June 13, 2013

The Lost World Of Nagalapuram

"Nagalapuram??!!!!! where is that??? "
Being a trekker for 5 years I was pretty much clueless about this hidden trekking trail near Tirupathi. Frequented by CTC, Shashi was able to dig it out from their archives. The first few google results throws up the incidents of an IIT student drowning and such morbid news. But still we planned a trek on the weekend of June 8-9 ,  on the verge of full blown monsoons setting in. Booked a TT since the headcount was hovering around 11 and 10 finally making it (Shashi, Harsha, Vineeth, Raj, Rajkumar, Vinod, Umesh, Harish, Sharavan and Myself ). But one disadvantage of trekking in the eastern ghats is that the trails are comparatively shorter when compared with their western ghats counterparts. Generally a single day trek at most !!!!

Kone Reservoir Backwaters

On the night of June 7, 10 of us set off to our destination. Had more or less a disturbed sleep which is usually the case when travelling overnight. Reached the small town of Pichatur and it was time to turn on our GPS maps and search for the trail even when we had a local passing us every 1 min. Heights of depending on technology I must say :P... Anyway in the end common sense prevailed, we asked a local and he directed us to the correct path. Landed at the starting point of the trail which is very near to the Kone reservoir and we started the trek when the clock was close to striking 7.

Within a 10 min walk we come face-to-face with the first awesome view of the day. The back-waters of Kone reservoir against the backdrop of the Eastern Ghat mountains which we were all set to conquer (almost !!!!) for the day. From here we enter the shrub filled maze with multiple trails going in all possible directions. But one reassuring point is that all these trails somehow lead to our destination, as goes the very common saying "All roads lead to Rome!!! "

After trekking through this open shrub filled wilderness we finally enter the dense forest just in time when the sun was about to shine bright. But thankfully the entire duration of our trek was under overcast sky thanks to the monsoons clouds lashing out on the south-west coast of India. The forest was dense and soon enough we come across a beautiful stream filled with crystal clean water. Water as clean as you can get in the wilderness.... The idea is to follow the same stream up till the top while we encounter 3 gorgeous pools en-route. But that said it is not easy to find the trail in this bolder filled pathway.  For starters we got lost even before we could reach pool 1 !!!!

The main trail which anyone would assume would be the right path actually climbs to the second tallest peak in this reserve forest standing at 700m and the path to this is pretty steep. This was the toughest part of the trek and we went offtrail for close to 3 kms, until we came across a tribal settlement (not the "huha huha" types :P) and they informed us that this particular path doesn't go to the destination we had hoped for. They also informed that we had to take a diversion from main trail somewhere just after we come across the stream. So having no other option we returned back along the same way till we came across the stream.

Pool No 1

Pool No 2
But all attempts to find a trail along the stream were met with dead ends. Finally when we were contemplating as to what to do next, we came across a family from Chennai who were trekking till pool 1 , so hitched the walk along with them. These guys frequented this place regularly and they knew exactly where the trail was. From the main trail as soon as the it gains elevation and starts leaving the stream, there is sudden sharp trail to the left which unfortunately is unmarked and would appear insignificant to the naked eye. But this trail takes us back to the stream and from here it is pretty much a well paved pathway through boulders. 

The gorgeous and absolutely stunning pools come one after the other in quick successions almost 0.5 hr walking distance from each other. Crystal clear waters surrounded by absolute greenery makes these pools all the more inviting. NATURE'S JACUZZI is what I would like to term these pools. And the surprising part is that these pools never get dried up even in peak summer and being in relatively unexplored and a bit confusing trail its relatively untouched by the invasion of plastics and other man-made viruses. We trekked all the way to the third and the top most pool to have our dip. The water was so good that we spent close to 2 hrs in the water, oblivious of time running by. The center of this pool has a 40 feet deep abyss, which makes semi-swimmers like me quite nervous, but with a swim tube by our side we were able to conquer that fear to some extent.

Even after getting lost for the major part of the trek, the time was still 2 pm and it didnt make sense to spend time here till nightfall. Also considering there was very little camping space at pool 3 for all 10 of us, we decided to trek down till Kone reservoir and pitch our tents there. Hence we packed up our belongings and started the return journey. Reached the camp spot at around 5 pm and by then most of us were exhausted for having walked for nearly 21kms. If one has a proper guide this trek is actually a single day trek, but if some one yearns for some adventure and are well prepared to get lost in jungle then it can be a 2 day trek. For us it barely made a 2 day trek.

We pitched our tents by the banks of this picture-some reservoir, cooked some maggi (our staple diet on treks) for dinner. Every now and then it would start raining with us scurrying for cover within the tents, but these showers would just last for only a couple of minutes. Because of this the weather was quite humid and it literally was like an oven inside the tent. Shashi couldnt take it and took his sleeping bag outside to sleep under the stars. I too followed him after a hour or so to sleep under the stars, but I was woken every other minute by some movement or the other. This being a moonless night (amavas ki raath !!!!) I had no idea what was stalking behind the darkness, but fortunately once in while was able to catch them within my torch lights and they were nothing but the village dogs which had accompanied us for the entire duration of trek. Once woken up due to this I just sat in the darkness for close to an hour, absorbing the absolute silence (of-course broken once in a while by the snores of fellow trekkers :P) and pitch darkness... A very soothing and calming experience it was !!!!. Anyway not comfortable with the idea of those dogs coming and licking my face when sleeping I decided to go back inside the tent, but removed the rain cover and opened both the doors so that there was some air flow.

Pool No 3

After that the situation inside was much more comfortable and I was able to sleep till the first signs of sunrise on the horizon. Packed our stuff and went to the point where our TT would pick us up for the return journey back home. Had our breakfast at Chitoor and reached home at around 2 pm leaving us half a day to catch upon some lost sleep over the last 2 days. One point of advice for trekkers is that this forest is teaming with honeybees with 3 in our group (Raj, Umesh and Shravan) being victims of 1-2 bites each. Its better to cover up from head to toe in order to protect onself. Also there didnt seem to be any leeches around considering that the ground was quite damp and moist due to heavy rains for the past few days.

I remember Raj on his first trek-camp experience summing it up "U know the importance of a cozy bed and warm meal", reflecting exactly my sentiments as a trekker for the past 5 years. On top of that I think trekking makes you a much more humble person. For starters you don't demand luxuries even if you can afford them. The importance on materialistic pleasure is much more subdued and you have this sense of restrain/calmness bcoz in a trek nothing goes exactly as planned, and we are at peace with reality.

 Trek Details:

Trek Distance->   16kms (Reservoir-> Pool 1 ->Pool 2 -> Pool 3-> Reservoir) + 6km (Of getting lost in the jungle :P)
Total Cost Per Person -> 1.9 K

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