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Living with nature in the Pandemic.
Even as the world has been swept up by the pandemic, many of us have in this time rediscovered our love of nature and the outdoors. HOL asked its guest writers to share their heartfelt nature stories in these trying times. We asked them to reflect on how spending time in nature has brought joy, happiness and solace in their life.
We’re gratified by the overwhelming support from our writers. To read the previous stories click here.”
Today, we share “Kalvarayan Hills, Tamil Nadu” by Taarak Parasher. As the times get tougher, the stories interesting.
Kalvarayan Hills, Tamil Nadu
By Taarak Parasher
A view of Kalvarayan Hills in Kalakuruchi district, Tamil Nadu | Photo credit: Taarak Parasher
Away from the hustle and bustle of life in Pondicherry, a town on India’s southeastern coast, lies a hidden gem that belongs only to us friends. Year after year we’ve escaped to this campsite by the picturesque Gomukhi river in the jungles of the Kalvarayan Hills in neighboring Tamil Nadu state. The lesser known campsite is known only to some of us, and we’ve tried to keep it that way. It’s our home away from home. A river and a green cover is all it has and that is all we need!
A long year, 2020 had its moments too. As the lockdown kept us under our roofs, the joy of the long-awaited escape was unparalleled. This escape to the wilderness came a month after the lockdown was lifted. It didn’t take me long to assemble the participants and all that was needed for the trip; food and essentials.
The ride to the hills from Pondicherry is about three hours. Bikes have their own charm and it added to the joy as the highways that are otherwise choked with traffic were relatively empty. We zig-zagged through the slow-moving traffic, eager as we were to reach the wild. We reached the Gomuki Dam that is fed by the Gomukhi river that we camp by. From here we made our way to the last village at the edge of the forest, parking our bikes and continuing ahead on foot with our backpacks. It would be another half-hour before we reached the campsite.
An expansive view of Kalvarayan Hills Forests | Photo credit: Taarak Parasher
Celebrating the moment as if it were the greatest escape in human history, a calm came over us. Not a soul was in sight. We walked in silence, whispering occasionally to each other to watch a step or listen to a bird’s call. The madness began when we started to cross the river. The river isn’t deep, but its flow is swift. It is here that we grew louder shouting to each other where to cross and where to step, while making our way to the opposite bank. Less a worry than someone taking an accidental dip is the risk of losing the food that we’re carrying. No one wants to sleep hungry, right?
Out of the river, an hour later, we rushed to collect wood as the darkness was creeping in. No fire means no food. Everyone rushed to get their task completed. One made the fire, another fetched water from the river for cooking, two others put the tents up and arranged the stocks of food and belongings. The lazy ones yawned and asked the hard working ones to hurry up.
Jungle stream enroute to our campsite | Photo credit: Taarak Parasher
As the night fell, the jungle fell silent. We sat huddled around the fire with headlamps lit to check what was cooking. On the menu was Khichdi, the most amazing and underrated dish in an Indian household, rice and lentils with loads of pickle.
It wasn’t long until we wiped our dishes clean. No one said a word while we ate like buffoons. It was now time to admire the heavens above us. A shooting star went past, then satellites. Two friends were in deep conversation about how life began. The other two argued about a constellation that shone right above us. A lone cloud floated across, and I wondered if it would rain.
As the night grew darker, we began to see fireflies. It was a sight to behold. The stars were above us and around us, twinkling and shining brighter as the time went by. We didn’t know when we fell asleep, but it was the sweetest sleep under the stars.
Rocks and the riverbed at Kalvarayan Hills Forests | Photo credit: Taarak Parasher
Taarak Parasher is the Founder & Partner at Roads & Journeys, and he’s always on the move. Taarak always wanted to start a company which encouraged promoting the outdoors to the young ones because he believes nature has an answer to everything. He wants every child to take up at least one adventure sport as a hobby. Whether you want to scale the mountains or swim in the Indian Ocean, plan your next adventure with Taarak at www.roadsandjourneys.com. Following him on instagram @roadsandjourneys.
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