Trekking the Western Ghats will now be easier

Some of the famed trekking trails in the dense Western Ghats region in Karnataka, which have been attracting a large number of adventure tourists in recent years, will soon be mapped to help ensure greater safety for trekkers. The package will be called the “Great Western Ghats trails.”

While there are about 200 trekking trails in the ghats, 18 have been identified for the project, and many will be added in the future. Those that have been identified for mapping include Kumaraparvatha, Brahmagiri, Kudremukh, Kurinjala, Tadiyandamol, Mullayanagiri, Narasimha Parvatha, Badabudangiri and the Kali River bank trail.

“Presently, though these routes are popular, no systematic data is available for trekkers. Once GPS-based data on the route is generated, adventure buffs can use them as a ready-reckoner before embarking on treks. We have sought GPS tracking to generate data on each trail,” Sanjay Bijjur, Special Officer for Tourism Development, told The Hindu.

He said a tender would be floated to identify the agency that would generate the data, and the selected agency would be asked to suggest more routes that could be mapped. “We want trekking to be a safe and hassle-free experience,” he added.

The GPS tracking-based mapping would entail identification of escape routes, waterholes, nearest hospitals and road network. Apart from these, natural resources of the area including flora and fauna would be identified and documented for the benefit of trekkers. “The agency will also have to identify areas where infrastructure for amenities could be created,” Dr. Bijjur said.

Apart from benefiting the trekkers, the data would also help the Forest Department as most of these trails fall under their jurisdiction. “Forest officials will be able to monitor the movement of people inside forests,” he added.

“If the proposed data is made available, trekkers may use the trails on their own without being dependent on organisations. The costs of such trekking expeditions will also come down,” Deepak Solanki of Mysore-based International Academy of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (IAMAS), which regularly organises treks in the Western Ghats, said.

He said: “At present, many amateur trekkers venture into forests without proper guidance and put their lives at risk. However, with the availability of data, risks can be mitigated.”

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