Kudremukh Trek Diary
Kudremukh National Park is my most favorite forest range and one of best treks of Western Ghats.
Kudremukh is a mountain range and name of a peak located in Chikkamagaluru district, in Karnataka, India. The name Kuduremukha literally means ‘horse-face’ (in the Kannada language) and refers to a particular picturesque view of a side of the mountain that resembles a horse’s face. Kuduremukh (1892 m) is Karnataka’s 3rd highest peak.
Well known environmentalist and Tiger expert Dr. Ullas Karanth, played a key role to form Kudremukh National Park in 1987. Later it was declared as a part of Bhadra Tiger Reserve. The major animals found there include Tiger, Leopard, Malabar civet, wild dogs, sloth bear and spotted deer, Gaur, Sambar, Wild Pig, Barking deer, Mouse deer, Bonnet Macaque, Common Langur and the Lion-tailed Macaque.
A majestic view of Jamalabad Fort, build by Tipu sultan in 1794, with a back drop of Western Ghats’ green carpet, is visible from top of the peak.
The southern and western sides of the park form the steep slope of the Western Ghats ridge line, with the altitude varying from 100 m – 1892 m (peak). The northern, central and the eastern portions of the park constitute a chain of rolling hills with a mosaic of natural grassland and shola forests. This tropical wet evergreen forest receives an average annual rainfall of 7000 mm. The wet climate and the tremendous water retentive capacity of the shola grasslands and forests have led to the formation of thousands of perennial streams in the region converging to form three major rivers of the region, Tunga, Bhadra and Nethravathi. This forms an important lifeline for the people of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Bangalore to Kalasa (333km) motorable road :
Start from Bangalore Majestic Bus Stop in case of traveling via KSRTC bus. As a weekend trip from Bangalore, most of the people prefer to start on Friday night. Have light dinner and board the bus for a travel of 6-8 hrs till Kalasa (333km), a perfect destination to start trek for Western Ghats.
Kalasa to Mullodi 16.5km motor & Trek from Mullodi to Kudremukh 10Km :
Today is going to be a long day. Kalasa is a small town surrounded by one of the most beautiful range of Western Ghats. Buses reach before the town wakes up with an early morning mist. We need to travel a little far till Balegal, 10.5 km on the way to Kudremukh KIOCL township. From there we will leave the metal road behind and take a bifurcation to our base camp at Mullodi. A muddy motorable trail of 6 km through coffee plantation will take us to Mullodi. Shared / hired Jeep is available from Balegal and takes around 45 mins, which is almost a palanquin experience.
Mullodi is very small village consisting of approx. 40 houses. One of those will share roof with us for tonight. On arrival at early morning, homestay offers very tasty local breakfast with freshly ground coffee to refresh you. Take a little time to freshen up and start for the day ahead.
From Mullodi, Kudremukh peak is almost 10km. Trails begins with Somavati River at right side. The sound the Somavathi Falls stays with you for a distance before falling silent. In a while you will reach the Forest check post for permission. This hill top shares almost a 360 degree view of Kudremukh range. Peak at the left is Durgadabba and the one at right side is named as Kumbadaokano. Another peak can be seen on the way resembles a cow face, named as Gomukha. After crossing check post the vegetation turns thicker. In a while we will cross the first patch of shola forest. These patches of shola forest are found mainly in the valleys and are usually separated from one another by undulating montane grassland. The shola and grassland together form the shola-grassland complex or mosaic. On the trail we will cross around 10 patches of Shola. Follow the gradually ascending trail for another 40mins to reach Ontimara – or the lonely tree. This place gives a beautiful realm to spread your eyes on Ghats. The trail moves on almost flat till Lobo Mane. Lobo’s house is a dilapidated building with remnants of a certain Mr. Lobo and his family, who used to stay there at some point in time. Trail soon takes an ascend within next 15 mins. Kudremukh Peak becomes visible clearly from this point. After negotiating with the uphill, we will reach a little flat edge of hill with beautiful scenic beauty of lush green curves of Western Ghats. Keep your eyes open for sighting of wildlife. Beyond this, the trail moves in a zigzag pattern to accomplish the distance to reach the shoulder of the peak. There we will find the last big shola patch on the hill. A ruin of an old church can be seen at right inside the shola. The peak lies on another hill and is a short, stiff climb along the ridge. It takes about 20 minutes along the ridge to reach the peak. The peak is marked by a flag post. On a clear day, it is a 270 degree panoramic view of the uneven green carpet below. And obviously you can see the Jamalabad fort at the distant horizon towards the east of Kudremukh peak with its head held high.
Let’s finish off the small packed lunch at top and climb down to Mullodi in 2hrs.
Homestay serves local cuisine on dinner plate and sets up a camp fire to bring us closer on a chilling night.
Early morning tweets of birds will wake you up. Malabar Parakeet will be the loudest among them. Today after having early breakfast we will walk a short distance down to solve the mystery of the Somavati falls, haunting us from the moment we reached Mullodi. It’s a lonely place at the riverside slowly exposing to the narrow gorge of river Somavati. There is small temple with its rocky courtyard adds an element of old civilization where it belongs to. Spend some time there and be back again to homestay /camp to prepare for our visit to Hanumangundi falls.
Now we need to say good bye to Mullodi. Again we will take the motorable way down till Balegal. From Balegala we will travel through the Kudremukh main road for almost 11kms to reach Kudremukh Township. On the way we will cross several water streams flowing with crystal clear water. Once upon a time, a town of almost 10 thousands population related to iron ore mining is now shutting down. A great battle to save our planet has been fought here. This deserted town holds one of the brightest histories of Indian environmental conservation to form Kudremukh National Park. The common people of Kudremukh, who refused the money in exchange of Mother Nature, are still fighting to develop a more sustainable lifestyle out of nature. Eco tourism can play a key role in it. Every time you travel to Kudremukh, you extent your support and encourage them to fight with pride.
Hanumangundi water falls is around 18.2 Km from the township also known as Suthanabbe Falls. The road becomes more scenic from here. On the way we will cross Kadambi falls. Lush green hills on the both sides of the road, creates a pleasure for a city dwellers’ eyes. There is an entry gate to falls on the right side of road. Falls view point is around 10mins downhill from this entry gate. You can hear the roar from the top. Once you reach there you will be able to see a 100ft cascade flowing wild. This water fall concludes to Tunga River. Falls remain open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
On the way back, with setting sun, we will reach Kalasa to catch the return bus for Bengaluru. One may visit to Horanadu Annapoorneshwari Temple another 6 km from Kalasa.
Road: Nearest town Kalasa is 333 km away from Bangalore. Enroutes Bangalore – Kunigal – Hassan – Mudigere – Kottigehara – Kalasa.
KSRTC Buses are plying till Kalasa. Timings: AIRAVAT (VOLVO AC) :22.46, KARNATAKA SARIGE:21:33, 22.02 RAJAHAMSA EXECUTIVE:22.26 Other private buses are available till Kalasa too. Kalasa to Balegal is 10.5 km. Local transport like auto, bus and Jeep are available till the Balegal Bus stop. Balegal to Mulodi is connected through a 6 km mud track. Shared jeep is available from here too. Kudremukh township is another 10.4 km from Balegala. Hanumangundi falls is another 18.2 Km from Kudremukh township. Local buses are plying every 1 hr till 5:00 pm evening.
Train: Mangalore railway station is nearest. It is 130 km away from Kalasa
Airport: Mangalore and Bangalore are 2 approachable airports for Kalasa. Bangalore International Airport has more frequent flight options connecting the different parts of country.