If you are one among the truly adventurous spirits looking for a trek with a thrilling cloak of mystery, try trekking to Ombattu Gudda in Karnataka.
An Overview of the Trek
This peak has an altitude of 971 meters above sea level and it derives its name from the Kannada words Ombattu (which means the number nine) and Gudda (which refers to a hill). As the name aptly conveys, the peak bears nine humps that are distinctly visible at the top.
Located within the Kabbinhole Reserved Forest, Ombattu Gudda is about 20 kilometers away from Gundiya Checkpost which lies on the road between Bangalore and Dharmasthala. Although it is possible to access the peak from the town of Hosakere located near Mudigere, trekkers usually prefer starting the trek at Gundiya to reach the peak and then descend on the Hosakere side.
Activities and Things to Do
The trek begins at Gundiya and winds its way along NH27 slowly moving into the forest filled with wildlife. An hour or so later, the crystal clear Kabbinhole River makes her appearance providing sweet relief from the relentless heat of the sun. Regardless of whether you choose to dip your feet in the stream or swim in the deeper regions of the river, take care to keep track of time or you will easily lose yourself in the dead ends of the forest after darkness sets in.
The trail follows the path of the Kabbinhole River for close to an hour and then moves along another narrower stream to the north. From here, a steep trail moves away completely from the water and leads to the grasslands that afford a panoramic view of the dense forest and surrounding hills.
Walking further across the grassland, you’ll face a final climb that will take you to the top of the Ombattu Gudda peak. The descent is relatively easier with a noticeable trail leading towards Lakshmi Estate, from where you can reach Hosakere.
Getting In and Around the Region
Several buses ply between Bangalore and Dharmasthala and Mangalore and stop at Gundiya Checkpost. There is a Forest Department IB at Gundiya that provides accommodation and food. The trek begins at Gundiya and then follows National Highway 27 in the Mangalore direction for about half an hour until a bridge is reached.
The trail will be visible on the right side of the bridge until the river appears, and you’ll find that it disappears completely beyond the point. Thanks to the river, you won’t have to spend precious energy hauling water during the initial part of the trek. However, you should fill up before you move away from the northern stream because you’ll not come across too many water sources. Words of caution to those who take this trip – many trekking parties have lost their way on this trail.
Villagers narrate stories of several rescue operations, many of which they say have been unsuccessful. Therefore, if you are a novice trekker, it is best to hire a guide from the forest department at Gundiya or even better, postpone the trek to a later time when you have gained more experience.
The trek to Ombattu Gudda however, is worth all the trouble because this peak, although not the highest in the area, is definitely one with an inexplicable beauty of its own.