The natural pools in Nagala beats any water sports in a themed park I've been to. In less than a year, I was back to dare myself to jump from a stomach knotting height. Heart felt thanks to Bangalore Trekking Club for once again organizing a wonderful trip and 14 fellow trekkers for all the sweet memories.
We gathered at Terminal 3 to catch a bus. Organizers Ameer and Lokith had managed to procure 5 life-jackets on rent despite the unusual demand. Only Ameer and I had been to Nagala before and we did our best to hype up the location and expectations. I think we fell well short, it has to be experienced to suspend belief. After quick round of introductions, we boarded ksrtc bus to Puttur.
Luckily, there were enough empty seats to spread out, keep our luggage and rest as comfortable as possible in public transport. We reached before 4 AM the next morning, waited for sometime and then caught the next bus to Nagalapuram village. This one was even more empty, but with worn out seats and rickety windows. We still managed to catch some sleep in the chill.
At the village, we had our first cups of tea/coffee and then waited on steps in front of shops to wait for organizers to arrange a place for freshening up. Our lead guide Giri (whom I knew from previous trip) and his companion Suresh soon arrived. The marriage hall we made use of last time was being rented for cotton sales, so we had to use another marriage hall close by. It was still under construction, but fit for our purposes. We then had breakfast and a long waiting time to get lunch packed. Meanwhile, the local guides and organizers went shopping for rice and supplies for dinner that evening.
|On our way to hills|
|At the base|
|Part natural, part man made dam|
|One of the numerous breaks|
At one of those spots, there were so many frogs (or toads?) that it was difficult to not step on one of them. As we neared the pool, we found Amla (Indian Gooseberry) trees. Giri and Suresh helpfully climbed and plucked loads of them.
Finally, at half past noon, we reached the pool. Dinesh kickstarted by going in first. Giri guided people wanting to jump, showing the spots, brief techniques and leading the way for the first 20+ feet jump.
|Enjoying in the natural pool|
Giri, showing how it is done
Among non-swimmers, Sahana, Saleem, Syed and Shilpa were quick to trust life-jacket and jumped quite a bit around. Susmitha and Vidya became accustomed by the third pool. Mounika was kinda meh to all our jumping antics despite knowing swimming well - she finally took the bait of 10+ feet jump the next day :P Despite phobia, Akash did his best to get in water and more importantly took wonderful pictures :)
When I finally got my chance, I started with small jump, then about 10 feet jump before climbing again for icing on the cake. Aliasgar was kind enough to take over shooting responsibilities. I just made sure video was being taken and then jumped on count of three, before my fear of heights near edges could take over. My landing went awry and it hurt for a while, but it was SOOOOOOOOOOO good to do it again! :)
|Even our shelter is natural made ;)|
|Natural slide (Photo Courtesy: Akash)|
The climb back up on ragged and sharp cuts in the rocks was the only difficult part. Sandals with straps are ideal to go in so that it is easier while coming back. And then there is a narrow spot, allowing a 10+ feet jump. Most of us jumped, some doing it multiple times. Yet again, I did it quickly before fear could set in. Giri, Akash and Vivek took plenty of pictures and videos (Overall we had about 10 GB of images and videos to share :D)
After we changed to dry clothes, most of us settled down for much needed rest. Guides and few others went down to collect wood for cooking and camp fire. From previous experience, we knew there were rats about and we spotted them from time to time.
While we waited, we munched on snacks and then started a very convoluted Antakshri - movie names in pretty much any language - Telugu, Kannada and Tamil were most popular. Malayalam, English, Hindi, Gujarathi and Marathi were thrown in. Most of the times it was like rapid fire quiz, very difficult to keep track. It was fun and definitely good for time pass.
Like last time, we all went up for a while to sit under the brilliance of the sky, twinkling with stars. Highlight was epic monologue by Saleem on the science behind Interstellar movie. After dinner (tamarind rice, white rice, pickle, curd, snacks, etc), we spread out our sleeping mats and settled to play mafia, moderated by Mounika. While the first round was admittedly funny as participants were getting to know the rules of the game, the second round resulted in clean routing of mafia, courtesy immaculate policemen and doctor.
After bit of re-arranging and plenty of adjustment, all 17 of us fit in that small flat space for the night. Plus the doggie. Few wakings apart, I had a good sleep. After freshening up in the morning, we kindled the fire again to heat MTR ready-to-eat packs followed by cup-noodles and normal ones. Some hadn't paid attention to mail circulated before the trip regarding food, but in the end it all turned out sufficient.
By 9:40 AM, we started our trek to the third and final pool. We had to go down to the stream below and continue following it all the way to pool. Of course, we took plenty of pics before starting. After steady hike and numerous breaks (including wading in thigh deep water), we reached the spot by 11 AM.
This time we only spent 2 hours in the pool :P Intention was more about getting everybody to visit the hidden small waterfall on the other side. Swimmers took lead in guiding the non-swimmers in batches. While we were at it, another group trekking from the other side met us.
|Third pool, with hidden waterfall behind those rocks|
We took about two hours to reach there. With plenty of breaks, water-filling, snaps and chit-chat about treks. It was a wide and good spot to spend time, though just shallow pools. Many villagers were already enjoying, so we decided to give this one a skip. We changed to dry clothes, kept out the damp ones to dry and settled for much needed rest and more chit-chat.
|Good-bye Nagala, we'll be back another day|
At Nagalapuram bus stand, we had time just enough for cup of tea/coffee, before we got lucky to get a bus to keep our luggages without an issue and get seats a short while after getting in. We had some very spicy discussions :P before reaching Puttur. After some inquiry, we went to Jyothi mess for dinner. We ordered every variety of dosas available and few plates of chappathis too. Food was tasty, onion-dosa was the best. And then a round of ice-cream. Just about 20 minutes left when we entered bus stand. Since the other trekking group were also taking the same bus, we had to adjust by keeping our luggages below the seats.
Overall, yet another wonderful trek with BTC. What more could one ask to start a new year with? Eagerly awaiting Kumara Parvatha trek with BTC this month. And I think I will be back to Nagala next year as well :P