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Photo Courtesy : Vishwas Krishnamurthy

Banasura Hill Trek

Rolling grasslands atop valleys

  • The Banasura Hill Trek is an exciting prospect for trekkers who want a balance between solitude and adventure.
  • Experience the joy of trekking amidst the exquisite grasslands of the Shola forests.
  • The Banasura Sagar Dam is India’s largest earth dam and the second largest of its kind in Asia.
  • The short trek to the Meenmutty waterfalls is an added bonus. It is the largest and most beautiful waterfalls in Wayanad.
DIFFICULTY:

Moderate

TRAIL TYPE:

Evergreen forest at the base. The trail predominantly winds through the shola forest. It is a well-marked trail to the top, though you need to take a guide along with you.

ROAD-AHEAD:

Kalpetta, Wayanad

BASE CAMP:

Kalpetta, Wayanad

BEST SEASON:

September to January

Banasura Hill Trek – Rolling grasslands atop valleys

Trekking in Kerala has a different flavour altogether. The Banasura Hill Trek validates this premise. In addition to the Banasura Hill Trek, Wayanad functions as the bedrock of two other fascinating trekking trails in the region, namely Chembra Peak and Pakshipathalam. All three trails possess both variety and individuality. In this trek, the Banasura Sagar Dam is a side-excursion. However, it’s interesting to note that it is India’s largest earth dam, thus warranting attention as a standalone attraction by itself.

Banasura Hill Trek
A solitary walk along shola forests

Highland Fling: 

The Banasura hill trek can be best described as a highland fling. It’s easy to fall in love with this place. The trekking trail snakes through rolling grasslands that blanket the valleys. The magnificence of the Shola forests comes to the fore at several stages during the trek. The views of the Karamanathodu tributary of the Kabini River from the trail gets better by the minute. The interplay between the descending fog and the rays of the sun will set the perfect tempo for trekking. The light rays get filtered by the fog before reaching the trekking trail, giving the landscape a different hue at both sunrise and sunset.

Descending Fog Banasura Hill Trek Indiahikes
Descending Fog

The three-hour ascent to the top of the Banasura hill is both exciting and strenuous as the trail is undulating and steep at the same time. The base of the hill is characterized by evergreen forests and is replete with coffee plants and various kinds of reptiles.

Spot the trekkers! Banasura Hill Trek Wayanad Indiahikes
Spot the trekkers!

Whom is this trek meant for?

Trekking destinations in Kerala are well-known for being ideal winter treks and the Banasura Hill Trek is no exception. This is not a beginner’s trek. This trek is meant for trekkers who have done a few treks in the south and for those who have decent fitness levels. The steep ascent to the top of the hill is arduous. Though this trek does not pose too many challenges,  it’s highly recommended that you do this trek during the winter months. It is too humid during summers and too slippery during the monsoon season.

Beautiful mountain ranges Banasura Hill Trek Indiahikes
Beautiful mountain ranges

Author: Ajay Nagaraju

Banasura Hill Trek Guide

How to get to the base camp: 

Day 0: Drive from Bangalore to Kalpetta, Wayanad

  • Distance covered: 288 km
  • Average time taken: 8 hours
Bangalore to Kalpetta Map - Banasura Hill Trek Indiahikes
Bangalore to Kalpetta Map

If you are travelling from Bengaluru to Kalpetta (Wayanad), you need to keep in mind that you need to pass through NH 212 and a stretch of the high way lies inside the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, which has imposed night traffic ban between 9 pm to 6 am.

Usually, the trek to Banasura Hill is approached as a two-day activity. Board the late night bus (Karnataka/ Kerala RTC) bus from Mysore Road Satellite bus station which will drop you to Kalpetta on next day early morning by 8 am (considering the night traffic ban in Bandipur Range).If you have a large team, go by own/ hired vehicle so you overcome the hindrance of night traffic ban and plan accordingly.

Day 1

View from Banasura Sagar Dam

The view from Banasura Sagar Dam Banasura Hill Trek Indiahikes
View from Banasura Sagar Dam

After reaching Kalpetta, refresh and have breakfast. You can hire a Jeep to Banasura Sagar Dam. The views of the Banasura hill range from the dam are spectacular. The presence of several islands in the impound is a fascinating sight. It’s interesting to note that the formation of the islands were caused by the reservoir submerging the region. The trek starting point is 2.5 kms away from the Banasura dam.

The sun arrives ; the fog departs Banasura Hill Trek Indiahikes
The sun arrives ; the fog departs

Post lunch, you can trek to the Meenmutty waterfalls, which is a 30–45 mins trek from the Forest Office (starting point of the Banasura Hill trek). The Meenmutty waterfalls is the largest and the most beautiful waterfalls in Wayanad. The 1000 foot waterfall is famous for its three-layered cascade area.

Post your visits to the dam and the water fall, you can head back to the forest office and ask them if you can pitch your tents. Alternatively, you can check with the forest office if rooms are available.There are a couple of small hotels/ canteens available nearby; you can give them a heads up if you’d like to order breakfast/ lunch/ dinner.

Day 2

  • Trekking distance: 18 kms (both-ways)
  • Average time taken: 9 hours

The trekking trail starts near the forest office. Ensure that you start no later than 6.00 am. It’s a 4 to 5 hour trek, one-way. It’s recommended that you finish breakfast at the base before you start the trek. The forest office mandates that a designed guide should accompany you during the trek. The fee charged is Rs.500/- The fee for trekking and permission can be checked at the forest office. It varies according to the number of hours you wish to trek.

Trekkers in action Banasura Hill Trek Indiahikes
Trekkers in action

The Trail

Brace yourself for a steep ascent. The trail is steep right from the outset and is strenuous for 45 minutes. Pace yourself well especially when you’re climbing a slope. It’s important to take a break every 15 mins to take a breather and drink some water. There are sections filled with leeches and thorny, thick bushes. Navigate through them carefully. Heed to your guide’s advice.

A charming landscape Banasura Hill Trek Indiahikes
A charming landscape

Mid-way, you’ll be able to spot 3-4 beautiful mountain streams; you can fill your water bottles there. En route, take a moment to stop and look back upon the slope you’ve just ascended. The morning light puts the entire landscape on a pedestal and it warrants all the praise it gets.

Trekkers in action! Banasura Hill Trek Indiahikes
Trekkers in action!

Post the steep ascent, it’s a gradual ascent for the next 1.5 hours. This section is particularly beautiful since you get to trek along the rolling grasslands that have a yellowish tinge. The grass is knee-high and the path also has tiny rocks and boulders. Watch your step all along the trail. It is physically exhausting at some section. The beauty of the terrain is the only respite. The accompanying hills and peaks are ominous and are appear closer than they actually are.

En route to the final climb Banasura Hill Trek Indiahikes
En route to the final climb

The last 1 km stretch is very steep and one might feel dehydrated since there is no tree cover. When the sun is out and searing, the  ascent is gruelling.  There are rock faces from where you can get a panoramic view of the hill ranges. Continue to walk along the trail, there are several hillocks en route to the peak.

En route to the hill top Banasura Hill Trek Indiahikes
En route to the hill top

The peak is the perfect vantage point from where you are treated to stunning views of the entire landscape. The mountain ranges extend as far as the human eye can see. Spend half an hour at the peak.

View from the peak Banasura Hill Trek
View from the peak!

The descent

After lunch at the peak, start descending after a short 15 minute break. Retrace and descend using the same trail. It usually takes 3 to 4 hours to ascend since it’s a 9 kilometer stretch winding through thick bushes, mountain streams, grasslands that are knee-high and slopes that are at an angle between 60 to 70 degrees. Descending at a fast pace will be hard on your knees and it can put a lot of strain on your ankle, heels and calf muscles. Tread carefully. If you start the trek by 6 am, the chances of returning to the base around 4 pm are very high, so that you can start towards Bengaluru and cross the Tiger Reserve stretch before 9 pm and reach Bengaluru by 1 am in the morning.

Here is a routine that will ensure you enjoy the Banasura Hill Trek

Banasura Hill is a trek of moderate difficulty.

The trail is characterized by many steep stretches which demands decent fitness levels. You can start by jogging everyday. Stair-climbing is also a good way to increase your lung capacity. This helps you to build stamina and your cardiovascular endurance. The secret to a comfortable, continuous ascend is to choose cardio workout and do them over a longer period of time.

Swimming continuously or cycling for long stretches are also good workouts. Stretch out your muscles so that they do not pull while crossing the larger rocks. Stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexes, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while.

backpack

Katpetta and the shops/canteens near the Forest office are places from where you can buy basic things and food. You must carry water and snacks to keep you hydrated and energized. 3 litres per person is a must. The rolling grasslands are exposed and they lack forest cover. Hence a sunscreen with SPF 20+ will keep you safe from the sun. Additionally you can carry a hat for extra sun protection. You must wear shoes with good grip to negotiate the terrain filled with grass, tiny rocks and boulders.

The Banasura Hill trekking trail does not pose any threats. A designated guide from the forest office will be accompanying you at all times. There are sections filled with leeches and thorny bushes. How does one deal with leeches on a trek? Read full article here. Be wary in these sections.

Bangalore to Kalpetta Map Banasura Hill Trek
Bangalore to Kalpetta (Wayanad) Map

Checkpoints if you’re travelling via public transporation:  

From Kalpetta (Wayanad), follow the below check-points to reach the starting point of the trek:

Kalpetta, Wayanad to Padinjarethara: 18 kms (Kerala State Transport buses will be available from 6.00 am at Pinangode junction).

Padinjarethara to Kappikulam: 5 kms (Auto)

Bangalore to Kalpetta Map - Banasura Hill Trek Indiahikes
Bangalore to Kalpetta (Wayanad) Map

If you are travelling from Bengaluru to Kalpetta (Wayanad), you need to keep in mind that you need to pass through NH 212 and a stretch of the high way lies inside the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, which has imposed night traffic ban between 9 pm to 6 am.

Usually, the trek to Banasura Hill is approached as a two-day activity. Board the late night bus (Karnataka/ Kerala RTC) bus from Mysore Road Satellite bus station which will drop you to Kalpetta on next day early morning by 8 am (considering the night traffic ban in Bandipur Range).If you have a large team, go by own/ hired vehicle so you overcome the hindrance of night traffic ban and plan accordingly.

About Author

Ajay Nagaraju

Ajay Nagaraju

Ajay Nagaraju is a Travel Writer at Indiahikes. He holds a PGDM in Financial Analysis and Fund Management from the University of Exeter, United Kingdom. He spent six years working in finance with business firms and global investment banks, before deciding to pursue his passion in travel and writing. Trekking, tennis, movies and poetry are a few of his favorite things.

If you want to get in touch with Ajay, you can email him at ajay@indiahikes.com

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Ajay Nagaraju

Ajay Nagaraju

Ajay Nagaraju is a Travel Writer at Indiahikes. He holds a PGDM in Financial Analysis and Fund Management from the University of Exeter, United Kingdom. He spent six years working in finance with business firms and global investment banks, before deciding to pursue his passion in travel and writing. Trekking, tennis, movies and poetry are a few of his favorite things. If you want to get in touch with Ajay, you can email him at ajay@indiahikes.com

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