Intro: Mandalpatti Peak, a well-known name to the locals but relatively less familiar to the tourists, is a fascinating place to visit. Mandalpatti Peak is situated approximately 30 kilometers from Madikeri, Karnataka. The Peak is 4050 feet above the sea level and offers some of the exquisite views in South India. Reaching the Mandalpatti viewpoint might be a bit tricky because of travel and logistical issues. But I reckon, the effort is all worth it. In this guide, I will share my personal experience about the trip to Mandalpatti Peak and hopefully instill the idea of adding this location to your travel list.
As per my Karnataka trip itinerary, Mandalpatti was scheduled on day 3 of the 5-day trip. My entourage consisted of 15 people from various professions and background, all got together by our mutual love to travel. The day before, we camped at the serene Harangi Backwaters and stayed the night on the banks of the reservoir. Having spent the night photographing the Milkyway Galaxy, most of the folks slept only for an hour or two. Our plan to reach Mandalpatti Peak was at least an hour before the sunrise because we planned to shoot the time-lapse of the beautiful Sun rising from behind the Ghats. We had a local friend from Madikeri to guide us to the location. We started from Harangi as early as 3 AM and paced towards the infamous Peak. Our convoy included five bikes and two cars, which the local guy said won’t manage to climb the steep muddy paths towards the Peak. We had to reach the base camp and park our vehicles and then hire a jeep for the last 10 kilometers. The roads that led to the base camp were hilly and narrow. The visibility was very bad, and the weather was not helping as it was too cold for me to ride the bike. After an hour, we reached the base camp and was surprised to find that one of our bikes did not make it to the location with us. This is another issue with riding in groups at unknown places.
The time was around four, and I did not want to miss the sunrise and so informed the group to stay in the base camp for the other rider and started my bike with a pillion. This decision was both fruitful and bad in a couple of ways. It was good because I had ample time on the way to stop and take photos of the scenery, and also I made it on time before others. Meanwhile, it was very difficult because: the route was very confusing with several branching off-roads; almost got bitten by an enormous bulldog when we tried to enquire the route at a house; the last two kilometers was practically impossible for a rider to climb – especially with a heavy rig like a Royal Enfield Classic 350.
The Home Stretch: The last two kilometers to reach the Peak is incredibly steep – in fact, one of the steepest off-road I have ever ridden, which was comparatively difficult than the Himalayas for me. The off-road is made up of soft sand and huge boulders, which was half the size of my bike tires. Getting off the bike and pushing the bike uphill is even tougher. But it is the only option to avoid horrific injuries. With the help of my pillion, I finally made my way to the parking spot of the Peak to find that all my friends comfortably made it to the location on time. Although I don’t regret my decision, I would strongly advise you to hire a Jeep from the base camp as it is the best way to reach the Peak. I learned the lesson the hard way – ultimately, it is all about the experience.
A Short Trek: After completing the arduous ride to the Mandalpatti Peak’s parking, we gathered around and shared our experiences about the ride. The time was a quarter past five, and the weather was just right – chilly, windy, and pleasant. Looking around, we could not contain our excitement as it was full of white foamy clouds hovering around the nearby peaks. The Sun was about to peek out from the hills. We decided to reach the top of the Peak for a better rewarding view of the surroundings. It is a very short trek of just 1 kilometer, and the path is also pretty easy to trail through. It just took 15-20 minutes for us to reach the top.
Mandalpatti, otherwise known as “Mugilu-Pete” in Kannada, means “Abode of Clouds.” As the name suggests, the first thing you would notice on the Peak is the surreal interaction of the Cumulus Clouds with the surrounding hills. The Mandalpatti Peak offered a 360-degree view of the surrounding terrain. A perfect mix of Dopamine and Serotonin was gushing within our heads. These picturesque views make travel an addiction for me. The Sun was still hidden behind a hill in the far east, but the first light filled up the horizon.
The clouds above us shone in a bright orange color while the clouds below us tried to reflect that as it had a hint of orange to its otherwise milky white gloss. I set my cameras to capture the sunrise, while others were in a world of their own, trying to capture the beauty in its natural essence. After setting up the camera in time-lapse mode, I just sat and was waiting for the Sun to show up – all the while trying not to miss the dance of the clouds around.
The Sunrise: One of the most important customary routines that I have on my trips is to witness Sunrises and Sunsets whenever possible. In case of a bike ride, I would just stop my bike on the road for 5 minutes, take a small break to observe the event, recollect the memories of the day, and move ahead with gratification. But unlike all those memories, this one sunrise is much more significant for me, for it had a profound impact on me. Overall, after spending up to a half-hour in solitude, savoring the beauty of the place, I joined with the group who were at the other end of the peak clicking selfies. All of us had our turns to take the perfect picture in several backdrops as possible and ended the session with group pictures.
The Return: On reaching the parking spot, we found our jeep driver to be furious as we took more than the allocated time of 1 hour. After convincing him, I decided to travel in the jeep and gave the bike to a friend. I realized the downhill travel was equally hard as I was sitting in the back seat trying to capture the moment in my phone. My friend, who was riding my bike downhill, fell twice in that treacherous off-road. Fortunately, he ended up having a couple of scratches in his limbs and shoulder pain for about a week as the bike fell on him. It could have gotten worse as the dip was sharp and perilous. The jeep ride was spunky as the driver was experienced to navigate those roads skillfully. Finally, we reached the base camp after a short half-hour ride. A small shop was open with home-made tea available where we gathered around for twenty minutes to catch up with the bikers. Finally, we set off from the base camp to our next location – Abbey Waterfalls.
How to Travel: Mandalpatti Peak is an appropriate choice of a weekend getaway if you are from Bangalore. If you are traveling from elsewhere, the best way to reach the spot is through roadways. Nearest Railway station and Airport is at Mangalore. Buses are widely available to Madikeri from where you have to hire a jeep to the Peak. Personal vehicles till the base camp are the best option, as it gives you the much-needed comfort and luxury.
When to Travel: One of the main factors to consider while planning your trip to Mandalpatti Peak is the weather. Strictly avoid traveling to Mandalpatti during the rainy season, as it would give you a whole host of problems. Roads leading to the base camp would be damaged due to the rains which you might find tolerable, but the off-road from base camp to the Peak would be in smithereens. Visibility would be bad as well, but some might embrace it. The best time to visit Mandalpatti Peak would be from March – June. I visited the location during the first week of May, which was just perfect. If you want to be more adventurous, you can visit during winter months too. But beware of the intense mist which makes the visibility drop to below 1 meter. Apart from that, the timing of the visit is also important as summer afternoons might be harsh, with no cover to rest under. Try to make it to the Peak during sunrise or sunset to enjoy the rewarding views and apt conditions.
What to Carry: As far as luggage is concerned, it is the usual essentials you must have at all times for travel. Carry light luggage and comfortable hiking shoes. The trek at the Peak is easy even for beginners.
What to Do: As mentioned multiple times above, Mandalpatti Peak is stunning for its scenic terrain. Apart from the scenery, trekking from the base is a popular choice. There are a couple of trails to trek this Peak from the base. To trek, you need to get the right permissions from the forest officials and then buy tickets from guards at the base. In the case of trekking, equip yourself with the trekking essentials. Carry adequate water as you will not find any source of water on the way. In normal conditions, the place is open from 6 AM to 6 PM. The price of the ticket is Rs.25 per person. You can also contact the Mandalpatti range office for inquiries at 7411540530. And remember, do not litter during your trek as this is an eco-friendly forest zone and the officials might fine you heavily. You can also get permission for an overnight stay in tents, but the regulations are stricter than before.
If you are planning a trip to a serene hill station in South India, Coorg will mostly be one of the popular choices. Generally, tourists visit Coorg for a couple of days and would prefer spending time in and around the town, as there are few worthwhile places to visit around Coorg. That’s where tourists miss out on this hidden gem – The Mandalpatti Peak. The Peak offers something for everybody – be it a passionate photographer or an amateur trekker. If you have any queries related to the travel, do let me know. Drop a comment to share your experiences in case you have previously visited Mandalpatti Peak. Cheers and safe travel!