Adventurous Journey of Award participants from Vidyamandir Senior Secondary School, Chennai
On 24th March, last minute goodbyes’ and run through of packing checklists reverberated in the air as the Mangalore Express took off from Chennai Central Railway station in the late afternoon sun. We filled into the compartments exuberantly to chatter about our holiday plans while revelling in typical train delicacies and hot tea. The sky turned a resplendent orange as we feasted on our dinners. This was followed by hushed-up whispers and silent games played late into the night until we all succumbed to serene slumber.
We arose early the next day and scrambled to get our suitcases to line up in the hustling and bustling Mangalore station. A 2 hour bus journey dominated by disco and dance took us to Didupe village, a tranquil landscape dotted with palm trees, gentle breeze and vivid creatures. After a quick freshen-up, we took jeeps and open trucks to arrive at our trekking site. Armed with only water and mango juice, the trek along the undulating terrain left us panting and exhausted in no time under the scorching sun. We witnessed nature at its best walking along the stony trail besieged by dense trees, crunched leaves and buzzing bees. The fact that someone would have our back in case of an untimely trip gave us some strength as we climbed further only to hear the distinct ripple of water in the enchanting Ermayi falls. The teeth clattering cold did not stand in our way as we jumped into the little pool for a much-needed bath. It was all fun and games until our feet stepped on the slimy moss. This was an experience to behold as no one had the heart to leave despite shivering profusely. Our tired legs somehow carried us back to the starting point, our homestay where we crashed into bed after an efficacious Karnataka meal in the warmth and glow of a merry bonfire.
Loud groans and protests could be heard in the crack of dawn as we were woken up to embark on our next trek. This terrain was easier to ascend, albeit with sudden slopes and slippery shingle. In no time, the Kadamagundi falls was in sight in all its glory with crystal clear water cascading down its length. A nerve-racking climb on the mossy rocks took us to the ultimate shower of heaven. While the bullet-like drops were initially painful, it soon evolved into a mollifying back massage, one which no salon could ever give! Down below, a small fish gave us free pedicure while aquatic spiders hung unto our clothes inducing superfluous screams. On our way back, none of us complained about time or distance till the destination but instead exclaimed airily that the trek was a piece of cake. Surely, this trek had exposed our inner athletes! We reached the resort to get ready for the fireless cooking challenge. We were given onions, potatoes, buns, watermelons, rice flakes, salt, pepper and a bonfire and were asked to awaken our inner Masterchefs. The session ended with platters of burnt vegetables with an overdose of spices resulting in a realization that we would not survive two days in a forest and deep appreciation for our mothers( to be fair, there were a few exceptions).We relaxed for a while and joined the dance around a colossal bonfire. A scrumptious meal of dosa and pulao turned out to be the icing of the cake as we dropped off to sleep after an eventful day.
Some of us were still packing at the eleventh hour the next day when we were called down for breakfast. Post the meal, we checked out of Navagraha homestay and bid adieu to Didupe as we took the bus to Mangalore. Some of us caught up on our lost sleep or sang along to the tunes played along the ride. We arrived at the Mahatobhaara Sri Mangaladevi Temple, famous for giving Mangalore its name. After offering our prayers to the deity of Mangladevi, we advanced towards the bus after engaging in a shopping spree of chips and cool drinks. We then proceeded towards the railway station after an enticing lunch, making our way towards our respective compartments. What followed was another typical, fun filled train journey fittingly spent recollecting our priceless memories and learnings from our adventures in the heart and soul of Karnataka, right here at Didupe, as the Mangalore express chugged along back towards Chennai.
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