Trek to the Enchanted Nagalapuram Forests

Inside Nagalapuram forest
Inside Nagalapuram forest

The best part about traversing the unpopular trails has its share of unbiased fun and the power to enjoy at your own discretion. The Nagalapuram forest trek is one such fairly uncommon, 1-day trek in the Eastern Ghats. Even at a moderate pace and stops to refill bottles or clicking photos, one can complete the ascent in about 3-4 hours. More often than not trekkers descend and camp at the base. The Nagala hill with their rocky faces and beautifully sliced gorges have levels of hills – the easiest peak being approx. 650 meter high. The trail can be trekked in several ways, by crossing the range from East to West or vice-versa, or trekking to and fro from the eastern/western side.

Getting There

The Nagalapuram village is located in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, near Tirupati (a famous pilgrim place), about 90 kilometers from Chennai on NH5. However, the trek begins from the Arai village, which is around 15 km further from the Nagalapuram village. A motorable road can be taken up to the Koni reservoir, which also serves as the parking ground maintained by the local villagers. The parking fees range between Rs. 50 – Rs.200, depending on the vehicle.

We traveled from Bangalore for about 5 hours and took a pit-stop at Narayanvanam, that’s around 30 kilometers from the Arai village. After relishing on a hearty South Indian breakfast we geared up for the trek and headed towards the starting point.

Nagalapuram Trek
The trek begins from the open grounds near Koni reservoir

The Trek

The trek path winds up through a dense canopy of trees, gurgling waterfalls, refreshing streams, and crystal clear water pools. The rocky gorges that jut out are nothing short of a stunning piece of art. Sometimes the stretches get tricky and slippery and you need to be careful. The chasms get narrower at some points, making one hold on to dear life, like literally. It is not advisable to go without a guide, if you are an inexperienced trekker. Even if you are an experienced trekker, do avoid going alone.

Nagalapuram Forest Trek
Break near the first water pool
Nagalapuram Forest
Nagalapuram Forest
Nagalapuram Forest Trek
Crossing the cascade on the way towards the second waterpool
Nagalapuram Trek
Refreshing waterfall

Wandering about the thick forests, accompanied by the babbling brooks, you will see not one, not two, but three refreshing waterfalls cascading down into glorious water pools. These pools, famously known as magic pools, do not dry up even during the summers. The enchanted view gives a feeling of walking straight into some kind of storybook spot. The first two water pools are comparatively shallow, but the third water pool, the guide told, is 30 feet deep. Flowing over the course of time, the water has carved a smooth path on the surrounding rocky walls, forming a natural slide to this pool. Pro swimmers also cliff jump into this pool. Being a non-swimmer & a hydrophobic at that, I found it risky.

Nagalapuram Forest Trek

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Nagalapuram Forest Trek

Nagalapuram Forest Trek
The third pool is near the summit and is the deepest one.

Precautions

The waterholes are considerably deep and non-swimmers, especially, need to be wary of the fatalities. During the monsoons, trekkers have to deal with leeches. Luckily for me, I went trekking in the month of May. We still encountered small stretches with ganon of leeches. The forests also house a large number of bee colonies, so dress up to cover properly from head to toe. Do not trek at night, as some stretches are slippery and narrow. Don’t be reckless or put on a false bravado – it might turn a pleasant experience into a dreadful one. Descend and pitch the tents by sundown, if you wish to camp. It took us about 4 hours to trek uphill, with all the photography & catching-up breaks. After soaking and swimming in the water to our heart’s content and eating lunch by the waterfall at the summit, we trekked downhill and pitched our tents by 5ish.

Nagalapuram Forest Trek

Nagalapuram Forest Trek

Nagalapuram Forest Trek

Nagalapuram Forest Trek

Permit Required

It is especially important to visit and get yourselves registered at the Nagalapuram town police station when you are trekking on your own. Not only is it legal to sign in at the police station, but also quite essential from the safety point of view. You might as well be an experienced trekker, but safety is of prime importance.

Fitness Required

Like any other day treks, Nagalapuram trek too requires a minimum level of fitness and stamina, if you wish to enjoy it without any worry or care. And just like a huge dose of mental strength that is required when you step out of your comfort zone, you need a great deal of it during trekking as well. Knowing how to swim will certainly let you enjoy the pools without any anxiety; the non-swimmers too can indulge in it provided they take the necessary care. Always listen to your body and do not push yourself to the extremes.

Things to Carry

Carry a daypack with all the essential stuff for a day/ 2-day trek including items of clothing, toiletries, insect repellent, basic medicines, food and water. Do consider the tents, sleeping bags and sleeping mats if you plan on camping. And finally, bring back whatever you are taking along, do not leave anything behind that will affect the place and the environment in any manner.

Happy trekking. Happy travels!

Scuba Diving In India

Splash! A leap of faith taken! The surface closing overhead, you are sinking in slowly. Buoyancy is working its science but the weights on you help you descend into the colorless waters. You hear the sound of your breath and your heartbeat regulates with the rhythm of the quiet waters. Tranquility takes over and everything becomes still, even the chaotic thoughts go hush. An absolute peace pervades as you glide weightlessly in the vibrant underwater realm.

No, it’s not a dream; it’s a Scuba Dive experience, attempted in words, though some experiences cannot be articulated.

Scuba Diving is gaining popularity in India, given its vast coastline & numerous islands. Land locked on one side & surrounded by seas on the other three; peninsular India offers a whooping chance to experience some of the most unparalleled adventures.The many islands in the Andaman and Arabian Seas with its incredibly rich marine life and pristine undersea world provide boundless opportunities to experience the mysterious world beneath the waves. The dive sites here are some of the best ones in the world.

Also read: Diving In The Andaman Sea In Phuket

Listed below are the places in India where you can go Scuba Diving.

Lakshadweep Islands

Located 300KM off the coast of Kerala, Lakshadweep – meaning one hundred thousand islands, is a stunning archipelago. Closer to Maldives, these palm-covered, sand-skirted coral islands have best of the dive sites. Its pristine turquoise lagoons, unspoiled coral reefs & diverse marine life are diver’s paradise. Bangaram is a popular choice among the travelers. Dive to witness the colorful reef visited by manta rays, turtles, and occasional whale shark.

Lakshadweep

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Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Located in the middle of nowhere, the Andaman Islands are a remote archipelago of about 300 islands floating in the Andaman Sea. Havelock is the most popular one for its legendary beaches and best dive sites. The island’s opaque emerald waters are home to vibrant coral reefs and rich marine life. Dive to see barracudas, batfish, turtles join the schools of snapper amidst the colorful coral & sponges. The pristine snow-white beaches put up a great show at the purple sunsets.

Andaman

Goa

Buzzing with tourists and visitors from all over the world all year round, Goa needs no introduction. Diving off Goa’s Grand Island into the Arabian Sea has a charm of its own. Dive in the crystal clear water here and glide over the lush coral gardens, school of fish and historic shipwrecks of Spanish & Portuguese ships.

Goa

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Netrani Island

Located off the coast of Karnataka, Netrani Island is a remote piece of land floating in the Arabian Sea. It is known for its clear waters, rich marine life and variety of coral. As it’s located further out in the open waters of the Arabian Sea, divers have also spotted humpback, killer whale and occasional whale sharks passing by their migratory routes.

netrani

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Pondicherry

French colony, cobbled streets, faded colonial-era townhouses, Boho-chic vibes, French food, spirituality and Auroville that’s Puducherry (former Pondicherry) located on the southeastern coast of India. Drift Diving off Pondicherry into the Bay of Bengal is gaining popularity due to the marine life spotted here. A great range of fan corals, whale sharks, manta rays, school of jack fish & other rays can also be seen.

pondi

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Written as a Guest post for TheMobo (published on 11 July, 2015)