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Makutta-Pattimalai, a nature’s challenge
Duration: 2 Days
Expenditure 2000

While moving to China for a living in December 2015, one of my hitches was the possible inability to be doing treks. Particularly, my resolution to visit the Himalayas once every year was clearly getting affected. We did have this group that was planning the next trek after Brahmagiri in November 2015, and I was keen to pull through a trek during the weekend of 13-14 February when I was visiting home for the Chinese new-year holiday. Among the team, Hari was particularly keen and did all the enquiries for a Kuduremukh trek. Unfortunately, on 20th January, Hari gave the news that Kuduremukha treks were stopped from January 18th due to forest fire. Varada also confirmed the news. This meant that our plans were going waste. I and Yatish (whom we had met during the Brahmagiri trek) were very keen to go for alternatives and pushed the team. Guruprasad had few options and shared some contacts. But he only had to go ahead and talk to the contacts. Thankfully, he spoke to the forest officer and the guard of Makutta and confirmed. They were not keen to have more people, and we had a huge demand. Ultimately we decided that we will go with the same number that trekked Brahmagiri, 13. Yatish had a team of five people this time and we had to let go some from the earlier group. Next couple of weeks went in sharing the checklist of things to carry and to do. Guru volunteered to buy sleeping bags for those of us who did not have. Hari arranged a 13 seater tempo (Force) traveler. We were picked up on the Friday night at places convenient to us and reached around 11pm to Mysore road satellite bus stand to pick up Yatish and team. They had not had their dinner yet and we had to hunt for a place for dinner on the way. It was almost 12:30 am when we started finally. We reached Virajpet (Veerarajendrapete) at around 5:15 am and checked into a lodge. We took four rooms to catch some sleep and freshen up; had breakfast of Idly vadas, and packed pulao for lunch from the restaurant in front of the lodge. After breakfast, we left for Makutta, which was approximately 40 mins drive along the winding picturesque winding ghat road and reported at the forest office. We completed all necessary documentation and paid the fees for forest entry and the guide (guard Hemanth Kumar). Guide Hemanth was young and amicable. We started the trek to Sollekolli APC (anti-poaching camp) at 9:15 am. It was a 5 kms walk through a jeep trail completely covered with dry leaves and surrounded by thick forest. There was a small hydroelectric project on the way built on the Barapole River on the Kerala side. We saw the grave of Ponnappa, a guard who was killed by poachers in 1997, on the way. We reached Barapole, near Sollekolli by 10:45 am. Most people while filling their water bottles, stayed behind, while I and Guru followed Hemanth to the APC that was a couple of minutes distance. As the rest of the crowd did not reach APC for more than half an hour, a staff, Chinnappa went in search of them and realized that they missed the APC way and went ahead on the jeep trail. I and Guru enjoyed black tea prepared by Rangachar while waiting for others to come. We had almost lost an hour in this fiasco. We left for Neelampole, a river about 7 kms from the APC at 11:55 am and reached by. 2:00 pm. For long part of the trail, there was fire line (burnt dry leaves in the middle to avoid an accidental fire spreading). The sight at Neelampole was beautiful. We got into the water and enjoyed. We were astonished to see huge fish in good numbers jumping out of the water (later I realized that they were catching the flowers falling from the trees). After coming out of water, we ate our packed lunch there. It was evening by the time we returned. We took a brief stop at the hanging bridge on Kariyamople River and took pictures. It was 5:30 when we left the bridge and we could see the sunset on the hills. After coming back we went for a bath in the river and came back to the camp at almost 8 pm. Hemant and Murali were cooking rice. They made rice, rasam with instant rasam blocks, and puliogare. We had a party singing and laughing. Sujith conducted antakshari competition and we discovered that guide Hemanth was very talented. Hari was in high spirits having full fun. In his excitement, he was patting Vinayak Pai hard every time he sang a song. We slept around 10:30pm. I had slept outside on the verandah using the sleeping bag as a bed. Felt the chill around 2 am and got into the sleeping bag. We got up at 5 am, aiming to leave early for the peak. There was left over rice and I prepared lemon rice with the help of Hemanth. We made sure everyone had breakfast before leaving. We started at 7:15 taking just water, dry fruits, chewies and cameras with us. Pratap decided to stay back as he had been trekking many weekends. The trail started after the Kariampole River. As this was the last water point in the route, we all filled our bottles. Initial part of the trail has fire line here too. The path was steep and the dry leaves made it very slippery. It was quite tricky in some places. All through it was thick jungle. We did not take much of a rest anywhere and were on the peak in four hours’ time at 11:15 am. The view was getting better as we went up. Pottimalai (or Pattimalai) peak was a grassy land with an amazing 360o view. We were jumping with joy having conquered one more peak in the Western Ghats. There a watch tower built by the forest department on the peak that provides a much better view and excellent breeze. We also had some spots very nice for photo sessions. We stayed on top till 12:30 pm and started our descent. Coming down was trickier in the slope. We had also run out of drinking water and were gasping for our breadth. We reached the camp at 4:00 pm and went to take a quick bath in the river. When we came back the gojju avalakki that Pratap’s mother had given was ready and we thoroughly enjoyed it. This is when I realized that Pramod was not there. Everyone had come back from the river except for him. One again it was time for search. Couple of people went to the river and Hemanth went to the trail behind the camp. Apparently Pramod had taken the trail towards Neelampole/Pottimalai and came back to the river as he realized that he was getting far from the camp. We all had a sigh of relief and soon left for Makutta. Hemanth was concerned that we were getting late to report to the forest office. After reporting back to Makutta forest office, we had tea in the restaurant in front of it and left for Gonikoppal where we stopped for dinner. Yatish guided us to a nice Coorgi restaurant. We were there for some time and left for Bangalore by 9:30 pm. It was 2 pm by the time I reached home. The next day was normal without any pain in the body. This was my third major trek in Coorg after Tadiyandimol and Brahmagiri. I could see that all three, though so close are different and unique. Makutta-Pottimalai is beautiful and the trek is clearly challenging. The trail is very natural given the fact that very few people trek here, and the difficulty level is high. We had walked around 17 kms on both the days. I am back in Beijing with the satisfaction of a well spent holiday. Thanks to a wonderful team of trekkers who are not only nature enthusiasts, but also responsible. Thanks to the helpful guide Hemant Kumar. Special thanks to Guru and Hari for organizing the trek.

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