It was 02:00 PM. I was taking bath when someone knocked the door. “Who’s that?”. “A Holistic adventure is waiting, are you in?”, mimicked the voice. It was Abhinav, if he calls something an adventure, he really means it. “Well, OK. When?”. “At 6 PM, Its Velliangiri Hills”, He moved away ignoring my exclamation, “we..?”. If you do not know about the Holistic Velliangiri Mountains, here you go : Holistic Velliangiri.
When I reached the spot, there were around 15 guys standing in a circle and Abhi was instructing them. “Remember, no shoes as it was a holistic trip” and handing over almost 6 foot tall wooden sticks to everyone. Handed one to me as well. I gave him a puzzling look. “Common dude, Don’t you know about that hill – No Light and No Road. This would help to navigate”. I wondered if he was exaggerating, but later the trip proved that i was absolutely wrong. There were a couple of seniors too traveled with us but except Abhi others were new to that hill. We all boarded the van and thus started our holistic trip.
Little light on us : We were on 2nd year of Electrical and Electronics Engineering degree course in GCT, Coimbatore. Here is the Flight Schedule to plan this trip from anywhere else.
Exactly 88 minutes later, we were at the Foot hill of Velliangiri. We were looking at the lush green forest mouth wide-opened. How cool it was compared to the city we live.? “Guys, Keep your torches ready, it would get darker in no time in forests”, shouted Abhi. “Hey, you didn’t tell …”, Me. “cool dude, I got one for you”, He handed me a fully charged 1100 Nokia mobile phone. The torch for every Hosteler by that time. Cool, isn’t it?
He took us to the temple at the foothill and then we reached the start of stone stairs that was running over the Hill and disappeared beyond vicinity. It was strange and mystic to see them at first, they were so extended into the thick hilly forest. I looked around, at least a half of us were about to withdraw just by seeing that. Abhi encouraged us like the Hero at the front line. We got our nerves back and started to climb up the steps.
We were chit chatting about the lecturers and Professors, Yep, of-course the ongoing crushes in our classes. It was about 30 minutes since we started to climb. I felt really thirsty and leaned on a rock. When I looked around, my goodness, it was really a thick forest than I imagined, no idea where was I sitting on the mother Earth , totally away from civilization. With little concern in mind, turned around, others were slowly climbing up. Abhi was right, in no time it became pitch black. No idea who’s behind me or before me. The stick and the torch were our only hope for navigation.
The stone made steps were coarse and uneven. After about an hour of tiresome climbing, we reached a plain top with a small tea shop and a temple. Ignoring the temple, we all ran towards the tea shop. They had only Black Tea and Goli soda. It was an exhaustive climb for almost two hours. Very stressful to the knees, still it was manageable and I thought, Well the trip was finally over. The villager in the shop, looked at us pitifully. I failed to get his point which I regretted for the couple of days to come. It was Abhi again, “Well guys, Good Job. We have just 6 more similar hills to go”. What?, i shouted literally. “What the ..?, I thought we were done”. He chuckled and said, “Welcome to Velliangiri“.
The 2nd hill was called as slippery hill. It had soft sand and lots of slopes. Little carelessness might end up in a free roller coaster ride towards foot hill which dwells at least 1000 foot below. Almost half of the crowd withdrew at the first hill itself. we were just 7 went ahead on the slippery hill. It was not that far luckily and we got past it in another 45 minutes.
The 3rd and 4th were manageable – little slope with hard rock bottom. It was no more stone made steps, but the rain water draining path from the top. We just stick to that which had lots of shiny pebbles and tiny pieces of rock. I expressed that we were lucky as it was a full moon day. Abhi stared at me, “Man, I planned it to be on this day, OK?” I instantly admired him. Well, such a plan deserved it.
It was 1:40 AM. We were standing amidst of 4th and 5th hill – More than 4 hours had gone inside the forest. Abhi uttered,”The real challenge begins here”. Looked at us one by one. Three of us accepted, “nothing doing, we stay right here”. “Well” Abhi looked back at the remaining three of us “Shall we ?”. “Do we have an option?”, tried a joke, but no one was in the mood to respond. Ok, that’s all in the game!.
5th hill was very steep. It was no more a hiking, but a semi mountaineering. Series of ups and downs. I was loosing hope against the building appetite and could pace only very slowly. Felt a hand on my shoulders, Abhi was holding a chocolate bar. I instantly got my eyes watery, “What a Great friend he was”. I unpacked and ate the bar in one go. Happily asked him to have his bar, he replied in anger, “What you just had was mine. You looser, didn’t even mind to share”. Well, alright ..!
6th hill was worse than the 5th. But we were used to that and eventually had started to appreciate the surrounding. Warm moon light, Cool breeze, Lush green forest, utter silence except a few creepy insects. It deserved the name “Khailash of South” as it was claimed by the Indian Mythology. At the exit of 6th hill, there were a small pool from where water was flowing down hill. Abhi told that bathing here would complete an essential part of our trip. I was dumbstruck to think of bathing in cold water with such a freezing wind at 5000 foot above sea level. Somehow knowing our pulse, He requested us to have some drops on our head. When I touched the water hesitantly, it was hot like coming from some geyser. “Ha Ha”, he laughed at us, “its hot in night, get ready”. I wasted no time and we all bathed there. When coming out of the pool, hell, it was freezing. Dressed up immediately and looked for a shelter. You know what, there was a small tea shop. The black tea tasted better than the any finest brewed cappuccino, given that mysterious afresh hilly surrounding. We asked the old man why he was still awake, it was 3:00 AM by then. He told, “otherwise who will serve you, the devotees of Lord Shiva?”. He was really sounding divine.
The final stretch of 7th hill was the steepest and the coarsest of the trip. It was almost 3:20 AM, we started with our aching paw. Moved inch by inch. Even on that freezing high attitude, we were sweating like a pig, breathing like a dog. Hell of a stretch it was. Finally when we made it to the top, it was 4:45 AM.
The sense of pride that we had on our face was really priceless. Wow, the view was blissful. I held my breath for a couple of seconds and released slowly. Looked around, i could not believe my eyes – on that peak, a temple made of 3 gigantic pieces of rock, 2 as a pillar, one as the roof, it was standing tall almost like a 2 storey building. Underneath that was an idol of lord Shiva. Divinity had spread on the air, everywhere. After he heard our noise, a priest ,who lived nearby, came out of his hut to show camphor aarathi for the idol. After the pooja, we hooked him about their living there. What he explained were a list of struggles that are worth writing a dozen of posts.
We walked around that top slowly, enjoying the chill grass under our foot. Halted behind a rock that sealed us from the freezing wind. I was about to sleep, got shaken by Abhi. I gave him a, “Now what?” look. “Dudes, we need to keep going otherwise you might get muscle cramp and might need to stay here for a couple of days”. Terrified us stood up immediately. It took almost 3 hours to reach the foothill, picking up the rest of our crew who stayed back on the way. You wont believe, couple of us were crawling towards the end as our paws were too hurt to touch the ground.
Walked little slow than a tortoise and I reached our Van. I was awakened by a senior when reached our hostel – I had slept like a dead meat for almost 2 hours. I felt like a refugee who reached his home after years of hostage. Exhausted to the core. After a while, I was lying on my cot, with the comfort of foam. At the end of day, it was all about how much you push yourself to pull things in your way. Finally we made it to the top of mount Velliangiri – a holistic adventure. Well, Time for nap with a rich smile on face.
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