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Eastern Ghats-A Tryst With Tada

It had only been a month since we landed in this non descriptive locale, South of the Southernmost suburbs of Chennai, where this reputed private university is located.
And within a month only,  it got the better of us. And we desperately needed an escapade. Tada Waterfalls fitted the requisites perfectly.
I charted out the plan,  contacted people for details and information, so that the plan could be perfect to the T.

Tada is a small Village Town in the state of Andhra Pradesh. And the Tada Station is quite… picturesque.  Almost seems to be one of those scenes you see on a Calendar or back of a Notebook. After the train that got us there, left, we found ourselves surrounded by stark silence. Beyond the two broad gauge lines there were rows of jhaau trees and heaps of stone chips arranged in a way that would be aesthetically pleasing to someone with OCD. And further out one could see the vast expanse of Lake Pulicat,the second largest lagoon of the country. On the other side of the station, we could see the Eastern Ghats’ ranges, some 30 Kms away.

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From the station, you have to board a diesel auto that transports you to the Forest Department Gate and,  further up hill to the starting point of the trail trek. And boy, the ride wasn’t pleasant, not the least, thanks to the beautifully motorable road. So, we got a taste of the terrain pretty soon. Rugged , rough, dry, hard red stony and loose rocks at some parts.
We had to maintain a tight schedule, so I was very specific that we make good time right from the start. Besides, the trail was really broad for the first few hundred meters. It ran along side a stream all the way to the top. So, the sound of water gushing through rocks created a bedlam of its own with background noise feat. The Crickets.
But yes, we halted now and then to check out the flora and fauna.

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At a few turning points of the trail, we got a glimpse of the entire range, which painted a pretty grim picture along with the cumulonimbus clouds which had gathered.

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Soon we reached the first check point of the trek, a Shiv Mandir. This serves as a good marker for first time trekkers who may lose the trail or who may choose to take a quick break. A few meters beyond this point is a mini dam(built upon the stream along which the trail was running) , which you may choose to  cross by swimming or by walking across an embankment. We chose the latter, for then, to make time. After crossing the dam,  the trail becomes much more narrow and is almost non-existent at places. The forest also becomes much more dense and the terrain, more rocky and precarious. After a point of time,  the trail disappeared and it involved only climbing upon boulders and jumping from rock to rock.
Soon enough we had to cross the same stream again. And this time we had to half wade through knee deep water and do something akin to trapeze acts on boulders. We got company at this time by a contingent of  our primate kinfolks. Always nice to see them.(Sarcasm intended) Given they don’t want a share of your eatables.

Anyway, with their animated company we ascended further, and the route took us through the bed of the stream.
Finally, we reached the final pool at the bottom of the main Waterfalls which seemed to just emerge out of the cliffs, with its origins unknown . We wanted to climb up further, but it proved impossible without proper climbing gear. Though by free hand climbing we went a little up from the pool and discovered something exotic.

A small cave. And water blurting out from all the sides of the cave walls like an extravagant jacuzzi. The water was cold. Damn cold. This was something we had never experienced before.We forgot all the worries of the world and just screamed out as loud as our lungs could afford. The walls of the cave echoed back our cries.

This memory will be imprinted in my brain for years to come, that’s for sure.

 

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But mishaps couldn’t be far behind. And while crossing the pool with Sahil ‘s phone in one hand,  I lost my footing and the phone fell into the pool. And that was the end of it. End of any of my further ventures to capture the beauty of the place. But sometimes, memories are much better than photographs.

We sat with our legs dipped in the crystal clear water and were enthralled by the tiny fishes nibbling at our feet. After bathing at the pool of the main Waterfalls we decided to begin our decent. I don’t know why,  but the decent seemed a bit tough and more treacherous than the ascent. And also more time consuming.
When we reached the mini dam again, instead of crossing it like before via the embankment, we decided to go for a swim. The water was deeper here, in the dam than at the previous pool.

At this juncture, the weather turned. Dark and ominous clouds gathered and a strong wind began.  The whole ambiance was as if the end of the world was nigh, and there we were,  swimming in natural pools and streams amidst nature.

Bliss.

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When the time came to bid goodbye to the terrain at, Tada Forest Gate,  we were not filled with regret, but we were content.
We arrived at the Tada Station (on the shared diesel auto)  in time. The station was peaceful as ever and beautiful too. And the setting was amazing. Everything was calm and quiet. The mountains still and grim in the distance on one side and the huge expanse of Lake Pulicat on the other side.
It was the calm before a storm. Luckily the storm started after we boarded the train back to Chennai.

Certain experiences leave an almost life altering impact on us and this was one of those.

I won’t ever forget this trek,made possible all by ourselves. The difficulty level was fairly easy to us, for the trek. Obviously, it was just a trail trek. Nevertheless, the experience enriched me. That night we had the best sleep we had had in a long time. Not because we were exhausted. But because we were happy and content beyond everything. A kind of satisfaction we would cherish and hold on to, to help us endure the difficult days of mundane life ahead.

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Photographs clicked by Sahil ,Digaant,Abhilash (my group) and me.

P.S:This travelogue by Amar Shekhar helped me a lot. 😀 Amazing dude.

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