Of Mountains & Myths...!!!

While searching the internet for details of Thadiyandamol and the trek routes there, I remember reading a blog which said many people could not climb the mountain in their first attempt. It was not because it was a difficult place to reach or climb, but something always happen which force people to cut short the trip the first time. I was amused at this notion and never thought this could happen to me. I was never a believer of these so called 'myths'. So when the whole city was busy celebrating Diwali, two of us quietly sneaked out of the noise and mayhem and took the KSRTC bus to Virajpet.

The trip was peaceful and we reached Virajpet bus stop in the wee hours of that Saturday morning.The plan was to climb Thadiyandamol, camp there that night, climb down Sunday morning and reach Bangalore by Monday morning. The bus station was all deserted and we had the rest rooms at our disposal for morning chores. After a quick breakfast, we boarded the first bus towards Napoklu, the starting point of our trek. This is one of the treks where the trail is pretty clear and straight. We took a deviation from the bus route towards 'Nalknad Aramanai'. There is tarred road for quite a distance which gradually gives way to a mud road which goes winding up through the tea estates. There are couple of streams criss crossing the road on the way and they are good sources of drinking water. We could not help empty the mineral water bottles and collect some 'genuine' mineral water.

Nalknad Aramana is a deserted palace now, but was once the last refuge of king Veerarajendra before surrendering to the British. It is too small to be called a 'palace' and looks more like a big ancestral home. But it has some 20 odd rooms and some elaborate artwork on the ceiling and walls. There is also an escape root via an underground tunnel from one of the rooms.
The palace is now closed for renovation. It was sad to see the mural paintings on the walls covered in paint. The caretaker of the palace said that the walls were whitewashed by some authorities and all the murals were thus destroyed. A Bangalore based company was doing chemical treatment to wash away the paint and to their amazement found that parts of the pictures were even covered by cement. Conservation at its best...!!

We resumed our journey after this short stop at the palace and took the road that goes towards the Palace Estate. From this point its a steep climb towards Thadiyandamol. There is a junction on the way where you get a fabulous view of the mountains and the valley below.. the first glimpse of Thadiyandamol too which looked inviting in a carpet of lush green. The steep climb was over and it was level ground for a while from there. There were kurinji plants all over the place with stray flowering here and there. These guys generally flower en-masse only once in twelve years, though there are certain small variants of kurinji which flower every 3/4 years. Ahah.. I forgot to mention about our trek guide Luke. Luke was a black canine with a contrasting white streak along his belly.

He showed us the way, not to mention the fight he picked up with some buffaloes on the way. In spite of his brave stance, the buffaloes managed to drive him away in few minutes. He would walk ahead, stand tall on a rock and wait for us to catch up. Whenever we stop to catch a breath, he would sit upon a rock with that expression in his eyes 'Come on guys, grow up..!!'. He also obliged us by posing for photographs like a trained model every now and then. It was a sunny afternoon and there were quite a few stunning views on the way towards the peak... but we were still half way through.

It was then that my friend developed yelled with pain and sat on a rock. The expression on his face told me that something is not quite right. He had missed his step while climbing a rock and badly twisted his ankle. My worst fears proved right when he said he cannot walk any more and I knew the adventure is over. We had no options but to return rather than risk further injury to his leg by climbing ahead. We slowly started walking back, taking rest every now and then to nurse his injured leg. Somehow he managed to hold to together till we reach Virajpet by evening and catch a bus to Bangalore late night.

When I first read about people not being able to climb Thadiyandamol at first attempt, I dismissed it as another of those stories.. but when it unfolds right in front of you, you gotta believe there is something in it. We had seen other people climbing the hill and a few returning after a day's halt on top, but somehow the mountain did not want us on top.. at least then.

Myths are perhaps not always figments of imagination...!!

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