Monday, July 30, 2007

Senji Fort Hike

Went hiking today and explored the 2 forts at Ginjee - Raja and Rani Forts ( Senji Forts). I almost wanted to skip it - Had "work" to do . But the good weather and thought of hiking up the fort enticed me into the plan. I am glad i did the hike!
The drive to the fort was quite scenic and smooth - An experience that is not expected in a drive out of Chennai. The fort is a 3 hour drive away from Chennai that took us through NH 45 speed way till Dindivanam. From Dindivanam, we were on the much smaller and less traffic country-side road to Thiruvannamalai which took us to the Fort, 15 km into the road! For someone who has driven a bit in India, the NH 45 speedway from Chennai to Dindivanam was a pleasant experience. Roads were wide ( 3 lanes each way ) and small hillocks by the road side were green topped. Driver had the "driver's" high on the drive and the passengers had a high on the visuals. Its a tribute to the roads and the scenic roadside that we went on driving and missed the turn towards thiruvannamalai at Dindivanam!! The road from Dindivanam to the Fort ( on the way to Thiruvannamalai ) passed through the small villages and was thickly tree lined. These trees had a "hood" formation on top of the road. Reminded me of my days in Coimbatore and the million road trips through the villages that dad has taken us through! ( Pic below is my first ever "click" using a pro cam! and am hooked!! )

We eventually reached Senji fort ( There are 2 forts - Raja's and Rani's and am not sure why they both lived seperately!!! ). We decided to go up the Rani's fort first. Rani's is a shorter climb to the summit and probably has an elevation of 600 feet from the base to the top.

We climbed up at a slow and a steady pace, hiking through the beaten steps and also through off beat path over the rocks. Sometimes we were on all fours, trying to climb up a steep rock.

It took us 20 mins to reach the summit. The view from the top was fantastic. We explored the fort at the summit. The climb down took a longer time since the steps were not broad and we had to slow down the pace and watch our foot placement. In all, we took and an hour and 10 mins from the car park to the summit and back.

It was 2 pm and we drove back to Ginjee town for lunch . After spending time to hunt for a "decent" place to eat, we realised the restaurant had a long queue of hungry people. We decided to have a "fruit-lunch" and got apples, grapes and bananas to have them on the way up the Raja's fort.
Raja's fort is a longer climb to the top - 4 km and about 1500 feet elevation from the base. The base was a long walk from the car park and we guys enjoyed the conversation and the fruits. It was 3 pm when we reached the base and were informed that the fort closes at 4:45 pm. We were tired by then but decided to tread along for the next 30 mins and turn back.
This place is filled with monkeys and you are advised not to carry any eatables with you. As Karthik realised later, he literally had to wrestle with the monkeys to carry the fruits safely ( Yes, made sense to give the fruits away to the monkeys but Karthik had a logic - Monkeys just "learnt" to scare the humans into giving up the eatables).
At this point Karthik and I decided to run up the steps ( that made up for my morning run-miss). Both of us were panting hard in a short while . We managed a clean run for 8 mins and waited for the other guys to join us. At this point , we finally called the hiking quits, some distance from the summit and turned back.

We were exhausted. Sat at a "view point" for a while soaking in the view and the conversation. The bunch was largely enthusiastic and pushed each other to move out of our comfort zones, though the exhaustion was clear. Thanks guys, for a fabulous day!

We were famished by now and wanted to drive to the nearest "decent" restaurant. But decided to keep the hunger at bay and drive to the SRM hotel which was an hour's drive away. No prizes for guessing that we finished off the plates clean at the restaurant!!

After a great day outdoors, all of us drove back to chennai with tons of pleasant memories... if only we had completed the second climb as well, the day would've been complete. The unfinished climb will surely make me go back very soon...

Planning a run here sometime. If you are keen to do a run ( 2 laps of 8 km, a clean 16 km of climb) do get in touch with me. This pic sure is inviting for a runner. Thanks to Manu for the snaps. He is a pro photographer works magic his Nikkon D70 and really got me hooked to photography. Some day soon, will get my hands on a Nikkon D80.

Place : Senji Fort
Route : Chennai - Dindivanam - (15 mins on the Dindivanam - Thiruvannamalai road ). 3 hour drive away from Chennai.
Infrastructure : There is none at the fort. Please carry water along and leave behind any eatables in the car.
Rating : A for the roads to the fort , B for the climb and the view from the top!
P.S. "Kid" if you are reading this, don't kill me ! Will surely plan a hike there soon!


Sivaram Kannan said...

That looks fabulous.

Nithya said...

Very nice place, awesome pics and a well-written blog with some good info!!

Neeru said...

cool pics da KK, didnt know the place looked this good, sure visit next time i go home...

Ravi said...

Nice post ! I had seen Gingee fort in 'Indian' movie and never knew it was this nice place to visit. In this rainy season with cooler weather this is very tempting. Chennai runners should think of an outing there.

I liked all the pictures. Nice.

Capricorn 83 said...

Hey KK,
good one da!!
nice pics da...and am sure u defnly made it up for missing the morning run, and am sure as in Chennai tht morning, climate wud ve been pleasing enough ther!

Good u guys are xploring places in and around chennai to run & hike around :D

Vignesh Raja

Amritha said...

hey...very very well written was informative and at the same time not at all boring :)and the pics complemented the text well..awesome pics at that...ditto wat ravi reminded of the maya machindra song...:)

Karthikeyan....KK said...

Shivram - Yes indeed. Great place, great cam and the pics show!!

Niths - Thanks girl !! Does this inspire you to "run" up the fort?

Neeru - Surprised you've never been here. Its right on your way, to your place!

Ravi - Yes, Chennai Runners should plan a run there, soon. Never knew the fort had the "Indian" connection!! Thanks for the info!

Vignesh - Yes sir. Let us know about your times in Blore. Am sure there are more scenic places to explore in Blore !

Amritha - Thanks :) Am inspired to write more of these :)).

create&destroy said...

hmm...really nice place, very tempting.

Been here when I was very little from a school excursion. Love to be back there.

Nice write up, and super pics. said...

Well written, and very informative..