Saturday, June 28, 2014

Leeches Kingdom – Nishani Motte / Betta

Not sure how many leeches have bitten me and not sure where and all attacked! Certainly it is one of my most difficult Monsoon treks as of now.  The rain, wind, steep ascend and upon the leeches made more tough for all buddies. I did few treks earlier in Monsoon; however it was the one, where I had been bitten leeches on whole parts of the body.  You might be thinking introduction itself started by leeches!! Of course the two days everyone was more concerned about the leeches.

Nishani Motte / Betta is relatively unknown peak in the range of Bhagamandala (Talacauvery) range, Coorg.  The trek distance from the base point Talacauvery is around 14 – 15 kms.  We can enjoy the 360 degree panorama from the top. The view is wonderful and most beautiful.  Layers of the hills covered with clouds and mist is awesome.  We can spot the Kerala villages if the view is clear.

Our planned trek route is:
1st Day: Talacauvery – Nishani Motte (Betta) – Night Camp at APC
2nd Day: APC – Kurudi - Bhagamandala


We started our journey with 21 trek friends at 10.45 pm from Shanthala Silk in mini bus.  Many known faces and few are new.  This is my first trek with Vinay who organized this event. The journey was pleasant and reached the Bhagamandala around 6 am.

Before this I had been thrice at Bhagamandala.  Each time here it was pleasant weather, greenery everywhere and seen the entire range flooded with small falls.  The Triveni Sangama was full flow each time.  Unfortunately, this time made me disappointed; understood from local that since a week there was no rain in this range.

Finished our morning nature call and get refreshed.  Took Bhagagondeshwara darshana and headed to have breakfast at Hotel.  Taking packed Palav for lunch and had Idly-Wada in the breakfast.  Meantime Vinay purchased the grocery items for preparation of today’s dinner and tomorrow breakfast.  Our guide Jayaprakash & his colleague (Forest officials) joined us and finished the formalities of the Forest Office at Bhagamandala.

The beginning point of the trek is Talacauvery, which is 7 km away from the Bhagamandala.  The Talacauvery is the origin place of holy river Cauvery.  Decided to take the darshana and start the trek.  The place was calm and no crowd.

After the darshana everyone gets prepared to fight with leeches.  Read in many blogs and knew the volume of leeches in this region. Wore anti-leech socks which borrowed from Shanthi Prasad (Trek Friend).

Journey started around 11 am.  The path goes left side of the Talacauvery temple.  Initial 2 – 3 km is a jeep track; however leeches will not give discount even on this way.  

Pace was little fast, found a green snake on the way.  The weather slowly turned into misty and pleasant.  Hearing the whisper of birds and winds the entire team headed towards Nishani Betta.  Due to some difficulties one of fellow trekker could not able to move forward, sent him back to Bhagamandala with one of guide.  I think it was good decision else it was not so easy task to finish this difficult trek.

The path becomes more thick forest with countless leeches.  We started to move fast.  There was no option unless you run / move fast.  Nobody is seriously tried to take off the leeches from their body.  As soon as you stop and try to take out one leech, there are 10 numbers again attack on you.  Rain started shower on us and we felt the journey become more difficult.

The time was around 2pm and decided to have the lunch.  Believe me! we are not able to take lunch properly because of leeches.  Jayaprakash took us near a small stream and had standing lunch.  Hardly we spent 20 minutes and again started further journey.  The atmosphere is become so dark at 3pm.  Clouds more and more started to pour merciless on us. Our backpack becomes 5 kg extra as it completely wet in the rain.  Shoes are filled with water and become heavy.

The final stretch of the Nishani Betta is more difficult around one km.  The ascend latitude is almost a 60 degree.  It is tested our strength and was more challenging.  Reached the peak around 5 pm and the view was so beautiful. 

We can view 360 degree of the peak.  Few things we can’t express in words.  The joy to reaching the peak is one.  The clouds are passing through us; each minute of the weather was varying.  Took many group photographs and enjoyed the valley.  The mountains are playing hide and seek in the clouds.  Every one completely forgot the pain of the leech bite.

Guide advised to move fast and reach to night camp at Nishani Forest APC (Anti-Poaching Centre).  The dark was slowly covering the entire hill and our target is another 3 – 4 km to reach the camp.  Descending path is more difficult one, one side a deep ridge and we have to be very cautious each one of the step.  Slowly crossed the ridge region and started descending very fast. Each one of us latterly dam tiered and waiting to see the glimpse of the camp site.

Reached the APC quarters around 7 pm which is having a big room, small kitchen and bathroom separately.  Solar system power is installed and it is comfort for night halt.  A big thanks to quarters personnel who kept ready hot water and fire to remove the leeches from our body.  It is very sad; however there was no option to put on fire to all leeches whichever scrolling on our body.  You can say it is a mass cremation of leeches.

Thanks to Vinay & Suresh and team members who engaged preparation of dinner.  Rest one by one took hot water bath.  After bath it was feeling good and more relax to body and mind.  Delicious Pongal was ready and filled our tummy.  Since the team size was 20 and not enough space to accommodate to all in the room. Thanks to Forest personnel who accommodate six of us in a home which was very close to APC.  Night was chilled and more and more leeches were in our dream.

Initial plan was to trek Kurudi (Kerala part) today which is around 22km away from APC.  No-one was in favour of trek and the path was not so easy.  As per guide, it is more infested by leeches comparatively to Nishani region and need to cross two streams.  Considering everyone opinion, dropped the plan and decided to head towards Bangalore.

We finished our breakfast with snacks which was carried during trek.  Again each one of us prepared to fight with leeches.  Understood, need to trek around 5kms on jeep track in which 2km is leech territory.  Luckily no one has got bite.  

Vinay was already called the Vehicle to reach the nearest town.  We all boarded on it and said good bye to the Nishani Betta and headed to Bangalore.  Reached the Bangalore around 10pm and adieu to each one of friends to meet in next trek.

Thanks to BASC [Bangalore Ascenders -] and Vinay to giving me an opportunity to be part of this wonderful leech trek.
The team members were so friendly and co-operative. The entire journey was full of joy.  Thanks to each one of the friends.

Team Members:

Vinay; Suresh; Mamatha; Lavanya; Chandrakala; Ashwin; Rakesh; Ashok G; Bharath; Sameer; Ashutosh; Ashish; Roopashri; Harsha; Srinidhi; Rajesh; Rohit; Sandeep; Pushpalatha and me
PC: Ashutosh & Sameer