Travel

Of trekking and the joy of discovery

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A growing tribe of trekkers in the city are embarking on trekking trails to be close to nature and unravel the hidden mysteries of history from amidst the dense trails

At almost 3,800 feet above sea level atop a cliff, you feel you are on top of the world, quite literally! As she sat in her tent overlooking the hill ranges of the Eastern Ghats, relishing a local homemade lunch of bamboo chicken, Sravani Kavuru, an engineering student and adventure lover, felt the arduous four hours trek to the Nurmathi and Paderu had definitely been worth it. Kavuru, who has also been on several Himalayan expeditions, loves to rough it out on her treks and pitch a tent under the open sky, soak in the local flavour and trek at her own pace to capture the essence of the culture.

She is one among the growing tribe of trekkers in the city who are embarking on trekking trails through some lesser known tracks, to be close to nature and unravel the hidden mysteries of history from amidst the dense trails bordering the city.

It was in the early hours of a Sunday that a 30-member team of nature lovers silently stepped out on to the hills of Simhachalam to explore the ruins of Judge’s Guest House at the highest point of the hill range.

The route was unknown, but the joy of discovery soon opened into a world which seemed magically disconnected from the cacophony of city life. Describing the experience of the trek, nature lover N. Aditya Madhav says: “The best part of these treks is that you chance upon precious aspects of history and culture of the region by simply following a path. I usually map a region and then set out to explore the place.”

V. N. Pratap, a member of the National Adventure Promotion Committee, New Delhi, says that biking in the south is more about the scenic beauty of the trails than a test of endurance. “Many of these routes are simpler treks compared to the ones which take you through the Himalayan passes. But there are two aspects to the difficulty levels – the physically difficult treks and the trek trails with difficult weather conditions,” adds Pratap, who is also the president of the Adventure and Bicycling Club and a member of Youth Hostel Association of India (YHAI). Trekking since 1968, Pratap has explored most of the routes in and around Vizag.

“The region is blessed with a beautiful geographical landscape that gives a great canvas to explore,” he says. His pick for the popular one-day trekking routes in the region are: three routes (short and long) at Kambalakonda Eco Tourism Park, Simhachalam hill top road, Red Sand Hills (Yerra Matti Dibbalu), trek to explore the geological wonders of natural rock bridges (Sila Thoranam) on the Vizag- Bheemli road and Pavuralakonda near Bheemli.

Experienced trekkers usually like to hop beyond the one-day treks. For that, the Eastern Ghat ranges of Araku and Paderu are an ideal spot. Here, you can not only sink into the arms of nature, but also experience the pristine tribal culture blissfully ensconced in the lap of the mighty hill ranges.

One of the popular trek routes in these regions, says adventure enthusiast K. Ksheersagar, is the one that starts from Shivalingapuram touching remote interior tribal villages to Sunkarametta, where lies one of the oldest churches in Araku. “Araku and Paderu are a trekker’s delight. Here, there are at least six to seven trek routes that wind through the beautiful green tribal villages,” says Ksheersagar, a member of YHAI. His passion for trekking and exploring the road-less-travelled took him to many new trek routes and gave him a closer perspective of the tribal culture.

His trek list includes – Nurmathi near Paderu where there is a cave as big as the famous Borra Caves; Matsyagundam pond near Paderu which is worshipped by the local villagers by offering ‘prasadams’ to the fish in the pond; and the Chodavaram-Vatlamamidi trek route connecting to Paderu.

Closer to the city lies another hidden gem of largely unexplored pathways. Beyond the quaint little village of Dharapalem, located before Dabanda on the other side of Simhachalam, is a trek route which is peppered with tall teak trees plantation. “The greenery is so thick and the trees are so tall that it gives of feel of a rainforest and the skies are almost hidden amidst the canopy of greens,” exclaims Ksheersagar.

There are many city-based organisations like YHAI, Green Climate, MEECONS, Trendsetters Charitable Trust and Adventure and Bicycling Club that conduct regular treks.

Those interested to explore the city’s rich natural routes can find out more about the organisations on their websites and Facebook pages.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2018 12:28:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/travel/of-trekking-and-the-joy-of-discovery/article6154852.ece

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