Saturday, 21 April 2012

Incredible Nagalapuram

Ever since the 15th century when the name “Nagalapura” was given by the legendary King Krishna Deva Raya in memory of his mother “Nagamamba” to a suburb constructed by him near the Vijayanagar Empire this place is being revered as “Nagalapuram”. Historians and geologists from then refer the mountains surrounding the ancient suburb of Vijayayanagar town i.e. Nagalapuram as ‘Nagalapuram hills’.

Nagalapuram during the past few years has become a favorite trek destination for trekking enthusiasts because of its proximity, clean water pools and friendly environment. An attempt is made in this post to highlight the popular trails, pools, waterfalls, gorges, weather, wildlife and flora of Nagalapuram with my personal experiences.
Well-known trekking trails of Nagalapuram hills:

Nagalapuram hills are spread across 10,163 hectares (101.63 sq. kms) of land. Out of the six well known trails most of the trekkers use the popular Nagala western and eastern entries while few dare to take other trails to venture into this beautiful mountain.

Most of the trails run parallel to streams and at times walking on the stream boulders itself make a trail. Due to hot and sunny weather trails are normally not chosen along the ridges like in the Western Ghats. Only the deadly trek “marathon in mountains” connecting Nagalapuram and Tada is trekked along the ridges.
Famous treks at Nagalapuram:

On a weekly basis regular treks are organised to the western and eastern entries for one day or sometimes two days for beginners and moderate trekkers. The most interesting treks are (a) Nagada / Tadagala mission and (b) Marathon in mountains treks, Nagada / Tadagala are words coined to reflect Nagalapuram and Tada. Trekkers enter through one side of the range and exit through the other side of the range after trekking for three difficult days. Marathon in mountains is a non-stop high speed trek covering 46+ kms in less than 24 hours. Still, Nagala exploratory trek where we discovered the ‘Infinite pools’ trail is still fresh in my mind.

Peaks at Nagalapuram:

The highest point in the Nagalapuram hills is the Southern peak, which is 880 mts. (approx.). The western peak, which is 800 mts+, also never fails attracting trekkers and offers mind-boggling views. The peaks are basically huge rocks pilled upon each other and except for few shrubs and grasses nothing grows there. One needs to climb through big boulders and negotiate bushes to reach these peaks. Apart from these two popular peaks Nagala has the central peak, which is 800+mts and other smaller peaks between the heights ranging from 700 mts to 800 mts.

Nagalapuram and its waterfalls:

Nagalapuram is a home for many beautiful and crystal clear waterfalls. The best part is being availability of water throughout the year in almost all the waterfalls in the main streams.

Mini Courtallam

The mini courtallam waterfall lies in the western side of the Nagalapuram hills. After taking the western entry if you cross 3 water pools and follow the stream for 30 minutes and take few climbs you can witness this beauty unfolding from good height. A shower in this waterfall is definitely refreshment to inner soul.

Shiva temple waterfalls:

Another popular waterfall is the Shiva temple waterfall, which lies in the trail that is close to the eastern entry. This easy trail leading to this waterfall is mostly thronged by devotes. If one wants to try his hand in rock climbing he can make an attempt by climbing to the top of this waterfall.

50 mts waterfall deep inside Nagalapuram:

Deep inside the eastern side of the Nagalapuram hills lies this spectacular 50 mts waterfall. It requires good amount of trekking and bouldering to reach to this waterfall. Water drops directly from 50 mts height on the rocks and during the monsoon into the water pool in front of this waterfall. If you want to experience the feeling of wilderness then a trek to this waterfall and a shower in it is a must.

Ubbalamadugu Falls

The Ubbalamadudu or Tada falls is also in the same range of Nagalapuram mountains. This beautiful waterfall drops from 100 mts height and it’s a delight to watch it drop down sitting on top of it. This is the tallest waterfall in this range of mountain and even the neighbouring Nagari range of mountain do not have a waterfall to match its height. This waterfall can be reached by following the popular tourist Tada stream.

Other waterfalls:

There are plenty of small waterfalls along the western and eastern entries and most of the waterfalls normally have a beautiful pool on its base, which attract trekkers to take a dip to refresh them.

 Gorges at Nagalapuram:

Unlike its big brother Venkateswara, Nagala do not have large number of deep gorges, nevertheless, Nagala also hosts few beautiful gorges and the best being the Nagala eastern entry gorge. One needs to swim 50 + mts to cross this deep-water gorge. There is also another gorge in a less known stream which is close to eastern entry of Nagalapuram which has been recently explored. Swimming across the gorge adds adventure and thrill to any trek.

Crystal clear streams and water pools at Nagalapuram:

Since there are no villages or human habitation on top of this Nagala hills the streams are very clean and clear throughout the year. Water is collected from big valleys and they slowly drain through the streams throughout the year.

There are totally 5 perennial streams which are draining from the Nagalapuram range namely, 1. Western stream (Aree village), 1. South East stream (Kailasakona falls) 3. East stream (TP Kotta), 4. North East Stream (Near Varadaiyapalayam) and 5. Tada stream.

Western entry proudly hosts the most number of beautiful and crystal clear pools and there are totally 7 pools along the western entry. The most famous pool in the eastern entry is the “picnic pool” which is 10 kilometres deep inside the eastern side of Nagala. The “dead end pool” which lies in the eastern entry also as a very interesting history behind its name since it was considered as a dead end and trekkers returned after reaching that spot before being discovered that there are more beautiful trekking spots beyond this dead end.

Wildlife at Nagalapuram:

Nagalapuram is a home for many small species and living organisms. It can be easily termed as a territory of garden lizards since it hosts a variety of lizards. Nagala has reptiles such as snakes; it has scorpions, monkeys, rabbits, porcupines, variety of birds, honeybees and many other small creatures. I can remember spotting a very old skull of a deer during Nagada trek although never spotted one in Nagala. However, during my 'Marathon in mountains' during April, 2012 my co-trekkers have spotted herd of deer's and two bears on the valley connecting Nagala and Tada which is considered to be as no-man's area which indicates presence wild life at Nagala. Fishes in the Nagala streams and pools deserve a special mention since they are known for their pedicure magic.

Flora of Nagalapuram:

Nagalapuram hosts a variety of rich flora and predominantly it is a scrub territory, with plenty of thorny bushes and very less grasslands. Red sanders are found abundant in Nagala valley and in the ridges. Red sanders grown at 700 mts altitude gives a distinctive wavy grain margin and hence valued very high in the market. Hence, there are many woodcutters who illegal chop these trees for reasons well known to them.

While we enjoy the beautiful pools, swim across the gorges and take bathe in those lovely waterfalls it is for the common good and to uphold sustainable development that we conserve this pristine beauty called “Nagala” for generations to come.

Everyone who had been into Nagala must have good memories about the bathe in those clean pools. During my recent visit I see a deteriorating quality of Nagala majorly attributed by plastic bottles, worn out shoes / chappals, food packets, mats, alcohol bottles etc. Until we take a conscious decision not to pollute or leave these wastes no one can protect Nagala. While we enjoy the present Nagala, let those good memories traverse to next generations.

Be informed and be responsible about the flora, fauna, rock formations, waterfalls, gorges and impeccable beauty of “Nagala” the heavenly kingdom in the Eastern Ghats. 

For the love of Nagala,

Durai Murugan 

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