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Kudremukh Trek


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With dry season fast approaching and greenery begining to fade, we made an instant plan to scale Kudremukh peak this weekend. This instant plan added another page to my diary of beautiful places  I've been to.
Kudremukh forests,  one of eco sensitive zones of our state, gets its name from a small village named as "Kuduremukh". Covered with lush open grass lands and dense sholas, it is located in Chikkmangaluru district.  The mountain gives birth to 3 important rivers, The Tunga, Bhadra and Netravati. There are number of trek routes in this forest (nearly 13). Each has different difficulty level, with actual "Kudremukha" peak being most difficult amongst all..We planned to trek the "Kuduremuk" peak itself, which is  1892mts and is said to be one among 3 tallest peaks of our state. This moderate-difficult trek involves walking nearly 8/9 kms one side.

 Kudremukh forest, being bio-diversity hotspot, is a protected place, so it is mandatory to get permission from forest department  before you scale any of peaks inside the park. Also, a guide is a must. Staying at peak is strictly prohibited. Wandering inside park after 6pm can cause you trouble, both from department officials as well as from wild animals. Also, one must have a local person along to climb any of peaks(Even if you know the route).

If you are trekking "Kudremukha" peak then you need to start from Baalegal. Nearest city to Baalegal is Kalasa, which is 20 km away. The Kudremukh town is still 10 km further from Baalegal. (Baalegal is a small village located in between Kalasa and Kudremukh ). Kalasa is comparatively big city, with accommodation facilities, has good connectivity also there are many private bus which run from Kalasa to Baaleagal. So reaching Baalegal should not be a problem.
Russel's Viper
One can start trekking from Balegal itself or you may go some 8 kms in jeep, upto guide's home (Mullodi)  and start trekking. Route till guide's home is continuously ascending through motorable road. Climbing Kudremukh peak demands time and fitness, so i personally advice you to travel this distance (From Baalegal till guest house (Mullodi)) in jeep else than spending energy in avoidable walk. Many people prefer to start from Mullodi, while few start from Ballegal. We did start our trek from Mullodi.


With entire schedule fixed, I called the guide 2 days prior, who confirmed his availability and also took care of our permission and accommodation. We left our city to reach Chikmangaluru  at 6.30am on Saturday. Our plan was to explore near by places on saturday and trek on sunday. So we went to Lakya dam, Hanumangundi falls, Gangamoola and bhagvati camp on saturday. Note that all these places were covered by bus, we did not have any private vehicle. And these places are not far from each other or from Baalegal, all are close by.

 Finally, we managed to reached Baalegal by evening at around 5.30pm. As soon as i got down from bus, i saw 3-4 vehicles, and some 10-12 people standing right in middle of road. This isn't a common sight in villages, so, out of curiousity i went to examine and ah!!..it's a russel's viper!. The snake was crossing road. Everyone around waited patiently and the snake was allowed to cross the road peacefully. I wonder what fate the snake would've met if it was trying to cross road in city limits. Infact village people have lots of tolerance towards wildlife, and we literally should learn from them how to respect and conserve nature. I was lucky to sight a deadly snake just on arrival. With snake gone, we called our guide at Baalegal who picked us in his jeep till his home, where he had arranged tent and dinner for us. Ride from Baalegal till his home(Mullodi) was sort of off road driving, road condition was very pathetic, except 4 wheel drive Suv's, no other vehicles can manage this road. Jeep will be arranged by Guide. So we reached his home (converted into guest house for trekkers), had our dinner. Since guest house was full, so we were given tents. Thus, day was over by 11.00pm.
Next day, we were ready by 6.00AM, had our morning breakfast at guest house itself. Also, guide gave us Pulav rice, packed for noon lunch. Thus, we started our trek towards Kudremukh peak at 7.00am. Trek route is next to guest house. If you start from Ballegal, then  you too must follow this same route, which is next to guest house, hence it is better to avoid that walk and traverse it in jeep.

Initially the path is ascending for an hour or so, then most of walking is through flat,open grasslands without much ascend or descend. We need to cross some small water bodies in between. Walking in cool shade of sholas and into green pasture of grasslands itself is pleasurable. We sighted 3 sambar doe and a barking deer (Muntjac) at far distances, out of camera reach. Enroute to peak,there is an abandoned lobo house ( A very tiny settlement) in between,where people once used to reside, but not any more. Till this point, walking is through flat land, but from lobo house, the ascending starts.

                         
"Onti Mara" point, KP visible

                        





 Kudremukh peak is visible all through the way, but the peak which visibly seems near is actually  far. Once into ascending, our energy starts to drain. We emptied our eatables enroute. There are nearly some 3-4 water points in between so water must not be problem. At some point of trek, the climb route ahead is clearly visible, and may give jittery feels to some. But it can be ascended with small breaks at regular intervals.The last leg of peak drained most of our energy, as it is continuous climb upwards. But entire trek route is filled with magnificent view of lush green sholas and open grasslands which extend till horizon. One cannot stop themselves from praising beauty of creation.The breath taking view with mist playing hide and seek, the silence in the cold breeze only to be disturbed by sound of continuous flow of Bhadra river made us feel absolutely privileged to enjoy the serene beauty of nature. After many breaks and views we finally reached the peak at 11.30 am.It took us around 4 hours to climb it. View around is just mesmerizing, with green cover on all four sides until the horizon. Although it was difficult to relate the peak to face of horse, nevertheless climbing here was worth the energy we spent, because experiencing wilderness in days of monsoon itself is a feast to eyes. Difficulty level could be moderate to difficult as climbing last 1.5 hours drains out most of our energy. Although it was noon, the temperature was less than 15 degree.Absolute cold. At peak, one feels as if you are sitting on top of clouds. The deep gorge below could certainly be fatal, if you play around carelessly. But the view is just stunning.



 We spent some 2 hours at the peak, emptied our packed rice parcel and started our descend, tracing same path.
And, as always, descending was easier than ascending.Since monsoons were nearing to end so there wasn't leech problem throughout. At some point of trek, we increased our walking pace in apprehension of rains (Which actually did not pour). After descending for about 2.5 hours we reached guest house at 5pm. Thus another experience of knowing forest came to an end. Thus, we got our stuff packed and moved back till Baalegal in jeep (Arranged by Gudie)  and then to kalasa and off to our destinations. There are many trek routes here, but climbing Kudremukha peak requires physical and mental fitness.The trek distance from guest house till peak is around 8-9 kms one way.


Credit must be given to forest staff and also responsible trekkers, because the entire mountain range (Trek route) had very minimum plastic waste, as compared to other peaks. I was told that forest staffers regularly check trek routes for plastic/paper or unwanted things that could harm wildlife. There is absolutely no doubt that this dedication of department has played major role in providing safe heaven for wildlife out there.
Since park supports ample of wildlife, so staying at peak in not permitted, but if  you are lucky you can sight free moving wild animals which may sometimes include the elusive lion tailed macaque. Kudos to conservationists who fought a long and tough legal battle to shut down Mining company(KIOCL) which now being dismantled. Till 2001, KIOCL used to mine these mountains. Hadn't mining being halted then the entire serenity of the place would've been destroyed and world would have been devoid of one of most beautiful eco-systems.

 Kudremukha will remain one of the most beautiful places I have been to. Its always privilege to explore our majestic western ghats, and each place seems more beautiful and charming than previous one.




QUICK CHECKS:-
1. Kuduremukha peak is located in Chikamagluru district.
2. Trek starts from Baalegal, which is in between Kudremukha and Kalasa.  But my advice, take jeep from Baalegal till guide's home (Mullodi) and start trekking.
3. Nearest city is Kalasa, 20 kms away.
4. Permission and guide are a must. 
5. No camping allowed at peak.
6. Trek one way from guide's home is 8-9 km, one way.
7.  There are many peaks, but Kudremukh peak itself is a bit tough and requires physical and mental strength.
8. Connectivity to place after 7pm is poor.
9. Place is kept clean without plastic/paper, please be responsible tourist and help in maintaining same..

 Some Snaps: 




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