A Family Trip For Trekking in Ananthagiri Hills Vikarabad
We keep on going on vacations but most of the vacations with kids are sightseeing trips where you try to force fill 5 points on the local guide’s agenda into your day. More time is spent in posing for pictures than to soak the beauty around and then we buy things that are factory made but are peddled as either local handicraft or tribal art.
This changed last December; we participated in a family night out with GHAC or Great Hyderabad Adventure Club for trekking in Ananthagiri hills Vikarabad. This was the first trip with GHAC where my family participated and we were very excited about it.
|An Abandoned Bunglow In Jungle|
Typically nature for most of us means either a long beach or a beautiful serene valley in lush mountains or a wild life sanctuary where we hope to see a tiger while we are talking on the top of our voices as if tigers are paid to see us. It never occurs to us that nature is not just big animals but also hundreds of small critters that are equally important in the bigger scheme of things. While a tiger may attract visitors ( and poachers ) to a wild life sanctuary it cannot survive alone if the jungle is devoid of other supporting flora and fauna.
|Funnel Spider Web- But Where Is The Spider?|
There were a few other families with us and each one of them had kids in tow, the youngest being around a year. Ananthagiri is a short drive of about 2 hours from Hyderabad and once we reached there and settled in our rooms we decided to go for a family trekking in the nearby jungle. This is more of a protected woods rather than a true jungle but nonetheless has its fair share of wilderness. No special permission is needed to go in the same as it is part of buffer zone and not a proper wild life sanctuary. Diyanat Ali the founder of GHAC was leading the group and we were all following his lead. The kids were excited about all the bushes and birds on them that they were able to spot around them. I saw a lot of funnel-shaped spider webs and was wondering where the spiders were, not knowing what was in store later in the day. We returned more energized after our jaunt and vanished into our rooms to take a nap only to emerge in evening with more energy and roaring to go for more.
There is trekking and then there is night trekking, and then there is night trekking on a night of lunar eclipse. During the day you have all your senses helping you to navigate through the jungle but typically we humans rely on our ability to see in the broad day light. In the night trekking you not only have to rely on your eyes you also need to focus and listen very carefully to the sound of jungle around you. Typically in jungle a wild creature will hear and see you much before you would ever see it, unless you are walking extremely carefully taking care not to step on the fallen leaves and branches that will betray your presence to the creatures of jungle.
In the evening while the food was being prepared we decided to go for the night trek in the jungle once again but took a different, denser route. We started on the road next to the resort we were staying with moon light guiding us as we were not allowed to use our torch lights. What amazed me was that how soon the jungle can become extremely dense and almost impossible to walk in just a few meters from the road when you can still hear the sound of the vehicles. Fortunately there was a trail used by cattle that we were following, but we had to be very careful to tread on as some of the stones below were very sharp and the terrain was not even, with every step there was danger of tripping down. My 9.5 year old daughter was with me, her mother had decided to stay back at the hotel and help with the barbecue that was being prepared to feed us once we came back.
Soon small subgroups were formed in the party and each one was talking about their own perspective of the jungle and the conversation varied from Man-eaters to the ghosts found in the hills. Some of the more adventurous types were leading the group and the scared ones were in the back. This left me and my daughter to form the middle of the party. All this while my daughter was silently walking with me trying to adjust to the low light conditions. As the winding serpent like path was vanishing in bushes every few meters, soon the various sub groups could only hear each other but not see. And then the moon vanished and we realized it was a night of lunar eclipse and we were witnessing one of the miracles of nature in the jungle. Suddenly the stars appeared to be brighter as they were no longer struggling to compete with reflected glory of moonlight. The real stars were now free to twinkle in the sky and show us the path as they have shown to our ancestors ever since they decided to move out of the belly of sub Sahara Africa. We heard the sound of growling of a leopard or some other wild cat in a distance but it was not a cause of concern as there are no man-eaters reported in the area. Probably the poor creature lost a prey due to the disturbance caused by us and was showing his annoyance by growling in the night.
The Kiddo clasped my hand like she had never done before in her life and asked me what do I plan to do in case the leopard came to take her away. I just smiled and reminded her that the leopard will probably have no interest in a junk food fed city kid like her and would stick to his staple diet of organic food fed deer. This relieved her a bit and asked me never to tease her again on all the burgers and fries she gulps as they have saved her life today !
Soon she was asking me all kind of questions about the surroundings.
|The Giant Spider|
She switched on the torchlight to check the path ahead and we spotted two shiny emeralds close by and decided to investigate. On reaching close we realized they were the shiny eyes of a giant spider that were glowing in the dark. I was amazed at the size of the spider ( bigger than a 5 Rs coin) while we were admiring the spider Diyanat joined us and enlightened us in the dark about the spider and mentioned that there are literally hundreds of these spiders in the jungle around us and we just need to keep our eyes open to look at the glowing spiders. And how right he was we realized that no matter where we looked we were surrounded by hundreds of shiny pairs of tiny emeralds and each of them belonged to a spider. The shine coming due to presence of a chemical that shines in the dark by reflecting the light. Now I realized that the webs were made by spiders that are actually nocturnal and come out only during the night.
|Wild Flowers Blooming In Night|
An owl suddenly flew from one of the branches and settled on another one much higher on the tree, we could only catch a glimpse of it. We were now immersed in the vastness of the woods and trying to hum along with the song being played by cicadas. I took a picture from my cell phone of some beautiful wild flowers. In city we would have simply ignored them but here in the middle of nowhere they were casting a spell and giving a very sweet intoxicating smell as if to lure us to the castle of the resident jungle witch. We were mesmerized by the wild flowers here, a termite mound there slowly recycling the fallen branches and leaves, an owl looking for prey there and the angry and hungry leopard in the distant valley below. Suddenly in the middle of night it dawned upon us that we are not alone in the jungle while were not able to see many animals we were surrounded with hundreds of small and big creatures and each one of them has its own role to play in the bigger scheme of things. This little walk in the jungle with my daughter played a bigger role in making us both realize the presence of beauty and the beasts from Mother Nature that no amount of watching TV channels on wild life can do.
|The Moon Crawls Back After Defeating Rahu & Ketu|
Slowly the moon crawled back from the clutches of rahu and kethu as they say in Indian mythology, and was showing us path again. I am not sure if it was true or just the blogger in me who felt that moon has emerged brighter after the ordeal of the eclipse. Hands clasped tightly both me and kiddo
emerged out of the jungle close to the ancient Ananth Padmanabhaswamy temple and walked back to our hotel that was just on the edge of the jungle where barbecue dinner was waiting for us. We were famished by the time barbecue was ready and we enjoyed it more than any meal I had ever enjoyed in past. Guess that is what a good walk in the jungle does to you. We visited the Ananth Padmanabhaswamy temple and Nagasamudram lake the next day, but that is another blog post 🙂
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