Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Trek Ahoy!

My musing on the Biodiversity trek to Keri, Sattari on the 31/10/2010

  The exams ended without much ado, the lazy mood was waiting to set in this vacations when, the sudden call of adventure struck me. Thus when Videsh called me up, and the dialog that ensued convinced me that this would be the the perfect way to start off my vacations, and have a much awaited and deserved ‘break-free’ trip.

Sunday morning blues couldn’t pose a hurdle when it came to the lucrative prospect of snapping photos and having a good time with my second family. And so, I landed down on the steps of Junta House fully loaded with the 500D. From almost falling asleep on the stairs to checking to Suyash’s new camera, i had an indication of what kind of day it would turn out to be! We got onto our usual trip bus, Glaksha (wish it was promptly named as ‘Galaxy’) and the 25-odd people fit in snuggly. Govind Potekar, the Editor of Via Lactea, our magazine was more than willing to share historical insight on the various structures that we saw on the way. The trip was steadily gaining tempo like an A.R. Rahman song….

  After usual discussions on Indian politics, discipline in our society and the new organisational structure of AFA, I was truly amazed by a monocular that Atharv had got from his visit to S. Korea. And funnily, I when I was starting to find the locality we were traveling through to be pretty striking and familiar (not a deja-vu), I realised that this was the same route that we used to take on our star parties to the Sakhli Surla Plateau… We were already in Keri before we knew it!! As people got down and stretched their arms, I could smell the air, the cool climate was sinking in. And as our tradition goes, we had a truly lip smacking breakfast at a local adda. Sniffing the aroma of the tea and the bhaaji aroused all our senses! After that, we were welcomed by our dedicated nature guides who were to lead us into the trek.
  After getting a heady dose of what to expect that day, and the regulations to be followed i was floored by the fact that here, people still bothered to keep aside land spaces as self-declared sanctuaries (God’s cove). This was followed by a ear pooping journey up a
mountain pass to an altitude of about 600m above mean sea level. At the sight of a distant waterfall, we stopped to have a glance. The sight of the distant mountains made us feel that we had done the right thing by coming here. Oh boy! This was gonna be exiting! And thus an unexpected surprise followed. And that got all of us hooked. The various stones and minerals that we saw around us suddenly started to speak out to us, in the sense that we being Geology students, could understand the language of the rocks! And yeah. After taking the guide’s consent, we bagged whatever we could for our studies. Later on, we were told that the locality that we were present in was unique in an ecological sense. The Western ghats being a Biological hotspot, promised us a lot of glimpses today.
  Finally,  we reached our final destination and were raring to go and explore the vast wilderness around us. Partly promised the sights of a few (dangerous) snakes, we were in high spirits!! making our way on the trail proved to be a constant hurdle as we, the photographers (who tend to get attracted to anything and everything) were
moving ahead at a snail’s pace. That is a good thing, isn’t it?  Well the brisk climb up to the plateau was physically and mentally demanding too, as I had to keep a watch-out for interesting things (and snakes, perhaps) on the path! On the way, thanks to my trained eye after all hours of ‘flat-on-the-ground’ style photography, I managed to sight a caterpillar who had fallen down from its resting place. Promptly, with the satisfaction of saving it, we all placed it back on a tree.
  Finally, we reached the plateau, and it was a sight to behold!! Lush green meadows, water pools at every footstep, grasshoppers jumping in delight and of-course, we the exited people who treaded all the way from the city to see this spectacle…Standing
tall amongst the tallest peaks of Goa was a good feeling, and having the guide explain to us about the flora & fauna of this region was an enthralling experience. On the way, we together collected about a kilogram or two of various curious looking rocks for identification… A challenge of sighting tree-frogs was put forth to us by the guide, but we were unsuccessful. But, that lead us to the sight of buffaloes who had come to a water-hole to drink to their heart’s delight.
After going snapping pictures all over the place, we went to the e
dge of the cliff and sighted the tallest peak in Goa, Sonsogad. We were in a state of awe comprehending the fact that we were standing so tall. The best part was that the weather that day was just the way we all prefer it. While the sun was playing hide and seek behind the clouds, my friends were busy racing down the flat lands! Never the less, we decided to leave all the grasshoppers and minerals in peace and walk down. The walk down was as a bit confusing as I was held behind because of the never-ending discussion on Quantum Mechanics that a few of us had indulged into!
Back in the bus, we were driven toward the Anjunem dam that provides water to some parts of Goa. But, it wasn’t much of a spectacle as we had already experienced the mammoth Selaulim Dam this year! We let go off the clamour and seated ourselves besides the dam for a few moments of piece. As the guide explained to us that a nearby tree was said to possess a ghost or a spirit, I pitied the scientific temper of the villager folk. But, I guess they turn out to know more than us in the field of conservation of nature!! When we went down for a ‘ghar-guti’ lunch to a village, besides the food being worth the journey itself, we felicitated our guides who were the lads from a local conservational group. Aaah! This reminds me of the food, pickle and the papads once again!
This was not it. The journey back was as eventful as the whole trip had been! The moment we stepped in, our scientific instincts were not left far behind… And thus, ensued a debate on ‘How would people’s belief in God change is science cracks the mystery of the universe’ . A lot of views followed and before drawing a conclusion, we dropped by the Harvalem waterfalls… This was a refresher for a tired party who needed sleep! The vapours of the waterfalls refreshed us all and most of us got wonderful photographs. On the way back, after the derivational mysteries of ‘De Broglie mass wavelength’ formula we settled down for ice-creams at Marcel and this soothed our spirits. As our final destination drew near, a lull was present throughout the bus, but the excitement of the Science picinic to ‘undisclosed – secret locations’ on the 3rd left us wondering… Thus ended our journey when we returned back to our second home, the observatory.
The trip left me wanting more of mother nature and such treks. hop our wishes are fulfilled soon!

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