Camping Under the Stars
Perhaps the most onerous part of this trip was not the long treks under the blistering heat, but rather the early morning call that began our journey. Recovering from hangovers caused by long-stressful working hours, we gathered at Catholic Club at 6:30am, armed with boxes of mint chutney and chicken sandwiches. Accompanying us on the initial part of this journey was a rather awkward atmosphere, owing to the addition of many unfamiliar faces. The antidote to this however, turned out to be the pumping music and games played during the bus journey.
We arrived right in time for lunch at the camping ground, that is, Rockfort Homestay, Sakleshpur. And after a wholesome buffet of mutton biryani, fish curry, plain rice, chicken curry and raita, we set off for our water activities at Hanbal Falls. The journey took almost an hour, not counting the tedious trek to the said falls, but it proved to be worth it in the end. The shade from the dense foliage and the cool, clean water of the falls were a welcoming relief after our tedious journey. On our way back to the camp we were also treated to a beautiful view of the setting sun from the ghats.
We returned to the camp damp, sticky and dirty but still took the time to engage in a 15-minute discussion on probable unsanitary outcomes of bathing with hard water. However, given that none of us were going for that ultimate outback, wilderness experience, the need to wash off won over. We then settled around a warm campfire, with a hot cup of coffee and bhajis amidst the slowing cooling air. A short icebreaker game was played to ease us into the lively dancing to the Goan malasa numbers that were to follow. The dinner buffet of pork gravy, chicken curry and plain rice only served to enhance the festive atmosphere. As our excitement slowly started to die down with the embers of campfire, we began to take in the amplified sounds of nature and the twinkling fireflies, all basking under the bright moonlit, starry night sky. Lulled by the sounds of nature, we headed off into our cozy tents awaiting the sight of dawn that would replace the nocturnal masterpiece.
On our final day, we feasted our eyes on the beautiful sunrise, some from the comfort of their tents and some from the vantage of the hill, as the cold morning served to separate the adventurists from the homebodies. This was followed by another wholesome buffet of vegetable pulav, pooris, sagu and raita that was prepared while we were engaged in other activities, games and photo sessions. At about 11:30am, we finally concluded our de-stressing excursion and made our way back to Bangalore with lighter hearts, new friends and memories to last a lifetime…well, at least the photographs will last a lifetime should our memories falter!
- Viola Pires