April 11, 2012
For those who want a break from the routine humdrum and also want to get away from the scorching heat in the city, a trek in the thick frondescence of the forests of the Western Ghats would provide the much needed diversion. One need not go too far off places to enjoy nature’s quietude and give your lungs a whip of fresh air or an oxygen therapy.
Such a milieu can be experienced at Konaje Kallu, at Moodbidri, the Jain pilgrimage centre, located about 32 kms from the city and is just an hour’s drive. Just about 5 to 6 kms from Moundbirdri on Naravi Road, one can see a pair of large granite monolith which is now known as “Konaje Kallu”. For the British sailors the top of these twin stones resembled like those of the ears of an ass and rightly so they called them “Ass’s Ears”.
It would be a formidable task to resist the temptation of exploring the stone structure which looks quite imposing even from a distance. It was this irresistible temptation that lured us towards the twin stones as part of our exercise to get fit for our forthcoming trekking to Everest Base Camp.
A group of 8 members of Mangalore unit of Youth Hostel Association of India, who are ready for the Everest base camp, went to explore this stone, which is billed as trekker’s paradise and best bet for a short hiking, something which can be done in a day’s time.
We started off early at 5.30 am in our Tata Sumo and a good breakfast on a roadside small hotel in Moodbidri where we packed our lunch packets also we came to Konaje Reserve Forest Area. We parked our vehicle there and headed towards the monolith stone. A saffron flag indicated the way towards the temple of Sri Sharadadasa Swamy at Padukonaje, about 3 kms from the main road and we had to cross this cave temple to go to Konaje Kallu. After going through the semi-forest area from where we could enjoy the sight of the breathtaking granite stone from a distance we came across a pond, neat and clean on our way to the temple. It is the temple pond and is filled with water all 365 days a year. Devotees bathe in this pond before offering pooja and entering the Garbha Gudi of the temple.
After walking for another 30 minutes we reached a cave temple, the very sight of which is awe-inspiring and cooool to say the least. This temple is on the base of the rock formation that makes the Konaje Kallu. The mouth of the rock is open on the front side of the rock and this rock forms the roof of the temple. In the space underneath various rooms of the temples are built. Temple priest Samanna Swami says the temple was established in 1947 and it contains samadhis of 108 ascetics. Usually till February end a small strip of water passes through a narrow passage on one side of the temple.
The area under the rock that comprises the temple premises is quite cool and refreshing. A look up at the rock shows that a small concrete layer is built horizontally so that water falls to the ground directly and does not seep through the roof and come to the base. After a refreshing half an hour’s rest we entered the thick forest area to reach the bottom of the rock. Except in some patches we came across a bunch of tress which had completely shed their leaves in preparation for a grueling summer ahead we encountered thick green forest on our way to the rock.
Climbing the 90 degree slope rock with our heavy bags tucked firmly on our backs was a challenge we were looking forward to impatiently. The rock was quite rough and had layers that helped us find our footholds to make our way upwards. The scorching son on top and the heavy bag on our back made the journey upwards quite a challenging yet enjoyable experience. Some of us had to crawl on four legs to keep our body balance in forward motion to avoid any risk of slanting backwards.
We reached the top with herculean efforts and from there we could savour the panoramic view of the entire forest area. We took rest for an hour or so on the top and as we were famished we ate our packed ‘avalakki-kadale’ which tasted quite yummy.
Our adventurous streak continued and instead of coming back from the way we had traversed we decided to explore the other side of one of the rocks and began to downward journey. Soon we were into the thick forest filled with huge trees, thick layers of decayed leaves and thorny plants and creepers. In our anxiety to move many of us sustained bruises all over from thorny creepers and plants. But none cared a fig. We had to literally make our way through the area as there was no trail of human movement. Yet we moved forward in the steep downslide area enjoying some of nature’s bounties and wonders.
After almost an hour’s journey we reached a dead-end in the thick forest and thorny plants gave no room for us to move forward. We had to beat a hasty retreat and make our way back to the rock. While it was a slide down going we had to climb the area during return journey. A step on a loose stone led to at least two people falling with a thud (unhurt). In the thick forest coming back on the same route is not easy and at one point we could not make out where we were heading to. But the top of the stone guided us back and we were back for another upward slide.
Sliding down was much easier than we had expected and by now the sun was on top and we were profusely sweating having climbed our way upwards from our misadventure in the forest.
We were back at the Sharadadasa Swamy temple and after the pooja we had lunch at the temple. Samanna Swamy had prepared a sambar of beetroot with back grams and in the company of monkeys from the forest we had our simple lunch amidst the thick forest.
Soon we headed back to our destination. On the way we enjoyed some delicious cashews (given by locals) and ate some wax apples (Zamoon) and headed back home to watch the second half of Indo-Pak one day cricket match.
The thighs ache even after 3 days of trekking but we are happy that we are getting the right kind of fitness before heading to Everest Base Camp to trek in a much more difficult terrain.
In this summer make a surprise trip to “Konaje Kallu” and see nature’s beauty resplendent in its immaculate form.
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