Nestled in the heart of the Western Ghats, in the Chikmaglur district of Karnataka, Kudremukh is a beautiful trek across gently rolling green hills and misty valleys. The third highest peak in the state at 6,207 ft, the trek is a day’s climb from the base village.
‘Kudremukh’ literally means ‘horse’s face’ in Kannada. The name comes from the distinctive shape of the peak.
It is a trek of moderate difficulty, a weekend is all you need to hike this mountain. The landscape you traverse will mostly be wide green grasslands, and a few patches of forest.
The peak is situated in a National Reserve forest. If you’re lucky, you may get to see an occasional sambhar deer or peacock.
Kudremukh makes for one of the best treks from Bangalore on a long weekend and we will definitely say it features highly among ‘must-do treks’ in Karnataka.
A note to trekkers
Indiahikes does not run the Kudremukh Trek any time during the year. However, it is a wonderful Do-It-Yourself trek
Indiahikes only runs treks in the Himalayas. You can choose a Himalayan trek that you wish to based on your experience, season and difficulty here
- The Kudremukh peak trek can easily be described as one of the most beautiful treks in the Western Ghats. The variety in scenery you get on this trek is not something many other treks can boast of.
- There are overflowing streams that have to be crossed, dark shola forests with crisp brown leaves fallen underneath, bamboo shrubs tall enough to touch the sky, rolling green hills and finally, the peak itself, where gusty winds can blow you off your feet while the scenery below blows your mind.
- Altitude: 6,207 ft
- Time taken: 8-9 hours (5 hours to ascend); 18 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate.
- Water sources: If trekking right after the monsoon, you can refill your water bottles from streams along the trail.
On reaching the homestay, you can deposit excess luggage, have breakfast and leave for the climb. The distance covered, to the top and back, is 18 kilometres, and it takes at least 5 hours to reach the top. You should thus begin by 7.00 am latest to make it in time for lunch at the top, around 1.00 pm.
A short distance away from the homestay, on the way up itself, is the Forest Office. Get the necessary permissions for trekking here. There is a fee of INR 250 per person.
The trek begins from after the Forest Office. It starts off with a slight ascent on a muddy path after crossing a stream. This patch is tricky, and you’ll need a guide to cross it, as there are several confusing trails. This continues for around 1-1.5 km before the trail reaches a plateau of sorts. This is marked by an ontimara, a ‘lonely tree’ at the spot.
From the ontimara, after a left – the trail is flat, with the Kudremukh valley to the right, and easy slopes to the left. The landscape here onwards is mostly wide grassland, with the occasional dense spot of trees, for around 1.5 hours. A lonely road leads the way to the top, surrounded by miles and miles of open meadows.
This route is especially scenic during, and just after the monsoon when the entire mountainside seems to be covered by a soft, green carpet. Numerous streams, small and large cross the path during this time, and can safely be used as sources of water.
After the fourth dense patch of trees, is another stream of water, and the last water source before the peak. After this point, the trail moves up two steep ascents for around 5-6 km, before it reaches another ontimara. As the road ascends, the whole Kudremukh valley becomes visible. This is one of the most beautiful parts of the trek.
The second ontimara is reached at the end of the second ascent. This is a good spot to rest and look around for a while, before recommencing the walk to the top. You should ideally reach this point around or before 12 noon.
This point onwards, the trail climbs up the ‘horse’s back’ part of the mountain, gradually curving upwards, and ending in a steep ascent. This is the last ascent – the climb to the top is a level walk past green fields.
The highest point is recognisable by a small group of rocks, and a small stream that runs through from here. It is an exquisite spot to sit and have lunch, breezy, with a view of the valley and undulating hills below.
Leave the peak around 2.00 pm latest to be back at the homestay in time. The descent is down the same trail. The evening can be spent setting up a campfire at the homestay and sleeping in, before leaving on Sunday morning.
How to reach the base camp
The best way to time the trek on a weekend, is to leave on a Friday night from Bangalore, and travel overnight to the base, 332 km away. The base village is a tiny hamlet – it has no known name as such, and no direct buses either.
To reach it, take the road from Bangalore to Kalsa, and get off at a small square just before Kalsa. The ‘square’ is instantly recognisable – it consists of just two small shops by the roadside, with no habitation for kilometres on either side. Nearby, a bridge takes a road towards the base village. Those travelling by bus need to get off here, and take a jeep to the base. Several jeeps ply to and fro from this point to the homestays to drive trekkers, and charge INR 800-1,000 per jeep. Those traveling by private vehicles can drive to this junction, park the vehicles safely at the roadside, and take a jeep from there onwards.
The jeeps are usually available all the time, but they are especially active in the early morning, when trekkers arrive. Hiring a jeep, even by those travelling by private vehicles is recommended – the route to the base is a tough one, and is better traversed by experienced drivers.