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Friday 25 July 2014

Tadiandamol Trek

Tadiyandamol loosely derived from Malayalam simply means "highest point".
Its the highest peak in Coorg district and the second highest in Karnataka
at 5724 ft about 1748m above sea level.

Plans kept on postponing from June
and finally fixed the trek on July 25th, unlike our other treks which required less planning this one had a serious stamp on it,a day before we were very much prepared collecting all kinds of rainforest gizmoz like leech socks,waterproof clothing,rain jackets,gum boots, insect repellents(self made) it was exciting. Monsoon trekking in India is pretty much a new concept unlike other countries but in the last couple of years its finding its buyers.

2 Routes and several home stays in an around kabinikad. The longest route is from honey valley resorts 12km (one side) which is a pure trekking trail crossing grasslands,shola forests, waterfalls and what not. Shorter route is about 7 km from Nalknad palace. A 3 km walk from there through the jeep road, 1 km to the foothills and last 3 km to the peak.
We choose the longer route for climbing uphill and come back by the shorter route.

Honey valley was booked a week before for five of us. From the inquiry to the final goodbye i haven't experienced such a perfectly organized home stay, Thank you Mr Suresh and Susheela mam for their welcoming attitude.20 years ago these people were the first to bring in the concept of home stay in Karnataka. 
On 25th June 12 Pm cranked up my i20 from gudalur, picked up shan from mananthavady, reached Virajpet through Gonikoppal.By 5:30 pm reached kabinikkad junction, we were suppose to park our car here and a 4 wheel jeep was already waiting to pick us.
Soon the luggage was transferred and a 3 km drive uphill through the honey valley estate took us to the home stay. The drive in itself was adventurous with a waterfall on the way named chingaara. This place was serene.
Mr Suresh welcomed us and we were off to our rooms.Went back to the dining for a cup of  blended coorgi coffee and ordered some special pork for dinner.
Roamed around the place exploring nooks and corners and after dinner sat for a set of cards. As it was raining heavily we could sense some real fun tommorow with the rain goddess.A guide was arranged that night to accompany us.

26th morning 9 am with the new outlook we were up for the breakfast, yeah not amateur trekkers anymore!! was the feel.
20 km in 9 hours was the ask. Myself (Anish), Dad (krishnakumar),Shan and Harish started off at 9:30am. People in and around the homestay was staring at us, might be the leech socks i thought.

Trek started from honey valley climbing up into the thick coffee plantations
 and then to the shola forest.
Almost a km went by i realized its gonna be tough as it was raining, it was slippery and each of us had a 7kg backpack. After the initial 2km stretch things became vibrant and interesting. What we were experiencing from then on was literally unbelievable and unseen of. Umpteen number of hills covered with mist and blues.Being born and bought up in Nilgiris i have never lost so deep into nature.

As we were passing, trail route was completely lost at places and without a guide anybody could easily get lost or turning back is an other option. I asked the guide when was the last time someone took this long route to the peak and it was 3 months ago. At one particular point we saw a huge waterfall, a moment of heaven on earth it was.

Somewhere between all of this we found one or two leeches clinging onto our shoes but never knew we were venturing into their territory. Dettol mixed with water in a spray, salt and vinegar with leech socks was our source of weapons.More than 300 leeches got on to our legs that day but not even a single one tasted our blood, In a way the whole leech saga kept us alert and occupied without thinking about the tiredness.

Walking continued through lush greenery but the heavy backpack has started taking its toll on my shoulders but never mind as long as there was constant beauty all around us.
8 Km into the trek we actually lost count on the number of hills climbed, may be 10 plus.

Again an hour's walk we joined the shorter route trail.From this point it was a walk in the park for a km till we reached the big rock where people camp, there is also some source of water nearby. After a small break from the foothills we started but never knew we had 5 more hills.

The first one with tricky rocks made it tough as we were losing more energy.Second one was a thick and steep shola forest with knee height steps and tons of leeches,i wanted to stop, grasp some air but moved on very slowly. Somehow after struggling and panting we saw some light from the inside of the dark forest.
Really thought that we were nearing the peak but there is more to come. I asked the guide how long the peak is but unfortunately he always has one answer,that is "just 30 min" may be he doesn't want to let us down and tried this motivational lie.

Rains became heavy with mist and each steps seemed much more tougher. Desperately needed a short break.Two more hills to the left side we saw our destination first time through the mist, we were charged up for the final leg. Within the next 15 minutes we were at the top of thadiyandamol.

A sense of rejuvenation stuck my mind. Even though it was completely covered with mist i could imagine the endless horizons from there.

Spent some time there and had lunch. It was already 3pm we had a long walk downhill. Found a walking stick to support myself. The last thing i never want to happen was an ankle twist or slip-down.

Climbing down with rain and slipping rocks was much tougher. We reached back to the foothills and joined the shorter route. A 3 km walk from there we reached a jeep trail. From there we had an other 3 km to Nalknad palace. Leeches still haven't given up the fight but we no longer cared. I was glad that we didn't choose this lifeless route for climbing up.
Finally we reached Nalknad palace to put an end to the 20km trek. Completely drained off but our jeep was on its way to pick us up back to the homestay so we had time and decided to visit the palace. Its was built between the years1792 and 1794 AD, not exactly a palace, it was a hideout place of the last king of Kodagu, Chikka Veerarajendra from the British.Our jeep arrived and again a 6 km drive we were at the start point by 7:30 pm. Susheela mam surprisingly asked did you reach the peak.We smiled. For a moment i thought about my father. All this while he was on par with us and i jokingly said to him none of your friends would even dare to think of attempting such a trek. Kudos acha!!! On the way to our separate rooms i just watched him walk.
Had stuffed chicken kebabs and pork for dinner,settled the bills late night and had a long chat with Mr suresh about the stay, fellow trekkers and more. He was glad that we chose the long route as most of them would opt for the shorter route missing all the actions.The last two days have been roller coaster. As they say " a trekker should leave his footprints and take only memories back" we had enough of it as we retired to our rooms.Next day morning at 6 Am we bid goodbye to that place and their jeep dropped us at their parking. By 11 am reached Gudalur.

Author :  Anish vk