Alive in Shola Forest

In India, it’s odd for a man over 40 to not complain about his weak knee. But our guide was an exception. He didn’t climb uphill, he galloped. And he had been a tour guide for the last 25 years.

With that wowing thought in the back of my mind, I stepped up my pace as we climbed the Shola peak in Thekkady. It wasn’t much of a climb since the jeep had covered most of the distance and the height. We only had to walk over some muddy rocks that blocked our way to the top.

I stood at the top point of the peak and looked around to a panoramic view of the Shola forest. Spanning well beyond my range of view, I saw not a single yellowing grass, not even a tiny patch of parched land.

Trees grew taller than I had ever imagined they grow. The distant mist clouded our view, but from what our guide told us, the trees sway to pull in the clouds so they remain within the forest. That’s why the land gets continuous rainfall and never loses freshness.

shola forestI looked on, and on, and on, but couldn’t get enough. There’s something mesmerising about green. Coupled with a gentle breeze that gushes its way through dense trees, rustling the leaves, it injects oxygen into the onlooker.

The hills felt alive, infecting everything around it as well. From the top, I climbed downhill on the opposite side. The further I went, the chillier it became. And the chillier it became, the more I could take in. I looked behind and the very mountain I had climbed down from now began to loom over me.

I trotted on towards the thin-falling waterfall in the distance. On my right were a herd of deer, and on my left was a well-paved tyre track. A couple of experienced local boys walked ahead of me, feeding my jealousy.

I was a tiny speck in a universe that grew greener each day. And staring at it, nothing mattered. Nothing except the streaming life that engulfed me. And at that moment, I was the most alive I had ever been and became one with wildlife.

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