Travel

Hit the trekking trails

Seamless stretches of rolling greens, undulating streams and misty mountains — the magic of Eastern Ghats is a stark contrast to the chaotic life in the city. These largely unexplored valleys are now drawing trekkers from the city who are wandering off the beaten path to be close to Nature. And there are quite a few options at hand.

At 5,500 feet above sea level, Mahendragiri, a mountain peak at Paralakhemundi that’s ensconced in the Eastern Ghats, you feel like you are on top of the world, quite literally! As he stood overlooking the mist-covered mighty mountains surrounding the peak, Ajay Reddy felt the arduous eight hours of trek to this stunning hill range had definitely been worth it. A passionate trekker, Reddy loves to rough it out, soak in the local flavour and explore undiscovered routes surrounding the Eastern Ghats. “There is so much more to discover in these belts. Each route is like a magnificent hidden secret waiting to unfold its charm on you,” says the software engineer from Visakhapatnam.

Roadless travelled

Reddy is among the growing tribe of trekkers who is discovering lesser known trekking trails in the Eastern Ghats.

“We discovered more than 10 off-beat trek routes in this region and they are an absolute wonder. Unlike the Western Ghats, this belt has not been explored properly by trekkers,” says Samvedh Vegi, who started an eco tour agency called Treksome last year. The idea behind the venture was to provide organised trekking tours and camping experiences along the Eastern Ghats that were not explored before. Recently, the team led about 25 people to Bhimakonda, a hill near S Kota. “The route that snaked through tribal villages was mesmerising and monsoons brought out the real beauty of the place,” says Vegi. For some part of the trek the group had to brave heavy showers; but when they reached the peak they were welcomed with the silence of the verdant valleys and a stunning view of the sunset. Vegi along with his friend Ravi Kiran started Treksome after roaming around the Eastern Ghats for three to four years. “Places like Dallapalli Hills in Paderu mandal and the Yerravaram waterfalls offer excellent trekking experiences. But if you are looking for challenging routes, then Arma Konda located in the North of Paderu is the place to explore. This is the highest peak of Eastern Ghats and takes seven hours of trek to reach the spot,” adds Vegi.

Self discovery

For 25-year-old Shreya Nevatia, trekking is an organic process to explore Nature, bond with people and break free from the chaos of city life. The young chartered accountant went on a trek to an unnamed location in the Eastern Ghats near Araku last December. And the experience opened up her mind in ways she never could have imagined. “It was a process of self discovery and I realised that it is not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves,” she adds. The short trek led the group to a waterfall and the camping site was located by its side.

A couple of weeks ago, a 25-member team of Nature lovers silently stepped out on to the hills of Simhachalam in the early hours of the day to explore the trek route and learn about the native plant species of the evergreen hill range. The route is relatively unknown because of its dense foliage.

Tasneem Ibrahim, an ardent trekker from the city says, there are a few routes closer to the city for beginners. For those starting off, she picks the three routes (short and long) at Kambalakonda Eco Tourism Park. “It’s more of a hike than a trek, but it’s a good way to start,” says Ibrahim, who recently completed three high altitude treks in North India. 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. One of the popular trek routes in these regions is the one that starts from Shivalingapuram touching remote interior tribal villages to Sunkarametta, where lies one of the oldest churches in Araku. Among other nearby routes to explore are the Red Sand Hills (Erra Matti Dibbalu), the geological wonders of natural rock bridges (Sila Thoranam) on the Visakhapatnam—Bheemli road and Pavuralakonda near Bheemli. These are places where one can go solo as well and complete it in a couple of hours. Groups like Youth Hostel Association of India also conduct treks periodically in and around the Eastern Ghats.


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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 2:27:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/hit-the-trekking-trail/article24452022.ece

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