The Greatest Ever ‘Upma Story’ of My Life


”What’s your greatest wish?”- I asked him. ‘’Someday I want to sit in an airplane…a real one…and it should fly in the clouds!’- He chuckled softly pointing at the cloud of smoke from his beedi.

Scaling Vasaipara- A 6 Hour Trek From Chinnar

We were on our last stretch of the 6 hour trek to Vasaipara- the highest point outside the core zone of Chinnar wildlife sanctuary.

vasaipara-highest-point-outside-core-zone-chinnar-wildlife-sanctuary
A mesmerizing sunset in Chinnar with Vasaipara ranges in the backdrop.

Certain mountains intimidate the travelers by their sheer height, but not the ones in Chinnar.

They know how to tuck their steep rocky stature behind modest entrances.

mountain-ranges-in-kerala

Do Rocks Move?

”It was clear he had spotted something. I followed his eyes guiding me near the grasslands far away. Do rocks move?”

We were walking since past 4 hours and I could feel the rise in humidity as the day progressed.

The mood changes with every step in the long climb. The sceneries too!

As we ascended higher, the tea gardens and civilization stopped climbing further.

The core region of Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary shielded by the Vasaipara ranges.

How I Wish I Was a Kite!

‘’Are we there yet?’’- I mumbled.

Shankar picked up his stick and began walking without uttering a word.

After walking for a while, he pointed to a far-away camp shed built with dry grass sheets.

We could see a few more huts around it too.

Shankar-surveying-the-open-grasslands-for-wildlife-activities.
Shankar surveying the open grasslands for wildlife activities.

I closed one eye and thrust my hand out to hold the camp shed, which seemed as tiny as a matchbox, along with the bamboo fencing around it, between my fingers.

“Just 2 more hours!’’- Shankar finally broke the silence.

I knew we had to negotiate only a few more hills to reach our destination.

naked-summit-of-Vasaipara
The naked summit of Vasaipara hill….so close yet so far!

But distances pan out in strange measures in a hilly region. While time and distance remain a constant elsewhere, here in the hills, it plays a naughty game.

The moment one gets up and starts walking, the destination also seems to get up and walk away.

I wish I was a kite!

wearing-slippers-on-a-6-hour-trek
3 treks, 2 weirdos, a pair of sandals and infinite memories.

Did He Secretly Graduate From a B-School Too?

”Deep inside I knew, it’s not just the wild animals I came searching for this far. I’ve come here for stories…stories never told before…stories no one knows exists!”

Shankar was walking tirelessly.

There was so much to learn from him, I was trying to grasp as much as I could.

One such simple yet effective mantra of trekking I learnt from him was:

“When you are climbing a rocky portion, talk a lot, keep telling your partner how beautiful the view from the top would be (so that he doesn’t get stressed during the climb) and while walking on a plateau, walk quietly so as to garner pace as plateaus are easy to walk.’’

Time management, stress management, crisis management, effective team handling… Did he secretly graduate from a B-School too?

Shankar-posing-in-Chinnar
Probably the only thing I am at par with Shankar is posing as badly as he does 🙂

The Tail of The Trails!

“Looks like the Bisons are on strike!”- Shankar looked at the restless me and joked.

Deep inside I knew, it’s not just the wild animals I came searching for this far.

I’ve come here for stories…stories never told before…stories no one knows exists!

And each climb has a different story at its summit.

It’s not just the panoramic view from the top, but the strokes of green and yellow on the grasslands, the winds gushing through the paddy fields, the clouds of smoke emerging from a distant village, and the beautiful geometry of the trails.

The trails which have been walked down for centuries, the trails along the river line, the trails passing through the cliffs, the trails connecting two villages, and the trails disappearing in the woods.

trails-in-chinnar-wildlife-sanctuary

Our First Sighting!

Shankar moved a little closer to the edge of the cliff, and gestured towards the fields.

It was clear he had spotted something.

I followed his eyes guiding me near the grasslands far away.

Do rocks move?

Slowly, we could make out the shapes of those moving rocks almost camouflaged against the mountains in the backdrop- Indian Bison!

A-file-pic-of-Indian-Bison-camouflaged-in-the-dark-forest
Its very difficult to spot the Bisons in the jungle, especially when they are camouflaged against dark backgrounds.

Weighing more than a ton, these mighty wild cattles, one of the biggest in the world, were grazing with abandon rather calmly in these grasslands except for two male Bisons.

After taking a few steps backward, they charged towards each other fiercely and banged their heads.

Takkk…..takkk…….…tadddakkkk!

A hollow but sharp sound of keratin, an element in the horns of these Bisons, echoed in the hills.

The-sheer-size-of-a-male-Bison-is-so-intimidating
The sheer size of a male Bison is so intimidating…

Immediately, I took out my phone, fixed it on the tripod and placed it amidst the rocks.

Much to my disappointment, the thick wave of fog started rising and came tumbling down from the other side of the hill, pulling a curtain over the stunning drama.

thick-wave-of-fog

When the fog lifted momentarily, we turned around towards the grasslands to spot these ‘rocks’, until the entire bison-studded hill disappeared yet again behind another mountain.

thick-wave-of-fog-Chinnar

I wanted to spot something too before he did; all I could spot were peacocks and bulbuls:

”I set-up time-lapse mode on my phone, pulled a wooden arm chair, and began watching the breath-taking view of the sanctuary through the vapors swirling up from the piping-hot lemon tea we had just prepared.”

He was a pro in tracing wild animals.

He knew exactly how to evade the direction of the winds and corner the Bisons so that tourists can get a better view, yet maintaining a safe distance from these mighty creatures.

I wanted to spot something too before he did; all I could spot were langurs, peacocks and bulbuls.

The Euphoric Moment!

We finally reached the camp shed in Vasaipara late in the evening.

The first thing we did as soon as we reached there was to collect firewood and light a Chulha.

After an initial hesitation, the wood crackled and caught fire.

Chulha in Vasaipara

Someday I Want to Sit in an Airplane!

“The camp shed doesn’t have a roof, strong winds blew it away and the only solar lamp in the camp shed is under repair’’- Shankar cautioned me.

camp-shed-chinnar
Our roofless camp shed in Vaisapara- a prime leopard area!

I set-up time-lapse on my phone, pulled a wooden arm chair, and began watching the breath-taking view of the sanctuary through the vapors swirling up from the piping-hot lemon tea we had just prepared.

Shankar was busy preparing the Upma.

preparing_upma
making-of-upma
upma-in-chinnar-wildlife-sanctuary
upma-ready-to-eat
Clearly one of the best Upma I have ever had!

”What’s your greatest wish?”- I asked him.

‘’Someday I want to sit in an airplane…a real one…and it should fly in the clouds!’- He chuckled softly pointing at the cloud of smoke from his beedi.

The dust settled. Silence waiting outside impatiently gushed into the camp shed through the dark windows and rested beside us, on the floor.

I saw Shankar smiling in his sleep. Perhaps, an airplane must have taken off somewhere!

________________________________________

Never miss a post! Subscribe to this blog (FREE) and get all the latest blog posts directly in your mailbox. Just add your name and email in this form.

Subscribe (FREE) to Pravin’s Travel Blog

* indicates required

___________________________________________

Curious to know how did the first 3 days of my solo trip go?

Have a look at the below blog posts:

Day 1:

Here’s How the Solo Trip Bug Bit Me!

how-the-solo-trip-bug-bit-me

Day 2:

If Kerala is God’s Own Country, then Munnar is Probably His Secret Hideout:

munnar-gods-secret-hideout

Day 3:

The Only Reason I Keep Coming Back to Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary-Kerala

The Only Reason I Keep Coming Back to Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary-Kerala-Featured-Image

___________________________________________

However, I would have never reached Kerala, if I hadn’t slept during the placement process that day.

How I Almost Screwed My Placements Due to a Silly Mistake!

how-i-almost-screwed-my-placements.jpg

Eventually I reached here and so began my journey

Journey: From God’s Own B-School to God’s Own Country Kerala

journey-gods-own-country-to-gods-own-bschool.jpg

13 thoughts on “The Greatest Ever ‘Upma Story’ of My Life”

  1. Wow Praveen some day I wish I can be there. Your description is really great and the place seems to be breathtaking. And the pics are also wonderful… Thanks for sharing them with me

  2. I agree I have never heard stories like this……how beautifully you have articulated each moment of it.

    I hove Shankar’s wish of sitting in a plane gets fulfilled soon 🙂

  3. You have beautifully penned down the total experience. Loved every bit of it… Upma is yummm in the picture… I too wish Shankar takes his flight soon… U r killing it man… Looking forward for many more…

    1. I’m glad you liked it Reena. I’m amazed with the immense wishes Shankar is getting about fulfilling his ‘first flight’.

      Hope it turns to reality soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *