Shola forests and grasslands: awesome hike to Nishani Motte

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"Great things are done when men and mountains meet" William Blake

Couple of week's work from home clubbed with the spring festival holiday meant a weekend for hiking in Western Ghats with our trekking group. I was after Hari for few weeks before coming and we zeroed in on the weekend of 17-18 February 2018 and Nishani motte in Kodagu as the place.

I had earlier been to Tadiyandamol, Bhrahmagiri, Makutta in Kodagu district, and had realized that each one was different. Nishani motte is a lesser known hill in the Tala Cauveri wildlife sanctuary. Hari said that tenting on the hill is not allowed and we must stay at Bhagamandala, the foot hill. He had spoken to the forest office authorities and took the necessary permission. Hari also booked a homestay at Bhagamandala (far away from the forest office, which we realized later).

Photo of Shola forests and grasslands: awesome hike to Nishani Motte 1/29 by Balachandra

The information exchange was through messages in the WhatsApp group and each one was given the pickup points and things to bring. As usual, Hari had booked a Force Traveler that started from Electronic city and picked us up on the way. Though we wanted to leave early, there was a delay right in the beginning, and funny pics of people waiting at different points were circulated. I got picked up around 23:15, after about half an hour's wait. Next stop was Tumkur road. I had gifts brought from Beijing for distributing to the trek group. We were 12. Sujith, Vinayak, Murali, Hari, Pramod K, Pramod R, Chinmay, Shashank, Guruprasad, Gururaj, Gururaj (colony) and I. We reached Bhagamandala around 5:45 and it took some effort to search for the homestay. Though we wanted to rest for some time, we started getting ready. There was some waiting for the breakfast to come. It was a nice breakfast of paddu and kadale.

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After the breakfast, we went to the forest office by the vehicle. There was some karaoke singing in the van. On the way, our host met us and handed over our lunch packets of pulao. It was already 9:15, but the office was not open yet. Once the office got opened we paid the fees and got the permission to get in to the forest. We were directed to walk behind the office. We started around 10:30, and after some walking met our guide, Mr. Ashok. The trail was very scenic. It was through open grass slopes sometimes and through shola forests sometimes. The trail was quite steep in some places and was invisible in some stretches. Guide said that the path will have many waterfalls and streams in monsoon, but in this season, none were seen. Fortunately, we had carried enough water. We also had dry fruits and toffees in between. We were with guide all the time and didn't try to venture on our own. We reached the peak around 13:30. The view all around was very beautiful.

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Once we crossed the peak, the way down was different and we took a lunch break in a shaded place behind the bushes. The place was comfortable and the pulao tasted delicious as all of us were hungry. Vinayak had brought pickles which went well with the food. After food, few lied down for a power nap. Descent was quicker and we had the vehicle waiting for us. We rushed to Talacauvery as the temple was soon going to be closed for the day. We were at the temple, the birth place of Cauvery river at 17:30. The place was beautiful and serene. On the way back, we stopped for tea at a shop that also sold spice, honey and many kinds of local wines. We did some shopping.

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We had campfire at home stay at 20:00 and had a spirited session with singing and dancing. The karaoke songs made a big difference to our singing. The food provided by homestay was reasonable. It was quite late by the time we slept. Next morning, tough we were ready early, the breakfast came only around 9:00. We finished the breakfast of puri bhaji and left the home stay. Plan was to visit Dubbare before returning to Bangalore. We reached Dubbare around 11:00 and spent some time watching elephants playing in the river. After that we took bath in river Cauvery. It was very enjoyable time. On the way back, we had lunch on the way and returned home by night.

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As it was after one year's gap at the Western Ghats, the Nishani Motte trek provided us a much-needed getaway. Thanks to Hari for the organization and my teammates for a wonderful company. Though I had been to different mountains in Coorg, I realize that each one is unique.

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