Minchukallu And Kumbhakallu - A Memorable Trek to the Highest Peaks of Charmadi

Minchukallu and Kumbhakallu are twin treks are some offbeat trekking destinations, that you should not miss visiting in Western ghats. Nature in the purest form, the place is blessed with enchanting views and waterfalls to rejenuvate you. This treks tops all and is ideal for those who look for a demanding trek in western ghats

Minchukallu And Kumbhakallu  - A Memorable Trek to the  Highest  Peaks of Charmadi
View of Kumbha Kallu Peak

           The driver of the Jeep yelled and shouted aloud at me that his Jeep cant go further, despite you pay me more as the narrow road is steep and slippery. We were traveling from Kakkinje to Banjaru Male in the Charmadi region of Western ghats. We had cajoled him and had traversed around 9 km on the steep uphill slushy road, and finally decided to relieve him. We decided to walk further with our backpacks as the rain pouring all night had taken a break for a while. 

Sitting on a rock, we were engaged in removing the blood-sucking leeches, that had got onto our shoes. Our guide chewing betel nut pointed out his finger at a conical peak partly visible covered in a veil of mist. and said that is the place where we are going. I could only see the tip of the peak, which was quite far and high  playing hide and seek amidst thick clouds.I was too excited to surmount it.

Earlier in the day, the excitement which had built up for my upcoming trek was dampened, when I got to know from Isabu our guide after he had a conversation in Tulu with a local from the hills. that there is elephant movement in the hills in Banjaru Male.

We were on a trek to Minchukallu and Kumbakallu which are lesser-known trekking peaks in the Charmadi region of Western ghats.

Leaving behind the jeep, and thanking him we started walking uphill with our backpacks. After walking for about 45 min we reached a flatland, with rubber plantations.It started to drizzle. Our first destination was Minchukallu - Minchu in Kannada means lightning and kallu means rock/stone Known as Lighting rock. After applying tobacco and lemon mixture to our legs, we started the trek. 

The trail took us  through a small patch of shola forest, after a gradual ascent until we reached a small stream. I did see some active leeches here marching towards us, they seemed to be aggressive, I took it easy too and spent a few minutes catching my breath and enjoying the sound of gurgling water of the stream.

In a few of minutes a couple of leeches, had slithered into my trekking boots. I quickly flicked them away with my fingers and briskly moved on and within minutes found myself on the grasslands with  amazing views.

The walk from here on was both ascent and a bit descent, seemed  effortless, they could be easily negotiated. The trek route didn’t seem tiring, maybe because of the refreshing views or  because of the weather.

Our guide Isabu  holding  a sickle in his hand was in his  flip flops ( hawai ) moving forward  wearing a simple lungi. He had given us instructions to be silent and use signals to communicate.His knowledge of the surrounding peaks and his enthusiasm was impressive.He was also aware of elephant movement and could judge its where abouts by footprints and smell.

After passing a rocky patch  we passed by a flat patch of grass, it was bit slippery with a small pool of clean glistening water, to drink. As said  it was last point , so some of us filled our bottles and we moved on.

He pointed at a  vertical pillar type rock and narrated few interesting folk tales about the tulunadu . One of the stories was about this rock named Banta Kallu, named after the servant of Ballalaraya, one of the kings of the Hoysala empire, who ruled most of the modern day state of Karnataka in the 12th century.

As we walked on, the views  became spectacular. We walked in a straight line, all 5 of us, with our guide leading the way. He set the pace for us, he would stop at the points where there were magnificent views. He would wait patiently for us while munching betel nuts sitting on a rock.

Elish in the group was walking bit slow, as it was his first trek, he and Anudeep were left behind as they were too engrossed in taking pictures. We waited till the rest of the folks rejoined the group. After which we stayed together all through the trek.

The mighty Amedikallu peak popularly known as Tortoise Peak was also visible on the trail..Isabu added that Ballala caves can also be visited on this trek, though it is a diversion from the Minchukallu peak. It is said that king Ballala entered this cave never to come back. Visiting the caves as well as the peak and returning back the same day is difficult. If you want to visit the cave and the peak you should make it a two days.

Beyond the misty hills of Charmadi Ghats with, traces of Bandaje falls, Somana Kadu and Kodekallu were seen.It was a sight to behold !

We could view a hillock rising high in the valley resembling a hump, known as  Ettina Bhuja peak .A trekkable peak considered easier than Minchukallu trek, Ettina Bhuja means Ox’s shoulder, the name comes from the shape of the peak which looks like the hump of an Ox. The peak is also called Shishila gudda , accesible from Mudigere and Shishila Village in Dakshina Kannada.

After a few hours of walking amidst the grasslands with views, we now had nearly reached the final summit. By now, we had walked round hills. We had  climbed up rocks. Appearences were really deceptive , we understood the meaning of it. We had walked besides gorgeous valleys. We had slided on soft grass. We had walked amidst elephant grass known as aAne hullu which were taller than us. 

Before the final climb to the summit, there were a few flat rocks, the views and flat rock compelled us to take a break willfully. We rested on the rocks, we spotted few Indian gaurs grazing below on the slopes below us. Before we could take some snap shots it dissapeared in the shola cover.

The climb to the top of Minchukallu was the most tiring. It was a very steep climb to right, then to the top. We held grass and  balancing on the rock reached summit.The last bit though tiring was refreshing. The sound of wind  blowing  could be heard.

The sky was bit cloudy and black clouds  ready to pour anytime. As  Isabu said we sat  on the edge of the rock, waiting for better views. We were bowled by the stunning views from top. We could see charmadi ghats and many other peaks all around. We felt that we were on cloud 9, our joy knew no bounds.But there was more, our guide tugged us to follow him. And we slowly followed him, he took us slightly down on the other side to a view point which overlooked a deep precipice. A deep cliff before us. Our heart was beating fast.Just thinking about it, our  excitement  doubled !

One needs  to be careful while heading to the cliff since isn’t visible and comes up  all in a sudden. We could hear few buzzing sound of  jungle honey bees.There was also a big beehive dangling under one of the rocks.Isabu caoutioned about the impending danger, we caught a glimpse of  surroundlng hills We spent some time there gazing and appreciating views, after filling lungful of freshair we returned back.All were hungry, we  had neer dose that we had carried as pack lunch.We took group photos, as a celebration.It was already 1;30 pm.

Kumbakallu, looming in the distance.was looking elusive and beckoning us literally.The second leg of our exploration began.

We descended slowly and way back  even spotted a Russels viper in the grassland. Isabu looking at it told that it is locally called Kolaku mandala havu. Dangerous  in the viper family.Our guide showed us even imprints of  a gaur hoofs on the rocks. These imprints are a few centuries  old  The imprints are called “Kaati mettida kallu” in the local language.

We looked like dwarfs, as we craned our necks to look at the Kumbakallu  peak.The  razor sharp shoulder of the peak was almsot  60 -70 degree.Apart from tedious trekking route, what adds to the challenge is the herd of elephants making frequent appearances here. Isabu, slowly took the shola route to the right and we followed him. We had to cross the Banjaru Male and Ambati Male forest cover cautiously.

It is said that pachyderms visit the hill, to munch their staple food, which is called ‘Aane Hullu’ in Kannada. The conflict between man and elephant increasing over the years, the number of elephants coming to this area has increased.

They descend slopes and pass through a corridor, till they reach a stream. Isabu told that we need to walk fast  and reach back hut before dark.

Within the rainforest, we experienced a sense of serenity. It was like an air-conditioned weather set-up within the forest, and as much as everyone would love to stay there forever;.We walked slowly, and reached the conical summit of Kumbakallu Peak.Minchukallu peak, as said was standing as a sentinel and black rock face of bauxite looked almost impregnable.

We felt that it would be any impossible task without sensible local guides like Isabu who assist us and put their lives in danger.We descended, and almost reached the rubber plantation in twilight.We had head lamps with us and followed Isabu..

He even congragulated us, for being the first group to successfully complete both hillocks in a day. We reached the makeshift hut in dark, which was our stay for night.It rained heavily in the night.

We felt that rather than achievement , a trek within the Charmadi Ghats truly gives  a sense of satisfaction to the explorer's sense of Exploration !