Droog is situated about thirteen Km from the town of Conoor. The hill is also called Bakasura Malai (after a fabled, cruel demon from the Mahabaratha). It is a hill about 2000 meters above sea level. One gets to it through the NonSuch Tea estate on the most dreadful roads. Estate roads, meant for a four-wheel drive and a strong stomach.
Parking on the road, we began our ascent to the top of the hill. It was a fairly steep incline. Initially, through the most beautiful tea estate and then through the shola forest. There was a charming little paved path to follow through the forest. The path was steep and winding in places. Innocently effortless in others.
The lush foliage looked alive, breathing in the morning air. There were so many unusual flowers, trees and plants. Lemon grass grew in plenty deceiving us with its sharp edged leaves camouflaging the fragrance and flavor of the plant. Beautiful wild flowers in the most vivid colors. Growing in abandon, unaided, content to be blowing in the breeze.
We passed the remains of the fort of Tippu Sultan. Build in the 16th century it is said to have been a vantage point and the out post to oversee the surrounding areas. What remained was only the wall of the fort. Just piles of stones stacked to build a semblance of a wall.
On the top of the hill was situated a Lookout tower of sorts. Now vandalized of course, with scribblings all over the walls of names of lovers and new-gen heroes. A reminder of those who have managed to get to this point, not to absorb and appreciate the incredible view but to record their pathetic presence on the walls of this monument. Reprehensible, to say the least. The last time we were here, we were startled by a group of police officers in their camouflage uniforms said to be combing the forest for terrorists. Very reassuring that was! Thankfully, no such incident this time.
Beyond the tower, a little further through the forest leads one to an even more stunning landscape. The sun had already risen but was still partially concealed behind gloriously patterned sheets of clouds. Ornate and almost surreal, it was the work of a brilliant artist, the sky, the mountains, the rivers below the trees and sheer rocks. The cliffs were sheer drops of thousands of meters to more forestland.
After spending some time taking in the splendor or the surroundings, we headed back to Conoor town. A delicious breakfast at the famous canteen in the quaint Conoor railway station. A welcome indulgence after that long walk.
Walks like these test the endurance of your leg muscles. The uphill climb definitely also tests your cardio vascular endurance. It was about ten Km and the pace was certainly not leisurely. Improvement in fitness levels is one of the additional spin offs of these walks. The encounter with nature only adds to the experience. Including activities such as treks, walks even dancing which are more for pleasure and not specifically focused on either weight loss or improving fitness create the environment to include physical activity as a form of a “lifestyle”. It becomes something you do as an extension of ones day. You tend to then make better choices more often. You choose to walk up the stairs instead of taking the lift. You choose to go for a run on a Sunday morning instead of lying around, wide awake wondering what to eat. You choose to throw a dance party with light finger food instead of a sit down meal. It becomes more ‘natural’ to stay healthy and fit