Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kumara Parvata Trek: Not For Faint Hearted...

Beating Valentine’s Day traffic I made my way to the pick-up point, Domlur, Bangalore. I had literally no time left for packing since it was a “working” Friday and we (Chandru and Abhishek) had decided only on Thursday to go for this trek. We made sure that we carried essentials like- 2 pair of clothes, torch, towel, soap, dry fruits and chocolates. I knew, scaling up 5600ft Kumara Parvata(a.k.a Pushpagiri or KP) will be a daunting task considering the fact that summer had already set in and humidity would take its toll!

Hiking Ethics!
Comfortable Temo Traveller was arranged by Bangalore Mountaineering Club for 12 of us (including our super-fit guide, Sam) and we left Bangalore by 10pm. Thanks to good road and excellent driving, we arrived at Subramanya, approx. 280kms from Bangalore, around 5am on 15th of Feb. Full moon was still on sight! We took an hour to freshen up in an “unknown” dorm and were all set by 7.30am with a quick breakfast (including Horlicks for extra power!) at Neo Mysore CafĂ©, located infront of the Kukke Subramanya Temple.

A lazy 1.2 km droll to base of Kumara Parvata was the most comfortable part of the complete trek! Once reaching the foothill, Sam gave us a briefing and lessons on trekking ethics. We introduced ourselves and soon after, we hit the trail of most challenging 13kms of my life!
Picture Perfect!

Definition of this trek was set as soon we finished a km, catching the breath on these 40-50 degree inclination was real test for both-mental and physical fitness. Luckily, the group was really fast and we didn't realize that we are gonna set a record time soon!

By 9.30am we had arrived at famous house of mid-aged Girigadde Mahalingeshwar Bhat, mostly known as Bhattramane, covering 4kms. This mud house built in 1974 had a cowshed and areca nut plantation, electricity coming from indigenous hydro power and solar power, constant water supply from a water channel of the hillside rocks. We were served simple and tasty lunch, dinner and next-day breakfast here. Also, we spent a blissful night here. Had there been no Bhattramane, I would confidently say that KP would be near to impossible!

No surprise, KP has it’s own mythological importance. KP was the place where Lord
Subramanya (a.k.a Kumara)
fought and won the fierce battle against the demon, Tarakasur. Impressed Devendra got his daughter married to Kumara. Hence the hill got the name KP and river that flows- Kumaradhara,.

Post early lunch, we started at 11.15am to scale rest of the 9kms. 3 things kept improving exponentially- beauty, humidity and inclination! We crossed forest dept. check post and caught glimpse of Western Ghats- in 2 viewpoints located at a stretch of a km. Our aim was to reach Sheshagiri(The first main peak before KP) and damn it, we couldn't even sight it till we had trekked for close about 2 hours! We kept checking with Sam, pointing at series of false peaks that we encountered and asking if it was Sheshagiri. Silence and Smile was his constant answer!

I had almost lost my battle till I reached Mantapa, ancient stone structure. Abundant water and oranges we carried, gave me the boost. With high spirits we were back in trail and soon reached Sheshagiri. Views were just incredible and KP was only a km away now. Then started an unbelievable stretch with green shades and later, 70 degree inclination. We had made it to the top of KP by 2.20! Feeling on top was just priceless as I spotted Lord Shiva’s small stone shrine and flag flying high. Couldn't resist writing down-
Did we scale this?
Clouds had calmed,
Flags waving high…
Lying down on rocks,
Cold breeze hit my face… 
Like it had never hit me before!
Like the seasons that changed overnight!
Like these red flowers in green pastures!
Like this longed victory getting longingly closer!
Like the destiny’s invariant smile, that finally smiled!

We started the descent at 3.30pm, skidding most of the times. We were back by 6.30pm at Bhattramane. Some of us were nursing ankle or toe pain, and the tea which welcomed us, followed by an open-air cold water bath and tasty dinner refreshed us and paved way for a most satisfying sleep!

Next day morning, i.e. on 16th, we woke up at 6.30am, had quick breakfast and continued our descent. We reached the base by 10am and after a bath in public bathroom, we went inside the temple, took a round and tried to catch glimpse of the Lord and his blessings!

This trek looked like a philosophical story to me. Constant steep inclines pointed towards
hardships of life. Many false peaks reminded me of distraction one encounters before the ultimate goal of one’s life. Although views at Sheshagiri were the most beautiful, we still went to climb KP, since KP zenith was the main goal. It was a learning experience and burnt my false pride of achieving Hampta pass last year. I learnt to respect every trek and every trekkers!

Bidding goodbye to Subramanya, view of Sheshagiri behind temple gave me Goosebumps! We started at 11.10am, stopped for lunch at 12.45pm at Gandharva restaurant, Sakleshpur, and a Chai break in Bellur cross. After successfully crossing many toll plazas and bearing through some nonsense unheard music, we reached Bangalore by 6pm!
Team seen with Bhattru

Final Tips to make it to KP-->
  1. Watch enough of Rafael Nadal’s games for mental fitness and hit gym before 2 weeks for physical fitness!
  2. Trek with people who are extremely positive and who can push the team as a whole!
  3. Do it at least once in your lifetime!

[Cheers to Chandrashekar, Abhishek, Sandeep, Sushanth, Amit, Joseph, Mathew, Anurag, Jitendra, Gyanesh, Sam and BMC for making the trek super awesome. Photo Credits: Chandrashekar & Amit.]