Off the beaten track in Somwarpet

A nondescript town in the lap of the majestic Pushpagiri mountain, Kumarahally’s geography makes it the perfect place to look for some solitary adventures, writes B V Prakash

Not all those who wander are lost, said a great man once; it surely must be the love of adventure. During my latest visit to Coorg, I decided to give the usual sights a miss and filled with an urge to explore the unseen, I deviated towards Somwarpet to drive through the primitive villages spread across the mountain ranges of the majestic Pushpagiri.

The destination was the nondescript town of Kumarahally. Also called Kumarally (in short), this town has nothing to boast of as a tourist destination; it is just one of the many small towns with similar names such as Shantalli, Kundalli, Bidalli and Bachalli through which one has to pass. However, it serves as a good base from which you can foray into a couple of interesting and exciting locales.

Leaving Somwarpet by afternoon, I headed north-west, breezing past the lush coffee estates and the green fields shining bright in the afternoon sun. After about five kilometres, a deviation to the left led me to a rustic settlement. Named Abbi Matha, this settlement is a religious place where devotees come for worship. But for others, it is a popular picnic spot thanks to the presence of the Abbi Matha Falls. The two-tier cascade may not steal the show, but it is impressive in its austere simplicity — surely an interesting diversion to break the 20-km journey to Kumarally. A dilapidated mutt premises can be visited here. Getting back on the track, I continued my journey towards Kumarally; the remaining journey was covered in half an hour and before dusk, I had reached my destination. The homestay at Kumarally — there is only one — is the ideal place to spend the night before exploring the locales nearby.

The nearest and most sought after sight here is the enchanting waterfalls of Mallalli. If you take the kuchcha road that goes beside the homestay, within a little less than three kilometres, you reach the famed waterfalls. However, driving on the slippery muddy stretch into the valley is indeed a torture. Mornings are the ideal time to visit the falls which are a sight to behold during sunrise. So at dawn, while still dark, I headed for the falls. After driving two kilometres on the treacherous path, I chose to walk the remaining way which proved to be a pleasant experience thanks to the fresh air and the sweet call of the birds. As I reached the edge of the wide gorge, I was left dumbfounded by the sheer beauty of the white cascades rolling down gently. I had all the time in the world to admire its beauty and also walk down all the way to its base.

From the front, the two distinct falls, each with its own form, appeared even more charming. The river Kumaradhara, which flows from here, tumbles down over short drops at a couple of places before joining the Netravathi at Uppinangadi. Rejuvenated from the astounding beauty in front of me, the tough climb back hardly mattered. On the way, I remembered the suggestion of my host Ponnappa and traced a trail through the coffee estates to see an unknown little falls which he said was called the mini-Mallalli falls.

Back at the homestay, after relishing a typically Coorgi breakfast of Votti (rice chapathi) and a cup of refreshing coffee, I drove up to Heggademane, a sleepy town six kilometres away. These places are familiar to trekkers as the trek to Pushpagiri begins from here. But you don’t have to be one to enjoy the panoramic view of the tall rounded peak rising into the blue sky from a lush forest. The Shantamallikarjuna temple here is worth visiting. In recent times, it has undergone a thorough improvement. The 850-year-old Champaka tree in the backyard is something that must not be missed.

Another interesting spot nearby is a hilly tract called Pattepare, which has some strange heaps of stones. Placed in triangular cairns of pebbles with a small opening, these were used as hideouts by erstwhile soldiers in times of battles, according to Ponnappa. There are also caves with narrow entrances. Though the whole place looked bizarre, it did evoke a feeling of belonging to a bygone era. With the sight of the mountain peak, the charming falls, the temple and clusters of age old cairns, Kumarally had me captivated.

How to get there

Kumarally is 20 kilometres from Somwarpet which is well connected with other cities. Though buses go to Kumarally it is easy to visit the spots with own transport in a day. The only homestay here provides food and accommodation.

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