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Breaking Down Kumar Parvath

200 kms north of Mysore, the holy town of Subramanya paves the way to one of the most coveted treks of the south that is Kumar Parvath. Like any stretch of the Western Ghats, this formidable peak comes alive during monsoons when the weather is refreshing and the landscape verdant and is usually favored then (till January), although ardent trekkers can be found any time of the year. I happened to go there in the unforgiving month of March. As planned, after my scheduled skydiving and a spectacular evening light show at Mysore palace, I took the 10.30pm bus (the last one at 10.45pm), which after 6 hours consummated my journey at Kukke Subramanya. It was dark and quaint silence enveloped the town. The temple priests had just woken up. The air was pious, filled with essence of godly offerings.

I cleansed myself in the temple’s washroom and with two cups of tea I was afresh. I dawdled, turning right around a narrow alley before the temple’s entrance. I had to muster courage for the night is dark and full of terrors. And mine happened to be a hound. I sat down on the porch of a house; its dimly lit bulb could only expose so much. It's hell scary when something growls from behind, when there's nothing but eerie silence. Luckily the dog was behind a fence, chained. I ran tip toed and waited for dawn. At 6.10am I started walking through the initial concrete path that took me to a check point where a small entry gate marks the beginning of actual trail. It's like walking through jungle, dense canopy all around, bizarre trees and creepers, outside world obscured. Hardly any leaf moved and the rising sun only made the humidity worse, sweat rolling into eyes, awfully irritating when you are wearing specs. A group was heading down when I reached the first viewpoint. Their adulation to see me trekking alone was a mental stimulus. I took a break while soaking in the breeze that finally lay on my sweat drenched face. Subramanya town is faintly visible from here. The second viewpoint was sown with dungs and stones on the left and on the right I could make out what looked like the roof of forest rest house. At this point you must go left (this I realized on my way back), that leads to Bhattara Mane and then you go towards the forest house. I did just the opposite. I went right, cautiously cowering beneath the cable lines. It was disheartening to hear from the forest officials that “nobody’s allowed to trek alone as per rules”. Coming all the distance for nothing is sheer disappointment. After a lot of pleading they allowed me but advised to be cautious although trail is well marked. They suggested I eat something while meantime another group may come and I could join. It was a wise advice, to eat something before. But waiting isn’t my strong suit. I went to Bhattare mane, had some lemon rice and packed some in a lunch box I carried. Guys who trekked previous day were taken aback hearing my stance. They warned me not to go alone! “You may get lost”. I headed back to the forest house, paid my registration fee of 200rs and started with their best wishes. Too many warnings made me diffident BUT I proceeded with utmost caution and took my time at all turns and two ways. You can also find markers. Soon I left that dreaded forest-y muddle to reach flatter meadows folding slightly downwards on either side. The thicket of trees below looked like broccoli. Given the month, grass wasn't much green and looked baked, brown and dry. I could already see Kumar Parvath, my glorious feat within reach. The sun was overhead with little breeze to do with. I reached a temple ruins, an assemblage of stacked stones, what is called a mantapa. I rested for a while and ate some moongdal. Just lying there in the shade with brisk air was enough to regain some vigor. Further, it was weathered ground and steep that was hard to traction. I did a small recon to identify a promising walkway, all in vain and proceeded nevertheless, carefully pivoting my steps. I felt the gradient on my knees. At the summit it was good to see some faces after a long time, a group was heading back. Finally, after three hours Kumar Parvath was conquered. I was happy I could do this alone. I sat against a rock providing some shade and ate my lunch. The views were tranquil, monsoon or not. A pointy hill in front was appealing but I was short on both time and energy, hence dropped the idea of climbing that one. Silence echoed, the wind reverberating in my ears. I fell asleep and was almost at the edge of the hill when I woke up. The short nap was good. On my way back, at 1pm scorching heat, a group had started. Imagine the pull this trek has. I came down in two hours, elated. The forest people were happy to see me again. I drenched myself with the cool water from their hand pump and gorged on guava they plucked from their garden. They wished me good luck and I headed back to Bhattare mane. Had planned to stay at Bhattare Mane for the night, the routine usually trekkers follow. But given the state of affairs, the mud house with no fans and brimming humidity to live with, and the fact my body burnt like furnace, impromptu I decided I’ll head down today itself. Bangalore.Oyo room. AC. Chicken and beer. Popped up in my head. “I deserve some luxury as a reward”. I ate some pulao they made for lunch. The buttermilk was quenching. I paid 150rs for food and went as per the direction they gave me. That’s when I figured that dung sown field. I walked with earnest with whatever energy left in me, my legs almost giving away. Once out of the Jungle, at the check post, I lay (read collapse) down gasping for breath. There was a guy serving watermelons, buttermilk and kokam juice. I had two kokams, two buttermilk, two plates of watermelon, another two glasses of buttermilk and a glass of kokam. No amount of hydration seemed to help; I was perspiring gallons of sweat, liquids vaporizing off me. It was almost 5pm when I made it to the bus stand and was lucky to find a bus about to leave for Bangalore. I got a window seat. Though my legs were a bit cramped, the bus travel turned out fine as I breathed against gushing winds. At 11 pm I reached Bangalore, the streets were alive. 28kms trek in a single day in grim conditions and then 4 hours bus travel, my body was broke but my spirit lived. I was beaming with pride relaxing in the luxury of my hotel room, reminiscing.

Photos of Breaking Down Kumar Parvath 1/5 by Sambhav Poddar
Mysore Palace
Photos of Breaking Down Kumar Parvath 2/5 by Sambhav Poddar
Bizarre Trees
Photos of Breaking Down Kumar Parvath 3/5 by Sambhav Poddar
KP summit in view
Photos of Breaking Down Kumar Parvath 4/5 by Sambhav Poddar
The pointy hill view from KP summit
Photos of Breaking Down Kumar Parvath 5/5 by Sambhav Poddar
Kukke Subramanya Temple

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