Five Highlights

  1. 10 people, 1 super guide and a crazy driver in a mini bus
  2. Luring promises of a wonderful lunch which kept us going on the 9 km trek
  3. The hike from Hebbe Falls to base camp through a steeper-than-we-thought incline
  4. Tents, bonfire, weather and Prateek on his guitar
  5. Udipi brunch on the return journey

[Travelog written by Aditi Daspatnaik]

"What is the latest version of JAVA?" cackled Rahul, over dinner to a bunch of engineers largely related to software.

After a moment of silence, he answers it himself with a flourish,

"Mar JAVA, Mit JAVA",

That's how the trip started, with a bunch of ten amicable people, of whom I barely knew four.

We were out of a riot torn Bangalore and thanked the timing to just be able to escape all the violence the city had witnessed the day before.

We were en route to a car-camping/ trekking stint at Kemmengundi. When I think of the associations this funny sounding name brings to mind now, it's that of a lonesome little hill station amidst a panoramic view of the hills surrounding it. In the distance you could see clouds wafting around and the greens were primarily those of Silver Oak, Mahogany, Eucalyptus and Coffee plantations. Now add amazing weather to all of this and a sizeable waterfall (Hebbe Falls) to boast of, all set in a time when the moon shone in its full glory.

We closed in on Kemmengundi near midnight and amidst the slumber, which the hour brings in, Mani suddenly let out a startled expression at the valley slowly unfolding as we took to the hills further and further up. It was a full moon night; most shapes clean and the dark shape of the hills loomed large with clouds wafting by in an almost genteel manner. These were the first sights that welcomed us. It was late and the campsite was a clean patch surrounded by tall oaks... Can't help falling in love... the tents were pitched... Knock, knock, knocking on... and we curled up to the last of the tunes from Prateek's guitar... Pal, rahen ya na rahen, yaad aayenge ye pal...

The trek next day was marked out for a 9 km stretch spanning three hills and concluding at the Hebbe falls, a near 170 mt fall broken up roughly in two stages. The terrain was easy, especially on the downhill, largely over the dirt tracks on the hillsides. The fall had a gush of water unexpected for the season. The fact that we jumped in would be an understatement, but the cold water beating down on our heads was a feeling quite indescribable after three hours of hiking. It tends not just to drench but in a curious way cleanse. There weren't any precious moments to ponder, there was just laughter, sounds of water all over and lots of splashing. The return needless to say sapped every last ounce of energy, enough to want to run back to the falls. The Rock Garden was strikingly well maintained (the same goes for Govt. Horticulture Dept. and Raj Bhavan Garden). It almost made one yearn to get back to the forest. Despite all its beauty it spoke of human intervention, something that I want to escape next time. Nonetheless the view from the Rock Garden was amazing, especially at sunset.

Nightfall heralded the bonfire, raucous singing, dumb charades and general hullabaloo, concluded just in time for the oncoming torrential rains. A blissful night of sleep was undisturbed even by the pounding of the rain on the tents. It was a balmy night and waking up in between to just look at a sky studded with stars after a night of substantial rain was a feeling by itself. Fatigue faded away, as what you behold is infinitely beautiful, dark shapes of the hills around covered with tall trees seemingly reached out to the stars and a full moon above. It was a beautiful blue and not just the colour...

(Zishaan, Vivek, Tina, Rahul, Prateek, Parul, Mani, Harsh, Anurag - you've all been great company and somehow I fail to capture in this all the little incidents that made the company so cherished.)

Tags: India

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