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Trekking or Tracking!

Hemanta Chandra Bhatt writes about his "tracking" experience, along the 19 km railway tracks from Donigal to Yedakumeri. He was accompanied by his friends, Anup Kumar, Nataraj R and Siddhu Halli.

track Tracking - What else would you call trekking on railway tracks? The railway track along Donigal-Yedakumeri is part of the Bangalore-Mangalore meter-gauge railway line that was operational till 1988. Donigal is approximately 225 Kms from Bangalore. To go there one has to take a bus that goes towards Mangalore or Dharamsthala and request the conductor/driver to stop the bus at Donigal railway station near the temple.

Four of us went on this fabulous trek towards the beginning of June 2002 in the rainy season. We started from Bangalore at 10.45 PM in a KSRTC general bus - which I love to call the "Red" bus. The bus route from Sakleshpur to Donigal is along the Western Ghats and quite enjoyable. Reaching there at 4:15 a.m., after a cup of coffee to refresh us, we walked 2 kms down the hill to reach Devasthana Temple. Finding a small hotel we hungrily wolfed down some great idlis and got some packed for the way. Reaching Donigal station in 15 minutes we started hiking along the railway track towards Yedakumeri.

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The route has many bridges and tunnels along the way, in surprisingly good condition after so many years of neglect. There are many places along the track where one suddenly gets a panoramic view of the surrounding hills. During the monsoons, the clouds are a visual delight and walking in the rain provides it's own inimical pleasure. For some distance, the rail track runs adjacent to a jeep track. The bridges along the way are without any railings.track To cross them one has to step onto the wooden/metal logs placed at around 20-30 cms apart. Looking down can be plenty scary. The first, almost 100 m, long bridge unnerved us, all being a new experience. We crossed several tunnels, between 50 to 600 meters long. Most were in good condition, albeit requiring high-beam torches to negotiate the pitch dark, accompanied by the sounds of bats flying.

We spent the day walking at a leisurely pace, enjoying the novelty of the experience and the sheer beauty of the deserted surroundings. We finally reached Yedakumeri around 4.00 pm., and walked another 3.5 kms to reach the Bangalore-Mangalore main road. Close to the main road is a welcome water source. Tired but strangely refreshed, we hitched a ride with a lorry bound for Sakleshpur, an hour's drive away. After a welcome dinner we boarded the 11.00 pm bus, reaching Bangalore at 4.00 a.m.

Do's & don'ts:

  1. Carry something to eat (you won't get anything on the way)
  2. Carry salt to get rid of the leeches that cling to you, and be well-covered against the many insects.
  3. Avoid excess luggage, since you will have to carry it. But do carry a change of clothing and adequate raingear.

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