Camping On A Cliff

19th Aug 2017
Photo of Camping On A Cliff by Karim S A

Last Friday, when as I was wondering where to go this weekend, the idea of camping on a cliff called Jaganath Gattu (in Kurnool of Andhra Pradesh) struck me. I talked to my friend who is a doctor in Kurnool, and who was my class fellow in the Junior College. During our college days we used to go there and spend the whole day on the top of this Hill. But the idea of camping and to stay there at night was something we had never thought about. Initially, he was a little apprehensive, but when I told him that it would really be exciting, he not only agreed, but was rather excited to experience it. He suggested that we find a few more like minded people because he felt the more the merrier, though I wasn’t up for the idea, because I am one of those who believe the adage, “two is company, and three is crowd”.

Since I was staying in Hyderabad, I promised him that I would arrange the paraphernalia of the camping, like tent, torch, transistor etc (I tell you, listening to Vivid Bharati at night under the open sky would be an out of this world experience, try it). Then I googled to find out what other stuff is needed to camp, apart from the Tent and Torch, because it was the first time we were going to do it. I made out a list of things to buy from Decathlon, our Sports Store at Uppal, Hyderabad. I had to keep the list to the barest necessities so that I don’t go overboard on expenses, which could act as a deterrent. I believe in the Railway adage, “Less Luggage, More Comfort”

My list was ready,

Tent, Torch, Gloves, Socks, Scarf, Cap, Towel, Comb, Powder, Shorts and Tee, Camera, Bed Sheet, Air Pillows, Transistor, Match Box, Mosquito Coil, Mosquito Cream, Insect Repellent, Dettol, Cotton balls, Medical prescriptions (if any), Mirror, Paste, Brush, Soap, and finally food and water for lunch, dinner and some snacks and Tea in a flask.

I left Kachiguda Railway Station (Hyderabad) at 07.45 AM by Tungabhadra Express which starts from Secunderabad Railway Station at 07.30 AM in the morning and you reach Kurnool at 12.45 PM. I went straight to my friend’s house for lunch and our trip to the mountain was at 02.00 PM. In case, you don’t know anybody in Kurnool, you can have your lunch at Hotel Raj Vihar which has a decent restaurant. You can order for a South Indian Thali, which will not only satiate your hunger, but also satisfy your taste buds. The puris served with the thali are yummy. And you can end up with a sweet. A banana and Sweet Pan completes the meal, but that's not part of the thali. You have pan kiosks outside the Hotel.

At 02.00 PM we left for Jaganath Gattu, which was hardly 3 KMs from his house. We left by his Tata Scorpio vehicle. All our things were packed as per the list. We took a right turn from Nandyal Check post towards G Pulla Reddy Engineering College. This college is on the foothill of this Jaganth Gattu. The road to this Hill winds up till the Temple, where you can park your vehicle and from there you have to do some rock climbing to reach the top, not much though. But yes, if you don’t want to take the road, and want to climb the mountain top, for the sheer thrill of it, you can do so from Dupadu Village side on Bangalore Highway.

The definition of a Hill and a Mountain is very vague, and so I am using both the terms, I hope my readers are not confused. But if height is the criteria, then it qualifies to be called a Hill, because anything below 2000 feet is considered a Hill and a mountain if it exceeds 2000 feet. Anyway, let’s not get into the technicalities.

The afternoon Sun was receding and it was not scorching. The breeze up there was very cool and we settled under the rock, spreading the Bed sheet. We took out our flask and had a cuppa tea with snacks. It was heavenly. The scene around us was really very magnificent. Hey wait, it’s still not the weekend for you, where are you rushing to…?

The golden rays of the setting Sun fell on the River Handri, and the Sunset looked spectacular. The Sun signed off here, to rise on the other side of the globe to wake people there from their sleep. It was 7.00 PM and I am a regular listener of Vivid Bharati’s programme for the soldiers’ called Jai Mala which is aired on radio daily at this hour. I tuned in, and my God, never in my life, had these songs sounded so mesmerizing. I myself felt like a soldier on the border. But really, how hard it must be for them, to lead the life of a soldier on the border without any facilities. And here, we sleep so ensconced and so safe because of their toil and sacrifices. A BIG SALUTE to each and everyone in the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force.

As night crept in, the stars made their way in the open Sky. It was beautiful to gaze at the twinkling stars, but the sounds of insects made us a little uncomfortable because it was the first time we slept in the open, with the insects and bees. Taking with us mosquito repellents helped us ward off these swarming mosquitoes. Not one dared to bite us.

At 09.00 PM we had our dinner of Lemon Rice, Chapatis, Chips, Potato fry, Coconut Chutney and Maaza. When Nature gives you company, you feel your inner voice speaking to you. It cleanses your soul, mind and body. You feel refreshed. The view from the top, of Kurnool Town lit in lights was fantastic. And the occasional serpentine train passing by. The train track passes just below Jaganath Gattu. The trains looked like crawling centipedes.

At 11.30 PM we started feeling drowsy and wanted to sleep. So, we laid our sleeping bags and slept. I was a little apprehensive to sleep in the open for fear that some insect may enter my nose or ears, childish thoughts na? But, my bones were so tired and my mind so relaxed that I slept in no time and woke up at 06.30 AM when the glare of the morning light was penetrating through my closed eyelids. It was indeed, a day (and a night) to remember.

We packed our belongings and got down the Hill for the morning Chai (We Indians can’t do without it). After having my lunch at my friend’s place, I left Kurnool again by Tungabhadra Express which left Kurnool at 03.00 PM and reached Secunderabad Station at 08.00 PM.

Getting there:

Kurnool is 209 KMs from Hyderabad and 359 KMs from Bangalore and is well connected by both Rail and Road. In fact, it is strategically tucked between Hyderabad and Bangalore on NH No. 44. And if you are rich in time, you can head to other places of interest like Orvakal Rock Garden (20 KMs), Alampur (26 KMs), Mantralaya (92 KMs), Belum Caves (107 KMs), Ahobilam (135 KMs), and Srisailam (180 KMs).

I think, no one ever thought of camping here. We set the trend for others to follow.

Cover Picture Credit:

"When you start saying “YES” to experiences, you become enriched".

Photo of Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India by Karim S A

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