Mystical Coorg – III

Mystical Coorg – III

Coorg is the perfect destination for a weekend trip. Stunning landscapes, cascading waterfalls, artistic hillocks and acres of coffee and spice plantations make for an ideal and tranquil getaway. This vibrant yet ambiguous terrain along with the pleasant weather of Coorg makes for a perfect place to host various adventure activities like zip lining, tree-top activities, rock climbing and more.

Having been part of Chinmaya Yuva Kendra (CHYK) for most of my teenage years, I was raised with an adventurous streak. You see, Swami Mitrananda, the spiritual mentor at Chinmaya Mission Chennai, would often push us to try bungee jumping, rappelling , river rafting and what not. His logic is Vedanta is not mere theory, it is to be practiced at times when our deepest fears come to surface.

After a quick search on Google, I discovered Quarry Adventures. I looked up the reviews and everything looked really good. I soon discovered that Quarry Adventures was the first adventure and outdoor theme park in the Kodagu district (that’s Coorg, guys!).

It felt like this would not only be my one-stop shop for all things adventurous, but more importantly, a chance to teach my students the way my teacher taught me. The park is built into an old abandoned quarry and offers everything from rock climbing and rappelling to zip-lining and hanging ropes. My mind drew a smile as I Imagined myself zipping over the lush treetops and coffee estates, hanging by just a rope — but I knew for many others in the group it would feel very different.

We packed our bags with all the snacks and water we could find and drove towards Kodagu. After a brief 45-minute scenic drive we landed at Quarry Adventures. We were greeted by Sid and his team who handed everyone safety waivers–forms that said if something were to happen to you, the organisers were not responsible.

Some of my students already panicked. They looked at each other and when I joked about their fear, in a moment of bravado, they signed the forms. Once signed, we climbed up the mountain towards the mouth of the quarry – though a short walk (10 min) it was a steep climb. The anticipation was building and people were cracking nervous jokes of how hard things already were.

Once we entered the park, we were face to face with a huge wall about 50 ft. As I looked at everyone, I jokingly said, 'We are going to climb that mountain side’.

Just as I finished, Sid came around and said pointing to me, 'This one is intuitive – you will not be climbing up, but climbing both up and down that mountain wall – rock climbing and rappelling as we call it technically. I hope you are already?' Nervous chuckles filled the air, and people quietly put on their safety gear, dreading the worst.

Harnesses, safety caps and ropes were handed over and soon three of my students stood at the base of the huge cliff. The wall suddenly seemed like Everest. I could see the minds of my students racing, as they looked out to catch my eye and mouth the words ‘I don’t think I can do this, Roh’ – I looked away, not wanting to acknowledge their fear and more importantly their self doubt. I knew they could do it just like my teacher knew I could do many things that scared me.

Soon the first girl Anjana was ready to take her first step. I watched as her hands started shivering and she couldn’t get a firm enough grip on both the rope and the mountain wall. As she reached up, her legs slipped against the loose gravel on the mountain side and she came crashing into the rock wall. My heartbeat quickened and I shouted, 'You got this, Anju. One step at a time. Just keep going'. With tears in her eyes she looked at me and back at the humongous wall. I think she understood that the only way out was up. I watched as a prayer floated on her lips as she tightened her grip on the rope and took her next cautious step. I screamed 'Breathe…. Breathe… this too will pass'. And slowly but surely Anju made her way to the top to thunderous applause and celebration.

As she looked down, it felt like she had conquered something bigBIG. Watching her gave the rest of us confidence and we knew this was a climb that would change us forever.

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to’.

- J. R. R. Tolkein

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