Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Kolli hills – the mystical and magical paradise on earth

There is a place on earth which is feared for its mysteriousness, which is worshipped for its magical powers, which is horrorred for its witch crafts; which is a home for many saints; which is a place for many cave temples. Standing tall and spreading its wings on the Eastern Ghats this place is a beauty by creation; it’s a paradise by birth; it as the vibrations which can peel your heart and as the name suggests it can kill you with its gorgeousness.

The agenda of the trek was to start from Puliancholai village and trek along the main stream to reach Akash ganga water falls. To explore and visit the caves on this mysterious mountain, to reach the top of the Akash ganga falls and to hit the 1,100 mts peak and ascend along a village trail to reach back to Puliancholai.

Trek along the stream to reach the Akash Ganga waterfalls:

The initial steps of the trek were climbed along the chill and refreshing stream of Kolli hills to reach the famous Akash Ganga waterfalls. Although the place was quite dry and the sun was on top of us, it never denied anyone of us from marching ahead. Taking a dip on the reverberating chill waters of Kolli hills we energized our bodies and headed towards the hunt for caves hidden deep inside the mysterious hills. Indeed, I have heard loads about the caves, the saints, the magical powers, the heeling leaves etc. etc. about Kolli hills but now all I wanted was to witness all these for myself.

Visiting Shri Gokarnath siddhar cave and Pamb atti (Snake Charmer) Siddhar cave:

Like a child who for the very first time witnessing a surprise thrown at him. I saw and wondered at the Kolli caves and learnt the life’s of these Siddhar’s who have left behind them loads of energy and vibrations in these caves. Now these places are worshipped and visited only by the locals and tribes who are aware of these consecrated places.

I admired and wondered how on earth these caves were formed and how these Siddhar’s happened to choose these places and used it for practicing mediation and as a laboratory to understand the medicinal properties of the flora in that region. Really they would have been brave hearts to have lived amidst these sorts of places encountering innumerable difficulties in their life.

The amusement of Kolli hills – taking bath in the Akash Ganga waterfalls:

Lost at the sight of her majesty; loving the chill moisturized breeze hitting my body; adoring the smell of her waters; I saw and admired the mind blowing view of the beautiful Akash ganga waterfalls dropping from the sky. No wonder it was named as “Akash ganga” a well deserved name.

Wondering at her appealing beauty I slowly ventured into her bone chilling water to take a dip in her soothing waters. I should confess here that this was one the best experience’s I ever had standing below a waterfalls and enjoying the pin-like water hitting me hard. My body was enjoying the enchantment of the nature and my heart was filled with absolute delight. Akash ganga will be ever remembered by us for the wonderful life-time experience it offered to us.

Camping near the Arpaleshwar temple:

Arpaleshwar temple is Lord Shiva devotees must visit place and as planned we camped there for night. The temple was thronged by devotees owing to upcoming Shivarathri from various parts of South India who knew its significance. The shops nearby offer excellent herbal soups made out of plants roots which can easily refresh any tired body and mind; I can recollect most of us having many rounds of herbal soup unable to control their taste buds.

As it became dark we cooked and had yummy dinner and the night which followed was a long and sleepless for many since the mercury dipped leaving behind poor souls to tremble in cold.

Visit to the top of the Akash Ganga waterfalls:

The next day morning we woke up to witness the revitalizing early morning sun. Soon we decided to conquer the Akash ganga waterfalls and hit its top and watch how it feels like to witness it from its top. When the tourist world is limited to Akash Ganga waterfall beautifying the Kolli hills we have realized that there is a life and society beyond tourist destinations which is close to our hearts. Sitting on the 400 mts. humongous cliff; enjoying the magnificent views; with the chill breeze soothing through nostrils; looking at the paths trekked; with an unconscious smile on the face and heart filled with happiness certainly quenches our adrenaline rush. It’s a trekker’s feeling lost in his own world far away from humanity nevertheless close to nature.

Conquering the 1,100 mts + Kolli peak:

After the return from the top of the Akash ganga waterfalls we decided to reach to the top of the kolli peak braving the scorching sun. We initially trekked through a village trail and soon reached the base of the peak then it was full of tricky rock climbing.

The climb to reach the peak braving the scorching sun was rewarded with wonderful views of the entire Kolli valley. The Akash Ganga waterfall was beneath us and we were blessed with the mind-blowing view of the entire Kolli hills. I could hear the appreciations going around on reaching to the peak through legs and watch the victorious moments being captured. The sense of satisfaction was very obvious on every once face and I am confident all the trekkers would cherish these memories forever in their life.

Ascending the Kolli hills through a rocky village trail:

After conquering the Kolli peak we ascended along the village trails crossing several villages and spending wonderful afternoon and lunch in some of the most beautiful and peaceful villages situated in the Kolli hills. The best part of the afternoon was fetching water from the village water well and quenching our thirst and finishing our lip-smacking lunch from the gardens of the village.

The most tiring part of the trek was ascending along the hilly and rocky steps to reach Pullianchoolai village. After few initial steps of hiking down our thighs started aching and made us feel exhausted but slowly and steadily we successfully ascended through the village trail and reached the Pullianchoolai stream and had a nice bath in the chill water.

Yet another good encounter was a villager who was successful in his attempt in capturing a huge fish from the stream. Initially when we saw his catch we mistook it to be a snake but finally realized that it was stream fish.

Kolli had been in my must visit places for hiking and I did not wanted to miss this opportunity and at the end of the two days adventure at Kolli hills I had a absolute sense of satisfaction in completing this wonderful trek and exploring few less visited places by mankind.

Happy trekking

Durai Murugan 

Friday, 24 February 2012

Am not a soccer player but I love playing beach soccer – Thiruvanmiyur beach soccer experiences

Few of the best evenings in my life were spent along the sea shore playing beach soccer at Thiruvanmiyur beach. The chill breeze, the sound of the waves hitting the shore, the scenic moon illuminating the beach, the cushioning sands of the beach all conspire together and pull my heart and make me hit the beaches to play a wonderful game of soccer.

I am not a footballer therefore apart from watching premier leagues and world cups; I have nothing great to do with soccer. However, ever since the day I started playing beach soccer I lost myself with the game and became almost like an addict towards soccer and the love for the game has increased in me phenomenally.

The game of beach soccer:
The game starts around 8 p.m when I and my couple of like minded friends join together and knock the floor of the beach. The on-lookers who come to relax and in-take sea breeze initially looked at us crazily but when time rolled on they realized our craziness and started enjoying our amateur soccer. Some youngsters have started playing with us also. Except for playing in foot the game has our own set of simplified rules which we have devolved over time and most of them are quite crazy.

There have been instances because of poor turn outs we had only 2 persons per side and there have been instances where we have had 20 persons per side. I loved both the versions of the numbers as long the ball is being kicked and I keep running behind the ball with my heart pounding hard.

At the end of each day’s soccer:
After the 2 hours of continuous hardcore soccer I would be completely exhausted. Sometimes, I even felt that exhausted that I would like to sleep on the laps of the beaches rather than getting back to home.

However, my body and mind had a sense of satisfaction after hitting the beaches the night which followed Soccer used to be one of the best nights. After consuming whatever is there for dinner I would go to bed and sleeplike a piece of log forgetting everything else in the world. Few days back when I was sleeping I hit the wall and scored a goal and only to be realized in the morning when my leg was paining because I scored a goal in my dream against the wall.  

Jogging along the lovely coast with few best buddies:

We have now started going one step ahead and started jogging along the lovely coast with the chill sea water playing around our feet. Although the jog from Thiruvanmiyur beach to Besant nagar beach is quite challenging what makes me to complete stretch is the wonderful camaraderie of my fellow joggers. There have been instances when dogs have taken a ride on us and chased us to hell but still the jog along the coast is worth every bit of hardship it throws on us. At end of completing a whooping 6 kms jog up and down on the sands of beach normally my legs will start taking steps on its own involuntarily probably, the effect after a rewarding jog.

Although the love for the game is insatiable - to be honest, I don’t know the rules properly but that does not stop me from playing soccer; I run behind balls although most of the time I am unsuccessful getting the ball into my control and I try defending and hitting goals which most of the time land in opposition legs. Yes, I am not a soccer player but I love playing beach soccer.

Happy Playing,

Durai Murugan 

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The great Indian railway journey – Chennai to New Delhi in Tamil Nadu Express

One of my crazy and wanderlust dreams was to travel in the Indian Railways “unreserved compartment” for a very long distance. I decided to board the Tamil Nadu Express which ply’s between Chennai and New Delhi on 10.02.2012. It was an instant decision and I packed my travel bag and bought my ticket at the Central railway station, Chennai. It was a long queue to even get an open ticket. After 45 minutes halt I managed to get a ticket. The best part was the ticket which was priced only Rs. 287/-. I was all set to encounter one of my “Dream Journey” travelling in the unreserved compartment for almost 36 hours.

Discovering a place to rest:
A typical unreserved coach in Indian railways is poorly maintained with no place to sleep for longer journeys. More than the poor condition of the coach the compartment which is supposed to occupy 75 passengers was over flowing with 200 + passengers. There was no place to even keep one’s foot anywhere. The saddest part was even the filthy toilets were occupied by youngsters who used that place for smoking.

I had difficult time finding a place for myself on the upper rack which is usually the place to rest the goodies. However, two other youngsters from Andhra Pradesh and me were sharing that upper rack. The train started moving at 2200 hours and thus the Journey began.

A sleepless night on the upper rack:

There was no proper place for me to rest my back comfortably still I managed to tolerate it watching the fellow passengers lying on the floor and leaning against seats. Just remembered one of the best poetic lines written by Kannadasan for an old Tamil song “Enge Nimmathi” “there are Crores of people below you and one should know how to make yourself happy looking at their plight”. Since my place was slightly better than their place I was able to live with the dis-comfortness and prepared myself for the sleepless train journey. The next stop was after almost 6 hours in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh until then I was restrained from moving anywhere and had to squeeze myself in the very little place I managed to get. It was a long and sleepless night with temperature going down in the night.

Second day ordeal in the train:

The day started with a slight back pain and muscle aches throughout the body. But I was determined to complete my travel. The motivating factor of the entire trip was my fellow passengers who appeared to be down trodden but without any complaints were just enjoying the travel amidst the pile of human beings thronging everywhere.

The unreserved compartment is cordoned off from the remaining reserved coaches therefore I had difficulty in getting my food, water and attending nature’s call. However, in every stop I somehow managed to refresh myself and continued the journey.

The cold and second sleepless night:

Now the train crossed Maharashtra and entered Madhya Pradesh the temperature started dipping. I only had a thick jacket to guard me from cold. Almost my finger started to shiver with cold but somehow I was pushing myself with the hope that the day will start soon and it will be warmer enough to bring me back to normalcy. After a long struggle for warmness I somehow successfully managed to spend the night.

The train hit the Delhi railway station around 7 a.m and it was partially covered with mist and my muscles were crying out of ache. However, with the joy of successfully completing my “Dream Journey” of about 2,184 kms in unreserved compartment was something only a wanderlust heart would be proud off.

I had travelled on top of buses, goods lorry but still this journey was the longest and the best. With the joy of accomplishing my journey successfully I stepped out of the train and walked on the platform with the travel bag on my shoulders. Indeed, a proud feeling and I told to myself with the experiences I encountered in this journey I am fit to take any kind of travel in south India comfortably.

Happy travelling

Durai Murugan