Sakleshpur : What is to just hit the roads without plan

I am the kind of person who always wondered how it is to travel with no or hardly any plan – except for the destination and mode of travel. Well, I did that. It was only for 4 days – but to the remote parts of Karnataka – Hanbal, Somwarpet, Kakkabe. I just called up a friend who immediately agreed to the madness.

Day 1 – Lets go to Bangalore

So we set out in train to Bangalore from Chennai. Once we reached Bangalore – we inquired for the buses plying to Sakleshpur and got the immediate next bus for a reasonable budget fare of 250 for both of us. I then remembered a contact in Sakleshpur who can arrange for trekking and hiking in the area. And he agreed to accommodate us from the next day for a one day trek however we were wondering where to stay for the night as we would have accommodation only from the following morning. The bus reached Sakleshpur around 9 pm and we were the only girls in otherwise deserted bus stand.

So we tried calling the person again that we have already reached the place so even tent stay for the night will be a great help. So he somehow agreed to it and arranged for the stay in Hanbal which is 30 minute drive from Sakleshpur. We stayed near the fields of a nearby farm and most of the night we spent trying to do some stargazing since on the way I googled it and found it to be a dark site. What I didn’t see coming was it was cloudy through the night so we could hardly see any stars :'( .

Day 2 – Trekking up & streaming down

Early next morning we set out for a trek to the trails of Ethina Bhuja – the name is derived since the peak of this mountain is in the shape of Ox hump (Ethina bhuja as translated in Kannada). Its in the Western Ghats and declared by UNESCO as world heritage site so as to preserve the flora and fauna of this region.

Base of Trek to the Ethina Bhuja mountains

This trek can be done with proper permission from Forest department and a local guide for 2 days with night camping from the Sishila Village which we knew only after reaching there. However we went to the base of the trek by Vehicle and started the trek from there since we did not have much time and we were there without plan.

Drinking in the view while my cameras work up with shooting timelapse

It took nearly 5 to 6 hours to finish the trek since I had to stop at lot of places to capture photographs and timelapse since it was a clear day with lot of drama in the sky. The last leap was totally upright and a bit challenging however the view from the peak will make you forget everything else.

Views before reaching the peak of Ethina Bhuja
Panoramic view from the peak

We came back to the farm to have some refreshments and then we set out for a evening stroll to the nearby areas. After walking for 40 minutes we came across a small stream flowing under a bridge. So we found a way to reach the stream and sat in between it on small rocks. We managed to get natural fish pedicure as tiny fishes were around our feet. What could not be easily forgot in simple moments like this is the tiny magic that happens. We got blessed with a golden glow of light which lit the entire place like a magic.

Golden wash of light from as seen from the stream

After enjoying the solitude, we came back to the farm where we had time to stargaze and take some photos.

Day 3 – Travelling Local to Kakkabe

Before leaving Hanbal, we had a stroll through the nearby coffee plantations. The feel of walking through the woods will rejuvenate anyone.

From the trails of coffee plantations

And we started our journey towards Kakkabe, one of the remote parts of Karnataka, dark site. I am a newbie to stargazing and did some faint research before going to this darksite without much calculating the pros and cons of the place and possibilities of stargazing.

We asked the locals of how to reach Kakkabe by bus and found that there is no straight bus which takes us there but however we can do it in several hops. We were doing the hops and tried to get hold of a stay place through www.booking.com in Kakkabe, who picked up only one call out of the 20 to 30 calls we would have done. In that one call they just told to get down at Kakkabe bus stop and take an auto from there which sounded much easier.

But wait.

After several hops we reached Somwarpet on the way to Madikeri which is the nearest main bus station to Kakkabe. While searching for places, we found this interesting lake – Honnamanna Kere Lake in Somwarpet. It is only 20 minutes from the bus stand and you can reach by auto who charged us 150 to and fro including wait time.

As we explore the Honnamanna Kere Lake, Somwarpet.

It was a peaceful offbeat lake with no tourists. Then we took a bus to Madikeri and was waiting for the next bus to Kakkabe which was around 7pm.

Just another view from the offbeat Honnamanna Kere Lake

We took the bus and there were many passengers who asked tickets for Kakkabe and we were relieved that many people are visiting the place. However, when the Kakkabe stop came my friend and I were the only people to get down at Kakkabe and the entire place didn’t have lights. Only the lights that were coming from 2 shops. There were nearly 8 men standing in two’s in the shops and near the autos and staring at us.

So with much reluctance, we approached the men near auto and they without much looking into the address took us to the property who didn’t take any effort to guide us through call – or atleast it seemed so.

I had to switch on google maps since I had to ensure we are in the right direction but we were not. The actual property showed 10 kms from the main bus stand but the driver stopped in another property in 5 kms itself. There was a man coming out of this property and told us there are no booking with them and from the look of the place it looked well above our budget as well. Understanding the situation he advised us there is a budget place that he know is right down and advised it is not good to proceed more further in search the other place which we actually booked since it was far away.

So we stayed for the night in the property from where I did some stargazing after some terrifying experiences. It was a huge relief to see several constellation rising above the Tadiandamol hills which we can see from the terrace. The best was when ‘The Crux Constellation’ or southern Cross constellation rose from the peak of Tadiandamol hills.

The Crux constellation rises over Tadiandamol hills, Coorg (View from Kakkabe)

The views after hardships is something that we’ll remember forever.

And a thousand other stars – View from Kakkabe

Day 4 – Let’s get back to Bangalore

The next morning we left to Virajpet, from where we can get back to Bangalore by bus. We did book a train to Chennai by 3pm but missed it since the bus was delayed in the traffic of Bangalore. So we booked the next train to Chennai by 5pm.

Travel without plans may pose lot of challenges and insecurities but what is the use of always being in a secure shell without knowing of how the places around us actually work ?

I would recommend all of you to go on without plan but ensure you are safe, put in all the safety measures , be wise enough to make right choices because we need a happy end to all of our travel stories.

Happy travelling and exploring. Read my other “Travel story – Exploring Vagamon and Allepey”

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