Write-up from Anand
As soon as I prepared to leave home at 01:45, it started pouring very heavily. Since there was no major resistance at home (or may be they were too sleepy to realize), I reached Tidel around 02:30 AM to find Anil already waiting along with the night owls of Tidel’s IT companies. Soon, everyone started arriving. We started off in two cars and met the third at Guindy. The cops on patrol enquired us to make sure we had no plans of taking the ATM away in front of the Toyota showroom where we were waiting. Finally, we left the city and got on to the Bangalore highway around 04:30 AM. Stopped briefly enroute for chai. Reached vellore around 6:30 AM.
Since the group was pretty excited and was looking forward to the jungles and water, without wasting any time, we proceeded further. Eroute, one of the organizers, Masu showed us how to negotiate and buy Honey. When he was done, we figured out there was none left to buy !!!
After steaming hot pooris, idlis, vadas and bananas at sandhavasal for breakfast, where we were joined by the bangalore lads Balaji and Brijesh who were waiting there from 4 AM, we reached the beautiful village at the foothills. Bala, the other organizer negotiated safe parking of our vehicles at the last house on the road. The owner was very nice to let us park for free and taking good care of us all.
After a quick load balance activity, we started our trek first visiting the dam for some good pictures by our pro shutterbugs Muthu (who was appointed as senior finance manager of our trek for promptly collecting the toll receipt), arul, balaji, arun, vinoth and amateurs like me. After making sure we all have new pics for our FB profiles, we crossed over the village to reach our first water pit stop; a beautiful check dam.
After fooling around for some time, we restarted our walk into the jungles crossing huge boulders, sometimes crossing over the stream to witness first hand, the devastation caused by flash floods just a couple of days ago. Remember, Cyclone neelam crossed vellore. Finally around 1 PM, all of us were exhausted and badly needed a dose of delicious bolis for lunch. Here again, our dear Masu demonstrated how you can eat 3 bolis at the same time; one in the mouth and one in each hand. It was a good learning experience.
After finishing off the bolis in no time, we had a power nap for 30 mts and started the trek again to the next stop where we were greeted by a much clearer stream from the villages uphills. Without second thought, everyone jumped into the water and after bringing down the body temperatures, started our ascend to reach the village around 6 PM. This is when the real trek started.
We set up our kitchen and dispatched folks to fetch firewood. The skies were overcast and was threatening to open up. Even before we could react, it started raining heavily. Unperturbed, with the help of tarps, our chief cook muthu made us mouth watering veg biriyani; a supposedly signature dish of emperors treks.
Since there were die hard non-veg fans as well, we shopped for chicken at 450 MSL and negotiated cooking at one of the homes of the village who was extraordinarily generous to let us have her entire hut for sleeping that night after all our plans of sleeping under the starts were thrown out of the windows by the heavy rain. Krish & Viswam with the help of the local “nattamai”, cooked fiery chicken and selva ensured everyone got their share of food.
With no more energy to keep awake, all of us slept like logs until bird chirps woke us up the next morning. There were some who needed a second round of sleep but this time, under clear skies.
After the birds woke us up, we made some good lemon tea followed by Upma. After breakfast, expressing our gratitude to the hut owner and taking some group pictures, we started our descend towards the stream. Our first stop was the same clean stream, this time made a bit muddy because of rain the previous night. After enjoying the stream, we crossed over to the other side of the main stream under strong currents. We then followed trails to reach the check dam around lunch time.
After some “Aval with Chutney”, we proceeded towards the village to finally exit into the jeep trials. Though it was the same track the previous day, this time, the walk was seeming loooooonnnnggggg. We finally reached our “parking lot” around 5 PM to find some farewell signatures on our windshields.
After freshening up and changing into dry clothes, we set out after bidding our good byes to the generous, kind & warm village people. It started drizzling and added beauty and challenge to the drive back. We reached vellore around 7 PM and attacked Amma Biriyani for dinner. The group ensured that the waiter was always on his toes.
Since it was the last food stop of the trek, Masu once again sincerely taught us how to finish 4 mutton biriyanis single handedly in 30 mts. Bala closely trailed Masu with 3. The group then finished off the left over honey for dessert. Muthu did the closing honors collecting and paying monies to the respective parties.
After some last minute leg pulling, the group posed for its last photo of the trek and disbursed to reach Chennai around 10:30 PM
It was a fantastic team, great camaraderie and super fun that made the two day trek completely enjoyable. Masu and Bala as organizers left no stone unturned in every area meticulously planning the timing and trail to ensure there was an equal balance of leisure and adventure. The group of Srikanth, rajesh, ragesh & raja have kept their wits intact right from school days and had the group in splits and high spirits with their jokes and poking fun. Others including me simply gave in to the moments and enjoyed every bit of it.
I am sure the group is now looking forward to its next outing together.
Write-up from Arun
The geared up team started from our temporary den (which is chennai) to the place where we belong (which is forest), with not much ado the team assembled opposite to guindy estate. The sudden downpour is only a opening mass scene for our trek to begin with, like thalapathi movie, but it kept up the momentum till the finish line unlike the latter. Three cars accommodated the team of 17 and started via poonamalle.
After listening to a brisk gaana/kuthu songs from vinoth car, Five(bala, krish, vinoth myself & arunjag) of us kept chatting without falling asleep till we reached our breakfast point near sandhanavasal. Around 8am we left the place along with balaji & brijesh to Polur village from where our trek began after a visit to the dam enroute.
We crossed the banana and kambham plantation, which is the feeding source for the entire village and also supplies many food items to chennai, we crossed the streams in many points, many small islands we trotted and covered most of the distance in wet river-bed loose stone, mid-way we dipped in the check-dam, halted & dozed a while to have sweet and paruppu poli on a boulder and then our way split from the main stream and we reached a nearby hamlet after a steep climb uphill after a second dip in the still water underneath the valley.
We covered the trail in 4 hours exclusive of 3.5 hours we spent in rest. Soon, we gathered logistics needed for the dinner, another gang went to get chicks to make the NV people happy, the villagers came and so do the rain, covering ourselves in tarpaulin and pushing the day to its limits , in the blizzard weather we lost patience cooking our veg biriyani. Weary of incessant rain,
we moved to the nearby hut, there with the help of a tribal woman we cooked chicken curry and shifted our camp near the hut , but due to heavy downpour,
we relied on kootan choru system, everyone clinging the hut for shelter and selva distributing the food made by muthu and anand with chicken gravy. “Nalla vela moonu kozhi bali kooduthadunaala we were spared after 3 hours rain” , people slowly dozed in sitting posture, suddenly the jungle roared with the high pitch rumble, there are many culprits behind this episode.
The next episode presented a sweet fruit for early-birds, we grabbed the custard apple after bribing the little girl till she can afford us her maximum stock, later we made tea and cooked uppuma. After 11am, we started descending, but this time we crossed the waist-deep water to the other side of the river andtraveled different route other than our on-journey commute, the ferocious flow due to yesterday’s rain made the crossing a real challenge, we completed the maximum distance and stopping back at check-dam for our aval pori lunch and a refreshing dip.
Before 5pm we ended our venture and started back to chennai. On the way back hotel amma biriyani in vellore satisfied our desires and we moved on to our den, with pleasant two days memories that can be cherished for life.
Finally, an mission accomplished successfully, aided by the Emperors and guided by their henchmen- Bala & Masu.
See you all soon friends in the next CTC trek.