Kudremukh is one of the most famous trekking destinations in South India. The place derives its name from the shape of the hill, which resembles the face of a horse, or as it is depicted in the local language – ‘Kudre mukha’ (horse face).
The Kudremukh range falls in the Chikmagalur district, with dense forests that are evergreen owing to the high rainfall in the area. The Kudremukh National Park falls on the ridge of the Western Ghats and is rich in wildlife. It is known for its bio-diversity and is one of the 34 hot spots picked by UNESCO for ecological conservation.
An Overview of the Region
The rivers Tunga, Bhadra and Nethravati originate here in the Kudremukh ranges. The Kadambi falls in this part of the Western Ghats also attracts a lot of tourists. The steep hills, the dense forests and the gushing mountain streams offer all trekkers an unforgettable experience with breathtaking views at every turn.
Though people flock to these hills throughout the year, the best time for trekking is from October to May, after the rains, when the hillside is lushly covered in verdant greenery and the mountain streams are flowing in full spate.
The Shola grasslands help in feeding the major rivers with perennial mountain streams emptying into them. There are many established trekking and hiking trails in these mountains as the British had declared this area as a Reserved Forest in 1916, and it has been popular ever since for trekking purposes.
Trekking in the Kudremukh Region
The trekking trails in Kudremukh are known for their scenic beauty, as the region is one that is breathtakingly abundant with natural resources. The winding ghat roads throw up amazing vistas and panoramic views at every turn.
You can stay in Kalasa, the nearest town, as Kudremukh is currently a ghost town that does not have any accommodation options or other amenities. From Kalasa, you’ll have to start as early as possible in the morning in order to reach the base camp at Mullodi. You can either trek to the base camp or hire a jeep from Kalasa. It is a 40 minute drive through slush, so choosing a jeep can be a better idea.
You can hire a guide to accompany you or you can set off on your own from the base camp, depending on your trekking experience. Once the trek starts, you will come across two streams. Remember to stay on the trail from the Somavathi falls if you’re trekking on your own. The Kudremukh peak will be about 10-13 kilometers away, depending on the path you take.
Things to Remember While Trekking
There are 13 established trekking routes along the Kudremukh ranges, and you can choose your trail based on the comfort level, the timeframe you’ve decided on and your prior trekking experience. Some of the more arduous routes will take you from Samse to Kudremeukh and back, working up to around 40 kilometers. The Navoor – Hevala – Kudremukh – Navoor trek generally follows a 60 kilometer trail.
Because Kudremukh lies in a protected forest area, you’ll need to obtain prior permission from the Forest Department for trekking or camping in the hills. Wherever you stay, you’ll have to climb the Kudremukh peak and return the same day to your base as tourists are not allowed to stay there.