Jan 28, 2009

Kemmangundi

1991 July

Through with final year engineering exams, it was a relief and I was looking forward to a break. Anish, Deepak and I planned a trip to Kemmangundi… we decided to take Anish’s KB100, Deepak’s Hero Puch and my Kinetic Honda DX100. My scooter’s mileage was the worst… maximum I could expect was 35km per liter of petrol.

We started early morning. Took NH4 and turned off at Nelamangala towards Mangalore. Our first stop was next to a small pond. Deepak casually lit a cigarette and Anish shot him smoking. Deepak was just not bothered about it. We carried on with our journey stopping on and off… to see a lake, a flock of ducks walking on the highway, forest nursery, Yediyur… we reached Hassan by evening and we checked into a Hotel Apoorva. Night we had a mini booze session. Following morning we left towards the Halebidu and Belur. We spent some time at Halebidu and then moved on to Belur. Finally we started off towards our destination.

As we neared Chikkamagaluru, the roads were wet. As we enterd the town, it was raining lightly. We were not really prepared for rains. We bought few bottles of rum and whisky. The roads now were much narrow and twisty… it was almost dark, windy and drizzling as we started climbing the Baba Budan Giri Range. We could make out coffee estates in the dim light. After a while, it was completely dark, clouds had blocked out every bit of light from the stars and the moon. We soon realized that middle of the road was slippery because of rotten leaves. We had to keep our wheels in the track cleared by four-wheelers. We had to concentrate real hard not to go off the road which was even more slippery. As we climbed higher, the wind was strong, blowing rain drops into our eyes. Anish had trouble because of his glasses. My Kinetic Honda had a powerful headlamp, a halogen lamp which could blind oncoming traffic. It lit up the road pretty well even in rainy conditions. We were soaked and cold and hungry. To make things worse for us, mist joined the party with darkness, rain and wind. At times the visibility would be just few meters and my halogen lamp was not just useless but dangerous to use… the white screen of mist reflected the light back to us. I used to switch over my normal lights, which was like a parking lamp. Deepak was much better in misty conditions and we followed him closely. It was getting colder and we wished for some warm drink… and lo we found a tea shop in a mountain hamlet. The shop keeper was asking us if we were crazy to do this journey on two-wheeler, in a rainy night like this one.

Feeling little better we picked up speed with Deepak leading us. After a turn, he stopped suddenly and I stopped inched from his rear tire and Anish almost banged into me. There was a stream across the road!! The stream was almost 12 feet wide. The water was from falling from the hilly side on our right and flowing down the hill on our left. What a sight it was. We wished we had done this journey during day. We rode on; the effect of tea wore off. When the going gets tough, the tough get going… we rode on and finally made it to our destination. The place was sleeping and we did not get food but we a got a place to stay. Booze flowed late into the night…

Kemmangundi = kempu mannu gundi = red soil pit, was an active iron ore mine few decades back. Iron ore was transported in rope ways from here to VISL at Bhadravathi. As a kid, when we used to live in Bhadravathi, I remember seeing trolleys moving on the rope-way system. I would ask dad how they moved. He explained but I cannot remember. I loved the place as a kid; it was green, cool and peaceful. I remember climbing up and down the steps and also the only place where we had food. For me, it was as though my childhood was just few days ago.



Morning, we had a good breakfast and thought we’ll go sight-seeing. Deepak’s Hero Puch’s rear tire was flat and the nearest garage was 13km away, down at Lingadahalli. On the way down, we stopped at one the streams and spent some time in the cool mountain water… it was truly refreshing.


We located the garage, got the tire mended and reached Kemmangundi. After lunch, we went towards Z point, the most popular spot for trekking freaks.

We rode through the mountain foot path till a stream across the path. We parked our two-wheelers there and started walking. The path got narrower and wilder. It was drizzling continuously. We enjoyed the fresh cool air… What a feeling it was. One of us pointed out the tiny black earthworms on the pebbles and some on plants too.


We saw more and more and more… We came to a beautiful little water-fall, we spent some time there and took few pictures and moved towards Z Point.


The ‘earthworms’ were thousand now. What! They are not what we thought! They are leeches!!! Oh man!! About turn and we started running and did not stop sill we crossed the path and came to our bikes. We just took off our clothes and searched ourselves and found we had been attacked badly. We pulled at them but they were so damn slippery. We picked small stones with sharp edges and started scrapping them off. We made sure we were free from our enemies but the creepy feeling would not go. Back at the room, with a small ticklish feeling I would check myself. Our booze session started early with a pause for dinner and continued late into night. Anish was sloshed. We had to lift him up and put him the bed. Good night.

The next morning we decided to leave back to Bangalore. This time we took the less adventurous route down; Lingadahalli, Arasikere and then to Hassan. The ride between Arasikere and Hassan gave a creepy feeling, it had a kind of look that gave a feeling that dacoits lurked around here. We reached Hassan dead tired and checked back into Apoorva, not to mention our booze session and blacked out. Morning, we woke up late and rode back to Bangalore.

Kemmangundi, I’ll come again one day.


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2 comments:

Captain Flint said...

Fortunately one of those places that hasn't changed much - your photos look pretty much similar the place in your old photos looks very similar to what it is today.

Thanks to the lack of "star" properties in the area..

siddeshwar said...

Yeah, Kemmangundi is one place which hasn't changed much. My first few visits to kemmangundi were when I was five or six. I loved the place for its greenery, slopes and streams. I wish it remains like this...