When I first heard about Nagala that it has 3 layers of natural pools, I swore to learn how to swim. Somethings are just jinxed, learning how to swim has been on my list for over 5 years and I really don’t know what is stopping me. So long story short, learn I did not, but I swam in the pristine pools of Nagala anyways. Thanks to Raj’s (our organiser) planning, we all had our life jackets and swam to our heart’s content in a place that has beauty written all over it.
Here’s Nagala, famous for its natural pools, a swimmer’s dream, a diver’s paradise, a traveler’s boon for the prayer of something new, a trekker’s walk, a camper’s aha moment, a nature lover’s bliss, and a ground to have a blast for a good travel group!
Bangalore to Nagalapuram – We covered the 350km distance from Bangalore to Nagalapuram in a Tempo Traveler for 14, reached the town in the morning, booked 2 rooms in a lodge to freshen up, had some hot and yummy idlis and dosas at a small mess, went grocery shopping in the market area for all the dishes we wished to prepare, bought 4 kilo meat to be marinated at first pool and cooked at third, distributed the weight among all of us and headed towards the base of Nagala West.
Base of Nagala West and Lake Point – Starting a hike at 1PM is a really bad idea. The sun being on your head is not something you would welcome. But we thought we are too cool for our comfort :p By taking it easy at the beginning, we were now facing the heat, literally 🙂 As we walked up the path, we could see a dam like thing in front of us and when we reached the top, we saw this beautiful lake. Raj made us dream of coming back here to watch the reflection of full moon on the lake.
Chameleon Point and Stream – As we traversed the lake through some sheep grazing, we stopped at a point where we saw this beautiful chameleon. The first bit is an open path but it gets pleasant as soon as you enter forest area. A stream on the way makes for a perfect pit stop to quench our thirst and beat the heat (All clichés are finding their true meaning here 🙂 )! The pleasure of drinking flowing forest water is something else altogether.
1st Pool – After a very gradual (not steep) climb of about an hour you reach the famous first pool. This pool is round with a waterfall at the other end. This was a good introduction for what is to come. We played and played to our heart’s content, did some rock climbing, lots of swimming, some amount of diving.
2nd Pool – The walk to the second pool took another 45 minutes. This pool is heaven. Crystal clear water, rocks and fishes clearly visible, all those colours, a gorgeous waterfall and a small opening at the top made it stunning. Most of the pool is 3-4 feet deep and hence an easy place to swim around.
3rd Pool and Camp Spot – As we had to reach our camping spot, we rushed quickly and reached the third and last pool around 6:00 PM. This one is a little deep but it provides diving spots at 5feet, 10feet and 30feet.
We left our bags at the camping spot, and spent a lot of time at the third pool, some of us diving, some just watching and me napping 🙂 After the sun had set, we got to the task of making fire and cooking our first dish – Upma. The second dish was barbecued chicken and third chicken curry. All of us were in a state of bliss after such amazing food and to add some more happiness, we walked up to the pool and stared at the sky.
The sky was confined and hence appeared round. This happened because of the mountains around and the pool we were sitting next to was in a valley. This created a planetarium effect with mountains giving boundary for thousands of stars to fit in. The waterfall on our left added the dramatic background score and the flowing stream on our right added melody. Lying on that rock, staring at the sky with this setting was my “hug the mountain” moment 🙂
The next morning, after having bread and jam for breakfast and some coffee in a bowl we headed towards the 3rd pool again. Some of us sat near a stream and let the fish nibble on our feet. They are so good at pedicure, I can go there just for this another time 🙂 Kiran and I chose to swim through back entry to reach the pool. And then we dived and dived and swam and dived to our heart’s content. When I say we I mean everyone else other than me. I was a total chicken. I dived twice but people were so tired of my drama, no one captured it.
Back to 2nd Pool – Around 12:30 PM, we headed towards the second pool. There were 2 groups already and the pool was crowded. We thought we’ll cook first and hoped the groups would leave by then. But guys from one of the groups offered us Biriyani. I swear to god, this trip was filled with great food! These guys were from a nearby village and so hospitable.
Realisation of Lost Phone Point – We started back around 4:45 PM. As we got out of the forest, the mountains looked gorgeous creating a beautiful horizon. My camera battery had run out, and so I looked for my phone to take a picture. And this is when I realised, I had left my pouch which has my phone near the 2nd pool. We had walked for over an hour and now we had to go back. Pawan and Raj, the sweethearts that they are, went back in the dark, spoke to the guys camping at the 2nd pool and managed to find my pouch 🙂
An episode with Cops – As we reached the base, we saw a few people standing near the lake and as it was dark, we couldn’t say who. They approached us and then we knew they were cops. They had a thousand questions to ask as to why we stayed in the forest, why there are girls in the group, have we informed our parents about this (ya exactly.. felt like college again) etc. I called my mom on the cop’s request and he went on about how we have walked 6 kms into the forest and stayed there. My mom’s response was, she does this all the time, she has climbed a lot of mountains in Karnataka and treks responsibly. They let us go. How cool is she? 🙂
Our time with the Moon – As we waited for Raj and Pawan to come back, we sat by the lake and chatted away, staring at the lake, waiting for cues – torch light, a whistle to indicate their proximity.
Return Journey – We were starving and there were no restaurants nearby. We finally found food at 12 in the night and I found the comfort of Jeevan’s shoulders at 5AM 🙂