It has been one of my dreams to trek to Kodachadri in monsoon. It came true on the last weekend of June 2015. This was my 4th time to Kodachadri, but this one was going to be a special one.
Madhu readily agreed to join when I told him about the plan. I did 5 rounds of running/walking in Vijaya bank layout park on a sunday and some 30 min work out another day. That was my fitness test to ensure I can endure the trek!
We reached Kollur at 8:30AM by SRS sleeper bus, one hour behind the schedule. Freshened up and had idly and dosa at a local Ganesha hotel. The KSRTC bus conductor was grumpy and did not seem to like 2 lunatics with heavy backpacks trekking to Kodachadri in the rain. Nevertheless, he was kind enough to stop the bus at the trek starting point. It is unrecognizable now, because of overgrowth of vegetation in rainy season and concrete road.
Get set go....
A step out of concrete road, there were waiting ever hungry leeches ready to suck our blood. After tightening the shoe laces and making sure everything is fine, we began our walk into the wilderness by about 10:30AM. It is a walk through a defunct Jeep trail for about 5 km initially before actual climb begins. For about 3km from mail road is thick jungle and lot of fallen leaves on the trail had made it perfect setting for the leeches. There were dry patch of open land where we could stop and remove the leeches. Since the gradient was small and we were brisk, not many leeches managed to reach skin. It was however drizzling intermittently.
After about 5km we come to a small village called Valur. It was approximately 12:15 when we reached Santosh Hotel, which is now quite famous in blogs, is a good resting point. The hot lemon tea was very refreshing. As usual, Madhu had a dosa here. I was happy with nice guava and lemon tea. By this time, rain gods were in full mood. We left Santosh Hotel at about 1PM.
Jeep Trail, near Valur
Made some friends @ Santosh Hotel
The path becomes steep and it is through thick jungle. That means, it is leech territory, where leeches were brisk and we were slow. Thanks to the Santosh Hotel owner who gave us a weapon to fight against leeches (A mix of salt, tobacco and lime tied in a cloth and a stick to hold the lump). This was quite effective, a touch of the tip will make the leech fall off. Once has to see it working to appreciate it. There were lot of trees fallen across the trail, raining heavily, we had to take a short detour into the jungle to go around and find the track. All this had to be done very quickly, a second pause will give a dozen more leeches to get onto the shoe and make their way inside. Once off track, it is very difficult to get back on track because it is very easy to loose orientation inside the jungle. Every direction looks same, fear of leeches and heavy rain will make it crazy.
The weapon to ward off leeches!
After about an hour of climb, we reached a bald patch of the mountain. I remember the view from here was breath taking, in my earlier trips. But this time, we were in the clouds. We could hardly see anything few feet away. Occasionally mist cleared giving us the glimpse of the surrounds. It was totally out of the world. Heavy winds were making rain drops reach ground horizontally. It was as if some one was spraying water on me. I just sat here on a rock and enjoyed the sound of wind and rain. This is where one feels a connection with nature. Mind becomes empty.
There is one more stretch of climb through thick jungle before we reached Kodachadri. Throughout the climb it was raining continuously. Thanks to the de-leeching stick, both of us reached the peak without a single leech byte. I consider that as an achievement given my fitness level. It was about 3:30PM, approximately 4.5km uphill trek.
When we reached the government inspection bungalow (IB), water was dripping all over us. The guy in charge asked us to dry ourselves outside. Entrance hall to the IB was all wet and I could understand the situation. The rooms have to be dry to sleep in night and naturally the IB in charge was quite irritated. After having quick lunch (wasn't great!), we started towards the Sarvagna Peeta. This is where Sankaracharya witnessed goddess Mookambika.
This was the best part of the trek. Rain gods lashed us with full fury. Continuously rained till we reached the peak, which was approximately about 1.5km uphill from IB. It was as if gods wanted us to bath in fresh water before visiting Sarvagna Peeta!! It is a dilapidated stone mantapa, inside is a stone statue of Sri Sankaracharya. Sat here and closed my eyes, let all the thoughts flow. This is where one can review all thoughts - happiness, miseries, challenges, achievements and strike a balance. When I was ready to leave, felt lighter. After this would prefer to walk in silence.
Rain had stopped by this time. Sun was setting in west. Started walking back to the IB. There s a small Ganesha temple in a cave (50m detour on the way). It was very pleasant and calm. Offered sesame seeds laddu to Lord Ganesha.
I was not in a mood to eat dinner, so slipped inside the sleeping bag and called it a day.