Kudremukh Trek: A First Timer’s Guide
It is impossible when one’s talking about Bengaluru and not mention Kudremukh. The Western Ghats have bestowed this peak onto the state of Karnataka and its people. The peak is embedded in Kudremukh National Park which serves to be the second largest protected national park in Western Ghats. The trek trail captures the open fields, streams, waterfalls, meadows, forests, various species of wildlife, flora & fauna.
Located at 6207 ft, Kudremukh peak stands to be the third tallest peak in Karnataka. The name of the peak and the trek is derived from its horse(Kudre) face(Mukh) shaped structure. It is situated in Chikkamagalur district which is 252 kms away from Bengaluru towards the northwest. Reach Chikkmagalur district either via roadways or railways. There are buses, taxis and trains through which one can reach Chikkamaglur. If you choose to travel by road from Bengaluru, the recommended route would be via Hasan. There are public transport buses availed by KSRTC which travel from Bengaluru to Horanadu via Kalasa (which is our base village for the Kudremukh Trek). The nearest station and airport to Kalasa would have to be in Mangalore 125 kms away. The district of Chikkmagalur does not have a railway station.
Your actual trek starts from Mullodi village which is a bit tricky to reach. The village is located approximately 15 kms from Kalasa. The forest office is set up here, from where you will require a permit onward. To reach Mullodi, you will require to hire a jeep from Kudremukh entrance if you are not traveling via private vehicle.
Starting the Trek
Make sure you begin the Kudremukh trek early in the morning by reaching Kalasa before sunrise as there are a number of formalities and permissions one needs to sort out. The entrance is about 9-10 kms away from Kalasa . Once you reach the entrance,the forest office is 5 kms further where you will need to register for a permit to trek in the protected forest area and peak. The earlier you reach the better as the number of permissions the office grants to trekkers is limited. Moving forward, you will come across green forests and streams passing through. Since the favorable time to go for this trek is monsoons, it recommended you carry and apply insect repellents, odomos and dettol to prevent leeches and mosquitoes.
In the coming section, you will come across Ontimara. The region is covered with trees shadowing over the streams and waterfalls. You can rest under the cool shadows for a while admiring the green velvet Kudremukh Valley on the right. The last stretch from Ontimara to the Kudremukh summit includes flat grasslands, small hillocks, slopes where you will witness every shade of green. This would be the highlight of the trek which is filled with clouds and green peaks peeking through. You can also spot the horse face shaped mountain as you gradually cross these grasslands, meadows and the sight of the summit might instigate you with a final adrenaline push to complete your trek.
Once you reach the summit, the view will make you speechless and gasp from its hypnotizing beauty. The summit is enveloped by clouds and mist most of the time, though do not lose hope and be patient as the clouds keep passing through and eventually clear the view. The breath-taking sight of green carpets of Kudremukh valley is bound to etch a memory in your mind. The stunning quiet valley is booming with diverse flora & fauna and wildlife and the sense of you are right in the middle of it.
Make sure you start ascending before 2 pm to obey forest regulations. The turnaround time should be such that you reach the base village or exit the national park premises before the sunset for safety reasons. It is a must to carry a hiking stick, appropriate water resistant shoes, water bottles, dry foods, torch, plastic covers to protect your camera/phones, anti–insect spray during your trek. Since the best time to hike Kudremukh is during monsoons and winters. The place is covered with newly formed streams, waterfalls and lush green ledges during the monsoons often making it slippery. The winters are just as pleasant although you might miss out on a few waterfalls.
Since you are expected to reach the base village by sunset, you will require a provision to stay for the night. Since it is not permissible to camp in the Kudremukh National Park, one can opt for homestays nearby. The places to visit besides from the peak in the Kudremukh region are Aane Gudda Trek, Meruti Hill. The must visit places in Chikmagalur district are; Gorur Dam, Halebeedu, Yagachi Dam, Manjarabad Fort etc.