Travelogue - Mullayanagiri-Baba Budangiri-Kemmangundi


I was very eager for this trip because it was supposed to be our hat-trick trip. I always wanted 6 people to travel by train as it'd fill the coupe and we could use the train as our own private room. I was happy that it was going to happen this time. There was in fact 7 totally. Even though Seena was skeptical about travelling we booked his tickets too but at the final moment had to cancel his ticket along with Vignesh and Dhana. So the regular gang without Seena started for the trip. It'd have been great if Seena too had come but being a hapless workaholic he didn't.

Photo of Travelogue - Mullayanagiri-Baba Budangiri-Kemmangundi 1/1 by Vikram Mn

Anyways after much deliberation we four went for the trip. It was decided that it's going to be Mangalore. What first started as a trip to Kumara Paravartha Trek and then to two day Mullayanagiri-Baba Budangiri trek changed to actual one day trek plus Kemmangundi. We didn't go to Mangalore at all. It was a Chikmagalur trip rather than a Mangalore trip. Only disappointment was we couldn't complete Hebbe falls but one thing I came to know is never could one place be completed fully in one go. But still it's disappointing. It's the feeling of not having watched so many movies even though I know that it's an impossible task.

Kumara Paravartha option was taken of the list because trekkers weren't allowed till September end. We took a wise decision to cover Mullayanagiri and Baba Budangiri. We couldn't make a two day trek not only because we didn't have tent but also because our bus to Chikmagalur reached really late. But that's the good thing. If we had reached in between time we'd have had the confusion of whether to go or not.

Day 0 - Chennai to Mangalore

The day was extra special because I enjoyed the trip from office to station too which usually is boring. This gang of five is special for me. I've some sort of bonding and comfort level which I don't share with anyone. It all started with Himalayas trip. Good thing is they don't ask me any questions and I'm free to do all the planning, selection of place etc. Their only reply would be yes or no. At the end of each trip Prasanna asks me, "where next?" It's a good feel.

Photo of Chennai Central, Tamil Nadu by Vikram Mn

As soon as everyone reached we started laughing. I forgot everything, my work, the ever pending composer tool, coming Monday, trek plans everything. Balaji and Seena are a terrific combo. So he was missed but still the fun was intact. Its stupidity to take a book when I go with this guys but still I took and didn't read a single page till the end. The amount of pages I read in a book is directly proportional to how lonely I feel during the trip.

Train journey needless to say was awesome with nonstop chatting, hunt for food and all the catching up going on. To add more drama it rained that night and we had to urgently shift our bags. Our train was the worst I had travelled so far. We were four people in three seater thanks to all those open ticketers. If that was not enough the sheet beneath the middle berth was hanging loose and about to fall. In spite of all this drama I had a sound sleep. Sleep had never been a problem for me anyways

Day 1 - Mangalore to Chikmagalur

We thought that the major part of the travel was over but we were in for a surprise. Not a pleasant surprise that. The amount of crowd in the morning was considerably less. All the standees and the open ticketers had left by night. Got down somewhere around Kerala. So when I woke up it was almost empty and shabby. Thanks to the overnight train.

Photo of Travelogue - Mullayanagiri-Baba Budangiri-Kemmangundi by Vikram Mn

Each of us were doing our own work and after sometime played Bluff. I finished my cards exactly at the time the train reached Mangalore Central. Once we asked about the bus to Chikmagalur we went out of the station drew cash etc. There was a huge rally going on with something written as 'Swach Bharath.' Kids were cleaning an atrociously shabby road along with their teachers while we were busy hunting for our breakfast restaurant.

After much search we got into a small restaurant cum fast-food. We ordered Appam and Parotta with Peas masala and Egg curry respectively. Mangalore Parotta is the best. It so huge, of the size of Kal Dosa here in Tamil Nadu. Add to that, we had a couple of Tea and kattan. All for 180 rupees. It was a feast. Then we had to go to KSRTC bus stand in Lal Bagh to get bus to Chikmagalur so we took one of the '2' series bus as suggested by a gentleman in the restaurant and went to the bus stand. Within no time we got the bus and got the last seat that we all deserved. What we didn't know was in the five seater in addition to us four, three more people would sit.

The bus was jam packed. Add to that traffic on road and humidity. It was hell to sit in it for 5 straight hours. You can't imagine the relief that I felt when the bus stopped somewhere in front of Chikmagalur. Worst was when one guy said it's about an hour journey from there. It was more than an hour thanks to the puncture.

We finally reached Chikmagalur at 5PM. So our plan for the day to reach Sarpadhari to Mullayanagiri and stay there was screwed. Glad that it was screwed because we'd have gone in double mind whether to go or not as we didn't have tents. We checked for hotels. One was a double bed for two people which is for 300 rupees. It was so shabby even to our standards. Next one was reasonably better with 700 for four.

Once we freshened up we went to enquire about the trek. Most of them were saying NO and needless to say I was disappointed. Especially when the sugar cane wala said that it's definitely a no-no because there are hundred tigers and it's dangerous. Finally we settled for Annapurna restaurant for dinner which had free Wi-Fi. We had to wait there for more than half an hour to get a seat. I was happy because my comment, "Dei naan tasmacla kooda evalo neram wait panathilla da" got a few laughs from one mother-daughter duo and a chick.

As we came to know that we had to get up at 5 the next day morning we slept early. It was a sound sleep. Thanks to all the tiredness.

Day 2 - Mullayangiri-Baba Budangiri-Manikyadhara falls

Thanks to Balaji's ring tone at 4.45 our sleep was shattered. He didn't switch off the phone. The rest of us got up at 5. Got ready and settled in bus. We didn't have the slightest idea that it'd take 2 hours for the bus to roll on. They were slowly decorating the bus. There seemed to be no hurry at all. There were people inside the bus even before we settled in. Don't know whether they knew about the bus timings or not. Whatever! Once we took some scary photos I settled for sleep. Rest of the guys were playing cricket in Balaji's phone which discharges faster than air in the balloon.

Photo of Chickmagaluru, Karnataka, India by Vikram Mn

The good thing he did was to buy vada first up in the morning. We should have taken his advice and had breakfast then but we went without breakfast. The bus started at 8. We reached there about 9.30 and started our trek from Sarpadari. There was one more gang with us. We lost them in few minutes. The bus driver was humble enough to give the phone number for us to call while returning. May be they did for their good but we were relieved that the bus would be there.

I didn't take much photos throughout. The path from Sarpadari to Mullayanagiri was quite tough. The ascent was steep and your body takes some time to warm up. I was okay within ten minutes. Karthik started strong but got tired after a while. Balaji was surprisingly better than I thought. Prasanna was the worst sufferer.

That's when the unthinkable happened. If for the rest of the people climbing was the problem. For me my stomach was the problem. I so badly wanted to shit. I didn't know whether it'd be a wise decision to wait till the end of the day or go then and there. I decided the later. Wow what a pleasure it was to unload at the top of mountain. Well... you need a first for everything. Balaji and Prasanna were guarding me from below and taking the much needed rest. Karthik was up there taking rest. We all then started our journey and I was the one who was relived beyond words.

After a short rest we saw one more Tamil group who were huffing and puffing to reach the top. They gave us confidence. We reached the top where we somewhat explored the cave and took a couple of photos. Then rested and had bread jam lunch at the top. Two were descending while we were ascending who had inquired about Baba Budangiri. I asked them to inquire about it from the priest. They did and started on their own. After half an hour we too followed.

The initial few minutes were scary. One guy who didn't know either Tamil or Hindi tried to guide us. We were so skeptical. What I read was in front of us and we didn't have a clue where this guy was guiding. I was contemplating whether to go forward or return. Finally I thought we'll go to a point from where we could return in broad daylight. It was 12.11 then so may be for two more hours but within minutes we found out the route and started travelling.

From then it was a cakewalk. We were flawless after that in spite of cramps which Balaji developed. We walked straight for next four hours and cleared good ground. We had to shell out 200 rupees to walk from the road we hit after 1.5 hours to waterfalls. That 1.5 hours was the best. Prasanna started to gain his energy and Karthik got back normal.

In the next half an hour or so the ridge walk was a bit difficult to negotiate but was a great experience. There was a huge mountain on top of which we had to get to see the BSNL tower. That's the landmark I had read about in various blogs. Never did I think that I'd be so relieved to see a BSNL tower. The last 10 minutes again had a twist for us. We could see all the cars parked, shops being there but waterfalls was nowhere to be seen as well as no trodden path. We took the path we liked and got a way to both.

After all the hype the Manikhyadhara waterfalls was a tourist place. But the water was freezing. Balaji stayed back to take care of the dress. Kathik wasn't having any problems but myself and Prasanna we couldn't keep the feet on ground. It was paining like hell. Thanks to the coldness.

We had bread omelet without salt which was divine and took a selfie with BSNL tower in the background. We called the bus guy who said he's there in Baba Budangiri. We never knew the distance between the falls and Baba Budangiri so began to walk but finally got a 4×4 which dropped us to Baba Budangiri for free. We got the bus and in a while settled for deep sleep. From the 4×4 by which we returned we could see why it was called Baba Budangiri. There was a darga for Baba which we missed due to time constraint.

I felt like I reached Chikmagalur within a second. Thanks to the morning incident I settled for a modest veg parotta that night. We initially went for non-veg restaurant but thanks to the crowd quickly shifted to veg only restaurant. And needless to say a deep sleep that day too. I was the relieved man. Felt happy for completing the trek

Day 3 - Kemmangundi

We checked bus to Kallathigiri in private bus stand because we got to know that direct bus to Kemmangundi is not available. We took bus till there then to Kemmangundi. All on right time.

Photo of Kallathigiri Falls, Kallathgiri, Karnataka, India by Vikram Mn

When I asked auto from Kallathigiri to Kemmangundi he said 500 rupees and asked to go by bus. I thought he was mocking at us but he was nice enough to get us in the right bus. The first conductor said the last bus from Kallathigiri was at 4.30. But there was only one connecting bus was which started at 4.20 from there. But we started with our trek anyhow.

It was nothing when compared to what we did the previous day. 6 Km to and fro which we completed in no time. It was at Kemmangundi where I clicked most of the photos. Thanks to the relaxed pace we took. The gang we met the previous day were there, huffing and puffing again while we were returning.

Once we went to the base point we checked about Hebbe falls. Seems the jeep service was stopped 3 years before and only trek. There also seemed to be private waterfalls in the midst of tea estate. Both of which a guy near the ice cream parlor said he'd take us too. But 500 for him + 200 per head for forest officer was quite demanding. So we decided against it. It was actually a 9 Km path but he said it'd could be done in some 3 hours with some shortcut. Anyways we weren't in a mood so settled for lunch.

The lunch place was a shabby roof top canteen with shabbier food. I felt like some stinging in my legs. When I checked it was a leech bite but the leech had fallen off somehow. Blood was stilling oozing out but. What scared me even more when I removed the socks was the two red spots I had below. It looked like a snake bite. Even though I was steady I was afraid whether it could be any slow poison or things like that. I thought I'll instruct if I feel dizzy like how Surya instructs in Ayutha Ezuthu once he gets shot. Good that situation never happened.

After our lunch we settled below for an hour. Rest of the guys were playing phone cricket and I was idle. I too joined them while waiting for bus and continued in the link bus too. We called the guy for the bus but we got to know that we missed it so took the next one. When enquiring about the bus we got to know that the last bus was at 8'o clock. Anyway we couldn't have done Hebbe falls because there is only one link bus. One lesson learnt. Never could we complete all the places in one go. I'm like Ranbir in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani who roams around with a list. It takes a Deepika to make me sit down and watch the sunset rather. When I write, all I could think of is her cleavage in that scene. Wow it was awesome.

We returned around the same time that too. We thought we should celebrate but to our dismay the liquor shops were closed that day. We had heavy dinner but which was deserving. Also there was CL final going on which Chennai won effortlessly.

Day 4 - Back to Mangalore and Train Journey

The next day again we had to get up at 6 to take a bus at 8. We thought of going to a 1000 year old temple and all but couldn't because of the time constraint. We had breakfast in Annapurna again and got a bus. The same last row this time too. Only that the bus wasn't crowded but took us for a ride. We started around 9 and reached there around 1. Four straight hours. The journey was less tiresome this time but I couldn't sleep at all as I was rolling here and there.

Photo of Kemmangundi, Karnataka, India by Vikram Mn

Once we reached Mangalore we quickly got a restro-bar which Balaji was wanting more than any of us. We had a beer, rum etc. and celebrated. Got a bus to station. Got into the train which again was free so each of slept for a couple of hours. It was overcast there and started to rain in few minutes which made the train nice and cool. Till night it was decent but all of a sudden like some 30 sports kids entered our coach and started to sleep everywhere with no place even to move. It was irritating but that's the beauty of sleeper class. Other than the story you intend to you've a story to tell whenever you travel.