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 went there in the unforgiving month of March when the weather beats you high and dry. After my 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, quaint silence enveloped the town. The temple priests had just woken up. The air was pious, filled with the essence of godly offerings.
I dawdled, turning right around a narrow alley before the temple’s entrance, mustering courage to walk through dimly lit trails. I took a break on the porch of a house, a sudden disgruntled growl from behind, froze me in horror. Thankfully the dog was chained behind a fence. I ran tip toed back to the temple. And waited for dawn. At 6.10am I started walking; the initial concrete path took me to a check point where a small entry gate marks the beginning of the actual trek. The trek was through dense jungle, canopy all around, bizarre trees and creepers. There was no breeze, with the rising sun making the humidity worse, sweat rolling into eyes, awfully irritating when you are wearing specs. A group heading down gave a thumbs up for their adulation to see me trekking alone; it was a mental stimulus. At the first view point, I soaked in the breeze that finally lay on my sweat drenched face. Subramanya town is faintly visible from here. The second viewpoint was laid with dungs and stones. 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 rest house. I did just the opposite. I went right, cautiously cowering beneath the cable lines reaching the FRH. I was disheartened 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 good 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. Some guys who had trekked previous day warned me not to go alone! “You may get lost in one of the Y's”. 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 Y's. 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, the surrounding grass was dry and brown. 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 gave it a rest while eating some moongdal. Just lying there in the shade with brisk air was enough to regain some vigor. Moving ahead, it was steep ascent in loose soil, hard for traction. I did a small recon to identify a promising walkway through a rocky patch but nada; proceeded nevertheless, carefully pivoting my steps, the gradient taking a toll 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 sat against a rock providing some shade and ate my lunch. The vantage views are the things a trekker lives for and they were good. A pointy hill in front was appealing but I was short on both time and energy, hence dropped the idea of climbing that one. In the solitude, wind reverberated in my ears. I fell asleep and woke up almost at the edge of the hill. Phew! On my way back, in scorching heat of 1pm, 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 and gave me freshly plucked guava 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 usual routine of trekkers. But given the state of affairs, the mud house with no fans and brimming humidity to live in, and the fact my body burnt like furnace, impromptu I decided I’ll head down today itself and reach Bangalore. Conjuring up an image in my head - AC room with some Chicken and chilled beer to revel in my solo feat. I had some pulao and buttermilk, paid 150rs for food and went as per the direction they gave with the conjured image motivating me all along. Once out of the Jungle, at the check post, I simply lay 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. All that intake and still I was perspiring gallons of sweat. 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 still 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, regaling in the luxury of my hotel room, with chicken and beer in each hand, reminiscing the day's worth.