Kudremukh Trek: A Dance With Nature In The Ghats

Estimated read time 6 min read

Kudremukh Trek: A Dance with Nature in the Ghats

Setting the Stage

The Kudremukh mountain range located in the Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka is one of the most alluring trekking destinations in the Western Ghats. The name Kudremukh trek literally translates to ‘horse face’ in Kannada, owing to the unique shape of the mountain that resembles a horse’s face. The peak stands tall at 1892 m overlooking the rolling hills and evergreen forests of the region. 

The Kudremukh National Park established in 1987 spans across 600 sq km nurturing a highly endangered tropical wet evergreen ecosystem. The landscape is blessed with cascading waterfalls, dense shola forests, sprawling grasslands and endangered wildlife. All these natural wonders come together to offer an unforgettable trekking experience that is equal parts challenging and rewarding.

Our trekking group of 12 adventure junkies set out to conquer the 18 km uphill Kudremukh trek, considered among the toughest in South India. We wanted to immerse ourselves in the raw wilderness of the Ghats and revel in that elusive dance with nature!

First Steps along the Ridge 

We started the trek from the base village of Mullodi after the customary visit to the ancient Kalaseshwara temple. The initial 4 km was a gradual ascent along the mountain ridge through verdant coffee and pepper plantations. It served as the perfect warm up before the treacherous paths ahead. The pleasant morning drizzle added a dash of charm as we soaked in the mist laden vistas around.

Soon we entered the precincts of the national park marked by dense tropical jungle. Mighty trees draped in moss welcomed us creating a fairy tale like ambience. Our naturalist guide acquainted us with unique flora such as the endangered Palakka tree, endemic orchids like Habenaria and medicinal herbs like the memory enhancing Vacha plant. 

The symphony of forest birds like the Malabar whistling thrush and sounds of the jungle awakened our senses. We took in lungfuls of the pure mountain air as we continued ascending slowly and steadily. The natural beauty energised us for the challenges to come.

Dancing with Determination

The next 5 km was the most challenging stretch, testing our physical resilience and mental grit to the limit. After crossing a steep 1 km rocky patch, we entered the denser rainforests. The track was laden with marshy moss, fallen trees, boulders and narrow ledges with steep valleys. 

The incessant downpour had made the terrain extremely slippery. Each step demanded alertness as the paths were obscured by dense thickets. Strong cold winds tested our fortitude. But we trudged on determinedly towards the peak one step at a time. 

During this precarious climb, I was awe-struck by the raw power and beauty of the jungle. We were just tiny specks in the grand canvas of the Western Ghats. The hours spent traversing slippery slopes under the curtain of heavy rains will forever be etched in memory. More than anything it was a test of faith knowing that nature will support you if you just believe and carry on.

The Final Act

The Final Act

The last 1 km climb to the peak was the steepest and most energy sapping. After navigating narrow ledges, we reached a 70 degree rock face strewn with loose gravel and stones. 

Clinging onto rocks and ropes, we scrambled our way up. Some stretches were so steep that we had to climb all fours, leaving us with bruised and scraped hands. But the motivation to conquer the mighty Kudremukh kept us going. 

After 4 hours of demanding ascent, we finally steeped onto the grasslands of the peak, enveloped by ethereal mist. The view all around was obstructed, but standing tall at 1892 m we had truly earned it! We celebrated our efforts with hugs, cheers and snacks before starting to descend.

The 9 km return trek was as tricky requiring tremendous concentration. The routes had turned slushy and slippery after continuous rainfall. We leaned on our trekking poles to avoid skidding. Taking measured steps and being hyper alert of the surroundings, we made our way back down safely by sunset.

Our tryst with Kudremukh’s fascinating wilderness did not end with just conquering the mountain. The trek also served as an eye opener to the ecological significance of the region and the threats it faces from human activities. 

The Kudremukh hills are treasure trove of rare flora and fauna that thrive in the wet evergreen forests. Our guide enlightened us about endangered species like the lion tailed macaque, Malabar civet and thousands of unique flowering plants that grow in this habitat. Spotting a tiger paw print on the trail was a spine tingling experience highlighting the rich biodiversity.

However, we also witnessed first hand the detrimental impacts of mining and irresponsible tourism. The indigenous grass species growing on mineral dumps are obstructing regeneration of native flora. Plastic litter along the routes was disheartening.

It is imperative that we value Kudremukh for its ecological importance rather than commercial resources. As lovers of nature, it is our collective duty to promote conservation by practising responsible trekking. We must support organisations working to restore the park’s natural heritage. Only then can we protect this ecological paradise for future generations to enjoy.

The trek reinforced that if we treat nature with love and respect, it will shelter us in its arms forever. Kudremukh will continue to inspire generations of intrepid explorers with its raw and unlimited magic.

Curtain Call

Curtain Call

The expedition was an enthralling dance with nature! Kudremukh challenged us to break physical and mental barriers. The demanding climbs, slippery slopes and erratic weather unleashed nature’s fury. 

But the splendour of the forests, fulfilment after the climb and bond with Mother Earth were rewarding beyond words. Through perseverance and faith, we emerged victorious having forged a life long connection with these magnificent mountains. 

The trek will always remind me that nature treats everyone equally. If you approach it with the right intent and grit, it is sure to embrace you with its magic! As the curtains draw on this act, we crave for the next dance with nature’s untamed and glorious spirit!

You May Also Like

More From Author