Updated: Dec 30, 2020
The Western Ghats is blessed with full of beautiful hills and mountains to trek on. While some of them are easy to moderate, the others are challenging. One of those challenging trail is near Subramanya (Kukke) region known as Kumara Parvatha peak.
This trail is known as one of the most challenging trek trail in entire Karnataka state and arguably in entire South India. This was the first ever trek (official) which I have done in my career back in 2015 long before HillTrotters was born. After that I kept coming back to this peak just to find myself or just to introduce budding trekkers to the nature and so far I could make 8 attempts at this peak (once from Somavarapete side). If I say that this is the holy grail of trekking in Karnataka, many would agree. So what makes trekking to KP (Abbreviation to Kumara Parvatha) really challenging.
Un-Availability of home stay or camping site with roof.
Elevation – Trek starts from almost at the Mean Sea Level and ends up at 1742 Mtrs
Trail in itself – Peak summer no shade because of less trees after halfway point, during peak rainy season slippery ground, leech infested forest, prone to lightning strikes
Kumara Parvatha total trekking distance is roughly 13-14kms from Kukke Temple to the Peak. The total trek to the peak can be divided into 5 parts.
Kukke temple – Bheemana Bande (The Big Rock) –3.5 km to 4kms
Bheemana Bande – Bhattara Mane – 3.5km to 4kms
Bhattara Mane – Kallu Mantapa (via Forest office and 2 viewpoints) – 2.5kms
Kallu Mantapa – Shesha Parvatha – 2kms
Shesha Parvatha –Kumara Parvatha Peak. – 1.5kms – 2kms
This account is about my 6th attempt at KP which was back in December 11th-12th, 2016.We were group of 3 people (Brijesh Sir– Aged 40, Rohith – 32 and I – 26) started from Bangalore by overnight journey in KSRTC Sarige bus and reached Kukke early morning 5am. After morning rituals, we had hit the trail head behind Kukke temple at 5:15 and soon entered the forest around 5:30am in pitch dark. After around 30mins of trek, I had my initial problems with left leg as it got hit with cramps, but as we were thought hard about this KP attempt, I shrugged it off and after short break kept walking but still was trailing behind the other two. The trail from Kukke Temple – Bhattara Mane is about 6-7kms which takes roughly about 3-4 hours for a seasoned trekker depending on the season and time of the day when trek started from temple. First 5kms of this trek is thick forest patch and trail is visible throughout the year except during heavy monsoon as streams appear from every direction. Last 2kms is open grassland till Bhattara Mane. We reached Bhattara Mane at around 9:00-9:15 am and just had water there and filled our bottles as there was no more stream up ahead except just before the Kallu Mantapa.
We continued from Bhattara Mane and reached Forest office which is just 500mtrs ahead from Bhattara Mane and registered ourselves, paid entry – trek fees and started our ascent to the peak. I still had cramps in my left leg which was bothering me and I was mentally prepared to give up near Kallu Mantapa or Shesha Parvatha if needed. But we kept moving forward. We crossed both view point, after taking a short break near 2nd viewpoint. Moments later we found the stream just before the Kallu Mantapa and filled our bottles again with water as there would be no stream up ahead in winter or summer seasons.
Kallu Mantapa is a mandatory break point where almost everyone takes a breather and people struggling with to keep up their spirits or having issues with their body give up here generally. And Rohith from our group decided that he will give up here as he had excruciating pain in his legs as he was coming to KP for the first time, it was clear that he was not prepared to push on ahead and wanted to stay back and wait for us at this Kallu Mantapa when we descend from the peak. We spent about 10mins here and it is here we also met a bunch of enthusiastic guys who came all the way from Mysore on two-wheeler overnight to attempt KP trek. Kumaraswamy(one of them) became very familiar with us and they joined with us and our wolf pack became 6-1=5 and we kept our brisk walk towards Shesha Parvatha. Journey from Kallu Mantapa to Shesha Parvatha though it is short distance of about 2kms, it is really the most challenging part of KP trek as the elevation angle is almost 60 degrees and very less shade, as sun hits right on your temple sucking out all the water level causing dehydration even during winter seasons. I was at my break point as cramps become part of my legs, and after each 10 steps or after each big step where the elevation was more, I got cramps. But everyone from our group were supportive and donated everything they brought with them like Dates to Chikki to Patanjali special chocolates to me for much needed energy and distraction from the pain so that I don’t give up. I drank most of their water merrily as I have a bad habit of not carrying enough water for myself during most of the treks as I generally carry heavy pack adding sleeping bag and tent just to make the trek a little more challenging and coz of that I wouldn’t spare any room for an extra liter of water bottle. At about 11:30-11:45am, we reached Shesha Parvatha and had our packed lunch there, in the woods just after Shesha Parvatha, which in the earlier days was used as camping site and cooking area by the trekkers and locals. For lunch we had our own buffet as Brijesh Sir had brought Methi Parantha and Curd, I shared my bread-Jam-Butter and others had brought some chapattis and MTR Ready mix Paneer Masala. We ate heartily as it was much needed, and we were almost ahead of big trekking groups which flocked to KP that day. Only couple of groups which started way early in the morning or the groups which reached Bhattara Mane the previous night itself were ahead of us and were returning from the peak.
After early lunch we pushed on and reached the peak in next 30 to 45mins which is at 1:30pm – 1:45pm approximately. We explored every corner of the peak as usual and clicked few pictures for memories and slept in the shade of the small tree next to the small shrine which was built right next to the peak. It is then we decided to head back to Kukke directly without halting for a night either in forest office or near Bhattara Mane. We could reach to consensus only by 3:30pm as we all had planned earlier to stay together till the end of the trek as we enjoyed each other’s company since everyone was a fairly swift on their feet. So, we started descending from the peak at around 4pm and from our past experience we knew that descending from KP peak is equally difficult and painful journey as compared to ascend because of rocky and at places really slippery terrain without much support to hold onto when we slipped. We quickly crossed Shesha Parvatha and pushed onto Kallu Mantapa to find our friend Rohith who stayed back and waiting for us there. We had short break here and after knowing his condition is slightly better we convinced him to push on till Kukke temple today evening itself. It would have been around 5:30 when we crossed forest office and after finishing the return formalities (checking for the count of water bottles and exit sign off). Our next planned stop was Bheemana Bande aka The Big Rock. It was already dark when we had just crossed grassland and entered thick forest, and in next 30 mins we understood the risk which we took, as Rohith and I were already struggling with our feet and the torch we carried was not bright enough in the really thick forest. It was really hard to keep up with the forest trail, and we could have easily hit wrong trail or off trail. But somehow we managed to keep en route and reached Big Rock by 7pm. From there it’s just 30mins of brisk walk will take you to Kukke village, but in the pitch dark conditions we spent full 60mins until we found ourselves coming out of forest and got glimpse of Human civilization. So, it was almost 7:45pm-8pm when we reached the starting point of our trek.
We had decided that we will stay in some budget hotel in the Kukke temple street close to KSRTC Bus stand for the next day’s bus journey. We stayed in ***** hotel and freshened up and headed out in search of our dinner, after having hearty dinner we could no longer wait for our much needed sleep. Next day, after the mandatory temple visit we headed to Kumaradhara River to take a dip and relive our swimming days back in our childhood, and got back to bus stand in time for our bus at 11:15am which dropped us to Bangalore safe and sound by 6:30pm on Sunday evening. At the end KP never disappoints me and every time throws new challenges at me and gives more reasons to keep coming to this place for completing some previous unfinished business. Soon I will be attempting KP Trek where I will try to complete the entire cycle (Kukke – KP Peak – Kukke) under 12 hours and if its successful then entire KP cycle (Kukke – KP Peak – Somavarpete side forest office – KP Peak – Kukke) in one weekend which is under 16 hours (12 hours + 4 hours next morning).
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