Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Monsoon Camping by Emerald Lake in the Nilgiri Mountains

As a thumb rule, I prefer trekking over camping in the monsoons, but this time around I decided to buck my preferences and go on a monsoon camping trip to the Nilgiri Mountains. And boy was it a fabulous experience.

Our campsite was beside the Emerald Lake, that is one of the eight lakes that make up the lake ecosystem of Red Hills. The Red Hills belt is situated about 20 kilometres from the popular hill station of Ooty in Tamil Nadu, India.

So four of us in a car with all our camping equipment land just after lunch on a Saturday afternoon at Emerald Lake. One cannot camp at all places here as it falls under the purview of the Emerald Dam.

The only place where camping is allowed is near the ‘Surukku Palam’ or shrunken bridge that connects both sides of the Emerald Lake.

And since this part of the Nilgiris had received very less rainfall this year, we could take our car right onto the lake bed and near our camp site.

In a short while, we had set up our tents and laid out our sleeping bags inside. The next thing on our agenda was to collect enough firewood to set up a camp fire to allow us to cook our food and to keep us warm in the night.

Once we were all settled, we took out our photography gear and decided to capture the view of the misty hills, the tea estates, the lake and the houses on the slopes. And all this was visible right from our campsite.

During this entire setup, we kept getting intermittent rains, but they hardly deterred us from having our share of fun.

Luckily for us, the rains let off as darkness set in and we could cook our dinner without any worry. Dinner consisted of boiled eggs, atta maggi, groundnuts and bread and cheese. It was a simple, but sumptuous affair.

After dinner, what followed was our traditional jinga-la-la dance around the camp fire and then some time was spent staring at the stars that somehow managed to make their way through the monsoon clouds above.

Soon, the excitement got over and tiredness set in. All of us were well tucked into our respective sleeping bags much before 10 pm. Soon, it started raining and the temperatures started plummeting, but all of us slept peacefully.

The next thing we realized was it was a cloudy and nippy morning outside our tents. After finishing our morning ablutions, we proceeded to re-light the camp fire that was doused in the heavy rains in the night. And as soon as we had a decent fire going, we made ourselves a hearty breakfast.

After breakfast, we packed all our equipment, collected all our trash and headed off to our next destination. Overall, a great monsoon camping experience in the Nilgiri mountains for all of us.

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