We were in Timbaktu a couple of weeks back. This time, we went there on the new bike. 165 kilometers. Three of us. The road was very good, it’s a 4 lane highway now and the bike handled very well. We had fun going there.
My brother Phani came there from Hyderabad. It was his first time at the place. One morning, I decided to take him up the hill to the temple for a morning walk. We started at 7.15 am for what was supposed to be a 45 minute walk before breakfast at 8. Now, Phani is the kind that makes a picture documentary out of every thing. This post is about the walk. There are lots of pictures, mostly by Phani, and a little story. You are warned now.
We started walking in a little while and passed by the school gate which is also the point where Timbaktu ends.
Now, Phani has this penchant for taking photos right next to all sorts of boards. It does help once in a while, like the time they went to Sabarimalai on a 10 day trip through completely unfamiliar country. After coming back home, it was only with the help of his ‘board photos’ that they could actually figure out what they had seen. Anyway, here is his photo at ‘Timbaktu 0 km’.
Once we got out of the place, this was the path we took to go up the hill.
Around four years back, when we went to the place for the first time, there was a small old temple on the hill. And there were stories of a Baba who used to live there sometime back. These days, the whole place has become a temple complex. There are lots of people now and as usual, a large pile of trash right next to the water course that runs down. Lets pass up the gory pictures. There is also a well, yes, on the top of the hill. It is never dry. These days it is gated and closed. In spite of that, there were small polythene covers in which devotees have left fruits, flowers and incense sticks afloat on the water. As an offering. Here is a picture of the gate and a small old temple.
Once we reached the well, we were supposed to turn back. But then, I remembered that the last time there was a field of wild Basil on the hill side above and I wanted to check it out. So we proceeded up the hill from there. Rather predictably, there was no wild Basil. As we were about to turn around, we came across this sight.
And, there was the water course that ran right along side the path. The same water course runs all the way down the hill, flowing next to Timbaktu and eventually crossing the highway. I wanted to see where it came from. We found a nice place almost exactly at the point the path in the picture is disappearing. Its actually taking a turn to the left there and the water course crosses the path there. Here is the nice secluded spot we found.
The rocks were quite cool to touch, the sand was the coarse grainy type that makes sitting on it very pleasant. The small patch of sand could sit about 4 -5 people. Naturally, we found a couple of bottles (Rs. 89 for 375 ml) of cheap liquor. This is the only place in the stream to have those black rocks strewn about. And the place is nicely shielded from the path by the thick bush.
When we got back on the path, we found it stretching forward on level ground and then dipping down. I thought we could walk till the point where it starts going down and turn back. So we walked along the path.
We trudged on till the end of this level ground and this was the point where the path started going down the hill.
There was a lone hill ahead to the left. The path looked well used. Through the mist in the distance, we could hear vehicles on the highway and generally knew that the highway was in that direction, about 5 – 6 km away. We decided to go on in the hope of finding a hamlet or reaching the highway and walking back to Timbaktu from that side.
By this time, the sun was shining brightly and the sky was an awesome blue color. Here is a picture of the hill on our right.
We walked for about another kilometer. The highway was still within hearing distance but didn’t look like we were getting any nearer to it. We reckoned we have at least a 10 – 12 kilometer trek back if we went on to the highway. From the point we were in, we needed to traverse 2.75 sides of a near square. The sun was getting hot and we didn’t even have any water with us. Then we found this dip in the cliff to our left that looked like a pass. We started thinking of a shortcut back through the hills. We were still reluctant to go back the way we came. It looked too easy.
Here is a photo of yours truly, traversing the pass. Leading from the front has its own advantages 🙂
Here is a picture of the scene on the other side as we saw it. It did not look familiar at all. We were hoping for a path going left or straight that would take us back towards Timbaktu. The only path ahead led firmly to the right, towards the highway. We went along ahead.
We thought the path to Timbaktu lay beyond the low cliff seen in the distance. But then, we were also sure that the stream we tracked for sometime lay somewhere between us and Timbaktu. And it ran through a deep depression which would take quite some effort to cross even if we reach this side of it. As we walked on debating it, we found some people working on the fields. We asked them for directions.
They said there is no path ahead and they themselves come the same way we did in to that clearing. They firmly advised us to go back. I still think they dissuaded us looking at our obvious city faces and shorts and shoes, but then, we turned back. And again, the pass we came from looked very inviting.
By this time we were about an hour and three quarters in to the walk. We walked back to timbaktu in about an hour and half. When we finally reached the place, we were very glad for double portions of the wheat rava upma Subba had saved for us.