Kodachadri- Kodachadri is a mountain peak (altitude – 1343 m above sea level) in the Western Ghats middle of the Mookambika National Park.
Accommodation – We stayed at Bhatra house (Temple Priest’s House). The hall can accommodate a group of 20 and there are several small rooms too. But one needs to abide to the rules such as no alcohol ,smoking is not allowed and one has to wash the plates after eating. But the experience of staying with this family itself was worth the visit. An Inspection bungalow is the only other alternative; one of our colleagues had booked a room there and the toilets and bathroom came much of a help for us.
How to get there – From Bangalore, drive to Shivamoga; Shivamoga to Nagara and a deviation at Nagara towards Kollur; At Sampe katte turn left to reach the base camp. A shop at base camp can provide you tea and breakfast. We had to park the vehicle there; only jeeps ride up the mountain till Bhatra house which is 10Km from base camp. There is also another route through Nagodi forest check post, but it is a longer route.
I would like to recollect some of the special moments in the trip rather than giving detailed account. Let the pictures speak the rest.
Two days before our scheduled journey it was raining badly at Kodachadri. Bhatru told that we may not be able to stay it his place if it rained so. Off season rainfall had shattered our plan. But most of us came to a decision that we would go to the mountain in spite of the condition. Thankfully the rain stopped two days before our visit.
The hike itself was amazing. Even though we had to follow a jeep track, we did take off route trails. Due to the rainfall, the mountain was very green and beautiful. We had rice roti for breakfast. A colleague’s friend who lives in Sagara was nice enough to pack food for all of us from his home.
Midway between, I stopped for my friends to catch up. I sat alone midst the mountains watching the clouds flow from the valley and spread across. It was a beautiful sight. I penned down few thoughts in my journal.
The food at Bhatra house was amazing; Rice, S?mbhar and Thambuli (A dish made of butter milk and herbs). The jeep drivers play cards in the veranda. The women were busy cooking; the men had stories to share with visitors. It was interesting to notice that the jeep drivers and newspaper was the only means of communication with outer world for the Bhatra family.
My dialogue with Bhatru was interesting. In his talk he told how important it was for tourists to not just come to a place for its scenic beauty but also to experience the culture, the people, their tradition and their life style. I thoroughly enjoyed that talk.
The summit is 2 km hike from the Bhatra house. There is a Sarvagnya peeta (Shnakaracharya Peeta) on the peak. Shankaracharya spent 12 years of his life here and he installed the first temple here and later in Kollur. On the way I met a villager who walks about 10 Km daily to sell butter milk and snacks near the peak. I was touched by his story. Questions began to rise in me – How much would he earn? Is it worth all this pain? …I preferred not to answer my questions.
At the peak, I met two old men from Kasargod. We discussed about their travel and Yakshagana. They recalled the older times when the drum beat of yakshagana would attract a huge crowd as the sunset and would keep them entertained all night. They forced me to go to Chitramulla which was 1km down the mountain, claiming it was a beautiful sight from there. Some of my friends did not wish to hike. He told me- Tomorrow after you go back and people ask you whether you had visited Chitramulla, you would feel bad to reply no. I had made up my mind instantly after listening to that and for the visit , it turned out to be the best part of the entire trip.
Chitramulla is a steep hike down the summit on the other side. A cave where Shankaracharya meditated overlooks the Ambha vann. A natural spring falls beside the cave year round and is considered sacred. The water was very sweet and I kept going back to drink. I met two swamis’ here; a man and woman from Kerala. My broken Malayalam and a translator among the visitors helped me understand the conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed every single word that the two swamis’ spoke to me. The man had walked all the way from Shabarimale (Kerala). He said they would spend few months here. Biscuits or just water was their food. He showed me the bottle of water and said – One can spend days with just this. Kollur temple is viewable from here on a clear day. When asked, if he would visit the temple during festival, he said – It is too crowded there, but from here it is just Goddess and me. I was touched by their simplicity and niceness. I found them to be so peaceful and happy. On their face, as they spoke was a smile that I had never seen before on anyone. I wondered if it is possible to maintain a balance between the two worlds that looked so apart yet so united.
The view from summit was amazing. The clouds had spread everywhere and we looked down at them. As the time for sunset arrived, the clouds cleared and unwrapped a orange sun as it melted its way into the grayness.
Next morning we left early to watch the sunrise at a near by hill. After having breakfast there, the group decided to hike down. Five of us stopped back for a while and watched the nature blend together. Several nice thoughts emerged out in me which I recorded in my journal then and there. We did not speak at all but heard the birds chirp; trees swing slightly with the breeze; clouds flow into valleys like a water fall at still. It was an amazing moment. I wondered if nature speaks only when man is silent. Today I wonder what each one of us were thinking at that same instant? After that 5minutes of silence, we walked back. But on the top of Kodachadri hill, just after sunrise, there was a moment which summarized the entire trip into a meaningful purpose.
Thanks to my friends for these wonderful glimpses they have captured.