Sunday, January 5, 2014

BackPack Trip #1 : Thiruvanamalai, Senji, Pondy & Hogenekal


The plan was a group of four in my car and follow this trail(as in map) to the falls. Start on a Sat morning 3'ish drive to Alamparai fort before the sunrise, then hold there till its 7'ish. Then to Senji for a  climb, up the hills then go to the Thiruvanamalai, at last Dharmapuri and crash for the night. Then the next day Hogenakal whole day and back home.First we picked 16-17th Weekend, but we found it was Karthikai Maha Deebam on 17th so we postponed it to 23rd-34th weekend. It was all set until Friday when half the crew abandoned. First guy dropped off claiming his boss wold allow a leave, the other got cought driving drunk so had to appear in court the next day, and one more just got sick in a matter of 3 minutes. Now to find a replacement Replace meant 2 guys ready with some cash, bag packed to stay away for 2 days in 6 hrs notice. We still called people. But then we had to CANCEL the plan !

The Leg Shake

So it was just me and Subburam. So I rang him up "Dude I have a crazy idea, just pack your bags quick, come to my house, we'll leave like we planned". After multiple calls and convincing he came and the trip was on. "We use Public Transport". Now we both sitting in front of my computer screen staring at the map of Tamilnadu totally confused, it was like we were planning to run away. There was a deep hesitation deep in my heart about leaving "Legs shaking" I said, But then boom, I locked the door and the key was with grandmother who was way asleep so at midnight the last bridge was burnt and Subbu was already on the bike. My legs still shaking as I walk out, A First timer experience,  and my voice pitch out of excitement was high as fuck and I was literately looking around for any my self hopelessly clueless. 

So when we started moving to the CMBT Bustand It felt like everybody was staring at us as we drove The people,The stray Dogs, The Closed shops even The Moon.  Parked the bike in the new basement parking in CMBT, walked to the rightmost end of the bus stand, there it was standing a bus to Thiruvanamalai it was around 1am. So this is where we dicided we cut off the internet from our phones ie. no social media, no messaging no giving fks about anything. Just explore the local area.


So we just got out of house, boarded a bus and we have no clue what we were doing for the next 48 hrs. Madness. I was blabbering like a drunk man. Sleepy but the head wont let you. The Head is excited. "Then once you settle down on the thought that the journey has begun, the travel consumes you: I dozed off. Suddenly a thudding sound I woke up.Around 3am it was Thindivanam People shouting loud sounds but it passed and I was back to sleep but only that I noticed that it was getting fking cold due to dew and the bus was riding bloody fast and the windows wont fkin close.  It was chill, my bare folded legs in the bus freeze and the bus took a shrap turn and a final halt which woke me up.
"Thiruvanmalai" shouted the bus guy.This was An Awakening from the sleep, from the fact that randoms trips can be fun, from the fact that travel is what I love more than resting and  most of all the fact that Thiruvanamalai is Mystic. Magic. It was like I went there because someone called me there.We rented one of those bathrooms in front of the temple 15 bucks per head, decent room, med-chill water for a quick shower, actually the shower dint work, so perhaps a quick bucket.. Left our bags in some locker shop. Went is took the Special line for 20 Rs per head. The whole darsanam got over in an hour. Generally takes two at least. Then since it was still dark, we could see the Thiruvana Malai Jothi which was still burning up the hill. On the way out they were selling Puliodarai and Sakara pongal in temple. Perfect Breakfast. Then without no further delay. We board a bus back to Senji.

To the Top

Senji Fort comes like a kilometer before the Senji town(from Thiruvanamalai), we dint know that. But to our luck someone was getting down near the fort, they stopped the bus we saw the fort and grabbed our bags and jumped down. Here we changed out jean and got into shorts and a comfy shirts. Then we took the tickets to the small hill (for we knew to climb the big one was not really our cup of coffee at least not in this trip) So we start climbing to realize it was no joke to do so, but even after lets say a 50 steps we found a neat place to view and it was a scenic beauty. 
There we met a Norway guy Called Arne, He was climbing faster than us. He was old, very old. So we now had to keep up. So when we get tired we picked a nice spot and starte taking pics to make it look like we were not tired but then you know taking pics. After exploring around the top fort temple etc etc there is this point where you can clim onto its roof. So we reached a mid point over the roof  from where the view was even more beautiful. Then we got to the top of the fort from where I took off my shorts n shirt, got foot-lose sitting on the the roof of the fort temple. Arne also got up to see if it was worth being there.
Thats where he opened up saying we are to damn lazy for our age,
and we exclaimed  a yes and surrendered to his will power at that age,  that when we are 60 + we want to be like him. Wandering ! Then a bunch of wild kids came running in, a school trip perhaps. They kept bugging Arne to take pics in his cam. Then a bunch of Russians came in (we could tell that cus way back we saw a Russian Embassy car). The crowd was enough to break the peace. So we left. We had so much POTENTIAL climbing down was easy :P

Beach Blues

After we climbed down re hydrated our self. Re hydrated again. Then took a quick bus to Senji town, from what we saw, Senji town was just a crossroads of two highway thats all. We were the two strange guys dressed up in shorts with backpack, clicking stuff with cams. People staring at like we were some Travel guy from Nat Geo and might take a camera out any sec and put them on TV.Bliss. So we reshed to take a bus to Pondyyyy. From Pondy bus stand we planned to drop off our bags in Station before we roam. The Station. "Oh the station" said the auto guy and said "That would charge extra" so we went to the station to throw our bags in the Cloak Room. "These bags are not locked" said the Cloak room in-charge so we had to get small locks so while roaming around station we saw the mens waiting room, I went in to take a leak, There was a big bathroom inside all clear and a nice shower. We were paying the auto guy extra anyways. So let him wait. We took a shower. freshened up before lunch. Then we rented a gear less bike. drove to Le Club(Really excursive nice ass place) grabbed a quick eat n a drink. Then off to explore the beach. We had a plan to goto Auroville and Paradise beach. But then first we went to Auro Beach, walked in a bit to find a decent place to sit and stare at the beach. The clouds were divine dancing with each other and the waves then compliment. It was sobeautiful we stayed theretill it got dark and had only 2 hours for our Train trip to Dharmapuri. Then a quick dinner and an ice cream and slept in train. The train takes a long path to reach our destination but on the brighter side we sleep in the train and no wasting time or money in lodging ;)

To the Falls

It was too dark, too early and too cold when we got down.The falls was an hours journey from the Station. So we took a power nap in the platform. Then took an auto to the bus stand from where we took off to Hoganekkal, the real reason why this idea of trip even came into cognition. Smokey Rocks. As soon as youget down  like any other tourist place you are flooded by people offering you hotel rooms, Massage, Boat ride. Even early mornings. So we settled down on one man who would take us on a boat ride then massage then go into the falls. So we go near the boating place that the big game. The massage guy and the boat guys are different The boat guys are one govt. approved Labor association. Commies. Bloody Commies. So they decide rates on spot and give off. They said for us one boat to carry you and massage guy wait there till the Massage and bath os over and coming back would be 1500 INR irrespective of how many of us, 2 3 4 5 6 same rate. We dint wanna argue or debate we were too high on happyness so we took off. The first mail Falls was massive huge, remarkable sight. Then further he would take you closer to the fall to have a better view of the the huge falls.He would then do down stream river between two hills and plenty number of small falls falling from the hills, so you pick one spot and have you own private falls for starters ;), Then he takes you to a place the main rocky hill from where a dis-tributary flows, we picked a nice rock near which was another rough yet shallow water fall. KKR Herbal Oil. The massage was bloody relaxing it was like my whole nervous system restarted. Then we soaked in that oil for some time and dived in. Then washed off. There were many places where they sell fresh fish fry. So for fish lovers its a Yes. Do try it, I guess it must be Sweet water fish mostly. Then the a small walk you reach another masive view of falls that falls under the Karnata State side. This time I was so footloose I was too lazy to put on a shirt to pose for a pic ;) The the boat brought us back. And I tipped the boat guy, because even before gettin on boat the guy had asked for it. Asked. 

Calm. Mind. Composed. Body. In the Hoganekal bus stand itself there was a public toilet/Bath we took a shower there. I was surpriced by its neatness and the number of neat clean mirros they had. It was too good for a Tamil Nadu Govt. Run public toilet. We even took pics there.

 The Return

It was 2pm when we left Hogenekkal, we planned to lunch in Dharmapuri as we were tired and wanted to catch some sleep in the bus before lunch. On reaching we found out a nice restaurant dined our first nutritious meal of the trip. The direct bus to chennai would have taken us 3 more hoursso we took the next very bus to Krishnigiri. The paniarams in Krishna giri are bloody awesome. From there to Velore. While drinking some milk in Velore. Luck scratched our back with a point to point AC bus to Chennai. 48 hours. Bliss.  

9 Busses, 3 Auto Rickshaw, 2 Bikes, 1 Train and a heck of a Boat ride

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