleeping better and even snored for a while (she would refuse this outrightly!) Good, I thought, if a big cat turns up and I am not 'growl'ing, we still are safe :) After a few more hours of 'trying to sleep', I figured that I need to do something to not get frozen and came up with two wonderful ideas! First one was simple and easy to understand - pick up the shoe from outside and wear it. It worked instantly and my feet did fine after that. Second one was more of a master strock ;-) - the 'lungi' I used for clearing the water in the tent was spread out on the side of the tent, facing the wind. I opened up the windows of the tent to make sure that some humidity goes out of the tent and the drying speeds up. In a few minutes, the cloth was as dry as a desert (and as cold as ice). Time to use it as cover and start snoring to keep away the big cats :)
But, one thing was sure, with the tempest that was going on outside, no big cat would venture out making us safe from any attacks. The sleep still evaded me in spite of the cloth cover - atleast till about 1'O clock. Preethu also got up in between and I kept her awake after that with conversations sounding like the following:
Me: "So u woke up?"
She: "What? I was awake all this while!"
Me: "No way ... I heard u snoring!"
She: "I didnt!"
Me: "Then ... did u see me getting out of the tent?"
She: "Oh ... yeah ... I did!"
Me: "But I never got out!"
She: "I saw u opening the tent!"
Me: "Thats coz I saw a tiger peeping into our tent ... how indecent ... how could it peep into someone's bedroom???"
She: "Shut Up!"
Me: "So, I chased it down and told it never to peep into somebody else's room!"
That, my friend's was a sample conversation. It will suffice to say that it kept me alive through the cold and deadly night. Sometime in the middle of it (around 1'O clock), we even got out of the tent. The moon was shining so brightly outside, lighting up the whole hill top. But, it was an impossibility to stay outside for long and we soon went back inside.
Guess, I got a little sleep after this, till about 5'O clock when I recognized severe pouding onto the tent and a visible deformation of its form. Something had broken and I ventured out once more to check out what happened. To my horror I figured that the damaged joint had been broken by the wind and two of the corners had already come up from the ground. There was hardly anything we could do at this point other than waiting for the wind to slow down a bit or for some light to come up. We spend the rest of the night holding on to the tent to make sure that it didnt fly off! Suddenly, my light weight, small footprint tent looked not upto the task. To its credit, the tent was wonderfully resilient and held on till the day break ... till about 6'O clock when we packed our bags, ventured out in the cold and dismantled the tent. The wind was still going strong, blowing the thick fog up and down the mountain and there was no chance that we could see the sunrise in this fog. We fought hard with the wind and finished packing by abt 6.30 and started heading down.
Just after the Somwarpet - Kukke Subramanya - Pushpagiri peak junction, we faced another tough challenge. We had to get down a steep and long rock patch, the tallest of its kind for the entire trek. This took us a while but we finally made it without any damages. Immediately after this rock patch, there is a stream which still had some water in it. But, the water was kind of stagnant and didnt look good enough to drink. There was also a dustbin at this point and a lot of litter thrown all around it. We stopped here till about 8, for the ablutions and also had some food.
Past the stream, we had to walk through a shola forest, gradually climbing up to the top of Seshaparvatha. I'd been through this whole stretch during the earlier trek to Kumaraparvatha and the entire path looked very familiar. Soon, we were on top of Seshaparvatha with the sun coming up behind us on top of Kumaraparvatha and Siddhaparvatha. With the wind literally trying to blow us out of the mountain top, each step had to be taken carefully. All this contributed to make the experience mind blowing.
Way to Subramanya ...
By about 9, we climbed down Seshaparvatha and went around the next hill. The whole landscape on the other side of Pushpagiri / Kumaraparvatha was visible now. There it was, the sprawling grasslands, shola forests and the trail we had to take. Far away, we could even see the Subramanya town and nearer, the Girigadde - a couple of buildings and a small house (which we thought was 'Bhattara Mane'). It was nice to see our immediate target a little away from us and I used this house as a motivator for Preethu, who was finding it hard to keep moving.
I knew that the 'Mantap' would be just ahead of us and kept searching for it. We planned to take a break once we reach 'Mantap'. But, we needed the break earlier than that and stopped a few times admiring the beauty and enormity of the nature around us. At about 11, I noticed the 'Mantap' on our left side. Since, it was a small diversion from the normal path and we were already getting late, we decided to go ahead. Just after 'Mantap', there is a flat land with some ground water, being collected in couple of miniature ponds. This was the first time we encountered drinkable water, since one of those streams near 'Heggade Mane'. We gulped as much as we could and filled up one of the bottles. There is a stream flowing along the path beyond this point and we could go and find water any time we badly wanted it.
The euphoria of seeing the 'Mantap' and finding the water introduced a little negligence. Just after the water source, we didnt find any proper trails to go down. After roaming around for a while, we followed a bluff trail, which took us a little more down the hill towards a shola forest. The shola forest came in between two hill segments and the trail was visible far away on the other segment.
Fortunately, there was also a small gap in the shola forest allowing us to cross over to the other hill segment, which we did. But, even after that, there was no sign of the trail and we started going down along the shola forest in the grassland. This went on, until Preethu noticed a trail in the plains ahead of us, towards our right. From where we were, we would need to go down a steep face of the hill along the grassland and then cross a shola forest to get to the trail. But, the trail seemed to originate from the same hill segment that we were in and so we started moving to our right. This took us time, since we had to negotiate thick grass to about knee height and a few boulders to circumvent. Luckily, after crossing the 2nd boulder, we were finally back into the trail. It looked like, we should have come back up from the water source and continued on the trail going to the right, which went across the shola and got down the hill segment to where we are right now.
Getting closer and closer!
Kumaraparvatha is behind us ...
By this time, we figured that the two buildings which were visible right from the top is nothing but camping grounds :) The only thing that pushed us ahead was the prospect of home cooked food at the 'Bhattara Mane' - house visible near those camping grounds. It was by no means a hard descend, but we did take a long time. Finally, by about 12.30 we were at the first camping ground, took some photos and utilized the chairs laid down there for a good break. The view of the Kumaraparvatha hill ranges behind us was beautiful, to say the least.
When we started again, the prospect of a nice sumptuous lunch @ Girigadde / 'Bhattara Mane' made the remaining part quite fast and we were at the doorsteps of that house before 1, only to get a small surprise. The house we saw was not 'Bhattara Mane', but the forest office and there was nobody around even to give us directions. So, we made a mistake of heading back and taking another trail, instead of continuing on the trail to Girigadde. We walked through some plantations, with cow dung all around (clear signs of a human settlement close by), but I just couldnt recall which way was 'Bhattara Mane'! The trail took us to the top of a small hill and it seemed to head back towards the Kumaraparvatha ranges. From the top we could see the trail to Girigadde starting from the forest office and decided to get back.
While heading back to the forest office, we even saw a fire (man made and controlled, ofcourse) near the arecanut plantations, but no human beings around. As soon as we took the trail from the forest office, going up towards Girigadde, there was a person descending down the hill, but he didnt see / hear us. A few steps ahead, smoke was visible from behind the hill ahead of us. A few more steps later we could see a house, which I instantly recognized as 'Bhattara Mane'! There were a few people inside the compound and saw us coming, one of them the 'Bhatta', asked me where I am coming from and how many people are there, before inviting us for lunch ... and Preethu exclaimed ... "wow ... human beings after a day'!
'Bhattara Mane' is the only house around this area and this family is a living example of self reliance. They have cows, poultry and cultivation to earn them a good living. The 'Bhatta' goes to Subramanya town everyday and hardly takes an hour to get there! He spoke decent Malayalam and we could have a conversation in spite of my broken Kannada.
The food was yummy and the butter milk was even better! After the food, another person there asked me when we started from the peak. When he heard that we started around 7, he looked concerned more than anything else. He said that the trail to Subramanya will take almost the same time as the peak to Girigadde. We needed to make sure that we got out of the forest before its dark. This scared Preethu a li'l bit and she was on her feet soon and ready to go.
We said goodbye to the 'Bhatta', walked past the 2nd camping site and headed towards Subramanya by about 2.30. With the scare of elephants at the back of her mind, Preethu kept moving at a decent pace. In about half an hour, we covered about a km and was out of the open grasslands, into the forests. Once into the forest and the trail becoming very uneven, the pace came down. The trail was winding, resembling a ghat road with numerous hair pin bends. There was also a 'walk through' option for most of the hairpin bends, but we kept taking the longer road to avoid steeper descends.
There were some elephant dung along the trail, albeit a li'l old, which reminded us to get out of the forest before its too dark. The canopy became thicker and thicker, making it darker and darker. As time went by, our pace slowed down and the breaks became more and more frequent. According to the person @ 'Bhattara Mane', the whole stretch from Girigadde till Subramanya was only abt 5kms and Preethu started saying that its surely more than 5. Ofcourse, a 'km' for the villagers is surely more than a 'km', for someone who frquently uses vehicles.
The never ending trail!
By about 4'O clock we should have covered a good distance and from what I remembered during the last trek, it should have been sniffing distance from Subramanya. We slowed down a little, assuming that the tarmac road is just ahead. I could even hear the sound of a bus and some other motors (like a generator), apart from other small signs of civilization. At every turn I felt like the tarmac road is just around the corner, but it never was. Half an hour later also we were at the same state and Preethu started complaining of pain and inability to walk. She even threatened not to come for any more treks! But, she didnt want to stop in spite of all this, thanks to the warnings heard @ 'Bhattara Mane' :)
Finally, @ abt 5.15, we saw a fence, heard people talking and just around the corner was a house and a few people. Preethu wanted to see if we could get some vehicle instead of dragging ourselves on the tarmac road for some more distance. The guys near the house told us that Subramanya is still about 2kms, called an auto for us and told that it will reach here pretty soon. while we were looking for a place to sit near the tarmac road, there was a sign board indicating the following distances:
Kumaraparvatha : 13kms
First water source: 3kms
One more landmark that I couldnot figure out: 10kms
And 'Bhatta' told us that Subramanya to Girigadde is 5kms! I just got a feeling that he was talking about miles (6kms in the sign board + 2 more kms to Subramanya ~= 5 miles from Girigadde till Subramanya)! The auto came pretty soon and it sped through the road taking us to Kukke Subramanya in no time. The whole road is now tarmac, compared to the jeep track I'd seen last time around. @ Kukke Subramanya, we asked the driver for any lodges and he took us to couple of hotels, all saying 'no rooms', before finally getting accomodation @ one place. The auto driver asked for Rs. 40 and we gave it without any fuss, booked our rooms and headed to our room @ 2nd floor. This time around Preethu didnt even have the energy to do the 'bathroom inspection' and I was spared once again :)
Couple of hours later, we were @ the Kukke Subramanya temple, for the first time inspite of this being my fourth visit to the town. Here, the god is worshipped in the snake's form, making it an interesting temple to visit. Also, on that day, there was a special pooja which involved a procession carrying the idol around the inner sanctum.
After food, we headed back to the hotel, packed our stuff and got to the KSRTC bus stand were our Bangalore bound bus was waiting. It was almost empty, except for a few people including a person next to us making a gurgling sound every other minute. The way he spoke when the conductor approached him for the tickets, it was quite obvious that the guy was sloshed. Preethu demanded that we be given another seat away from the drunkard and the conductor obliged moving us to a seat further ahead and more comfortable.
So, there we were, heading back home after our first 'official' 'doubles' trek. In spite of a few quarrels and threats from Preethu that she is not coming for any more treks, this was a memorable one. I just hope that the threat remains a threat and will be repeated for all the treks to come :) - after all she would not let me go alone and I will not make it easy for her! If anybody can follow Tamil, the feeling is best summarized in a Tamil song (I flicked this from a blog) which says: "Un polae pennodu ulakai rasikka vendum!", roughly translated it means: "I want to admire the world with a girl like you..."!