The Western Ghats of Karnataka is a heaven for those who enjoy the combination of deep forest and mountains. Nearly all the peaks have the awesome features like
You will get to see only lush green landscapes till your eyes meet the horizon.
There are fascinating waterfalls in close vicinity.
The trail is rugged and you won’t find plethora of trekkers. On weekdays, you might be alone.
Certain parts of trail will be dark even in daytime due to dense vegetation.
If you keep silence then you will be able to easily hear the sounds of birds and insects.
You need to take forest permit before trekking in few of the mountains
Leeches are on party mode during monsoon. Avoid.
Post monsoon and winter is the best time to explore.
Mullayanagiri Peak (1930m)
Mullayanagiri is located just 20 kms from the romantic town of Chikkamagaluru. It derives its name from the tomb of Saint Mulappa Swamy, which is located at the peak. The saint is said to have meditated in the caves surrounding this hill. A small Shiva temple exists on the summit. The mountain is surrounded by coffee estates and forests. It is more like a holiday destination than trekking.
There are two ways to reach Mullayanagiri. A motorable road goes till the peak and you would need to climb approx 100 stairs to reach summit. Alternatively, a very beautiful trekking trail starts from the Baba buddangiri road. This trail is known as Sarpadari as it is very winding through the grasses and often creates confusion. There is a beautiful cave a little below the summit. The entire experience of the road, trail and the caves is very unique as you get to see the lush green landscapes and coffee/tea estates from wherever you stand.
A small clip of the cave and surroundings - https://www.instagram.com/p/BqNIHGKBtAS/
Kudremukh is touted as one of the best treks of South India. It will surprise you with its pleasing landscapes in every turn. The word “Kudremukh” in Kannada means “horse face”, as one of the sides of the mountain resembles the shape of a horse face. It is the second highest peak in Karnataka located inside protected forest known for its biodiversity and Tigers.
One of the main reasons for this trek to be so exclusive is that only 50 people are permitted to enter in a day and you are not allowed to camp inside. You need to be pretty fit to complete the 22kms trail (11km one way) within a day. Usually it is very difficult to get trekking permit on a weekend or a national holiday. You can get the permit from the base village Samse. The actual trek starts after a 6km bumpy jeep ride from Samse.
For trekking to Kudremukh with DarkGreen Adventures, click here
Kattari Betta (1800m)
Kattari Betta is the highest peak of Biligirirangan Hills, also known as BR Hills. This place is famous for various reasons
- It was once the home of feared outlaw, Veerappan,
- It’s an ecological bridge between the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats i.e. both ghats meet here.
- The Biligirirangan Wildlife Sanctuary is a reserve of unique and diverse flora and fauna
- The Cauvery river flows through it
Tadiandamol is the highest peak of the famous hill station Kodagu (Coorg) and excellent choice for a day trek. It is located 35 kms from Madikeri. The trail begins from the famous Nalaknad Palace near the village of Kakkabe. There are many homestays in Kakkabe for extended holiday. Camping in the mountain is banned since last few years.
The name Tadiandamol means broad base (thadi = broad, anda = belonging to; mol = hill). It loosely means Broad Hill. The mountain has patches of shola forests.
Kumara Parvata (1712m)
Kumara Parvata has one of the cleanest trails through the dense jungle. Watching the forest landscape from the top is a reward for nature lovers. Also known as Pushpagiri peak, it is located in the famous Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary. Therefore trekking permission is mandatory. The entrance from Kukke Subramanya is most preferred by trekkers. The Eastern entrance can be reached from Beedehalli via Heggademane temple.
Out of all the treks mentioned here, Kumara Parvatha is the longest. It is extremely difficult for normal people to complete it within a day. You need to camp at a place called Girigadde forest check post. You can carry your own tents and sleeping bags ot stay here. There is only one house and quality of food is abysmal. You can carry your own backup for ready to eat food but self-cooking is not allowed.
Kumara Parvata Clean Trail - https://www.instagram.com/p/B_2FscZpgVf/
Merthi Gudda (1676m)
Unknown and unfamiliar to many, Merthi Gudda is a less explored region about 5Km from the laid-back, peaceful village of BasariKatte. The initial part of the trek is through tea plantations and you need to ask them before trespassing. However, this formality is easy. Beyond the plantations the trail is steeper. The Merthi Gudda trek has the combination of the lovely Shola forests, streams gushing towards a waterfall, beautiful grasslands which open up to the view of the Kalasa region. This trek falls under the same region to the more popular treks of Kudremukh and Ballalarayana Durg.
Kotebetta Trek is another popular place in Kodagu i.e. Coorg. The word Kote Betta means Fort Hill. It has been named because its appearance resembles a fort. There is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva at the peak of the hill. It is located 23km from Madikeri. The 7 kms trail starts from a diversion on Madikeri Somavarpet Highway. A signpost near Hattihole reads ‘Kotebetta towards left’. The coffee estates on the route makes it more enjoyable. The route varies from flat to steep, meeting the locals and sips of coffee. You don’t need prior permission for this trek.
Brahmagiri can be approached from both Karnataka and Kerala as it it very close to the state border. The famous Iruppu Falls of the Lakshmana Tirtha River lies on the Karnataka side of Brahmagiri. It’s a 9km trek from Iruppu Falls to Brahmagiri peak. Trekkers need to seek the permission of Range Forest Officer at Srimangala village. A forest guard will be compulsorily accompany you, since this is a very dense and protected forest.
After halfway of the trek, you will reach Narimale Forest Guesthouse which has two rooms, kitchen with some utensils for self-cooking. You can halt here, as the long trek cannot be completed in few hours after you get permission from forest office. The latter half of the trek passes through one of the most beautiful grasslands of Karnataka.
Gangamoola is a hill in the Chikkamagaluru district and the origin of three rivers, Tunga, Bhadra and Netravathi. It lies within the boundaries of Kudremukh forest area. Trekking permit is compulsory and a guide is recommended because the trail is tricky. It starts near a cave and passes through dark forests, streams and temple ruins. Often fallen trees and branches block the route and you have to cross it over.
Gangamoola is also called Varaha Parvata as there is a small statue of god Varaha found in the cave. Kadambi and Hanumanagundi waterfalls are located near Gangamoola. It is a part of UNESCO designated world heritage site.
Gopalaswamy Hills (1450m)
Gopalaswamy hills is located in the Bandipur National Park. It is frequented by wild life including elephants. There is a motorable road to the top of the hill. Private vehicles are not allowed beyond forest check post. You will have to catch the Govt bus organised from the foothills. Overnight stay on top is not allowed.
It is also known as Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta. Betta means mountain. Dense fog covers the hills round the year and thus the prefix Himavad (in Kannada) and the temple of Venugopalaswamy (Lord Krishna) gives the full name of Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta.