Venkatagiri/4, 29th Feb - 1st Mar, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009
Venakatagiri - Shangrila of Andhra

Question 1: Mix 1 ounce of food +
2 ounces of water +
3 ounces of bonding +
4 ounces of fun +
5 ounces of laughter +
6 ounces of drinking sewage water +
unlimited ounces of jokes, leg-pulling, cheering up = What do you get?

Question 2: Mix excitement of a bond movie, style from Thalaivar Rajnikath, curves from A.Jolie, sensuality from Madonna, class from Kamal, originality from A.Kurosawa, Masala from Vijay...what do you get?

Answer: You get Venkatagiri 4!

wooosh! What an ideal trek it was over the weekend for Venkatagiri 4! First off, I feel so sorry for the folks who dint make it. Everything turned out to be at its best: weather was purrrr-fect through out! We dint even need the bed-sheets during the night! Ye guys should be kicking yourselves for not Venkatagiri-ing :-(

Heroes of the Trek: Chencu, Andhra Naveen. More about them later!

3 cars, a bike and 16 CTC peeps with enthu oozing out of their ears were zipping onto Venkatgiri early Saturday. Majority were new-comers and first time CTC trekkers. Ice-breakers were dime a dozen and bonding happened very early on!
Like our cars for instance: we had a scorpio, a santro and an A-Star: more about the A-Star later :-)

Blooper 1: Many time, Radha (one of the Scorpio gang) would call us and plod us to driver faster, Scoprio had zoomed past ahead and awaiting for the slow-pokes to catch up. To our amusement, we found out during all these times Scoprio was actually behind us and the tortoises had to wait for the hare :-)

Breakfast of different kinds of buns and cheese at a scenic drive

Blooper 2: While stopping for breakfast, Mohan (A-Star owner) drove into a small ditch and got stuck, and car was precariously placed. Couple of inches more and it would have toppled! After 10 minutes of struggling and bombardment of advises from all people on how to get the car of ditch (most of them never having driven a car, so naturally they had to give out driving tips), Mohan made it out of the ditch!

A very nice, calm place for breakfast. We saw couple of cranes and a birds nest on a lone tree on the sceneic place we had stopped.

Onto Naidupet, and our maps went for a toss! There was absolutely no relation to the map and route we were taking :-)
We reached Venkatagiri, hooked up with Chenchu and onwards for the trek!
People unanimously voted for above-medium difficulty trek than the relatively easy one. And the above-medium trek it was!

After walking thru agricultutal fields, dry river beds, thorny\balmy forests, we reached base of the mountain.

Onto the climb with constant jokes and leg-pulling, half the folks were repenting why they came to the trek! IT definetely was above-medium diffulty per CTC standars, but dificult for a first CTC dude. Was worth this and more in the end though!

Sukumar was having a very tough time climbing up in the beginning itself. He made it the the trek thanks fully to Vitamin C (Chenchi) and Vitamin A (Andhra Naveen). Their constant, unrelenting motivation, egging on and prodding made Sukumar complete the trek! And for this, C & A were heroes of the trek!

Question: Why are ALL Andhra folks so nice, helpful, humble, respectful? Its always a shock for someone who's been born and brought in Chennai! (yours truly)
Breaking for lunch and having masala vadas and veg briyani and so many jokes (some I cannot name here, lest I be banned from CTC!) we ran out of water. eep! The guides went ahead to get us water.

Blooper 3: We carried huge amounts of food and ate only like 50% of stuff we brought. Criminal wastage on our parts :-(

The terrain so far was rocky, thorny, lots of plants. There were shades hither and thither so the hot sun was honestly not that big an issue.

Onwards and we hit a beautiful small pond that is made for Gods. Purfect setting of sweet water, cool rocks, complete shade, honey bees zipping about, tired CTC trekkers replenshing their energies....this place was heaven at its best.
We were climbing for few hours now, and real fun began afterwards. Nature dares to show its best to us in very, many places from here!

Couple of land-slides in the distance, unbelievable shades and hues of greens and yellows in the distance, sheer drop to the valley inches away from us, outcropping of a rock sticking out in the sky, I can go on!
It got dark round here, first thing we noticed was forest fires in the near-distance. It was breath-taking to watch them.

Blooper 4: Four brave souls and couple of gudies ventured ahead in the darkness and trekked on a most difficult, dangerous curve.

We stuggled for 20 mins on this bit, there was no trial, recent fires had burnt the grass to ash which was very slippery, trees were very weak to hold onto.... somehow we managed to cross this bit and to our chagring found rest of the folks came thru an alternative, very easy route! Is there no justice in this world!
We reached a flat surface and laid down for rest of the gang to catch up. It was a wonderul, clean night and plethora of stars were twinkling brightly. Sky was made-to-order for a Discovery Channel Documentary!

From here-on, it was pitch dark. Out with the lights and the most dangerous last bit. Rocks were small, unstable, some places there was none: you had to hop-skip and jump! Long grass on the rocks that was made it very slippery! We made it the top and what a night and sight! Couple of old, abandoned, derelict buildings, tall grass, weather as perfect as you could imagine, tall grass to make your beds softer. People crashed after a quick dinner.
hmm....dint know so many young folks snore.

Early Morning on Sunday and a beautiful sunrise. Some brave souls ventured to a a very scenic hill behind the place we bedded. It was a trekkers delight! It was more an outcropping of rocks hanging in the middle of nowhere, a single big tree and beatiful drops to the valley all around!

We finally made the difficult decision to head back. Getting down was scary and dangerous, general consensus was most of us would not have climbed up if there was daylight and folks saw what a sheer drop it was couple of inches away from the trail.
We made it down to the bottom, and people were so thirsty that they began to drink seewage water, the only water source available!
Balaji took the cake: folks decided to test it out on him, he drank the seewage, heaved a sigh of relief and started yucking!
"Yenna Koudma Saravanan idhu, vaandhi varudhu!"

Back to starting point, and some of decided to head over to a nearby dam for a dip. Fresh, clean, sparkling water that was cool!

Water came from nearby river\waterfall and was extremely pleasant for aching muscles and joints!

Bloopers, bloopers and more bloopers when getting down! And some jokes and incidents:

* Karthik hurt and scraped few boulders when he decided to play slide on rocks. We had to bandage his hand.

* Radha skipped and almost fell to the valley, but smartly thought of catching a nearby tree and swinging onto it and making a full 360 degress back to safe ground. IShe wanted to look like South Indian heroines dancing around the trees, but general opinion was she looked more like Tarzan of the Apes!

* Balaji and Andhra food dint go together (really, even though his name was Balaji!) He puked we-all-forgot-how-many-times!
* Naveen (Karnataka) was constantly fighting with his girl over cell throughout and keeping everyone entertained

* Laksh was christened Arab Sheik\Sheik for wearing a long kercheif on his head. Wish I also had the oil money!

* Balaji (youngest in the gang, 23 years?) was the source of many leg-pulls and jokes. He was a real sport and took it in his stride

* Dileep (oldest in the gang, 46 years?) was full of jokes and wit, constantly pulling everyone's leg and keeping it lively. People were ROFL with his on-the-spot comic sense

* Shyam played the cool dude from city, wearing a fancy hat that did nothing to block out the sun.

* Kathik was almost made to wear Geetha's pink-girly cap!

* Radha scared the heck out of all of us with her hair-style: leaves and branches dropping down from her hair

* Geetha scard whatever was left when she decided to comb and make-up her hair. Balaji shouted out of fear!

* Blooper Couple of vehicles left early after trek got over. Remaining vehicles left after couple of hours and reached chennai at 11PM. Should have left together with hindsight.

* Mohan played the coo-dude. When we took a dip in the dam, everyone mistook him for a crocodile lying on banks of a river. He really did look the part though :-) Good for him people dint pelt him with stones, maybe we could've made a quick buck showing the killer croc to natives!

* Yuvraj was the perfect and suave gentelman. I laughed the hardest with him, never have laughed so much with anyone else!

* Wipro Ravi was the savior: he carried couple of extra bottles on way down and distributed it to people in dire need. First time trekker but he was easily one of the fittest in the gang

* Sukumar was saying he came to the trek without informing his wife! The wife was thinking he was relaxing at a beach, drinking beer with friends! While he decided to scoot off and come a-trekkin'

* Geetha was christened "Cat" as everyone thought she was trekking like walking the ramp on a fashion show. Geetha later said something like walking the ramp is her long term goal and walking on rocks will help. Go figure it out.

* Saravanan repented bringing his Cowboy hat. Everyone wanted a piece of it! And a bunch of folks wanted to borrow his cool hiking stick for couple of years.

* For many questions, answer was simple. Couple of people are lagging far way behind, will they make it? Looks very dangerous, this dude already dead-tired, hope he's ok? We're out of water, what are we gonna do? Looks very dangerous and slippery, how are we gonna climb? We seem lost, is this right way? Who's gonna solve global hunger crisis and economic downturn? This last question was the only one that was not asked :-) But answer wuda been the same. "Checnhu is there right, he'll take care" was a very oft repeated answer during the trek. Chenchu on this weekend was Superstar Rajnikanth and PrajaRajyam Chiranjeevi moulded into one. Ever-helpful, kind, motivating, nothing could have got done with Chenchu being in the midst. He was very friendly and humble in doing all this, I think only Adhra people can pull it off like this! I'm not an Andhra dude btw

I could go on but I gotta wrap up sometime, a blog is gross injustice to all the fun, jokes and good times we had. A book is more justified!

One hell of a trip overall. People were already thinking of next trek and very many suggestions were discussed.

Some other interesting threads of discussion in the gang, but I digress. Thats something I'll mail to organizers later.

As I said in the beginning, folks who missed out: we completely understand and empathize if you are kicking your butt for not coming to Venkatagiri :-)

Written by: Lakshminarayan

Organised by: Radha Vishwanath>Participants: Lakshminarayan, V V Karthik, Naveen Tavade, Pradeep, Ravi Ramadoss, R Dileep Kumar, Yerram Naveen Chaitanya, Saravana Kumar, Yuvaraj Jayaraman, Balaji Ramanathan, S. Hari Balaji, Shyam Nair, Geetha Muthusamy, Mohankumar Sekhar, N Sukumar, Radha Vishwanathan, Chenchu

Image Galleries:
Hari Balaji
Shyam Nair



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