As it had been a long time since we trekked in western Ghats, me and my husband decided that it was time to go again. Since the season for trek was almost over and forests were becoming dry, we didn’t get the permits to the treks we desired initially. That didn’t waver us. It had been 10 years ago that I had trekked Nagamalai, so we decided its time to go again. When I checked with few of my cousins most of them agreed and we were 14 us in a short span. I took some special forest department permits to make it a cross over trek.
Since we were in a bigger number, I hired a TT or else you can catch a bus from Bangalore to Kollegala and from there you can change to MM Hills. We left on Saturday evening around 5 and reached MM Hills by 10.15PM and checked in into our rooms. We took a complete rest in the night so that we can start our trek early in the morning.
“Nagamalai” is a one of the many hills of the Male Mahadeshwara Betta (M M hills) range. It’s a popular pilgrimage place now. Nagamalai and surrounding areas served home to the sandalwood bandit Veerappan some time back. These areas are safe to visit. This place is considered sacred, since here, the rock resembles a shiva linga sheltered from the sun rays under the hood of a snake. This rock is said to be of Lord Mahadeshwara doing his penance. A snake opened its hood and stood behind the Lord in order to protect him from the sun light. Over time, both of them turned into rocks.
Nagamalai is moderately difficult trekking place from Malai Mahadeshwara Betta (MM Hills). It is around 220 km from Bengaluru and around 150km from Mysore. Nagamalai is around 12-13 km from MM Hills temple. Jeep track is there for about 7 km. Jeeps are available from the MM Hills with a reasonable price. Jeep Stops in a village called Indiganatha. We took a jeep ride from MM Hills till Indiganatha. It’s a bumpy ride and there were 16-17 of us stuffed in one jeep (apart from driver). The jeep guy had put a loud music in which Folk songs related to Mahadeshwara was being played. We had our breakfast in Indiganatha and were all set with full enthusiasm to start the trek.
It would be better if you start early in the morning to avoid the hot sun. The route from MM hills to Nagamale is less of a trail and more of a village road. This is in fact a pilgrimage trail taken by people to reach Nagamale. Though the entire trail distance is 14km, the terrain is mostly easy since there is no great altitude variation. The way all along is very scenic which will reduce your tiredness. You will get small villages throughout the trek. You can see lot of devotees walking barefoot from MMhills to Nagamalai. You can see lots of small shops and sign boards indicating the route. You will reach Nagamalai village after 5 kms. We ordered our Lunch here and went ahead to complete the trek till Nagamalai temple. The two huge rocks, one in the form of lingam and another in the form of the snakehood protecting that lingam together makes Nagamalai. Our Guide made us go through the temple premises in bare foot and we took the blessings. Guide is not required if you go through the Indiganatha route. We took a guide as we came down towards Palar instead on MM hills.
After enjoying the amazing views from Nagamalai, one of the forest dept employee along with our guide took us to Watch tower. This tower is 1 km from temple. You can see the magnificent kaveri river and dam along with mesmerizing views. we decided to rest for some time post that. We started our descent and reached the village where we had ordered lunch. We had our lunch here and started the most splendid descent towards palar.
This route was very beautiful and scenic. The forests were thick. The path was serene, and we crossed a few hills and clambered down the valleys. We were also able to spot an Elephant dung, which looked a day or two old. The locals cautioned us about elephants crossing over. We were excited &scared about the chances of spotting an elephant. Unfortunately, they seemed to have found their way deep into the forest.
We made our way through the thick and thorny forests, while i was anxiously looking at the tree tops few of my cousins heard alarm calls. At one point they made us stop and according to them there was some wild activity going on. However, Me, Gaahaaa!!, As if looking for a leopard out to pounce at me and hold my throat! With such a big loud group chances of finding a big cat or any carnivorous were negative.
Fate though, gave us another chance.. another around of loud alarm calls started. we couldn’t spot anything.. Probably the leopard/tiger or some wild animal spotted us and thought “Eating Cholesterol filled humans is bad for my health and instead I must feast on Sambar/Guars which is healthy”.
Our guide showed us few spots where Veerappan and his gang were once hiding. After a tiring final few kilometers of walk, we finally emerged out of forests and entered the Palar-Gopinatham jeep road. From there we reached Palar big lake around by 4.15PM. we could see the forest office from that place. But Lake was beautiful and serene, and guys wanted to take a swim. We took some time swimming in the lake for 45 mins. By then, we had told our TT driver to wait near forest office and forest officers sent TT till the lake to check if we have reached and if so to pick us from that place. After a relaxing swim, we bid our Adieu stating the official end of our trek.
Altogether, a wonderful place to experience trekking amidst the deciduous forest. Though the trek is an easy one, one’s stamina for long walks is tested for sure. There is well laid path all along. It is advisable to carry drinking water.
Our Guide along the two kids who accompanied us came all the way in bare foot. We dropped them in MM Hills. And reluctantly started our journey back to Bangalore by 7.
Directions from Bangalore : Bangalore- Maddur – Kolegal – Hannur – MM hills
Distance from Bangalore: 225 kms
Places around to visit : Hogenakkal Falls , Bandallidurga Fort , various peaks for trekking like rudrakshimalai
Best season: Post monsoon (Oct – Feb)
Trek Distance : From MM hills ~13 Kms. From Indiganatha ~6 Kms to Nagamalai. ~11 kms to Palar from Nagamalai
Trek difficulty: easy to moderate
Entry fee + Guide fee = 700 Guide fee + Entry fee 50 Rs per person
Total cost of trip per person = 1550 Rs (includes TT Cost from Bangalore, Room rent in MM hills + Food+ Entry fee + Guide charge +tips and other misc. charges)
Food: We have lot of food options in MM Hills or you can order food in Nagamalai village.
Stay: Best option to stay is in MM hills. You can even arrange an stay in Nagamalai village. You can check once you reach there.