Manipal-Mullayanagiri

Mullayanagiri, the highest peak in Karnataka, has been on my bucket list for a while now. Situated around 180 km from Manipal, it was a 5-hour ride from where I stay. At 6,316 ft., is a temple that overlooks the Chikmaglur town.

In a not so surprising turn of events, Debesh and I both happened to bunk a class again and taking it as a sign that a trip was destined to happen, we booked a bike (good old Avenger Cruise) within the hour. What was unforeseen, though, was that his roommate wanted to be included in the plan, so we booked another bike (KTM duke 200) and started from Manipal at around 1 pm, with Debesh riding the duke and me riding the Avenger with Smit.

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Coffee break on the way to Chikmagalur

With hills and valleys and a canopy of trees, the road was extremely scenic. Coffee plantations on both sides of the road, a gentle stream was flowing along the road as we came across a tiny shop beside the road and decided to take a coffee break. After finishing the fresh coffee, we started again, with around 80 km remaining in the journey.

Before the climb began, at the foot of the Mullayanagiri peak, we stopped to collect some twigs and wood for a fire when we pitch the tent in the night. The sun was just about to set, but not before giving us an incredible view of the valley filled with trees and a river flowing through it. We reached the peak at around 6.30 pm.

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Sunset on the way to Mullayanagiri

As it turns out, we needed a permit from the forest department to pitch a tent on the peak, which we did not take. As it was too dark by now and also as the road was quite dangerous in daytime, it would be extremely perilous to go back down. So we talked to the priest and he told us about a cave directly below the temple in which he let us stay. Later I found out that this was the cave where a Tapasvi “Mulappa Swamy”, after whom the hill was named, had meditated in. We didn’t explore the cave completely, though. We did not make any arrangements for food but the priest gave us a few berries for the night. We collected some dry grass for a fire and got the wood we had. Unfortunately, the wind was so strong that the entire wood burned out very quickly. By this time, the temperature had dropped and it was extremely cold and the tent was definitely not for three people. As we did not have any sleeping bags, we(Debesh and I) hardly had any sleep at all. To add to the matters, we heard an animal in the night and some footsteps echoing in the cave. We found out later, in the morning, that it was just a dog with its pups.

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At the entrance of the cave

Giving up hope of getting any sleep, Debesh and I left the tent and just started waiting for dawn. The town of Chickmaglur was visible from the entrance of the cave, so we just sat there and watched the street lights flicker and a car or two here and there moving in the night. The colour of the sky slowly started to change, with colours of dawn setting in.

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We left at around 7 am, after enjoying the view as much as we could.We reached the town at around 8 am. By this time, we were famished and started craving for some good breakfast. We stopped at a small restaurant to have some idly vada and coffee. I was riding Duke this time and Debesh was riding the Avenger (with Smit as pillion). Riding the Duke I understood why people crave for the thrill of speed. It’s the bike that makes you want to go as fast as you could. Maybe it’s the wind on your face or it’s the power in your hand or it’s just speed, but you always want to go faster. I was driving in limits, mind you, as the Avenger wasn’t just as fast. I could say that the return journey was uneventful except for one particular instance: Debesh and Smit had fallen from their bike. Nothing dangerous, but it was a hairpin turn and the bike was too fast at that time. After this, I had taken Avenger and rode it back to Manipal. We reached at around 12.30, exhausted but satisfied.

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