Before a few years I went to a trek in Parvadamalai, near Tiruvannamalai. After that experience, I decided NOT to go to ANY trek in my life 😛 Recently, when I befriended a group of trekkers, I caught upon their enthusiasm and decided to try a (relatively small) trek closer to home. The result was a trek to Gudiyam Hills/Caves, 10 K.M. from Poondi (via Tiruvallur), 60 KM from Chennai. Go to Poondi reservoir and ask a few people (not one) for directions to Gudiyam Gugai from there. It can be tricky!
We were a gang of 19. We went in two cars and two bikes from Adyar -> Guindy -> Porur -> P.H.Road -> Tiruvallur -> Poondi. At Poondi, someone told us that vehicles can go right up to the entrance of the caves. My spirits were up – I thought this was going to be a simple(r) trek. When we reached the parking clearance (2-3 cars can be parked there) we were informed we need to walk for 7 K.M., both horizontally and vertically, to reach the caves!!
Initially, the path was plain and inviting, as shown in the first two photos. I thought O.K., it’s going to be a normal walk. After a few K.M., the path was filled with pebbles and rocks. Now I realized how critical it was to wear proper shoes with big soles. In spite of it, my legs did pain.
As we were moving, we saw a path going in/up on our left. We decided to explore it, and walked up. It was slightly difficult – but was not the most difficult part of the trek, which I realized shortly. The person in the above photo is 65+ but he walked with such ease and enthusiasm, that all of us (read: me) had to hang our heads in shame!
This large open cave greeted us when we reached the top. I have shown it in two photos because my camera couldn’t capture the entire cave in a single frame! This is our gang. They went above this area to explore the view while I decided to take some rest below this cave 🙂
Then we came back to the original path and started going forward. The path inclined up slightly, but the elevation was not steep. So except the pebbles and stones in the path, the walk was not that difficult. Then we reached inside another large cave where some people had set up a Temple. Here it is:
Here’s a view of the rocky hill from within the cave:
At this point, I thought: Wow, I made it – that was not so difficult. Little did I realize what was going to come when I innocently decided to go further up along with the group.
How’s that for a path?? The entire path went (somewhat like this) steeply up, and there were creepers in between, thorny plants on the sides, and rocks all along the way! If you thought going up took a lot of effort, getting down was also difficult as a small slip was sufficient to create an injury! Since we were a group, we kept together and it was easier to traverse. Now I realized why full-sleeves and water were critical for such treks!
On the way, we found a small path going right and found this viewpoint. It’s better than what you find in the above photo as I was not able to capture the entire scene. After this we kept walking up and came to the climax of our trip. They asked me to climb this ‘small’ rock after which, it seems, there was a good view:
Needless to say, I REFUSED even to go near that rock, forget climbing it!! We walked to another point in the side to get a similar view. From there we were able to see the brave-hearts who climbed the rock. Here they are: (that 65+ person is also there!!)
The Gudiyam hills/caves are a geologically important site because it was the settlement of Paleolithic human beings, who lived before 1,00,000 years. Some stone tools and weapons used then have been unearthed. There is an interesting story behind the formation of these caves too. You can find the significance of Gudiyam caves in the below (excellent) embedded video made by Archeology Dept (9 minutes):
PS: I was down with cold/fever for two days once I returned. Still I think the trek was worth it. Maybe because of the amazing group 🙂