Kumara Parvatha Trek
The Holy Grail of South Indian Trekking
Coorg harbours some of the most exciting trekking trails in South India; namely Tadiyandamol, Kopatty, Nishani Motte and of course, Kumara Parvatha (also referred as Pushpagiri). Yet, Kumara Parvatha surpasses them on all counts. You might wonder, Why? The reasons are aplenty.
Unlike most trails in South India, Kumara Parvatha is an endurance test. The undulating trail with exhilarating inclines will never cease to amaze you throughout the 16 km stretch. There is hardly any respite during the strenuous climb; but boy oh boy, does it come with massive rewards. The trail climbs quickly, unraveling hair-raising views of hillocks raising atop a rural landscape. In terms of difficulty and subsequent reward, it is easy to understand why it is hailed as the holy grail of South Indian trekking.
Owing to its unrelenting slopes and hilly grasslands, this trail is not for the faint hearted. Apart from physical endurance and stamina, you need resilience to complete this 16 kilometer stretch. You can either start from Bidalli from Somwarpet, Coorg or from Kukke Subramanya Temple, South Kanara side the latter being more difficult.
Kumara Parvatha is also the third tallest peak in the western ghats of Karnataka at a height of 1712m (5,624 ft) is very close to Kukke Subramanya temple. It is also one of the most beautiful peaks in the western ghats. This mountain is on the border between Dakshina Kannada and Kodagu district. So the lights of Somwarpet town in Kodagu can be seen from the peak.
Kumara Parvatha Trek Guide
The seven of us consisting of met at the KSRTC Bus terminus at 10pm with our tents, sleeping bags, food, waterbottles, rucksacks etc. Boarded the 11pm bus to Somwarpet and arrived around 6.15am.The next bus to Beedahalli was after an hour which would take you another 30 minutes to reach your destination.
We had breakfast at a hotel near the bus-stand and covered the 25kms, 1 hour journey to Bidahalli. The first part of the trek from Bidahalli to Hegdemane is 5kms of walk along the normal asphalt road. Enroute we came across the Kumadhara river flowing underneath a bridge. We got refreshed in the cool water and prepared for the trek applying lime, tobacco salt etc to protect from the dreaded leeches.
As you keep moving forward with paddy fields on the sides of the road and cardamon strewn across the road on plastic sheets to be dried, you see the peak ahead of us.We reached Hegde Mane a very small village that had greenery everywhere and a major chunk of it was the paddy fields. Simply a feast to the eyes. As we moved further we were slowly and stealthily engulfed in mist.
As you continue further you come across Kumarahalli temple from where by taking a right turn the actual trail starts. The route is mud laden for about 2 kms. By 11.am we reached the forest dept check-post where the entry fee was collected along with a written memo saying that they were not responsible in any way if attacked by wild animals.
On crossing the checkpost, you see the hanging bridge the stream flowing beneath and the last place for filling the bottles with water. . The change in scenery begins instantaneously after crossing the bridge.We enter the dense canopied jungle of Pushpagiri wild life sanctuary with very little sunrays strewing upon the dried leaves and twigs which was wet due to incessant rains. Beware of leeches in these areas.
The trail is clearly marked by yellow colored sign boards. We reached first of the three boulders which is inclined at a moderate angle and continued moving towards the next boulder which was much steeper. The skies opened up and navigating through the boulder is very hard so we circumnavigated around the edge by helping ourselves upward by holding on to the bushes. As it was raining witnessing the same in the middle of a rain-forest was awesome sight. Everything looked so green and lively. 2 hours of journey comprising of two more boulders we reached a point where a signboard mentioned 0.75km to Kumara Parvatha (Pushpagiri). By 4pm we reached the top of the tallest peak in that range. As soon as the rain subsided the tent was pitched immediately. When it was almost dusk the clouds cleared up giving us a GLORIOUS view of the sunset. A fiery red ball of flame and just beautiful.A thing to be remembered for lifetime.
Woke up pretty early in the morning the next day, to have a beautiful view of the clouds above the lower mountain ranges around us.There were 2 layers , one layer in lower elevation than us and one which was at higher elevation. This “sandwich” was so spectacular with some points of the mountains poking their heads out of the cloud cover and the sun playing hide and seek behind this cover. From the top you could actually see the western ghats forests spread to such a huge distance, so many hills, mountains in view.
Started our return journey to Kukke Subramanya by 8am. Since there was no demarcation, the same uphill route was taken. On descending about 1 km, one of the member from the other troop asked us to take the route towards the watering point near the top of the peak.The water point other than the bridge is at the peak and the direction is marked on a boulder with yellow paint, hence the return journey is along that water path.
The initial part of the descend was pretty much along a path of the water falls so it was pretty slippery. At one point we reached a point where there was a huge rock. A small steep route is found along the right side of the boulder from the top. Very steep and slippery. After trekking for an hour, we reach the famous Kallinamantapa – a stone structure capable of holding up a tent. Water bottles are filled up from the nearby trough. This route leads to Bhattara mane amidst a place called Girigadde. The route is mainly filled with grasslands spread over the hills.This view is in complete contrast to what we had witnessed the previous day and some breathtaking drops.
This stretch seems to be under the rain-shadow region and only grass grows here. But the path is strewn with small rocks and boulders which strain our ankles and knees during the descent. An hours trek leads to forest guards office where one has to display the obtained permission letter. Another 5 mins we reach Bhattara Mane. After having our meal here we started our journey. Some 2kms down the lane we again encountered a leech infested forest and with rains in between the progress was very slow all the way to Subramanya. The trek ended at 4 pm. Another 1 km journey to Kukke Subramanya town. All of us freshened up and visited the famous temple. Our return KSRTC bus was leaving at 8.45 pm to Bangalore. While waiting for the bus I was just pondering how Kumara Parvatha being one of the most challenging and enduring treks in the western ghats gives one an immense satisfaction in conquering this peak. The sunset, the sunrise, the rain, the nature’s beauty, the deep forest cover, the vast grasslands, the view of the surrounding hills, super cool and sweet water in the stream, a gang of friends and trekking over 2 days. Well what else can one ask for?? “Trekking is an addiction – a beautiful one at that.”
The secret to ascending any trail lies in building your cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Ideally, you should be able to jog 4 km in 20 minutes before the start of the trek. It takes time to be able to cover this distance in the given time. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too. Strength This is another area you should work on. You will need to build strength in your muscles and in your core body. You can do some squats to strengthen your leg muscles. Do around 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set. Apart from this, you can add planks and crunches to your work out.
Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek. Working out indoors
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.
Kumaraparvata is just a one day trek. You will only need the following things.
- Small 20L backpack
- Two litre water bottle
- A jacket or poncho in case of rain
Here are Nikshep‘s photos from September season!
How to get to Kukke
Kukke Subramanya is a very popular destination for piligrims.
Kukke can be reached by road or by train.
Reaching Kukke by road
Buses ply from Bangalore to Kukke on a daily basis. You will find quite a few Volvo buses which start around 10-11 pm from Bangalore main bus stop in Majestic. These bus will reach Kukke at around 5:30 or 6 am the next day.
You can take your own transport and catch the Bangalore- Mangalore highway. The route till Kukke is an adventure. It is almost 200 kms of four lane expressway till Hassan. After Hassan, the Ghats start. The beauty of Sakleshpur till Gundya via the famous Shiradi Ghat is an experience of its own.
Gundya is a small village around 40 kms from Sakleshpur main town. Make sure that you take the road turning left from Gundya. Kukke is another 22 kms of splendid drive on a forest filled curvy roads. The sound of streams adds to the whole experience.
Reaching Kukke by Train
Kukke can be reached via train very easily. This is probably the most scenic train journey you can embark in Karnataka. Any train to Kukke passes through a series of tunnels in Sakleshpur.
You can find the Kannur and Karwa express which leaves Bangalore and reaches Kukke junction at 5: 30 am the next day.
One can find jeeps from the railway station to the main Kukke town. It is around 11 kms by road.