The Western Ghats are India’s only biodiversity hotspots which are not present in the Himalayan region. They boast of an incredibly wide array of flora and fauna, and are famous tourist destinations. There is a staggering amount of treks that one can embark on in this area, in fact, every trek offers a different experience and it is important to choose the one that suits you best. We have compiled a list of trails that one just HAS to check out!
- Brahmagiri Trek
Located on the border of Wayanad district of Kerela and Kodagu district of Karnataka, the Brahmagiri range is a popular destination for trekking enthusiasts who visit Karnataka. It is comparatively an easy journey during the summer season than during the monsoons when there is heavy rainfall. The trek is a total of 10 Km, starting from the base camp at Srimangala. One can reach Srimangala by taking a bus from Mysore to Gonikoppal and then changing buses at Gonikoppal. The trek will require permission from a forest range officer, which can be arranged at Srimangala village itself. From Srimangala village, one travels a short distance towards the Irupu temple. The Irupu temple, also known as the Rameshwara temple is a popular destination for tourists, and is a major stop for pilgrims especially around Shivratri. The temple is located on the banks of the Lakshman Tirtha River (a tributary of the Kaveri River) which originates from the Irupu falls, due to which, the falls are also called the Laksman Tirtha falls. The Irupu falls are 1Km away from the Irupu temple.
From Irupu falls, the trek starts to ascend towards the Narimane forest camp. It is a 1700 ft climb. The 4 km trek passes through a dense forest cover. There are very high chances of sighting a herd of wild elephants here. Further, a 5 km trek takes us to our destination - the peak of the Brahmagiri hill (a 600ft climb).
The rich biodiversity of the area offers a memorable experience for trekkers and nature enthusiasts.
- Trek to Tadiandamol Peak
Another great destination is the Tadiandamol peak. Reaching an elevation of 1,748m (5,350ft) , it is the tallest mountain in the Kodagu district and the third highest peak in Karnataka. The name Tadiandamol itself loosely translates to ‘tallest mountain’. The trek is fairly easy, covering a distance of 9Km to an altitude of 5600ft. The base village for the trek is at Virajpet which can be reached via bus from Mysore. Famous for its local coffee and spice plantation, the town experiences pleasant climate all year round. During the month of October, the city celebrates a 10-day long festival of Madikeri with colourful processions and various cultural programs. From Virajpet, it is advised to take a jeep or bus to Kaikambe.
From Kaikambe, the trek ascends to Nalknad palace which is a trek of 2.5 km (which is a 350ft. Climb) This palace was built around 1794 AD. A part of the palace will soon be converted into a museum displaying the local art and craft of the Kodagu region.
A further distance of 6Km leads up to a big landmark boulder, a short distance from where one reaches the peak.
- Kudremukha Trek
The second highest peak of Karnataka is the Kudremukh peak (literally translating to “horse-faced”). It is situated in the Kudremukh national park which borders the Chikmanglur and Dakshin Kannada districts. The region exhibits well drained evergreen forest thickets and lush green grass cover, along with coffee plantations and secluded villages. The trek starts at Kalasa village, located on the banks of the river Bhadra. A short distance away from this town is the Hanmangundi waterfall. It is a very scenic waterfall where the water drops from a height of 22m. Also, nearby, one can find the Ganga Moola, or the point of origin of the three rivers (Tunga, Bhadra, and Netravathi). From here on, there are more than one ways to reach the peak, the easiest one being via a minuscule town called Mullodi, which is bordered by coffee plantations. The terrain is easy to navigate and there is a very evident, easy to track trail all the way up to the peak from here on out.
[Keep an eye out for the mysterious church ruins on the way up to the peak. It is said that the church had been built by the British during the colonial period, but has long been abandoned.]
The evergreen forests and humid weather of the Western Ghats makes the treks up these mountains different from those up in the Himalayan ranges. The peaks are also not as high and are more easily accessible. Travellers are advised to be careful about leeches, especially in the monsoon season.
Being biodiversity hot-spots, a trek to some of the areas of the Western Ghats may require special permission from the forest rang officers. Also, most treks are not more than a day long because it is mostly forbidden to camp near the forest area. Wildlife sightings are common, and the hills are dotted with wild flowers, making it a beautiful sight to behold. A trek to the Western Ghats can be a perfect gateway trek for beginners.