Backpacking in Kemmangundi, Karnataka

Tripoto
24th Jan 2009

A view on the trek to Hebbe Falls

Photo of Backpacking in Kemmangundi, Karnataka by Yamini Vijendran

Hebbe Falls

Photo of Backpacking in Kemmangundi, Karnataka by Yamini Vijendran

ChennaKesava Temple

Photo of Backpacking in Kemmangundi, Karnataka by Yamini Vijendran

ChennaKesava Temple

Photo of Backpacking in Kemmangundi, Karnataka by Yamini Vijendran

Z Point

Photo of Backpacking in Kemmangundi, Karnataka by Yamini Vijendran

Baba Budangiri

Photo of Backpacking in Kemmangundi, Karnataka by Yamini Vijendran

Trek to Z Point

Photo of Backpacking in Kemmangundi, Karnataka by Yamini Vijendran

It was the Republic Day long weekend and my project team at work did not need any other excuse to get away on a vacation. We had been planning to go to someplace different, for quite sometime, not wanting to take the oft beaten track of Ooty, Kodaikanal, Munnar again. So when a team member came up with the name Kemmangundi, it immediately caught our interest. And off we went travelling to Bangalore by night train from Chennai and then taking a mini bus (booked in advance) on a five hour journey to this place with an interesting name.

The journey was through vast plains, often filled with fields or just shrubs here and there, and we soon lost interest and drifted to sleep. It was a sudden exclamation from one of the guys, "Look!" that woke us all with a jerk. There stood a majestic temple, its grandeur evident even from a distance. Everyone rushed to pay a visit, while I hesitated since I never visited temples without taking a bath. The charm of the structure drew me though, and I cast aside my inhibitions and entered the Hoysala temple. That was out very first welcome at Kemmangundi, and something that has remained etched in our minds till date. From there on, it was nature and adventure all along. For the next two days, we trekked 10 kms, battled leeches, climbed mountains, and (me) almost drowned under a waterfalls! And I have never failed to relate in great detail that little adventure ever since.

Kemmangundi is a perfect getaway for a weekend, offering both peace and adventure to its tourists. Located in Chikmagalur district of Karnataka, it is not a very high hill station, at only 1300 km, but it is dotted with places of great scenic beauty - peaks, waterfalls, mountain trails, you name it. The place we stay had a quirky name - The Last Resort, but thankfully it is not the last resort to stay in Kemmangundi, as there are much better resorts and homestays there. Unfortunately we realized that only after reaching there and hence were stuck with 'Last Resort'. It was not too bad either, to be fair, just ok enough for 2 nights. We had food at the various smaller restaurants on the way to the spots. It was regular fare, the usual idli, dosa, roti, etc.

Our return to Bangalore after three days was also filled with some thrill, what with rumours of tension along Tamilnadu-Karnataka border due to the Cauveri river dispute. However our bus driver assured us that he was no less a gunda himself, and silenced our veiled mockery by showing his weapons (read axes, swords, lathis etc. in the trunk of the bus. That shut our mouth till we arrived at the Bangalore railway station and paid him off. He was a jovial man however, and took his job of protecting us rather seriously.

Kemmangundi has retained a special place in my heart, as much for its beauty as for its people. I am waiting for the day when I will be able to go back to this rustic little hill station again.

This temple is one of the hallmarks of Hoysala Empire in Chikmagalur district. The temple's architecture is typical of that found in all temples of this empire, replete with intricate carvings and detailed depictions of mythological lore in stone. The material used for construction - soapstone gives a whitish tinge to the whole temple. The presiding deity is Lord Vishnu, sitting in the inner sanctorum that is well shielded from direct light and has a low ceiling.
Photo of Chennakesava Temple, Belur, Karnataka, India by Yamini Vijendran
Photo of Chennakesava Temple, Belur, Karnataka, India by Yamini Vijendran
This is the falls where I almost drowned. While I will reserve that tale for some other time, I will surely tell you that it falls can be reached only by a 10 km trek, so be sure to plan enough time to visit it. The trek is through a small mountain path, crossing a small creek and winding downhill with the valley stretching below. A very enjoyable and adventurous affair. The falls itself is thrilling - not too high, yet with gushing water right under which you can get down and bath. One has to be careful at the base though, for the riverbed here is made of fine sand and your feet can easily sink in water, drawing you down with it. Better to go with someone who knows swimming.
Photo of Hebbe Waterfalls, Kesavinamane, Karnataka, India by Yamini Vijendran
This place gets its name from the zig-zag pathway that has been cut across the mountain to reach the peak. From the peak one can see glorious views of the plains around Kemmangundi, along with the Shola grasslands some distance away. We beheld a breathtaking view of sunset when we reached there, and came back with a serenity that can only come from such spots.
Photo of Z Point, Chikmagalur, Karnataka, India by Yamini Vijendran
Photo of Z Point, Chikmagalur, Karnataka, India by Yamini Vijendran
Here too you trek for some 2 hrs to reach the peak. Baba Budan giri, or Rajendra Hill, is a rich reservoir of iron ore, and that lends a distinctive shade to the mountain. There are not many trees on this hill. It is mainly made up of grass and shrubs, giving it an aura of being endless in space and time. The wind atop the hill almost makes you feel as if you are flying. The far and wide view from the peak brings a sudden closeness with the Creator. This is a place you feel completely one with nature.
Photo of Baba Budangiri, India by Yamini Vijendran
Photo of Baba Budangiri, India by Yamini Vijendran
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