Chapter 5 – The Road Not Taken
Team Name: The Scribe Tribe
Read the previous part of the story here
The sulking moon was hiding amidst the clouds. A distant cry from a dog was the only thing that interfered with the otherwise eerie silence that had taken over the place. While the stars continued their playful act as if nothing had happened, Shekhar’s world had completely collapsed. He kept staring at the drama in the sky, trying to match it with the chaos in his life.
“You okay, bro?” Cyrus said while he gulped down another pint.
Shekhar was brought back to reality by Cyrus’ voice. He had completely forgotten that he was not alone .
“Apart from the fact that I am completely broke with no source of income, my wife is seeing someone else and I am doomed to spend the rest of my life in agony, yeah, I am fine!”.
There are few things which guys don’t usually talk about. There are moments when nothing said or done can make things better . This moment was one of those. It seemed prudent to Cyrus to shut up at that point. He reached out to a pouch in his pocket and spread out all its ingredients on the bonnet of the jeep.
“What is that?” This was more of a rhetorical question in alarm.
“Something that will cheer me up. You are welcome to join if you wish to.”
“So you mean Havelock is not happening?”
“Naah !! The entire week is booked and they won’t even agree to include us as crew members”
This news struck us halfway through the first day on our Andaman Trip and that’s when Mount Harriet National Park came into the picture. Mount Harriet happens to be a part of Bambooflat Island and the third highest peak in Andamans. This place is known for its wild pigs, saltwater crocodiles, turtles, crabs and …. And the protagonist of our story – The Leeches.
A half an hour ferry ride from Port Blair, followed by about an hour of uphill drive to the entrance of the National Park, we met this guard at campsite.
“So is the Kala Patthar trek still on?”, we asked.
“Yeah. Only if you want to run upside down trying to protect your bloody legs. It’s raining and the forest is festering with snakes and leeches. I suggest you guys sit here, have a drink and go back from where you came from”, this reply came from an obviously irritated guard waiting for his shift to end
We had the answer to our question. The trail was open and we didn’t need to trespass to reach our destination – Kala Patthar.
Campsite – Mount Harriet National Park
Pack your bags. Leave the world behind. Let the clouds show you the trail. And in no time you will find yourself surrounded by a million waterfalls. That is Malshej Ghat for you.
Clouds blocking the rays of the Sun. Blue sky turning gray. Cold water and breeze rushing across your face. And the weather turning you into a poet.
Malshej Ghat is at a 2 hour drive from Mumbai, and the best time to visit this place is – No points for guessing – Monsoons. We left for the place sharp at 6 in the morning. Accompanied by light drizzle and morning radio songs, we started our journey.
What’s so special about this place? Scenes like these, which makes you wonder if you really long to go back to hills, or stick with the Monsoons here. May be you just need to live in the moment. And follow your bliss.
It all happened one night, when we stumbled upon a very tempting offer to fly to Andamans on a day which marked the start of a long weekend. And this Independence day, bags were packed, auto replies scheduled on Outlook, and we were ready to be delighted by all the interesting things those were lined up for us. We landed in Port Blair in afternoon and were greeted by the sweet sunshine showering on the crystal clear blue water of Andaman Sea.
1. Stay at the North Bay View
We decided to unpack and put down our anchor at this place called North Bay View hotel. The perks of visiting a place in the off season – You get the best of the places with little price to pay for.
We were just 15 minutes into the place and we already knew that we are their for a treat.
Facebook feed, currently, is either full of disgruntled working professionals or the batchmates getting married – One by one, and in some cases to one another. Clock is ticking by and the call of the hour was a trip before wickets start tumbling down. May be a last All bachelor’s trip with the folks. We decided to camp down in Gokarna, a hidden beauty in Karnataka, just a little further from Goa. People crawled their way from Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. Some took a planned leave and some decided to fall sick on the same day.
All this summer, luck has been really generous towards me. And another instance was when I successfully booked a Tatkal ticket on new irctc site – Mumbai to Kumta it was. Kumta happened to be some 40 kms away from Om beach and an hour or so was the journey from Kumta to Gokarna. Wait a minute – Did I say something about luck? Train somehow decided to took an unplanned halt at Gokarna Road and we were quick like bunnies to jump down on the adjacent empty track (No we didn’t pull the chain and I must stop bragging about my luck, lest I jinx it)
Gokarna is a place of natural diversity. From temples to sea to beaches to graffiti. Among all the beaches, Om Beach is the only beach which is accessible via road. All the other beaches are at the other end of 15-20 minutes of trail through forests. So was the case with the Kudle Beach, where we were supposed to put our foot down. It took some time finding the cottage, but at the very first view we knew that we were set for some real treat.