Kollur- Mookambika - Sringeri- Annapoorneswari Temple, Horanad- Karkala - A peep into Pilgrim’s Paradise.
If you are not an Atheist and longing for peace of mind, this is the appropriate place to be in. “Kudachadri”, the peak (almost 1350 meters above sea level) which is around 40 KM from the Kollur Mookambika temple can be accessed either by walk through the forest or by jeep which will cost you Rs 1400/- per vehicle for two way journey. A jeep can accommodate a maximum of 8 people. If you think that the rate is on higher side, just check out the route. There are hardly any roads, the vehicle need to be crawled along the tough plains and rock mounted hills. It’s an adventurous journey rather than a comfortable one. It would take around two hours to reach the parking area on top of the hill. There is a small temple on the top which is the “Moolasthana” of the Kollur Mookambika temple. It’s believed that the Goddess appeared first here in Kodachadri. There is one Shiva- Parvathi temple also.
You need to walk up the hill from the parking area to reach “Shankara Peedam” which is the highest point where there is a small temple of Shri Sankaracharya. On the way you can also see the “Ganapathy Guha” and a slight deviation from the path can take you to small waterfalls. People use these places for meditation. I still can’t forget the day when I spent one whole night there in that shelter in Shankara Peedam with a blanket and a candle. It was freezing out there during the night. I don’t think I can hold that nerve right now, if asked. A trek down the hill on the other side will take you to “Chitramoola” where there are some small caves which are used for meditation.
If you are hiring a jeep of your own you can take your own time and enjoy the panoramic views. Otherwise you would have to return in 2 hours time. The view of sunset from the Kudachadri peak is astonishing. The view of water filled reservoirs, green mountain/hills, grasslands and the calm and quiet atmosphere can make you comfortable. The blow of cool breeze soothes your heart. There are two options for stay out there in Kudachadri; one is in the Bhat’s house where they will provide food and homely stay charging nominally. The second option is a PWD rest house which would be closed for renovation most of the time. (I had that experience three times during my earlier visits).
Kudachadri Route—Kollur- Nagodi (20KM) - Nittur- Gowrikkara- Sampekkette- Kudachadri (The 9 KMS from Sampekkette to Kudachadri through the forest area is somewhat a mixture of pleasure cum adventure)
Darshan at Kollur Mookambika temple is a dream cum true for every pilgrim. It is believed that one can reach there if only wished so by the goddess herself. The temple atmosphere is somewhat different from others in Kerala and Tamil Nadu which makes it unique. There are so many special poojas and rituals which are detailed in the temple website itself. Around 90% of the visitors of the temple are Keralites and therefore this place, although is in Karnataka, is more inclined towards Kerala. Darshan timings (5AM-1PM and 3PM to 9PM) For Accomodation ( 08254-258225 Vishnumoorthy Udupa)
There are no good restaurants around the temple. Avoid having water from outside. Use only mineral water. The water provided is unhygienic and can cause diarrhea or dysentery. It’s better to have packed food or to have food provided by the temple authorities inside the temple.
After having a satisfying darshan early in the morning I, Sreekumar and Shinu (who is not that satisfied being an atheist) wanted to move towards our next tourist destination Agumbe- the place which is famous for King Cobras and also for the old tele serial “ Malgudi Days” in National Channel. The journey was at first planned with a group of 6 people. But as I said, there is time for everyone to reach Kollur, 4 skipped for various reasons at the last moment and Sreekumar, the luckiest of all stepped in. As Shinu said, Sreekumar is a nice chap with witty mind who can be stuffed into any company easily. Only thing we should bear in mind is that he would turn into a “monster” if not fed in time. As we were only three in number, we decided to move by bus rather than hiring a vehicle. That decision was not only to save money, but also to mingle with the public so as to know more about their culture, living conditions and other interesting factors that are quite informational.
There is no direct bus to Agumbe from Kollur. There is a bus to Hebri via Haladi at 6.55AM (2 Hours Journey) and frequent buses ply from Hebri to Agumbe. When we were having morning tea from a “Thattukada” Shinu who is fluent in Kannada asked one young person sitting over there in the shop, the time required to reach Hebri. The person was somewhat indifferent and replied in Kannada that it will take 2 hours. When I asked Shinu what was he was telling, Shinu replied that he might be a fanatic and doesn’t know anything. When we entered the bus, to my surprise, I found that the person to whom Shinu talked was the driver of the bus, though looked like a fanatic.
The bus journey from Kollur to Agumbe was somewhat a different experience. The drive was in an average speed although there was not much traffic. Roads are very narrow too. There were only a few passengers and most of the seats were vacant. We three were sitting in rows to enjoy the cool morning breeze. I saw Shinu asking some questions to the fellow passengers in Kannada. As I couldn’t understand what he was asking, I could only look at them with a smile as if I understood something. I was once again surprised when I found that another guy with whom Shinu was talking in Kannada was actually a Keralalite. Shibu was a native of Kottayam, Kerala although he was born and brought up there in Karnataka. He speaks good Malayalam and we got a lot of information from him. I still can’t forget the nice smile he had when he came to know that we are all Malayaleese. Shibu is a farmer engaged in the cultivation of rubber, cardamom, and other spices in that place. He is a proud owner of 50 Acres of land there. He became very close to me within that short span of the bus journey. I have his mobile number and he still gives me a ring at least once in a week. This relationship reminds me of the saying:
“Everyone you meet in your life is not just coincidence but destiny. Leave something good for them so that u can be remembered forever”.
We reached Hebri at about 9AM and had breakfast from a small hotel as I and Shinu didn’t want Sreekumar to be turned into a “monster”. We reached Agumbe via Someshwar (20KM) enjoying the scenic beauty at about 10AM. From Someshwar there are 15 hairpin curves before reaching Agumbe.
After getting down from the bus Shinu was looking for the shelter that he had arranged earlier with his internet skills. We were all welcomed by one Mallya who is the sole tour operator in Agumbe. Mallya Residency (Ph 08181-233042) provides accommodation to those who visit Agumbe. We were told that there are frequent visitors now as the place is getting wide publicity via articles and publications. After checking in the hotel and light refreshment we were on for the exploration. Mallya arranged one vehicle, Maruthi 800, which was more than enough for 3 of us. Ganeshan, the young chap was our driver. Mallya gave him instructions how to cover the places without wasting time.
Kundadri is the highest peak in Agumbe. There is one Jain temple there, which opens only during early morning time. There is a small pond. Ganeshan was feeding the fishes using the waste food products that he kept with him from the Mallya’s provision store. The view point from the top of the hill is simply awesome.
Although the water level was not high, the shower in the falls made us feel fresh and we enjoyed the time spent over there with no one else other than us. Forest dept. charges Rs 5/- per head for the shower in the waterfalls. The only thing that was wondering was the safety of our belongings which might be stolen by none other than the monkeys.
From the turning face of Sreekumar, I could find that its time to have something. So we opted to have lunch from a small village hotel. But the food there was so tasty and economical that the bearer had a tough time with us to provide timely service.
Our next visit was to Jogi Hundi which is a small waterfall with hardly any falls during summer season. From the parking slot we need to walk a distance of around 2 KM to reach the falls. There is a pool like location which is ideal for swimming. Sreekumar, as had large intake of food, showed some of his diving skills.
ARRS (AGUMBE RAIN FOREST RESEARCH STATION)
We then went to the research station which is almost located inside the jungle. We had a chat with the volunteers there to know the activities that are being carried out there. Vipul, one of the employees who is from Ahmedabad, explained us of their present projects. Although they are engaged in various ecological and biodiversity studies their main concentration is on “King Cobra” research. The Research Station provides dormitory and cottage accommodation for those who are interested in nature activities by charging a nominal amount. It’s a suitable hiding place for IT professionals and business men. Contact Number of ARRS is 08181-223081/233186.
DODDAMANE (MALGUDI DAYS HOUSE)
The sight of the house lifted me back to my schooldays when I and my sister used to watch out the serial Malgudi days. The title song Thana na thanna….. Came to my mind. I saw the old lady, the owner of the house, doing pooja inside the room. Her voice for the pooja karma was echoing inside the house. We could see the nook and corner of the house which is still kept old with the help of Ganeshan who is well known to that house owner.
The sunset point in Agumbe is nearby the last hair pin bend when we travel from Someshwar to Agumbe. The view was not that clear as we didn’t feel anything special there, may be because of the great sight of sunset that we can have at Kanyakumari. Rather than watching the sunset we were all engaged in looking at the activities of street vendors exploiting the tourists.
We had our dinner from a vegetarian restaurant nearby our hotel. Then we went for a long walk through the empty streets of Agumbe in moonlight. I was somewhat bothered of the cobras and so kept my mobile light on during the walk because cobras are unaware that we are actually tourists.
We settled in the room at about 11PM.
It was quite chill out there at 5AM when I woke up and saw Sreekumar in his usual style getting ready. Within half an hour Ganeshan turned up with the car to drop us to Kudremukh via Sringeri. I and sreekumar didn’t mind to have an early morning shower but that was not the case of Shinu. In one hour time we reached Sringeri. Unlike other forest stations early morning drive is not dangerous here as there are no elephant crossings. We could hardly find any vehicles moving through in between our journey to Sringeri. We reached there at about 6.15 and had a good darshan at the temple. The outlook of the temple has changed dramatically since my last visit. The temple is on the banks of the river Thunga. There are lots of accommodation options available in Sringeri, which being a pilgrim centre.
Although I am not thorough of the route, as that department was handled by Shinu, via low traffic areas we reached a place called Kalasa at about 9AM. We had covered a distance of over 115 KM from Agumbe then. We paid an amount of Rs 1500/- to Ganeshan in total as transportation charges and tips. Shinu, in between, our drive was in frequent contact with Sathish, the guide in Kudremukh. As it was in Kannada, I and Sreekumar couldn’t grasp anything.
When we were dropped at a place 14 KM enrooted to Kudremukh-Mangalore, one jeep was waiting for us. In 1 hour time through the jeep road we reached Mullodi a small village where the house of Satish, who is our guide for Kudremukh trekking, is located. Satish, welcomed us and served breakfast which was homely. I saw the “monster’s” face turning bright with the arrival of breakfast as all were tired of the long trip.
Satish mane (Sathish’s house) is a dream place in 20 acres of land where you can find almost every vegetable being cultivated. The scenery with huge mountains, water falls, birds twittering, and the greenery around are simply exceptional. It’s a dream cum true for every nature lover to be a part of that house at least for one day. I wanted to collect lots of information regarding the cultivation and the methods adapted, but the only constraint was the language.
After 15 mts, Regunath a middle aged man, whom Satish arranged as guide for us for the Kudremuk Trek appeared from nowhere. He was wearing a cute cap made of Arecanut leaf sheath. It is a multi purpose cap, which can also be used as a utensil for collecting water as well. It is also helpful in keeping the head cool.
As I love dogs, I couldn’t resist the affection shown by a local dog called “Hunda”. My little pat on his head meant more to him and he became my friend too. I, Shinu, Sreekumar and the guide and hunda (5 of us) started our exploration at about 10.15AM. I initially felt that “Hunda” would return after some distance but to my surprise he followed us throughout the entire trek trying to help us all the way.
Reghunath explained the suit to follow. We have to cover a distance of around 12 KM before reaching the peak which we were heading for. It was rather more difficult than what we thought. We had to walk through the forest and flat mountains having steep heights and rocky roads. There were so many brooks in between the forest to quench the thirst. The pure water was very tasty and we felt refreshed.
There are 3 forbidden houses, which are called as “Lobo houses”, which were used by LOBO a British man, when he used the forest area for cultivation during the British Rule. Things were getting difficult when we moved further. Laddering two steep hills was something which we never expected. For the determined, difficult tasks are always achievable. However we were all determined to reach the peak, putting in all our efforts. It looked easy for “hunda” and ofcourse Regunath too, he being a routine trekker. Regunath was moving in a high speed as if wind was helping him by blowing him forward. I could see Hunda jumping high the hills and watching us reaching the point safely. I sometimes felt that even though Hunda doesn’t have a language, his look could convey the message………”Come on man you can do it”. We all had to compete only with the rising mercury and the sweltering heat. Sun was bright showing all his power, the clouds pounded mercy on us by intermittently blocking the sun in between for little shade.
After four hours walk we reached the Kudremukh peak. Reaching there overcoming all the difficulties is something unexplainable. I could even feel the happiness in “Hunda” as he was running around there with joy. Clouds moved below us and gave us pat for our accomplishment. Being at a height of around 1900 meters and enjoying the bird’s eye view of the things around is amazing. Although we were all afraid to stand near the rocks looking down “Hunda” not being Acrophobic took advantage of the situation and enjoyed the scenario. Just inside the forest there is a forbidden shelter, which is believed to be constructed by the then Raja. I wondered how the workers managed to bring the materials for constructing such a building there.
After spending around 45 minutes at the peak we moved down and had water from the stream and had lunch which we had brought from the Sathish mane. “Hunda” was also feeling the heat as I saw him lying down in the water flowing from the stream. Thirst and Hunger-common feelings to all living beings, “Hunda” also had food from us. He was thankful for the food although he couldn’t utter the formal word “Thank U”.
Sreekumar and Shinu slept for half an hour and I spend time with “Hunda”.Regunath was also very talkative and he explained the tough time that he is going through the span of his life. Although I could somewhat understand what he was telling, I couldn’t reply because of the language. We decided to return via the sole route and it took 3 hrs to reach Satish’s mane. After having a cup of tea we went for a shower in the tiny waterfalls nearby the house. Having shower in waterfalls in moon light during a full moon day was my first experience and I thoroughly enjoyed that. When we returned after the shower I saw “Hunda” sleeping in front of the house. Satish arranged campfire during night and good homely food for dinner. We were all so tired that we could only keep us awake till 10.30 PM. The mat and pillow provided to us as bed was more comfortable than a cushioned bed.
At about 6 AM, as usual, Sreekumar was the first person to be ready. I had a crow bath as the water was freezing. Satish charged us Rs 300/- per person (Rs.350/- for Non Veg) for the food and accommodation. Trekking fee was Rs 115/- per person and the guide fee Rs 250/- in total. The jeep charge though is on the higher side which is Rs 400/- for one side journey.
After having a cup black coffee we left the place by carrying the memories with us. I looked for “Hunda” but he was missing. The jeep dropped us to the place from where we were picked, and from there we went to Kalasa by bus.
I and Sreekumar were keen to go to Horanad Annapoorneswari Temple which Shinu had to accept. We took an auto from Kalasa which costs us Rs 130/- for to and fro journey. I still remember the respect and sincerity shown by the Auto Driver, Prabhakar. He was keen on our safety and explained the history of the temple. With his help we had darsan in the temple in a quick time as it was quite rush out there. In one hour time we could reach Kalasa back and after having breakfast from a decent restaurant, we could catch the next bus to Karkala.
From Kalasa via Kudremukh town it took around two hours (60KM) to reach Karkala. Karkala is famous for Jain temples. There are lots of temples situated there which are of utmost importance to Jains. As Shinu was not interested in knowing more about this we couldn’t rather collect information as we need to act deaf and dump because of language. After spending two hours time visiting various temples we decided to return to Mangalore. The temples there resemble the Hindu temples in Malabar region of Kerala. The “Ratha” for the pooja is also the same as that we see in Malabar area. Being a holiday there were many old people attending the poojas going on in various temples.
Frequent buses ply from Karkala to Mangalore. It took one and half hours (40KM) to reach Mangalore. By about 2PM we reached Mangalore. After lunch we had a little shopping from the shopping mall nearby the city bus stand. We had reserved seats in the Maveli Express which starts from Mangalore at 05.45PM.We reached Trivandrum before the scheduled time at about 07.10AM.
• When u go for trekking its better to take with u the following things
• One sharp knife,
• A torch light,
• A cap
• Carry bag (Shoulder bag)
• A binocular (optional)
• Pair of shoe
• Keep one Dhothy always with u.
• Watch out for temple darshan timings