The Snake Walk

February 12th, 2010

Last Sunday was one of the best Sundays of my life. Through the Chennai Trekking Club with Pramod, Hopeland and our Irula Guide, we walked through farm lands near the Crocodile Park in the hope of finding our crawling friends. Little did we know that it would be an experience of a lifetime … From handling a Rat Snake to hearing a Spectacled Cobra hissing and striking, to a Russell’s Viper showing his deadly fangs and precious drops of venom; everyone was hooked, fascinated and intrigued by these mysterious yet beautiful creatures.

Rat Snake, Cobra, Russell's Viper

Rat Snake, Cobra, Russell's Viper

Btw, if you had liked this post so far and my other travel/trekking escapades such as Ombattu Gudde or The Kodaikanal Trek, you might want to subscribe to my RSS feed to get new posts as and when I write them.

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Kodaikanal is a beautiful place. I had been to Kodai for sight-seeing a decade ago. So, when a trek was announced at a place near Kodai, I jumped at the opportunity. An army of 45 people reached Kodai on a chilly morning. After breakfast and the near endless wait for our guide Kodai Mani, we were off to Kukkal village from where we had to start the trek. On the way to Kodai, Rinkesh couldn’t control his bladder. So, when the bus stopped and he got down, many rushed after him shouting, “Yay! view point” … lol!

A village enroute to Kukkal

A village enroute to Kukkal

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Let me start off with some statistics 😉

No. of days – 3.5 (31-Dec-2009 afternoon to 3-Jan-2010)
No. of bikes – 10
No. of people – Around 20
Total Distance (home to home) – 1004 kms
Top Speed – 110 kmph (I know Wild Kannan wouldn’t agree but this is what my speedo displayed)
Lowest Speed – 35 kmph (lowest speed on top gear)
Best Chunks of Road – Chidambaram to Pichavaram, Vailankanni to Vedaranyam, NH-45
Worst Chunk of Road – Vedaranyam to Mannargudi
Most Challenging Drive – Chidambaram to Karaikal
No. of minor accidents – Ninety eight minus ninety nine plus two (Clue: Its a signed integer).
No. of major accidents – Nine Thousand point five six four seven divided by four hundred and sixty eight point two into zero

The Group :D

The Group :D

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Oh boy! Oh Boy!! OH BOY!!! I don’t want to say how awesome this trek was. This trek and some of its special moments will remain etched in my memory for years to come. Nagala is full of water all through the year & since monsoon is around its end, the dam near the hills would be brimming. That would present ripe opportunities for swimming & I would be able to put my new skills to test. Hence, when the trek was announced as a first timer’s trek, I gladly signed up and waited with bated breath for the D-day to show up! And show up … it did! After 3 excruciating weeks.

I couldn’t contain my excitement what-so-ever and few days in the middle, I almost fell sick with excitement. I was high. The thought of crystal clear water, those tiny beautiful waterfalls, gurgling stream and varied colour rocks strewn across in the form of jewels … OMG! Every such thought was driving me crazy. Moreover, we were a gang on the treks and this was a pretty easy trail. So just imagine the fun we would be having on the way and back! To add to it, it was Max’s birthday on Sunday, 6th December … Too many things to celebrate for and only 48 hours. Not enough at all.

Picnic Pool Waterfall

Picnic Pool Waterfall

A few of us met at co-organizer Naveen’s home on Friday night for a quick pre-trek planning discussion and party. The night dawned into the day with none of us sleeping. Soon, everyone assembled at Koyembedu and we raced off to our dear home away from home … Nagalapuram. Distributing food and items for the next two days, we started walking towards the forests.

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See! I’m flying. It happens after every trek that I go to; whether small or large. Being in one with nature can rejuvenize you so much that you will be in that state of mind for a few weeks to come :)

Ombattu Gudde

View from Ombattu Gudde - Deepadakallu and Jenkallu

Ombattu Gudde or Ombattu Gudda or OG, as its fondly called, is one terrific place that’s about 6 hours from Bangalore. So… on 14th Nov 2009, 36 of us, all pumped up and excited about the next 48 hours decided to explore this place and reach the peak of OG. The peak is at a height of 968m from Mean Sea Level. The trek would put us through too many terrains in quick succession that it’s as if nature was changing boulders like we change t-shirts after a day’s work.

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Save Tada Campaign

November 3rd, 2009

Though, undoubtedly, Tada Falls (or Ubbalamadugu Falls) is one of the most beautiful places near Chennai, its also one of the most abused natural places near here. Until few years ago, when the place was just a plain old forest, it was limited to very few people who dared to explore the place and trek for themselves. But ever since the raping started in the name of Eco-Tourism, the place began to lose its shine and green.

Leaf

Mother Nature could be literally heard screaming for help. She was dying a very excruciating death. Broken booze bottles everywhere and in every crevice possible, combined with tons and tons of plastic, cigarette butts, beedis and what not, the place was bleeding. It was so bad that, during the Tada Fort Exploration couple of months back, we didn’t get any interest to get in the water at all. The general abuse of the place was compounded by the fact that the forest guards and locals take money and allowed liquor and other illicit materials to be carried in to the forest. They get drunk, urinate and puke in the same stream itself, spoiling the water for those downstream. Hell! They even bring live goats from the town in to the forest and kill them to eat fresh meat :( . Who knows what diseases are lurking there?

Save Tada Campaign

Save Tada Campaign

We heard the SOS message loud and clear. The men and women of the soil decided to clean up the mess and teach a lesson to the vandals raping the place.

The Gang

More than 230 people visited Tada Falls much to the chagrin of the guards and forest officials. The group was divided into 20 Garbage Busting gangs. Each gang took over a circle of about 60 yards radius along the stream. Since each team had anywhere between 10-15 people, a designated area would be freed of plastics and bottles in no time. Armed with huge garbage bags and gloves, we started collecting garbage in and around the area. Crores of plastic bottles, broken liquor bottles and other plastic materials were stuck everywhere. We retrieved them using long sticks and filled them up in our bags.

Garbage Busters in action

Garbage Busters in action

Our dear ancestors, the monkeys 😀 , became very curious of the bag’s contents and a group of them would swing down in an instant and make an attempt to get at the bags. We felt sorry that they couldn’t understand how dangerous the contents of the bags were for them.

Highlight: More than 230 people, 2 tonnes of garbage and in less than 4 hours time.

 

Piled up Ex-Garbage

Piled up Ex-Garbage

Then, we started walking downstream and formed a human chain to transfer the garbage bags from one person to another until the base camp was reached. We collected so much garbage that it was enough to fill up a harvest tractor up to its brim, forming a mound of sorts on its top.

Press

The press came and recorded our activities and it got published in various newspapers in and around Chennai & Andhra Pradesh. ETV conducted an interview with Peter Van Geit (co-founder of CTC) which was aptly translated to the news channel by Aditya.  Few reporters from Deccan Chronicle had come to take note of the atrocities happening there and reported them in yesterday’s newspapers, highlighting the fact that CTC was doing its best to save the place.

The Pools !

With the day’s objective accomplished, we did what we do best 😀 – Trek to the nearest pool and chill off. By the time we climbed back to the pool, we realized how clean the place looked devoid of plastics and broken booze bottles. I felt a huge wave of satisfaction envelope me as we made our way to the pool. Jumping and diving ensued. The pool was very beautiful and there was a small and gorgeous waterfall at the end of the pool. It may have been a 30 meter  swim to it. And tell you what, it was amazing feeling to know that I was able to swim that distance on my own 😀 . Brijesh accompanied me during this time by my side just to make sure that I would be able to make it to the end. My joy knew no bounds. I was able to put my new skill to test and succeeded 😉

We had lunch besides this beautiful pool and making sure we never polluted this place, we started off after a good swim and delicious lunch.

They had it !

It was time for the guards to answer us. Through this trek, we were accompanied by Forest Officers who were in charge of maintaining sanity at Tada. They questioned the guards and guides in front of us and gave them sound warnings that if liquor and stuff happens again, their jobs will be at stake. We also informed them that these were the same guards who used to break in to our vehicles and steal valuables. They would extort money from us for taking our bikes and cars and would also harass women and children of the group. We recorded their apology & will play it back to them the next time we visit Tada.

The forest officials at least acted that they were guilty for ravaging this beautiful place. I’m doubtful that their atrocities will stop soon but I can assure you that it was a great beginning.

Tractor

Highlight is the tractor which carried our collected garbage bags for disposal.

Garbage Tractor

Garbage Tractor

It was a very satisfying day. Combined with act of keeping nature intact & with an ultra-easy trek, nothing could beat this weekend. Hoping to do more of this in future. Our future is in safe hands :)

The Kids of the Trek

The Kids of the Trek

Photo Albums

Thanks a lot for capturing the moments shutter bugs. Without you, we wouldn’t have a story to tell today.

  1. Gowtham – The Best Album
  2. Karthik Yadav
  3. Samyak
  4. Vinoth
  5. Vijay Krishnan
  6. Raja
  7. Vijendran
  8. Hari Prasad
  9. Anupam
  10. Loganathan
  11. Hari K Balasundaram
  12. Nara

More albums on the way! Until then, catch you soon …

Update: My cave pool drama has been written. Do check it out.

Trekking is exhilarating. Trekking is addictive. Trekking is challenging. Every time a trek is announced, I see my spirits being increased to the levels that it had never gone before. Despite any silly setbacks that may occur, you can see me in the finest of moods on the week before the trek & on the trek… Especially since this was one kind of a trek that I had never attempted in my life before.

Welcome to DOA a.k.a “Dead or Alive” trek. These treks have trails the pass through some of the most amazing rock formations, crystal clear deep pools with tasty water, not to mention gorgeous waterfalls and amazing hill-top views that put regular tourist spots to shame. These treks also contain risky up-hills which have to be scaled & long streams; the only way to cross them is by swimming to the other side. Its also on these treks that humans exhibit their best’est’ qualities and is a team building exercise in itself. Where else can you learn how to cooperate and have fun with people whom you have never met before?

Venkateswara Hills

Venkateswara Hills

Chennai warriors travelled to Renigunta by train, where we were joined the Bangalore team. Train journey was awesome. We had formed a gang and teased Mohan S & Karthikeyan about the fact that they wanted to camp together on day 1 on the same sleeping mat on top of each other 😀 . They were teased to death until the station came, where we had to disembark. An hour or so later, the Bangalore team joined in. It was a quick time for introductions. From the earlier Nagala Trek, I met Ajay and Aditya & Mohan S and Ananth joined us from the previous Tada Fort Conquer Exploration. With so much known faces and exciting new ones, time literally flew by.

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10 gruelling hours, 4 brave souls, 1 lost fort … 1 mission! To find the lost British Fort among the beautiful Tada Hills :-)

Tada

Tada Hills

The Climb Uphill

The day started early with the blessing of the rain Gods. The downpour was so heavy that I was having my own doubts about whether we will proceed as planned. But a quick call to Ananth and Sujai a.k.a Mokka Boy removed all doubt. All plans were intact. A quick shower and 30 minutes later, the four of us met.

After a high-five and hip-hip-hooray, we wrroooommed on Mohan’s A-star to Tada to find the long lost British Fort and a road that led to it. Armed with a GPS receiver and lots of food, we stood at Tada’s parking lot as if we were going to climb Mount Everest :). A few passers by even gave us a strange look. But none of that would stop us.

As were walking on the road towards the regular Tada waterfall, Sujai suddenly looked at the GPS and shouted, “Guys, stop!”. Wondering what got him excited, we peered in to the GPS device & found we were standing near the edge of the road that led to the old Fort that was marked on the GPS. Quickly, we decided to chuck the normal route and proceeded to take the hilly route. There wasn’t even a beaten trail that we could follow. We made trails as we progressed. The hill on which we were hiking turned out to be a small 50m mound. Nevertheless, we trudged along following the GPS. We were exactly overlaying the ancient road marked on the GPS with the path we were taking.

We had quite some way to go … but we were on track. At the top of the 50m mound, we were about 250m away from the Fort as per the GPS device. But vegetation was slightly dense and hence, we couldn’t even see anything that remotely resembled a fort. We moved to the adjacent hill from the mound. This was a big one, poking a hole in the sky through the clouds. Crushing twigs and thorns we were on a steady ascent & never stopped anywhere. The climb was getting steeper by the minute.

At the first check point

At the first check point near the peak

When we were around 50m of the radius of the Fort as per the GPS device, the four of us split in 4 directions in search of the Fort. After 30 minutes of searching, we found not even a stone that could be considered part of an old fort. We zoomed in to the GPS device at 5m and moved along the direction it was pointing in the map. At the exact point where it was pointing, IT WAS THERE!! A huge dense bush of overgrown creepers and dead trees. We went round and round about it in circles to make sure we missed nothing. But that was all there was. Just a dense growth of vegetation. We all laughed heartily at the madness, had a pear each to celebrate the “success” and decided to conquer the peak of the hill we were on.

Reaching the Peak

After trekking for about 30 minutes, we reached near the peak. The peak was a huge rock that was bent at an awkward angle. Climbing it with our backpacks wasn’t possible. Hence, we left our bags and proceeded to climb up the rock. There were nice crevices and strong roots that helped us climb the rock. After a tiny struggle, we managed to reach the top, only to find that the peak was even higher. This rock was huge and hid the peak from the angle we were looking. On top the rock we were standing, there was a magnificient view.

Straight opposite to us, there was a “very green” hill that was sandwiched between two hills. This center hill had a cap of the most beautiful fluffy white clouds. The breeze was too cold and nice to ignore. All the hills were ending on the horizon to our right and we were given a lush view of the plains far below until the horizon. Our joy knew no bounds and spirits soared! With a high spirit, Mohan started ascending the rocks above, quickly followed by the rest of us. At a certain point, I couldn’t climb at all. The rock was just too high for me. Others somehow managed. But I was not to be left behind. After 3-4 minutes of pondering what to do, I climbed down to the next level, grabbed a tree root and with its help got on top of the offending rock in a swing :D. It was kind of cake walk after that.

Hill edge and clouds

Hill edge and clouds

We Found the Fort!

Suddenly, Mohan squealed at the top of his lungs that he saw a wall of rocks! The three of us ran in the direction he was pointing. At the place where we were standing, 400m above mean sea level, there was a 3.5 foot high wall that ran for about 100m until the next hill. We were shocked and surprised at the same time. Surprised because we found the old Fort walls on our own. Shocked because the US Army Map from where we copied the co-ordinates of the Fort were wrong! We could not have copied incorrectly because we were master copy cats.

Fort's Perimeter Wall

Fort's Perimeter Wall

Totally ecstatic at the discovery of the Fort, we were looking for more clues. We found a few empty bunkers below the walls and even found a round rock design with a hole in the center. Then we passed another structure that looked like an entrance. Going through the entrance and spending time at the top of the hill and the world, we were overjoyed. No words could do justice to the mission we accomplished.

The Round Pattern Rock

The Round Pattern Rock - (From left to right) Mohan, Sujai & Ananth

By this time, the rain Gods were threatening us again. The weather became cloudy and it looked like it could pour anytime. We started descending. At a particular point during the descend, we had jump through a thorny bush. While trying to avoid it, I made the mistake of moving backwards. Ten thorns pierced through my trousers and underwear and punctured my bum. Around the same time, the wind was shaking the leaves to make them tickle at unwanted locations. With a punctured bum, I made a small leap and reached the slope. All of us soon assembled, rested for sometime, picked our bags and made our way down the slope.

The Bunker

The Bunker

The slope was pretty steep. It would have been at around 50 degrees because we were constantly pulled down by gravity and couldn’t stand at all. All of us at some point, slipped. But instead of falling, we skidded to a small distance by taking advantage of the slip. Tucking away the GPS, we were moving towards the voices we were hearing at the bottom of the hill. After an hour’s descent, we reached the Tada stream and happily jumped in to cool off our butts and bodies.

Mission Accomplished!

Mission Accomplished

Mission Accomplished

Sitting neck deep in water, we unpacked our food and were polishing them off one by one. First were the buns, then the chips, some cookies, poli, mixture, apple, pear etc. Soon, it was time to start home. Ambling our way out, we reached our car, dried ourselves and got on it to drive to home-sweet-home. It was a short trek and a very enjoyable one. I loved every moment of it.

Nagalapuram Trek 2

April 15th, 2009

Trekking is addictive. Not because its fun to climb hills and mountains, but because every time you are done with a challenge, Nature gets back at you with a tougher one :-) .

Last trek to Nagalapuram was super fun & challenging. But the only downside was that it all happened too fast and in compressed time. Adrenalin was rushing throughout & before long we were back home. Time flew by. Adventure never ceased until the time we were there. This time though, I wanted to take it more slowly. I wanted to enjoy Nature in all its natural beauty, get soaked in the forest, tune my senses to the smells, sights and sounds of the forest and soothe my aching body in the natural waters.

Arvindh, my Kalari buddy, who accompanied me was gung-ho when I told him what I had in mind for this trek. The actual trek itself wouldn’t be that challenging or tough but surely at the end of it, the mind will be completely relaxed and refreshed; the way that cannot ever happen in the busy city life. And so we started. By 7.30 AM we were at the base of the pristine Nagala jungles, ready for our mind to get relaxed and get recharged. Two mongrels started following us as soon we started into the forest.

The Walk

As we were walking through the foliage, the dogs stopped and started barking wildly to something to our right side. We froze on our tracks. We weren’t even quarter way in to the jungles. We turned to our sides and didn’t see anything fishy. We continued to walk with the dogs barking. After sometime they stopped. Then we heard it. The sound was like a growl. A light one. Then it became heavier; then lighter and similarly oscillating. Suddenly we realized it could be the sound of the wind that were passing through the trees. This growling sound accompanied us for another 30 minutes or so. We picked up 2 reasonably big sticks & proceeded on our way.

We crossed a stream first and hopped on to the first small hill. On that hill, there were some orange markings and we followed them … which led to a dead end. We didn’t know what to do or which route to take. There was a bigger stream to our right side and dense jungle on our left. Either way, there was no clear trail that was visible. Since both of us were on our own, we didn’t bother much and started exploring the area. First we went to our right. The stream’s width would be around 10 feet. But since the water was shallow, we were able to cross it easily. After crossing to the other side, there was partially dense foliage through which we had to cut through. For sure, this wasn’t the way we had taken during the previous trek. So we walked back to the same dead end. This time, we decided to move to the left side from the dead end.

The dogs had left us by now. It was just myself and Arvindh in the jungles with absolutely no one around. There was only a light wind blowing and Sun was shining. The foliage to our left was thicker. Water was flowing down the hill in a very tiny stream. We decided to walk along the stream and did so for about 15 minutes. Along the way, we noticed some toads and huge spider webs. No route there, we headed back to the same place :-) & had some fruits. Aaahh! The fruit was never ever this tasty before.

The Fishes

We decided to retrace our steps and go back to the top of the hill from where we descended to this place. En route to the hill, the trail split in to two, in the form of the ‘Y’. We decided to take the other path. It was going downhill and not sure as to where it would lead us. Surprisingly, it lead us to an amazing pool. Quickly, putting 2 and 2 together, we realized that the stream described above was the same one coming here & that all along, we were following the stream, albeit along the jungle path. We quickly undressed in to our trunks and jumped in.

The water was cold and the initial contact sent a chill up my back, forming goose bumps on my neck, arms and thighs. As we waded in the water, the bodies got used to the chill and we were able to enjoy the cold water. At about chest deep in to the water, we noticed an awesome rock formation. It was about 7 foot long and about 3 foot wide, slightly inclined…. inclined such that, if you lie down on the rock, all of your body will be under water except your head :-) . It was fun! I lied down there for sometime, closed my eyes and forgot the world. Tiny fishes started pecking my feet and hands, removing whatever dirt that may have got there. They slowly moved upwards and started cleaning the shoulders and my back. I was getting a tickling sensation. I was enjoying it thoroughly. Few minutes later, we got out of the pool, dried ourselves and headed back to the same dead end.

Food

By this time we were ravenous. Arvindh had brought some delicious bakery bread and dates fruit syrup. Together, it was a heavenly combination. We also had some juicy pears which found its rightful place in our stomach in no time. Done with lunch, we explored some more along to our right, crossing the stream again.

This time, we were determined to go more in to the path. We had two big sticks and a knife to cut through the foliage. At points where there were lot of creepers blocking our way, we would simply swish-swash and they would be gone. We continued like this non-stop for about 30 minutes, without talking or making any sound. We were extremely busy in finding our path. At a certain point I stopped because the foliage was too thick to cut through. There was not enough place to move also. So we decided to rest in that place for sometime and then head back. Sunlight was scanty here. There was a beautiful green pool to our left. A huge one and visibly of great depth. If you are wondering, we didn’t enter this one.

We started back on our path and came to the same dead end. Suddenly, it was like we broke out of a trance and realized this walk in to the thick foliage was the best ever walk we ever had in our life so far. We were quiet, our breathing sounds took over. Our mind was totally tuned to Nature. Senses got sharpened. We could capture every tiny move in the foliage; so carefully that we moved aside to allow a chameleon or two to cross us without being suspicious of us. This walk refreshed us like anything & it was simply beyond words.

The Meditation Pool

We reached the same pool again. This time, after playing in the water for sometime, we thought of meditating. I sat on the same rock where I had lied down earlier, moved my legs into the posture of Padmasana and closed my eyes, my palm facing the skies & resting on my thighs. Within minutes, a bright white light engulfed me and it felt as if I was in dream land. Just imagine this. Sitting on the rocks, with part of my body in the water and torso above the water; fishes pecking at your feet, a small smooth waterfall flowing on the right side, filling the pool with a gurgling sound … a few birds chirping and a bell clinking, of a cow grazing in the distance. Aaaaahhh!! Heavenly! … The white light was engulfing me in waves and I was totally lost into wonderland. After some time, I opened my eyes. Everything seemed brighter and different. This few minutes in my life was awesome. Nature’s energy was flowing through me in its purest form and I enjoyed every moment of it, giving back what I had received.

Sitting neck deep in water, we had some more fruits. Fruits were juicier than ever and we devoured them.

And then it was 3 PM. We got out of the pool, clicked some snaps of us and then got on our way to home sweet home.

What a day it was! Not at all tiring .. it was just the opposite. Totally Energizing!

Nagalapuram Trek

March 4th, 2009

Hey guys n girls, last Sunday I trekked on the beautiful Nagalapuram Hills. Thanks to the Chennai Trekkers Club for organizing this trek. I wrote a blog entry for them on the same & with their permission, I’m repubishing it here for your convenience :-) . Without much ado, here it goes.


I love one day treks & I also love water bodies. Throw in some steep climbs, thorny bushes and 20 foot water slides; you have perfect contents for an ultimate experience; which is what happened yesterday. Nagalapuram is a Pristine Beauty.

Beautiful Nagalpuram

Beautiful Nagalapuram

About 100 CTCians assembled at Koyembedu by 4.45 AM on a not-so-cold morning. After making sure that there was sufficient transport available, we all whistled and started towards the Heaven on Earth which is named as Nagalapuram. What a sight it was to see more than 10 cars and bikes ruling the early morning roads like an Anaconda.

Soon, we reached Nagalapuram, distributed snacks, lunch etc. and we started on the path.

The Walk

Initially, we had to walk for close to 3-4 KMs on a path strewn with medium to huge sized pebbles. It looked like water had been flowing through this path few months ago. Then we crossed a dam and posed for the first and only group photo 😀 which had all the members of the trek. After we crossed the dam, we stepped into the forest. The divine greens were a huge difference to us city folks and it immediately made our spirits soar. On the way to the first pool, we encountered small rivulets where we washed our faces and let our bodies enjoy the first touch of Mother Nature’s purest water. It was crystal clear, cool and tasted like nectar.

The Pool

We reached the first pool. The water in this pool was very clear and cool that no one will ever get a chance to taste something even remotely similar in cities. To the left of the pool was a small waterfall which was the main source to this pool. The waterfall had few rocks which were naturally arranged in the form of a couch. Few people swam to this end and enjoyed the waterfall. There was one more huge rock right in the middle of the pool. Lots of people including non-swimmers climbed to the top and jumped into the deeper end of the pool from here.

Clear water and pebbles

Clear water and pebbles

First Pool

First Pool

An eeru kuchi (tamil word for a lanky twig) called Rekha got on top of the rock with Peter and Guru. She doesn’t know how to swim. Holding their hands, P, R & G jumped in. Peter surfaced first, followed by Guru. With the force with which Peter and Guru pulled her up, she almost flew for a few seconds making us all roar with laughter. This happened for few more times. Then an adventure!

An awesome dude named Satya wanted to hop along the water bed to reach the other side. In his path, the deepest end was about 6 feet; just enough water to cover our head. On the return journey, our dude lost his balance and did an underwater somersault. I was following right behind him and tried to pull him up. But he was heavy for me and he got on to my shoulders pushing me down. Thank goodness I had my nose and mouth closed. Seeing us, 3 swimmers jumped in immediately to the rescue.

Thinking I was in distress, they lifted me. But I was all ok. Now two of them realizing this, went under water and lifted him by his trouser. As he was nearing the surface all the 4 of us lifted him like we lifted Rekha. He came out of water shaking his head and screamed “I made it!” … We all laughed at that and continued on our journey after an hour of massaging that we got from the Nagala waters.

We never thought more adventures were yet to come.

Forty Feet Deep Pool

As we continued our trek, the next destination was a forty foot deep pool. This pool had to be crossed with all our belongings intact. Non-swimmers were the most dangerous lot. All the swimmers got in first. They made it to the other side of the pool first and transferred the first set of bags. Many experts in swimming held two bags above water and swam across effortlessly like a fish. I was all smiles seeing that. I only knew how to float properly. Silently, I vowed to myself that I would learn to swim like that and also learn the underwater cycling trick.

The Forty Feet Pool

The Forty Feet Pool

As soon as the swimmers settled, transportation of non-swimmers began. One by one, each non-swimmer held on the rolled over sleeping mat and started kicking their legs. Each of them was accompanied by a swimmer. When we reached the other side, Naresh, Sujai, Mahesh, Rahul and many more guys helped us to find a decent place where could put our hands and climb up the ledge. Did I mention that the ledge was very narrow and it’s just a plain simple drop to the deepest end of the pool if we slipped?

But none of us slipped. Adrenalin was in full flow. As more people got on to the ledges, we formed a human chain to transport the bags being passed from the other side of the shore. The human chain extended to the rocks beyond the pool and all bags and belongings (cameras importantly) were transported safely. This teamwork happened instantaneously with no one telling what to do. When instinct/survival mode takes over, humans naturally cooperate with each other and get things done.

There was a small waterfall between two rocks. Water was rushing & it made me to jump in immediately and get wet. After staying for about 10 minutes there, I joined the rest of the gang in the climb up.

Steep Climb + 1

The Steep Climb

The Steep Climb

We took some snaps and we were on our way to go. Shortly on our walk, we came to a second pool. There was an alternative steeper route to the top, which we decided to pick. There were no places to hold on to, except some loose creepers and tree roots. We started climbing here. As soon as Satya and I made it to the top, we heard some voices at the bottom. They were wondering whether that was the route we had to take. We smiled at each other and waved at the sweeper gang to follow us. Guru came in first with his backpack. Together, the 3 of us first transported the sleeping mats to the top.

There was no place here except a thorny bush. So we placed the mats next to each other to form a platform; on top of which the trekker’s bags were kept carefully. A nudge would have sent the bags rolling down to a greenish pool below. Soon everybody made it. Our dear Sujai started tearing our ears with his mokkais. I asked “Why blood?” and he replied “Sameblood :D” in typical Vadivelu style.

Pool 2

After crossing this place, we came to another beautiful pool. Diwakar walked in first and depth-tested it. After he signalled that it’s easier to walk across the pool, we followed suit. In the similar manner as in pool 1, we got on the ledge above the pool. Only difference was that this ledge was even smaller. From here, we hopped on to the rock on our opposite. Placing one foot there and another foot in the place where we were, we were climbing in-between 2 huge rocks like spiders. At one point, we saw a big brown crab. As I was admiring its beauty, my foot slipped and I landed right beneath our crabby. Admiration quickly turned into fear. I found my balance quickly and climbed up.

Lunch Spot

Yay! :-) What a day it had been until now. We even forgot that we were famished. We had some lunch and started on our way. This time, we had to pass through huge boulders by hopping on them. At one point, before I got to know Naresh’s name I tried calling him as “white t-shirt guy”, “white cap guy” etc. Ok we were actually screaming to make him turn. But he didn’t budge. Guru was beside him. We all shouted “Guru” & he turned. We said “Call that deaf man besides you ;-)” and Naresh turned immediately, smiled and asked “Were you trying to call me?” We said, “We were trying to reach your grandpa”. We laughed and continued.

Pool 3

Before long, pool 3 came about. This was a very small one and nothing in size compared to pool 1 and 2. These pools in the wild have the tendency to get deep suddenly. So all of us treaded carefully with bags on top of our heads and walked to the other end. We had a guy named Ashok in our gang. Since he was the tallest and fussiest, he nick-named him as Mama (with dubious meaning 😉 & ragged him. He rewarded our rag by snapping our pictures on his Nikon D-something SLR. I hope the pictures came out well.

After crossing pool 3, we rested for a few minutes and got on one with Mother Nagala Nature. Sujai got bugged at the eerie silence and started to talk. Almost immediately, our ears started bleeding and we were all chattering again. More was coming …

Pool 4

Natural water slide at Pool 4

Peter was with us, listening to all our mokkais and rags. He led us to another pool that was part of another river flowing through the precious Nagala. The river created a medium sized pool at the bottom of a natural 20 feet water slide. All the swimmers took turns to ride the slide and fell WHOOSH!!! in to the water, creating big ripples. This reminded me of the Kone Falls adventure I had. Sujai did the same too; only that water had been displaced 20 feet higher ;-). Many videos were shot at this place. After diving and enjoying, it was time to move on.

Back to first Pool

We trekked for about 30 minutes and then came back to Pool 1. I got excited and jumped in immediately. Many friends from the first gang were already in the water, tempting us even more. We bathed, swam, dived and floated for about an hour and half. Then it was time to come back to the base camp in the same route we had come in the morning … crossing rocky terrain, ledges and following the forest trail.

Pretty quickly, we reached the dam and were on our way. At the base camp, we changed into comfortable wear and started our way back to home sweet home.

Photos

I can sense something burning somewhere :D. Probably your stomach? Here are some galleries to add fuel to the fire:

  1. Aswin Anand
  2. Santosh
  3. Arian
  4. Biju
  5. Karthick
  6. Bala Murali Krishna

Seriously speaking, I can NEVER forget this Sunday in my life. It was one of the best experiences ever. I know all of Nagalapuram-14 trekkers would agree with me on this.

Thanks CTC. Thank you Dear Nagala. We love you.


Hope you enjoyed reading it … as much as I enjoyed writing it! Thanks.