February 10th, 2009
Feb 8, 2009 was a good day About 40 of us from Chennai drove to Tirupathi & then went to Tirumala by foot. This trip was organized by Chennai Trekkers Club. All of us assembled at Koyembedu at around 4.45 AM in morning. After a few minutes of roll calling & fixing, we started our drive to Tirupathi in 4 cars and 4 bikes. It wasn’t very cold in Chennai. But as we crossed the border into Andhra Pradesh on NH5, the chill started hitting. As always, NH5 is an awesome road. Road is very smooth that you don’t want to drive at anything less than 80kmph. Soon after the check post, we took the turn towards SH51 that goes to Uthukotai & Periyapalayam. This is the same route that we took to Kone Falls few months back.
Few minutes into the SH51 & we knew what we had ahead of us. Road condition was bad. Very bad. There were mini craters everywhere that you have to carefully bend your bike to avoid them, sometimes facing the wrath of the vehicles coming in the opposite direction. One particular 25km stretch from Uthukotai town to Periyapalayam had 31 huge craters & about 12 minor craters that driving on it was like going on a roller coaster . I just couldn’t believe that it was the same road we took to Kone Falls few months ago. Now it had been battered & it was badly in need of repair.
After Periyapalayam, the roads became sort of ok. Ten kms after Kone Falls, we crossed into the Andhra town of Puthur. Road from here to Tirupathi was good, except for one major glitch. The road was supposed to be a highway & there were speed breakers sprinkled at random points. They weren’t even coloured differently. At one point, we were driving at 90kmph speed & seeing a speed breaker barely 5m ahead, I breaked hard. Thank goodness we didn’t fall off the bike. Man… what a chill it spent up the spine! As soon as we landed after the speed breaker, the bike refused to listen to the accelerator so we reduced our speed & then slowly increased it again … only to find another speed breaker few kms ahead! This time we were able to manage properly.
The whole gang reached Tirupathi safely after a 3.5 hour drive. Riding at a constant 90 kmph on fairly good roads, with chilly winds kissing your body & bumping along craters had its toll. All our bikers’ arms & legs were shivering for close to half hour. The chill in our bodies left us only after we emptied our tanks. We had breakfast at Tirupathi & then drove to Alipiri. Alipiri is the base of the hill from where vehicles can go to Tirumala (the abode of Lord Venkateshwara). We waited for a few minutes here for some Tirupathi folks to join us.
We then proceeded towards Srinivasa Mangapuram from where our trek was to begin. We reached the base camp, which was the entrance to the TTD (Tirupathi Tirumala Devasthanam) forest area. We parked our bikes & cars, and had our water bottles, glucose & snacks distributed. We started “trekking”.
Few minutes into our route, we came to know that there were 2388 steps to reach the top of the hill into Tirumala. These steps were quite steep at many points. At certain points, climbing at the center of the steps proved to be a bit difficult because they were constructed at certain angles. Nevertheless, we climbed up and reached the top in about 1.5 hours. The alternate route that walkers take at Alipiri is a very long one and takes 4.5 hours to reach the top. This one is shorter but steeper.
Along the way, we made good friends with lot of people from the gang. Notably, Naveen & Praveen, the brother duo who had passed out of RMK College School of Engineering. We had absolute fun ragging each other . Then we made new friends with Jean, Arun, Delphine & Maria, who had come to India from France (Paris) for internship. It was fun getting to know them. Its always great to remember someone of the past. One guy from the BlogCamp team named Karthik had joined us for the trek with his friend Vetri. We chuckled about the “How do you feel now” story which most blog-campers of Chennai know about 😀
At one of the steep turning points during the climb up, all of us took a group photo.
Six of the gang deviated from the original route and were following a rocky path for a brief period Hope they had fun doing that.
Reached Tirumala … Yay!
We had pears to celebrate the victorious walk up the hill lol. After everyone assembled here, we had lunch & proceeded towards Akasha Ganga. There was a surprise at this place. Lot of hawkers were selling “instant photos” of frame-able size. They had Dell laptops which were connected to colour printers. The overall circuit looked like this — Exide Battery (cars, lorries – big ones) -> junction point -> laptop -> printer -> digital cam. Whoa! That’s a cool use of technology. Isn’t it?
Myself and a few guys climbed down to reach the small water falls. We reached its top and took some pics. Unfortunately, those pics got deleted from my mobile because the card got corrupted. Damn. There were about 110 photos on the mobile & everything vapourised into thin air. Here are two of them from Vikram’s camera.
That was fun There was algae all around, so we had to tread a bit carefully. After Akasha Ganga, we visited Papavinasam. Jean applied Srichoornam to his forehead & was looking like a monk (albeit with his shaved head). Lol. That was something I least expected.
After Papavisanam, we started climbing down the same way we had come to Tirumala & reached the basecamp by 6.30PM. After settling the accounts & stuff, we started back to home sweet home.
Pictures Courtesy …
As I had found out from this picnic, my stamina has improved a lot. I was able to climb (up & down) the steps without sitting anywhere, after a visibly blown out ride. There was no body pain or anything of that sort on Monday morning. I woke up fresh to the memories of the trek with an awesome gang.
Hope you enjoyed the read! More coming soon … 2009 is exciting I should say. Heheh!