So this time let me talk about the kodaikanal trek experience, something that has stretched my limits as far as trekking goes.The effort was considerable so its worth to be captured and documented. as far as the capturing part goes. my Sony cyber shot has done its part and the photos have already made their way to picasa , now after much delay here I'm to put across my 2 day experience at kodaikanal in a few words( dont believe the last line).
Task: Trek from Kodaikanal to Kuthirayur Dam
Planning and Scheduling:
As far as the planning goes things were on right from the month of august and entries had been invited from Madhukar , myself having luckily made it to the first lucky 22. So this time i was in for sure, i didn't really have to keep my fingers crossed unlike the Dudh sagar trip where i made it to the list in the end. The guide Kodai Mani had qouted quite an exorbitant amount for the trek , Prasanna and others having negotiated it and brought it to a decent sum. so finally the trek was fixed on 19th and 20th and we had to leave Bangalore on 18th. small hiccups regarding the bus with the 22 seater was cleared and things were well on their way, everyone waiting for the grand day the 18th evening. after few last minute additions and deletion of people which becomes almost inevitable in every trip the number 22 was still retained.
Curiosity had already driven me to do a lot of googling on the trek and eventually i came across a thread that confirmed it was indeed a difficult terrain, had even come across a picasa album showing a group of people with their legs full of blood oozing out, fingers badly hurt, etc kept me wondering how it could have ever happened. well that's something we all had to bear with. I had showed it to madhukar.
Time for Action!!!
In no time 18th was here, myself having bunked the office then as i was no mood to work so that left me packing and preparing the whole day. I don't wanna be too pedantic here describing every event and moment of the trip , but this is my last chance to keep many a things told so I'm gonna tell myself that let me talk in more detail. so the same evening i headed towards my boarding point near Uma theater along with sachidananda. the bus arrived well on time and people of course were on time too and we had started moving. it rained on the way so others had some difficulty getting in. nonetheless everyone had made it on time and we were off. On the way stopped by for dinner at mallu hotel which was not too bad on the tongue, normally they aren't.
we left in no time and were headed towards Hosur through Sarjapur. activities like the usual antyakshari which somehow is the default activity all the time had started, however this one sounded a little strange with people having their own music compositions The bus stopped by at several places for a tea break and i did cash in on all of these breaks i simply love the hot sweet tea in TN for 3 bucks. I love the way they do it so briskly and yet he does maintain so much accuracy.
Soon it was dawn and bus had already started driving the ghat road to kodaikanal through palani ,the plains that used to be so common until now were slowly being replaced by mountain ranges that had a bluish offset behind them. the view was always refreshing. we did spot the Kuthirayur Dam on the ascent , however we didn't knew that it was the same dam that we needed to arrive at the end of trek. from the height it appeared more like a pond of water with a small wall holding it. We were soon at kodaikanal town, This followed by quick breakfast at the vishalakshi bhavan with 2 rounds of breakfast menu. the typical south Indian breakfast does more or less revolves around idli, vada,and dosas. so we did have these delicacies and were soon off to a lodge nearby for a dress change. The guide Mani had arrived with a mini bus that would take us to the trek starting point. so with this the whole trekking expedition had officially started. As we left the kodai town the ever beautiful and green terrain of kodai started opening up in all its splendor, the narrow roads, the perfectly landscaped mountains. the pleasant mist that had greatly reduced the visibility was a treat to watch. suddenly there was a feeling of having left the time to run at its own pace and we having branched off from the outside world onto an entirely different world for this 2 days only to be accompanied by nature, wading our way through the mountains, crossing the forests ultimately to reach the dam and rejoin the material world that we were leaving now.
We got down from the bus at the starting point of the trek, the guide having spared us time as he had gone vanished for sometime searching for a guy who had to carry some amount of his carry things. This place appeared so serene and quiet. It had a lake at the base. my team mates spared no opportunity in getting some really nice shots of the lake and the surroundings.Of course the pictures speaks for themselves and i don't really think i have go vocal here. the lake was a complimentary part of the trek yet was a great starter to the trek.
finally it was time to start the trek on foot, all of us totally charged and loaded. with arms, ammunition,supplies packed inside the bags,the tents and the wrapped sheets more or less looked like rocket launchers. our weapons were the cameras. me having a small cybershot that's more like a revolver and many others with SLR's that were like the machine guns. ready to war, to shed blood( the blood thing would make sense later, read on!), ready to take on the enemy.
we were welcomed by a sudden short spell of rain that acted like dampener to the fun of those without an umbrellas or the rain gears. We walked through the plains for about 500 meters before entering the forests, this was more of an enemy territory. we were 22+ but they were countless. all set to take on us. taking every opportunity to pounce on us and start sucking blood, yes indeed these were the tiny leaches in the forests. no one was spared , i myself having roughly taken out an approximate 60-70 from my hands and legs. sadly we didn't have any defense against them and had to bear with these blood suckers. walking inside the forests bearing with these leaches was an experience by itself .After roughly 1 odd hour of endless miseries with these tiny creatures we were out of the forests and suddenly on a peak that was filled with mist and having a dead vertical drop in less than a meter away from the trek trail. There was this strange feeling of accomplishment among us like the soldiers who came alive from a battlefield. the last few remaining leaches were whisked away from our skin using the Deodorant spray on them .poor creatures didn't really survive the "AXE EFFECT". The clouds did play a spoilsport denying us this spectacular view of the mountain ranges that lay front of us.
Trekking route from now on was very pleasant, the weather slightly chilling yet was enjoyable. We then arrived on a small temple on the top of the peak. Mani did the puja's here. We had lunch here . menu as usual was the MTR ready to eat which seems to have now become the official meal for all our treks. we did spot a small deer here that seem to vanish in a wink. resumed the trekking quickly. the routes that we took here were easy. we had to just keep crossing the peaks one after the other. the scenery that we saw here were perhaps the best throughout the trek. we arrived at a small piece of flat land at the end of the day this is where we pitched our tents.Tent pitching is always fun given to the fact it takes some team effort and besides its always fun to see your effort rise in front of your eyes. soon the tents were up and getting inside them was very relaxing as it very getting very cold in the night and my jacket having got wet rain result i had to bear the brunt. The tent was much warmer inside. we did have to fight with leaches even here. we then had light dinner . Sachidanada, Hari, Girish had a can of Sprite(it had only sprite..clear hai?). later in the night i woke up at around 2 and had some nice warm air through the fire that was put up outside. before i could take enough of it Mani was resilient to wait any longer. he was of the opinion bisons would be coming for water in the night and we don't wanna be out. so we had to get into the tents.one could see cow dung all over this place.
The day started as early as 6.30. the tents were brought down quickly, the wastes including the plastic covers, bottles, blood soaked Socks, etc were quickly burnt in the camp fire. after an elaborate group photo sessions and some poses with the local star ( the Bison skull). we were off on foot once again by 7.30 AM fully packed hoping to see the Dam before the dusk.The Dam was clearly visible from our camp but we had no idea about the trail and it was sure to be a distant dream reaching there easily. On the way we filled water bottle at the water body nearby. The trail was a lot more slippery and muddy. the weather was no more cool and chilling but instead was hot and very daunting this was because we had already started descending the mountains. The way down was never easy. we needed to slide sometimes, and tightly hold on the grip of our shoes some other times slowly coming down through the mountains, given to the fact that we carried so much weight on our shoulders the task was never so easy. and after some point of time wearing shoes was totally impossible and i had to switch over to sandals. the normal sport shoes would never take this much strain and people had to bear with soles coming off . We had to break for rest very often,finally after a harrowing afternoon we finally made it to the base where we came across a small stream. here we halted for an hour or so to have lunch that was very refreshing, we badly needed to refill some energy into us. on the way to this base myself and others having lost the trail and were lucky to make it back to join the group.
The trek post the stream was more a moderate and flat land cutting across the forests. the trail was clearly visible and it was evident that it was used by people often unlike the trail before which bore not much signs of human influence. On the way we got a glimpse of the Kuthriyaur falls which was very majestic, although we didn't pass right in front of it, yet it looked very noisy and huge from a distance. the trail moved parallel along the river which ended up at the kuthirayur Dam. quite often we spotted elephant dung on the way, of course we were quite lucky not to spot any elephants on the way . most of us quite exhausted and we were just hoping to reach the dam asap. The small river we came across along the way was cleared quite easily.
Soon it was dark and this is when the miseries(or shall i fondly call it the NIGHT TREK) had a beginning. The whole group was by itself split into 2 as the first few set of people marched in quickly and the rest of them including me who had misjudged the distance we needed to cover proceeded at a slower pace. at least we were lucky to have Mani with us. The darkness brought along with it multiple problems. we were firstly running short of torches and so 2-3 people had to manage with one torch, there was no water too. although the path looked pretty easy the darkness made things difficult. some of the steps that could have been kept vaguely in the day were to be judged twice and thrice to precision due to dark cover that surrounded us. the girls had some difficulty here but soon they learnt to manage with it and after a slow and tiring walk with some breaks in between, more importantly bearing all the fake claims Mani had been giving about the distance we finally got the first glimpse of the huge Dam wall that lay front us. Yes it was indeed Kuthorayur Dam. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as we had made it safe at the end of it all. Bishu had been heading the welcome group that awaited our arrival. Soon we marched to a shop nearby and had some cool drinks from where we got on to our buses and started the journey back to Bangalore.
So the 2 adventurous day amidst the lap of nature far from even traces of civilization had come to a grand end. at the end of it we all safely made it back home. of course we have taken some presents along with us ... Be it the bite marks of the leaches or the swollen legs badly injured or the dirty pants unlike me.... but more so we have even taken a more priceless booty of endless fond memories of the 2 days. be it the beautiful lake,the tough time with the leaches, the endless picturesque mountains, the sprite party inside the tent( of course the conversation following it), the never ending complaints of Madhu Gopal( sorry gopala , but you are a great company), wading through the forests, crossing the river and the night trek of course. I shall remember them all for a long time to come.
I'm more than thankful to the group ...... we did work as a team supporting each other every time, .The guide did a fine job and of course people like Madhukar, prasanna, Bishu, Sathya, Jaggu, Madhu, who had put in extra effort , thanks a lot guys. hope to be a part of more such treks in the coming days. and for the first timers like lakshmi, Sindhu,etc you should be doubly happy cause you couldn't have got a better beginning than this trek. you did start off with a bang.