Difficulty Level – EXTREME
Terrain – initial uphill trek along thorny bushes on waterless trail, then fast walk along stream/boulders, then repeated cycles of steep climbs and descends across hills.
The journey to the gorges of Venkateswara started on 23.4.10 (11p.m). A group of 20 daring trekkers from Chennai boarded a train to Renigunda and reached as per scheduled bringing all of us to a rolling start. Some of us barely slept due to the excitement and someone ( i suspect NAVEEN ) lost the chappatis on the way ).
On the 24th morning, we boarded a bus to Tirupathi at 2.30 a.m and when we reached we were unable to catch hold of a jeep resulting in a delay of two hours. Nachu, Ramjan and Anil arrived from Bangalore and we were all set to conquer the “gorge”ous. The jeep ride never felt long with the presence of Guru, Ajay & Karmuhilan. We reached the base village as the sky turned orange, the clouds were scattered and an awesome weekend had started from there.
The team was strong and fit, and we headed towards the gorge with Aditya leading the way. It was a long walk with many steeps, tall grasses and burnt down trees. We were moving in a good pace along the jeep tracks admiring the hills we were passing by. The sun rose high above us glaring its fullest. It was difficult as there were no water points on the way and we had to continuously quench our thirst with the limited amount of water mixed glucose/electrol we had.
Around 11 a.m, we exited the jeep tracks and followed a dry stream which led us to a tip of a hill. Many of us had already emptied our bottles and the heat sucked my energy every minute I was under the sun, but the sight of the gorge stopped my breathe for a second. From the tip of the hill, we were able to see the whole gorge, the beautiful rock formations and at the end the waterfall we were headed to. A lot of clicks were taken at that point by Naveen( CTC Photographer ), few of the group went to the other viewpoint where as some of us ( Me, Nachu, Ranjith and Rock Bala) settled for a game of cards under a shady tree.
We spent an hour and a half there till the others arrived and then started our trek down to our base camp in the gorges. The climb and slopes were tough and the lack of water made it worse but when Aditya who led us shouted that he could see water down, a sudden spark of energy jolted within me, I couldn’t stop my legs from jumping down and Ajay from nowhere was even quicker and eager. We reached our camp at 3 in the evening, everybody was inside the small stream of water and all of us had our tongues sticking in it.
We then headed towards the waterfall, it was a good swim of 800 meters one way but a very tiresome one too. Many rocks in the sides and in between helped to break the continuous swim and gave some time to rest and admire the beautiful ways in which those rocks were formed. The waterfall was magnificent, standing below it felt refreshing and the water was pretty cool contradicting the heat of the rocks.
The sun set by the time we reached our base, and we were all ready to have our noodles and soup. The menu also included fried fish caught and fried by Hermant, Arun and Ranjith. Old music from Bala’s phone and a game of cards was how the first day ended.
Our journey continued on 8 a.m the next day, we were told that we would exit the gorge around evening to escape the sun. Within one hour of following the stream, we reached a pool where we had to ferry through. A huge ferry was made and within minutes the bags were on the other side, thanks to Ranjith, Guru and Nataraj who mainly helped in the process. We continued and reached another camp site, it was a superb rest spot covering the sun.
Many of us were like buffalos in a stream, rolling over water to keep us cool and that is when Vipin aka “ Kutappan ( I hope the spelling is right ) updated me on a very important subject which I want all those who trek with him to know . We skipped the second ferry point by climbing on the mountain side and all of us had a lot of fun at our last water point. A game by Ranjith was even more exciting but Naveen lost an important bet due to the game, “A TREAT” BY Nachu .
A long ten kilometers walk in a dry jeep trail was the last part of the trek. We came out later than we planned and reached the village at 9 p.m in the night. We found an auto which made two trips to the highway and later caught hold of a lorry all the way back to Renigunda. Another Auto ride to Tirupathi and that’s where the Bangalore trekkers separated from us. We were unable to find a restaurant on the way and returned to Chennai hungry, tired but happy that we conquered the gorges of Venkateswara.
Hats off to Naveen and Nachu(the organizers ) who were extremely helpful throughout the trek and also Aditya for his navigation skills .
Written by: Anurag Keshav
Organized by: Naveen, Ananth, Nachu
Participants: Aditya, Ajay Mani Raj, Ajinkya Deshmukh, Anil Kumar, Anurag Keshav, Arjun Sundar, AROCKIA JEYAKUMAR, Arun Mathew, Balasenthil, Gurumoorthi, Herbert Goldwin, Karmuhilan, Koushik, Krish Simonv, Marie SERRE, Nachu, Nataraj, Naveen, Prashant Kumar, Ramjan, Ranjithkumar, Suresh, Vipin