43 students from Vidyanjali school stepped out of their comfort zone to scale a hill for the first time. And it left a lasting impression on them.
At 7 am, on a balmy Tuesday morning 43 students gathered in the open hall of Vidyanjali school in Bengaluru. These 11 and 12-year-olds were going on their first trek, to Brahmagiri.
Usually, treks aren’t a part of a school’s curriculum. For excursions, students go to an exhibition or a small picnic. But times are changing. And fortunately for the students of Vidyanjali, their principal Mrs. Vijay Lakshmi decided to take a confident step forward in this direction. September 1 was D-day.
Warm-ups began and Subhankar Biswas, mentor and motivator of Hiking Club demonstrated simple stretches, turns and twirls to shake off the morning laziness. Soon, the energy changed and chattering grew loud. Quickly, bun-jams and bananas were circulated and everyone set off in a green coloured bus.
A nervous start
The bus was reverberating with antakshari and squeals when it reached the base of Brahmagiri. Slowly the children got off, and were bewildered with what they saw. Brahmagiri stood tall in front of them.
“We get tired of climbing three floors!” Rakshita exclaimed, “how will we climb this mountain?” The question rang loudly in everyone’s mind. But turning back wasn’t an option.
Most students on the trek had never trekked. And the idea of scaling a hill that had no tarred road looked dubious. “Is it really possible?” is a question that each one of them had asked on seeing the hill. They didn’t believe us when we said, “yes.” But it was an adventurous proposition, and the children were game for giving it a shot.
“My father said I won’t be able to climb the mountain”
The trek began with a gradual ascent. It was a perfect warm-up for students who were getting used to the idea of climbing a real hill.
The group was led by team leader Yogesh Londhe. In the middle was Subhankar who was being assisted by three Indiahikers and four Vidyanjali teachers.
The hike was pleasant till now, with no visible challenges. The children had just started getting used to the hike when the trail touched the rocky base of Brahmagiri. Boulders stood firmly all around, camouflaging the trail.
“Now the real trek begins,” Subhankar called out from somewhere in front. Students, who were just getting used to the the gradual ascent were taken aback. The trek had just moved a notch up the difficulty level. And many weren’t sure if they were up to it.
But what followed was a trek that brought out beautiful camaraderie in children. Out of their comfort zones, the children only had each other’s support. And they knew it well. So on this difficult terrain we saw one student carrying the other one’s bag to help him climb; a girl hauling up her friend over a steep rock.
The challenging section spanned for close to an hour and half, till the children reached the saddle – a low point between two hills. Children had crossed the trickiest and most difficult part of the trek. And it was a moment of elation and relief when the students saw the trail getting gradual. This climb had brought all these students recognize their inner strengths. Now, they were a happy, confident lot who were raring to explore the rest of the trail.
Just then, Yogiji noticed a tall girl looking exceptionally happy. “She was grinning ear to ear,” he said, “So I went to her and asked – why are you so happy?”
“My father had said I won’t be able to climb the mountain,” the girl replied. She was, Anusha, one of the fastest trekkers.
Lunch and back
In 20 minutes from the saddle we were at the lunch point. There the entire group feasted on pulao and curd. The hard work of climbing a tough and tricky trail was being rewarded by a spectacular view and cool breeze. Down below were chequered lands garnished with green trees. A thin, tarred strip of road with tiny cars was also visible. “It’s like a map,” Rakshita said.
Sitting amongst the children was a teacher who had been to Kumaraparvata. But no treks post that. Now sitting on top of Brahmagiri she said, “I need to do this more often.” Everyone was mesmerized by the scenery. We spent close to an hour there where children climbed various rocks to get a better perspective of how it feels to actually be on top of the world. Soon, it was time to move on.
Post lunch was a quick climb to the summit followed by an easy descent. Soon, the children were strolling down a wide mud path that led to the tarred road where their bus waited.
“I can’t believe I am climbed a mountain,” Vaishnavi said quietly
The trek had proven to be a real eye opener for children who had only explored nature virtually, on televisions.
“It’s like a dream”
The trek was nearing its end. The feeling of having scaled a hill was slowly sinking in. And the students couldn’t stop talking about it. A nimble 11-year-old boy carried the Green Trail bag in which all students had collected litter from the Brahmagiri.
“We all collected and are carrying it turn by turn,” Tejaswini said, proudly looking at the all the garbage.
Soon, all were in the bus and on their way back. Brahmagiri was passing by when a student looked out of the window and said, “It’s like a dream. When we saw it from down it looked like we would never be able to reach the top. I can’t believe I climbed up and came down also. It really feels like a dream.”
To start Hiking Club in your school, write to
Saranbir Singh : firstname.lastname@example.org