An Experience to Cherish – Shola Forest

A lot happened on this trek! Curious to know the story? I bet you won’t regret. Monsoon treks always have its own charm and nature takes the breath away with its beauty. This was the trek to Tadiandamol Peak which is considered as third highest peak in the state of Karnataka and highest peak of Coorg district. This is situated at an altitude of `5700 feet from sea level. The trek was during the peak monsoon season and the thrill is at its peak.

The last 36 hours was a downpour and the path became slippery to the core. There was no sight of rain to stop and there was not a slightest of hope as well. It was Saturday early hours and we all woke up by 4 AM and got ready to start the trek with torches on! Its going to be a long day ahead and the plan is to get back to stay before sunset. There starts the exciting walk with our backpacks. After walking for a kilometre, we reached Kakkabe bridge. Here we got into Jeep to reach Nalknad palace to buy some time as the trial ahead to reach Tadiandamol peak will be quiet challenging due to heavy and continuous rain.

There comes the first adventure! The Jeep ride is into narrow and mud slippery pathway full of stones. I am all excited to sit beside the driver to get the complete view, but there was an unseen competition among us😐. With all efforts, one guy and myself could win the seat beside the driver and I was sitting to the outer side of Jeep. It was a bumpy and scary ride. At one section, the jeep tilted almost 70 degree angle because of a stone and the guy sitting next to me was completely one me and I am holding both of us not to fall from the jeep on a single hand. Oh god, that’s not easy and the driver is trying hard to pass through this passage. It all happened at a blink of an eye in a single flashing throbbing moment! Finally, survived.

After reaching Nalknad palace, we all took out backpacks and started the trek to Tadiandamol base camp. Here it starts the actual trekking trial. With just 5 minutes into the trek, we could spot a waterfall and no trekker will miss to take a dip under waterfall 😃. The trial takes you through the green lush vegetation – coffee and pepper plantations, Betel nut trees, Nutmeg trees, fishtail palms and what not.

Now comes the proper mud trial with stones and then the water stream. The stream became little aggressive due to heavy rainfall and we tried best to cross it without losing balance. The add-on is the stones under the water. To balance and walk on these stones in gushing stream water is another challenge and finally, somehow survived here as well. We are half way through the trek to reach the peak and there is no sight of rain to stop.

Throughout the trek the haunted company we had is from Leeches. Yes, you heard it right! The Western Ghats of South India are invaded with Leeches. These hungry monsters will not leave an opportunity to get onto you. Many of us already had good kisses from leeches and trying our best to get rid of them with salt, fire etc etc. Each of us have minimum one strong Leech bite and taped with bandages. Its been around five years now, and I still have a scar on my face to cherish the moment with Leeches. Now, we entered the think land of Shola forest!

Pro-Tip: Mix tobacco powder in neem oil and apply all over the exposed parts of body to get rid of Leeches. Carry salt and lighter in your pocket. If a Leech is making its way on your body, put salt on it – this alters the PH and leeches cannot tolerate. You can also lit a lighter as leeches cannot tolerate heat.

Few leeches sucking the blood will do no harm anyway!!

There comes another water stream and 30 minutes into the trek, the canopy of trees fades away. We have now entered the grasslands. Then comes the last section which is around 1.5 km and this stretch will take approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. Then to my surprise the terrain is filled with blue blossom. After walking for a while, I realised the blue flowers are Neelakurinji which blossoms once in 12 years. And this was year 2018 and no doubt its Neelakurinji and I am in Shola Forest. It is all worth the effort so far and I was in air already with joy of spotting Neelakurinji flowers. To be honest, its carpets, carpets of blue beauty around. I was completely awestruck to the mesmerising beauty of shola forest.

The last section drained everyone with the steep ascent, gushing winds and path became very slippery. Everyone had good number of slides and falls then we get up, dust it and go on. Finally, on the top of “Tadiandamol Peak”. There is always an other dimension and altogether a different perspective of seeing the things from a height! These are the experiences I cherish in life and every trek makes me evolve as a human. It took us approximately 4 hours to descent and reach Kakkebe. That’s a package of 9 hours of trek in heavy rain and the experience is all worth the effort.

Trek Route:

  • Kakkebe Bridge to Nalknad Palace – Approx. 5 km and duration 1 hour
  • Nalknad palace to Tadiandamol base – Approx. 2 km and duration 1 hour
  • Tadiandamol base to Boulder Point – Approx. 2.5 km and duration 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Boulder point to Tadiandamol Peak – Approx. 1.5 km and duration 1 hour 30 minutes

Notes:

  • The trek is of moderate difficulty and make sure you are with good fitness levels
  • One way of the trek is close to 12 km and you will be trekking around 24 km in a single day
  • crossing the two water streams during monsoon will be little tricky and beware of this
  • The trial is filled with rocks and chances for ankle twists or sprains
  • During monsoon the final stretch to the peak will become very slippery
  • Camping on Tadiandamol peak is not allowed. You will find the forest check post on the trail and need to take permission. The trek is into the Bhagamandala Forest Range of Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • There are around 5-6 homestays on the road leads to Nalknad Palace, one can opt the stay here for the night.

PS, as I always say respect nature and its resources and leave no trash on trials. Experience life and cherish the little joys of life and never settle – Expand your horizons and live life.

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