The Trek to Remember

This is gonna be a long read folks, watch out.

Just as we planned, we gathered at Shantala Saree Store to embark on a journey long awaited. There were 5 girls and 16 boys. We greeted each other and seated ourselves in the mini bus. And that’s how we started the journey together to the destination that was far away, basking in the foggy night 300km to the West. Charmadi Ghat sat like a centre of a maze puzzle.

Day 1

What started as a relaxed journey ended with all our tummies stirred up. But, none of us threw up. It was still dark with the fog setting on every last thing on the earth. Post-monsoon weather was refreshing and pleasant. Those of us who wanted out,  alighted the bus quickly and started to walk around. Our stay was planned at this temple “Panchalingeshwara Devasthana”, which was around 5km away from the Ghat.
Everyone seemed quickly recovered from the nauseating journey and thrilled at the 4 am beauty of the morning. You see, not every day do we get up at 4 am to the Singing birds, screeching crickets and croaking frogs.  The cold breeze carried visible jets of the fog making it look like it was raining fog. We didn’t realise how quick the time passed chatting with the co-trekkies  and taking pictures. And soon day broke and we were all hungry like wolves. There was a small hotel close by where we had ‘Neer dose’ and ‘Idlivada’. We also packed our lunches and drove off to the Mountain foot.
We left most of the baggage in the bus except for a few essentials such as water bottles, lunch box, rain coat and snacks. It turned out that the raincoat was “non-essential”. You’d realise the importance of the rule, ‘Keep it light’ when you fight the gravity. The rule is the same, be it aircraft's and hiking humans.

We gathered at the mountain foot and our organiser Lohith briefed us on a few do’s and donts’ for the trek. Soon we were joined by our guide Ibrahim. There’s something I have to mention about this person. The man had lost his hand during a dynamite fishing venture. We heard he had to walk 13 km to the hospital before he could be fixed up as much as possible. No wonder he was at a whole different level of strength when compared to any of us during the entire trek. He carried a machete in his good hand and cut through the stubborn creepers and tall grass to make way for us, since there was no trail.

Starting Point
PC - Lohith

What started aseasy hike gradually turned into a testing trek. About 2 km up, we were sweating all over. I could hear my heart beat despite all the jungle noise around. Beginners including myself took our time to buckle up and get going. Lohit, Chandra and Ahmed sweeping the group waited on us patiently and kept pushing us.Shilpa and Sapna shared the glucose and chocolates to boost our energies. Personally, this was the most crucial part of my whole trekking experience. The little baggage I carried was weighing me down along with high humidity.We had to be on a constant self-talk and ‘try our best’ to get over our lazy asses. It was one of the most learning experiences. During this time inside the forest stretch we spotted 2 pit vipers. I almost stamped on of them.

Eventually we picked up the speed and kept the pace. As we climbed on,out of the forest into the grasslands, sun shone upon our light heads. Sweat glands were pouring out. Raghu was wringing off the sweat from his head band for the fifth time by now. We atechocolates emptied bottles and sat down for few minutes. Now we could see the peak.  With no humidity anymore, we felt better. We climbed on the heated rocks and tried to look as hot as we could manage for the pictures. We had to hurry before sun beat us. So, we kept on foot through the tall grass. When we finally touched the peak at around 12 pm, we picked our spots and dropped all the things and ourselves on the ground.

Later we ate our lunches silently and yearned formore water. Nonetheless, EriKalluGudda was breath-taking and breath-giving at the same time. We could see the boulders of BalekalluGudda and KodekalluGudda from here.  The wind under the EriKallu was soothing our sunburnt body and drying our sweaty clothes. We didn’t leave before 1.30 pm.

All recharged and ready we started the descent. Fog had cleared up and the mountain ranges emerged from the foggy background. The view and the wind were both amazing. Most of us kept mum enjoying this while focusing on the foot hold on the treacherous grass land. The others stopped at places to take photographs and still managed to keep up with us. 

Descent was as demanding as the ascent, only with less sun. Dusk was setting in and the forest was getting ready for the night. It was much relaxing to walk the trail with the little stories with buddies. We found a stream on the way down, filled our bottles and continued. When we made it through the thorny branches, slippery grass and lose ground, it was about 5 p.m. We were just so happy to be seeing the road again.

The bus arrived in 5 minutes and we got on our little ride to our base camp. As soon as we reached we took our clothes and walked to the river Nethravathi  for bath which was a just 10 mins walk from the base camp. All the exhaustion of the day disappeared in the moment our bodies hit the water. The serenity of the river spread around to the whole area was almost tangible.

It’s surprising how many stars you can spot when you are away from the city lights. How I missed this view in our Bengaluru. So on this starry night we cooked ‘veg pulao’ in the temple kitchen. It came out surprisingly well. Turns out, our Chandra is a great Chef too. Everyone enjoyed the food. Even the temple priests had the food and some got it packed to home. Later by 10:30, we had all our tents and other sleeping arrangements set up and then we went straight to sleep. 

Day 2

The mysterious singing bird and the cold morning wind broke the day for us. Some of us woke up early and walked to the river and some slept for some more time. By the time Vani and I were back from the river, all were up and active. We did our part in the kitchen and went on to play cricket.  It was ‘AvalakkiUppittu ’ for breakfast and ‘Chitranna (lemon rice)’ for lunch. We sipped on our tea, ate the delicious breakfast and packed the lunch and took to the roads again.

Out of the bus into the forest trail, the destination was KodeKallugudda today. It was scorching midday already. We all were told that this was going to be the easier one. It was about 12:30am when we reached the peak. Kodekallu was so called because of the umbrella (kode)-like rock at the peak. It could easily shelter around 30 people. This was the most scenic and soothing place of the day. We spent around 45 minutes here and walked our way to BalekalluGudda.

By the end of reaching the peak we were exhausted due to sun and tricky grass land. I was disheartened to hear there were no rocks or any shade at the peak. Later I realized that every peak has something to offer when I saw the beautiful range of mountains layered and shaded differently due to fog.  The wind at the peak was compensating for the shade. We sat at the edge under Sun’s watch with cold mountain wind cooling our bodies. The lunch tasted way too better than it did in the morning. Curd was the delicacy most in demand and shared fairly among us good folks.

We sat there after the lunch gazing at the humongous result of unfathomable series of events that this part of the earth endured. That’s the thing about mountains. They’ve been here longer than us all, yet so alive and changing. One can only wonder.

Used to the hardships of the mountains by now, we descended with much more ease than otherwise. We even sang our way here and there. Later the guide took us to a stream which was thin yet flowing. Ahhh! The feeling you get when you immerse your tired and heated feet in the water is inexplicable. The cold water took away all the pain in the foot immediately.

Further on our way down, we saw a trail well-made with the branches from the nearly trees tore down. We instantly knew who did it. We could spot the elephant dung all over the place. Since it was getting late we hurried our way down and soon we were sitting in the bus enjoying music with a smile on our face. We thanked and dropped the guide at his home, reached our base camp and headed towards the river for one last bath here.

The river blessed us with all her purity and took away our exhaustion at once. She looked beautiful with sun setting in the west and the crescent moon lighting up the evening clear sky. All of us enjoyed in the river as long as we could and headed back to the camp to pack-up. We left the temple around 7:15pm andreached Dharmasthala which is only 20 km away by 8. There we had dinner and hit the road back to Namma Bengaluru. 

This time around, the faces we saw on 4th night at the first huddle were more than just faces. We knew each other in a way different than knowing a colleague. We supported each other in our own way. I had a lot to takeaway, definitely more than I can jot down here. We all had our moments here, which are treasured for life. That’s our Western Ghats for you.

Narrated by: Shashikala
Event date: 5th & 6th Nov, 2016
Place: Charmadi Ghats, Karnataka
No. of hikers: 21 (15 M, 05 F)
Event Organizer: Lohith V N
Photos of the event: Coming soon...
Photo Courtesy:


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