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Venkatagiri Durgam Trekking Experience: Fort & camping

Venkatagiri peak like cherry topping

Venkatagiri Trek facts

  • An Over-night trek
  • Venkatagiri is a small town in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh.
  • You are required to report at police station in there before you start trek in morning
  • Carry sufficient water,terrain is parched and water is available at the top only.
  • A villager to guide to the base of the hill and a seasoned trekker to take you to the top
  • Sleeping bag, tarpaulin to cover bags and yourself too in case if it rains.
  • Carry some cooking utensils to enjoy at night
  • Camera and other favorite stuff

Well, Trek to Venkatagiri has always been the one of the most dry, sultry and waterless terrain. The general behavior and routine of the trekkers says that they reach the town by the morning. They have their breakfast at local shops then move on for trek after finishing the legal formalities at the police station.

Venkatagiri Trek Begins:

Even if you have the capacity to beat the swiftest bird on this planet, you are not going to start your trek before 9 in the morning. Before you reach to the foot of the hills, you have to cross a jungle. Lesson learned, it’s a good idea to take a villager with you to guide you till the foot hills. Facts: people get lost in the jungle while reaching to the foothills or returning from the top and they spend hours and hours in search of the correct route.

9:00 am:

we started climbing. It was a normal and gradual climb along with a herd of hardy guys moving determinately ahead to reach the destination. After half hour uphill climb, we took our first break. We were sweating shirt-full and I was in love with that moment; feeling like Alexander on a mission to conquer the world.

“woooooooooooo”- A fading but sharp-reaching voice intruded us and then I came to know that there were people from our group following us. During the climb, people use this as a sign of being in hearing range. We kept on walking through bushes, climbing steeps and finally I dragged myself to the phase 1 base.

We took rest here and tried to wet ourselves in dripping water along the ridge

The team was so exhausted that some of them fell fast asleep. We reached there about 13:00; it was supposed to be lunch break time. We took out what we carried along with us. We had some fruits, ready-made chapatti, pickles, bread and jam. We were also supposed to save food for times ahead too.  Some people decided to soak under the dripping water from the rock. It was a nice idea to beat the heat especially when the sun was high.

Water dripping along the ridge

 14:30pm:

We were supposed to reach at the top of the rock-formations we were sitting beneath, but the path was from behind this rocks. The climb was now steep and rugged. We were now passing through tall and prickly grasses.

Actually, there is an old and broken fort built by robbers hundreds of years ago. According to local people these forts were inaccessible by the soldiers of the king and robbers used to loot king and distribute the loot to common people. They built a very small fort over at the top and they used to love here. It’s unimaginable that they formed stone-steps till the fort but from the place where we rested after phase one climb.

The climb was even steeper again. And here is how you act like multi-purpose machine doing several roughneck jobs at a time:
Stepping over stones; prickly grasses biting on to your legs and screeching with your back-pack; virgin and days old dew over grasses wetting your shoes and trekking pants; you making sure that you don’t sleep off while climbing or lose your balance; you don’t put your hands anywhere to make sure wild insects don’t bite you; sweating a lot under sun; clearing the bushes in front of the you specially bamboo twigs and you move on and on. Sometimes drinking water; trying to mix electoral while walking and making sure you walk with enough pace to be in the alignment.

After continuous climbing over the step-stones we took a break after longest stretch of the trek and sat at stone-stairs for photo shoot.

Stairs leading to the fort

The next stretch was little different, There was some sort of crude steps, broken down  and wasted. it was a challenge to determine which was the step or stone belonged to the steps. Once everyone assembled in this location we started again on the steeper climb, we were climbing as one group . The climb was so difficult we could not go faster.

17:00pm:

We reached the top… well not exactly; we could not see a robber’s fort yet. There was another peak that we needed to go. The group got into action here. One batch went with the mission to bring water. All empty bottles were collected and taken to the water source. Another group went up to survey the place for our night camp. A few people united into groups to pick woods for the night camp fire and dinner.

I had enough of climbing for then and I decided to assign myself to the wood picking. After a brief climb, we were up at the pinnacle of Venkatagiri hills. We were at the highest point where we could witness the nature unfold. We reached there just in time to see the gorgeous sunset. The view around was so picture perfect.  But I also could not avoid thinking ‘Who the hell came up here to build a fort?’ and how come he made the way out of heavy stones up until the height of 5000 feet. But I do believe in the strength of the primitives.

Vivid and foggy sunset

Camping at Venkatagiri 

By now the group that went for water had come back with water and almost instantly the water was all gone. Next thing in the agenda was to make soup, but lighting up the fire was the next biggest task. Anyway, after 10-15 minutes of struggle, we were successful in lighting up the fire. The weather was already, by then, getting brumous and believe me if you left anything open under sky for few minutes, it was going to be found wet then.

We needed more water for our much awaited dinner. It was already dark by then. we needed to rely on torch light to find our steps. This was when the cooking gang started the soup preparation. We reached at the water source, and filled 22 bottles by catching dripping water.

It took a while for me to get up to go get my soup. I pulled out my bowl and stretched for soup through the crowd around the fire. It has already become complete dark. The chefs were in full swing preparing dinner. I heard the word ‘Biriyani’. I did not pay attention much, but slowly some good smell filled the camping hill top.
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  I was sitting around just watching the movements in the camping ground. My waiting for dinner time, ended up pretty much with nature and those magnificent spread of stars. I wished to have a good camera to capture the skyline to show to my friend, they would have loved it.

Lovely Fire

8:00pm:

It was not bad. the dinner call happened pretty quickly after the beginning process. We all went to the cooking pot with the bowl as prisoner filing in for food. Everyone was given two lumps of ‘Biriyani’ stuff.

9:00pm:

Next there was a big commotion to find a spot to sleep. I did not realize that having a sleeping bag had been a disadvantage. We were ordered not to come near the tent.
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We picked a ‘somewhat’ flat surface near the bush. We marked our place with sleeping bags before dinner. When we came back, bags were soaking wet. I did not realize the mist was coming down so much.  I got in to the sleeping bag.I went into the sleeping bag zipped it up to cover myself like a Mummy.

Around three in morning: 

it began raining and everyone tried to squeeze themselves under the tarpaulin. The dripping sound of the falling rain drops over tarpaulin mixed with whistling of high-speed wind made us realize that we were left at no man’s land. I don’t remember what happened next. The next thing I heard was someone screaming on top of his lungs to explain how freezing it was last night and how his blanket was stolen. He was cursing the one who stole the blanket.

6:00am next morning:

The air was brisk and slowly the surrounding mountain landscape came in view in the virgin sun light. We were sitting above the clouds and the earth-surface was not visible to us. The clouds were all around; above the hill, beneath it, around it and everywhere.

We among and above clouds

It felt as if someone has spread the cotton in the space between earth and sky for us, especially the large chunks of cotton. That cotton like clouds changes their colors with the color of the sun. If the sun is orange, clouds are also orange and if sun changes to red color the clouds changes to red and it felt like time has stopped for a while and everyone was not ready to let that moment away and trying to have as many stills as many they can have by camera.

9:30am:

Water force returned back and we packed our bags and started the descent after few group photos around the places. Next was the steepest descent, I took the same decision to be at the front pack. It was scary to look at the depth. One misstep, and we could have rolled down hundreds of feet before the corpse stops. We did not see the danger when we were climbing. While climbing up, it was pure physical exhaustion but while coming down it is pure metal thing not to get psyched.

Noon:

We could come to the place where we stopped for lunch the previous day. We stopped briefly. The advantage of being in the leader pack is you that you tend to reach the spot quick and can take more rest. By the time the rest of the team arrived you are all recuperated and spring up to continue.

fear of misstep, falling and rolling down

We kept walking, sometimes we felt like we were lost but, we believed in and kept walking. Finally, I could see our cars. Big relief… More than tired, at that time we were all VERY hungry. We loaded up in the car and start the travel towards the town. In the village we saw a tap and all the five cars stopped and we all washed up, some of us almost took bath.

We reached the town and informed the police station that we all came back in one piece. Still hungry, we hunted for an eating place. We traveled little bit, could not find a place to eat, as it was a Sunday evening and most of the places were closed. Finally figured out a place like a ‘Dhabha’, it was like a drive in, big space but the restaurant was thatched. I don’t think they would have received this big a crowd (very hungry crowd) till date. The guys were scrambling to put the table chairs in the open space and we had much-awaited lunch.

I was tired and could not wait longer to get inside the vehicle, put my ear-phone plugged on; acquire a window seat and sleep until I reach Chennai. And When I opened my eyes, I was there in Chennai. All moment flashed before my curious eyes and the action-instantiated moments were gone with sweet remembrances.

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