Mar 3, 2009

Trek to "Kumara Parvatha" ...

It was a much awaited trekking for me, and I was all excited about that. I read couple of other blogs after accepting to come for the trek, and those reviews were really scary. I actually thought of backing up from that trek after seeing such horrifying reviews. Every blog had one thing in common and that is "It will be very risky and a dangerous trek". But I made up my mind that I am going to go there and experience those things on my own. I would have been the most unlucky fellow if I would have missed this trek. This is how the entire trekking experience un-folded...

We had planned well in advance for this trek, all necessary transportation, food, tents, sleeping bags, medicines etc. etc were all made ready. I should say that our trekking gang is one of the most well planned gang and we generally don’t miss a point. The workload was equally split and allocated to all the individuals and each one of them have to complete their task and report the status to our team lead, so by the end of Friday evening we had everything ready and we were all set to roll. I was given the responsibility of carrying the tents and the sleeping bags from a house which was very close to my office. I paid them an advance by cheque and took those stuffs in my car and came home. I had one of my colleagues who will be joining me for the trek, accepting me to pick me up from my house and reach the common pickup point. He came to my place at 9:30 PM and by 10:00 PM we reached the common pickup point at Marathalli.

Our trekking gang consists of - Nachu (Team Leader), Sundar, Satish, Arvind & Aruna, Anu, Madhu & Sushma, Pradeep, Naveen, Anil, Puneet and Madhav. We went to Madhu's place as that is the first pickup point. We were delayed by 30 minutes as it took us more time to push all the tents and those sleeping bags into the cab. The cab started from Marathalli around 11:00 PM and we had a list of people to pick-up. While we were picking up the other folks, Madhu and Sushma distributed the edible items that each and every one needs to carry, we had 13 plastic bags for each one of us and each bag would contain, 10 chapattis, jam, tomato pickle, apple, 5 chocolate bars, Amul Masti butter milk, Gatorade energy drink, Glucose, and Biscuits. This bag has to be carried by each individual all thru the journey, adding on to this the individuals should bring 2 liters of water. We were told that once we reach the peak there are no water bodies and hence we have to equip ourselves with a good storage of water, which is very vital during trekking.

By 12:00 the cab reached the outer of Bangalore and since most of us have not met each other, we all had a formal introduction and moment I saw those folks, I could sense that this is a bunch of happy and wonderful people and everyone were simply cool, we all gelled as a team and within hours we all became very close as if we know each of us for years together. The journey overnight was peaceful; we folks have to take shifts to sit next to the driver so that he is not falling asleep. I took care of that duty around 3:15 and had a lengthy chat with the driver till 4:30, then Nachu took care of that and I took a power nap for 30 mins. By 5:30 we reached a place called "Kushal Nagar" where we book two rooms to refresh ourselves and also it would give all of us one last chance to attend nature calls. We also had our breakfast in a nearby hotel. The gang left Kushal Nagar around 8:00 and reached another place called "Somvarpet" which is actually 2000 mtrs above sea level, we took a very scenic route on the hill and it was wonderful.

We reached Somvarpet around 9:00 and then we unpacked all the stuffs from the cab and got ready to start our trekking journey of 8 kms inside the forest. Sun was climbing fast and it was very hot as well. We reached the forest office and paid the fees to get us permission to enter the forest. We had two cute puppies playing there and I as usually fell in love and offered them with the stuffs that were given to me to carry while trekking, one puppy was so cute and I just could not miss him. We started marching into the forest and the feeling of going inside the forest made all of us jubilant, we actually had a very good team leader (Nachu) and he was our guardian angel for this trek, he had been to this place before and hence it was no difficulty for us to find the route inside the forest. We first reached a beautiful stream where water was gushing thru the rocks and the excitement we had on seeing that water is something I cannot express in writing, some people refreshed themselves by taking bath in that. We all spent close to 45 mins in that stream. The puppy to which I served my food was following me and he came all the way up to the stream. I again bribed him with some more biscuits and perk chocolate and gave him a good by kiss on his nose and sent him back to his hut.

We climbed thru a very hilly terrain where there is no defined path, it was all rocks and gravels and it really made us tough to walk, but the greenery inside the forest made us forget that strain. We heard lots of beautiful sound made by various un seen birds and my friend Sushma who has got some knowledge about birds she explained me about "Coppersmith Barbet", "Red Headed Barnet", and various other birds, there sounds were simply too good to hear, also we had Aravind who is an ornithologist and he too gave me lots of interesting information about birds, the only worry is we could not see most of the birds in that dense forest, all we could hear is there sounds. Forest gave us some surprises like few rattle snakes crossing our path and there would be a sudden noise on your side where some creature would be running inside those thick bushes, but walking inside a forest is a boon, you should feel that experience to believe that. Our team took sufficient breaks and I and Sundar became the partners to carry those heavy tent bags. Sundar will carry it for 10 minutes and I will carry it for 10 minutes and we marched deep into the forest.

Our leader Nachu warned us saying that we have to cross two steep rocks, we being software engineers conveniently ignored that warning, but when we saw those steep rocks, we were simply shocked, but the enthusiasm and the jubilance in the team was excellent, which really made all of us to climb that very steep rock which does not offer anything for you to hold, but the surface was hard so that you can easily get a grip on your shoes, as a team we all achieved the first mile stone of crossing that peak. We all had our lunch on one of the rocks, after walking for a very long time on those hilly terrains, we were all very hungry, and those chapattis which were hand made by our great Madhav tasted like "Yummmmyyy" to all of us, chapattis and tomato pickle was the best combination for that lunch. We then started climbing further and we were greeted by another steep rock which was even tougher to climb than the previous one, but Nachu gave us the motivation and strength to climb that and once again as a team we achieved that peak as well.

Anil is one man in our team who always goes much ahead than the group, he was the first man to reach the peak and hoist our Orange flag on the hill top, GOD only knows from where he draws such energy. Sundar was visibly tired and Aravind's wife Aruna could not manage to climb the mountain as she was very scared to climb, but she is a person of sheer grit and determination, and really did a tremendous job of climbing all the way to the top, in spite of the cramps she developed. Hot SUN did not detour us from stopping the trek, we took that as a challenge and we all reached the peak by 3:00 in the noon, which according to Nachu was a record timing. We covered 8 kms in just 5 hours. The jubilance we all had after reaching the peak was out of this world, we all threw our bags and literally fell down on the floor as we just could not walk any further. By 3:30 we decided on the place where we would want to place our tents and the exercise of erecting the tents started, and it took almost 2 hours for our folks to assemble that and at last we did it. Evening clouds started to cover the hill top and it got smoky in the evening, that cold wind and that foggy mist were a treat to my eyes; I just closed my eyes and enjoyed the pleasure offered by Mother Nature.

It started to get dark and then our gang started to go and look at few view points, while we were sitting in one of the view points, we heard the noise of elephants screaming in the wild somewhere inside the deep jungle and we were able to listen that at 5600 feet above sea level, the biggest joke here is, we all walked only thru that forest during the day and fortunately we did not encounter any wild animals. By 7:30 we all came back to our tents and had the same chapatti and tomato pickle, by 8:00 myself and Sundar decided to hit the sack as we both were very tired, but the team had different plans, they had started a camp fire and dragged both of us out of the tent and we all played Dumsharads for a while, by 9:00 we all decided to disperse and head to our respective tents. We had the understanding of not to use any lights in the night as it might attract the wild animals. Spending your night on a hill top is something one must experience, it was pitch dark and you could see the stars in the sky if you are lucky and wind would roar with its utmost ferocity and that feeling would make your spine go chill.

We all were dead tired and hence we slept immediately, around 12 in the midnight, I started to suffocate as there was no wind and I am very scared to look out of my tent, all I could see is darkness and nothing else. I somehow managed to get some sleep, around 2:00 in the morning, I could sense that some thing is walking near our tents, my god, I was frozen and I tried sneaking out thru the small hole that was there in the tent, but since it was very dark I could not see anything, but I could hear the sound of the someone walking on those dry leaves. I started saying some prayers and without my knowing, I fell asleep. That was the end of day 1 in our two day trekking cycle.

Next day morning we all got up as early as 5:30 and went to one of the view points to welcome the sunrise. Sight of a sunrise on a hill top is treat to watch. If you are lucky enough that day where there is no cloud, you will be blessed with that awesome scene, and we too were blessed, we were gazing at a point where it looked very hazy and we almost lost the hope that we will see a sunrise, as it was already 6:52 AM in the morning, when we were all so dejected, all of a sudden from nowhere, there appeared a small nail like SUN which grew to a bigger size in no time and it exhibited the beauty of nature in all possible ways, that orange sun was a treat to watch. We felt satisfied and all the pains that we took to walk to this hill top vanished in a flash. It was an absolute treat to watch that sight. We then came back to the tents and our gang started making some hot tea. Nachu had brought milk and tea powder and Anu helped him in making those lovely teas, which was a refreshing breather for our morning.

The team had a long photo shoot session on the hill top and with a very heavy heart we decided to climb down. There was a small shivan temple on the hill top, Nachu offered some prayers and some pooja to the lord and we all prayed for a safe return back to the roads and started our journey back to the plains. Nachu gave us one more shocker saying, we all have to climb down 14 kms and also the path will be very slippery and difficult. When you are carrying huge weights on your back, climbing down would be very difficult, also Nachu told us that there would absolutely be no shades while getting down and we all should be ready to get fried up in that hot sun. We already were running out of water stock and we used that as minimal as possible. We all started trekking down and after 2 kms of walking over a steep terrain, we found a water body where the entire gang completed their morning duties, that water pond was tasting so sweet and it was crystal clear, that’s the beauty of Mother Nature.

We were mentally preparing ourselves to brave that hot sun and reach the plain before it gets dark in the evening, walking 14 kms is not an easy joke to cover within 8 hours, you have to literally sweat it out and that is what we did. I would want to appreciate all the 3 girls who came with us, all of them have pushed themselves to the limits and did an excellent job to climb down to the pace of guys. Walking down was not so pleasant to our eyes as we were not walking inside the forest, it was all under the sun and all you could see is just rocks, rocks and more rocks. When you climb down you tend to put a lot of pressure on your toes, especially when the terrain is so steep. We were instructed to walk to "Charlie Chaplin" style so that we are not stressing our toes. I being a ligament torn fellow, I have to be doubly cautious while walking down, as this might tear my ligaments further and injure me. Though I had several slips, but by God’s grace I did not fall down. By 12:30 we came across a water body which actually took us by surprise. It was a welcome relief to all of us who were struggling to find water. We all jumped in joy and refresh ourselves in that COLD water which was offered by Mother Nature.

We all started to feel very hungry and we were told that we will be having our lunch at a place called "Battermanae" where a poojari will be serving us food. After a very long walk of 5 hours we reached his house and we were all visibly dead. None of us took bath for two days, the sun and sweat made us go even stickier and me being a person who does not like to touch food without taking bath, was forced to eat that day as I don’t have any other option. I would want to mention about the sambar that was served to us by that poojaari, Oh man, that was out of this world and I would say that I have not tasted such a lovely sambar in my life, and adding on to that, we had this onion-mango pickle was more like an icing on the cake. I expressed my happiness to that man who served me that food; he too managed well to talk in Tamil. Our team took a nap under those banana trees at battarmanae and by 4:00 PM we started our last lap of the journey and that lap is the most difficult to cover as we all were very tired and there was an added pressure of reaching the roads by 6:00 PM as it is not advisable to walk inside the forest once it gets dark.

Our gang leader Anil took off well before us and he was given the job of walking the extra mile to get the taxi to the point where we all will be getting out of the forest, so Anil was all set to achieve his mission. I, Sundar, Madhav and Anu started our lap around 4:00 and we had set a target of 6:30 PM to reach the bottom. We walked like crazy in spite of that pain on the knees and the toes, adding on to that I had the tent bag with me which was much heavier than my shoulder bag. We took constant breaks and by 5:00 PM we entered the forest once again, it was getting dark and all the birds and insects were returning back to their nests, forest was busy in its own style. Sundar decided to take some more break time, but I, Anu and Sushma started walking, exactly at the strike of 6:30 we reached the plain and we were so happy to see Anil, Puneet and Navin receiving us near the cab. We once felt that we have lost the way and we are gone, but luckily we all had whistle to blow and we got a response from our other gang folks to indicate that they are behind or ahead of us.

This trek gave me the courage and also proved me a point that I am still having that good amount of stamina in me, above all, it gave me very good friends. I would love to go to any place with this same gang, as this is a bunch of happy unit. We all went to "Kukke Subramanya" temple and started our journey towards Bangalore, just to add an interesting twist to the tail, our van got punctured in the middle of the ghat section and we all were left stranded in the dark for almost 1 hour, finally we somehow managed to get that repaired and we all reached Bangalore on the morning of 2nd around 6:00 AM. On the whole it was a very good trek and I would cherish every moment of this trek all thru my life.

3 SAID FROM THE HEART:

Chan said...

luks like u enjoyed a lots...put the link for fotos too

Jayalakshmi said...

mmm so you were going trekking with so many members. That's good. and I think you would have taken lot of photos during your trekking. Send us some.

Next time, you guys should try "Parvatha malai" near velore. It was one of my life experience that I will never forget. There is small temple on the top of the mountain with a single saint. There is nothing on the way. Not even "petti kadai". I am not sure how it is now. We were so hungry on our way back and literally asked for food in a shop which is small shop cum house for a shop owner. He was so kind that he cooked for all of us around 7:30 in the night and made us to eat, which was so delicious. When I read this, I remembered that event and thought about those guys who were not as literate, but were more kind than all of us. I don't think, you or me or any of the software professional would do that.

thanks,
Jai

Shylu said...

The trip earns my jealousy in full!!
What safety precautions did u people take,to prevent any untowards incidents while u stayed in the jungle?

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