The rest of us went up. After some more climbing up rock steps and paths having very few foot holdings we came to a place where there were huge slabs of stones. One of the slabs was at an inclined angle. To get to the other side we had to crawl through a small crevice between the inclined slab and the rocks beneath.
“And now we have to go like spiderman!”
“Why are we doing all this? What are we going to get to see?”
The crevice could barely accommodate one person; we had to lie almost flat and side step. On coming out at the other end Karthik happily announced, “SS, here we are and there we have to go!”
I followed his hand and what I saw stunned me. I could see people climbing up another hill – and there were people at three fourths the height of the hill; I couldn’t fathom how we would ever get to such a distance and height. It just seemed incredible.
Santanu said, “Karthik, keep my camera”.
Karthik was wearing the baggy type pant which has umpteen pockets. Only now did I realize that my camera was with Vasanth! There was no way I could go back, get it from him and return.
The next portion was relatively easy – not much of a slope and easily walk-able. But to get to the base we were confronted by a 45 degree inclined ladder that was literally dependent on just one soldering on one of its legs. On going up the ladder there was a stony surface with no foot holdings – you couldn’t walk just like that; instead there was a thick rope which you had to hold on to and walk to the other side. I bit like rappelling – you depended solely on the rope and nothing else. Each time you wonder how you are going to cross such things and each time you somehow make it across. All of us went over to the other side. Viswa and I were the last; behind us were a couple of girls who were sceptical about coming over using the rope.
Viswa enthusiastically shouted, “If you feel confident you can come otherwise don’t”
Then he continued, “This side we can help you but while going back you have to go on your own”.
“So only if you are confident come”.
I whispered, “So you are waiting here to give them a hand eh?”
There was no need for either of us to give hand because one girl started and came over. After she came to the other side, her friend deserted her and returned back.
“She deserted you!” we exclaimed in unison.
Apparently the girls had come along with a few others and so this girl joined another guy from her group.
The more we looked up the more frightening it seemed – people were visible at heights way above us. And yet we kept moving. The trek got tough from this point onwards. You had to ensure you had your foot on some footmark holding to move upwards. Some of the rocks were very lengthy and we needed to stretch our legs to the maximum. We were soon confronted by another ladder – this one vertical; as you climbed up you could feel the ladder waver! Karthik halted his climb upwards because his slipper had broken. Next we came to a point where you had to hold on to the branch of a tree to lift yourself up – Viswa dropped out from the group at this stage. Further on we were confronted by sharp ascents that we felt would be very tough to descend – the stones were too smooth and if you didn’t find the foothold carvings there was no way you could get any grip on those stones.
“How will we come down?” Santanu asked.
“It will be pretty hard. Either we go on or we stop and turn around now”
For some unknown reason, perhaps the thrill of it and perhaps the fact that we weren’t the first to take this path prodded our body along.