First time when I heard the name TADA, what came to my mind was Urmila Matondkar’s song in the movie Hindustani- Latka Dikha diya humne jhatka diya tumko TADA..., Second thought was on Terrorist and Destructive Activities (Control and prevention) Act 2002. (TADA). Only later did I realize that this is a place in Nellore District of AP, 95 kms from Chennai and popular for waterfalls and trekking. But now, after completing a memorable and exhilarating trek to TADA hills, courtesy Chennai Trekkers’ Club (CTC), I’ll remember the term Tada for this wonderful experience I had on 30th August and Urmila as well as TADA Act will be sidelined in my memory.
If we try to arrange an activity like a tour or a trek ourselves, it is really difficult to get a good number of participants. Some confirm in the beginning and withdraw at the last moment causing even more inconvenience. Joining forums/groups of likeminded people who share similar passions comes to help here. Chennai Trekkers’ Club, spearheaded by Peter Van Geit, is one such group, which regularly organizes outdoor activities. CTC has over 900 members (and counting) and for any interesting mission announced, probability of getting a good response is almost certain. Having a good number of participants also enables one to achieve economy of scale. (The whole TADA Trek didn’t cost more than Rs 400 per head) Having registered at CTC sometime back I was looking for a right trek to join. Tada trek that was planned for Saturday appeared to be a perfect one and signed up instantly. I had been to couple of treks earlier at Skanda giri (off Bangalore) and Anantagiri (off Hyderabad) but they can’t be compared to TADA. Excellent planning and guidance by Peter and his team of experienced trekkers as well as availability of water stream along the path made lots of difference.
We started almost on time from Tidel Park at 5 AM, couple of pickups at Guindy and Koyambedu and we were on our way. A stop for breakfast and we were near the foot of the hill by around 8 AM. We were stopped at the check post for vehicle and camera fees and were repeatedly questioned by the guards if we’re planning to stay overnight. The road till this check post was excellent, but from here was rocky. A forest guard hopped into our already overloaded Qualis for a free ride till parking lot. Water bottles, glucose and other food items were distributed to the team and after a group photo we were all set to go.
Initial few kms were quite easy-just a normal walk, till we reached Siva temple. The Sun wasn’t hot and trees and bushes provided ample shade. The view of the hills and rocks were tempting and inviting. The pond near the Siva temple was good enough for a quick swim and most of us jumped in. It was long time since I had swum last time and enjoyed a refreshing swim.
We continued the journey on a rocky path, which I feel would have constituted a river, had there been heavy rains. Peter was leading from the front and Chezhian guarded from end of the tail, ensuring that no one is left behind. The path was well marked, courtesy regular trekking in this place. Group of around 35 had a right mix of first time trekkers and regular trekkers-this ensured that help was always at hand-Few rocks were too steep to climb and few were extremely slippery-but nothing stops CTCians from reaching the top of a hill. All those who doubted themselves thinking “how will I ever climb this high?” were beaming with confidence when they made it to the top with ease.
The timing was perfect- recent rains had ensured that there’s enough water flowing downstream. The weather was excellent too-we didn’t suffer the scorching heat. Also it hadn’t rained in past 24 hours and most of the rocks were dry enough to keep a firm foot on. It was around 12 noon when the first batch made it to the top. Others joined soon. Peter went on to explore further and led the team to another place nearby, which is directly under the source of water, after navigating through a steep and slippery set of rocks.
While most of us were away posing for photographs under the fall, a group of monkeys detected the arrival of guests and prepared themselves for the opportunity of grabbing some food items. Those who were resting had a tough time guarding our baggage and we feared soon monkeys may overpower them and snatch goodies away. However these monkeys were not that offensive, unlike some moneys we find at other places which attack the tourists to snatch bags. With little resistance these monkeys backed off, but kept monitoring the situation. [More photos of these monkeys and a photo essay]
Betrayed by WebEx bag. I did a mistake of not carrying a heavy duty bag and relied on an ordinary bag, which was given for free in a conference I had attended (WebInnovation08, Mumbai) (WebEx distributes free bags at all conferences they sponsor. It was a laptop bag, so I though this is robust enough to carry few kgs. But this bag couldn’t bear the load of 3 water bottles and stitches started coming lose half way through the upward journey. One of the organizers, Chezhian helped me with a clamp like device to keep it intact. With that and by offloading the cargo to other compartment I somehow managed. (Last time, during Skandagiri Trekk, I’d slightly burnt my shoe keeping it on the silencer of the bike…)
We had lunch and started descending. Monkeys got their feast with the leftover food, but not without a tough fight among themselves. With reduced load downward journey wasn’t that troublesome. Many took bath under the fall and others had a nice swim (refer images). Those who were eager to jump but reluctant as they didn’t know swimming, had the opportunity of using life jackets and float. Peter ensured that everyone did overcome their fears and got a chance have fun in water. Professional swimmer he was, he swam with one hand carrying the camera in the other, holding it above water, so that group photos could be taken.
The place had remains of camp fires and abandoned alcohol bottles. We found a person lying unconscious on the rocks-most probably due to excess consumption of alcohol. We thought we’ll make it in time, but it was already dark by the time we reached the parking spot. The forest guards were waiting there to welcome us-read-to demand extra money…"Sir, 5 O’clock is the closing time Saar, it is 8 PM sir…” went on their argument, till they got a tip, which even made them salute and wish bye bye while we were driving away…
After having dinner at Chennai Deluxe near Koyambedu participants dispersed. Ram was kind enough to drop me till Tidel park. Lactic acid started its work even before I could reach home and ensured that I stayed down resting most of the Sunday.
End of the day it was exhaustive but fun filled day full of adventure. Looking forward to my next adventure with CTC
See rest of my photos of the trek here on Picasa* CTC, me & Google groups * Parvathamale, Nagala & Nagari * Talakona, Tirupati * Skanda Giri (Bangalore) * Anantagiri (AP)