Shuva's blog
How to trek Kumara Parvatha, the toughest trek in Karnataka, India 
Tuesday, January 1, 2013, 04:38 PM - Travel
Kumara Parvatha is a mountain peak at 1712mts between Kodagu(Coorg) and Dakshin Kanada district in Karnataka, India as shown below.



The nearest town from where you can start the trek is the small temple town of Kukke Subramanya which is around 230 kms from Bangalore. KSRTC operates daily AC night buses which is the best way to reach there as you reach by 6:00am in the morning.

This blog is based on the trek that me and my colleagues did on 23rd Dec 2012. If you are looking for just pictures of this lovely trek, stop reading and just visit: https://sites.google.com/site/shuvaphoto/home/kumara_parvata

This article should give a very guide on how to go about this trek as its based on real experiences.

Introduction about this trek
This is one of the toughest trek of Karnataka and a paradise for trekkers. Its is a totally self supporting trek, in the sense that you wont get porters or mules to carry your luggage. The destination is at 1712mts above sea-level.

There are two paths to reach the top:
1. A 1 day trek via Somwarpet which is the easier route (approx 7 kms)
2. A 2 day trek via Kukke Subramanya which is a more difficult route (approx 13 kms).

We took the 2nd route via Kukke Subramanya and will talk only about this path.

Who should and should not attempt this trek
Everybody who enjoys trekking and likes to explore untouched nature should definitely try this trek once in their lifetime and specially if you leave in Blore, Mysore or any place nearby.

This trek is quite tough and hence it is not for the following classes of people(you have been warned):
1. If this is your first trek ever, please dont attempt this. You will let your group down.
2. Not for family who want to go with children below 10 years.
3. If your depend on porters or animals like mules to carry your luggage, its not for you.
4. If you cant carry around 10+kg luggage, its not for you.
5. Its not for heavy smokers as you will be climbing almost the whole day for two days.

Having said that, you dont need to be an expert or a professional trekker. You don't need to be an expert in setting up tents or any other professional trekking equipments. If you have a will to stress your physical limits and you play sports, walk, jog or do exercise regularly, you can accomplish this trek comfortably.

Planning for this trek
There are two approaches to plan for this trek.
a. Be part of an organized trek by a well known event management group like the Bangalore Mountaineering Club. They conduct treks to several places all round. This is the easier approach as you will get all instructions from them.
b. Get a group of 3+ people you know and plan your own trip.

I did the later part. We were a group of 4 people and we planned the trip 1 month in advance. Keep in mind the requirements as mentioned about when you choose your friends. Going alone is definitely not recommended unless you are a professional trekker.

As the trek is a 2 day trek, you either have to carry tents or plan to spend the night at the only house mid-way the trek. Bhatt-re-mane (Bhatte house in Kanadda) is the only house mid-way where you can have lunch, dinner and breakfast. It took us 4 hours of trekking to reach his place which is around 6 kms and 800mts above sea level. You need to call him up in advance. His numbers are:
9448647947 / 9480230191
The signal at his house is very weak and you will have to keep trying several times(or days) to get to him. He has a farm and lives with his family. You can setup tents in near his house or sleep under the roof which can accommodate around 16 people.



If you are carrying your tents, you have several options to setup your tents. They are (or the ones we noticed):
1. In Bhatt's property. You have access to drinking water, food and toilets, etc.
2. In either of 2 man-made viewing points near his house.
3. At the forest checkpost property which is around 300mts from Bhattes house.
4. Half way between Bhatte's house and the final destination called the "Kallu Mantapa". This has a nearby water source. If you stay here, you better have lunch at Bhatte's house and trek for another 1.5-2 hours or plan to cook your own meal.
5. Make an attempt to reach the top in 1 day. We saw a few people who we meet on our way. This is for experienced and advanced trekkers.

The most important part of the planning stage is getting the correct gear for your trek. If you have made your own team, its likely that not all of your team will have all the gear. You need to get your list of things to carry right. There are certain things that all of you have to carry and some stuff that you should divide within the group and share the load.

Things to carry individually
A good strong backpack.
Clothes - 2 pairs, extra socks. Pack each set in garbage bags to make it rain proof.
Sleeping bag and Mat (tent is optional). Some pople dont carry mats if carrying tents.
Toilet paper
Tooth paste/brush
Paper Soap
Towel
Whistle
Water bottles (2 litres each)
Jacket/Wind-Cheater
Camera
Cap
Goggles
Extra pair of glasses(if you are wear glasses)
1 day news paper
Torch
Your personal medicine.
Mobile (extra mobile if possible as your primary mobile may discharge in 1 day)
Purse with ID proof and Rs 3k money, and your visiting card with emergency contact info


Things to carry, which can be shared in your group
Its wise to share the load with your group. These include
Glucose/Eclectrolyte for 4-5 litres of water.
Lighter/Match box
Adhesive tape (luggage tape for fixing torn bags, shoes, etc and medical tape)
First-aid (Medicines, dettol, pain killer/spray, Cotton, Band aid, Paracetamol, Pudin hara etc)
Knife
Salt (to get rid of leeches in rainy season)
Food (Granula bars, energy cho bars, biscuits, nuts, etc for your entire group). This on can get heavy. Distribute wisely.
More food (if you dont plan to eat at Bhatte's house)
Mosquito repellant like Odomos.
Sanitizer
Compass
Nylon rope (can be used to repair torn backpacks or replace torn shoe laces).

If you are travelling in the peak season which is Dec end, you need to call up Mr Bhatte in advance. We called him up 1 month ahead and he was already saying that its going to be busy. Books your bus tickets well in advance. We booked 3 weeks in advance.

Week before the trek
Finalize your things to carry. Do the necessary shopping. Avoid alcohol few days before the trek and drink lot of water 1 day before the trek. This makes sure that you wont get dehydrated or get a muscle strain during the stressfull trek.

Day before the trek
Pack your back pack. Try your back pack out with 2 litres of water. If its too heavy, reduce stuff without compromising safety. Drink lot of water. Keep in touch with your group and check if they are well-disciplined. If one person in your group is not disciplined, he/she can damage your entire trek. This is no ordinary trek.

Day 1 of trek
We reached Kukke Subramanya by KSRTC Volvo bus by 6:00am. It was a 6-7 hour bus journey from Bangalore.



It was four of us, Me, Praveen, Prasoon and Srikanth. We looked around for a lodge where we could take bath and get fresh. We got a deal for Rs300 for 2 hours. It was decent enough.



Then we had breakfast in a restaurant near the temple. I found cockroach in our food, but its OK. We bought 10 litres of water (2.5 lts each).

The trail entry is around 1.5 kms from the temple junction. Ask any "auto"(tuk-tuk) and it will take you to the starting point of the trail. He charged Rs. 30 for it.

So we finally started our trek at 9:00am, a bit late than our planning, but its OK as we need to cover around 6 kms only in the dense forest. There is no direct sun for most of the trek on Day 1.



Most of the trek is uphill which means we took a lot of rest on our way up. Not matter how fast you can trek, you can only trek as fast as the slowest member of your team. In our case, Prasoon was the slowest. But he had amazing spirit despite having a kidney operation just a year back and was carrying the heaviest back pack.

I brought along a big kitchen knife and it was handy to create a walking stick in the wild. Yes, a walking stick greatly helps your trek.

After around 3 hours of trekking uphill, the dense forest is behind and you are greeted with open skies and hills.







But with this comes the drawback that you are directly exposed to sun which can drain you out. Keep drinking little sips of water -- dont drink too much.







After another 30 minutes, you get a clear glimpse of your final destination, the peak (but hold on, there is a surprise).



What you see in this picture are two peaks, but thats not Kumara Parvatha. The real final peak is hidden behind the left peak. Its only visible when you get to the left peak that you see above.

We reached Bhatte-re-mane at around 1:15pm. We washed our faces and hands with the flowing water in his property. Lunch was soon ready. It was very basic with rice, sambar and pickle. But with such a tiring trek, you would eat anything which is hot and freshly cooked.

After lunch we found a quite place in his property under the trees and we laid our mats and slept for a few hours until evening.

At evening we had coffee and we went up to see the sunset. There is a man-made viewing point to see the sun set and the glorious mountains of western ghats all around us. Pictures can tell you how nice it was to see the never ending mountain ranges all around us.





On that day there was around 60 people depandant on Bhatee-re-mane for food and about 30 staying in his property. Yes, Dec-end is peak season for this trek.

We got a place under the roof to lay our mats and sleeping bags and had a nice sleep.

Day 2 of trek
We had breakfast at Bhatt-re-mane and started at around 8:00 am. You can also request Bhatte to pack your lunch, but we had enough nuts, buscuits and bars that we set-off. The good thing about day #2 is that you can leave your back-pack at Bhatte-re-mane. We carried only 1 bag which had food, water and first-aid and we carried the only bag on a rotating basis. Our plan was to reach the peak and get down to Kukke Subramanya well before sunset.



In around 200 mts, we came across the Forest check post, where you have to pay a entry fee of Rs200 per head. In 500mts from there, we found a man-made view point where we rested for a few minutes.



After around 2 hours of uphill walking we came across a flowing stream of water, where we filled our empty bottles. Then came across another water source and Kallu Mantapa. Its a small structure with 4 pillars. Many people camp around this place due to the water source.



The elevation was very steep as you can see from the above picture. Its around 40 degrees almost, but the trail is winding and hence not so inclined.

As you trek along, we got to see beautiful mountains, landscapes and the western ghats. But the Sun was taking a toll on our water.



The peak that we see at the end of Day 1 is as shown below in the two pictures.





We were all along expecting that this was the peak, but after reaching this place, we saw another mountain which was hidden all along from our view.

It was a disappointing surprise as we were very tired and it was 12:15pm already. At this point, Praveen said that enough was enough and decided to not go further. The remaining three of us decided that we should give it a try as we are 90% done with our trek. To come this far and not conquer the next mountain would be a shame.

So, we divided and 3 of us went ahead. We had to climb down hill for around for 15-20 minutes and then then followed by steep climb of around 30-45 mins.



Then we came across a huge stone which Srikant attempted to scale and was stuck in the middle dangerously for a few minutes, but he managed to climb finally. We took the side path. We knew getting down would be tricky.



Finally by 12:45pm, we reached the peak.



There is a small temple on the top. On closer look, its Lord Shiva's. There is always a temple anywhere in India wherever humans ever reached.




Surprisingly the view from the top wasnt great at all. The peak that we left a hour back was more scenic and had wonderful views all around. This was was rather flat.

I think if you are lucky you could see a sheet of clouds under you and there are a few youtube videos where people have witnessed windy conditions with amazing flow of clouds falling from the cliff.

For us,it was rather a sunny day and with the sun on top, the view of the western ghats all around was not good that day.

We had only 250ml of water to be shared by 3 of us. We carried a lot of food in the form of biscuits, nuts, energy bars. But the idea of this limited water was making the mood a bit sad. When we opened the bag to get the food, we found 1 more litre of water that we all forgot we put it in there. It was such a pleasant surprise and brought smiles back to our faces. We ate a lot of stuff and let our throats fill with mountain water.

After 30 minute of rest, we started descending at 1:15pm. As per our estimate we should be reaching Bhatt-re-mane in 2 hours and another 2 hours we should be in the town. This was well within the sun-light period.





However on our way back, Prasoon had a nasty twist in his ankle and that made our decent very slow. Fortunately we were carrying pain killer spray (Volini) and that helped him to keep walking. It did not seem possible for him to carry his back-pack from Bhatt-re-mane and get down another 6 kms. So we decided that we will divide the stuff into 3 bags (by carrying the sleeping backs in our hand) and have him get down without the back pack.

After a few min, his pain was such that it did not even appear feasible for him to walk much. Climbing down is equally difficult and it takes a toll on your knee as well.



So it was decided that he would stay at Bhatte's house and try coming down the next day if his ankle permits. I accompanied him till the sunset point at a slow pace. He did ask me to go ahead as the sun was going down, but it isnt a good idea to leave an injured fellow trekker alone in the hills.



So I accompanied him till the man made sunset point, at which I knew that he will have company and I hurried towards Bhatte house.By then Praveen had already started his trek down alone. I think it was not a good idea to trek alone for 6 kms with dense forest and evening approaching. Its not a risk worth taking.

At around 5:15pm, after putting all medicines in Prasoon's back, Srikanth and I started our decent at 5:15pm. It took was some time to fill water, settle the payment, etc etc.

Srikanth and I walked as fast as we could. We knew that it would take us around 2 hours of decent, but the risk was the last 1 hour in dense forest and we wanted to make use of as much sunset we had. I had a dynamo torch and we started getting a fell that atleast 50% of out trek down will be with this torch.

At around 6:15pm, when it was dawn, I decided to call up Prasoon to check if he had reached Bhatt-re-mane. (Yes, the cell signal was intermittently available). To my utter surprise, the voice at the other end said that he is already on his way down from Bhatt-re-mane with his back-pack. I explained to him that its getting very dark over here and me and Srikanth was way ahead and he should turn back to Bhatte's house. We was adamant of continuing with his painful ankle. It took some convincing, but I managed to convince him to turn back and not to proceed alone in the dark. Thankfully he agreed and it was a big relief. In the back of my mind, I did not really know if he turned back or he just said he would to end the conversation. He was the slowest in our group and with an injured ankle all alone with a heavy backpack it was almost impossible to finish the down trek.

By 6:30pm it became dark and we started using the torch. As a precaution, Srikant took the 1 ft heavy kitchen knife that I brought along. I didnt know what we would do if some wild boar/dog/wolf or some other wild animals approached us, but it just made us fell a bit better.

Never carry a dynamo touch for trekking. In a dynamo torch, if the battery is not so good you have to keep charging which means that you have to use both hands while walking down. Its really difficult to keep both hands busy and keep walking at the same time with a back-pack.

My legs were very very tired and I was sweating like hell -- we hardly took any rest as we wanted desperately to cross the dense forest asap. The only think that we were sure was that we wont get lost as the trail was clean and there was no "Y" or a "T" junction anywhere. In some of the other treks I did we had to follow arrow marks on trees and rocks to stick to the trail. This was not the case here fortunately.

But out of no where we suddenly came to a dead end or it felt like we did. For a moment, my heart got racing "Damm! We are lost in this jungle in the dark". It was huge tree fallen in front of us with lots of creepers also with it. Such a blocking structure wasnt there when we climbed back yesterday. On little careful attention, it was a tree which was uprooted. Due to the dark we could not even see what was in front of the tree+vegetation. We decided to cross the tree and its vegetation and see if the trail still existed. If it existed, then we are not lost. Fortunately, the trail existed after cross this huge tree. We were relieved, but at the same time, the thought of an elephant up-rooting the tree and in the last 24 hours caused a sense of fear in us. Srikanth whose has grown up in Somwarpet was familiar of lot of wild elephant tales around this area.

If you are attacked by an elephant in the dark, you are pretty much done. You anyway cant outrun an elephant and with our legs barely able to keep us walking, the question of running uphill in the dark was also not an option.

At this point, I began to realize that it was a big mistake to start trekking from Bhatte so late. The risk was no longer looking worth taking. My legs were shaking as it has been walking since the morning. At one point, I had to rest 3 time in a span of 20 meters of decline. At another point, both my legs just gave up and I collapsed on to the ground at which point, I asked Srikanth who was doing good that I just need to rest for 2-3 mins. I never had just a leg-collapse ever in my life. I was feeling the heat of my own sweat burning my own eyes. The fear of losing consciousness also crossed my mind for a few seconds.

At around 6:45 pm we started seeing the light of the town and some drum sounds from the temple. That was very relaxing. Despite that we still had to walk for some strenuous 30 last minutes to reach the end. I was barely able to walk at that time. Every minute was walk was like walking a mile. The thought of disposing the back-pack and walking faster also crossed our mind. Srikanth kept telling me -- just few minutes more, we are just here.

At one point, we did hear some heavry noise around 10-20mts away from us in the trees. I could have been elephants, monkeys or any wild animals. We were terribly scared at that few 20-30 seconds.

Praveen was waiting for us at the end of the trek. He told us that even he had to use his torch for the last 30 minutes and he was alone. Too dangerous and risky, it was.

We took an auto and checked into an lodge where we freshened up and our bus back to Blore was at 10:47pm. We kept trying to call Prasoon to check his status but his cell was not reachable. We were hoping he reached back to Bhat-re-mane properly. After many tries we reached Bhat's mobile at around 10:15pm and he confirmed that Prasoon was sleeping. It was a relief!

Yes, the Volvo service started at 10:47pm from Kukke Subramanya. Srikanth had plans to visit his parent next day at Somwarpet. So it was only me and Prasoon who went back to Blore.

Next day when I reached Blore, I got an SMS at around 8:00am that Prasoon started his climb down. I booked the bus tickets (KSRTC) for him using his mobile number. The e-ticket is now in the form of an SMS and it reached his mobile in few minutes. By 12:00pm, I got another SMS from Prasoon that he reached the town. That was 4 hours for him in daylight with his ankle pain recovered. Imagine what would have happened to him if he had continued his trek the previous evening. I dont think his torch would have lasted.

As you see, we as a group really did not stick together and we did a few mistakes which was not worth taking. The jungle is dangerous and we did noticed elephant poo during the day time in our tracks-- The poo was not fresh though, but I have no clue if it was 1 week dry or several months dry.

So guys, be careful and dont lave Bhatt-re-mane after 4:00pm and hope to reach the town in time. In a hurry you may just twist your ankle or risk your life.

The picture below is after reaching the town. Sweaty, tired and happy with the sense of completing the trek bringing immense satisfaction.



In summary the time it takes to do this trek is roughly:

Day 1: 4 hours (~6 kms) from Kukke Subramanya to Bhat-re-mane. (2.5 lts water/head to carry -- no water source on the way in winters)
Day 2, Phase 1: 4 hours (~7kms) from Bhate-re-mane to peak. (1 lts per head to carry , water source on the way)
Phase 2: 2 hours from peak back to Bhat-re-mane
Phase 3: 2 hours from Bhat-re-mane to Kukke Subramanya.

At the end, it was an adventurous trek and I personally got an immense sense of satisfaction with the journey, pristine nature and , photographs from the journey.

Photography tip: Carry only 1 lens and carry your widest lens. A D-SLR can be heavy --if you dont have a special wide angle lens a nice point and shoot will do. In my case, my 8-16mm lens was extremely handy for landscape photography.

Some other resources to refer to:

1. A travel blog : the one that I referred for planning.

2. Another traveler's story approach from Somwarpet side.

3. Another blog with Somwarpet approach

4. Wikipedia on Kumara Parvatha

5. Trekwiki link

6. Another blog explaining travel during monsoon with leeches.

7. Another blog by Nikhil on his trek on Oct 2013.

Happy trekking.//

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