Nature, Culture and heritage

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A Saturday at Baraphole

A group of classmates from our school and college wanted to take some time out together and decided to travel to Machaan Nagarhole located near Kutta in South Coorg.  All of us are in our ‘young’ fifties and decided to experience the white water rafting at Baraphole, which supposedly is the most challenging rapids in South India.  Not too sure of this but claims are made.

Saturday, the day of our rafting adventure, was overcast and drizzling but we were ready to move on after a hearty breakfast.  Five of us had reached the previous day and had passed a pleasant evening with sundowners yarning on various topics and generally making merry.  Two more were to join us on Saturday at T-Shettigeri.  We reached earlier and waited at T-Shettigeri for our two classmates to join us.  Once they came, we drove up the hills and landed at Alok’s place Jethna Rafting.  A small but cosy shelter with a large log fire going in the middle warmly welcomed us.  Our hosts extended the warmth with hot coffee and pleasant chitchat.

We had to wait a little while for the rafts to return from down stream.  Once the rafts had come back, we had two Nepali instructors who ran us through a safety drill on the dos and don’ts of rafting.  We all were given life jackets and helmets and also taught the correct way of wearing them.  Then we were split into two groups and were onto the rafts.  We paddled a little upstream to a relatively calm area where all of us had to slide into the water, one by one, and then be ‘rescued’ by the others. This gave immense  confidence to us  that in the event of any untoward incident, we just had to stay calm and wait for rescue.

Prepared to face the challenge, we set off towards our first rapid, quaintly named ‘Morning Coffee’. As explained by our instructor, this is a gentle rapid to sort of wake you up and get accustomed to the waters. With this accomplished, we felt even more confident of tackling whatever lay ahead of us. Then we hit the ‘Grasshopper’! It hopped us around quite a bit with yells of forward paddle, stop, forward paddle, reverse paddle, stop… with each of us trying our best to follow the commands. And having come through unscathed, we were jubilant and yelled at each other triumphantly.

The next was ‘Wicked Witch’ (shades of Harry Potter?) and she lived up to her name.  Wicked she was with her twists and turns and rises and falls but we battled her heroically and emerged victorious onto calmer waters. We paddled to a nearby shore to gather our collective breaths and also take in the panoramic view. We were amidst Tata’s Glen Lorna Tea Estate and the greenery was stunning with the sun playing hide and seek amidst rain clouds.

Once recouped, we paddled towards the ‘Big Bang’.  We hit the rapids with a bang and, once again, a lot of yelling of commands partly drowned by the roar of the waters.  The raft slid and slithered over the rocks assisted by our earnest and vigorous paddling and our instructor steering from the rear.  Tossed and turned around, the raft went up and then down and then up and then down and then we were free.

We paddled in a calm manner to the shores and then physically hoisted the raft on our heads and returned it to the waiting jeeps.  The whole experience had taken around three hours and we really enjoyed ourselves. It was absolutely exhilarating. Dangerous?  Maybe.  But you can’t live life in a cocoon.

I would definitely like to repeat the experience someday soon.


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