Kukke Subramanya & Kumara Parvatha; a drive and trek


Kumaraparvatha, Kukke subramanya, Kumaraparvata

We came back today (26th Jan 09) after an unforgettable trip spread over 3 days, drove 690kms from Bangalore to Kukke Subramanya and back… and trekked for a total distance of 26kms to the top of Kumara Parvatha.

Kumara Parvatha (KP) is the second highest peak in Karnataka after Mullayanagiri and is considered to be the toughest trek in Karnataka. Having trekked to Mullayanagiri some 13 years ago during our college days, KP was a trek that Sangeetha and I had discussed on several occasions.

After our recent 7 day drive around Karnataka, we thought of doing something different during the first long weekend of the year. Winter is generally a good time to trek into the western ghats and the KP plan took shape over a couple of weeks.

My friend and classmate, Mr.Patil is also an avid trekker and he too had KP on his to-do list for quite a while. We discussed the trip and the plan quickly started falling into place.

KP is generally a 2 day trek, where you can cover around 75% of the upward trek on day 1, camp overnight, cover the remaining 25% ascent and come down by late afternoon the next day. An ideal plan would be to reach Kukke Subramanya early in the morning, start trekking and reach half-way up the peak to a place called ‘Girigadde – Bhattaramane’ by lunch time. Post lunch another 25% of the ascent can be completed to reach another landmark called ‘Mantapa’.

With a natural spring providing a perennial supply of water near ‘Mantapa’, it is a good place to camp for the night. Starting as early as possible the next day is advisable since ascent will be easier before the sun gets hotter. The descent from the peak will be faster and you can be at ‘Bhattaramane’ by noon and come down to Kukke Subramanya by evening.

The route we took from Bangalore was via Mysore > Madikeri (Mercara) > Sullya > Kukke Subramanya, a distance of 345kms. [The other route is via Hassan > Sakleshpur > Shiradi Ghats. This route is better avoided due to the extemely bad condition of the Shiradi Ghat section]

The preparation:

There are two approach routes to Kumara Parvatha (also known as Pushpagiri), one is from the Somwarpet side and the other is from Kukke Subramanya. The climb up from Somwarpet is supposed to be shorter and ‘relatively’ easier, especially since most of the climb is through the dense forest. The trek up from the Kukke side is longer and almost 50% of the trek is through the grasslands, with the hot sun sapping up your energy.

There is a lot of info available on the net about trekking to KP and we quickly made a list of the essentials to pack. The only additions to our normal packing list were a tent and extra water.

Pack as lightly as possible, carrying only the absolute essentials. Every extra gram gets magnified if you have to carry it up all the way through 13 kms! At first pass my bag weighed 12 kilos (with the tent weighing 3.5kgs), dropping some extra clothes etc. brought down the weight to around 10kgs.

Our plan was to start as early as possible from Bangalore on Saturday, reach Kukke, start the upward trek, reach ‘Mantapa’ on day 1, camp overnight, reach the peak the next morning and climb down by Sunday evening. Have an early morning darshan at the Kukke Subramanya temple on Monday and return to Bangalore by late afternoon on Monday.

Wrapping up our office work by late evening and finishing up the last minute packing meant that we could fall asleep only at around midnight on Friday. We had planned to wake up by around 3am on Saturday, which meant only 3 hours of sleep…

The Drive:

After reading up about the horrible condition of the roads at Shiradi Ghats, I had decided to avoid the Hassan – Sakleshpur route completely and instead opted for the Mysore – Madikeri route.

In hindsight, it was a good call since the roads from Bangalore – Mysore – Kushalnagar are absolutely great.

The Bangalore – Mysore stretch…

The Kushalnagar to Madikeri stretch is acceptable and the Madikeri – Sullya – Kukke route is relatively fresh tarmac, with very few potholes. The only problem is that entire stretch from Sullya to Kukke is a single carriageway and you’ll have to stop and move onto the shoulder if you encounter a bus or truck. Also, some cabling work is going on in this stretch so the shoulder on one side is dug up for some distance.

The first pit stop at a gas station after Mysore…

The distance from HAL Airport road to Kukke Subramanya is 345 kms on the odo. We started from Bangalore at exactly 4.05am and reached Kukke at 10.35am. After deducting a 10 min fuel stop in Mysore and a 25 min breakfast stop at Madikeri, the drive time from Bangalore to Kukke is 6 hours.

As you gain altitude, it gets progressively greener around you…

Driving through Kushalnagar…

And through Madikeri…

The single carriageway route from Sullya to Kukke…

Found a parking place in a temple lodge, told the guy at the reception that we would come back for the car the next day…

Off we go to KP…

The Trek:

The peaks you see behind the Kukke Subramanya temple is the Kumara Parvatha range…

The first part of the trek is 1 km walk from near the temple to the edge of the forest…

There is a road from the right side of the temple which leads you to the trail…

The first part of the trek is through the dense forest, you walk in the shade for around 3.5 hours…

It is a seemingly un-ending upward climb…

A break after every 20 minutes. The lack of sleep the previous night was telling on me…

After around 3 hours of relentless climbing up… Will this ever end???

Food!

Once you cross the forest, you hit the grasslands…

There are a few trees and rocks that give you shade for a break. The next couple of hours can be really tiresome with the sun shining down mercilessly…

An oasis in the middle of the ordeal! This is Girigadde-Bhattaramane. A single family has been living here for over 30 years. They are almost fully self-sufficient; they grow vegetables around their place. A herd of cows ensures a supply of dairy products. A natural stream provides a year round supply of water and their main source of income seems to be from providing basic but tasty food to the people who trek up to KP.

For around Rs.50 per person, they provide an unlimited meal of Rice, Sambar, Pickle and if you are lucky, butter milk! Given the fact that the rice has to be brought up from Kukke after almost a 5 hour trek, the price they charge is quite cheap!

Contd…




6 comments to...
“Kukke Subramanya & Kumara Parvatha; a drive and trek”
Avatar
sanjay patel

It is an awesome place for trekking,, we had a trip to this place during october 2009,,, great place love this place…


Avatar
Kaliappan

Nice blog..
Planning for a trek to KP soon..
Thanks a lot..
It was quite useful..
Keep updating me with new trekking places and ur experiences if u have tried it..
Mail me to kaliappan.vinod007@gmail.com..


Avatar
madhukar

Nice blog..
Thanks a lot..
It was quite useful..


Avatar
ratul chakrabarti

hye, me nd my frnds r planning for a trek..and i came across ur blog… as i was reading ur blog, i was getting goosebumbs…exciting nd looks adventurous !

i got few small doubts if u could please help me out :
-what happens if u get lost while trekking upstream/downstream?
-any guidelines provided to reach till the peak and climb back?
-any problems with reptiles such as snakes or mountain lizards ?
-any local people problem, i mean barging on us while camping during night?


Avatar
Rajesh

Good planning & well written blog.

Very useful for people planning & also for people to read & experience who are unable to trek .


Avatar
Rajesh M P

Very nice and useful information.

Thanks!




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