Friday, June 11, 2010

Yelagiri Part II

Do you know that climbing down hill is exponentially more difficult than climbing up? Yeah.. we had heard about it too, but got to experience it in Yelagiri.

At least on our up-way, we were able to control out movements and the thorny bushes. While climbing down, the thorns were as much of a problem as the gravity! And the place was becoming cloudy and dark so fast, and the guide kept taunting us by barking like a wolf or a bear now and then when She, the meek docile female, immediately clung on Her who in turn held to Her-Bf for her life. It was hilarious when the guide hid behind the rocks and I went a little ahead on the path. They followed me, trying to wrench their way out of some bushes, when the Guide jumped out of the rocks on them barking and freaked them all totally! She was nearly going to have a heart failure! :D We all reached the resort, laughing big time about it.

We were back just in time for dinner, all feeling so great about our achievement, and planned for a night safari in the jungles too. But sadly it started raining so heavily, that we could go, as the resort owners said that there would be too many poisonous snakes prowling and the forest was not exactly a neatly paved tar road with neon lights, and they were bound to be extremely slippery. So we didn’t really want a snake hanging on our framed-photos instead of flowers and just went back to our rooms and slept soundly.

The next morning was one big comedy. Before I go on with that, there is a side track you should know.

Yelagiri is the name of the entire mountain as such, which includes a number of villages (basically just a few houses put together) once every few kilometers. Our resort was in Athanavur, the biggest ‘town-with-an-ATM’, with a single road with about ten or so shops here and there, and the rest of the buildings were other resorts. So the previous day, we decided to go cycling in the mountain side in the early morning, in the cool breeze. Aaah, it all sounded so good… But trust me, BAD IDEA!

We had gone to one of the other resorts- Yathri Nivas, and booked three cycles for rent at 30 bucks/hour/cycle (She couldn’t ride, so we all took turns in taking her doubles). We picked up the cycles at 8 in the morning, with the idea of returning it by 9. Horrible planning!

It was awesome fun while riding downhill. The cycles were completely out of control, moving at like a 100 km/hr (or so it felt) and there were 2 hairpin bends too, where gravity overtook our breaks and even I started praying (funny, when science and rationality lets us down, the only thing anyone can do is call the ‘God’), but well, I could hear Her screaming out to Her-Bf with her hands and feet in the air, and Her-Bf too was helpless and in quite the same state.

We could come to a stop after half an hour of the downhill slide, our hands and feet and all wrong parts were all sour and we all wanted a break. We found this small rocky hill in the side, and decided to lock our cycles in the roadside and climb it. Later after a 45 min climb up and down, we kind of didn’t know which way to take to return, We couldn’t take the way we came coz It was too steep to climb on cycle, but a passerby told us that the other way would lead us to our resort after some 2-3 hours!

We decided to take the route we came and climbed. The cycles started rolling backwards, downhill even when we were putting in all our energy trying to peddle the other way! We got freaked, and decided to push it and hopefully reach the city within an hour. The sun was soaring up and we were barely prepared for such a scorching heat. We didn’t have a cover for the head, not a bottle of water. The place was completely desolated from any civilization and we were stuck, without as much as a tree to take shade, in the middle of nowhere, unable to climb the steep mountain roads, with or without the cycles. We found some rocks under some bushes in the side of a huge valley, and decided that we couldn’t take one step more, and sat down, waiting for someone to walk by to guide us.

So there we were sitting in the valley side not knowing what to do, when a shepherd, an old lady sympathized with us, took out her Nokia handset called the auto-stand in Athanavur, told them to get a tempo big enough to accommodate four people and three cycles and thanks to her, a tempo with an open back arrived to our rescue! We piled up the cycles, stood like politicians in the back of the tempo and in the scorching sun and three cycles tied in front of us and no place to hold to, we climbed the mountains thus! What a roller coaster!

We returned the cycles at around 12 noon, completely exhausted in the heat, went back to our resort, washed up, ate our lunch, played chess (and FYI, almost won) and finally, took back a cab to the station at 3pm. The return journey was pretty uneventful, in the train filled with bickering and bitching families and irritating mamas n mamis.

But as we returned home with sour legs and sun burnt hands and tanned faces, we were thinking… What a weekend!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Yelagiri Trip - Part I

The talk of a trip had been going on for quite some time now. With parents, sister, friends, colleagues… They all mostly vanished after the planning stage. After Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jodhpur, Darjeeling, Sikkim and Nepal, I now got a chance to take a weekend off in Yelagiri.

About approximately 350 km away from Chennai, Yelagiri is supposedly a hill station. I had expected something like Ooty, cool and commercial, but it wasn’t. It was as hot as 9 am or 4 pm in Chennai, not as sweaty and irritating though. There was a cool breeze all through the day, compensating for the hot sun.

The trip as it is wasn’t exactly a ‘planned’ one. It was more like a last minute idea. Wednesday morning, we discussed about how nice a trip would be, Wednesday evening, we browsed and thought of Yelagiri, Thursday morning we booked the tics in tatkal to Jolarpet (Thanks to pathetic speed of irctc at 8 am, managed to get only waiting list tics), Thursday evening called some resorts and ended up getting one- Auro Ville with two single rooms available and booked it, Friday morning booked the return tics to from Jolarpet to Chennai again in tatkal, Friday evening left office at 9.30 pm, went home and slept off, got up at 4 am on Saturday, got dropped off in central station by dad at 5.15 am.

The unconfirmed onward tics were the least of our problems. The seats actually got confirmed, and we all, Me, She, Her and Her-Bf successfully boarded the train at 6 am. Our main impending problem was the fact that Her father did not know about Her-Bf coming along with us. She had told him that the fourth person was a girl named ‘Divya’, whose seat was in some other coach. So Her inquisitive father came and sat with us until the train started, and enquired about the ‘fourth girl’ and about her seat and where she was n all. Little experience that I had in lying, my BP was rising with every question of his. After a point, I just got up and went outside in the pretext of getting water, and returned only as the train started moving!


Her-Bf came and sat with us only after the train left the station and the coast was clear. We got introduced, had our breakfasts (She thought she could survive on biscuits) talked about everything from religious beliefs, purity of Ganges (much to the irritation of the old mama n mami sitting with us in the same bay) to office politics and movies & series. We then played rummy and ace, and finally reached Jolarpet about an hour late.

As we had missed the bus that was supposedly at 9.45 am, we took a share auto for 300 bucks and climbed the mountain at the speed of ooty toy train. On the up side, we got to take a lot of snaps on the way.

We finally reached the resort, got freshened up, had lunch, made friends of Nala (the dog), and fixed up a guide for trekking.

We started at about 4.30 pm from the resort and went into jungles in the mountains. IT WAS AWESOME! Initially, we were all so highly enthused and the slopes were quite easy to walk on. We went on taking loads of snaps and enjoying every small thing like the touch-me-not (or so we think) leaves, and watching huge termite hills and everything.


Our guide was equally enthused about climbing the mountain with three girls (and a guy :P), and taught us to suck nectar out of small flowers, to walk on wood splinters on the ground without falling on them and getting killed, showed us the holes that bears had dug to eat the roots, dead scorpions, how soft the nest of birds felt and how a forest looks after a wild fire.

We were amazed by them all!! The path was so difficult to cross, with the thorny twigs scratching our faces and our skins, getting caught in our hair and our clothes. The mountain became increasingly steep and rocky and thorny and slippery and hence, more and more interesting to walk.

We passed all our obstacles and finally reached the mountain top, and sat there, panting like Nala. We had forgotten to take a bottle of water. If only we too had a bucket of water to plunge into!


We took some rest up there, talked about the jungle life and wild fires and emergencies and bears and snakes for a while and finally as it was getting dark and cloudy, decided to climb down. We took a long shot of the projecting rock on the right opposite mountain peak, and started off.


Our return journey and the next day events in Yelagiri Part II