Beautiful Brahmagiri

7th Nov 2015
Photo of Beautiful Brahmagiri 1/37 by Balachandra
All set
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Irpu falls
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Refreshing water
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Leech attack
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On Brahmagiri
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Photo of Beautiful Brahmagiri 37/37 by Balachandra
Brahmagiri has been on our wish list for too long. We couldn’t go earlier for the reasons of non-availability of permission due to various issues. I called the forest office many times during September, and was successful to get through on 28th September. They informed that October was fully booked for weekends and the earliest available date was November 7th. I didn’t waste any time in blocking the date though some of the group members felt that it was close to Deepawali.For those who are not familiar, Brahmagiri that I am talking about is in the border of Kodagu (Coorg) district of Karnataka and Waynad district in Kerala. There are other Brahmagiris in Maharashtra and Orissa. The peak is at an altitude of 1608 miters. Brahmagiri is also a wild life sanctuary that is famous for elephants.Once we got a slot for the guest house stay, next step was to get interested people to come together. I posted the information in two groups, the Gudigar trekking group and the Sarpass Bangalore boys group. Got response from about 1`0 people and I was happy. Hariprasad was once again ready to book a Force traveler and we kept exchanging notes about how to go about. Ultimately, it was 13 people and Hari had to look for a 13 seater. We had heard about the notorious leeches on the trail and Guruprasad offered to buy leech proof socks from Shivajinagar. This was suggested to him from his colleague Pratap Sikdar, who is a regular trekker. This was really helpful as we could see during the trek that the leeches were unable to penetrate it.On Friday, 6th November 2015, 13 of us: Hariprasad, Pramod Gudigar, Pramod K, Vishal, Guruprasad, Sujith, Giri, Gururaj, Sandesh, Varada, Pratap, Bhargav (my son) and I travelled to Srimangala. The vehicle started picking up people from BEL circle around 11 pm (one hour behind schedule). It then picked up people from MG road, Dr. Rajkumar Statue at Kurubara Halli and finally from the arch at RR Nagar at 12:30 am on 7th. Though we were unhappy about the delay, the diver Sachin was very good and drove smoothly and fast. Some of us helped with our GPS to make sure we didn't lose way and reached Srimangala by 5am in the morning. Mr. Ramanna was waiting for us at the IB that was pre-booked. All of us settled down and caught two hours sleep. We started getting ready around 7 and at 8.30 went to Mangaladeepa, a local restaurant to have breakfast we had pooris or Ney pathal (rice pooris). We also packed Pulao for lunch from there. We went back to the IB and then to the forest office and paid the fees (Rs 100/- per head at IB, Rs 2000/- for stay at Narimale, Rs 500/- for guide and Rs/- per head for the forest entry. As there was problem with their printer, we had to wait till Vineet came at 10:30 am and corrected the printer to give us the receipt. We then took the vehicle to Irpu falls (Lakshmana Teertha) that was 9 kms away. We had to wait there further as we were told that three other people would like to join us. I also spoke to Mr Yatish who was going to join us. Some of us took refreshing bath under the falls. The guides name was Ramu, a forest guard with long experience. We visited to the local Rameshwara temple to seek blessings. Yatish, who was supposed to do a documentary for public TV and his two friends Vinay Pai and Guru joined in some time. It was almost 12:30 pm by the time we started the trek. Sujith, as always was kind enough to carry the additional load of chapatis. The trail was cool with many trees, but was completely infested with leeches. For many, it was shocking. We tried salt and snuff on the shoes. Clearly the socks were of great help.The route was very picturesque with streams, thick jungle and grassland. By 1:45 pm, we arrived at a bridge where we could fetch refreshing water. By 2 pm, we had the first view of Narimale peak. Around 2:15, we took a small break to get those who were trailing along with us. The view all around was captivating. By 2:45, we arrived at a watch tower that was next to a stream that we had to cross via a wooden bridge. We reached the rest house at 4:30 pm. First half an hour went in filling water from nearby stream so that we had enough stock till we left. We then had our lunch of the pulao and wadas. Though cold, it was nice. At 5.30, we could see a glimpse of the sunset through the thick forest.After the sun set, we lit the camp fire and Mr Guru was very enthusiastic in making the fire light well. When we came out of the building for the camp fire, few of us got our first leech bites. It seemed like the leeches had a special affection for Vinay Pai as he was bleeding quite a lot. We sat on the chairs around the camp fire making sure not to keep our feet down and played antakshari for the next two hours. We could see many talents coming out during the time. We had dinner with chapatis, chatnipudi (packed from Holigemane) with ghee which was delicious. After chatting for some time, we slept around 10 pm. It was indeed a luxury to be in a solid structure that was surrounded by solar electric fence in that elephant zone. We had witnessed the destruction of the kitchen and damage to some parts of the building due to Elephant attack that had happened some time back. Ramu had told us that we had to start the trek the next day by 7 pm. Next morning we got up early, but it took time for all of us to get ready and we left for the next trek at 7:30 am. This trail was even more beautiful with many wild flowers and stunning views. We could see foot marks of elephants and elephant dung in many places reminding us that we were in the elephant zone. The first part here required us to cross thick jungle and fallen trees before we came into grassy land. We saw stags running at some distance. Around 9:30 am we reached the start of the final peak which was quite a climb and was slippery. Ramu opted to stay back and watch our belongings. There was some discussion if we should have our breakfast or wait till we come back, but most thought of having it after we return. We started the climb and within few minutes sighted a lone tusker that was magnificent. Unfortunately, I had left my zoom lens behind. In about half an hour’s time, we were on Brahmagiri! The feeling was of elation. The peak has an awesome 360o view with wide spread Western Ghats, running clouds, sights of Villages in Karnataka and Kerala. We spent an hour on top clicking lot of pictures. Yatish took a video where he made all of us to express our feelings. We reluctantly we started coming down. The descent was quite tricky with the slope and loose gravel. We could sight the lone tusker on our way back, but this time it had turned the other way. We also saw a couple of people approaching the peak from Waynad side.We decided to move on and have the brunch near the stream. Reached the stream around 12:30 pm and had the delightful gojju avalakki made by Pratap’s mother. As we moved on, around 1:20 pm we sighted two herds of elephants at a distance. The last of us reached Irpu falls by 4:30 pm and all of us had a very refreshing bath under the waterfall. A few leech bites once again in the resting area, possibly by those that we brought from the trail on our shoes. Some people had tea and most of us enjoyed Coorg oranges sold by Ramu’s family. We thanked Ramu, Yatish and friends and left at 7:00 pm.In about half an hour’s time we reached Gonikoppa(l) and stopped for dinner, few went for vegetarian and most of is relished non veg food. We left at 8:30 pm and reached the first stop, the RR arch at 12.30 am. Sachin was once again very nice with his driving.Brahmagiri trek will remain fresh in our mind for a long time, for nature’s beauty, the flora and fauna, excellent group and awful leeches. Thanks to our wonderful team for their nice company. It was nice making new friends with Yatish, Pai and Guru. A remarkable feature was the clean trail with no trash anywhere.Some tips for fellow trekkers here:The forest office at Srimangala number: 08274 246331 (Vineet, Pramod)Srimangala IB number: Ramanna 9480747709Leech proof socks can be bought from Mayur Army and General stores, No.5, 1st Floor, Church Complex, Shivaji Nagar, Bangalore - 560051, Opposite Russell Market.