The night sky was clear at this height and the full moon’s light was bright enough to enable them enjoy their surroundings. Finally, the gang of seven reached Pushpagiri just in time to be able to view the sunrise. Although they were not the first team to reach the peak, but still their joys had no limits – as the journey was more rewarding than the destination.
The peak was abounding with people, tents, campfire and there was a dog too. While some guys had fixed their attention on the horizon waiting for the sun to rise, the dog was busy sniffing the ground and eating whatever food scrap it found.
Light cracked through the eastern horizon painting a thin red horizontal line on the night sky. This was dawn. A scream of excitement filled the air as the crowd clicked photographs against the increasing light at the skyline. The light from the horizon started filling the valleys and made all objects visible in their true image.
The previous morning at this time the gang of eight was at Kukke Subrahmanya taking bath at the Kumardhara river. “Ananth has really missed this moment” saying this Anil recollected the time when the exhausted Ananth left the group midway and reduced the gang’s strength to seven since the weight of his backpack had become really unbearable after a climb of initial 3 kilometers. The route to the top has been really tiring for these guys as they have climbed 14 kilometers with their luggage to reach here.
The fog formed in the valley started to become thinner as the sun kept advancing with time. The gang of seven took a final darshan of Kumaraparvatha temple and bid goodbye to the peak. Their target now was to reach Somwarpet to be able to catch a bus back to Bangalore. Arun, Prabhu and Swamy started the Journey by walking on the mountain’s gentle slope towards Beedhalli. Eshwar, Anil, Suveer and Sashank followed them. As they walked they filled their eyes with the superb visuals of the grassy hills before them. Soon, a confusion arose as there were two diversions. As they approached near to the splitting of path. A signboard put up by the forest department became visible on the rightside path:
<<Pushpagiri 0.25 kms – Beedhalli 6.75 kms >>
The dog soon overtook them while they were taking a diversion to the right and strayed into the grass. “Let us not follow the dog, it may be wanting to visit its family.”, adviced a gang member. On the journey it was observed that at every quarter kilometer, there was a signboard inforing the remaining distance. Some trees were also labelled. As, the guys kept walking towards their goal, the dog kept overtaking and disappearing at various points. They reached a sloping rock and decided to halt here to have some breakfast.
As they opened their bread and jam pouches, the dog came from behind and stared at the trekkers with pitiable eyes.
“Naayi, have some bread.” and Eshwar threw a bread piece. The dog sniffed and went away. It returned back, this time Swamy offered his bread piece. The dog did not seem interested in eating the bread – only sniffing!
“Naayi, Why you are not eating the bread?”, asked Sashank to the dog.
“Maybe it has already had its breakfast at the peak buddy. It may not be hungry.”, adviced Eshwar.
Suveer chipped in, “But, It looks hungry da. Maybe it wants some Jam!”
The group packed up and carried on with their journey. It was a huge rock they were sitting on. After a few steps the gradient was as much as 70 degrees. Swamy and Eshwar came running down after the dog. While coming down a slope if you slant your feet and come down, we receive greater grip. This very technique was applied by all others. Those who did not have confidence in this technique, sat on the rock and dragged themselves down – finding the friction to be great. 🙂
At the base of the rock was another sign post:
<<Pushpagiri 2 kms – Beedhalli 5 kms>>
At this point the grasslands had ended and the Coorg’s forest had now begun. This stretch had a mix of grass and forests. Although the sun had reached the ten O clock position in the sky – The atmosphere was still pleasant as they were walking towards the west in the shadow of Kumaraparvata.
Yesterday at this time they had started their journey at Kukke Subrahmanya in Dakshin Kannada District. The walk was pleasant initially through dense forests although the steep was quite tiring. The group had also lost one of its members when the grasslands had begun. As the group continued to climb they were surprised to find a few old women resting under the shade of a tree. This was of course like a moral boost for the guys as they chatted with the women when they realised that these women were actually very young. They only had old bodies, but their spirits were very fresh and youthful.
The sun was up in the sky and its rays fell directly on the head. With water content in bottles nearing empty the head had become like pressure cooker without a whistle to let the pressure out. It could be dehydration. And in this state Sashank fell down and refused to move forward. This was when Eshwar picked up Sashank’s bag and Swamy encouraged him to put a few steps. Although Bhatta’s house was only 10 minutes away; these 10 minutes were like 10 kilometers. This was when these guys realised for the first time – concept of relativity.
Finally; Swamy, Sashank and Eshwar made it to Bhatta’s house – popularly known as Bhattara Mane. They washed their face and feet in the cool waters available here in plenty and joined the remaining team members in a feast of sambar rice. When you see the pictures of Bhattara Mane on the internet, it looks like a modest home. But, you really understand heaven, only if you have been through hell before. What these guys were experiencing now was heavenly peace under the cool shades of Bhattara Mane. After their meal, the guys took a brief rest of 2 hours and resumed their journey to the peak at 4 pm. They soon reached a check post. Beyond this checkpost was Pushpagiri Forest Sanctuary.
“How far is the Mantap from here?” enquired Prabhu.
“It is 2 hours from here”, replied the forest officer.
“We want to know – how much time it will take us to reach to Mantap?” enquired Anil again.
“I have told time for you only. I will take 45 minutes reach there. From Mantap you will require another 2 hours to reach Pushpagiri. I will suggest you to take rest at Mantap and continue to Pushpagiri tomorrow morning.” smiled the officer.
The guys were now in the sanctuary and had reached a considerable height whereby, there were no trees and only grass. They halted at a couple of viewpoints and continued their journey. As they were climbing they met fellow travelers coming in the opposite direction. These trekkers had started from Somwarpet and exchanged their experiences with these guys. They reached Mantap just in time to be able to view the setting sun.
The boys collected firewood and filled up their water bottles at the water hole near the Mantap. The sky had become dark and the climate started to get cooler. The seven guys sat on the Mantap in a circle blocking the air from coming inside and had a candlelight puliogare dinner. After the dinner the firewood was lighted and Arun and Anil entertained everyone by singing songs. Meanwhile the moon was rising behind the hills creating a speactacular moment.
Many cameras tried to capture this rising moment, but, in vain. Nevertheless, the moonlight was bright enough to brighten up the entire valley. The gang then opened their sleeping bags and started snoring after a marathon walk uphill. This walk was still unfinished.
It was 2:30 am. “Maga, get up – its time to leave”, jolted Anil.
“Hey Anil, go to sleep ra?”
“If we don’t use the moonlight now, day trek will become extremely hectic buddy.”
Anil somehow managed to convince everybody and the trek had started again. There were now seven guys and 5 torches. The path was clearly visible as the first hill was conquered. From here two more peaks were visible. “We have to reach the second peak. That is Pushpagiri”, said Swamy. “No, it is the first one”, defended Suveer. The gang decided to check it out who was right by trekking the path. The path was steep but there was no tiredness experienced. Whenever their heartbeat became faster they halted allowing it to slow down till their breaths calmed down – then resumed the journey.
“We have made it!”, exclaimed the thrilled guys as they rested on the connecting path between the two peaks, opened a dates packet and celebrated their achievement by eating seedless Lion dates. Here they were unable to decide which was Kumaraparvatha since, they both were of the same height. After a brief rest they decided to walk it up to the second of the twin peaks. On reaching this peak, they were surprised that someone had already made it before them.
“Hey guys, Look there…” screamed the excited Arun flashing his torch in the southward direction. “Dudes, we are still 2 hours away from the peak.” said Prabhu as he found the deep valley in front. They had reached the summit of yet another false peak. There was a greater peak at a distance and a thick forested valley before them which has to be passed through. The gang of seven gathered their courage, switched on their torches and moved into the thick forested valley. It looked like a lonely journey. But, there were a few surprises ahead when they saw some campfires throughout the forest. It always a pleasant surprise to find a human being as a co-traveler towards a common goal. A few groups overtook them but, they did not mind since they were seven and the torches were five. It was more important to stay as a group. They believed this was to be the last peak when they reached the base of the peak. This was to be their final halt before they reached the summit.
There was a steep wall like rock in front of them. The guys climbed it and perched on it. After having ladoos, the journey resumed. There were big rocks in front of them. It looked like they were taking the route of the dried-up waterfall. The path suddenly ended into a big open space. This open space was on a big rock which looked like a top of a sloping hill. On climbing up the rocky slope they found a sign board put up by the forest department.
<<Pushpagiri 0 kms – Beedhalli 7 kms >>
As the guys recounted their journey upward, they never realised how far they had come until they met a sign board once again:
<<Pushpagiri 7 kms – Beedhalli 0 kms >>
There was now a hanging bridge in front of them. The dog walked under the bridge, crossed the small stream and reached the other bank. It was a great companion throughout the down hill journey. Somehow there is a strange relation between dogs and human beings. Even in Mahabharata, it is reported that a dog accompanied the five Pandavas and Draupadi in their final Himalayan trek.
Here, at Kumaraparvatha – the dog had refilled the void within the team caused by Ananth’s initial departure. The team which had started the journey had now ended it in the same number. It now felt like a complete journey – since the gang of eight had reunited!