The KALians of Grade X were buzzing with excitement on a bright Friday morning, eager to get away from the monotonous ritual of classroom study. They were all set to learn a bit of the ways of Nature through the IAYP camp as part of their Silver Award.
The sky was blue, the air fresh and the surroundings a lush green, as the young KALians reached their destination to start their two-day trek up the Brahmagiri Hill, one of the highest hills of Kodagu. Guided by Mr. Ramesh Belegare and Mr. Krishna Murthy, two experienced nature conservationists, the team set out into the untouched wilderness, among leeches and wild elephants.
The eight-kilometer trek winded up stony paths crisscrossed with small streams which were refreshingly cold. Misty clouds blanketed the hills, keeping it fresh. The forest guides also kept us informed about the various life forms and trees of this magnificent belt of wildlife. The journey provided valuable information to the observant crowd about the various species of butterflies that are the jewels of the ecosystem. After almost six hours of climbing, we reached the "Narimale Resthouse" which would serve as our base camp. The place, constructed in the remote area shows the confidence of the workers and their hard work, yet the partial destruction caused by the pachyderms is a grim reminder of how they still dominate the area. The participants gathered firewoods themselves and drew water from a nearby stream and divided the work- girls do the cooking, the boys collect firewood and draw water. After a tiring day, the young participants sat by a campfire and were given a presentation on the importance of nature. After a sumptuous meal, the leech bites and thorn pricks did not hamper the enthusiasm of the participants.
The next day, the participants were divided into teams and were assigned various duties mainly to observe and report what they saw. Armed with pens, notebooks and cameras, the trekkers soon set forward to conquer the hill. On the way, various elephant signs were reported and deciphered with some help from Mr. Belegare. It just showed the importance of elephant conservation. The participants understood it and were aware that Elephants=forest=water=life=Us.
The participants also spotted deers, dholes and some birds which are also a vital part of the ecosystem. The behaviour of a female elephant when with her calf and the minute signs and actions done by her to protect her calf was truly admired by all.
Finally the team were climbing on all fours, in their final phase of conquering the hill and the view was indeed worth the trouble. Up on the peak, the participants were delighted to be "on top of the world" which provided a panoramic view of Kodagu-Kerala border, dotted with numerous peaks and lush green forests dotted with tiny villages in the far distance. We were beginning to realize that though people can climb a hill, they can't conquer it; we can only be infused with humility in the face of Nature.
The participants returned and after what seemed like tons of food, they gathered in the opening of the resthouse and discussed what the had learnt. Humility, respect, love and concern were some of the lessons learnt. How true!
The day ended and the participants slept for the last time under the stars, amidst nature, not affected by human expansion on a warm night.
The third day, the participants cleared the place up, tidied it and bid adieu to the resthouse and set off on their journey back to civilisation. Wisdom and a firm resolution to protect Mother Earth sparkled in the morning light in the eyes of the participants... Click for pictures