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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Ettina Bhuja to Ombattu Gudda trek

29th to 31st December 2009

Prologue
The trek route to Ombattu Gudda from Gundya was in my “todo” list for quite some time. The execution proved difficult for want of a GPS unit and more importantly being unable to get a “good crowd” for that arduous trek. Some organizations had conducted treks along that route but every time I missed due to some personal commitments.

It was at that time Arjun suggested whether I would be able to join a trek to Ombattu gudda that he was planning. Instead of the usual Gundya route, this trek was from Ettina Bhuja peak. As it was a pretty unknown route, I decided to join him.

Ettina Bhuja
The first task was to climb Ettina Bhuja. I had done it earlier and had to do it again!! Our planned camping for the night of day 1 was on the peak itself but the bad weather made us to look for an alternate place. The Bairaveshwara Temple that was near the peak was an ideal location for us. It has just enough space for 2-3 people to stay.


Night and the elephants
Staying at Temple comes with responsibility. The cleanliness and dignity of the place must be maintained. We set up our “cooking unit” outside the Temple premises. With clouds hovering in sky, the “dinner” was prepared hurriedly and by 7PM we had even consumed the food!!

By that time, thanks to the winds the clouds had all vanished. We set up the campfire and started talking endlessly about various topics. Our discussion was disturbed by the commotion from the nearby village followed by the sound of crackers. It was the elephants that might have entered into the fields.

That was a matter of concern. Our trek to Ombattu gudda was very much dependent on the weather. Rains on the next day meant that we had to pack our bags to Bengaluru. Now, with elephants roaming in the area, all our plans seemed to be in jeopardy.

The immediate problem was to have a plan of action if elephants decide to come near the Temple. We could be in bad shape if those agitated jumbos come anywhere near us. Our guide is not much worried about it. The chances of such things are remote, he says. But I and Arjun are not convinced and start to discuss about different ways to escape from Elephant attack. I even make a mental note on how to climb to top of the Temple!! Luckily, none of our plans were put to test.

We make sure that the Temple gate is locked and set out to sleep. Sometime in midnight, we were rudely awakened by the shouts of the villagers. Elephants again!! But I was so tired that day and got into again the sleeping bag.

Morning and start of the trek
With the rise of the sun, our spirits were also on high. The weather was clear and we had all forgotten about elephants. After breakfast, we were all set for the trek to Ombattu gudda.

The trek was mostly on the ridges of grasslands with occasional hike through the shola forests. An elephant pugmark on the track was alarming. But surprisingly, we did not find any more pugmarks nor elephant dung anywhere in the area. That was a mystery.

The view got better and better as we started walking on the ridges. The trek involved climbing one mountain after another. To avoid climbing, we started walking on the side. This had to be done carefully as the path was very narrow with steep valleys on the side. A fall would render us few thousand feet below into the thick jungles.


A major break was taken at “Atti mara” betta. It was called so because of the lone tree at the top.


The walk on the ridges ended when we hit a Jeep track. Ombattu gudda was nearby.

We crossed the last stretch of shola forests to enter into Ombattu gudda grasslands.

To reach the main peak, we had to cross seven or eight mountains. It took us about 30 minutes to reach the top.

Once on the top, we could see the vast expanse of Kabbinale forests. As usual, the views were amazing.


The hot weather and open grasslands made us very tired. The boring part of the trek was the return from Ombattu gudda to the nearby village. The journey never seems to end. A “short cut” saved us some 3-4km of walking. But still it took little over two hours of non stop walk.

There is no source of water all along the route from Ettina Bhuja to Ombattu gudda and the village. The cloudy weather while returning back saved us from dehydration.

We were asked by several people in the village whether we were the “two guys” who were lost. Apparently two pigheaded guys from Bengaluru had lost their way on Gundya to Ombattu gudda stretch during that week. (Later, I came to know that they were brought to the village safely)

Epilogue
Just before we ended the trek, we saw an Elephant foot print. Again single feet print with no other trace!! Very similar to the one we saw during the start of our trek. Strange!!

19 comments:

ರಾಜೇಶ್ ನಾಯ್ಕ said...

wow, new route! thats exciting. looks like the trek route till you hit the jeep track is worth a look in.

"The cleanliness and dignity of the place must be maintained. We set up our “cooking unit” outside the Temple premises" - I appreciate that. Very good gesture.

ಪಾಚು-ಪ್ರಪಂಚ said...

Hi Arvind,

Excited..!

Nice write up and good photos.

Even we are planning since long time..but no luck til today :-(

Happy New Year :-)

photography said...

amazing report to start the new year!

rakesh holla said...

Ha ha your escape plan from elephants was superb...Very nice trek you had in unknown route..
Thanks for introducing one more new route..

Srini said...

I think this must has been one of your most memorable treks till date? atleast that is what i felt when i read!
anyways, nice write up.

Srini.

Aravind GJ said...

Rajesh,
Thanks. The trek till Jeep track is a good one with lot of scenery.

Paachu,Sandeep, Rakesh
Thanks.

Srini,
Yes. This was one of the good trek that i had.

The wild said...

Certainly it was a nice trek indeed !!!,enjoyed trekking with you Aravind

Aravind GJ said...

Thanks Arjun for the nice trek!!

Jayashree M said...

Hey this is awesome!!

We infact tried trekking from EB to OG, but got lost in the thick forest and had to return back :(

We plan to go again this month to explore...!! Any inpurs from your end? :)

Cheers,
Jay:)

Aravind GJ said...

Jayashree,
The forest patch after EB is a diffcult stretch to cross and there are high chances of getting lost.

Better to hire a local or take a GPS.

machine_head said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
machine_head said...

Aravind,

Spot on!

that stretch is mind numbing...i was trampling around the forest...it was a bamboo forest...maybe plain lucky no snake got under my shoes....

Tell me one thing..after u get down from the hump of Ettina Bhujja... did you guys take the left wider route opening towards the forest, which further leads to a junction in the forest, right of which takes u to village, left back to Ettina Bhuja...

Or Did you take the right side which goes around the forest and possibly towards Shishila and then climb up after sometime again.....

Aravind GJ said...

machine_head,
Thanks for commenting on my blog. We stayted near the village on the first day and re-entered the forest on the second day.

machine_head said...

Do you guys have a GPS where you possibly plotted the route?or are the Survey maps good enuf?

Aravind GJ said...

We had a guide!!

Naveen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aravind GJ said...

Naveen,
Nice to see your comment on my blog... yes.. doing fine. My email id is aravindgj@gmail.com. Lets meet online!!

manoj said...

Hi,
Nice write up :)
a couple of friends and i are planning a trek to that region at the end of this month...
But we are confused between the amedikallu Trek and Ettina Bhuja - Ombattu Gudda trek...

I want to know if we copuld hire a guide for the Ettina Bhuja - Ombbattu Gudda trek, since we do not have any GPS device with us.

In case there is a guide available could you give me his contact info?

sudheep said...

Hi Aravind,

can u send me guide's contact details? v r planning for OG. v dont have GPS....