Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Of Cats And Flies

So! I went on a solo trip to this place called Kudremukh (thank you Ramit for the suggestion) on May 14, 2013. Stayed at Bhagavathi Nature Camp for 2 mornings and a night, and hiked the surrounding forests during most of the day. The purpose of this post is to help me recall as much as I can of everything that I experienced in those 24 hours, to document my adventurous little trip, and to help fellow travellers.
(NOTE: I took most of these pics with my 3mp phone camera. Also, there was no network coverage.)
Day 1:

I had to take a bus from Manipal to Karkala, and then another bus from there to Nature Camp, Bhagavathi. The journey cost me ₹ 80, and was worth much, much more. The air gets cooler, hills get greener, and before you know it, you are surrounded by dense rainforests and bright green meadows. The best things in life, if not free, are still damn cheap.
(TIP: Ask the Kudremukh Forest Dept. for permission before doing any of the things that follow.)

The bus dropped me by the highway in the middle of nowhere, with a clear view of the said meadows.

There were two or three desolate buildings, and a sign that read:
Say YES To Herbs
The watchtower becomes visible once you are about half a kilometer in. I resisted my urge to run to the top of the watchtower, and kept on walking, for I had yet to see a sign of human presence in the area.

Within two or three minutes, I had reached the camp and taken a good look around.
The Main Trail
There were some pretty neat tents available, but I didn't have enough cash (they cost a thousand bucks), so I decided to stay in the dormitory for  75/night. This, here, is a vital piece of information, as you'll find out soon enough.

The dorm was located about a hundred meters from the kitchen, where the ONLY other men at the camp were living. A group of young doctors (vets) had left the camp that very morning, and no one else was to come anytime soon, so I was basically the only person there.

Anyway, once the formalities had been taken care of, and my energy and supplies replenished, I went directly to the river, which was another hundred meters down.
Now I did what any rational man would've done under similar circumstances - threw my rucksack on the shore, ripped my clothes off, and jumped into the water without another thought.
And oh, boy! Did that feel great!

Also, there was a boat:
Richard Parker?
Once I was done swimming, I pulled the boat into the water, set up the oars, and started rowing down the river. It was just me in the boat with lush jungles on both sides, and hornbills and other exotic birds flying overhead. In short, it was serene and beautiful.

Although nature did find a way to suck my blood.
Leeches suck. Seriously.
Once I had pulled off the leeches and put on my clothes, I took my first steps into the main forest. I kept following this narrow brook, and saw a variety of birds, insects, and snakes, but no animals. Not yet.
Couldn't take pictures because the jungle was pretty dark, noon or not. Also, I had to ration my phone's battery.

By the way, there were a lot of mango and guava trees spread around the campsite. I had taken snicker bars and bananas and onion rings with me, but all of them came back untouched, for I had been picking guavas along the way.

After walking for about an hour in the jungle, I headed back towards the camp, and went straight up to the watchtower. Check out the view:
That's the dormitory on the left
Remember those guavas I'd been picking?
Had the first one right here, and went nuts over it, for it was definitely the sweetest guava I'd ever had.

Anyway, it was getting dark, and the cook had told me to be back by 7:00. He had been preparing chicken and rice. Near the camp, between the kitchen and the dorm, there was a small clearing with a trampoline at its center. There was still some time left, so I lay back on the trampoline and was looking at the stars, when an amazing thing happened.

15-20 fireflies came out of nowhere, making their way across the clearing. It honestly looked like the stars were moving. There are no words to describe it, and no pictures to prove it, but it was breath-taking. It was definitely one of the best moments of the entire journey.

Meanwhile, at the kitchen:
After dinner, the cook led me to the dorm, and prepared my bed. He asked me if I wanted him to stay there, but I told him I'd be fine. What a fool I was.
After he had left, I started checking all the doors and windows to see if they were locked. I closed the front windows, and was closing a back window, when I heard it. It was the sound of an animal of moderate size moving in the bushes.

I took out my torch and tried to search the bushes for any sign of movement, while my heart thumped away like Dave Grohl. Once I was sure there was nothing to fear, I went back to my bed and tried to sleep.

BANG! Something had just hit the main door.
Minutes passed like hours, with me sitting in complete silence.
After about half an hour, I took my torch and umbrella, and somehow gathered enough courage to go outside and run up to the kitchen.

To cut a long story short, I managed to wake up the helper-boy, and convinced him to stay in the dorm with me. And within fifteen minutes, it turned out to be the right thing to have done.
There was that sound of movement again, which made both of us get up in attention. This time, in the company of another human being, I felt more curious than nervous.

After two-three minutes, we heard three short, hollow, deep "barks".
Turned out to be a flock of freaking deer. Deer!
I breathed a sigh of relief, and went back to bed, leopards and tigers filling my dreams...

(you can read the rest (here))


  1. Looks like you had a really amazing trip! Fuck I missed out on a lot of amazing things.