Narsapur Forest – till a few days back, I had never even heard of this place; it was only because of the Office Travelerz Club that I came to know about this place. Sridhar, as is the norm, was the starting point of the planning and soon five of us – Sridhar, LSP, Raghu, Kosstubh, and me – were ready to trek through these unchartered forests. Google was of no help this time, as there is hardly anything about Narsapur Forest on the web even though it is just 30kms from Hyderabad. Tried to judge the lay of the forest as best as we could with the help of Wikimapia, and we were off.
We had planned to start off at a small Ayyapa Swamy temple 2kms before Narsapur, and enter the forest (which was on both sides of road for nearly 10kms before Narsapur) along a river bed nearby. We were so engrossed in admiring the lush green jungle that we missed the temple and reached the outskirts of Narsapur before realizing our mistake. Anyway we did not let this deter us, rather this helped us in finding a safe parking spot courtesy Sridhar and his awesome people skills. We walked a hundred meters down the road to find a good entry point and found a bunch of kids (2 guys and 4 girls) from Hyderabad who wanted to trek through the jungle without a drop of water & a morsel of food to “celebrate Friendship Day”! I am sure had they gone into the jungle it would have been the start of a C-grade horror movie. Anyway we left the road and entered the jungle, within 8-10 meter we had lost sight of the road. Sridhar had been marking our path on his GPS and finally it helped us a lot to navigate through the jungle.
Even though we were in the dense jungle, for the initial half hour we could still listen to the sounds of civilizations (read the horns of the passing vehicles), as we were traversing a route that was roughly parallel to the road. We kept passing cattle trails and soon the parallel way was thrown away and we embraced the perpendicular direction. We crossed over a hillock full of big boulders (the whole time my thought bubble was reading – “this is ideal tiger territory”) and this is where we took our first break after about an hour of trekking. The weather was amazing, it drizzled for a while and we took shelter under the umbrellas of the two seasoned trekkers – Sridhar & LSP. We resumed, descended the hillock and took another 10 minute pause to satiate the photographers’ thirst, the subjects being a cut log & a cow skull. And no this was not the only wildlife spotting – we saw a Greater Coucal (I think it was that!), a Green Bee Eater, what we felt to be a Mongoose, and the best of all a Monitor Lizard running along.
We followed the dry river bed for a while, and soon realized that we had come in a long way and should think about returning now. Among the two options that we had – retrace our way through the jungle to starting point, or aim for the main road and walk along till Narsapur – we decided for the latter option. Trying to find a way back, soon we were lost in the jungle, the GPS was not that helpful this time as we had missed to mark the points on the main road while driving along till Narsapur. Anyway nobody was perturbed by this as we all had a good sense of the direction in which the main road was. The only question was whether we would come out a km away from where we parked the car, or 4 kms – we had no clue of determining where we would exit.
We had already trekked for nearly 4 hours by that time, and I was getting ravenously hungry. Sridhar seemed to read my mind and took out a box of apple juice which he seems to have hidden in his trekking bag along with God-knows-what! We entered a stretch of forest that seemed to be the originating point for the phrase “as green as grass”. Had I not seen it myself, I would have thought that it was done by photoshop, the grass was that green! Soon we were atop another hill from where we could see the first sign of civilization that we had seen for a long long time – an electricity pole, but it seemed to be at least 4-5 kms away, and we were sure that the road was not that far off. We were indeed right, and soon hit a jeep/tractor trail that was leading us to the main road as was apparent by the horns of the passing vehicles. We stopped for the last time for our lunch (which we had got packed earlier, when we had stopped for breakfast) and soon hit the main road at the exact same point where we had earlier expected to start out trek (near the aforementioned Ayyapa Swamy temple). A refreshing 3-4 km walk in the jungle was followed by a really tiring 2 km walk on the hard unforgiving road and we were back at the Raghu’s car, ready to return to Hyderabad. Only on the return journey did I come to know why this place is so offbeat/obscure, the Narsapur Forest is reputed to be a Naxal hideout.
All in all a Sunday very well spent, at such a beautiful forest so close to Hyderabad.
How to reach et al…
From Balanagar Bus Stop take the road that goes towards Chintal, Shapur Nagar i.e. the Medak Road. Follow it for around 30-35 kms to reach Narsapur. On way you would pass Gandimaisamma X-Roads, Dundigul Air Force Academy, Gummadidala before the forest starts on both sides of the road till Narsapur.
For food we stopped at a roadside place, and got our lunch packed from there. You need to carry water, at least 2 liters for a 4-5 hour trek and preferably soem food – trekking can get tiring. Also the jungle on the right-side of the Gummadidala-Narsapur road seems denser than the one on left side. And if you go and ask Forest officials for trekking trails, you’ll realize that trekking in these jungles is not allowed, so if you plan to venture in there, go at your own risk. Nobody would have your back but yourself.