Trekking along the "Green Route" was always on my mind and I got a chance to do that with a friend. We decided to keep it a low budget trip as we were fresh from a 3-day trip the previous week. So we decided to go by ordinary KSRTC bus.
We reached Kempegowda Bus terminus and enquired about the last bus to Sakleshpur. Finally boarded a Karnataka Sarige bus at 12am. We reached Sakleshpur at 5am in the morning. We started off for Donigal in sometime which was the starting point of our trek. We hired an auto and it took around 15 mins to reach Donigal railway station. We freshened up at the station. Normal passenger trains don't halt at Donigal apart from technical halts. There was one station master at the station and nobody else when we went there. We started our trek from Donigal knowing that it would not be an easy one with over 15+ kms to cover. The beginning of the trek was not too exciting but we had read in other blogs that it gets interesting as the trek advances.
The beauty of the place suddenly increased as we saw the first bridge. The only noise we could hear was of the birds chirping and trees swaying with the winds. As we moved on we realised why this place is called the Green Route.
Further ahead we came across many people working on the railway tracks. They are assigned some daily tasks everyday and the inspection officer from PWD takes daily rounds to make sure everything is in place. We talked with them for sometime. They even warned us that the PWD officer might ask us to go back as he is very strict so advised us to think and proceed. We decided to take the plunge and proceeded further. A few meters from there we saw the first tunnel which was 239m long. It was like entering a huge cave, with droplets of water falling from the ceiling and eerie sound made by bats. It was a curve so light abandoned us from both sides and it was pitch dark. And our normal torches could light up only a small distance. We walked slowly and finally could see light at the end of the tunnel. It started drizzling and suddenly began to pour down heavily. Luckily we came across a small lonely tent where we quickly went inside for shelter. I carried a portable stove so we decided to prepare some tea for ourselves. It has a small stove with a camphor-like thing for flame. We lighted it and put the water to boil. We prepared the tea and it had stopped raining as well. So we decided to march ahead. The scenery kept getting better as we were walking and the cloudy weather and pleasant breeze added to it. We came across lot of waterfalls and words cannot describe the feeling. Then after covering about 12 kms we saw a small railway station called Hangarahalli. We crossed it and then decided to break for lunch with a huge tunnel ahead of us. We saw the Mangalore-Yesvantpur express coming out of the tunnel and was nice to watch. We noticed that all the trains heading towards Donigal from Subramanya road have to be pulled by one engine in the front and pushed by 2 engines from the back. This is because of the elevation which we were told that there is an elevation of 1 feet after every 100 meters. After lunch we took a 10 minute quick nap and continued towards Yedekumari. We crossed 2 small tunnels and 2 big ones before we saw someone guarding the tracks with a red flag. On asking him he said that some maintenance work is in progress on the other side of the tunnel so he was supposed to stop any train from entering it. We entered the tunnel which was around half a kilometre long. As he had told some work was going on the tracks at the exit of the tunnel. And unfortunately for us the PWD officer was monitoring the work. He stopped us from proceeding further and didn't allow us even after pleading. Finally disappointed, we came back to the guard and asked him for a solution. On his advice, we decided to head back towards the Hangarahalli railway station which we had left a couple of kilometres back. We started backtracking and finally reached the station in 30 mins. It was around 4pm and we got a waiting room to rest and spend the rest of our day and night. We immediately crashed to sleep and woke up at 7pm. In the evening after dinner we met a couple of villagers who worked for the railways who were telling about the nature of their work. They were supposed to work in shifts and it involved going 6kms and back on the track to make sure everything is fine. This person Hemanth was having his shift from 1am to 5am in the morning. He suggested that we take the 4am train to Subramanya Road and get a bus to Bangalore from there. We did exactly that. The train came at around 4:20am and reached Subramanya Road at 6:10am. We took a jeep to the bus stand. At the bus stand we decided to go to Gundya checkpost as the number of buses to Bangalore would be more. We reached Gundya at 8:10am and immediately got a bus to Bangalore. The journey back was also very pleasant with lot of waterfalls on the way near Shiradi Ghat though the roads were pathetic. We finally reached Bangalore at around 3pm in the afternoon.
How to reach:
Plenty of KSRTC buses available from Bangalore to Sakleshpur. At Sakleshpur, hire an autorickshaw to Donigal Railway Station. Start trekking from Donigal, to Yedekumari or Hadagarahlli. Halt at either of these places. Take early morning train 16517 Yesvantpur-Kannur express and get down at Subramanya road. From Kukke Subramanya plenty of buses available to Bangalore.
Alternately, travel from Bangalore to Yedekumari by train by 16517 Yesvantpur-Kannur express. The reservation has to be done till Subramanya Road (SBHR) as there is no official stop at Yedekumari. Watch out for Yedekumari station between 4:15 to 5:00am. The train halts there only for 2 mins. Get down and relax till day break. Start trekking by 6am and reach Donigal station at around 4pm. Hire a jeep or auto from the main road outside the station to Sakleshpur bus stand. From Sakleshpur, plenty of buses available to Bangalore.
Things to remember: Carry sleeping bags as it is not convenient to sleep at these places. Carry plenty of eatables and water, Raincoats in case of rainy season, a powerful torch.