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Old 19th July 2017, 18:57   #1
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Default An unplanned trek to a magnificent fort hill - Jamalabad

A travelogue about this little known picnic / trekking point near to Kudremukh ranges was in my mind for some time. I could not find any posts specifically for Jamalabad, though I have come across references about it in many travelogues. Finally, after around two years of the actual travel I decided to pen it down and here it goes,

An overnight journey from Bangalore in KSRTC’s Rajahamsa took around seven hours to reach Dharmasthala; as my destination and reason of the travel is not visiting the renowned temple, soon got into a local bus to reach Belthangady. It was only 7AM, and got to know that my friend is running late and is expected only by 10.30AM which translates to more than 3 hours of unplanned free time. Decided to utilize the time effectively, while browsing through the local attractions, found a remote trekking destination, Jamalabad Fort which is not so popular among the local folks itself. On further enquiries, got to know that the fort hill is also known as Gadaikallu and Narasimha Ghada.

Though I did not have any experience of a group or solo trek before, I thought of exploring this place as there is nothing else to do till my friend arrived. Checked with the local people about the distance, direction & conveyance; got into the local bus as they directed. After around 6 kilometers from the town centre, the old guy beside me asked to get down for the hillock. From there, I took an auto rickshaw to reach the destination. Halfway through, I could see the beautiful view of a hill hovering in white misty clouds among the thick vegetation. Driver confirmed that it is my destination. While I was enjoying the scenery, the driver informed that it would be difficult to get a vehicle in that route when I return and gave his mobile number to call him once my business is over.
The driver dropped me in a deserted area near an archway, where few boards were erected boasting about our wildlife diversity.

Boards erected by Forest department,
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There was no one in the vicinity; the driver told that since it is monsoon season, there would be only few visitors, mostly youngsters who come there for partying. The pathway upwards to the deserted hill is covered with thick foliage and trees.

The path uphill is deserted,
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The gate was not locked, but I thought twice before venturing inside; partially because I am the only human being in that area – I realized that I am scared, and partially because of a chance to rain which will make my trek tricky. I could see the washrooms and rest places which are not maintained well. Forest department has put few boards depicting pictures of various fauna common in the Western Ghats. I was worried if one among them was here, what in the world will I do alone.
With all my courage I decided to start the upward journey. Steps made out of stone were slippery due to continuous torrential rain which made my ascent slower than expected. Half way through my trek, I was thinking if I made a bad decision. While I was lost in thought, the surroundings became darker, and suddenly the rain started. After a quick spell, it reduced to a drizzle and continued throughout my trek upwards. The only gear that I had was a cap. After around 20 - 25 minutes, reached a large expanse of rock from where I could see the beauty of the nearby valleys and fields soaked in rain.

Beautiful view from the top,
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From that point, the pathway was not clearly noticeable, and I could not see any direction mark to reach the summit. You make a wrong guess and you will be spending more time in that paradise.

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It is at this point I could hear numerous calls of peacocks, some from the valley and nearby fields and some so close to me, yet I could not locate one.
I had a view of the summit from a vantage point and decided to stop my adventure there. It could be too risky going alone to the top through that slippery surface, with water dripping from everywhere.

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Morning weather got colder with the continuous drizzling and with rain Gods having no plan to show mercy, I decided to take some rest at that point. I munched some biscuits and enjoyed the glorious view. Cold weather, slight drizzle, cool wind and loneliness - perfect ingredients for bliss. If at all I was served with a strong hot tea there, that would have been heaven. Peacocks were still trying to woo the right partner. Could not bear the coldness any more, started my trek downwards after spending some time. While returning also, I did not have any company, could not see any animals portrayed in the boards, not even a squirrel.
While I reached the bottom, the rain stopped, explored the sad state of the amenities, thought about the lost focus on this amazing trekking spot.

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I did not wait for the auto driver but decided to walk till the main road. On the way, I could see a green whip snake across the road. I had to wait for it to move away so that I can continue.

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Near to the Fort’s entrance gate which is in shambles, there were many varieties of birds in numbers enjoying the little sunlight which came down through the rain clouds.

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I did not have enough time or a spare dress to enjoy the cold water in the stream. I moved on.

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After around 3 hours, I am back to the Belthangady town and there I could see my friend waiting for me. I thanked him for being late so that I could do this exploration.

Overall it was a nice experience of my first lone trek which I will remember for long.
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Old 19th July 2017, 19:24   #2
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The delay was a bless in disguise for you. Nice episode of your experience at Gadaikal. Unplanned trips are always more memorable than the planned ones. It's surprising to see that you weren't attacked by the leeches there!
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Old 21st July 2017, 16:43   #3
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Default Re: An unplanned trek to a magnificent fort hill - Jamalabad

Originally Posted by kptraveller View Post
The delay was a bless in disguise for you. Nice episode of your experience at Gadaikal. Unplanned trips are always more memorable than the planned ones. It's surprising to see that you weren't attacked by the leeches there!
Yes, you are right, unplanned trips are more memorable. And, I did not notice any leeches up there.

Forgive me for the poor picture quality, I did not have any camera with me, and I was using my beloved Nokia Lumia 720. Its fantastic camera with the Carl Zeiss system managed this much. I still have that Microsoft phone which I am using as a backup.
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