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The Complete Guide To Nishani Motte Trek

Bhagamandala is approximately 284 km from Bangalore via NH 48. It is a small place in Kodagu district (Coorg) in Karnataka, along the banks of River Cauvery. It takes around eight hours to reach Bhagamandala. 

For this trek, trekkers need permits from the Forest Department. One can obtain these permits from the FRH Office in Bhagamandala. 

From Bhagamandala, take a seven-kilometer dirt road (by jeep) to Talacauvery, which is the base camp of the trek. 

Short Itinerary

An Ideal Weekend Trek Out of Bangalore

  • The trail to Nishani Motte is a lesser-known trail in Coorg. Starting out in rich shola forests and meadows the trail follows an impressive ridge walk to the summit.
  • The peak offers a spectacular view of the layers of the Brahmagiri range. This is followed by a stay in the forest at the anti poaching camp. This varied combination, makes Nishani Motte an ideal weekend trek out of Bangalore.
  •  The trail boasts of pristine forests, meadows, ridge walks and a summit

Detailed Trail Information

Day 1: Talacauvery to Nishani Motte

(Camping at Nishani Motte Forest APC Camp)

  • Time taken: 5-6 hours
  • Distance: 16 km
Nishani Motte trek

Entry point of the trek

The trek starts at Talacauvery. Spot the entry gate just before a local temple. It reads ‘Talacauveri Wildlife Sanctuary.’ A flat jeep trail goes by the temple. Follow this trail. Observe the wider expanse of the valley as you leave the temple complex behind. The jeep trail meanders through a green forest.

After 15 to 20 minutes, look out for a forest watchtower on your right. Five minutes after you pass the tower, get off the jeep and take a non-marked trail on your right. This is a shortcut. A small rivulet also runs by here, and this is a rare source for drinking water. You’re not likely to find any more water sources. So, carry at least two litres of drinking water with you.

(If you do not want to take the shortcut, you can also follow the 3 km-long jeep trail. It takes around 40 minutes to navigate.)

Nishani Motte trek

The initial jeep trail

After you have taken the shortcut, plunge into the shoal forests that you see ahead of you. Observe tree trunks laden with mosses, lichens and epiphytes. Follow the trail up the forest ridge for 20 minutes as you momentarily exit the forest.

The clearing that you enter is not large. Bamboos with reed patches are scattered all over the place. On walking past this clearing, you will find yourselves entering the forest following the laid trail again. There are two more similar clearings before you finally exit the forest line. It takes around 90 minutes to negotiate the forest. When you emerge out of the forest, you can see the summit of Nishani Motte on your right. “Motte” means egg in Kannada, which is the local language. Aptly, the tip of the peak you’re headed to, is in the shape of an egg.

Nishani Motte trek

Nishani Motte peak as seen from the distance

Observe a series of grassy ridges that stretch to Nishani Motte Peak. The view from here is spectacular. The ridge walk passes two major ridge tops. The approach towards the first one has a slight incline, which takes 30 minutes. After that, a series of gradual ascents will have you reach the top of the second ridge top. Nishani Motte Peak gives a unique perspective from here with its egg-shaped hump. The trail from here to Nishani Motte Peak can be clearly seen.

Nishani Motte peak

The final ascent to Nishani Motte peak

It takes approximately one hour and thirty minutes to reach the top of Nishani Motte Peak. The last section leading to the summit has a steep incline. The summit is at an altitude of 4,100 ft approximately and has a small surface, where hardly ten people can stand. From here, enjoy spectacular views of valleys on either side. Extending before your eyes are several hills that blur out in the distance. Note that this area is extremely windy.

Once your eyes are satiated, it is time to descend swiftly. The first 15 minutes' descent is a sharp one.

Nishani Motte trek

Great views from Nishani Motte peak

This is followed by a 20-minute ridge walk over grassy terrain, till you see the forest line. It is now time to say goodbye to the golden-yellow meadows of Nishani Motte. Enter the forest from the left side. Follow the trail till you reach a hut complex of the Forest Department. This is the anti-poaching center campsite of Nishani Motte Forest. Look for a small forest clearing spot in order to camp. Here, there is a source of water, derived from water pipes set up by the Forest Department.

Nishani Motte peak

Descent from the summit to campsite

Day 2:  Nishani Motte APC Campsite to Bhagamandala

  • Time taken: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Distance: 4 km

Start early in the day. Take the downhill trail from the campsite that goes by the famed coffee plantations of Coorg. The trek is only four kilometers long. It takes around 90 minutes to reach the motorable road of Bhagamandala. The trek ends here. From here, board a bus back to Bangalore.

How To Get Fit For The Trek

Cardiovascular endurance

The secret to ascending any trail lies in building your cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging every day. 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 every day. 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 workout.

Flexibility

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.

What To Pack For The Trek

Backpack

Backpack

No, stuffing it all in isn’t the right way to do it

Packing a backpack correctly saves precious time that you might waste trying to find your things later. It is wise to spend some time on learning what really goes into packing a backpack.

What should I pack?

On a trek, you only get what you take. Something as simple as a forgotten matchbox can cripple your cooking plans throughout the trek. So, it’s essential to prepare early and prepare well. To begin with, make a checklist. While shopping, remember this thumb rule - keep it light. “Every item needs to be light. This ensures that your backpack, on the whole, stays light,” says Sandhya UC, co-founder of Indiahikes. Balancing out heavy items with light ones isn’t going to have the same effect as having all light items. “Always opt for good quality, light items,” says Sandhya.

How much should my bag weigh?

“Your backpack for a weekend trek should weigh between 8 and 10 kg,” explains Arjun Majumdar, co-founder of Indiahikes, “To break it down, your tent should weigh around 2.5 kg, your sleeping bag, around 1.5 kg, and the ration, stove and clothes should constitute the other 5 kg.” The best way to plan is by concentrating on the basic necessities – food, shelter and clothes. Gather only those things that you’ll need to survive. Do not pack for ‘if’ situations. “That’s one of the common mistakes that people make – packing for ‘if situations’. It only adds to the baggage that you can do without on a trek,” says Sandhya.

One good way to go about it is to prepare a list of absolute essentials. Start with the most essential and end with the least essential. That way, when you feel you are overshooting the limit, you can start eliminating from the bottom. Another tip is to be smart while packing clothes. Invest in light. wash and wear fabrics. "Replace a sweater with two t-shirts," adds Sandhya. Layering is the mantra when it comes to trekking. Refer to Sandhya’s clothes list to pack smart.

Trekking hack

Trekking hack

How to pack The thumb rule for this one is to eliminate air spaces. Make sure that everything is packed tightly, especially clothes and jackets, as they tend to take up maximum air space. Put in all the large items first. Then squeeze in the smaller ones in the gaps. This ensures minimum air space. A good way to pack clothes is by using the Ranger Roll method.

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Where to pack

BottomSleeping bag: Make this your base layer. Sleeping bags tend to be voluminous, but do not weigh much. They’re perfect for the bottom of the bag. Tent: Just like the sleeping bag, even tents are voluminous and light. Keep the tent poles separately and place the fabric at the bottom of the backpack.

MiddleHeavy jacket: Roll up the jacket in a tight ball and place it in the middle of the backpack, close to your back. The middle region of the backpack should always have the heaviest items. You can store other things like ration or mini stoves in the middle. Other clothes: Roll other clothes and place them in the remaining space, to fill air gaps.

Top Water: Water, although heavy, needs to be easily accessible. So put it in the top most region of your backpack. Medicine box: This is another component that you wouldn’t want to be scavenging for when in need. Poncho: It could rain at any time in the mountains. So, ponchos should be accessible easily. Also, having a waterproof poncho at the top of the backpack provides additional waterproofing to items in the bag.

Backpack essentials

Backpack essentials

Trek Contribution

Author: VAIBHAV CHAUHAN

Vaibhav is associated with Indiahikes as a Writer & Chief Explorer. He is an avid traveler with a passion for trekking in Indian Himalayas. With his roots in Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh, the love for the mountains is in his blood. When not travelling he likes to spend time interacting with like-minded trek enthusiasts and read books on travel and mountaineering.

All pictures were shot by Vivian, Trek Leader at Indiahikes, in mid-January 2015.

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