Let’s go hand-in-hand and embrace the nature!

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On the track around 7 AM in the morning. Very punctual huh 😛 Started our trek towards Yumthang which is located at a distance of 25 kms from Lachung and at an altitude of 11800 ft. The road leading to Yumthang is through the snow covered mountains and lush green meadows.  After a km distance from our base camp at Lachung, we were out on to a vast meadow which is covered with lavender and yellow colored Primulas (small flowers which occurs in many colors). Now, I can understand why this place is called “The valley of flowers”. The entire meadow sees like an unforgettable combination of colors.

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The first leg of the trek is mostly a road trek through the lush green meadows, to some extent forests and the cascading waterfalls and streams. The day was sunny and it gave us a chance to enjoy the true colors of the nature surrounding us. Today it was some more special as I could see the group getting more and more close. Though it’s been more than a week since we met, we are yet to break the ice :p And this trek proved to be that ice breaking session!!

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 Yumthang is a land of more than a hundred species of Rhododendrons, Primulas and Magnolia. The valley has nearly 24 varieties of Rhododendrons itself, and to protect these varieties, a sanctuary name “Singba Rhododendron Sanctuary” has been declared by the forest department here. Though we got to see a wide variety of Primulas, we didn’t get a chance of seeing Rhododendrons except one or two, as they were still in the budding stage. Rhododendrons bloom from April to May end.

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After the sanctuary, the roads turned steeper and steeper. There was a stretch of moraines, the sediments that were carried down and deposited by the glaciers at the foothills of the mountains. Though this turned the trek route a bit difficult to access, the view of the moraines along with the glaciers and Snow Mountains was breathtaking.

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The nature has left a mark just after these moraines which is yet another picturesque scene. There is a lake which is greenish blue in colour and the specialty of this lake is it’s an artificial one. Now don’t think that it was human made, but it was made by the nature itself. Yes, it was created by an avalanche, after which an entire range of peaks got destructed and the snow got deposited there!

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We rested near the lake for half-an-hour and as I always say that the climate here is unpredictable, the temperatures dropped out drastically and it started to drizzle. Just after this lake, our second leg of the trek started and this was more adventurous than all the previous ones. Though the roads leading to Yumthang from Lachung are not in that good condition, the trek route engraved through the dense forests and streams is way better. As it was raining and snowing, the track was filled up with mosses and snow, which turned the way slippery. But, that was truly one awesome experience.

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Trekking for me is not merely walking along the roads or through the woods or a travel to a new place. Trekking is more like a learning process for me. Every time I go on a trek, I learn and earn. Yes, I learnt some of the most important lessons of life like “I don’t need a lot of material things in my life to be happy”, “we can’t take control of everything” and much more. I earned too, I earned a lot of friends some turned out to be my family too. This trek gave me a chance of molding myself into a better person.

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I could see lots of our friends talking with each other, exchanging greetings, encouraging and motivating each other. It opened up our hearts, now we are like one single family. It was 2 pm by the time we reach our base camp at Yumthang. Some of our friends who reached earlier than us has set up our tents and were busy preparing some food for us. We had our lunch around 3 pm, relaxed and it started drizzling by 4 pm. The temperature was around 10o. We had a camp fire around 6.30 pm and danced to the hilt! Thanks to our Quarter Master who prepared some delicious pakoras (savouries) and hot soup to energize us!

The real fun starts now 🙂 😀

 

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Gavi – A Eco-Tourist spot

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Gavi is an eco-tourist spot in Kerala which has widely become popular after ‘Alistar International’, the world acclaimed tourism major listed it among the leading eco-tourism centers and one of the must-see places in India. Spread across the beauty of Periyar Tiger Reserve, Gavi is a quiet, beautiful and pristine forest haven.  Located 250 kms away from Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, Gavi of Pathanamthitta district offers its visitors activities like trekking, wildlife watching, outdoor camping. So why late? Lemme share my travel tale of Gavi 🙂

The road leading to Gavi is blanketed by tea plantations and pine plantation (which is a rare sight in South India, and is a refreshing experience. We took the route of Trivandrum-Patthanamthitta-Ranney-Mundakayyam-Vandiperiyar-Gavi. The Gavi check post which is located 18 kms away from Vandiperiyar is the gateway to the lap of Mother Nature.

One should be keen in observing the surroundings as this is the only way of spotting wildlife in Gavi. The place is rich in flora and fauna. The commonly sighted animals here are the Indian Giant Squirrel, Lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri Tahr, Bisons, Wild Pigs, elephants and birds like kingfishers and woodpeckers. I was lucky enough to spot almost all of these animals except the elephants. But did get a chance of seeing their footsteps and fecals.. Lol 😀

Places of Interest:

#Pine Plantation: This came as a surprise to me as I didn’t expect such a beautiful place on this route. The windy climate and the mighty pines.. Ground covered with their leaves and seeds.. Sunlight peeping through the gapes and the surroundings adding to the Serenity.. The best place for our body and mind to rejuvenate. And a perfect place to meditate too 😛

# Safari: One can enjoy the sight of the wildlife in their natural habitat through Vehicle safaris to take a glimpse of the endangered species.

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# Boat Ride: Row boating is available at Gavi, on the Gavi dam’s reservoir. The panoramic view from the boat in middle of the waters’ of the reservoir is truly enticing! There is a small waterfall on the other side of the reservoir, which can be reached on this boat and it is some 15 minutes hike. A must visit place see the undisturbed beauty of the Mother Nature.

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# Sabarimala View Point: Gavi gives an amazing view of the Sabarimala amongst the lush green surroundings. This is a 20 min hike from the Gavi Dam and the view of the mountain ranges and the sunset in the evening over these ranges covered with evergreen trees and a blanket of golden color grass is breath-taking!

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# Cardamom Plantation: Gavi is a fertile land and the local’s mastery over the land has blessed the land with vegetation. A leisure visit to the nearby cardamom plantations is a sight to behold. We can see the wilderness of the wild elephants damaging these plantations.

Best part of the trip:

For the most adventurous ones who would love to spend a night in the deep forest can stay here in a small tent. This is the most unique feature of  Gavi, camping in the forests. As the dusk stretches into the silence of the night, one can feel the presence of wildlife in the middle of nowhere, an experience that cannot be explained in worlds, but needs to be just experienced.

The KFDC provides good vegetarian food and snacks with the local flavors and one should definitely try this food.

How to reach?

200 kms from Kochi International Airport, 250 kms from Trivandrum International Airport and 195 kms from the Madurai Airport. The nearest railway station is Kottayam (120 kms). Regular buses are available to Vandiperiyar from Kochi & Thiruvananthapuram. There are also buses available from Vandiperiyar to Gavi. But make sure that you reach the Gavi Checkpost before 5 pm.

Pack your backpacks now… 😉

Neetha – A cool introduction

One of the coldest months across all seasons being December sprinkled the idea (though not a weird one amongst a group of like-minded active sprouts) of Trekking. Oh yes, it’s not the thought of trekking that struck a chord of weirdness but the place of trekking in the coldest month – The Himalayan Terrain (Sandakphu) in the year 2013. Six friends set their foot and respective steps to the base camp and reporting place Darjeeling. A few started from Nagpur and I did from Rajahmundry and the plan was to meet at Kolkata and travel together from there to the base camp.

The date arrived when we realized the entire batch of this trekking effort comprised of 40 enthusiast participants out of which were 10 brave women! The management had allotted a single room for the women fraternity of this trek and it took us by a shock, of course not with any intention of breaking any of the mental manacles thinking of the irony of all of us getting ready at a specified time! As any other pillar to post running Day-1, ours were no lesser as we were asked to procure the medical certificates from Doctors at Darjeeling if we did not take them with us from our homes and also to assemble at 05:30 pm for an induction session.

Base camp Leader’s instructions were ringing deep in our ears that evening along with the list of DO’s and DON’T’s as we trek along. As we hissed through the chiming list that was unrolled, there walked in a young couple, quite delayed to the gathering when the strike was the girl that was so joyful and elated without a slightest of worry evading her for the delay in joining the session. Yes, you have been correct in your guessing that it is my MoIN (Mother India, if you would have ready her introductory article) alias Neetha.

The sparkle caught my eyes and ears once again while we were dining at the ground floor. Yes the same girl that was constantly talking to Ruthwik, her husband, who tried to focus munching, a little too silently in the gang of two! While we were back in our room with the hot chit-chat of the day of a girl and her boyfriend who had stepped in from Bangalore, there was a wave of air when the same girl bubbled in introducing herself and reaching out for ours!

While I had to slip away for a while to chirrup about our new companions to my mom in regional language – Telugu, with an assured heart that none around me shared the same language. Laughing my way out with my mom with Neetha besides and the topic was her! I had an attack between my jaws when I heard Neetha attend one of her calls once I was done in Telugu! I had to admit that there was nothing wrong that was conversed, though with a polite question reached out to Neetha, which received an evil smile in return – evil?..wicked?..cunning?..or just a pretention ?

Watch out!!