[Continued from Part I here]
Mullayanagiri, standing at 1930 metres is supposed to be the highest peak in between the Himalayas and the Nilgiris. Although with over a hundred mountains exceeding 7200 metres in height (3.7 times that of Mullayanagiri), the Himalayas are miles above (ignore the stupid pun) the Western Ghats.
On a tangential note, here is an interesting question I was once asked about why people cannot simply take a helicopter ride to the highest peaks in the Himalayas. The answer involves physics. Helicopters rise by pushing the air down using their rotor blades. So when the rotor blades push a lot of air down, at a certain point, the ‘lift’ induced by the pushed air is enough to overcome the weight of the helicopter – thereby causing the helicopter to rise straight up. When it comes to mountain ranges like the Himalayas, at a certain altitude (around 6000 metres if I remember correctly), the air becomes so thin that the rotating blades cannot derive any more lift. Hence, the thin air at that height becomes a limiting factor when it comes to helicopters trying to rise up.
Coming back to our trip, the original plan for Sunday was to be up by around 5.30 am so that we could catch the sunrise in all its glory atop the highest peak in Karnataka. As is wont to happen in such situations, a majority of us overslept till around 6. That is when somebody had the good sense to wake up the others. We got ready hurriedly and rushed to our vehicle. By around 6.30 we were on our way to Mullayanagiri.
There is a motorable road from the base of the hills to Mullayanagiri and although being a narrow road (we encountered a Force traveller coming at us from the opposite direction on a road barely enough for two vehicles), it offers a scenic ride. We passed through coffee estates, a few paddy fields at the base, through some tall trees and forests on both sides of the road and all this while, the sun cast an ethereal glow at everything we could see. Accompanying us that morning was a cool, gentle breeze; it was turning out to be a picture perfect start to the day.
We reached the peak soon enough (by 7am I should think) and as soon as we got out of the vehicle, the morning cold hit us like a brick wall. My ears started screaming with pain due to the cold wind blowing at that height but we were too enthused by what lay in front of us to care about anything else. Surprisingly though, the sun wasn’t clearly visible from the peak owing to a thick layer of mist that engulfed the peak from all directions. It wasn’t all bad though, the little bits of sunlight reaching out through the mist felt warm and comforting.
We did visit the temple inside but I didn’t capture any photographs inside the temple compound. You see, I was too busy trying watching my step on the cow dung-carpet-bombed ground. It is a miracle we came out of that place without ‘cutting the cake’ even once. At one point, I almost placed my hand on a pile of mud while trying to take a photograph, only realizing at the very last moment that it was a pile of dried cow dung.
Buoyed at such a rewarding experience early in the morning, we rode back with much cheer in our hearts and checked out from the hotel. However, we soon realized that Ayyanakere fell in a completely different direction from our itinerary for the day and heading there would have cost us another 1-2 hours at the least. So it is, that we skipped the idea of Ayyanakere, the very reason why I decided on Chikmagalur in the first place (this was the second time something like this had happened to me). After a quick breakfast again, we were on the road to our next destination – the district of Hassan, with absolutely zero expectations of the astonishing attractions that lay ahead of us.
[Continued in Part III here]