It was on one fine Saturday, we planned for a trek. We accompanied few of our friends but they were not aware about the place and they thought it was a tour. Just by coincidence that was Friendship Day and we got a chance to party.
We are a squad of 14 people. Amidst lot of hurdles and busy work schedule, we all started this trip to Parvatha Malai - A Charming Beauty. We started our journey from Koyambedu Bus Stop around 9 o clock. We were planned to gather by 7 o clock. But there is usually a saying "Who comes on time is never your best friend". Exactly it is correct and no one was really pre-prepared for the trek. We had light dinner before departure which we already brought from home.
Parvatha Malai is located in Polur, a Town in Thiruvannamalai District. We had direct bus to Polur from Koyambedu. It is approximately a 3.5 hrs drive. But unfortunately it took 5 hrs to reach because our bus has took lot of stops in between. It was a fun journey. We occupied most of the seats in the bus and it was full of laughter, jokes and gossips. We had Tea and Coffee in between the break. Then, we reached Polur Town Bus Stop at 02:30 AM. That place was totally void and calm. There was one Tea Shop amusing with Old 90's Tamil songs. We are able to find few Autos in the bus stop.
There are two trekking routes for Parvatha Malai. One is Thenmathimangalam route which is usually preferred by the pilgrims and local people. And the other one is Kadaladi route which is not preferred by most of them since it is full of harsh pathway. This made us to choose Kadaladi route. We want to do it in a different way. At the time we reached Polur, there were no local buses in the stop. So, this necessitated us to take Auto to the trek start point. Now, it was a wise task for us to bargain with the Auto Drivers. We had no other option and we paid 1300 bucks for riding just 25 kms. We had to squeeze ourselves and compress 14 people in 2 Autos.
It was again a 30 mins drive and we reached Parvatha Malai Mounaguru Ashram. It was completely dark and pale. The time was around 3.45 AM. From there we started our trek by foot to seek the enthralling secrets of nature. A shop was located near that Ashram where we fetched some Water bottles and Torch lights. We started walking towards the uphill. We were full of energy and everyone of us were very much excited. Since, we had only few torch lights with us we had to closely follow each other. There was no proper routing. A white color arrow was marked in the rocks all over the way. We have to follow those arrows till the end. The dark was challenging us to continue in the right trail. Though each of us took chances to lead the group. We were singing and chatting about ghost stories along the way. Few of them become slow very soon after a 20 mins walk. Luckily, we had a Soda shop in between. We took some gap and again continued in the way.
We were instructed to take 5 mins rest after a continuous 30 mins walk. But we did the same in a reverse manner. As everyone of us were first time trekkers except few, we were left to take rest for some more time. After 2 hrs of walk, we were split into 3 groups. And we were at a distance of 20 mins from each other. Though we never stopped. We continued forward. By that time, the dawn was going to end and the sun was quitely peeping out. Fortunately, we had a chance of witnessing the sunrise in the mid way. It was an awesome view and the change in color of the sky was stunning.
Now, the sky was clear and we could feel the chirping sound. There were Soda shops located at every 30 mins walkable distance. But we wondered how they carried those stocks uphill since we felt difficult to carry our own stuffs. Usually these outlets sell Water, Soda and Lemon Juice for trekkers to refresh. Be careful with the monkeys. They will snatch your belongings brutally. We continued to move forward and finally we reached the place where Thenmathimangalam and Kadaladi route is joined. We were able to see the Temple Gopuram from there and we thought we could reach in few mins. But the actual truth was we only climbed half the distance.
The real challenging part of trekking starts from there. That phase is known as "Kadaparai Pathai". We were able to find many pilgrims and local people in this phase. We were totally separated from the group and unable to communicate with them. So, we had no other option and found new companions along the way. There were lot of Aged people and Ladies who trekked with us. We could spot lot of pilgrims coming from Thenmathimangalam route. The leading pathway to the Temple was really hard and we have to give our complete soul and energy to move forward. We have to keep huge wide steps to climb up. The day was quite good and the sun was not scorching. This suitable weather helped us to save our energy. We were expecting for rain that day. But the rain would have made the trek more complicated.
The way continued to steep rock boulders. We have to catch up the rods and chains to climb up. This path is not secured. A minute of careless step, would lead to danger. So, we were very careful while passing through this way. We were completely exhausted and there was no water with us. We were hungry to the core and we couldn't get anything to eat. The eatables which we brought was struck with the group who came beyond us. We were informed by the pilgrims that we would get Prasatham in the Temple once we reach the peak. This gave us more energy to move forward. We were near to the Temple and the view of the massive hills was astonishing. We found a Mandapam and many of them left their footwear since it was a Temple Complex. We also kept our shoes in that place and continued to trek. The air was full of force and pushing us back. We felt very difficult to move forward. Despite of many strangles, we reached the peak around 8 o clock where the Temple is located.
It was a compact temple with Shiva as a main deity. There was no priest to perform poojas. The pilgrims perform poojas by theirselves. We went inside the temple and we found a place to relax in the complex. The peak offers a wonderful panoramic view, with the Thiruvannamalai Hills on the right and Javadi Hills on the left. The view was worth the climb. We got more time to relax since other members of the crew has to arrive. We tried to contact them. But all our phone batteries are drained. The second group arrived after 35 mins. Then, the third group arrived after an hour gap. But none of us gave up. It was a pride moment and time to celebrate. We were enjoying the view and making memories of lifetime.
After a while, everyone of us were really tired. We thought we would get something to eat in the Temple. But we were informed that we have to wait another 30 mins to get Prasatham. It was already time and we have to climb down before the mid sun. So we started our down trek by 11:00 AM without having breakfast. There was a separate pathway for down trek and it was more challenging compared to up trek. We reached the Mandapam and noticed that few of our crew member's shoes were missing. To make the situation worse, they have to walk in barefoot. The pathway was filled with pebbles and it was not that easy to proceed. So, we exchanged our footwear all along the way. After a continuous walk for 20 mins, we were able to find a shop where we spotted the fantastic drink of the day. It was Ragi Koozh and it was an amazing refreshment. It gave us some energy to walk since we had the last meal before night. We proceeded on the way and the journey was damn tiring. The way seemed to be very long.
Again, we were split into groups. We failed to withdraw cash from ATM before starting from Koyambedu. Most of us had only cards and cash was out of stock. We were starving out of thirst but managed with available water. This time, we continued our trek for more than 45 mins and took rest in between for 5 mins. The same way we proceeded and reached the last phase of muddy terrain. Finally, we reached Mounaguru Ashram where we started.
The reality is we had to walk another 1 km to get into the town. It was 3 o clk in the evening and most of the houses in that village had porches in front. We literally went and rested there. The village people were so kind and helpful. They gave us water and allowed us to use their washrooms. We had to wait again for all the members to arrive. Meanwhile few of us went in search of food since we were exhausted after the trek. But we weren't able to spot any shops nearby. We walked more than 15 mins in search of food outlet. But we were able to find only a local store where some cool drinks and snacks was available. There was a Draupathiamman Temple and some preparations were done by the people with regards to village gathering. We found a stone bench and had a nice nap till the other members arrived. We have to reach the Bus stop to get the Bus for onward journey. But it was quite long from the place were we rested. The annoying thing was that there were no transport options available from that point to reach the Bus stop.
Luckily, we got the help from the village people. One of the villager owned a Bulock Cart and he dropped us in the Bus stop. This ride was exciting and very thanks to the person who helped us without expecting anything in return. We realised that still humanity exist. We were dropped in the Town Bus stop and we have to take a Bus to Koot Road. And again another Bus to Thiruvannamalai Bus Terminus. This journey was again 1.5 hrs and we reached the Terminus around 6 o clk. We were able to find ATM and we had a heavy lunch. As it was Sunday, almost all the bus towards Chennai is completely full. We had to wait for longer time to get the seats in Bus. At last, we got the seats and we reached Koyambedu around 12.30 AM. It was time to bid Good Bye!
Life is meant for good friends and great adventures. Yeah, a journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles. Each level of this trek has truly tested our will power. This was an awesome lifetime experience.
Our Squad: Myself, Rajesh, Praveen, Kishore, Sanjay, Syed, Mano, Renu, Induja, Raji, Rhea, Preethi, Devaki, Lovea