Pushpagiri - Purnima Kesanur
The name Pushpagiri, popularly known as Kumara Parvatha when mentioned generates various reactions, such as “It’s a beautiful but a tough trek”, “It’s a scenic route”, “Leeches! You need to be wary of them”, “A beautiful trail with mesmerising sunset”. Each person who has been on this stretch and trekked till the top has a story to narrate. For some it’s the enchanting sunset, a memorable walk in the shola grasslands with the wind blowing in the face, for others it’s a feeling of achievement being on top, the test of their endurance.
Pushpagiri, at 5617 ft (1712m), is the fourth highest peak in Karnataka and the highest peak in the Pushpagiri wildlife sanctuary located in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. It is near a town called Kukke Subramanya in the northern part of Kodagu district and on the border between Hassan and Dakshina Kannada districts. The ancient and famous temple of Kukke Subramanya lies at the foothills of Pushpagiri.
If you are looking to summit the peak there are two trails you could choose from - one from Kukke Subramanya via Girigadde and the other from Beedahalli near Somwarpet via Heggademane temple. You can complete this trek at leisure in two days or you could do it in a day to test your endurance. Some parts of the trail are quite strenuous, but the mesmerising views make it worthwhile.
The climate in this region is generally cool and wet with no extreme variations. The best season to trek here is between October to February. During the October to December period the area is covered in mist most of the time. Later half of January and February it gets a hot and sultry with the onset of summer and latter half of the trail is mostly grassland and less of tree cover.
The trail starts a short distance from Kukke Subramanya, well-marked by a signboard. It’s a 6 km clear trail stretch till Bhattara mane - the destination for day 1. This stretch is a winding trail through a dense forest with tall trees that block sunlight. You would see this path swarming with leeches if you trek here during monsoon or immediately after the monsoon season. The trail starts with a moderate ascent and is steep in a couple of places. As you leave the forest behind and enter the shola grassland, after 3-4 hrs of walk, you reach Bhattara mane where you camp for the night. You can also camp at the forest check post, which is a kilometer away from Bhattara mane. Camping is not allowed beyond this point. You can relax for the rest of the day and spend your evening at the viewpoint watching the beautiful hues of the evening sky as the sun sets.
The day-2 hike, approximately 7 km to the peak, starts with registration at the forest check post and obtaining the entry permit into the wildlife sanctuary. Along with the forest permit a small refundable amount is collected depending on the plastic packages you are carrying. This is an initiative by the forest department that has helped reduce littering in the wildlife sanctuary. This amount is refunded on the way back only if the count of wrappers tallies with the number that was noted on your way up. An hour of a moderate climb leads you to Kallu Mantapa with a flowing stream close by. After a quick pit-stop and rehydration you continue along the winding uphill trail, steep in sections, to reach Sesha Parvatha. This whole trail is through the grassland with a vast unending view of greenery and absolutely no tree cover. After Shesha Parvatha it’s a steady descent till you reach a forest patch, which you would look forward to for some shade. You then follow a steep ascent and a rocky patch to reach the summit and to an enchanting view of the valleys that open up beyond the peak. Spend some time at the peak soaking in the 360- degree view from the top or you could be wrapped up in mist if it’s a cloudy day. It’s then time to head back as you must reach the forest check post before 6 pm - you take the same path you traversed uphill to return to Kukke Subramanya.
How to reach Kukke Subramanya:
- By air: Nearest airport is Mangalore (105 km) from Subramanya
- By road: Kukke Subramanya is approximately 270 km (overnight journey) from Bengaluru
- By rail: Subramanya road is the nearest railway station from where you have shuttle buses to Kukke Subramanya town which is 13 km from the station.
Best season to trek:
- October to January.
- June to September (you may encounter slippery stretches and leeches in this season).