A Light Exploration into a Small Forest – Ananthagiri Hills

P1030359 So, the itch started again. The itch to go on a long motorbike ride. After all, hasn’t that been more than a couple of months since we had been to Mallela Theertham? Poor thing, Sastry could not join us this time, him being busy registering his new Thunderbird with the Telangana RTA. But better nevertheless, since Ravi and I would now have two more riders – one a young chap, and the other, young at heart :). I thought we will go to a location which is not too far, and give us ample walking around opportunity. And it is decided we will go to Ananthagiri Hills. Although I had been there only recently, this time it would be on bikes. So more fun!

And we get to make our prayers to lord, Anantha Padmanabha Swamy. For the inundated, I was told this cave temple has the world’s largest deity made of saligram (don’t ask me what it is . . . . . long story. Google it, should you be really keen to know). The temple lays just by the highway, and so is very easily reachable, and locatable (bar our young-at-heart buddy though, who wouldn’t care to listen to horns blown by us three on our bikes; goes further 10 kms only to realize that it wasn’t him driving faster than others, but that the rest three stopped at the destination. Ha Ha Ha!).

Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple

Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple

It was decided earlier on, that we would all meet up at the tea stall on the Chilukur Road next to APPA junction at 6 am. That calls me to wake up at 3:30 am despite going to sleep the previous night at 1:15 am. Hard, but don’t mind if it was for fun, and for a one-off. As the three early birds reach the meeting point awaiting Raj (the young man full of enthusiasm for life), we order our first tea for the day. Beautifully served in typical irani cafe cup (although by no means it was irani chai). Raj joins just in time at delivery of tea, and us four-some have a nice beginning to the ride.

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First hot tea of the day, ought to be awesome. Especially when it was an overcast sky. Boy, it did!

So from here on, we blaze off to Vikarabad. The planned catch-up stop at Chevella never happened ’cause no one wanted to stop once onto the bike. We catch up with each other only at Vikarabad for breakfast. I had lot of fun riding at a decent consistent speed of 90-105 kmph. Early morning, okay roads, very little traffic, tempted me hard to be able to hold myself up to lower speeds. Had a breakfast of Puri, although all of us initially hesitated having deep fried item for a breakfast.

We go to the temple and wait for Rama to catch up (actually ‘back’) as he whizzed through past the temple ignoring our bike horns. Sure, he was enjoying his sound proof helmet as much as he did his new 500 cc Royal Enfield Bullet Classic that was thirsty to ride fast.

Had an easy darshan in the cave temple, and me inquiring for Nth time with the priest as to when I could see the saligram deity in its natural form without the silver body cover. The next time hopefully I want to reach by 5 am so I could fulfill my wish. We now move into the main section of the forest (yes, I meant the small forest at Ananthagiri Hills).

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Rama (the young at heart man) Ravi (friend, philosopher, guide to all) Raj (the young chap with plenty of enthusiasm for life!)

Couple of stray dogs kept company with us all through the forest hiking. They said to me one more time, a dog is man’s best friend. We had no food that they followed us for that. They just wanted to be with us, It was clear. However deep we went, they accompanied us. When we stop, they stop. When we move, they do!

P1030315Raj freaked out. This was a good opportunity for him to hone his newly developing photography skills. Be it macro photography of insects or tiny flowers, or zoom up to the far off objects or the nearby ones, he had his DSLR ready to ‘shoot’!

And I for sure, had fun photographing this brightly clad young man, full of enthusiasm. Whether it was enjoying the forestry or listening to the mastery spells from Rama and Ravi’s conversations, he had his full attention!

P1030328 It was forest after all. We had plenty of things to see. The weird and large mushrooms, mammoth trees, can’t-go-any-further slush on the road, supporting woods from banyan trees that hang in U shape to allow Ravi have a seat and swing, the hiding peacocks that we can hear but can’t see, and what not. See full album from link at end of this blog to see all the beauty of forest.

P1030320Greenery was at its best. Thanks to recent rains, the forest was beautiful. But I do have to admit humbly though, I was expecting a much thicker forest. Here was a place where there are few trees but not very thick. And when you go past them, there is nice spread of green bushes with beautiful flowers. And you go past that further, there is grass that welcomes you (it sure did to Ravi!) to lie down and take a quiet break. And past them further, you get to see some hills in the landscape.

P1030324We stopped here for a decent time here. Ravi shares his wisdom. And so does Rama. And Raj has all his ears to them (oh! Just realized. All of them have their names starting with alphabet R). And me? Opportunity to look around and ‘hunt’ for photographs (or objects to photograph). I am never tired when I have opportunities to photograph. It’s an opportunity. I don’t want to lose that. It doesn’t matter if I was tired. It didn’t matter this day, even if I was not carrying my best camera.

Ravi has a sweet time

Ravi has a sweet time. And so does the dog that accompanied us. If we lie down, so it does. When we stand up, so it does!!

Here we find a small hill that tempts Ravi to climb up. And Rama doesn’t want to lag either. Me and Raj humbly decide we are not fit enough to do this trekking. Or at least can’t dare do so. If you can figure, Ravi is already on top of the hill, and Rama is in the middle trying to hold tight to ground and move up.

P1030379And here is a place that was a show-stopper at least on that path. Too much slush for us to progress further. Do an about-turn!

P1030374Retracing our way back in the forest, Ravi decides we take a short cut. And sure, we lost our way 🙂 What is adventure if there is no losing of way, not stuck by rain, not felt thirsty and find water much later . . . etc.? So, since we lost our way, we came up to this strange tree that had real bright fruits somewhat larger than berries. And we were discussing if it could be edible or poisonous. Which animal might eat this etc. And here I go, “nature has it so that the most brightly colored and attractive ones are among the most dangerous and poisonous (example some snakes, frogs). They are so, that they can attract other animals and kill them”. So I say, it is likely these are poisonous. But! What the heck, they are ‘too’ attractive! How can I not taste them? So I pluck one, snip a small part on the fruit. The outer is like that of a tomato, thin skin. And it oozes out watery juice. I quickly, hesitantly, in a flash bring it to my tongue tip and move it back. Although it was fast action, I could sense it had a brilliantly odd taste. Couldn’t confirm if it was bitter, or sour plus sweet, or all of them. Sure, it was good. Thankfully it didn’t burn my tongue, that I was afraid of. While our friends caution me they have to carry me should something happen to me, to confirm the taste I do this tasting exercise one more time. And one more time. And one more! Still unable to confirm taste. And here I go, “God! This is addictive. I better throw it, lest it may really harm me if I ate the whole thing”. And I throw it away. Want to see how it looks like? Here it is.

God Knows What Fruit This Is. Any takers?

God Knows What Fruit This Is. Any takers?

On our return, after climbing up the herculian steps, we go past the temple (thanks to Rama whizzing past us in the morning, he spotted this beautiful ghat road), and take a stop at a view point. And I can’t but help shoot Rama’s glistening new black beauty.

P1030399And how do I not thank my cafe racer that brings so much joy to me these days? Found a new-found life. There is LIFE within the ordinary life, if we only we chose to explore! Albeit a light exploration into a small forest!

P1030307AND, we move around a lot. After walking for several kilometers within the forest, climbing up the unending stairs, get on to our bikes, do some more exploration ‘on our bikes’ into the adjacent forest areas, go to the view point at old TB Sanctuary, have lots of pictures taken, ride back home. We the best of all @ IBM!

Don’t forget to click here to see all the pictures in a gallery. Click on first photograph and use the full screen mode of pictures to view them at their best. Don’t worry. Not too many to bore you!

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