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Meghane Peak under the canopies of Sharavati

Meghane Peak- Under the canopies of Sarvathi
On of my fellow trekkers pointed out how BTC always succeeds in bringing together the right group of people, and I second his statement. This group of trekkers came back with backpacks loaded with wet clothes and umpteen memories following our recent trek to Meghaane peak in the Saravathi Valley.
We all assembled near Majestic at 10 pm on Friday and took our seats in the cozy 12-seat tempo traveller. Our journey en route Sagara started on a high note, introducing each other playing charades (a creative game initiated by Vikram), while setting our minds ready for leech bites and the trek ahead.

DAY1:
Reaching an hour ahead of schedule, despite leaving a few minutes late the previous night, we spent our extra hour taking a nap, but we were up and ready to head out to the wild even before Sagara woke up. Starting our day with a delicious breakfast and an hour-long nap (again) in the TT, we reached the spot- a random stop on the road connecting Bhatkal and Sagara, through the Western Ghats, where we readied and massaged our legs and shoes with a concoction of tobacco powder and castor oil to keep the leeches away.
Taking a leap into the thick forest, one by one, we disappeared and began our adventure. With Ganapathy Anna, our brilliant guide taking the lead and his associate Umapathy taking the last spot. Uphill all the way till we reached our first stop, a calming stream, we took a breather and hydrated ourselves with sweet, delicious water, straight from the stream! Beads of sweat adorning our foreheads was inevitable, thanks to Ganapathy Anna’s spirit of adventure, who took us through nooks and crannies in the forest, under old tree trunks, over patches of land laden with wet leaves.
For lunch, we were welcomed by Baligas, a family that has lived at the valley for 30 years, sans any form of communication. The women who were busy with their afternoon chores took a minute to smile and greet and enquire about our trek. To think about it, the folks had to trek as much as we did that Saturday morning to reach any form of civilization!
Coal roasted chillies, delicious rice bath and another variation of chilly that was herby and super spicy was rewarding. The view of the geometric paddy fields only made it that much better!
Continuing our voyage, we descended the peak to go through more of the thick forest, but this time, the paths were marked. Yet, observing all that nature had to offer, from orange mushrooms, strangely pollinating buds, bizarre looking seeds, giant spiders, baby snakes, made this path extraordinary.
The best experience through this trip has to be the narrow bridge we crossed in one of the hamlets. Connecting a small community of mud houses to the other side of paddy farms was half a tree trunk over the muddy river about half a foot wide and 10 metres long. We had to walk sideways, focus and brace the strong wind and rain, while draped in ponchos! Oh yes, we have a video to show our brilliant endeavor!
Much before the sun could set, we reached our hosts for the night at Haduhalli, where a humble family welcomed us with big smiles. There seemed to be a few ups and downs here, but that only worked to our advantage. Though we could not pitch our tents (Sincere thanks to the rains), we spent the night in a half constructed 2 BHK house, with no door and windows and a room hall filled with sand. The experience, believe me, was surreal. After a delicious meal of rice and rasam, coal-fried roti and beetroot palya, credits to Umpathy Anna- who also made paysa (It was his birthday!) we headed to our humble abode.
Lit with torches, the room had a very spooky feel. However, narrating ghost stories was never on the agenda and we decided to play a game of Mafia. The first few rounds literally had us rolling on the floor laughing, with so many hilarious interruptions. In the first round, Bala played God and explained the game. Just after he had chosen the Mafia, police and doctor by taping on the respective player’s head, one of the guys shouted out “Wait, I didn’t get a tap”. We guffawed for a whole minute and finally closed our eyes for the second round. When the second set began, the police, in the most comical way, revealed his identity. That abruptly ended the round, but only with more laughter. The third round was all set, and this time, Kumar played God and what a game that was. The Mafia- Vikram, Ganesh and I, have to admit we played a pretty killer game. After loud arguments, hilarious accusations and narrow escapes, it was victory for the Mafia!

DAY2:
Starting our day with a hot breakfast of Vermicelli, this time Ganapathy Anna took the lead in the kitchen, we packed our lunch, thanked our hosts and headed into the paddy fields to find the lush forest. After crossing another bridge, more paddy fields, we entered the forest. Uphill all the way, we were panting, taking too many breathers, smiling to avoid the pain but alas, we made it! We reached Basavanabai, which is geographically in Bhatkal. The uniqueness of this Shiva temple comes from the Nandi idol in the anterior, which emanates water through its mouth. The trick is- a pipe connected to the closest water source and the Nandi’s mouth. Once we heard this ‘water source’- a waterfall in the vicinity, our minds wavered and we just had to plunge in. Plunge, we did. The path to the waterfall was a trek by itself, as we crawled from one slippery rock to the other and limboed under branches to reach the destination. This waterfall was a mind-blowing wilderness retreat, and in only a few seconds, our phones were away, shoes were off and we were knee deep in the waters. The pressure of the waterfall massaging the body, the niche between the rock and the water, the roots that were nature’s grab handles, were all so impeccably designed. And the feeling of knowing that we were way inside the deep forests what only a handful would’ve witnessed was absolutely something else!
After an hour full of frolicking in the water, we dried ourselves (partially) started our lunch, and it started to pour. Sigh! Regardless, we were all so upbeat, we wrapped ourselves in ponchos and took the path (uphill again), headed by Ganapathy Anna. The path was leech-rich, with them dancing to the tunes of our footsteps. Some of us even walked with a bottle of salt in our hands while others had some expertise in the roll-and-pull technique by now. Vikram who trekked in slippers the entire way, was the last one in the line and was clearly the one who used up the most salt. But by the time he rolled the last leech out, the reminder of the troupe had reached another picturesque part of the valley. The scenery around us was the greenest of green, spotted with tree stumps, bright blue skies and moist wind. The clear indication of a main road ahead signaled the end of the trek and our pace suddenly dropped, with short stops for pictures, snacks, breathers to take in the beauty and of course, moments to laugh and capture.
A long 3 km later, we spotted our tempo traveller. Well, Samba spotted it first, and he even had to wait for us with him being the fastest in the gang, miles ahead always!
Our way back was more fun, sharing stories of love, life and everything critical and yes, we had a very oddly set time for a ghost story! But what a remarkable journey that was!
And again, we reached Bengaluru way early than scheduled (3AM!) and parted ways after shaking hands and promising to meet again and stay in touch.

But gang, here is what I believe made this trek outstanding; quoting John Muir-“In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks.” On so many levels, Yes?

Written By      : Nivedita
Organized By  : Vikram
Date of event : june 25, 2016
Place               : Western Ghats
Pictures          : BTC FB Page
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