[ November 2014 ]
No matter how many movies you watch or games you play, you always want to be a part of action. It’s a craving. It’s a mystery that cannot be solved. Life is a mysterious journey loaded with ups and downs and it’s on us to choose what defines us. It had been months and I wanted to go trekking and camp for the night too. My buddies Kishore, Mrityunjay and Kiran were all aboard with my plan to buy a tent. It was the time of our internals and M3 was scheduled the next day. But we crazies were browsing online for tents! Anyhow we had our tent in days and even practiced pitching it.
It was the dawn of winter, the month of November. The cold was already making its presence felt. We boarded the local train from YNK to CBP. By 10:30 we were in the city of Chikballapur. My SJCIT friends were game as usual, despite the fact that they had their internals going on! Veer, Mahesh and Sid were these heroes. Every time I plan a trek these guys support and co-ordinate so well that the weight I’m carrying somehow feels lighter. They joined us at the city bus stand. We did not know our way to the base of the hill so we hired an auto to take us.
Standing at the base of hill, staring up towards our destination, we kind of felt thrilled. The way I saw it we had two choices: To take the usual trail up or to explore the road not taken. But by general consensus it was decided that the usual trail would be better as we had several first timers like Kishore and Srinivas. We didn’t have a complete picture of the hill until we had covered two kilometres at least. We rested under what looked like a stone eroded through time. Sitting there looking all around I realized that the beauty of nature lies in the fact that it is serene, so powerful. The very sight fills our hearts with joy. A sudden wave of shame and disgust swept through me as I thought of all the various ways we were destroying her inch by inch. We are SELFISH indeed.
The ascend was fantastic, Veer leading and Mrityunjaya sweeping. We made our way up rapidly, taking stops as and when I decided. Sid was a complete entertainer. He kept the group alive by throwing a mix of weird humor and slangs. My friend from NMIT were getting along nice with our local boys. The beauty of these treks is that we can start as complete strangers but by the time you leave you know so much about each other that you hate to part ways!
The trail was around 5kms long spanning the body of the hill. The vegetation was getting greener, different plants and trees emerged as we got closer to the peak. The hill was used as a vantage point sometime in the last few centuries and it was dotted with all these ruins of once majestic forts and guard outposts. The last few meters were not so easy and Srinivas’ backpack gave in. So we had to quickly fix that up and got moving.
The peak was defined by a flag post that had the national and state flags over it. Several members let out a sigh of relief right then. More like a plateau I thought, as looked all around. The right portion was covered in thick vegetation while the rest was just boulders. There was a large cavity in the far right, that sort of looked like a perfect home for lions and tigers! It was a kind of place we only had seen in Nat Geo. The temple of Shiva in the center left was monumental. There was even a ‘mantapam’ in ruins at the back. Its outer rooms were being used by a couple of guys for storing firewood and stuff. My friends were overjoyed to see the bundles of firewood that lay stacked so beautifully. I had to tell them that we had to purchase it and it was not free!
Soon we were all exploring, taking photos and posing. When exhaustion kicked in we all brought ourselves back to the middle-ground. Oranges, bananas and bread were soon filling up all our stomachs. It was a satisfying meal. The oranges really rejuvenated us. Now it was time to look for a probable camp site. I and Veer found a place that was completely on the far side of the peak. It was actually on the other side of fort. The place was isolated, clean and we had solid ground. The only underside was that the spot was open to winds, breezes and it could get really cold at night.
Unfortunately for us, our SJCIT friends had to bid adieu, courtesy the exams. It wouldn’t have been possible for them to spend a full night and the day next. So they left us after some memorable moments. Once they left, we ‘campers’ got to work. We cleaned up the camping area, plucking weeds and clearing the ground. Srinivas and Kishore cleaned up good under Pramod’s guidance. Pramod was sort of experienced in these grueling tasks working at his farm. Then we pitched the tent nice and proper, set up a nice fireplace to cook and keep us warm at the same time.
By 6:00 we were already beginning to feel the cold. The light was going away for the night. We sat around to make our meal. Pramod got the fire going and Kishore was cutting the vegetables while I was setting up the place for night watch. Together we cooked a meal that we can never forget for two reasons. Firstly, it was an awesome experience and second, the meal was delicious! We gobbled up all that was there. For the next few hours we sang and shared our experiences. We shared our wishes, our future plans. Pramod and Srinivas took the first watch, so we all slipped into dreamland.
I was damn sure I hadn’t slept for even a few minutes when I was woken up for my turn. Well it always feels that way because we were tired I supposed. The next two hours on my watch we spent tending the fire and minimizing the wood as were running low. It was dawn soon and were all up. Rise and shine! We packed up our stuff, after all we had a sunrise to catch!
I was dumbstruck when I made my way back up the peak. I might not have mentioned the fact that that there were hardly anyone the previous noon. Right then I could count at least a hundred faces! They had all camped right there. Some had just made their way up trekking all night. Several fires were doused and smoke still hung in the air. We literally had to squeeze through everywhere. I was happy we had decided to camp out there else we wouldn’t have had such an out-of-the-world experience!
We had missed the sunrise. We still took some photos, enjoyed the breathtaking views and the beautifully patterned sky and started for the descent. The descent was easy. Pramod was leading while Mrityunjay was sweeping. It took us an hour of slipping and walking before we reached the base. It was fun. I asked the team to rest for a while and told them we were to go on foot to the city and no auto this time. Initially reluctant, (Kishore especially) they agreed to walk. It should have taken us an hour of walk filled with talks and made pleasurable by the melodious calls of the birds. The countryside was too beautiful and I was reminiscing my days at Kukanoor. I spent a decade, the better part of my childhood in that little town and it was the best. I just couldn’t help but think of giving the same opportunity to my future generations to spend their childhood in the countryside.
All thoughts aside, we reached Chikballapur, boarded KSRTC bus and left for college. By 10:15 we were in college and lucky too for we were just in time for hot ‘Paranthas’ the mess sereved as breakfast on Sundays. Well I enjoyed this one especially the camping part and it wouldn’t have been so wonderful if not for this great team. Hope we brace ourselves for more adventures in our life.
After all, “The beauty of life is in the fact that you only get to live it once!”