Tuesday, December 7, 2010
A SYLVAN BEAUTY OF CHIKKAMAGALUR: MULLAYANAGIRI HILL
When my friends invited me to join them on a trip to a hill named Mullayanagiri, near Chikkamagalur, I immediately jumped at the opportunity, as watching nature has never failed to stop me on my track, making me forget all my worries and miseries for a moment and filling my heart with an indescribable delight. I got into the car anticipating the joy I would feel on reaching the peak. Without wasting time from Chikkamagalur, we directly headed towards Mullayanagiri, situated about 23 km from Chikkamagalur town.
Mullayanagiri Hill lies in the Bababudangiri mountain ranges. Standing at 1930 mt (6317ft above mean sea level), it is the tallest peak in Karnataka.
Having a salubrious climate round the year, it is also one of the most sought-after trekking routes in the State. Though the road to the top of the hill is quite narrow, it is worth taking the risk, simply for the thrilling experience it offers. Fortunately and quite surprisingly, the road from Chikkamagalur to Mullayanagiri is very good. But one has to be careful while driving as the narrow road to the temple makes two-way traffic dangerous.
The roadside route is lush with greenery as there are a number of coffee estates along the way. We traversed right in the middle of the lofty mountains, the aromatic eucalyptus forests, pine, cyprus and the tall silver oak trees clasping the earth preventing from erosion along the fragile slopes.
After driving another 10 km, we arrived at a crossroad diverging along two routes, one towards Mullayanagiri and other towards Bababudangiri where the famous Datta Peeta is located. We took the left taking us to the peak. After traversing a few kilometers, we stopped at a point to enjoy the breathtaking view of the mountainside. It was a double treat to the eyes and soul. The cloudy skies, damp surroundings and the smell of moist air due to the intermittent drizzle made the whole view even more enjoyable. I left that place quite reluctantly with a heavy heart and a feeling that this is where I truly belong.
As our car swerved around the last hair-pin bend, it was getting too difficult to climb the slope even in the first gear. With wide-open eyes I looked at the receding depths, as if enjoying a scene from a Hollywood movie because, while reaching top around two kilometers, there are no boundary walls at the fragile points which makes driving exciting.
Landslides were quite common here, which became severe during rainy seasons, a fallout of massive tree-felling. Going around the hill, one could see heaps of piled up mud and dried waterfalls, all being the result of landslides. Usage of plastic is completely banned here. Warning boards and dustbins are kept side by side to encourage tourists to follow the norms.
Through the fog, I could see the hilltop with people climbing the narrow steps. Within a few minutes we reached the top to the base of the steps. It was a pleasant half-an-hour drive from Chikkamagalur to the Hill, with lush green mountains hearing the cascading sound of the falls from far beyond.
The panoramic view from the top literally made me breathless for a while. We felt like being on top of the world. Watching the beautiful green valleys down below with the cotton clouds playing hide and seek, I simply stood mesmerised forgetting everything. As the vehicles can reach only upto this point, we had to climb barely a few steps to reach the temple at the top. Climbing these steps was easy as the mind, after the drive through the lap of mother nature, had invigorated the body with a new energy. It took approximately 30 minutes to climb, enjoying the nature and its view at each and every step.
Upon reaching the top, I saw a small Shiva temple which gave the peak the name Mullayanagiri, "Mullayya" being another name of Shiva. Watching the small Nandi in front of the temple provided me some relief. I overheard someone saying that near the Nandi there are openings to tunnels leading to caves in the hills, though I didn't see any.
A small hillock in the temple compound is considered the highest point in Karnataka. It is an ideal place for watching sunset. It is said that on a clear day one can even get to see the Arabian Sea from the top of this hill. Though there are quite a few other hills nearby, there are no motorable roads and one has to climb to reach the top.
Taking a little detour on the way, one can visit Sitalayyanagiri, also a Shiva temple where there is a water spring with water flowing round the year. Also, we can visit Bababudangiri. All along this route there are no good restaurants, so it is better if one ate heartily at Chikkamagalur or pack some food items before heading for the hills.
One can thoroughly enjoy the experience of the caprices offered by the exotic flora and fauna by climbing this hill. Visiting Mullayanagiri will stay in my memory forever.
Routes to go to Karnataka's tallest peak:
From Bangalore: Bangalore - Tumkur - Arasikere - Kadur-Chikkamagalur (255 kms).
From Mysore: Mysore - Hassan - Belur - Chikkamagalur (180 kms).