Prabalika M Borah chills out in Anantagiri Hills — listening to peacocks, spotting snakes and cooking in the middle of the forest
The best way to reach Anantagiri Hills is to drive down there with family or friends who love greenery, fresh air, like to sight birds and animals in their natural habitat and do not mind the red soil sticking to the soles of the shoes when the drive ends and the trek begins.
Anantagiri Hills, 80 km from Hyderabad, is situated in Vikarabad, a small village known for the TB hospital which is the second largest in Andhra Pradesh. During the season of sunflowers, either side of the roads near Manneguda, which has sunflower fields, take up the shade of a ripe yellow. The population in and around Vikarabad is mostly dependent on farming so seasonal changes bring about changes in the cultivation as well. Shopping for fresh vegetables on your way back could be a good idea.
To reach Anantagiri Hills one has to first reach Vikarabad. Take the Chilkur route from Hyderabad and pass by Moinabad and then Chevella, and from there one has to hit SH20. Take the right at Manneguda: Vikarabad is 1 km from there and Anantagiri is another six.
Once you cross the Chilkur route, the drive becomes rather traffic-free. But with herds of cows and a tribe of goats keeping you company will prove to be a good check on your speedometer. Once at Vikarabad and before reaching Anantagiri Hills an unassuming and rusty signboard, ‘Grass Walks' will catch your attention. Take the narrow lane on the left and you can treat yourself to an eco-friendly holiday. To reach Grass Walk, the drive from the main road is about 8 km.
The narrow rickety lanes with a house here and there will lead to a little hillock with spacious tents. What's inside the tent is another surprise. These eco-friendly tents are a good option to spend the night watching the stars, doing a barbeque dinner or identifying your own constellation with a powerful telescope which is available on request. The interiors of the tents are designed to meet all the modern day comforts and the tents can accommodate more than two people.
Food is simple and home-cooked. Everything is cooked on order. If you are a cooking enthusiast who loves cooking in the open, you can't ask for more. Grass Walk offers night trekking options as well.
The call of the peacock and the croaking of the toads and the song of the crickets add to the natural flavour. Arriving in the afternoon would be an ideal time. You can gauge a clear picture of how vast the jungle is.
Rest for a while after lunch and then put on your trekking shoes and get ready for a trip into the jungle. Guides who are mostly locals will lead the way. The road is well tarred in some areas and you can even drive up to a certain point on the tracks. At about a distance of 8 km from Wild Grass is the 800-year-old Ananta Padmanabha Swami Temple. Open throughout the day, the temple is usually thronged by pilgrims during weekends. What's left of the temple is mostly ruins, surrounded by banyan trees. And these trees are also as old as the temple. The temple has a pond filled with water for devotees to take a dip. The temple also has a small shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temples aren't huge but the area it covers is large.
Once done with the temple, the trek route from the temple takes trekkers to a denser region in the forest. The zig zag path has several small hills to climb and the forest is full of unfamiliar trees. Some of the creepers from the trees have connected with other trees, allowing an average sized kid to hang and swing from the structures.
Adventure lovers and photo enthusiasts can spend hours together capturing the wild flora and fauna in its natural habitat. The jungle is dense and it hardly allows the sunlight to reach the ground. As a place there isn't a lot to see or do. It's just nature at its best. It is also an ideal destination to escape the clutter of the city and breathe in a lot of fresh air. Those not in a mood to trek can sit by a tree or even lie down for a quick nap.
Spotting a snake, wild hares and peacocks is a common thing as one sets out to trek. The sizes of the hares will not just surprise you but also make you wonder how well the forest provides them with their food.
Zipping past peahens might make you follow them to trace the peacocks. After a good trek, the best way to relax is in the open-air sitting area and gaze at the stars. Or how about soaking in an open-air bathtub?