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Gavi Trip 2012




2012 summer vacation will remain memorable for many reasons. One reason is that this was our first trip to a beautiful place called Gavi. It is part of the Periyar Tiger reserve and it is located near Thekkady. Since the entry passes to Gavi had to be obtained from the Forest Check Post and advance booking is required, we didn't want to get into the long winding booking process and took an easy way out. We had the resort's travel desk to get this done for us. 



Thus, we started at 4 am, a time when the sounds of the forest seem to awaken in a natural way. It was pitch dark while we were taken in a sturdy jeep with a friendly driver who knew the place inside out. The sounds of the forest fascinated me and yes, it frightened me a bit. Like a child, I kept looking out for an elephant to jump out at us from nowhere. :)) 


Gavi Superstition: First Vehicle at Checkpost
We had to stop at this checkpost for a while. We were told by our delighted driver that there is a superstition: if yours is the first vehicle to reach the checkpost that morning, it's believed that you will get a good sighting. Ours was the first vehicle on that day.




Mantra Power in Forest
Spiritual masters say that a mantra that is chanted in your puja room resonates divine energy according to the number of times you chant it. However, in places such as high mountains, forests, lakes and oceans, the divine energy that is generated within you when you chant your chosen mantra, that energy is equivalent to the expanse of  the said place. 


This also means that the divine energy can be stored within you and it can last a lifetime. So throughout the time we were in the Gavi forest, I constantly chanted my spiritual mantra. And the energy vibrations that I felt, I cannot even begin to describe here without feeling the same spirit of absolute bliss. You should try it some day too.  


From KFDC Forest 
From here, we were taken to the KFDC forest lodge. My parents didn't want to trek so they stayed here and they enjoyed the picturesque location. We had no worries about food since breakfast, lunch and tea time snacks are provided for in this package that we took. Sanand, Adi and I moved on with the guide for trekking as part of the elephant trail.






Okay, I've got to confess. Trekking's okay with me. Elephant trailing? Not my cup of tea, call me boring. But there was no way I was going to sit still while my husband and son went off on their own on the elephant trail. I'd probably die of worry and tension. So, for their sake, I decided to sacrifice my temptation to sit down with a book by the lovely Periyar lake there. Yes, we wore boot-like stockings so that leeches wouldn't stick to us while we go through the forest. 


Gavi Guide
What I hadn't anticipated was being with a bunch of risk-taking, highly adventurous group of guides. Our guide's name is Kannan, a Sri Lankan Tamil who grew up in the Gavi forest area and has been here ever since. He loves every inch of Gavi and you can hear it from the stories he tells. He was determined to show us elephants and thus we began trekking on the elephant trail.


The climb up the mountain was a painful as well as incredible experience. Painful? That is because you feel every muscle in your body stretch and strain in such a way that you want to run back and sit down somewhere instead. But incredible? Think about it: you are in the middle of a beautiful forest. You don't know what to expect. The animals are happy in their natural habitats. You are visiting their territory, knowing very well they aren't going to play the role of loving hosts to people who are clearly trespassing into their area. But there is a stillness to the air that feels as if you are not in an earthly plane and the air around is so pure that it feels like you have reached the cusp of heaven. 


Just breathing the air in Gavi, it felt like one will stay young forever. It just fills your lungs and your entire self with a beautiful feeling of being live and young. In the stillness all around, you can hear the chirp of an insect like a magnified sound. It frightens and thrills at the same time.


Gavi Forest Trek & How "brave" I was   
I won't pretend to be courageous. Not in a forest. While trekking through the dark green leafy patches, I could think of was "Will there be snakes around here?" But I knew there was no way to find out because as we explored the interior of the forest, everything was so dark and green, I'd not have spotted a snake if it were next to me.


What frightened me more was how swiftly Sanand and Adi were rushing ahead with the guide. They were so thrilled. Adi was faster and even ahead of Sanand at times. The guide marveled at his sense of adventure and caught his hand. 


So, slowly, we got close near a spot inside the jungle where an elephant was breaking off some branches and eating something. Now this may sound unbelievable but when the elephant broke off another branch, it felt like an explosion of sorts because the sound echoed throughout the forest. 


For someone like me who's only been around libraries and typical tourist spots, this frightened the daylights out of me. I cried out, "Aiyyo!Annaaa!" And then I dragged Adi and rushed out from the interior towards the path that leads outside. All I could think of was saving my baby from any kind of elephant attack. Behind me, the guide and the others rushed out. 


The guide told me,"Why did you make that noise? We were safe. I'd not put you all in any danger. The elephant is now alert and knows humans are around. It will feel threatened now. When you ran off like that, he could come after you much faster...this path is his path when he wants to come out. Don't run no matter what."


From Gavi, To Sabarimala
So he took us to another spot on the other side from where we hoped we could see the elephant when it came out. From that spot, we could see the Sabarimala temple and I bowed down and prayed to the Lord Ayappa for this 'distant' darshan. It was a beautiful experience to have a glimpse of the Sabarimala temple. As you know, women cannot enter the temple during their years starting from puberty till after menopause. For me, this unexpected darshan was a highlight of the trip! 






And just afterward, we saw three small wild elephants. It's not like I've never seen elephants before. But this was a totally different experience altogether. The elephants looked so free and happy in their surroundings. They seemed to move in slow motion, at times turning playful with each other. They looked like god's special beings. I felt tears spring to my eyes because I don't know whether I have seen anything so wild and so beautiful at the same time. Sanand, Adi and I watched this scene for a while till the elephants disappeared back into the forest. 






The delighted guide asked us, "Happy?" We were so happy, we just didn't have words to express it.


And then surprising us all, including myself, I asked the guide, "How soon can we do this elephant trail again? I loved it! Give us your number and contact details."


And yeah, right then, we all burst out laughing. But you know what, I wasn't kidding. I am going back to Gavi again. That's for sure. 
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