The monsoons were pouring down slowly in the southern states this time. The South-West monsoon usually retreats by the end of September. I was looking forward to a trek in the rain before it ends. The storm in the Western Ghats is something I like the most, and the shower is so refreshing and liberating. It didn’t take much time to decide on a trek to Kodachadri hills. I started my journey, along with a friend from Chennai on an afternoon train towards Bangalore, where I had booked an overnight bus to Kodachadri.
I have to get down at a place called Nittur. The trek to Kodachadri starts from here. It was a drizzling morning. The raindrops were soft like snow. It kept on falling as it ever exists, disturbing no one. Nittur is a small village between Shimoga and Kollur. Got a guide immediately. Trekking on our own was the plan, but from Nittur, people told it would be a bit difficult to find the trails. Our guide was a nice person, ran immediately to his house to take an umbrella and he was ready to go. We bought some sniffing powder to prevent parasites, as per our guide’s instruction and started our trek to Kodachadri peak.
We took a small trail from the main road and began walking. There were houses on both sides, paddy fields, streams running all around them. It occurred to rain a little later, our guide unfolded his umbrella and walked in front. I followed him, embraced by the rain.
After a while, our trail merged with the road that goes to Kodachadri Trek. For a short distance, we have to walk by the way. Our guide started to talk, about the trek and different trails, then his stories. He told about a group who got lost in the forest during the trek to Kodachadri Trek peak a few years back. There is an area in the woods, finding the correct trail is very difficult once we go inside, he said. He was one among those who went to search a group who were lost in the forest. I felt a little difficult to believe his story entirely, but I didn’t want to show the doubts on my face. He leads us very confidently as a person who knows these mountains very well.
The walk continued for about an hour, and I came across many small villages. The road was unpaved. We gradually entered the forest. Leeches started to crawl on my legs. It was a little scary in the beginning but later became used to it. The sneezing powder was effective. Most of us are a bit scared about parasites, one of the reasons why we are a little hesitant to go into forests or trek in the rain. But I felt they are much harmless compared to the mosquitoes, which we are ready to tolerate in the cities.
We reached a small house, Hidlumane ( “mane” in Kannada means house). Two forest officers were sitting there, and permitted us to enter the forest after paying an entry fee. We joined some other groups from there. From Hidlumane, the trek continued towards Hidlumane falls. We were walking through the forest; the trails were a little slippery. Our guide led us to the waterfalls, more leeches on my legs. Before Hidlumane falls, there are two other waterfalls. They don’t have any names it seems, but they looked pretty with full water after the heavy monsoon rains.
From the waterfall, the trek is a steep climb through the forest. It rained heavily; hornbills welcomed the rain from the most significant trees. The streams were full. Water dripping from the trees made the sound of the forest more enchanting. During the storms, the wood has a different shade of green. It looked fresh everywhere. Whenever the rain stops for a while, the fog starts to crawl up between the trees to the hills. The forests gave way to grasslands as we climbed higher.
Once again, we met the road, which soon ended in front of a temple. A trail goes to the top of the Kodachadri hills by the side of the temple. Many jeeps were waiting for those who went up to the top. Our guide took us to the government guest house. The caretaker of the guest house informed us that we had to wait till 4.30 evening to get confirmation about the rooms. He assured us a place to sleep anyway. The guest house was a bit spooky. It was not that much well maintained. Water leaked through the roof at some locations. The window panes broken, walls turned green with the most. The air was damp inside, but we found little warmth in a corner.
The rain showed no interest to cease. The fog made it hard to see anything, so we decided to wait. People began to leave; it was evening then and started to get dark. Only a few people were staying in the guest house for the night.
The next morning was calm, the rain stopped finally. As soon as I woke up, I went outside to see the sunrise. I trekked to the top of the Kodachadri peak. It was fog everywhere, I couldn’t see the sunrise but it was a beautiful morning.
When I was about to come back from the top, I met the group who stayed with us in the guest house. They were hiking to Chitramoola, a cave temple located on the other side. It is believed that the sage Sri Shankaracharya meditated in this cave for about one year. I joined them. It was a trek down to the opposite side of the hill. We entered a thick forest; the trail was very steep. Leeches were very happy to see some people at their place finally. Walked down for about 30 minutes and heard sounds of a waterfall nearby. We followed the music, the cave was behind the falls.
Sitting inside the cave, in front of the Shiva Linga, my thoughts went back to the time when Shankaracharya meditated here in the middle of the jungle alone.
Trek to Kodachadri hills: Few things to know
- There are three main trekking routes to reach Kodachadri. The trek to Kodachadri from Nittur is a 10 km trail and a moderate one.
- Camping is not allowed in Kodachadri.
- Nittur is a small town on the way to Kollur. You can get down at Nittur if coming from Bangalore.
- You will quickly get guides from Nittur itself; they will approach immediately when you get down there. They usually charge INR 600.
- It is better to carry something to prevent parasites. Tobacco and salt are very useful. The sneezing powder also works well. I have seen some spraying Volini remove leeches (but it kills them).
- Carry enough water and some food; you won’t find any shops on the way.
- It is better to carry some plastic bags to keep your phone and other electronics, especially during rain time.
- I advise you to carry a small bag, the trek is very steep, and it will be difficult with a heavy bag.
- Though it is a moderate trek, the trails will become slippery during rain and trekking will be difficult.
- Once you reach the end of the road in Kodachadri, you can find the government guest house nearby
- You won’t find it challenging to get a room, but sometimes there will be booking. You can book the guest house in advance from Hosanagara. If not booked, you have to wait till evening.
- You may find the guest house a little uncomfortable. It is the best option for accommodation if you can adjust for a night. And an experience too.
- The guest house will provide food also.
- You will also get accommodation in the temple priest’s house with simple food
- On top of Kodachadri, there are many trails. Each towards different places where you can get the best view of sunset and sunrise.
- The trail to Chitramoola can be found behind the Shankaracharya temple at the top. Only a few people opt for the trek to Chitramoola.
- To reach back to Nittur, you can take the same trail or walk the jeep route or can take any jeep going back. They will charge about INR 250 per person to drop in Nittur. The ride in the vehicle is an adventure.
- Taxis are available from Nittur if you don’t prefer the trek to Kodachadri. Also, you can take a cab up to Hidlumane and continue the trek from there.
- Local buses are available from Nittur towards Kollur. Kollur is a well-known temple town. Karnataka government and private bus companies have services from Kollur to
- most of the cities like Bangalore, Mangalore, Chennai etc.
Hope you got enough information about the trek to Kodachadri hills. Make time to continue the trek to Chitramoola. I didn’t write much about Chitramoola, that was intentional. Felt it is unfair to spoil the thrill of your experience.