Colors of Venkateswara - A Trek in the Eastern Ghats!Sunday, March 07, 2010
Before I jump in to show you my world (I like the sound of it ☺ – My world!), let’s do a quick Q&A round.
- Do you think Eastern Ghats are a good place to trek with worthy enough sights to keep one mesmerized or let’s go basic and do you know Eastern Ghats even exist at all? Okay now I am undermining you too much I guess, moving on!
- Do you think the Eastern Ghats have crystal clear pools and deadly gorges/valleys and do you think it is fun to jump into them?
- Do you think it’s possible to have a full course dinner starting from Soup and only ending at a Dessert in the middle of the jungle?
- Do you think non-swimmers can cross deep pools and you think people can dive into waters of unknown depth and have amazing fun?
- Do you think people can be crazy enough to take a leave on Monday to spend two nights and three days hiking 50kms in the jungles and have the best of times away from civilization?
- Do you think “Colors of Venkateswara” come in all shades ranging from amazing to super fun?
- Do you think losing track and getting down to the valley in the craziest possible way is counted as fun by any standards?
Venkateswara National Park falls in the Eastern Ghats and to be precise forms the forests in and around Tirumala in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. This was my latest exploration and the weekend of Feb 20-22nd added yet another unknown facet to the list of ever-growing wonders of India. It’s was an epic journey of 3 days with lots that happened. I will try to keep it short and simple and if I don’t succeed, please bear with me! ☺
You see our man Ravi – the Organizer had gotten permission for us to enter through Papavinasanam Forest Area in the Venkateswara National Park and we were standing in front of Kumaradhara Forest area. Now I tried telling him that Venkateswara National Park is the superset of all these subsets (Kumaradhara, Papavinasanam etc) and since we had permission to enter Venkateswara, we were good to go but the guile guard (or so he thought) answered in a very matter-of-factly tone that the “Park” is not here and it is like 10 kms from here near the temple! That was one FML moment and I was laughing in my head for my wise choice of words. More insanity later, we decided to go find our own way and after some climbing, we reached our trail and that was our ticket to a wild getaway! Last we saw or heard of civilization for 3 days.
These falls, being in a valley with sunlight filtering through the canopy and falling through the air was a lovely sight.
Do you remember the movie The Beach starring a very young and striking Leonardo Dicaprio back in 2000? Do you also remember the scene where he takes a few steps back and then plunges from the top of a waterfall into the gorgeous pool hundreds of feet below set in the amazing surroundings of Thailand? Or the more recent scene where Mila Kunis jumps into the Lapis Lazuli Waters of Hawaii in the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall? And where am I getting with all this? It’s just that since 2000 and till date, that has been my dream. To just jump! Jump with no strings attached. Surrender to the force of gravity with no fear whatsoever. And you’d think I finally got to live my dream. No, I didn’t jump. Instead I sat on the ledge watching these guys jump and wondering when I will live my dream. Today I made a promise to myself – next time I come here, either I would have learnt how to swim/dive or come with a death wish!
It was a cold evening and the sleeping bag was beckoning me. What with the previous sleepless night, it was not a hard decision to take a nap and I have to tell you now that our campsite was not a huge flat ground. It was a dried up stream bed tucked between rising rock faces on two sides and the fall to the pool on the other side. So I crashed close to the rising hill to the left and there were lot of bushes here unlike the opposite side where a huge rock was rising straight above. But the tired mind did not think much before slipping into a slumber. An hour or two must’ve passed and I woke up to the sounds of banter around the campfire but I was too lazy to get out sleeping bag yet and was just thinking that it is dark and with the bushes right next to me, chances are a snake might easily creep in if it wants and no one would notice. Just then, to my horror, Ananth, Ajay and a few more started hovering around me shouting snake! Snake! Don’t move! Stay still inside the sleeping bag! Can you imagine the horror?! I had my heart in my mouth unable to comprehend the credibility of the shouting voices. Turns out it was a prank after all and I am very thankful that it was just a prank and equally thankful to Srini for letting me know. :)
Day 3 comes and we start on a relaxed note. After several rounds of morning tea and multiple helpings of the delicious unknown breakfast and salad, we set out reluctantly to reach back to the realms of civilization. But today was not going to be just another day in the wild. As always, Ravi and Guna were busy scaring us saying we were already late but the moment they see a pool jump in, constantly baffling me. Are we getting late or not and you’d think by now we would’ve known better than to trust their fake warnings but unfortunately no! Soon we reached an amazing gorge lined with light colored rocks and gorgeous pools putting up their best show of colors. It was crystal clear reflecting all of the good above and below the waters. We spent a good amount of time photographing and jumping around. And then we reached a nice little dead end which turned out to be a huge waterfall into the deep valley. We had to get down to the valley and this was our first roadblock.