Do you have a long weekend coming up and want to head out somewhere, but don’t know where? How about going trekking on Brahmagiri hill and falling right into the lap of Mother Nature?
The sanctuary derives its name from the highest point, the Brahmagiri peak, which is 1607 m in height. It covers an area of about 181 Kms.
Trekking Along Brahmagiri Hill
Brahmagiri, at 1608 m above sea level, is a hill range on the Western Ghats bordering Kerala and Karnataka. It is situated on the border between Wyanad District of Kerala state on the south and Kodagu District in Karnataka on the north side.
Pack your bags and head to this trekkers’ paradise that is graced by the ancient Thirunelli temple in the Wayanad district on the south and adorned by Iruppu falls from the Kodagu district of Karnataka in the north.
December to February is the best time to visit the hill and one should avoid the monsoon. The hill is at an approximate distance of 270 km from Bangalore. If you’re trekking from Kerala, you have to begin at Thirunelli and whilst trekking from Karnataka, you have to begin from Iruppu falls. Permission from the Thirunelli Forest Range Officer and Srimangala Forest Range Officer has to be taken while trekking. The nearest towns to Brahmagiri hill are Kutta, Srimangala and Gonikkoppal. Taking a guide along is compulsory and his charges will range around INR 200.
The area has mainly evergreen and semi-evergreen forest, and in the higher altitudes, there are grasslands with shola forest patches. Bamboos are well represented in these forests.
What to See and Do
- Thirunnelai Temple: Legend has it that the Thirunnelai Temple was built by Lord Brahma himself and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It lies on the side bordered by Kerala. Also celebrated as the Kasi of the South or Dakshina Kasi, the temple has 30 granite pillars constructed in traditional style.
- Pakshipathalam: Pakshipathalam is another major attraction on the Kerala side of the Brahmagiri range having an altitude of 1740 meters. Legend has it that the cave in Pakshipathalam was used by Gurus and Rishis in primeval times. It is also known as the Munikal cave in Karnataka.
- Iruppu Falls: Originating from the Lakshmana Tirtha River in Karnataka, Iruppa Falls is one of the most sought after destinations in Karnataka. According to fables, Lord Rama and Lakshmana were in search of Sita when they became thirsty. Lord Lakshmana shot an arrow to Brahmagiri hill from where the Lakshmana Tirtha River sprang. It eventually flows into the Kaveri River.
Wildlife and Birds At Brahmagiri
The top of Brahmagiri Hill is well forested and has a lot of wildlife. Mammals in the Sanctuary include Lion-tailed Macaque, Elephant, Gaur, Tiger, Jungle Cat, Leopard Cat, Wild Dog, Sloth Bear, Wild Pig, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Nilgiri Langur, Slender Loris, Bonnet Macaque, Common Langur, Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Giant Flying Squirrel, Nilgiri Marten, Common Otter, Brown Mongoose, Civets, Porcupine, Pangolin.
Python, cobra and king cobra are some of the reptiles found in the Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuary.
Interesting birds in the Sanctuary include emerald dove, black bulbul and Malabar trogon.
How to Reach Brahmagiri
Brahmagiri is about 60 Kms from Coorg and about 270 Kms from Bangalore.
- From Bangalore via bus: KSRTC bus service provides several options to go to Gonikkoppal. From Gonikkoppal, you can select from a host of bus services to reach Srimangala. KSRTC services only one Rajahamsa bus to Srimangala from Bangalore. From Srimangala, you will have to travel 10 km before reaching Iruppu falls from where your trekking journey will begin.
- From Bangalore by car: Drive through Mysore Road to reach Srirangapatna. After driving for a while, take a deviation from Hunsur and proceed to Gonikkoppal. On the way to Gonikkoppal, you will have to take another deviation towards Nagarhole/Srimangala/Iruppu. Past Ponnampet, Hudikeri and Shettigiri, you will reach Srimangala from where you have to head towards Iruppu and begin your trek.
- From Kerala by bus: Reach Kutta and take a Kerala SRTC bus to get to Kattikulam. From Kattikulam you can take a private bus or a Kerala SRTC bus to Thirunelli from where your trek can commence.
The nearest place with good hotels on the Karnataka side is Gonikkoppal. While trekking from Karnataka, it is advisable to book accommodation at Narimale Guest house. If you are approaching from the Kerala side, Thirunelli is ideal for several no-frill options for lodging. The forest guest house at Thirunelli is also a decent alternative. Mananthavady is the nearest place with places of residence on the Kerala side.