A trek through the beautiful hills to Mullayangiri – Karnataka’s highest point and Babubudangiri
I felt quite disappointed that I missed the neela kurunji flowers. Thousands of them covering the hillsides like beautiful blue carpets – what a sight it must have been!
But apart from that, everything else on the Mullayangiri and Babubudagiri trek was perfect! The weather, the company (Cyberscorpion, Apra and Deepsan and the place : the hills of one of Karnataka’s most beautiful districts : Chikmagalur.
My earlier trip to Chikmaglur had left me captivated with lovely memories of a really enchanting place. This time, we head towards another part of Chikmagalur.
From the base, a place called Sarpadhari (snake path), the climb to Mullayangiri is quite steep. Also, a grim reminder of my dismal level of fitness! The rickshawalla deposited us there at about 5.30 am in the morning. A time when most smart people are cosily settled in bed. We started our ascent about half and hour later and just about 15 minutes into the climb, we could see before us dawn breaking and the changing colours of the morning sky.
I had to stop often, since I couldn’t stop gasping at the sight unveiling in front of me. Hills all around as far as the eyes can see and multi-coloured strokes streaking across the morning sky as the sun makes its appearance.
I took several breaks while the others forged ahead. We took a food break of jam sandwiches and snacks an hour or so into the climb and then resumed. By about 8.30 in the morning, huffing and panting (me mostly) we had reached Karnataka’s highest peak : Mullayangiri (MGiri). The views are amazing from here and you can also see, in the distance, the navigable road to the top.
The temple on the hill
There’s a small temple situated the top and once we reached, they served us tea and we even managed to get them to give us lemon rice that we packed for the onward journey. We sat inside the little temple and sipped on strong black coffee and played with the cat in the compound. After an hour or so of rest and a quick snooze and taking directions, we started off on the second leg of our trek. From MGiri to Babubudangiri (BBGiri), they tell us the trek is around 13 odd kilometers.
The skies are a vibrant shade of blue as we start off. From our point of descent we can see the trail snaking through the hills and valleys. The kurunji flowers have dried now, but I could just imagine how beautiful this place would have been a month or so ago.
The scenery and view as we walk is captivating. There’s a minor setback as I twist my ankle while walking enthusiastically up one hill. The track soon meets the road and a few kms down the road, a friendly jeep driver feels sorry for us marching in the afternoon sun and offers us a lift.
We are dropped off at Athinagundi. There we find a place which serves us rice, dal and omlettes and since we were all quite hungry, we managed to demolish a few between us. From there, we find out that the walk to BBGiri is not very far. I think my ankle will not disintegrate and we decide to make the trek.
So after lunch, around 3 pm, we climb up another hill and a few more after that. By about 5 pm, we’re in the small town of BBGiri. From there we take another road to Lake Galikere, another 4 kms more. We’re nearly there!
Lake of Winds
We camp at Lake Galikere for the night. The lake is actually a pond trying to masquerade as something bigger, but in the evening light it definitely looks rather romantic and beautiful. Deepsan and Apra find us a nice spot on the adjoining hill where we will get a good view of the sunrise. For a while, we talk under the open skies and star filled heavens above us, enjoying the peace and beauty of the place.
It’s an early night and it’s not long before everyone is tucked in for the night. The next day, we wake up in time to enjoy the sunrise. The valley looks beautiful before us. You can see a range of mountains stretch upto the horizon and scattered in between are water bodies of different sizes.
We take another nap and then have breakfast : whatever’s remaining of what we carried and that includes a lot of bread that Cyberscorpion’s carried. By about noon, we pack up to leave the camp spot.
The other parties who had camped for the night have already left the place. Some unfortunately have left the remnants of the night’s revelries behind : really sad. We make our way back to BBGiri and find out that the bus is only at 3 pm. So there’s not much to do except sit and wait till the bus arrives, which it does around 1.30 pm. We quickly book our places we are to find out that it gets really crowded and people can travel on the roof also.
The bus gets crowded slowly and we finally leave at 3 pm. Two and a half hours later we are at Chikmagalur. We head to the Planter’s Court. The restaurant opens only at 7.30 pm so we freshen up and make full use of their lobby. After dinner, we head back to the bus station and leave by the 11.15 bus. The end of yet another memorable trip!
Getting There: KSRTC Bus to Chikmagalur, reaches by about 4-5 am in the morning. Rickshaw (charged us Rs 300) to Sarpadhaari or local bus that starts around 7 am. From the base, the trail is well marked. From the top of Mullayangiri, ask for the directions to BBgiri and Galikere.
Follow the trail till the road and then to Athigundi (not sure of the spelling, but that’s where we had lunch). From there, you need to take the narrow trail beside the mosque to BBGiri (ask the locals again). The trail is well marked here too. You can camp anywhere around the Lake Galikere area. And of course, if you’re trekking, make sure you get back your litter with you and dispose of it responsibly!