Total Pageviews

Friday 22 May 2015

Banasura Trek


As usual reached home driving 600 km from Chennai to Gudalur. Next day loga and myself had plans to explore some new roads in Nilgris in his pulsar. Drove nearly 350 km from Gudalur- Kotagiri- Karamadai- Mulli- Geddai- Manjoor- Ooty and back to home.
After a long 6 years i was riding a two wheeler, bought back lots of biking memories. This drive had been in my to do list for quite sometime and it was a fabulous ride.Reached Gudalur late night.
Next day Sreejith and Anas arrived by afternoon for the following days trekking. After lunch i decided to take them for a short 6km trek to Thavala mala which is the highest point in Gudalur taluk. They were charged up. From the town i looked towards Thavala mala and it was lost under the fog. Naduvattom Tan-tea was the starting point.Ive been there 3 times before but this time those 3 hr walk was entirely engulfed with mist. By 7 we were back at home. Tomorrow early morning by 5am we had to start driving to Wayanad for Banasura trekking which is considered to be one of the treacherous 22 km trek in Kerala.

Trekking Banasura

Slept hardly for an hour, alarms rang at 3.30 am. Had to get ready by 5 am. All of us, ( Sreejith, Anas,Acha ( Krishnakumar ) and myself were ready by 5am but Loga delayed and finally took off from Gudalur by 6am. By 8 am we reached Vellamunda, had breakfast and packed lunch for 6  of us including guide.
Banasura peak is the second highest in Wayanad after Chembra. Its 2073 meters ASL. Initially the plan was to trek Brahmagiri peak from Iruppu falls Karnataka but plans had to be changed at the final moment. Sijo an authorized guide from Wayanad  got in touch with some officials there and gave division officer Mr Shivadas's no. Upon calling he did arrange a guide and asked us to be there at the counter point by 8:30 am. In order to reach there by time i was driving 80km/hr which made loga throw up twice. Anyways after meeting Joy at the Meenmutty counter we started the trek by 9 am by paying 1500 rs for five of us. A week before it was raining heavily here so i knew the forest would be infested with leeches so leech socks and dettol spray were ready. Initial climb was through muddy roads. It was steep from the very beginning itself and road became narrower as we passed by. Landscape felt wet all over and we were walking through dried fallen leaves along the Meenmutty falls following the river. That is when we had our first leech encounter. Looking down it was all over the place and some clinging  onto our shoes.
Five of us ran in in five different directions realizing that we had forgot to wear the leech socks. I was carrying the socks bag and i climbed a broken tree to wear it. Others took their socks and ran towards the river to stay on top of the rocks and wear it. Amusing it was.
After crossing the river it was shola forest for a km and there it was the grasslands, joy suggested we could take the usual grasslands route or again turn left to the sholas but he warned us it would be much steeper and literally no way, we opted to make our own way.
Never knew for the next 18 km we had to create new ways. Wherever he took us it felt so untouched by humans and pristine. This was a new experience for all of us. On a decent pace we were climbing up. 3 days of not sleeping with the morning sunshine right on my face was pulling me down, i felt different as it was just 3km into the trek, we took a break. For a moment i was out of balance. I knew it had nothing to do with my stamina but for the past 3 days i have been wandering, driving, trekking, biking for more than a 1000 km. Sreejith suggested to do this trek some other time. But these are memories which can only be achieved by toughness, we carried on, a wonderful buddy Anas carried my backpack till the peak, it must have been tough on him. By this time hundreds of leeches tried to put their marks on us. Constant checking kept on to get rid of those blood suckers.After 1 more km through the rocky terrain it was grassland.
We had to take a curve around the hill instead of climbing it straight. Grasses were almost shoulder height and the next 1 km was an easy walk. First view of adjacent hills Sayippu mala and Kaatu kunnu opened up. Once there lived an English man on the peak so it got Saayippu mala..On top of Kaatu kunnu mount its always windy throughout the year it seems.
Group parted, Joy,Loga, anas were ahead, i was enjoying my lonely walk, achan and sreejith were behind. Continued walking till we reached a small stream. From the grasses lots of mountain bees caught hold on us and never left us till we completed the trek.
The hardest part walking with these bees was it bites like mosquito. Nearby by the stream we thought of getting rid of these bees and put up a small fire with green leaves to make thick smoke, finally smoke vanished but the monster bees remained.
Took a break near the stream
where Anas,Acha and myself again slipped and fell down. Our next climb was through thick steep forest, the territory of leeches, it was everywhere and some were almost 3inches just like the Malaysian leeches, it was even on my head.
Fresh elephant dungs hear and there, a small worm snake was spotted and captured by Sreejith. Have never trekked through such thick forest were nothing was visible after 4 or 5 meter. After a km we were out of the forest to an other grassland hill. Joy told us there is a dried up rocky stream which would be difficult but worth the climb.Everyone readily agreed. Turned left to enter the steep dried up stream through the thick forest yet again. During heavy monsoons this way turns into an other stream from the accumulated water from the top. It was a slow and controlled walk for the next 2 km because the rocks were shaky and slippery.

The whole ambient reminded us of some enticing rainforests with sounds of wind, insects and birds all fused up with a fascinating audible level. We reached two big wet rocks which blocked our way.
Deviated to the left and within the next 30 minutes we were back to an other grassland. 2 more hills to climb. Both hills were like 60 degree climb with knee height bushes. The grass had sharp edges as some of us got cuts. Trying not to catch the grass for support was an other challenge. Without a trail, full of stones and thorns those bushes were giving us a hard time. Loga, Joy and myself were ahead followed by Anas, Sreejith and Acha was deep down somewhere.

As we were busy finding our ways through we actually forgot what was left was an incredible view of the entire Banasura earth dam in one single piece. The whole 28 little islands was visible. The view of the largest earth dam in India and second in Asia was stunningly beautiful. Frustrating to the core was the increasing number of bees and all we could do was slapping them with broken plants and leaves. By this time Loga had mastered the art of scaring the bees away with his comical acts.
Mist started flowing from the valleys behind Banasura hills. We were worried that it could cover the area which might block the view down from the peak.
Just one more hill to the peak Loga started racing with me to reach the peak first but this time whatever may come i wanted to reach it first. Within the next 10 minutes climbing some huge rocks there i was. In a short while all 6 of us reached and roamed around.
We could see one more forest stretch,somewhere on top of that should be the actual peak, upon inquiring joy told us the area is restricted and too thick to enter. but if we had time i would have convinced Joy to take us there too.Towards the edge one can see almost 3/4th of the entire grounds of Wayanad region. it was almost 2pm. We had lunch watching the earth dam. After enjoying the peaceful laid back serene views by 2:30 we had to leave in order to reach the base by 7pm.

Everybody back into their shoes and bags started moving down. Got my bag from Anas but thanks heavily for carrying it dude. Till the peak our foots covered all kinds of tracks like tars, mud's, thick forest grasslands, steep dried up rocks, streams, and rock climbing. The downward journey was evenly adventurous. Usually there is a small walkable track used by trekkers but Joy had altogether altered the plans. I think he wanted to find a new and shorter route. So we jumped on to the next hill crossing the fire lines and decided directly to climb down through the steep shoulder length grasslands.

It must be a straight 5km decline as we could see the shola forest far far away. The challenge relied upon the person walking first. He has to create way and each steps were carefully placed. Because of deep invisible holes and cracks, in order to find a shortcut directly joy didn't expect this, he was scratching his head but we were enjoying it..Stamping on those grasses made each of us fall at least 30 times. Initially it was Joy making way for us, then loga and i had my turn too until i found a deep hole buried inside the grasses, almost fell into it i handed back that position to Joy itself.
By this time we had some 500 bees flying around our heads. Spotted around 20 Guars on the next hill. It was tiny and nobody carried Dslr so couldn't click it. Suddenly we came to a dead end and Joy jumped to the nearby forest. Inside we saw some huge wet rocks and a cataract flowing in one corner. Refilled our bottles and getting back to the grassland from that place was an adventure in itself.
After getting back to the bushes now all of us knew where we are headed. The next two hours it was a laughing riot when u see others fall and experience the same when the laugh is returned. Acha was the last person to follow, so whenever he was way back Joy would accompany him. By 5pm we reached a big rock.
Climbed on top of it and rested for a while.The hill we just climbed down looked enormous. Everybody had bruises and minor cuts by catching those grasses.  
Continued to reach a running water way, crossed it to enter into another grassland mount. walking through the sideways it ended abruptly, all we could do now was slide right into the shola forest, we did that and it took us to the flowing river. We thought we were stuck because now we had to climb down through the river with big slippery rocks. I fell down once just to remind everyone that i have not lost the momentum.
Like spider man we all had to climb up from strange positions and when we found an opening it was the grasslands again... again grasslands!!! What the HELL i asked.. with a smile from everybody we climbed down that too. The bees were slowly reducing in numbers as they have won their battle against intruders like us from their territory.
Since the river is close by the leeches started appearing again. It was almost 6pm and dark, we couldn't find whats getting inside our clothes, each minute there was always a sense of getting bitten by some insects. Sprayed dettol all over the body and shoes and got down to the side of the stream to find our way. Suddenly we found a deer skull and an antler. Took some pictures and left it where it belonged. Through the forest it was getting darker.
Loga ran through the forest first unknowingly disturbing a Hornet nest (Kadannal Koodu) and got bitten multiple times. He could have alarmed us but silently ran helter skelter for his life. Joy and i was following next, by the time Joy realized the danger he was also bitten twice. He ran shouting but i was in the centre of it, i couldn't understand clearly about what he was shouting at. i thought it was mosquitoes flying around. Soon i started getting the same treatment all over my neck, hands and some peeping through my hair and shirt. Bitten more than 6 times i killed whatever was left on the run. Kannan Anas Achan were alarmed by then. They deviated from that way. Finally everyone assembled somewhere down,even after getting more than 10 bites for 3 of us we couldn't be serious at all about that incident, it was not the normal hornet but the small one, in a way we were luckier to have bitten by the small one. Otherwise with 6 bites the experience would have been nastier. Kind of enough with the never ending streams. Sreejith had cramped his knee and was in pain. Joy told us we have 2 more km. 
Walking continued as we heard an other stream flowing. Reaching near it from a different direction we were finally relieved that it was the first stream we crossed today morning. I was the first one to cross this and had an urge to cross it without slipping, sliding or falling. But it ended up as the best fall of the day. My waterproof shoes, socks, pants were completely drained under water. Everyone had a good laugh once again, never mind. Sreejith started running the remaining way as i followed him. Finally reached the starting point it was 7pm. Joy asked if we wanted to have a waterfall bath nearby. Nobody was in a position to move. But i freshened up at the department rest house. I had to change my pants because it was all torn half way by the circus acts i performed today. Had tea from the nearby house where we parked our car. Finally bid goodbye to that place and to Joy by paying him an additional 1000 rs for this memorable trek.
What a day it was to witness my super cool dad tagging all along with us enjoying whatever we saw through. Really the best one day trek Ive had in my life so far. Started there by 8pm. Stopped on the way for dinner. Reached Gudalur at 11:30 pm. Tomorrow we have an other trek through Mudumalai forest. But that could only be finalized after listening to our bodies next morning.  Loga declared that he is unfit. Anas threw up multiple times while driving back and Sreejith was uncomfortable with his knees. Lets see what happens tomorrow.

Mudumalai Walk

Alarm rang again at 6am the next morning, i was feeling fresh and ready for today's trek, A twenty km trek through Mudumalai tiger reserve was planned a week before, i had assured the beat officer Mr Jayaraju that we would be at thorappally by 8am. I went to check out the guys what they were up to. Anas was fine but sreejith still had knee pains. I said we will cancel it but Sreejith was ready to walk with some painkillers and sprays. Anyways we decided to shorten the walk under 10km. By 9am we were in Thorappally.Waited for Sundaram to join us. Four of us started walking through the villages and checked into the forest roads. We had to reach the forest house where officer Muniasamy was waiting, by 10:30 am we reached there. Everything was late today. Explained the situation that we will do the longer trek an other day and started walking.

We covered almost 7km roaming around the forest.
Back to the forest office by 3pm. Muniasamy had cooked food for all of us. He told us if we wanted to swim there is a river nearby, went there to cool down our heads. came back and had lunch. This was also the first time i am tasting something cooked by a forest officer inside a forest house. It was delicious and he was a nice man too, he also told me next time lets do a two day trek staying one night inside Mudumalai. I was like "please don't trigger up my sensations officer, then it would be really tough to get rid of me until it happens. I have trekked before but camping inside tiger reserve forests has been in my bucket list for a long time and i am just waiting for it to happen. By 4pm we were at home. Sreejith and Anas left back to Trivandrum by 5pm. Four days of sleep awaits bye bye to Thavalamala...Banasura and the forests for time being . I need to sleep to start dreaming about unexplored mountains and forests...

Author        : Anish Vk
Clicked          : Sreejith,Anish
Team                 : Anish, Sreejith, Anas, Loga, Joy, Sundar, Muniasamy
Place                    : Banasura- Kerala, Thavala Mala - Gudalur, Mudumalai Forest
Km Covered           : 3 days || 34 Kms             


  1. This article brought back me to one of the toughest trekkings which I participate d banasura treck.Continue attack of grass land flees and wet land leaches are never been forget able. very fine experience .....good article ....My advice is avoid three or four days non stop trekking. Rest and enough sleep is important. Greetings to all co treckers.....fine article...anish

    1. Thank you cha.. but im not gonna take your advice seriously :))

  2. Good one Anish... I could feel the pain of Banasura as i have been there ... It was the most toughest physical challenge I have ever encountered... Next time if you are trying Banasura select the entire path through the grasslands as it would give you more views ( 2 km longer but) . You missed the last forest stretch which is the most difficult of all banasura trek. Inside the forest is the real Banasura top buried deep inside the forest. Good luck for the next day out. Please let me also in loop when planning something. Would love to join you if possible.

    1. Yes Rakesh next time i should try the last stretch too.Time was a factor for us.There is also a possibility of trekking from the other side, from kuttiady village in calicut district, since kuttiady is much deeper than wayanad in altitude it may be some 30km. Lets see if there is any possibility.

  3. It all worked out perfect in my imagination right from the beginning.. each frame gave me an experience of doing it from were i am reading this.. like the bee bites and your comic slips... really interesting eta... want to join you for the next one asap.. waiting for....

    1. Comic slips !!! grrrrr !!!, t was real :). Ty di

  4. And acha....cant wait to hug you for your tireless attempts.. you are sooper cool eta said...keep joining us everytime...

  5. Oh my God! It was quite an adventure!

    1. Chitra Ji, glad you liked it. An author yourself i am flattered.

  6. Anish eta.... Wat a trek.!. Thanks for giving us the opportunity for enjoy these beautiful places through these amazing photos... Eagerly waiting to join you guys.

    1. Good to know that you enjoyed this blog with pics. Ty Aswin.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.