Monday, May 26, 2008

Mensa May MHK: Kudremukh

Mensa May MHK trip to Kudremukh. Trip report by Rathi, photographs by Roshin.


Bangalore - Tumkur Road - Nelamangala - Kunigal - Channaraipatna - Hassan - Belur - Chikmaglur - Balehunnur - Kalasa - Kudremukh

Kudremukh - Kalasa - Kottigehara - Mudigere - Belur - Hassan - Channaraipatna - Kunigal - Nelamangala - Bangalore

Except for the stretch from Kalasa to Kottigehara, roads quality varied from moderately good to excellent. The road from Belur to Hassan requires special mention, one can easily drive at 100+ kmph on this road.

Trip Report

Kudremukh is a quintessential picturesque valley lying in the bough of the Western Ghats. Surrounded by peaks and dense jungle is this quaint little town with a population, numbering a few thousands. Previously an iron ore mining reserve, it is now purely a naturist's delight! The mining operations came to a halt after the Supreme court passed a judgment to shut down the factory in 2005. The town was inhabited only by the employees of Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited, now with the closure it is close to becoming a ghost town.

It was midnight on the 23rd of May, 2008 when we 7 Mensans and 3 guests started off from Cunningham Road, in two cars, with Kudremukh as the destination in mind but no route chalked out. We thought we will take it as the road curves. After brief stops at Nelamangala, Kunigal and Chanraipatna, we were thrilled to get on to the Hassan - Belur road. At Belur, we mulled over the map to take a decision on our next move. Well, it was Chikmaglur that finally won and we headed off in that direction. Fortunately for us the roads till that point were excellent. At Chikmaglur, around 5 AM, we were happy to find quite a few people strolling around. With some assistance we got on to the road that headed to Balehunnur.

Dawn breaking over the mountains

From Balehunnur to Kalasa, we drove through the ghats, with the sun rising just behind the mountains. The sky with a hue of indigo was simply breathtaking. Irresistible as the scenery got, we stopped randomly to capture nature in its naked form either through the eye or through the camera. Almost close to Kalasa, we crossed this bridge with huge bamboo trees on either side of the river, Tunga, caressing the water. It was a mini Amazon of sorts! At this point a few of them had rumbling tummies and munched on idlis while the rest headed off to "Sahyadri Bhavan", our hotel in Kudremukh.

Misty river

It was 8:30 when we finally reached the hotel. A quick breakfast and a long freshening up later we were all set to explore some of the unknown terrain. Our local guide, Srikanth, took us to Samse, the closest village to Kudremukh (his hometown). After offering us some delicious home grown bananas and a refreshing drink, the 11 of us, yes the whole lot of us got into one jeep with the driver! Totally unprepared were we, to experience the rickety ride that took us through tea estates, up a hill through the jungle to finally stop a few hundred meters from the summit of a hillock. We got off and started to trek to reach a height from where we could see the valley extend till the eye could see.

View of the valley

Exhilarated and famished, we gobbled our packed lunches in the shade of a tree, surrounded by a herd of cows that had come to graze. The cowherd suggested we try and climb another peak, apparently from where the view was even more stunning. Getting adventurous, we started the climb and about 25 minutes later reached the point from where it felt, we will never get enough of this! Srikanth constantly reminded us that we have been really fortunate to view this as the skies were unimaginably clear that day after a thunderous downpour the previous day.

Content and rejuvenated, we headed down, and traced our path back to Samse, just in time to be saved from the rains which could have severely curtailed the movement of the jeep in the slushy muddy trail. It was at Samse that quite a few discovered they had brought along leeches on their legs! With a dash of salt the leeches were gotten rid off and a hot cup of coffee was welcomed by all. Heading back to the hotel, we thought of spending the rest of the day, generally doing nothing much.

The tree lined avenue of Kudremukh campus

Sunday was a late morning for most of us. Few of us went about discovering the town on our own and then finally packed to leave by around 12. A second round of breakfast was devoured at a nondescript restaurant with the TV playing out the Karnataka election results in the background. Thereafter, it took us almost 30 minutes pouring over a detailed map of Karnataka to decide that we should go back the way we came! So that meant the two cars would sync up at Chikamglur.

The three "guests" on the trip

But as luck would have it, both the cars lost the track and ended up heading in two different directions. We reached Kottigehara from Kalasa (bad roads) while the other car somehow managed to land in Balehunnur. It was then decided to meet in Hassan at the Kamath. Then again, we were one and a half hours apart, and so after having a bite at Kamath, we moved on to Bangalore. Reached Bangalore at 9:30 PM, ate dinner at Casa del Sol and reached home by 11:30 PM. The second group reached Bangalore at 1 AM after spending some quality "pool-side" time at the Taj, Chikmaglur.

We couldn't have asked for a more favorable weather, what with a few showers and the whole place being green and teeming with life.


All photographs shot with Canon EOS 400D with one of the following lenses:

Canon EF 50mm F1.8
Canon EF-S 17-85 mm F4 - 5.6 IS USM
Tamron 28 - 200 mm F3.8 - 5.6 XR

Raksha. Canon 50mm, ISO 1600, no flash

Moon was visible even close to sunrise


Early morning mist adding a surreal feel to the trees

Clouds proved favorable enough to get this shot

Had to wait quite a while to get a person at the right point in the picture

The tea bushes clothed the mountain side like a lush green carpet

Rathi. Fill in flash alleviating the harsh shadows of the midday sun to an extent.



View from the small peak that we climbed first

Captured Tharunya against the blown-out sky while she was admiring some distant mountains

We found this nice rock where you could dangle your feet hundreds of meters above the valley below


The tree under which we had lunch

Su decided to take a quick post lunch siesta

The summit outcrop which we reached after a short trek

Inside Kudremukh campus

This bee was having a feast with all the flowers around


  1. nice report, thanks for sharing!!

  2. v@nee1:15 AM

    very nice pictures!!

  3. came across this post via blore shutterbugs Y! group. nice pics and travel report!

    read some other posts too and was interested by MHK, if the group still accepts new members, how can one join?

  4. @Neeraj - The group is called Mensa, more details at Mensa India (Bangalore)

  5. beautiful photos !! saw it in bangalore shutterbugs

  6. Sandeep Pai10:41 PM

    Hey Roshin ...great pics man . Absolutely awesome....Cheers, S

  7. vry vry vry....nice pics roshin!!..and vry gud narration by rathi :)!!