Kumara Parvatha or Pushpagiri, standing tall at 1712 m, is the 6th highest peak in Karnataka, and a trekker’s delight; in fact, a trek only for hardcore trekkers. The fascinating part is that the trek allows you to ascend from one district of Karnataka (Somwarpet) and descend towards another (Subramanya). Trekking from Somwarpet is more conducive owing to the fact that most of the trek is through dense Shola forests, providing that vital shade on a tough trail.
Shola forests on the way from Beedhalli Anti-poaching camp (Somwarpet route)
Due to a delayed start, and the sun lashing at us with all his might, very little bird activity was seen; despite that, I heard drongos, mynas and parakeets vociferously going about their business. The skies were extremely clear, and the hide and seek of clouds and light left us mesmerised. The trail isn’t too steep, so, maintaining a steady pace should have taken us to the top of the peak in roughly 5-6 hours, with breaks in between. However, the biggest challenge we faced was negotiating the cliffs in between, specifically the second one at an inclination of 60 degrees; the slippery surface due to rains, and our heavy backpacks, made the ascent even more trying.We were exhausted on reaching the top of the peak, despite numerous breaks, but could not waste any time as the sun was vanishing fast and the temperature was dipping; setting up tents and collecting firewood was still to be done. Camping on the peak was an experience in itself – the weather on top was mostly foggy, with the fog clearing for barely a few minutes before enveloping us again, reducing our visibility. Our hunt yielded no good firewood to light a campfire, and all we found were damp pieces. Flocks of swifts were flying overhead, to settle down before the sun vanished to light another part of the world.
View from the top of Kumara Parvatha, at dusk
In a matter of a few minutes, we were cloaked in complete darkness, and all we could do was hear ourselves talk. The wind picked up pace and the hitherto clear sky now filled with dark clouds, ready to burst anytime.A person, when tired and hungry, needs neither a luxurious bed nor a lavish meal – anything available to eat and any place to roll on is good enough. This was proved true in our case, as we slept like logs, despite the howling wind sometimes shaking us up in the middle of the night, or the sudden downpour rattling us.
The best part of any overnight camping trek is the view in the morning – sunrays filtering through the mist, creating a golden hue, added to the priceless feeling of being on top of the world. Fog had enveloped the whole vista and we could hardly see anything. This continued until the sun rose and showered light with all his might, but the fog kept returning every now and then; these duels are not something you can experience everywhere.
Morning view from Kumara Parvatha
Bidding adieu and leaving no trace of our visit, we faced our next challenge – descending a steep, rocky cliff that was slippery enough for somebody to roll down at a momentum strong enough to roll them up the adjoining cliff, Shesha Parvatha. Treading cautiously, we descended unhurt, and then ascended Shesha Parvatha, where we saw a lot of trekkers who were approaching Kumara Parvatha from the Subramanya side.
Shesha Parvatha (hill to the left) and Kumara Parvatha (hill at the centre), seen from the trekking route
From Shesha Parvatha, all we could see was the mist-covered top of Kumara Parvatha, completely draped in white, evoking nostalgia in us. Here onwards, the trek, though mostly downhill, was tiring. With the sun beating hard on our heads and the descent being through shade-less open grasslands with very few Shola patches, we sweated and slipped with our heavy backpacks, finally reaching Bhattara Mane at noon.
Trekkers wading through the open grasslands, to reach the Kallu Mantapa, an important resting place
The landscape at Kallu Mantapa
Bhattara Mane, at Girigadde, plays an important role, providing trekkers with food and shelter: a place to break your trek, rejuvenate yourself, and move forward. The people at the house have been helping and serving trekkers for generations, and demand no money. Such is their service that they can provide food for up to a hundred trekkers at once!
Bhattara Mane and Kukke Subramanya town can be seen to the extreme left, with trekkers heading towards them
The trek was not over yet – after a revivifying break and heavenly food, we still had to cover a distance of 6 kms downhill through dense Shola forests, under an overcast sky with diminishing light, to reach the small town of Kukke Subramanya. Birds were active as it was nearing dusk, but I could hardly deviate and observe them, as we were running out of energy and time pretty fast. Needing to reach the town before darkness set in, we moved at a furious pace. Upon reaching Kukke Subramanya, I prostrated on the ground, a sense of pride and accomplishment making it worth the tired limbs.
Western Ghats’ forests, near Kukke Subramanya
Getting there and tips:
There are two routes to conquer this peak. For the first one, start from behind the temple at Kukke Subrmanya -> via Bhattara Mane (Girigadde) -> Shesha Parvatha -> Kallu Mantapa -> Kumara Parvatha top (ideally 2 days required here, as it is steep)The second route is from Beedhalli (from Somwarpet) -> vertical cliffs (3 of them) -> Kumara Parvatha top (1 day trek to the top, with plenty of signboards to guide you). Distance: Roughly 20 kms from Beedhalli checkpost (near Somwarpet) to Kumara Parvatha top and descending to Kukke Subramanya via Bhattara mane.
These trek routes are regulated and monitored; there are check-posts at both ends and they communicate with each other, relaying information on the number of people trekking at any point of time. Register yourself at the check-posts and take the necessary permissions from the Forest Department.
Avoid the monsoon season. Do not litter or leave any trace of your visit. Getting lost is easy, so stay calm and act wisely.