Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kumara Parvatha Trek. Day I.

Sesha Parvatha
Ego is a very nasty thing. One cannot imagine the things it can make us do and the heights it will make us scale – literally. Barely some 7kms into the trek and I was in no mood (or should I say no shape) to continue with Mission KP. But looking at 8 year old Anoushka, a couple of 10 year olds and a few middle-aged women had me hanging my head in shame and spurred me ahead. And boy did that help… almost. We huffed, we puffed. We screamed out in pain and we drenched in our sweat. We were sacrificed to a thousand leaches and exposed to the rugged nature. But in the end it was the proverbial, so near yet so far.

But rewind a little and I find that the picture was not all that grim. At least that’s what I imagined. For someone who travels a lot, walks a lot and hits the gym oh-so-frequently, I never had a doubt that Mission KP would be any trouble at all. But in the end I’ve narrowed down the “struggle” to not having hit the gym for the last 2 months following a bout of viral fever and having lost 3 kilos in the process. That defense should hold fort in any court of law. Shouldn’t it?

Bhattara Mane

Lessons learnt from this failed attempt:

- Travel as light as possible. And when you are satisfied, empty a few more contents.

- DSLRs are as much a liability as they are an asset in such treks.

- Stay in a good shape consistently.

- Leach socks are a must.

 Though I was a frequent traveler, this was my first real Trek. It has always been a dream to go on an all-encompassing walk in nature’s lap. It took me all of half a second to say yes to our organizer and frequent travel companion, Srikanth when he put up the idea. Srikanth and Sandeep, a veteran of 2 failed attempts (for their own set of reasons) to summit KP were determined to complete the mission this time round. The first-timers in Kishor and I were renegaded to back. But another first-timer in Somashekar showed surprising agility throughout the trek.


An overnight bus from Bangalore dropped us at the foot steps of Kukke Subramanya temple. After the morning ablutions and a satisfying breakfast at the highly-recommended Neo Mysore Café, we shouldered our bags and walked in the direction of the forest trail. Our first pit-stop was the renowned Bhattare Mane (House of the Bhats). The almost 7km trek from Kukke to Bhattare Mane winds through a dense leach-infested forest. Let me dedicate a few lines to leaches, since I won’t be talking about them later. The leaches are your constant companion in the 13 km trek to KP. If the land is marshy and wet with the slightest hint of shade, then you can be sure of finding them there. Do not stop (for more than 10 seconds) to take leaches out. Keep walking as much as you can. You might also want to try leach socks. Expect to be bitten at least 20-30 times by their blood craving creatures. Also watch out for the vampire leaches – the ones that fall from the trees and go for the neck.

As if the steep climb and the leaches were a deterrent by themselves, the rocky terrain adds to your woes. In retrospect, the rocky terrain serves dual purposes – to give you a good grip while traversing and stop soil-erosion during the rains. There’s absolutely no possibility to lose your way as long as you stick to the beaten track. The final 2km stretch to Bhattare Mane is, thankfully, through grass lands. Bhattare Mane is oasis in this rugged terrain. This is place where you get to eat, drink, rest and sleep – all for a nominal fee. Bhatta has a consort of transporters who make at least 3-4 trips a day to Subramanya town carrying heavy loads. It’s a highly commendable job these people do. The food is prepared at Bhattare Mane and served hot, three times a day. A satisfying meal of Rice, Sambhar, Majige, side-dish and Pickle come at a miserly Rs 60. The man of the house is a humble, witty, quirky and wise man who fluently speaks Kannada and Malayalam.

Sunset as seen from Viewpoint

After a sumptuous meal we lay in the hot Sun to soothe our aching bodies. A quick power nap later, we were raring to go again. We unloaded a few stuff at Bhattare Mane and walked in the direction of the Forest Officer’s check post. But looking at the cloud formation, the Forest Officer advised us against going to the peak. He suggested us to camp near the check post and start early in the morning. The nice man he was he offered us to stay in the guest house and also asked us to leave our excessive baggage with him and carry only water bottles the next day.

We decided to heed to the Forest Officer and since we had a tent with us that could house 3 people along with the luggage, 2 of them decided to stay in the guest house while the rest chose the tent. It could not have been a better place to set the tent than the viewpoint. The panoramic view from the viewpoint is worth all the trouble we took to get here. On all four sides we were surrounded by hill ranges as far as the eye can see and beyond. The sunset was a bit of a let-down what with all the clouds wrapping the sun in its arms. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing on the benches and monkeying around taking pictures and conversing with other trekking groups. After dark set-in we collected wood from the forest and started a campfire. We cooked MTR’s ready-to-eat rice items for dinner and retreated to our tents/guesthouses for a good nights sleep. Tomorrow we summit KP, if only the sun and the terrain cooperate. I also wish my le..g….s……

Getting-there: Overnight buses and trains available from Bangalore and Mysore. It is around 280kms from Bangalore.

Must-Do: Travel light. Carry sleeping bags, tent (if you want to sleep in natures’ lap), lots of water, ready-to-eats, leach protection socks, first aid kit, raincoat.
Must-Don’t: Littering, smoking, alcohol consumption, wear shoes inside Bhatta’s house.

Best Time to Visit: October to January.

My Rating: 7/10

Watch out for the concluding part of this trek here.


  1. If I keep reading your blog..and close my just rewinds the excellent two days spent together...marvelous narration..and super photo...

    Waiting for the finale part

    Nice blog buddy

  2. Thanks Srikanth. And thanks for arranging the wonderful trek so meticulously.

  3. Wow, A Great writeup with many new words........

  4. @Sandeeo: All credit goes to KP for bringing out the best in PK :)

  5. nice to feel your experience. I need your support , i myself from chennai, i have planned to Kumaraparvata mid of next month. I want to know how long it will take to climb up the hill. SInce we may reach mangalore by 9 a.m thn to subramanya thn to trek. We have our train on next evening. so can you please guide us.

    Gauthaman AR

  6. Hi Gautham,
    If you are not a regular trekker, it will take at least 1 and a half to 2 days. The first 6 kms to Bhattare Mane is really difficult considering that you will be carrting all your luggage. You can dump your luggage at Bhattare Mane and walk light.
    Keep the mantapa as your target resting point for first day of your trek. Also, its better you carry a tent. on the second day you can hopefullt summit Sesha Parvatha and Kumara Parvatha. And make sure you start before 4PM from Bhattare Mane back to kukke.

  7. inspirational read...loved reading it through-out... superb articulation...