Kudremukh, my first day of college.

Photo of Kudremukh, my first day of college. 1/1 by Sagnik Basu

I loaded the trunk with her bags as she went on unloading life 101s to keep me going for the next four years. I have no recollection of this but being dropped off to school for the first time with hundred other identical kids might not have been festive for me, but twelve years later starting something new was something I craved for. Mom’s cab went out of sight and the phone buzzed twice, “Rush to orientation”, she said. I went to room 302 and finished the half eaten omelet from breakfast as I scrolled through the ridiculous varieties of hostel rooms my college was ready to offer. The orientation was supposed to commence in an hour, I called for a bellboy as I began to clear space on my camera for my first day of college. After two knocks, a middle aged man dressed in white came in with a handful of leaflets, handed those over to me and started assembling my bags. The man basically handed me a number of things I could do, instead of learning where my classrooms were. I was about to ask him about one of the nearby attractions when it got even better, my boss called demanding an article by that night. One of his new interns turned out to be horrible with words and he had to scrap off all her articles. About three years ago I began interning for a budding photogrpahy blog, where we showcased the places we travel to, which paid me enough to boost my high school trips. By the end of the call he wired my next month’s stipend in advance as a thank you, the call was enough of a reason to ditch my first day of college but after seeing the money receipt text I had to be a rebel. I hung up the phone and looked up, the man was waiting for me with three bags on his head as I thought of nicer ways of letting him know that he needed to put those back. The twenty rupee tip didn’t help as he left the room pissed off.

After a twenty minute research and a shower, I narrowed my options down to Kudremukh and Goa, but the later would have had a downside as mom’s cabbie forecasted rain. Besides people on the internet were tired of reading about Goa and the countless raves it has to offer. It was my first morning at Manipal and I was sitting at a hotel room about to leave for a place I never had heard of, instead of going to college and probably meeting the people I would hang out with, for the foreseeable future. I did not want to upset my mom by giving her a heads up about my plans to ignore the lifetime of advices she showered on me that morning. So I just left a mail, nothing worse than an angry mom guilt tripping you before a trek. After chalking out my entire plan, I packed a bottle, one legal yellow pad and a spare shirt, dropped the keys at the reception and sighed heavily as I left hotel Green Park.

Western Ghat showcases elevations in an unreal fashion, which at times beats the textbook beauty of places like Shilong and Darjeeling. A tiring hour long bus ride from Manipal brought me to Karlke, followed by a two hour long journey till the foothills of Kudremukh. After making my way till the first forest crossing, I buckled up for leeches, since I overheard three groups of trekkers talking about the same. At an altitude of six thousand feet, Kudremukh is ideal for trekking and a gold mine for good old hikers. Besides the flamboyant flora, the location presents an exclusive sight of the Arabian Sea’s edge. Alongside the splendid views, Kudremukh has broad hills at a stretch connected to each other, which lets the hikers scale all the hillocks at a go. Writing after two years, I can’t guarantee you the same layout to your trip, but Kudremukh exhibits a God’s eye view overlooking a stretch of land wrapped with clouds. That sight made the three hour journey worth it.

Job virgins or freshmen, southern India is slowly growing into a hub for the youth and Kudremukh will break the monotony of Goa-Gokarna weekends.