"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness." ― John Muir
The Chinese New Year holiday meant it was time for my home trip and a weekend dedicated for trek with friends. Once again, I was after Hari and he promptly arranged for a trek. It seemed getting permission for any of the unseen places in western Ghats was difficult do to trekking bans here. Hari after lot of trying, chose a place in the Nilgiris. He kept the trekking spot a secret. Based on Hari's clues, I guessed it was the Slip Rock. The tempo (Force) traveller capacity is 12. As we had 12 people ready, the regular group wasn't approached. The team members were Captain Krishnamurthy, Pramod K, Manohar, Gururaj, Hari, Sujith, Goutham, Anantha, Chinmay, Pramod R, Rajendra and I. The weekend of February 2-3, 2019 was decided as date.
Once the group was formed, each person was given responsibilities and Hari shared things to bring. There was time and place given to each person to join the vehicle. As usual, we caught the Force traveller on Friday night. The first pickup was at BEL at 9pm and the last was at Kollegala at 1:00 to pick up Raju. Due to traffic jam at the border, we had to wait for almost an hour. We reached the Sparrow house nature camp; a Home stay near the St. Catherine falls, Kotagiri, at 6:00. Many of us took a quick nap in the dormitory. The building was a tea factory during British times, now being used as a home stay.
Kotagiri is a Hills Station located in the Nilgiris Hills about 33 km southeast of Ooty. Kotagiri is very beautiful with tea gardens, forest, streams and falls, and is a paradise for nature lovers.
There was a gas geyser in one of the bathrooms and we enjoyed hot shower and had breakfast of idly, chutney and sambar. The guide, Siva, came around 10am and we all started walking first through the winding road and then entered the tea gardens. There were many Gaurs seen nearby. The trail also had many birds. Siva offered to take us through a ridge and we readily agreed. This was the "Slip rock", that was not long, but was a tricky, wild trail with great view on both sides. Raju later said the end of this trail was called "Kalaar view point".
We spent some time there enjoying the view. We also visited a kind of caves that Siva said was inhabited by tribal people long back. Around noon, we were at a small waterfall, where we took some pictures and had the packed lunch. While coming back, we saw big herds of Gaurs very close. We had to carefully avoid being too close to them. In the evening, we walked to the St. Catherine falls and had refreshing shower. We had done around 26,185 steps for the day. In the evening, we had prolonged campfire with Karaoke session. There was lot of merry making. We slept pretty late in the tents outside the home stay.
Next morning we left for Bangalore and reached early. While on bus, we played antakshari and dumb charade. There was also an interview of people asking their feedback about the trek. Kotagiri trek will be remembered for beautiful location, lots of Gaurs and many birds. Thanks to Hari for the meticulous planning and thanks to the teammates for lively company.