A Write Up by Tharani
Yet another life time event. That’s how I feel, each time I complete a trek. And this time it was to the hills of Nagalapuram.
It all started with a mail from Rajasekar, the guy who organized the trek. I filled the form, keeping my fingers crossed hoping that I would get selected. It’s been almost a year since I trekked last and badly wanted to go on this one. Nagalapuram being one of my favourite places I was wishing for a fresh new start. You might not believe that I prayed that I should get selected and it was answered when Raja called me up telling that I was counted in. I was so excited and was wishing that the week would pass by soon.
Saturday – The day we started. We were 24 of us being picked at 4 different places. Nathan café at Koyembedu was where we all gathered. All started with small and big Hi’s, Broad smiles and brief handshakes. Though we dint know each other’s name, I felt that we all had something in common which has brought us together and it gave a comforting feeling along with an exciting atmosphere which was – ‘The Passion to trek’.
After the brief introductions we started in 4 cars and 2 bikes at around 5 from Koyambedu. With small chit chats about the previous trek experiences and few of them taking a nap we reached Othukkotai, a small town near the Andra border. We finished our breakfast in a hotel with pongal and puri. After which we again started towards the village of Nagalapuram.
A half hour’s drive brought us to Nagalapuram. I was so excited to see the hills from far off and all my memories at Nagala unfolded and I was wondering what the hills of Nagala had in store for me this time. The atmosphere totally changes leaving the city behind, with kingfishers sitting on the electric poles, spotted dove soaring the clear skies, the fresh heavenly air to breathe in and the Nagala hills so quiet, still and mysterious.
We headed towards the foot of the Nagala hills on its eastern side, parked our vehicles near a local village temple and got off our cars. Raja and Arun the co-organiser had all the food stuffs distributed. Apples, oranges and energy drinks and the grocery needed for cooking fornext 2days.
With our packs mounted on our backs, we were all set and started on our 2 days trek into the hills of Nagala. All of us were excited in our own ways; the first timers were full of anxiety, others like me who were visiting Nagala after few months were looking forward to see the trails they had walked before and explore new trails not knowing what the hills of Nagala had in store for them this time and the few others who had made Nagala their home were at ease enjoying every step they took. I felt that it was a cake walk for them J
We walked by the dam and to my awe the dam looked totally different; the water had dwindled and it was trickling down in small streams with dry barked bare trees all around and a temple at the centerwith dry walls, breathing hot air unlike its normal state of being damp as they remain submerged in the dam water all through the year. The air was hot and the sun had already started challenging us but our spirits being high we dint give it a chance. As we kept marching, the trees became dense and eased the heat forming a canopy overhead. Our destination was the Picnic pool where we were supposed to camp for the night. We kept heading forward jumping over the rocks and pebbles of the streams. And after a small climb over and down the hill, we reached the first pool. We were sweating and thirsty as the suns head had taken a toll on us. We were ready to take a quick dip in the chill mountain waters knowing that it will refresh us and bring back the spirit in us to walk another length until we reach the next pool – the dead end pool. Whilefew of us were still reluctant to get into the water, many were already enjoying the refreshing chill water. While Raja was helping the new swimmers with their swimming, few others who knew to swam across to a small water cascade on the other end of the pool to enjoy the water fall while the other offshore were chit chatting and recharging themselves with drinks and fruits.
After about half an hour at the first pool we got ready for the next stretch. We had to climb up and down a small hill and caught the trail of a stream which would lead us to the dead end pool. Helping each other climb, walk and jump were 24 of us enjoying and exploring the path which lay ahead in our own ways. As we kept walking lay before us a dark clear pool which spread across the breadth of the stream and deep inside forted by rocky walls as if it was protecting a kingdom’s castle on the other side. Rightly called the dead end pool. Swimmers were again excited and jumped into the water. Keerthana here would require a special mention;it looked as if she had lost all her energy and could move no-more but plunged into the water and swam the length and breadth of the pool like a fish. While we were enjoying the water and beauty of the butterflies fluttering around, Raja and Arun helped by others ferried the bags across the pool. The non-swimmers also were helped to the cross the pool. This was the place where everybody did their part. It looked as if the ants were working together to get things sorted. Crossing the pool we were confronted by a huge boulder which we crossed. Sri and Raja helped to climb over this big giant. When every one of us had made it to the other side, it was time for lunch and rest. We had Varki (a type of snack made from flour and baked until its crispy), apples and oranges which we had carried. The food tasted extra yummy as our stomach was churning because of hunger. After filling our tummies, few of us took a small nap while the others had a chat. After about an hours rest, we again started our trek. A small climb up and down then the streams showed the way and we kept going further. Though we were tired, the chirping Gayathri akka and Keerthana kept us fresh and going. As we kept walking, before us lay the deep narrow gorge. I felt that it was whispering to us the stories of the hundreds of people, old and young who passed by it. As we did not have the necessary equipments to make it through the gorge, Arun and Raja decided to take us up the cliff so that could decent on the other end where the gorge ends and the water takes the course of a stream. It was quite a steep climb with the deep gorge on the left hand side of us. The gorgewas deep and had the dark waters flowing down below. Looked quite scary and brought shivers through our spines; leaving out the brave ones who were as cool as ever. We headed up the hill and crossed the sharp edged cliffs steadily, making sure we dint make a wrong move and again climbed down the slope on the other end and made it for the streams. The trees soothed us with the shade and we took some rest as people climbed down the slopeone by one and joined the rest. Once everybody had made it successfully we started trekking towards the picnic pool which included a length of stream-walk and a steep climb and a sloppy climb down. As we were we descending we could see a dark and clear water body surrounded by trees and there it was our camp site – the picnic pool.
People who have camped by the picnic would know that it’s one of the best places to camp with trees and rocks around. The rocks are smooth and flat which make perfect place to bed. Perfect swimming pools with water fall at one end. It just looked awesome. The water was irresistible and we were soon in the waters swimming. People were diving and doing all kinds of gimmicks with the non-swimmers floating around with their floating tubes and mats. This was all for which we had trekked so long into the hills of Nagala and were enjoying it to the fullest. JJ I’m not doing justice with the way I’m explaining the scene at the pool. You will know what it really is when you are out there. After a heartful swim we went about collecting dry sticks and branches to make fire. It’s always interesting to cook at a camp site with no conventional stove &lighters and I watched interestingly as soup was set to boil with the fire made from the wood we had collected. It was almost 6 and the sun was setting and the atmospherearound was cooling down. The soup was hot and yummy and we had drunk heartily. It’s such a wonderful experience to sit by a pool having hot soup after a swim in cold waters. JAs we chit chatted we started preparing our dinner. Gayathri akka, myself and venkatesh cut vegetables, while the others were setting up the fire to cook, rinsed the rice and got water from the pool. It was nice to see everybody taking part and working together to get things done. J We were up to preparing biriyani. Yummy one! Raja and Arun took charge and started cooking while the others helped. The biriyani was being cooked in parts in two big vessels. It was almost dark and the fire glowed bright and hot. It was such a thrill to sit and watch all this happen and to be a part of it. In an hour the spicy biriyani was ready and we had stomach full. I would say it was aluxurious dinner. After dinner people chatted, while the tired ones were off to sleep. Sleeping under the wide open sky with hundreds of starts twinkling, breathing the fresh , chill air and hearing to the murmuring sound of the mountain stream is such a heavenly experience. The firebugs were flying around and it looked like a fairy land. With all these magical things around we drifted into a deep sleep.
Sunday – The sunshine woke me the next morning and I realized that the others were up already and finished their morning tea. Few of them were enjoying the water splash and others were sitting around the pool and having a chat. It looked so very serene and beautiful. Raja was planning to take the willing ones to a pool further which has a water fall of about 50 meters. I was all excited at and got ready to go with my shoes on. We had to climb up the fall in the picnic pool, so we had to remove our shoes to have a better grip. It was really adventures and we loved the stream walk which led us to the 50 meter water fall. The path we took was filled with big and small pebbles and boulders with few small pools which we had to swim to go across. There were bee hives which we were careful not to disturb. Crossing all these obstacles we reached the fall. It was beautiful though it was a water-shower rather than a fall 😉 We spent time climbing up the fall, took a shower in the water and posed for pictures. J Everybody was enjoying to the most. After about half an hour we climbed the same path and reached the picnic pool. We spent some time swimming and relaxing by the pool. The ones who had stayed back at the pool had prepared upma. We gobbled it up being very hungry. After breakfast we were told to pack as it was time us to return back. When I put on my shoes did I know the luxury of it having walked bare-foot.
We were ready in another half an hour and all set to go. We came back the same way we had taken the previous day. It was around 12:30 by the time we reached the dead-end pool. We took rest and had our lunch. Corn flakes with milk and kakra with pickle. It tasted really good. Again a royal mealJ, at around 2 we started from the dead end pool. We had to ferry the bags again and get the non-swimmers to the shore safely. Each and everyone selflessly helped. I was the one who went ashore first and it looked so beautiful. Hundreds of butterflies were fluttering around. The ones in white and black, the ones in deep lemon yellow, the ones in red and black and the ones in deep orange with black dots. Adding to this beauty were the toads, hundreds of them sitting and jumping about everywhere. It literally looked as if it was a land of magic and beauty. I felt as if the toads and the butterflies were having a part together. J While I was sunk in the beauty around me, all the bags were ready to be ferried and as Arun and Raja ferried the bags. Then the non-swimmers were helped across again. We took our time swimming in the pool. The guys – Rahul, Ravikiran, Raja, Arun were helping the non-swimmers to swim. It was so much fun.
At around 3 we started back from the dead-end pool. In about an hour and a half we reached the first pool where we took a brief rest. Raja had to go back to get the swift legged Srikanth back, who had wandered away. We munched on the fruits left with us. At around 5 we continued our journey back and reached the dam in another 45 minutes.
Reaching the dam at around 6 we sat around emptying the remaining chocolates and fruits. We had a small chat when everybody was briefly introducing themselves. It gave a very different feeling to know each one by their profession and full name which happened after spending 2 full days together in the forest. It felt as if we 24 of us were bound by a relationship which was beyond our names and profession.
Thanks to Raja and Arun for this!
We drove back to Oothukotai and had dinner. Paratha, Bulls-eye, omelette, eggdosa went on the list…. J After having a hearty dinner we drove back to the city and parted ways hoping to meet again saying byes, handshakesand hugs. J