Monday, March 29, 2010

Journey to the center of the Earrrrrrth - Chronicles of a day trip - Part 1

Friday marked the end of academic pursuits at ISB. Which meant that Saturday would mark the beginning of fun pursuits post ISB. And true to expectation, we decided to kick start our week of fun with a ... wait for it... day trip to Srisailam. So after a day filled with fun, I sit down with aching calves, legs refusing to move, my back in love with my pillow, and even my thumbs and fingers groaning, to recount our exploits. So here is the story of our JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARRRRRRRTH as Random would say. A sneak preview - it involves rock sightings, a boat ride, a drive through a forest, a temple, tap dancing in the heat, a beautiful forest, rivulets, waterfalls, pleasant chats and a broken shoe.

Now Srisailam is rather far from Hyderabad. All of 240 km, with most of the route under forest cover and over hills. Look at the pic alongside -
So, being inspired by pictures put up by some friends on Facebook (talk about web 2.0), we went. It felt good buying goodies that evening - bread, cheese, Sprite, water, chips - basic sustenance. Reminded me of our midnight shopping trip to Hanamasa prior to the Fuji expedition! So, armed with goodies, a printout of the places we wanted to see around Srisailam, and the enthusiasm of a 5 year old going on board a ferry, we set off at 5 am (yes, we decided to leave at 5 and all 4 WOMEN left at 5. Hah! to all those trip groups with men and women who plan to leave at 4 and leave at 6 instead!!!).

We left before the crack of dawn, and were aided by empty roads. Some decided to catch up on lost sleep, and some others like me, aided by a small caffeine shot in the morning, chose to keep awake and catch up on my recently added songs. Holiday mood, you see. The road was long, there were mild winds, and soon enough, the sky cracked and a smiling sun showed its mild orange face. It was gorgeous. This was when we, rather, Random decided to call our trip the JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THEEE EARRRRRRTH. I wish I had that pronunciation button that comes up on Wikipedia. Speaking of wikis, we realized where the makers of wikipedia got the idea for meta.css. Look here - Yup, you do get to see quite a few beautiful things if you wake up early in the morning. But in our case, I guess our dreams are prettier and so, we maximize our utility and sleep longer, since the marginal utility of waking up early is losing out on better looking dreams, which we'd rather not do. Yay! so done with the rambling for this post. Back to the EARRRRRTH now... So, on we went, playing music of DCH, Lakshya, and singing along nice and loud. The key word is LOUD. We thoroughly enjoyed the morning. It was a simple loooooong drive, and as we went on, the rock formations just kept getting better. At times we wondered how those boulders defied Newton and balanced themselves so perfectly up there. Pretty soon, we decided that it was time for our dose of caffeine and typical road trip style, we stopped at a nondescript tea stall. Tiny tapri that served some perfectly delicious tea in tiny cups! And the minute we took out our cameras, the people in the shop - owners or otherwise felt obliged to pose...

Soon, it started getting hot, and we approached the Rajiv Gandhi Tiger reserve area. If only there were more than 1411 tigers, we might have seen the occasional tiger as well, as we drove Safari style through the forest area. The roads were phenomenal. Trees were a sober brown, heralding the start of the hot season. But altogether, they made the picture look very beautiful. Pretty soon, we entered the ghat section, and I must say, the Eastern Ghats are a lot less punishing than their Western counterparts. They do go winding, but not many sharp hairpin bends, and a lot less painful!

And then, we reached our first spot of the day! Patala Ganga - a small river-like water body, that comes out of the dam on the Krishna river at Srisailam. The USP of this spot is, the boat ride that one can take in a round basket-like boat, from the steps to the place where the rapids begin. Clearly this place is not frequented by several people and so, there were hardly any crowds. Random had suggested that we do this first, else the sun would begin pelting down on us like no one's business and ostensibly, she was right! Thank God we did the boat ride between 9.30 and 10.30 am! We needed to bargain our way here and who better than one with the subtle seasonings of Saddi Dilli??!!?? So M got us a deal we couldn't refuse. She actually got us the ride at one fourth the usual price and the four of us set sail. I say set sail, since it sounds sweet and I know I shan't use that phrase anywhere else, EVVVVER!

The ride was beautiful, and the round boat goes bobbing up and down, directionless, and you can go swiveling on it, whenever you want! All of us, also got our photo op with the oar and we could take a number of pictures of the dam, the bridge and beyond, from this perfect vantage point. And from the water, the upturned boats on the shore looked like giant turtles, as M remarked. The only flip side was the continuous chatter of our boatman. Every 2 minutes, he'd start his plea for more money. It started with stories about how he was starting afresh, to how he was a helper in a greater game. At one point I was tempted to rattle off Shakespeare's 'All world's a stage' dialogue to him, and had to try real hard to refrain from doing so. So, a serene and not so quiet boat ride later, we got back, had our pictures taken and were ready to start leg 2 of our trip.
And this is where I'll pause part 1, for fear of making this post toooo long. Watch this space for the section on the temple, tap dancing, glades in a forest, waterfalls, rivulets and the broken shoe... Yes broken shoe...

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