My Greatest Expedition

It was an awesome dusk and a group of 18 of my friends started the audacious journey to the historic Velliyangiri temple. We started our journey from the heart of the city. We boarded in the last bus to poondi on Saturday evening. As we approached the terminus ,it was pitch black. We could see the silhouette of the majestic hill. We were welcomed by the local sages in the foothills. As it was rainy season at that time the forest officials and the sages cautioned as not to trek the hill at that time. But what actually we had in our mind was to trek the hill at mid night and return by the dawn. Its usual routine for the devotees to trek the hill at lunar eclipse. Due to the restriction of the local forest officials we dropped the plan of trekking at night time. We stayed in a temple at the foot hills. The officials warned us not to roam in the night times as the place is invaded by the elephants and wild animals . It was one of the thrilling night I ever had. It was raining outside, The cold breeze freezing the body, and I felt very hard to sleep. Some of my friends too felt the same. We browsed the wall paintings and some portraits around the temple. It was 3’O clock, I tried to doze but suddenly I heard the bursting of crackers. To our surprise it was the local tribes who were driving away the herd of wild elephants. We felt a surge of horror and later everyone woke up. It was 5’0 clock, we guy refreshed and our journey to the seven hills was started with the lighting of camphor and a special pooja.

I’d a single torch light, ten pockets of glucose , one emergency water bottle and some snacks . we began our trekking by 5.30 a.m. The whole forest was placid and we couldn’t see anything except the steep steps. After few minute of climbing we felt exhausted, as the whole place was wet due to the continuous drizzling. We climbed with bare foots. While climbing the hill we people were aware of three things, the first thing is the Blood sucking leech, the next is the slippery rocks and finally the wild animal encounter.

As we approached, we began to feel the dawn. We were surrounded by giant trees and after an hour of climbing we came to halt at a place were we saw some scattered sticks. We all selected separate stick for each. We finally trekked the first hill. The commencement of the second hill was felt by the wider foot steps. The path was very rugged due to the erosion of the soil by the rain. We felt very difficult to climb the second hill. At a juncture we came across a small stream which is frequented by wild animals. As we ascended, the path became more and more complicated.

As we approached the third hill, We faced a new difficulty, the visibility was hampered by the clouds. We later felt that we were walking in between the clouds. That was the most ecstatic and nostalgic moment in my life. As a photographer I took lot of pictures. An our journey was interrupted by a sudden cry from one of my friend. He had a leech attack. We were shocked to see his trousers soaked with blood. It was a blood sucking leech. He suddenly pricked the leech with his hands. The blood started oozing out without ceasing. As the leech’s saliva has an enzyme that prevents clotting of blood. My friend was really fortunate to see the leech before it was too late. I wrapped his legs with a hankie, yet the blood kept oozing continuously.

We reached the fourth hill. It was a plain terrain. Widely called as “sitamala” . as we can see the cliff of the various hills of Coimbatore.It was one of the fantastic spots I ever saw in my life time. Clouds crossed me often. The weather changed intermittently.

We felt exhausted often. We dint have enough water to quench our thirst. We had only few packets of glucose. We had split our self in to nine pairs and shared the glucose packets. I felt the real power of glucose at that moment. We felt energized after sipping small vials of glucose. Since I was the photographer I have to lead the group and have to take lot of risk. I really enjoyed and I kept the group brisk with my pep talk. We had a small break in a big rock nearly 3000mts above the sea level.

We came to the next stage of the hill. The path was rugged and was in very bad shape.

Also the hill was frequented by crest and trough. One of my friend slipped and hurt his knee badly. But thank god, he managed to walk with our group. Many guys developed muscular cramp including me. But nothing hampered our indomitable zeal of conquering the seven hills.

We approached a valley. A big stream was flowing in-between. It was a striking scene of nature and we really admired the green beauty covered with the fog. We had a natural shower in the stream. The ice cold water drove away the pain and we perked up after the bath. As we ascended trough the hill we went higher in altitude. We approached the sixth hill. The path was very narrow and we could see nothing as the visibility was poor due to the clouds. Finally we came to the last stage of the hill. Though it appeared as a small one when compared to the rest of the hill that we had conquered, yet it was the most difficult one to climb.

There was no proper pathway, it was inclined at 45 and the path way slippery due to the algal deposit. The visibility was poor and the strong wind made it more difficult to climb. Also a constant stream of water was flowing in between the rugged path, were we saw lot of blood sucking leeches. There was a big confusion in every one’s mind. How to descend the hill. Since the path was nearly steep. Any how after two hours of daunting efforts we reached the apex of the hill. There was gigantic rocks and we people exhausted nearly yet we had a relief of conquering the majestic seven hills.

Two giant rocks each measuring approximately 20mts were standing majestically which blocked the clouds reaching the other side and there was a narrow crevice between the rocks, were some part of the clouds escaped to the other side. It was the simple wind ward and lee-ward side concept that we studied in our school level geography. At the bottom of the huge rock there was a cave. Inside the cave we saw the panchaloha idol of lord shiva and nandhi adorned with flowers and we had a nice blessing from the sadhu who was staying in the cliff for years.

We didn’t see any human population there. The siddhar was the only person who used to habitat in the deserted cliff. Also he dint speak with us, he just offered one box full Arabian dates and a pomegranate. He left to his small hut after doing the pooja. We had a nice blessings and started from there after taking a nostalgic photo 6000mts above the sea level.

We started our return by 11.30 and we had split our self in to two batches as the descending part of the hill is much complicated and life threatening task. The task of coming down the hill was very difficult than we expected , we struggled a lot to reach the stream. We ran out of glucose and water. Although it was mid noon yet we realized the chill breeze. We saw the scenic beauty of the siruvani falls at the remote hills, the entire hill vanished instantly by a giant cloud. One of my friend fainted due to dehydration and there was only five members at that time with me, but fortunately I had an emergency water bottle. It helped him at that moment.

As we approached the second hill everyone felt exhausted, we sat near the small stream and refreshed. But to every ones surprise we suddenly heard the sound of wild bison’s approaching towards us. A sudden surge of panic rose on every one’s mind. It was one such moment I really felt the real danger approaching. We cant even run as the path was rugged. I gave clear instruction to the team that they should remain silent and should not move if they came to encounter with the bison.

With an audacious mind we started moving down, but the sound was buzzing constantly. Later it dwindled and we felt a sigh of relief. At last we reached the place were we collected the sticks. And on the way we met some of the elders who had began their journey. We gave enough instructions and gave our sticks to them. And at last we reached the foot hills by 5’0 clock .

It was one of the greatest expedition in my life. I took nearly 350 photographs and it was a great experience for all the 18 members, we still cherish the nostalgic memories.

The place is maintained by “Isha foundation” . Regular camps were organized by many NGO’s . But for the new trekkers it seems to be death trap at many instance. Many casualties are reported and females are not allowed to trek. So an efficient planning and an audacious mind makes Velliyangiri a nostalgic spot in one’s life time.

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