Promise me a glimpse of awesomeness and I’d walk a thousand miles! Doesn’t sound real? Let me elucidate – I traveled 270 kms away from Bangalore, hiked to 1750 meters for a 5 minute Sunset and a 15 second Sunrise. No Kidding! Tadiyandmol held a promise of something I longed since the inception of the trek bug in my mind – A walk above the clouds! And this trek to the second highest peak of Karnataka was just about that and this post will tell you how it lived upto its expectation and more.
It was a Tuesday morning and the memories of the last weekend’s New Year special beach trip to the Konkan Coast were still lingering fresh in mind. Yes, I was back to Bangalore only two days before and yes, I still registered for Tadiyandmol trek for next weekend. I celebrated the New Year’s Eve in a very peculiar way – one that I liked a lot. I traveled from 2009 to 2010. I was in the bus, journeying from Bangalore to Karwar and I guess the prediction holds good when they say whatever you do on the first day of the year shall be done all year long. True to the word, here I am, traveling yet again within the week.
Some treks are done for the sheer challenge they present and some for the sheer beauty they present. This trek belongs to the second category. Beautiful as hell and easy as well! An ideal trek for beginners to start with.
This time, I was back on trail with CTC and I also invited Arti to come along and get a glimpse of my world. Saturday morning we started in two TTs to Kakkabe, Coorg which is the starting point for the trek. There were 23 of us along with the two familiar faces of Ravi and Vinod. I was up all Friday night writing my summit day story with the idea in my mind that I would sleep throughout the journey to Kakkabe – a good 6 hours from B’lore. But I could not have been more wrong or optimistic in thinking so. You’ll be surprised to know how much talent India is hiding and especially in that TT in which I was traveling. American Idol would stand no chance against it and Sa Re Ga Ma Pa would be of no comparison. The guys with most amazing voices were making sure no one would ever forget this eventful ride and I was no exception. I was pretending to be asleep alright but yes, I was listening and yes, you guys won! :)
Unfortunately, one missed turn cost us an extra two hours of the journey and we reached Kakkabe only at 4.00 PM! Now the main reason for me doing this trek was the sunset from the peak and all of this seemed for a lost cause now that evening was fast approaching. Pinning down my hopes on a beautiful sunrise, we started from Palace estate to the peak. Sitting in the bus for 10 straight hours, I felt like I just woke up from a deep slumber or so. The initial walk on the tarmac leading to the trail was steeper than the climb to the peak itself and I was very amused by this while a few were not so! Vinod assured the rest that this was the tough part and it was true.
As I walked with Vinod, he told me if I rushed I’d still have a chance of making it to the peak by sunset and as the last of rays were disappearing a ray of hope was also shining. Soon we reached the grasslands at 4.50 PM and I could see Tadiyandmol peak rising in front of me. 70 minutes to sunset and it seemed pretty doable. With Rajesh and Priyanka for company, we walked till we reached the last and only water source for the day, filled up on water reserves and started. I went ahead to climb the small peak from which I could witness the sunset incase I wouldn’t reach Tadiyandmol. Kantesh followed suit and soon we were nearing the peak. I was hell bent on reaching the top but was not sure if the rest were coming to the peak today or not and if they are not coming, how would they know that I went ahead and some more stupid questions were ringing in my head. And the fact that there was a small forest valley to be crossed before reaching the top would mean no one can see us once inside. Nevertheless, Kantesh and I headed into the forest and a few minutes later out into the open grasslands again. I could already see clouds descending into the deep valleys between vast mountains at a far distance. And the sky was turning a beautiful orangish red. Was I going to see the sunset after all? Frankly I wasn’t too sure even then. It was 5.40 PM and I didn’t have much time at my disposal and but there were two more peaks to be climbed before I could get a clear view. Time was now 5.55 PM and we reached a point just before the top. But thankfully the view was clear from here and I did not want to take any chances. Dropped my backpack and we rushed to the far end of the slope and here it was – a fiery red fireball blazing its way down a sizeable spread of clouds.
Elated that I was, I captured some proof of the beauty that I witnessed and within 2 minutes. Vinod came running with his camera and he too got lucky! And as Rajesh’s head was rising over the horizon of the slope, the sun hid itself completely behind the clouds. He missed the phenomenon in just about 15 seconds! It was 5.59 PM and that was it. I was super ecstatic because I witnessed the sunset from 5.55 PM – 5.59 PM. Yup! I’m that crazy! Slowly the rest came only to find out to their chagrin that neither was this peak nor the campsite. And that they had to get down the mountain across the forest in the dark to reach the campsite long gone behind us.
MY FAITHFUL SHOES! :)
We started back at 7.00 PM with our torches lit and headed down through the slope and into the valley. As the darkness descended upon the mountains, the sky lit up with a gazillion stars shimmering to their shiny best. And that made my day. This is the third time I witnessed such grandeur of sky and stars after Ladakh and Chikmagalur. The wind was cool. We reached the campsite just on the other side of the forest valley and now it was time for some work. Few of us left to collect firewood which was aplenty and we collected a lot of it. So much so that next time you go, you’d find firewood for your campfire! A million different minds applied a million different concepts before the fire was up and burning. While the rest were trying to get the soup to boil, Rajesh, Ramesh and I settled down taking up the cutting vegetables job as Arti and Priyanka took up the task of being the torchbearers. It was a delightful time spent next to the campfire, under the open skies cutting vegetables and crying (only me!) Well it was delightful because we made delicious ready to eat salads and hogged on it. An hour later soup was ready and needless to say we hogged on it as well. Then came the turn of aval but by then the five of us from the cutting department had already helped ourselves to large servings of whatever available + onions + lemon + salt!
It was 10.00 PM I guess, the fire was still burning high and the sky was clear, the night was cold and winds were blowing and people were sleepy. Everyone went down the slope on the leeward side to avoid the colds winds but I reckon it didn’t help much. Vinod, Arti, Ravi, Sudhir and yours truly settled on the windward side for a cozy night around the campfire. Sudhir was up all night for want of a burning campfire due to lack of a sleeping bag. And Ravi suggested I cover my sleeping bag with the tarpaulin to avoid mist and thanks to both of them I slipped into a blissful slumber amidst my hunt for shooting stars. Arti on the other hand didn’t get a good night’s sleep. This being her first trek, I think she enjoyed the experience. So far so good! Vinod doesn’t feel cold anyway and he slept like a log and so did Ravi.
The morning next day started with frenzy as the people who missed sunset yesterday were up and running to catch glimpses of awesomeness and I was feeling lazy. But I woke up after sometime and started walking up the hill along with Vinod and Arti. Reached the peak and to my utter disappointment, it was misty like hell and nothing was visible other than white, fuzzy figures. We waited for several “just 10 more minutes” but to no avail. I agree it was me who wished dearly for the clouds, but I guess I missed out on the clause that I wanted to “see” the clouds and not be “in” the clouds. Mist was rolling in from every direction. After an hour’s wait, a couple of us went to the other corner of the mountain and since there was large open valleys this side, the clouds were being pulled down and this allowed for fleeting ..fleeting glimpses of sunrise. On the whole we saw the mist clear up 4-5 times. each time giving us a window of 5 seconds. So 20-25 seconds of sunrise. And yes, I was lucky enough to capture it.
Reached the campsite, packed our bags and we started to the palace estate. The downhill walk was good. I decided to walk with myself and music and my camera. Arti was coming behind with Alwyn. Soon we reached the TT. Few group shots and now we were headed to Chalwara falls. At first glance, the falls looked beautiful with two streams cascading down the almost monolithic rock face. But the estate surrounding and the people boozing deprived the falls of the pristine ambiance that I was seeking. Soon I, along with Arti headed to reach the top of the falls and from there even further up to reach a nice little idyllic place with streams flowing and mist covered mountains rising. And the weather had been delightfully pleasant all through they day.
Within few minutes Vinod came up looking for us and then it was time for some action and hence created confusion. To keep it simple, Vinod came to tell us we were starting and he disappeared ahead. Arti went ahead and she also disappeared. I waited long for them and then I disappeared to reach the TT only to find out the disappeared souls hadn’t appeared yet. So now Ravi and I disappeared to come back to the same place but the souls were not wandering here. Then Vinod appeared. Now the three of us left down for the TT where Arti had already appeared. There ended the confusion and 7 hours later the trip ended. Oh if I missed it out, we also had a display of Bollywood stunt masala while having our dinner.
Distance from Bangalore – 270 kms
Trek Start Point – Palace Estate, Kakkabe
Distance to be covered – 10kms one way
Trek Difficulty – Easy
Best Time to visit – Anytime other than Monsoon
Things to do – Trek is only fun if you watch sunset or sunrise from the peak.
What to expect – Out of this world views if you are lucky and are out of the clouds.
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