Kodachadri is a beautiful and scenic hill station on the western ghats, closer to temple town of Kollur. A place that holds huge potential as a tourist attraction is hardly promoted and practically non existent roads further discourage tourists (from a different perspective, is that a way of preserving nature?
Anyway, Kodachadri is a heaven for trekking aspirants. Depending on time you have and distance you wish to trek, plan could be drawn accordingly. Camping is also possible and Bhat’s family who reside on top can accommodate a few, admission at their discretion. Best to go by reference.
We didn’t go there for trekking, but just made a quick visit on a jeep. The last 9kms of road that leads to the peak is so bad that only jeeps with trained drivers can take you through it. I was assessing if Scorpio can make it-appears possible but risky due to two reasons: extra dimension of Scorpio can be a challenge in giving way to another vehicle and some body parts of Scorpio are very likely to hit the ground/sideways and suffer a damage. The rugged soft top jeeps and its hard body Commander counterparts are best suited due to smaller width, higher ground clearance. Regular jeep services are available from Kollur town and rates are fixed: Rs 1400 for entire jeep, or 175 per passenger, subject to 8 passengers.Package includes 1.5-2 hours uphill journey, sightseeing for about 1.5 hours and return. Our driver told us that they’ve a union of 76 jeeps and during holidays they get up to 2 trips per day, else only one or two trips per week. He also told that a part of their income goes into maintaining the road. I’ve a feeling that they’re spending more money to ensure that road remains motorable only by jeeps and not other vehicles, else their revenues will take a hit as excellent roads will eliminate need for jeeps. Road is much better now- it was worst during rainy days- we were told.
We started from Kollur by about 1.45pm, reached hill top by 3.40, with a 20 min break for tea on the way. We also stopped near a tiny fall as another jeep had flat tyre and our driver gave his stepney (spare wheel) to that jeep. This jeep overtook us during our tea break and later we found it broken down again, this time another wheel going burst. We took two of their passengers on board and as we started those two remarked “this jeep is much better than that”. A few brave bikers had made it till top, while many had abandoned their bikes mid way and chose to climb up by foot.
There’re two small temples on the top, another small cave temple of Ganapathi and a place where Sri Shankaracharya was believed to have meditated. Path to top is wide enough, but no barricades to protect from an extremely steep slope. A petty shopkeeper was selling Rs 4 tiger biscuit for Rs 10 and a glass of sweet water (supposed to be lime juice, but the vendor said he had to dilute it due to huge demand and short supply of lemon) for Rs 5. Few cows were busy gazing and a pill millipede crossing the road (read more)
Scene en-route and on top are breathtaking. I was hoping for a clear sky which I never got. Managed to take some photos wherever possible, but clouds and fogs played spoilsport.Also the bumpy jeep ride may not let you enjoy the beauty outside. Several movies have been shot here. A young priest and his assistant, who were manning the cave Ganapathi temple boarded our jeep while returning. This guy talks a lot and said he works in Bangalore as a priest+ cooking assistant, came home for vacation and was asked to take care of this temple. He went on to say “Upendra (a Kannada film star) was here sometime back- he wanted a silent place to write some story-but within days people got hint about his presence and crowd started gathering outside his place of stay-he got disturbed and decamped overnight”
We started back by 5.15pm. While returning those two extra passengers (of the other jeep) wanted to join us in our jeep only, but our driver was not ready. Let them come in their jeep. I don’t get any money for ferrying them. That guy (other jeep driver) is owner+driver of that jeep, still he doesn’t maintain it properly. He must have already consumed one packet (nick name for local arrack) before starting and would have had 2 more after reaching the top. I did a mistake giving my stepney to him-tyre puncture shops are closed due to festival and I don’t have a stepney if something goes wrong.
After we disembarked from the jeep, I asked the driver for his contact number. He suddenly asked “Why Sir? Are you giving me a job?” for a moment I didn’t know what to say. Then I recovered and said I may need his help if we plan any trekking or trips in future. We reached Kollur town by 7pm. However there was no private bus from Kollur after 6.30pm and our only options were the 7.45pm KSRTC Rajahamsa bound for Bengaluru, a 9pm bus to Kerala, or another private bus that goes to Byndoor. We took the Rajahamsa to reach Kundapura town where we again got stranded as the last bus towards Udupi (a 9.15pm APM) was not to be seen that day.Then we called our neighbourhood taxi driver and reached home.
Sharavathi river, which forms the famous jog falls is visible from here. (unfortunately jog falls is not visible-would have been nice if it was). Kodachadri is closer to Sagara town in Shimoga district and Bangalore-Shivamogga-Sagar-Kodachadri will be the route to take if you’re starting from Bangalore. Maravanthe beach, Nagara fort, Karkala, Manipal Endpoint, Agumbe, Kapu light house, Malpe beach, VattineNe beach, Mathuru are few other interesting places within 100kms radius. Those keen on devotional places can visit major temples in nearby Kollur (Mookambeshwari), Udupi (Srikrishna), Gokarna, and Mangalore.
Add Kodachadri to your list next time you plan to visit coastal Karnataka/western Ghats
December 2009 updates: I read in local media that a mining company has secured permission to carry out mining operations in Kodachadri hills... Localites have began protest against this. I too feel mining shouldn't be allowed here