This was our first trip together in more than 3 years. A trek up the Kodachadri mountain together had been on Ranjith’s mind for a long time, so he decided to plan it in the long weekend from 15th to 18th of January. There is enough to write about the planning of this trip as a separate blog. It all started off when he asked me about going to Kodachadri. I became quite apprehensive when he told me he was planning to stay on top of the mountain for the night and watch the sunrise the next day. I had absolutely no idea what it was like at the mountain, so I refused to go with the plan. Well, his plan was to stay at the house of the priest of the temple at the top of the mountain. Then we had planned to return to Chennai and Thrissur respectively. But there was an additional holiday and Ranjith didn’t know what to do with it. I suggested going to Jog falls and he refused saying there would be lot of travelling involved. He went ahead and booked all the tickets for the trip. All our discussion was happening over Whatsapp and there is a group Rohan has created in Whatsapp with the three of us, so once Ranjith booked all the tickets, he informed Rohan about the trip and asked him if he wanted to join. He jumped at it and once he saw the dates, he made his own plan about going to Jog falls from Kodachadri. That got Ranjith interested and he decided to alter the trip plans. Then the first roadblock came up. First, Ranjith was unable to contact the priest at Kodachadri to arrange accommodation at his house. Then, a colleague of his suggested a homestay at Nittur, about 15 kms from Mookambika temple, at the base of the mountain. Finally, after plenty of deliberations, the plan looked like this. Ranjith would reach Thrissur from Chennai on 15th, then we would embark together on a midnight train to Mangalore. From Mangalore, we would take another train to Byandoor. From there, take a taxi to Kollur and from Kollur, take another bus to Nittur. Rohan would drive down from Bangalore with a friend of his, Venu, and meet us for lunch at Nittur. We would then go to the homestay, then trek up to see the sunset on Kodachadri mountain. Next morning, we would trek again to Hidlumane waterfalls, then travel to see Jog falls. From there, Ranjith and I would take a bus to Bangalore and reach there on 18th morning. Ranjith would take a train from there to Chennai in the morning itself. I will spend the day in Bangalore and take an evening bus back to Thrissur. A couple of days before the trip, Ranjith got a hugely disappointing news. There was no water at Jog falls. The water is being managed by a dam and no water is being let out of the reservoir. It was too late to alter the plans because all the tickets were booked. If I was to simply copy our conversations on Whatsapp, that in itself would have had made one blog.
So Ranjith reached Thrissur on the morning of 15th. We decided to buy new trekking shoes and went out at noon. Out of nowhere I got a nasty cold. Before I knew, it was all over me. I was feeling feverish by evening but said nothing about it at home. Our train to Mangalore was at 1 midnight, so our plan was to watch a late night movie and then catch the train. There was a new Tamil movie releasing that day and almost all the theatres were showing this movie. There was only one option left. Tevar, a hindi movie which was a remake of a Tamil movie, Gilli. It turned out to be more than 2 hours of sheer mental torture. To top it off, Ranjith had a conference call on his mobile so he escaped the torture. He came back 45 minutes later. By the time we reached the railway station, I didn’t know if it was my cold or the effects of the movie that was making me sicker. My recommendation about the movie: RUN.
We boarded the train to Mangalore by 10 past 1 midnight on 16th. Ranjith had booked tickets for the travel from Mangalore to Byandoor in the train that was supposed to leave a few minutes after the train we were travelling would reach Mangalore. But our train got delayed and as we were approaching Mangalore, we saw the other train go past us. We had no option but to book tickets in the next train and wait. We lost some precious time there.
We left Mangalore by 9:45 and reached Byandoor by 12 noon. Not wanting to waste any more time, we took a taxi to Nittur.
Rohan called in between to tell us that he had already reached Nittur. Nittur is a very small town with just the basic amenities available. We had a quick lunch from a small restaurant. Rohan and Venu had already gone and dumped their baggage at the homestay and Rohan told me that the homestay may not be to my liking. The homestay owner sent a jeep to pick us up and he drove us up the mountain where there were no roads.
The homestay was a shocker. The location was magnificient. A house in the middle of nowhere with plenty of trees surrounding it. We thought they would cook food there, but there was no kitchen. Even tea had to be bought from outside and the nearest available place was 3 kms down the same mountain road. One room was allotted to us and our luggage filled that room. Toilets were pathetic, toilet seats were dirty and taps were broken. Water was icy cold and I was wondering if there was any warm water available. We decided to go up the Kodachadri mountain to watch the sunset so we did not bother changing clothes. Our mobile phones became inaccessible because there were no towers nearby. Only Venu’s BSNL number was getting connected, but only if he stood in one particular spot.
We asked the jeep driver to come by 3:30 to take us up the mountain but he came by about 4:45. The journey up the mountain was the toughest drive I have experienced in my life till now. These drivers can easily put dirt track champs to shame. I held on to the jeep and sat there shell shocked for a while. But I did manage to take a few photos of the terrain through which we were driving. He stopped a couple of places on the way up for us to take photos. We finally reached the Kodachadri temple and the priest’s house. From there, we had to walk about 3 kms up the mountain. It was a great trek and we had lots of fun on the way. Venu is 10 years younger than us and quite nimble on his feet. Rohan, Ranjith and I were complaining about the sounds of bones creaking in our bodies as we were climbing up. We were lucky to find a local guy who was selling cool curd milk on the way. We had one big glasses each and filled Rohan’s empty Pepsi bottle with curd milk. We also bought a packet of glucose and a packet of nuts. But we were late, the sun was already on it’s way down, so we could not get to the mountain peak. We had to be content with reaching a temple known as Sarvajnapeetha below the peak. Nevertheless, we clicked some breathtaking photos of the sunset.
More adventure awaited us as we started our journey down in the jeep. We came face to face with a couple of wild buffaloes. One jumped out of the way, but the other one was more obstinate. It moved out of the way and went a few paces up the mountain, but stood there staring at us, clearly expressing it’s displeasure at our presence. The jeep driver honked a few times and irritated it more. I thought for a moment the buffalo would lunge at the jeep as we passed by, but luckily it didn’t.
Back at the homestay, we got piping hot water to bathe, thankfully. Our hosts set up a camp fire and tents outside to sleep under the sky. The sky was beautiful, the moon in half and the sky full of stars. We tried taking photos but without success. I was hesitant initially to sleep outside, but decided to go for it finally. Dinner was chapathi and rice, but we were in no mood to think over it. We were just gulping down whatever was being served to us. We were ready to sleep soon after our dinner. As soon as we settled inside our tents, the Mr. Hyde inside Rohan came alive. He started snoring loudly as soon as he fell asleep. Thankfully I fell asleep, in hope and apprehension, that his snoring would turn wild animals away from our tents rather than attract them.
I usually wake up by 5 in the morning every day and I was surprised to find Ranjith lying awake. Rohan’s snoring had screwed up his sleep. We had planned to wake up by 6 and start on our trek to Hidlumane falls by 7. When Ranjith and I stepped out of our tents at 6, we were a bit shocked. The sky was the same, the half moon and the stars were all there. The crickets were still singing away happily. No sun, no sign of birds and very cold. We rushed back into our tent. It was by 7 that we heard the first sound of birds. I asked Venu how did he sleep with Rohan snoring beside him and he replied that looks like he fell unconscious. We made a mistake by asking for tea. The homestay guy took off to go all the way down the mountain and came back after an hour.
We started on our trek by about 8:30. The homestay guy was our guide. It was a long and winding walk that took us through paddy fields and houses with dogs barking and following us. There were plenty of birds all around and I clicked a few of them.
By the time we reached the waterfall, I was dead tired. There was some more climbing to do, but this time on all four to reach the top. I quit and Ranjith decided to stay back with me. Rohan and Venu came back with some amazing photos.
The walk back was even more tiresome. We had walked past a small house on our way to the waterfall and on our return, a lady at the house served us cool curd milk. We bought a handful of toffees. The glucose pack we had bought the previous day and the toffees helped us tremendously to complete the trek on empty stomach. I was ready to jump into a bed by the time we reached back the homestay. It was then I realized that my fever and cold was attacking me with full force. We gulped down our breakfast gratefully, idli and lemon rice.
Rohan and Venu left for Shimoga by 12 and we followed them in bus a couple of hours later.
We caught up in Shimoga in their hotel room, showered, had dinner together and then Ranjith and I took the midnight bus to Bangalore. Rohan and Venu stayed back in Shimoga for the night.
We reached Bangalore by 6:30 in the morning the next day. Ranjith took the 8 o’ clock train to Chennai. Being in Bangalore already made me feel better. I checked into a hotel in Madiwala and got piping hot water to shower. It completely rejuvenated me. I got back into my long lost routine in Bangalore on weekends. First, a visit to Sai Baba temple in Ulsoor followed by breakfast from Anand Bhavan in Indiranagar. Then I took the metro train to Brigade road. The plan was to have beer with my good friend Alex. The last time I had beer with him was a year and a half back. He came a good two hours late. I found lots of kites hovering in the sky and I went in search of where they roost to photograph them.
Then, a couple of hours of great time with Alex in a pub. We chose not to have cold beer and took normal beer instead. After I boarded the bus to go back to my hotel room, the full effect of beer kicked in and I was immobilised for about 10 minutes. On the way back, I met Anupama, another good friend. Then, I had an early dinner and boarded the 7:45 evening bus back to Thrissur. My body was broken by the time I reached home but my mind was in heaven. It took me another 4 days to recover, but the trip was worthy of all that I went through.
As recounted by Ranjeet