Friday, May 9, 2014

a life of journeys- Velliangiri

i wish wen i look back at my life years later, i would turn over the pages of my life book marked with journeys. it goes like this-dreaming about things that go into a journey and going out and living it out wen the opportunity rises.i wish to write abt a journey that I recently got to embark on, taking advantage of a couple of holidays( apr 14,15 and 18) falling within a span of a week and clubbing a couple of days leave with them i got a bonanza of almost 8 'solid' days at my disposal.

we started off and stopped at coimbatore( my in-laws' place always a special one) first, where i would leave my wife to enjoy the week with her parents. i also got seize this opportunity to scale the velliangiri hills- a chain of seven hills, beginning with the base at Poondi.

I first heard of the hills wen i visited the Poondi temple some time in 2007 wen i was on a training assignment at a college in Tirupur. ever since, the idea of scaling was always looming around my heart. i had gathered that the journey took almost eight hours to go up and be back. one had time it on a certain time of the year to avoid the scorching sun and on certain days of the month, to have enuf light in the dark to return.and one had to have company!! i was happy that this time happenned to be at the right place at the right time.

Further  the occasion was a full moon day on the first month of Tamil lunar calender. i had heard that the occasion was a very auspicious one for the journey and thousands thronged the hills on this occasion. so i had a really huge company, only that almost all of them were in groups and i was strolling solitary.

now wen i write about it almost a month later, the following thots stand out for me:
 -the inspection carried out at the bas ( poondi) to make sure you were not carrying a polythene bags, any content carried in polythene bags were transferred to a paper fold;

-There was a huge queue to obtain the staff that is supposed to help you walk. the length of the queue repelled me and further i was already of the opinion that i would not take a help. ( a decision i am not sure i regret but i struggled while stepping down and wondered if the supporting stick could have made it any easier, i m not sure)

- the small pool of water that occurs almost at the base of the seventh hill, of which i had heard quite a bit and was eager to dip in, was trampled by  the heavy crowd and was in a very sorry state. By the time i reached there, that is in the mid of the night, i was neither in the mood to have a dip nor was the pool inviting.

- i had started climbing at around 8 p.m. i didn't have much of a difficulty scaling the first two hills which have steep steps to ascend. i glided through them. but faced a small glitch that would go on to make the rest of my journey a very difficult one. I hurt my foot by stepping on some pointed stone. given the religious tone of the trek we were all walking bare foot. That is because the stretch is considered sacred. However the sacredness was relaxed to allow people to relieve themselves of both liquid and solid wastes and have a fag on the way, all this made my resolve to climb bare foot look like a joke.. there were some youngsters who did climb with shoes on, they were doing the right thing. that is a better thing to do given the very uneven and rough nature of the steps, certainly a hard time for my soft soles.

- i had a hell of a time climbing down. every inch of my sole was hurting i had these rough steps to ply over. i devised a manner for climbing down where i let my knee take all the weight and walked sideways so that i got my feet to rest a more even surface of the step. my pains were aggravated by my consciousness that i was blocking the traffic by being slow. i kept on wondering how others did not mind the unevenness in the step and did not bother to step on pointed see youngsters running down the steps while i was inching along was another thing that added to my pain. i was almost crawling through some steps just to relieve my legs of some of the effort.

- it was such a big relief to have come back to the base. as soon as i reached the base. the pain was all gone, thrown away into the back burner and a feeling of triumph took over. i was in a very bad shape. my dress all wet with sweat and soiled all over. i was in a very clumsy shape. i was wearing that untidiness with a sense of pride. people could see what i had gone through.

- i was told that the journey had some of the best views all along. and hence i wanted to time my return in the light. so after reaching the base of the seventh hill at around midnight.i decide i would stay for some time, have darshan at around 4 am witness the sunrise and then walk back sifting through the natural beauty all along. i was told i could have a good top view of the siruvani dam.

i chose a sloping but flat rock to rest my back and stretch myself. it was a little covered with bushes. i thot that would cover me from the cool breeze that was graduating into a wind as time passed. as i was settling down and making sure that the bushes were not harboring any insect, i discovered that i had settled myself into a spot wat could have been the best spot to water out. but i was too very well settling down and there were not many flat surfaces left to lie down on those part of the hills.i tried my best to grab some sleep, trying my best to protect myself from the wind, i was lying bare chested, as i had to remove my shirt that was wet with sweat, i only had shawl to protect, the smell of urine all around, the fear of being stepped over by some enthusiastic climber and the fear of being urinated upon by some night-blind climber. amidst all this i did manage to catch some half an hour's sleep and 4 hrs rest for my back and knees.

i woke up at around 330 am unable to rest anymore and eager to witness the sunrise and get going. The darshan was that of a linga in a cave and people were being let in in batches. this kind of created a big quick all along the slope of the seventh hill. people who thought were smarter tried to evade the queue and tried to explore other routes of trek to reach the top. but all routes were closed and one had to join the q for darshan. these people tried to break the q an a big push and pull and hullabaloo broke out. this despite people in the queue warning people from exploring other paths, they jus would not listen. this kind of got the sacred mood completely thrown out of the lid and there was bitterness all around, leaving me wondering about the safety and herd mentality of the human being.

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