Shiradi Ghats - Paradise for Trekkers

Feb 1, 2011

Pics by Subash Pai

The Western Ghats which run along the western coast of India have fascinated mankind with its mystic aura and its lush vegetation.  The  beautiful patterns of the  evergreen tropical Shola forests,  the grasslands and  the sky high majestic peaks are too tempting to resist to be explored, especially for nature lovers.  And those who  are adventurous and cherish  trekking this terrain savoring the rustic  forest environs, it is like a heaven on earth, a  paradise.   Western Ghats offer myriad trekking options to avid trekkers and Shiradi Ghat is one among the fascinating terrains  of the Western Ghats.   

Recently  when the Mangalore Unit of  Youth Hostel Association of India  (YHAI) announced its 4-day long state level  Shiradi Ghat trekking expedition, I grabbed the opportunity  instantaneously  and registered my name for the fear of ‘rejection’ as the organizers had hinted the expedition is limited to only 100 people.  In my over enthusiasm I was the first be  registered and once I was rest assured I looked forward to my close encounter with nature. 


Our base camp was at Shiradi Nisarga Dhama near  Gundya Check Post, about 24 kms from Nelyadi on Mangalore-Bangalore highway. The base camp  situated on the  river side of Kumpuhole,  belongs to the forest department and YHAI had booked the place much in advance.  It is  place of scenic beauty and tranquility, an ideal destination to start off the trek. 

When I reached the base camp on 22nd January in the afternoon the tents were already pitched and volunteers were giving a final touch to the  arrangements.  The cook and his assistants, brought specifically for this purpose,  were busy preparing for the evening meals.  The first thing I noticed at the base camp was that except for BSNL no other network was available   It was a blessing in disguise  as I was completely cut off from the mundane goings-on.  By  4 pm trekkers from different parts of the state started descending on this hot spot.  By evening it was  buzzing with trekkers who were an excited lot.   After tea we headed towards  Kempu Hole for a bath.   The water was just cool  and the  ambience was perfect to enjoy an evening bath amidst the symphony of  crying birds and clean water  gushing musically. 

There were two cottages at the base camp apart from the pitched tents.  The organizers allotted one cottage entirely for the ladies.  At 8 pm all  trekkers assembled and an volunteer briefed us about the trek and  here we were informed about the  slight deviation from the original trekking schedule.   Originally the trek  was  scheduled to Venkatagiri, Mugilagiri and Arebetta.  The organizers  had an afterthought and swapped Arebetta with Kannikai Falls, may be to break the monotony.  The trekkers too were taken by the idea of  the  waterfall  as there were no murmurs or dissenting notes. 

Rapture at Kannikai Falls

As is the practice with YHAI, we were up by 5 am and after a hot cup of bed tea got ready for our  odyssey.   The trekkers were divided into two groups.  Those who arrived on the 22nd were huddled together in group I and those who arrived on late night and on 23rd morning  were in group II.  On the first day,  group 1  comprising about 40 members  went  o Kannikai  Falls and group 2  headed to Venkatagiri soon after.  On the final day the entire group was scheduled to climb Mugilagiri, considered to be the toughest of the 3.  With an early breakfast and packed lunch we left for  the falls braving through the thick  shola forest.  We were guided by 70 year old guide Devappa, who  told us that there are elephants in the forest and  just a few days back an elephant had wandered in our camp site.  He was proved  right as we came across fresh elephant dung on our way to Kannikai Falls.  It didn’t deter our spirits. 

Walking in the thick  shadowy forest  where even the suns rays hardly penetrate,   amidst the singing of an occasional bird,  the threat of wild animals looming  large and the constant attack of leeches,  is a cherished experience.  The trekking area was neither flat nor too sloppy and after trekking continuously for about 3  hours  we reached Devaragundi,  also known as Kabbinale Hole.  This stream  provided us our first major break.  It is said that the falls is named  Devara Gundi as there was a Chowdeshwari Devi Temple a few yards downstream.  After resting there,  we crossed the stream and trekked for another hour to reach Kannikai Falls and on seeing the falls in all  its majesty and oomph  I felt the trouble was worth every step.

The trekkers enjoyed the stream and the surrounding area.  Just below the stream the place  was ideal for swimming and bathing.  Tired and haggard the trekkers took a quick bite of their lunch and after refueling their energies some swam,  some just enjoyed the cool waters and others marveled  the nature at its pristine best.  One group among us had plans to bathe at Devaragundi on their eturn trail. One had extra careful as the stones  under water were too slippery and one area was marked as slightly dangerous.  It was here I saw a flutter of yellow butterflies dancing with  aplomb, a rare feast to the eyes.  Sitting on the rocks of this falls, I could see the Mugilagiri Peak, which  we were planning to climb on the last day of the trek. 

The group which planned to  have bath  at Devaragundi started early  and by 1 pm we too  began our return journey.   We met our comrades at Devaragundi and  resumed  our journey towards the camp.  It was a long and arduous path  as the terrain was  full of stones and it gave a grueling time to some of the trekkers.  Some braved the blisters and the tough path on the way back.  Totally we had trekked 7 kms   up and 10 kms on the way back till our base camp.  As we were nearing the  base camp we enjoyed some neerdosa in a nearby restaurant  which was like a manna from heaven.   We braved some harsh words from the lady at the kitchen but that seemed innocuous at that moment. 

Capturing Venkatagiri

After evening tea we went to Kempu Hole to clean all the dirt accumulated and many just to vent out their exhaustion.   There was fire camp at 8 pm where  trekkers  of both groups shared our experiences.  We got to hear at the base camp that Venkatagiri treak was relatively an easier one.  Our friends from group 2 gave a similar impression. Second day began as usual at 5 am. Once group 2 left for Kannikai falls,   we began our journey to Venkatagiri  at 7 am and this time we were armed with a stick as the area was quite  steep and sloppy.   After covering the forest  area in the first half  we  came to the base of the hill and had  to counter some  steep slants and slopes  and it was a challenging experience for most trekkers.   The knee length grass proved to be a major hindrance as trekkers could not see any loose stone, leading to many slipping and falling.   

After 3 hours of trekking with breaks in between we  reached the top of Venkata Giri.  The peak was at an altitude of 4200 feet and though it was noon the cool breeze negated any heat atop the mountain devoid of any shade.  But we could feast on  the grandeur of other mountains like Mugilagiri, Arebetta, Aremane Betta  on one side and Kumara Parvatha at a distance  on the opposite side.  Kempu Hole was visible like a serpent from the top meandering through the valley below.  At a distance one could identify peaks like Amedikallu, Minchu Kallu, Ethina Bhuja and others. 

After spending sometime  atop and enjoying our packed food we descended at around 1 pm when the sun was  at its peak.  The dissent  was not easy as the sloppy area  gave a tough time even to experienced trekkers.  But once we were into the thick forest, it was a big relief from the scorching sun.   So those who expected an easy trek, had to face a big challenge.  . 

After the usual rendezvous at the Kempu Hole we assembled again for our camp fire.  Usually YHAI camp fires are without actual fire. However,  as there was dry wood  in plenty at the camp site  and the weather was cold, we had a camp fire.   Despite a grueling schedule at the peaks trekkers still had the stamina to dance and make merry. 

On the Abode of Irresistible Mugilagiri

The third day’s trek was different as we were all set to conquer the tallest peak in the Shiradi Ghat and the entire group of 85 members were going together as one single group.  We were warned that this trek was  the toughest one and we had  should carry enough  water with us.  The first half again was through a thick canopy of forest.  The tall grass on the trekking trail was burnt  in patches by forest officials , which is done every year, to prevent forest fire.  In some places we encountered 6 to 8 feet grass where it was difficult to follow the trail.  The climb was quite steep and in some places the slant was almost  70 to 80 degrees  and  a few trekkers  halted half way through as they did not want to take a risk.   The scorching sun, the thick grass,  the burnt residue of grass with its black soot, the loose stones which often hoodwinked the trekkers  and blowing breeze were some of the  problems the trekkers faced.  But the  sense of humour of the trekkers , the occasional crack of jokes  and chaffing  and  sharing of some memorable trekking  experiences  en route  made trekking quite enjoyable.

All the hardships were forgotten on scaling the summit which was at an elevation of 4800 feet.   Words cannot explain the experience of sitting and savoring those finer moments  in the lap of nature which has retained its freshness and purity.  The distant peaks of Ethina Bhuja, Minchu Kallu, Ombattu Gudda,  looked much closer from here.

After  getting the oxygen therapy having spent an hour at the top  and filling our tired stomachs we began to descend thinking of the long way ahead which many felt was tougher than  ascending. Volunteers lent a helping hand to many on the way back.  By 4 to 4.30 all the trekkers  had arrived at the  base camp.  It was a tough journey,  though not for seasoned trekkers.  Some trekkers left the place  on reaching base camp.

On returning, hot coffee/tea and steaming  Goli Baje awaited us and we gobbled up everything that was offered before running for our bath.  As we returned  to the base camp after a cool bath at the river side we were all gripped with nostalgia, at the very thought of leaving the camp site the next day.  That evening we had no compulsion of sleeping early as we were to disperse soon after breakfast and after the flag hoisting at it was  Republic Day.   The evening was spent reveling at the expense of others recalling some memorable incidents of the day.

Parting Blues

With a heavy heart and with fond memories  we  bid goodbye to friends and organizers.  But for the efforts of YHAI volunteers  we could not have a smooth sailing  all these days.  Many of these volunteers had stayed back at the base camp to oversee our  food and staying arrangements of the trekkers.   The never hesitated to do any work when the situation called for.  The YHAI Mangalore unit members had conducted pilot trekking in all the areas, which is an elaborate  and time consuming process.  But they never compromised  on the safety factor.  

While returning to the concrete jungle I was  still seeing green everywhere.   The tidal waves of memories  of the quietude   and the eerie silence of the imposing Western Ghats, lingers on and on despite the passage of time.     

by Florine Roche
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Comment on this article

  • venky, bangalore

    Mon, Sep 12 2011

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful journey,and one more thing i wana ask could u tel how can i join this group

  • Ashwin Karanth, Mangalore

    Mon, Feb 28 2011

    Hi Subhash, I have been trying to get in touch with Mangalore YHAI unit. Can you give any contact details regarding the same.

  • Elvi, Mangalore/Dubai

    Tue, Feb 08 2011

    Hi Florine,

    Great article!When one reads the Expressive moments of trekking/nature, I would say, there is nothing called as Boring holidays if one knows were to go and what to do.
    Good going Florine. Cheers!

  • nasir jokatte, jokatte

    Tue, Feb 08 2011



    Sat, Feb 05 2011

    A nice narration. You have made me feel like registering my name for the next trekking. If books are good friends, nature is the best relative one can boast of. God has given us relatives, thank god, we can choose our friends, am I wrong?

  • Cynthia, Bantwal/Vashi Navi Mumbai

    Sat, Feb 05 2011

    I thoroughly enjoyed your beautiful written article on 'Shiradi ghats'. I felt a part of it. Well done Florine.

  • fuhaid, jeddah - mangalore

    Thu, Feb 03 2011

    pran had put in a word regarding the trekking and i wanted to be a part of it.. but since i left to the gulf cud not be a part of it...
    there is always a next time !

    good going guyzzz


    Wed, Feb 02 2011

    A remarkable well written article highlighting the splendour of western ghats.

  • Florine Roche , Mangalore

    Wed, Feb 02 2011

    The trek to Shiradi Ghat was a state level trek for 3 days and 4 nights Youth Hostel Association of India Mangalore Unit conducts short treks of one or two days every month. For more details please contact Keshava Suvarna, President of YHAI Mangalore unit on mobile- 09449913306 or on mail

  • Lemson, \

    Wed, Feb 02 2011

    I visit this place always when i go to my home town from Bangalore...
    Its a cool place to get relaxed from ur daily schedules

  • Roshni, Bangalore

    Wed, Feb 02 2011

    Thanks for your wonderful description...I enjoyed the trek..while reading your article. Can you please tell me when will be the next trekking expedition scheduled? Thanks in advance..

  • Lydia Lobo, Kadri

    Tue, Feb 01 2011

    Wow ! I trekked along with you through this article ! How I envy you !

    I hope you did not have to pluck leeches this time ! Wish you good health & energy to keep exploring the beauty of nature and continue sharing it with us !

  • Max & Jessie Rasquinha, Mangalore/Houston, Texas

    Tue, Feb 01 2011

    Both Shiradi Ghats as well as Charmadi Ghats are scenic paradises worth exploring for further tourism and fun. Both the routes from Mangalore to Bangalore are indeed beautiful with wide variety of species yet to be researched and publicized. Both these sites can be developed into excellent Parks and wild life areas so that tourists can visit these sites, invest their money and make more and more touriss to visit. The originality of the beauty and the nature need be preserved thru public and private sector interventions.

    Parks and wild life need be preserved with utmost care for which the Govt should step in with lots of amenities for safe and comfortable travels. Govt should arrange to send experts to other countries and learn the technique of preserving these sanctuaries. Decent food joints, recreational facilities added with suitable toilets and rest rooms are equally important for health and hygiene. Preservation of wild species need expertize and constant surveilance. Tourism will bring tourists, and tourists attract new jobs and money. Shiradi Ghats and Charmadi Ghats need decent and safe roads for easy and conveient access.

  • Rohan, Mangalore

    Tue, Feb 01 2011

    Thank you for the wonderful description.Can someone tell me, which clubs organize such trekking? I want to be a part of it.

  • Ajay D'souza, Sakleshpur/Dubai

    Tue, Feb 01 2011

    Well written article..if some body going there in next week please take my German Friends also to that place..they are very much intersted in like this places.Now they are in India.for more info please send me mail.

  • Westor, Kallianpur

    Tue, Feb 01 2011

    Well written article. So far, Shiradi Ghat was known for its notorious roads. Never knew that such a treasure existed in the vicinity.

  • Yogesh Naik, Karwar

    Tue, Feb 01 2011

    Wonderful Write-up.. It was like going there...

  • Subhash, Mangalore

    Tue, Feb 01 2011

    Mr.Ramesh, YHAI does only environment friendly trek. In fact, we have picked up all the plastic enroute thrown by others. You will be surprised to note that even a lady aged 60 years has continuously picked up plastic. May be you are not aware of YHAI motto.

  • Gabriel Vaz, Bangalore

    Tue, Feb 01 2011

    Visually captivating pictures. I hope the pristine beauty of Western Ghats will be preserved for fosterity. Perhaps it could be developed into a wonderful tourist attraction as is being done in many of the Western countries.

  • Sanjeev, Udupi / Bahrain

    Tue, Feb 01 2011

    If you are referring to the first photograph, dear Ramesh, they are mushrooms and not plastic items. A guy eating there is using a eco-friendly organic paper plate!! Sitting in your lazy chair, admire their adventure at least!

  • Ramesh , Mangalore/Belgaum

    Tue, Feb 01 2011

    I think you tool lot of plastic carry bags, food container and thrown it there...

  • Vasant Raj, Udupi/Abudhabi

    Tue, Feb 01 2011

    Spectacular, I wanted to trek this time..

  • Mohan H Naik, managaluru

    Tue, Feb 01 2011

    Lovely pics

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