Valikunja Trek

In the year 1993, I was in grade 8. During the holidays, I enrolled myself for a camp called Spring Time. Children from the neighbouring schools had joined this week-long camp. On the last day, the organisers decided to take us on a trek in the Western ghats. 

After a bus ride of about two hours, we reached the base of the mountain. We followed our trek lead through the dense forest. Even in April, there were some leeches on the trail and that made this walk difficult at times. 

Around lunch time, most of them gave up and wished not to continue. It was therefore decided that two smaller groups of interested children would be formed to scale the summit. I was obviously a part of it. 

So, we continued the journey. But unfortunately, this too did not work out. A few more kilometres into the dense forest, the two groups got separated and we were lost. There was no designated trail and that is what made it so difficult. There was only one person who had an idea of the trail. After some screaming and shouting for help we finally reunited with the other group. The trek leaders did not want to take any further risk and therefore decided to return back. 


I remember returning back home with a leech in my shoe. The leech was completely swollen by drinking enough blood from my feet. The sight of blood near the wound resulted in me developing a leech phobia. It took me several years to get rid of it. 

I returned back unhappy with this unsuccessful attempt. When I began trekking seriously during my mid-twenties, I occasionally tried to enquire about this trek. But nobody had any clue of this trail or trek. So, I gave up. For all these years, I lived with the disappointment of not having completed my first trek in the Western Ghats. 

30 years later, I am back at the same place. It took me a long time to get here - At the peak of Valikunja. 

Valikunja / Ajjikunja

Highest Altitude: 1089 m (3573 ft)

Location: Kudremukh National Park/ Karkala

State/Country: Karnataka / India

Base Village: Kerekatte

Total Distance: 20km (Return)

Number of Days: 1 Day

Difficulty Level: Moderate


I was retuning back from Bandaje falls trek two weeks ago when one of the trekkers mentioned that he wanted to do Valikunja trek but since it was full, he had chosen Bandaje falls. I was delighted to hear that name again after a long time. I learnt from the organisers (BMC - Bangalore Mountaineers Club) that this was a new trek and the first trek had happened that same weekend and there was one more scheduled after two weeks. I immediately signed up for it. 

On Friday the 8th of September, I boarded the BMC bus. I befriended Arun in the bus. We had a good conversation about trekking and work. When we stopped for dinner, I got to know a few more trekkers.

We reached Bella homestay at around 6AM. By 7:30AM, soon after breakfast, we were ready to leave. We had to drive another one and half hour to reach Kerekatte. At Kerekatte forest department office, our trek leads got the necessary permissions. We need to pay Rs250 per head and submit the identity proof. You will also have to make prior registration at this page - Kudremukh National Park.

Next, we took a jeep ride for about 5km in the deep jungle.  We had to duck our head to avoid the branches. At a point the jeeps had to stop and we began to trek. The area was filled with leeches. There were thousands of them and as soon as they sensed the heat of our body, they all came crawling towards us. 


We had a local guide, Upendra.  He wore a chappal and kept plucking the leeches off with his knife. I was a bit underprepared for this. Since my socks was only up to the ankle, several leeches gathered there. After a point, I had to let them be. It was impossible to get them all off. I tried to use some Dettol or soap water to get rid of few but it was impossible to remove them all. So, I ignored them and continued to walk. 

The entire trail was filled with leeches. We walked in the jungle for a long time and then reached a grass land. It was raining all through and we had no view of the surroundings. I could feel the leeches crawl up my leg; at times, it even pricked, but I kept walking and ignored them completely. 

Just before the summit, there is a steep climb. But overall, the trek isn’t very tough. We had our packed lunch at the summit. 

On our way back, we were lost. After some searching and tracing our trail with mobile app, we got back on the track. Since this is not a popular trekking spot yet, there is no designated trail and it is easy to get lost. I would not recommend trekking here without a guide. 

The sky cleared on our way back and we got some view of the surrounding. 

Back at Kerrekatte, I got rid of my socks and cleaned my legs and shoes. There were about 50 leeches, if not more on my leg. With a gush of water from a tap, they finally left me. The wounds they had left behind began to bleed. The floor of the local shop were we had tea and snacks, was filled with blood from our legs.

We drove back to Bella homestay and freshened-up. I made a mistake of taking a shower in hot water. The wounds that had begun to dry, opened up again and the skin peeled off causing more bleeding. The owner of Bella homestay is a kind young man. He applied turmeric on all our legs. With that the bleeding stopped. Tired as I was, I went to bed soon after dinner. 


Next morning, my legs had swollen around the ankle. It was not painful but walking became difficult as my legs felt stiff. 

We stopped at Halebidu before returning to Bangalore. It felt like a painful and traumatic trek because of the leeches but after it is done, when the experience expands and transforms into memories, it feels good. I had finally completed the trail which can be called the first organised trekking experience of my life. 

PS: My legs remained swollen for two more days. Body’s immune system was reacting to the wound. I did not apply any kind of medicines – herbal or allopathy. Instead, I avoided contact with water and allowed enough air circulation. The wounds healed by themselves within a week. Leech bites are not painful but when they dry up, the skin around the wound begins to itch. Avoid scratching as much as possible.  

Watch my vlog on this trek:


  1. Whoa!! Wonderful travelogue narration - felt almost like traveling thru the trek. Leeches part was painful, yet you must be feeling surreal . Finally you completed what u started years back!

    1. Thank you Viyoma for stopping by. Welcome to my blog! It indeed was a great moment.

  2. Must have been very scary for the young school kids. Glad you returned and completed your trek.

    1. Haha Not really, we thoroughly enjoyed the trek.

  3. Hi , can you provide details of how to take permission , we are planning to go from ajekar side in December

    1. Hello M, As mentioned int he post, you will have to register at the national park site. Please find the updated link in the post. Also, I am not sure if there is a forest office at Ajekar. If so, you need to do your processing there. If not at Kerrekatte. You can also call the forest office number given in the site for booking treks in kudremukh national park.


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