Tuesday 29 November 2016

Travel diaries : Tadiyandamol trek, Coorg

Tadiyandamol in Coorg, is the sixth highest peak in Karnataka. Standing at 1748 meters MSL, this trek is not too difficult even for a beginner, yet is laced with great scenic beauty along the way. 

It is common knowledge that planning a trip with 10-15 people is as difficult as to persuade a cat to not chase a rat; basically it is nearly impossible. So I decided not to wait for anyone and just booked this one with the 'Bangalore mountaineering club'. They would arrange for the travel from and back to Bangalore, the stay in Tadiyandamol, the food there, a couple of instructors to travel with us, and the permission from the forest department, so I thought it is a pretty good idea to try it out. Another plus is, being in a relatively foreign city, I would get to meet new people; be it interesting, boring, hostile or friendly, but new people, which for me is an exciting prospect anytime, anywhere.

So I reached my pick up point at 10 PM on the 11th of Nov'16, Friday, and got onto the bus 15 - 20 minutes later. The bus was already packed with the rest of the participants, and I did feel as if I was the only one who was alone, and would be trekking alone the next day too. Nobody was talking much, so I just slept off and woke up when we reached the homestay at around 4:30 AM. We would start trekking at around 8:30 AM, so we got ourselves another couple of hours sleep. I expected to be sleeping in some run down hut somewhere in the middle of nowhere, but the homestay was much better than I expected.  

After waking up 2 hours later, we freshened up a bit and went down for some coffee and breakfast. I started talking to a couple of people while having breakfast. Our conversations were mainly limited to treks which each of us had gone on before, but it was really nice to hear them talk about their experiences. 

We left all the unnecessary luggage back at the homestay and carried with us only the essential things like flashlights, raincoats, snacks, caps etc. The starting point of the trek was half an hour away from the homestay, so we took off on the bus again and reached by around 9:30 AM. Vehicles can go a couple of kilometers further, but we would walk it, because come on, what's a trek if it we do not sweat it out! 

After walking on concrete roads for a kilometer or two, we reached the point where the trek through narrow paths and trails would start. Just before that, all of us gathered at one place. The two instructors gave us a tiny brief of do's and don't's, and all of us gave a brief introduction of ourselves. And off we went!

One of the instructors was leading us, and I stuck with him almost the entire duration of the trek. The trail went through forests, then greens, then meadows. The view was awesome and the feeling, indescribable. Even though pictures too fall short of the exhilarating and surreal feeling you get when you are there in person, let the rest of the journey be spoken by them.

View from the top of a rock

Trail going through a forest

View from about 50 meters from the peak 

We reached the peak at around 12:30 PM. Even though all of us were tired, reaching the peak just injects one with renewed energy and vigor. It was completely cloudy and was impossible to see anything beyond 3-4 meters. It was a little nippy too, which was refreshing actually. We had our packed lunch at the peak and started descending an hour later.

A view while on our way down

The descent took us another 3 hours or so, as we were almost ambling down and taking over long breaks, unwilling to part from the greens that easily. We refilled water from a nearby waterfall, and the chilled, pure water felt out of the world. 

We reached the homestay at around 5:30 PM, and coffee and hot pakodas were waiting for us. We gobbled as much as we could and went for baths one by one. 

A campfire was set up for us when it got dark, and that's when the inhibitions melted away, as everyone joined in on the conversations. Dinner was served at around 8 PM. The food was amazing. Chapatis, dal, sabji, and even chicken was on the menu. 

After dinner, most of us stayed back, and played dumb charade. It was a lot of fun, especially because it was around 12-13 strangers playing a game which requires team work, albeit in a small way. We were really tired too, so after a few games, we retired for the night.

Next morning, we woke up around 7 AM, freshened up, got some breakfast, and left for Bangalore. On the way, we went to the 'Golden temple', which is a Buddhist monastery. We sat there for a good 20 minutes, and it was really peaceful.

The bus journey was also an interesting one. We played 'Mafia' almost the entire way, and it was a lot of fun, so much fun that I never gave a damn about my luggage and forgot my camera in the bus when I hurriedly got down. I got it back later though, as the BMC people kept it in their office, and I went and collected it from there a couple of days later. 

This trek was unique for me because I went alone on this one with a dozen strangers. But it is also one I will cherish for a long time because it was a great experience overall. Also, meeting people who are so passionate about trekking, has infected me with an inclination to go for more treks and experience the beauty of nature, raw and unadulterated. Trekking with BMC was awesome too, and I went again to Kudremukh a couple of weeks later; a post about which will be up shortly.