A trek through Brahmagiri WLS

Location - Brahmagiri WLS is located on the coorg - Kerala border in Karnataka state with the peak being shared between Karnataka and Kerala!!! The route to get there is Bangalore - Mysore - Hunsur - Gonikoppa - Shirimangala (where you have to get permission from the Forest Office) - Irpu. An alternate route is Bangalore - Mysore - Hunsur - Nagarhole (through the Sanctuary) - Irpu if you have already managed the permissions somehow!! Shirimangala to Irpu is about 15 kms of bad road and only 4 wheelers are permitted thro Nagarhole WLS b/w 6 am and 6 pm. That should help you decide the route!!

With the permission and fees (Rs. 20/- forest entry charge + Rs. 50/- Trekking charge per day + Rs.100/- guide charge per day), you are alloted a guide and off u go!!!

The trek - The permitted places to visit normally in the Brahmagiri WLS are Narimale peak, Munikal caves and Brahmagiri peak. There is a forest guest house at Narimale where one can spend the night shelling out Rs.50/- per person per night. The trek is a climb from 907 m at Irpu falls to about 1400 m near the Guest house and further to 1600 m at Brahmagiri peak. Every bit being enjoyable and worth the sweat!!!

The Blah - With Varsha insisting that we go on a trek over the weekend she finishes her exams, I had to plan out something! After plans of Dabbe and other falls near Shimoga, I settled on Brahmagiri - a place I wanted to visit after Sirish had raved about it on the Kotebetta trek. It was 9 of us finally - Sirish, Varsha, Bappi, Paddy, Moch, Nandi, Shruthi, Manju and myself - who were in the Qualis on Friday night enroute you know where. With Paddy around, I had to start singing!! A fully joshed up me and Paddy started on our favourites - Old Hindi classics and the singing session went on till three the next day morning!!! Pity the driver - as Varsha said .... for reasons more than one!! (:D)

I probably caught a cpla hours of sleep (some ppl couldnt catch any sleep ... ahem) before we were at Shirimangala and the permission formalities took minimal time. We freshened up at the PWD guest house adjacent to the Forest Office and started the trek by 10 am.

The initial trek through Bamboo forest lead us on to a climb through some leech-rich turf and all our joy knew no bounds when we reached the grassy slopes of Brahmagiri WLS. Panoramic views enchanted us all and we walked spellbound .... probably for a few seconds .... then everyone continued their blabber!!! ;)

We reached the Narimale Guest house by noon, dumped our luggage there and continued on towards Munikal caves. Enroute, two deep parallel lines seem to go all across the peaks, and to our great surprise, it was revealed to be the Karnataka-Kerala border!!! I was again reflecting on the meaninglessness of such divides ........

Munikal caves reminded me of the one day outing at Siddarabetta, near Tumkur. We just went across and under some rocks, got bored and really hungry!! we ambled on to a stream nearby and feasted on Chapatis .... Food .. what a nice word!!!!

Till now we had spotted only one Sambar deer - running across the slopes when we were excitedly pointing at it. Little did we know that we were to hit jackpot soon!! We were at the base of the Brahmagiri peak and there was only one way to the daunting peak - Straight Up!!! No zig-zag routes, no round-about paths - a dead straight climb up!! Manju, sirish and me got onto the job with alarming interest and scaled the peak in 12 mins!!! We found ourselves a comfortable vantage spot and took in the wonders of these hills. Mist all around, a cool breeze, views of the ranges in Kerala, green slopes all around - what more could one ask for!! :) (OK .. lemme not answer that question!!!)

The trek back to Narimale GH was most eventful - the jackpot I was talking about! The guide informed us that he'd be taking us on a longer route because he suspected some elephants to be on the normal route. So .. off we go on the long route. We trekked for sometime before we spotted a herd of elephants - 5 of them to be precise - within our view!!! Excited gasps and subdued shrieks continued till the guide led us away. We entered a pocket of forest in the small valley between two peaks when I heard Sirish remark "No elephants in this part of the forest!". The next minute, the guide waved his arms excitedly motioning us to run back - he was face to back with an elephant!!!! He was later to remark, "If that elephant had trumpeted, all of you would have froze still in fear. I would have run off ... what about u?!!!!" .... very calming indeed!!!!

We made our way all across the green cover on the grassland, each one looking all around in anticipation of another elephant nearby!! To fuel the fire, we found fresh elephant dung on the route and a fresh pug mark of the elephant in the slush .... weren't we excited!!! Thats when we spotted a couple of more Sambars and a couple of Gaurs. I was convinced we were in a wildlife sanctuary!!! :)

Dusk - the best time of the day. Thats the time when nature springs up more surprises everytime in the colors that adorn the sky. It was mesmerizing ...... memories of the KREC beach came rushing back .... I had probably watched a hundred sunsets - each more enchanting than the other - over there .......

And before we knew it, we were in the safety of the Guest House. The guide helped us cook (???) our dinner - MTR ready-to-eats ... hogged on it and called it a day.

Day two began at a heavenly shack soaked in the mist and it looked out of fairy tales...... The trees looked black-and-white through the thick mist showing no intentions of regaining color. Bread, toast, tea and maggi - u know what. We dragged along a unwilling guide to the Narimale peak.

"STOP" --- all of us did. "Look there" -- all of us did. Whispers all around. "Isn't that an elephant?" .... Hushed up voices .... "Yeah ... I can see its trunk thro the mist" ..... "Yes ... Yes .... I can see it's ears flap" ..... "It IS an elephant" ..... "Lets head back ... itz not worth the risk" ....... Some of us were more skeptical "Wait a sec ... It isnt bloody moving" ..... "Its the mist causing an illusion" ... and after five minutes - "Its a rock u idiots!!!!" ... And a rock it was. We laughed about it all the way to the peak where strong winds and Airtel Signal got everyone excited!!!

The team - Our guide (forgot his name), Manju, Bappi, Varsha, Moch, Sirish, Nandi, Shruti, me and Paddy
Date - Dec 10,11 2k5

It was finally time to head back. We left the GH and reached Irpu by one. The route back had us all singing "Do pyaar karne waale jungle mein ..... kho gaye!!!" and I turned villian from the best supporting actor!!! (as Bappi put it).

Irpu falls was as enjoyable as any waterfall is at the end of a trek - cool waters, space to get behind the falls and water shallow enough to go underneath it!!! We spent an hour with the 'Jalkreeda' (a term coined in a IE outing back at college), had lunch and exited through the Nagarhole WLS.

Spotted deer aplenty at Nagarhole and we were ROTFLOAO as Nandi, Paddy and practically everyone was in full form with different DMDz - Deep/Double Meaning Dialouges!! The victims seemed to be enjoying it too :). Another long singing session saw us through the journey from Hunsur to Bangalore and I missed the "Pehla Nasha" duet!! Too bad ... maybe someother time!!!
The team


sathya said...

i better be called for the next trek ok?

white_carnation said...

Thanks for the lovely account. I'm planning to go this weekend, could you tell me at what time you started from Irupu and what time you reached bangalore back?