Kundukottai: Following Kennith Anderson by Vikrant Vaidya
Now who is Kennith Anderson and what has he got to do with our trek? Well the answer is Kennith Anderson took us to this place Kundukottai. No he is not our friend or relative. Nor is he an adventure sport organizer. Kennith Anderson was an Englishman who lived in India all his life and was a licensed hunter of man-eaters. He has compiled his adventures in a nice book called ‘The Call of the Man-eater’. The third story in this book, though, is not about any hunt. He simply describes one of his impulsive overnight stay alone in the jungle.
Now the place of this stay happened to be Kundukottai. And he has very precisely described how to reach this place from Bangalore. Thus this story gave us the idea as well as directions. Although I must confess, his narration dates back at least 30 years and the roads are much better now. But the village names are the same and apart from this there is no travelogue or recount anywhere on the net about this place.
As usual only Sen was the readily available companion and hence we set out at around 9.00 am from his house in HSR layout. We immediately took the Hosur road. If Bangalore roads are bad, this road is more than an exception to it. Smooth as silk, 4 lane wide with rose bushes dotting the mid road dividers and perfect banking along the curves, this road is a treat to any driving enthusiast. (One has to be patient till we cross the ‘Electronic City’ diversions because of traffic jams)
So I revved up my bike and soon we were zipping across at around 100 kmph. This meant we reached Hosur in less than an hour. Here we had a cup of coffee and asked for the road to a place called ‘Denkanikota’. Hosur is a taluka place and so is ‘Denkanikota’. But due to superior industry presence, Hosur is a much better developed town. Anyway, we took a smaller but equally smooth road to ‘Denkanikota’ around 30 km from Hosur. Here too we were able to maintain a decent speed of around 80 kmph and reached the place pretty quickly. The road continues further to ‘Kundukottai’ and without loosing the surface smoothness even a bit, it provides breathtaking sights of rocky hills dotted with green trees and the typical bluish haze (It is said the Nil-Giris get their name from this blue haze). Just before Kundukottai we passed a huge rock with a temple atop. Resisting the temptation to stop by for a climb, we continued further. At Kundukottai we were at a loss of the name of next destination. The author had narrated that he had left his car at Kundukottai and continued on foot. Now since there was still a road, we did not want to leave my bike behind. So we asked for Doddahalla river valley (the narration was about the author spending the night along side a campfire on a dry Doddahalla river bed). Sure enough the locals confirmed the existence of a river valley nearly 3 km ahead. So we went on. A kilometer further I saw a trail going towards a rocky hill and decided to explore it a little. So we left the bike just off the road and hiked along the trail for about 10 minutes. We came across a water hole. We climbed a small (strictly relative) rock and took some snaps. Then we walked back to my bike and continued.
Soon we were going down steep hairpin bends through a lush green ghat section. Whenever you venture out of Bangalore city, you always come to know that you are well above sea level due to these ‘climb-down’ ghats. Otherwise, in the city you never notice it. Still searching for a river-bed we continued till we passed a bridge over an almost dry river. We agreed that this must have been the place described in the book. Though the book had mentioned the lack of bridges, we also have to provide allowance for the fact that it has been written at least 30 years back. But instead of stopping we drove on to a nearby village called Anchetti. We reached this place around 12.30 pm. We had a nice sumptuous lunch of ‘Parathas’ (no typo here) and egg-curry. Since we both agreed that there was no point in going further, we decided to go back and hike along the river we had passed earlier. So picking up some water, we started back.
As soon as we reached the river, I parked my bike below the bridge and we started uphill along the river. Even though the sun was up, a cool breeze kept us comfy. The river bed here is a mixture of sandy and rocky surfaces. The rocks here are exquisitely beautiful. Many of them have multiple layers of multicolored intrusions. Greenish granite and white marble layers are most common. After having a few generous clicks of these creations of nature, we hiked further. Some stray shepherds gave us company for a while. Then I persuaded Sen to leave the river path and venture uphill into to seemingly thorny jungle. After collecting a few cuts and bruises, we managed to climb over a rock. On one side there was a tall pine tree, while on the other there were some thorny bushes. Not far away we could also see s clump of palms and down the valley, bamboo thickets were in plenty. We marveled this immense diversity of vegetation and lay down on the rock face which was surprisingly cool. We did not even mind the sun beating down because of this nice cool breeze. Who needs air conditioners when we have such a greenery to cool and oxygenate the air? The place was nothing less than a slice of heaven.
But if you think we would settle for just one ‘slice’ you got us wrong. In less than half an hour we were back along the river searching for the next ‘slice’. We found it soon just by the river. There were 4-5 tamarind trees growing close together surrounded by the usual riverside flora. The trees were temptingly laden with tamarinds and there was no way we could pass by without tasting a few. I quickly climbed the most easily scalable of the lot and threw down my ‘loot’ to Sen. Soon he too got enthusiastic and climbed the adjacent tree. After ‘monkeying’ around for at least half an hour, Sen reminded it was time to start back. I lazed in the sand for some time resisting in vain. Finally conceding, I joined him in the hike back.
In about 20 minutes we reached the bridge and retrieved my bike after a brief ‘dirt-biking’ across the river. Back on the road we started building plans for a revisit with the gang. Sure enough there is going to be one. At least I would like to go further uphill because I am sure there will be a few waterfalls given the height of the surrounding hills.
Anyway, journey back seemed to be too uneventful till we neared the ‘rock-with-temple-atop’ we had passed in the morning, we knew we could not resist it twice the same day. Again my bike was left in the shade of a tree and we started scaling the rock. The rock surface was smooth but had numerous footholds and cracks. After 20 minutes of climb we came to a slightly concave jutting in the rock and climbing it seemed to be a bit difficult. I tried going around it by moving horizontally across the rock face, but could not find any decent progress path. We rested for a while. It was already 3.45 pm. If we had managed to cross it we would have definitely visited the temple at the top and then climbed down. This would have taken at least an hour more. This seemed to be unacceptable as we didn’t wanted spoil the drive back, by reaching Hosur after sunset. So we took the call and started back the way we came. Now this was a bit tricky as none of us had climbed down a rock face without the aid of a rope. I thought it wise to keep my mouth shut regarding this fact. Later Sen confirmed that this was a good idea because he thought that I was ‘experienced’ and that had helped him psychologically.
Anyway, once we were back on the road, we bettered our estimated time to reach Hosur. It was just 4.15 pm when we were back on Bangalore road and so we decided to stop for a brief chow. Few mouthfuls of noodles and manchurian did the trick. We started back towards Bangalore arou
nd 4.45 pm and reached Bangalore in less than an hour.
Overall I think we did more of a reconnaissance mission. Though we did enjoy a lot, I would still like to explore further, both the temple rock and the wooded valley. So till I go there once again, this will be one of my longings.
* How to get there: Starting from Banaglore, take Hosur road till Hosur. Here just after the Hosur lake there is a diversion for Denkanikota. The road continues to Kundukottai after you cross Denkanikota and further to Anchetti after Kundukottai. Approx distances: Bangalore – Hosur: 40 km Hosur – Denkanikota: 30 km. Denkanikota – Kundukottai: 10 km Kundukottai – Anchetti 10 km
* What to see: Hike along river bed 3 km before Anchetti is very beautiful. There is also an option to go uphill on either side of the river. The temple rock just before Kundukottai is also worth climbing. There is also a normal path up for those who are not that crazy of scrambling across the rocks.
* Food / Lodging: Anchetti is quite a large village and decent food and lodging is available. The temple rock is a bit isolated but a halt at Denkanikota is again possible.
* Tips: Carry lots of water both on the river-bed hike or the rock climb. The breeze though cool was a bit dry.