Monday, November 9, 2009

Kondaveedu Fort and Guthikonda Caves Trek - Guntur

This write-up, on Kondaveedu Fort and Guthikonda Caves Trek - Guntur, is forwarded by Pavithra Joshi. The write-up is also on her blog -

Thank you for the blog, Pavithra.

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So, GHAC Adventurer - Pavithra Joshi, on her trek in Guntur. Read on.......

It's been a whole week since we went on this fabulous journey, but I'm pretty sure its memories are still fresh in the minds of the 19 people who got together as a group, became fast friends and hopefully will remain so :)

It started off at the Secunderabad Railway station on a Friday night. I reached way ahead of time, since I left for the place directly from office. I was ditched by my +1 just that morning (Nitin you have no idea what you missed!). One by one the trekkers started coming in, some familiar faces and most new ones. The train was conveniently late for those strictly following INDIAN Standard Time (:P), but nevertheless that gave us some extra time for introductions. After getting acquainted with one another we got on the train to Guntur.

When you put a group of fun loving people together in the bogie of a train, you should learn never to put a crappy, almost insane TC in the same one! (Lots of respect to those guys, but seriously the kids just wanted to have some fun!) We survived through that, caught a little sleep and reached Guntur a little ahead of schedule.

Our next stop was Phirangipuram, whose streets are lined up with churches. The place is apparently the earliest centre of Roman Catholicism in Andhra (Wiki rocks :D). The breakfast we had there was absolutely indescribable! I don't think any of us will ever forget those delicious dosas and idlis :) Most of us would probably walk back for some more of those! The organizers had some talks with the local Police and finally got permission for us to stay back at the fort for the night. We then headed over to Narsaraopeta, our starting point of the trek.

The trek itself was comparatively less tiring. We got to the top in what I estimate is 2 hours, clicking LOTS of pics on our way up ;) The base camp set up was in an amazing place, ruins below and an open roof above (Perfect setting for a candlelight dinner maybe, if you wanna carry a table up there ;)). The most noticeable thing on the trek: the monkey menace! We set out to explore the rest of the peaks, food and water in hand. In all our excitement to climb up one of the difficult terrains, we didn't consider the safety of the food too seriously. And by the time we got back, half the stuff was stolen by those less evolved ancestors of ours!

After all of us climbed down was the first moment of panic of the trek. We could see the base camp and noticed a couple of people heading towards it. Half of us ran back to protect our oh-so-precious belongings! Then it was decided that some of us would stay back while the rest could explore the other places. But it turned out that everyone opted to (some were forced to ;)) stay back and rest. And the sleep I had that afternoon was one of the best ever, even though I had to sleep on that rocky ground with just one flimsy bedspread between the floor and me ;)

At around 4 PM the group was split into three. One group went down the fort to Narsaraopeta and consequently to Phirangipuram to make arrangements for our dinner and some life-saving water! (Eternally grateful to this group :)). Another team of two stayed back at base camp to watch over the belongings. The third (lucky) group got to explore one of the peaks :) The climb up was great as usual, more pics and an amazing view of the sunset! We reached base camp around half an hour before group one, had an early dinner around 7 PM and got to the roof after a round of some AWESOME jokes (pun intended!) by a certain Doc on the trek :P

Then came our second moment of panic. The area surrounding the fort is supposed to be famous for Naxalite activities. Lots of talking was heard. We were totally helpless, as we had no idea whether it was the good guys or the bad ones approaching us, and we would probably have been in trouble either way! After that cooled down started the heart-to-heart session as some would call it :) It's stupefying to see how people start relating to each other's life by just listening to their stories! One of the best things of meeting new people is to know that you're not the only ones going through rough patches, and talking about it to someone, anyone for that matter, makes you feel better :)

The next morning started out great! An early morning alarm to wake up and start that day's plan was paused by this amazing event that we experienced. Just out of nowhere a huge cloud arose and started moving towards us! The feeling is incredible. See it for yourself!

After we got down, we had our first meal for the day and headed back to Phirangipuram. From there we made our way to Macharla. We were lucky enough to meet a man on the bus who turned out was from the ashram at the Guthikonda caves. At Macharla we picked up some vegetables for our noon's meal and headed up to the caves in what I can describe as one of the most awesome rides I've had! An open top auto, one of those in which furniture and goats are transported :D

Once we got there we put all our luggages in a room and headed for the caves. And this experience I guess I'll never have again, unless I go back to the same place! The caves were breathtaking (literally too, with meager amount of Oxygen :P). The mini lakes in there had stunningly clear water, holy dips in which gave all of us super powers :P (Guess mine is writing excruciatingly long blogs :D). After getting back was another round of deep, refreshing sleep for most of us! We then started back to Guntur, refueled on the way and finally headed back to Hyderabad, carrying with us two whole days of absolutely awesome memories :)

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