The Society to Save Rocks conducts Rock Walks every 3rd Sunday of the month. On 20th of December, a Rock walk was planned near PBEL City. Since I knew about their activities having participated in an earlier event, Run for Rocks, I was interested to go this time. Moreover, I wanted to take Sara with me as I thought she would enjoy nature.
That Sunday, by the time our brunch was over, it was quite past 3:00PM. I asked wifey if she would like to go for the Rock walk that I was planning to join. Surprisingly she agreed. It was kind of strange for me because she does not like these outings. But since I was very much interested she obliged to accompany me. Sara on the other hand vehemently opposed the idea of going anywhere except home. However, I persisted and drove towards PBEL city.
It being a Sunday, roads were empty. By the time we hit the ORR, Sara and her mom were fast asleep. By 4:15 we reached PBEL city. I looked around and could not find anyone anywhere in the vicinity that could give me the rock walk impression. We took a short spin and came back again. By that time, I saw a lady with some children getting down from a car in front of PBEL city. I parked my car, went to her and asked if she was there for the rock walk. She said yes and handed me a sheet of paper to write my name and details. Then she also handed some other flyers about Save the Rock Society. By that time, others were trickling in.
I came back to my car and asked the mom and daughter duo if they want to go. They said no. I persisted and asked them to come for whatever distance. Grudgingly they agreed. I promised to carry Sara if she would not walk at any point in time.
By that time, around 30 people had gathered. There were some folks from the PBEL city who knew the area well, Some folks from Save the Rock Society and some children from PBEL city and some kids from Kendriya Vidyalaya who were accompanied by their teacher. We walked towards a hill. It seemed like a plotted layout with tar roads. After some distance, we assembled for a group photograph. Frauke, the organizer, the same lady with whom I spoke first, told us some do’s and don’t and guidelines. There were 2 other folks who also guided us on the direction and what to do if we get lost.
Then the group started walking. Seeing so many children in the group, Sara was quite excited. She was the smallest among them. So, she was walking slowly and the three of us were trailing behind the larger group. The group went to a big rock and some of the boys started climbing. Sara was fascinated by that. But by the time we reached there, we were asked to move forward.
Going a bit further, we left the plotted layouts and tar road behind us. There was a kuchha road. It was narrow and went up and down dangerously. There were some shrubs and thorny trees. Ducking them we pressed ahead and soon reached a place where we had to climb some rocks and came up to a very flat rock. The children started running helter-skelter there. They wanted to climb the bigger rocks. Looking at them Sara also said she wants to go to the bigger rocks. Knowing that she cannot climb on her own, I decided to climb the rock along with her.
Path to the big rock on the top was very narrow and one had to traverse several small rocks carefully, jump over big gaps and crevices between rocks , squeeze through a gap between two rocks and finally climb the large rock to come to the top. There were others who lent a helping hand to pull me up and to carry Sara. Finally both of us reached there. Sara was very happy.
Looking at both Papa and daughter on the top of the rock, mama could not stay behind. She also climbed the rocks and joined us. Coming down was bit difficult than climbing up. It is because here you haveto balance yourself from slipping and falling forward. But with help of others, we all climbed down safely.
The group started moving forward. We crossed the rocky patch and were told that there used to be a small lake nearby. Due to lack of rains, it may have dried out completely. We can go and see if there is any water. So, we marched ahead.
It was around 5:00PM then. The sun was beginning to go down. The yellow rays of the sun washed the rocky landscape and gave it a yellowish tint. There were dried shrubs, bushes, grass lands and thorny trees all around. We had to be careful to hold the twigs and sticks from the trees that were on the path. There were many thorns and grass burr that stuck to our clothes. Grass or cockle burr, are plant seeds (fruit), that are covered with stiff and sticky spines, designed to hang on to animals to spread the seeds far and wide. I had a tough time pulling them out later!
I told Sara that this was a jungle and she was not willing to accept. She said there are rocks everywhere. Where were the aminals. I told her that animals will come in the night. She told rocks are not living. Someone from the Save the Rock society was nearby and told her that rocks also grow very slowly. But unlike trees, which grow fast and we can plant them, rocks do not grow fast and we cannot create new rocks. So, we should save the rocks!
Going ahead, we came across some more rock formations. One of them were like a crocodile face. It was called the crocodile rock. We took some pictures there. Then we walked further and could see the lake bed. On the way, we found a baya weaver’s nest. We were told that there was a colony of baya weavers who have build their next on a tree. The male baya weaver painstakingly builds beautiful and complex nests out of fibre. It hangs from a tree. The female would visit all nests build by males and choose the best nest to pair up with the male. Later, we saw the birds’ nest hanging from the trees.
The other children were collecting various types of feathers that they were getting on the way. Among the different feathers, I could identify peacock and hawk feathers. Sara was getting edgy as she could not find any feather while other children were finding them. Then suddenly someone found a porcupine quill. Sara wanted to have that. Since she was the smallest, the girl handed it to her. Proudly she marched ahead with the porcupine quill. Then other children found more quills. She also joined them in the search. I had to drag her out of that party.
We went to the bed of the lake which had completely dried up. Sara was afraid to go there as the earth was dried and cracked. She was afraid that she might fall. But once I walked there, she also followed me.
As it was getting darker, we had to come back quickly. Back at the place where our cars were parked, the group had assembled. Frauke and her team passed some water, tea and biscuits. Then they were offering some books and memorabilia on rocks to buy. It was time for us to move.
The trip was quite enjoyable. It made me go back to my childhood when we used to go on such hikes and trail walks into the jungles or hillocks near our town. It refreshed those memories and brought me closer to nature. Sara also enjoyed the trip a lot. It was an evening well spent!