I don't know how to start this one!! Generally I am very much confident as to how I must begin any write up of mine but I don't wvwn know what Tilte must i assign to it, so I begin.....
It was 1 am sharp!! A cool breeze whizzed past my face, making me feel relaxed. A drop of sweat which was resting in the corner of my eyes, went inside due to the breeze and I rubbed my eyes.
"Yippe!!!"..... I shouted.
Then came the voices of Ani, Ippu and Mayen ....... echoing,' Govinda , Govinda , Govinda!!'
It was dark and only only few dim Sodium vapour lamps were lit on the sides of the street.
We had reached our destination.....
3850 steps!! "We, DID IT," I screamed and gave Ani a hi-fi.
There was so much of happiness in our faces. All 5 faces gleaming in the light with full vigour and a feeling of triumph was prevailing among us.
We had accomplished our much awaited mission of reaching the top of the Tirumala hills where Lord Balaji resides. I think most of u all would have guessed it by now?
Well... we started on 5th evening to Tirupati by bus. Reached a place called Alipiri and started off on our journey to the top at 8pm. We were a group of 5. Ani, Ippu, Arif, Mayen and I.
We had decided that we'll reach the top of the Tirumala hill on foot, crossing 9 kms (3850 steps+ 2kms of walk).
We put our first step remembering the Almighty and praying that we get the strength to cross this whole path. It looked very tiresome. We started moving slowly , with steady steps and then... came the straight path , steep path, the continuous stretch of stairs. The path was well lit with tubelights as it was already dark and these steps were cut amidst the jungle. On both sides dense vegetation was seen. In the dark we could only see the bark of some trees and the huge rocks and see the leaves swinging with the wind.
The rustling of the leaves , the shrriking of the animals, the hymns and chats from the loudspeaker, the normal talk and conversation of the people moving up along with us also of those coming down(either singing or chanting hymns). All seemed so different to me. We were moving up slowly and also panting.
100.. We reached the 101th step and rested for a while.
We were half wet and were gasoing for breath. Our calf muscles already started pulling and we had to cross 99% of our journey more.
We began again... I was leading this time. I was panting a lot and the same condition was with the others also. I kept watching the other people also who were walking along with us. They also took time to rest but at different places and there was onw way we could find as to how fast or slow we were.
We kept climbing, halting, wiping the sweat off the forehead, washed our face , prayed to God that we get energy and strength to walk.
We were getting exhausted and we had to replenish ourselves someway or the other.
We consumed almost 15 to 16 ltrs of water and along with that we 3 girls didn't miss any chance to gobble any little tit bit that was coming our way. I mean , whatever petty shops were there on the way, all seemed to attract us. Raw mangoes with salt n chilly powder, bhel-puri, jhaal-mudi,7up, lemon soda-pop, butter milk, bajji(as we call it here), watermelon, chocolates, Haldiram's Moong dal..etc..... This went on till we reached the top. I think the watermelon I had here was the sweetest among the ones I have had so far. Arif and Mayen were alreday irritated with us as were wasting a lot of time eating and we had alomost 1/4th of the journey. We ate fast and moved on. Whenever we had to halt we looked around and we could see only the whole of Tirupati lit up with yellow lights.
Some places were really dark and we were scared as on both sides there was open jungle and we had heard that there were many wild animals there. Three years back there were cases of a Cheetah taking away some travellers . They usually took advantage by hiding in places which were dark but now there was nothing much to be scared about. We had enough protection and when boys were there we needn't worry. We held hand together and kept walking and we moved on.....
We had crossed half of the whole length and it was 12:30am already. What'll we do??? We had to reach soon and also get fresh for our darshan at 4am. These thoughts were temporary though. We were happily enjoying our journey. We were laughing, chatting, playing the fool around, singing and enjyoing every moment we were there. I was leading everyone for a while and singing different songs. Right from Hanumaan Chalisa to film songs like... " Ek tu hi bharosa.."(Pukar).
I made Ani also sing along with me. We were alomost there when we tried asking somebody as to how much more we needed to cover. Someone said," Another 2 hours my child".
Phew!!! We had lots more to go.
We saw antelopes, deer and they were looking at us with hungry eyes. I went near the grill, got some cucumber and carrots and fed them. They were so hungry that as soon as they saw food 4-5 of them came running and were almost fighting to eat. I got a chance to feed a deer and that we just had a grill as a barrier .
Now .... came the most intersting part of our journey. We were on the winding roads, those curves as sharp hair pin loops which we generally see from the bus. It was fun to walk holding hands, looking at the sky and running in the middle of the road at this hour of the night.
I suddenly felt as if there were (numerous stars in the sky which i could count) I felt i was very close to them. Guess the feeling that had sunk in had made me feel like that.
This went on for long and we kept walking. We were alomost in the last part and were counting the steps all the more now and were really slow. It was almost 1 am....
Finally.................. We made it!!! It read... 3850.