How a wrong google map time estimation helped me in achieving my longest trek #VellagaviTrek

Location: Kodaikanal : Dolpin nose – Vellagavi – Kumbakkarai falls trail (India)

Total distance – 25kms (return)
Duration – 12 hours+
Difficulty level – Moderate/Difficult
Elevation – Highest point(dolphin nose)- 2000m.
Lowest point (kumbakkarai falls)- 400m
Best time to visit – Sept/Oct

First statement after finishing the trek – “F**k! Lag gai”


Things not to expect:

  1. A running trail- You will have to keep jumping/walking/limping/crawling till the end.
  2. Expect it to finish in 3 hours as per google maps- It took us 12 hours and an overnight camping to finish this.
  3. A big waterfall at the end- Kumbakarai is a small waterfall. Authorities don’t even accept that it is a trail. They will ask for waterfalls permissions from forest dept.  Have confidence and just sneak in
  4. A great restaurant and food options on the way- We ran out of food.
  5. Too scenic that you will be dumbstruck n mesmerized by the beauty of the trail – Keep your expectations low. Chances are – you might not even get time to stop and enjoy the beauty.
  6. A good parking spot near dolphin nose – The way to dolphin nose is small and tricky by car. Many people prefer to park their car in Vatakanal and then walk till dolphin nose.
  7. Too many backpackers on the trail – you might not get even anyone except a handful of locals


Things to Expect:

  1. Amazing roads to Kodai from bangalore
  2. Highly hospitable locals.
  3. Small water streams as you walk.
  4. Peaceful forest with no one around.
  5. Avocado, orange, Amla, cotton trees!
  6. Big squirrels ( of the size of your cat)
  7. A truly rejuvenating experience of seeing how people live in this extremely unreachable area and still meet their needs.
  8. complete downhill climb while going and uphill while coming
  9. fellow travelers – (mostly till dolphin nose)
  10. lots of sweating and body ache
  11. God forbid- Wild Bison


Things to carry:

  1. Tent
  2. Plenty of water (we carried 3 liters of water for 2 of us), but fell short of water.
  3. Food/ snack bars
  4. Portable charger
  5. First aid.

Our plan to Kodai was quite impromptu (like most of our plans). We had a 4 days holiday. We wanted to visit Mangalore to take surfing lessons but hubby sprained his wrist. So we couldn’t go for surfing and hence we decided to go for a trek instead.

It was a 450 kms journey from home to Kodai that was already giving us nightmares. It was 3pm till which we were still indecisive and then we took a  leap of faith and started for Kodai with water/food supplies and tent loaded in our car. We were mentally ok with staying at some place on the way to avoid driving in the night.

Day 1: Bangalore to Palani
To our surprise, the roads from Bangalore to Kodai are excellent and we mostly maintained the speed of 100-140kmph. After a couple of food breaks, we reached Palani by 8:30 pm. Palani is a small town 50kms away from Kodai. The hotels in Palani are quite affordable and it saves you from driving on the hilly roads over the night.

Normally it takes 1.5 – 2hrs to reach Dolphin nose from Kodai if traffic isn’t bad.


Day 2: Palani – Dolphin Nose – Vellagavi

We after great difficulty reached Dolphin Nose view-point place by our car. By the time we reached the parking area of Dolphin Nose, it was already 4pm. From there, till Dolphin nose, it was 20mins trek.

According to google maps, it was a 2.5 hours long trek so we thought we can finish it in a day. My intial plan was for finish this half a day trek on day 1 and then go for 8 hours trek on the second day. As it was already evening by the time we reached Dolhphin nose (thanks to traffic in Kodai on the long weekend), we decided to camp near the waterfall. We started our trek with some food, water, spare clothes and tent. There was a village named Vellagavi at the mid point of the trek where we thought we can pitch our tent.

After 2 hours of non stop descend, we found a local who was heading to the village. He became our host and guide for the rest of the trip.

It took us 2 hours 45 mins to reach Vellagavi from dolphin nose. The local with us – Indran- was very helpful. He invited us to his home, offered us coffee once we reached the village and also offered us to put up our tent. We realized that our food also had gone bad, so his neighbour offered us dinner too.

The village is a small village with 20-30 houses max. The only way to enter and exit it was through this trail. But still there was electricity supply and people had TV in their houses too. Made me wonder how they carry things all the way from city to their house


Day 3:

We woke up early morning and started our trek by 8am. Google told the waterfall was 5ms away. We were halfway through the trek (at Vellagavi) as per maps and it was only downhill so we thought we estimated that we should reach in 3 hours. After a certain point, the trek became confusing and we felt like we lost our way.  We continued walking for the next one hour and finally met some villagers who guided us for the next one hour. In total, it took us 4 hours to reach the waterfall, only to find that it wasn’t as big as I expected. But who cares! We jumped right away into the water.


So we came to the other part of the trek. Now we were supposed to go all the way back and that too uphill. It was already 12 noon. We were low on drinking water. We filled one of our empty bottles with the water of the waterfall and started walking backward. Our food was also over. The climb was tougher than what I was mentally prepared for. One wrong turn and I wouldn’t have had the energy to return. Yes, we did take a wrong turn, but thankfully we didn’t go very far off and luckily met a villager who directed us to the right way.


After a couple of hours of walk, we were hungry, thirsty and tired. There was no sight of the village and we were still trying to keep walking. We saw a small waterfall on the roadside and we decided to take a dip. Felt a little fresh. A little ahead, someone called. He was a local who was collecting avocados from the forest. He offered us one. It was a huge avocado that quenched both our thirst and hunger. Happily, we tipped him and moved ahead.

It was 5pm by the time we reached the village.



We got our water supply filled at the village. There is a small tent like house where they serve maggie and offer a resting place. Straightened our backs for an hour. And then or the next 4 hours from 6pm, we continuously walked till we reached dolphin nose again. It was an uphill climb. Moonlit jungle, fear of animals , limited waterWe looked back to see the village we crossed, the mountains we climbed. It was all quiet, seemed quite far. The feet didn’t want to move anymore. Somehow we managed to climbed the stairs to reach the restaurants at dophin point. Asked them for some lemon water to bring ourselves back to senses. It was the longed trek we did. A sense of achievement was already there.

The village has left so many memories in my mind. We talked to the villagers about the schooling of their kids, they way they manage to run their houses. It was incredible. May be some day again, when I will have more strength to walk, I would like to go back to vellagavi again. A beautiful peaceful village….

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