29-Feb-2004 -- After successfully reaching 11°N 78°E, our next target was 12N78E which was located north-west of the town of Salem. We had planned our whole trip on the weekend in such a manner that we would drive a large loop across three states to attempt to reach five confluences. Till now, we had reached four and 12N78E was our last one for this trip.
We reached Salem at about 1400 hrs and decided to drive into the town to get some lunch. After a satisfying lunch, we started off at 1430 hrs on National highway #7 towards Dharmapuri. According to our maps the confluence lay about 7 kilometers from the nearest point on the highway and was slightly north of the town of Thoppur. Just after Thoppur, the GPS started indicating that the confluence was to the left of us. We found a road going left towards the village of Borrikal and decided to turn on to it as the GPS indicated a straight-line distance of 5.4 kilometers from that point.
After Borrikal, we reached a T-junction at Jaruga and opted to take the road on the left. Unfortunately, we found that the nearest approach to the point was about 2.5 kilometers. We drove back to the T-junction and tried to see if we could find another road or track. We found a small road, but it too petered out about 2.2 kilometers from the confluence. This one was beginning to look like a tough one.
We traced our way back to the T-junction and that’s when Jagan spotted a road under construction behind some buildings. We found an open space to drive through and joined that road. It was a mud road that looked like it would get tarred very shortly. The important thing was that it seemed to go towards the confluence. At this time, another worry crept in; it was nearly 1700 hrs and we would have about 75 minutes of sunlight only. Finally, the road ended at a ridge and we found that we were 1.8 kilometers away from the point. We stopped and decided to give it a shot by trekking there. Only Nath and I set off with our gear towards the confluence. The terrain was rocky and we were going downhill across small patches of farmland. After about 500 meters, we found a foot-path leading in the direction we were heading and made good time. We reached a small hut and asked the lady there if there was path beyond her house. She asked us where we wanted to go and showed us a path that we walked on towards the point. We found a few people tilling a farm and they were all curious to see a couple of folks heading determinedly through their farms. They told us that a forest started a few hundred meters away and it seemed to be in the direction we wanted to go. Nath and I were monitoring the time we had anxiously. We had 300 meters to go when we were confronted with vicious thorny trees and scrub; we had reached the forest. We told ourselves that we will give ourselves 15 minutes more before we turned back.
It is quite frustrating to carry a GPS which points you in a particular direction and you find no path leading that way! In addition, any wrong move between these trees and scrub lead to getting painfully scratched by those unrelenting thorns. I breathed a sigh of relief when we were less than 70 meters away since I was sure we could at least confirm the confluence if we could not go any further. But further we went! I began wondering what we were doing in that awful place! Finally, we reached a point that was about 12 meters from the confluence and could not go any further as there was a veritable wall of thorns ahead of us. The time was 1710 hrs and the altitude was 452 meters. We decided to stop at this point. We took all our readings and photographs and then had the task of finding our way out of the forest. The GPS came in very handy and we found the path we had taken with the track-back feature it had. The point was about a kilometer from the village of Ajjipatti.
We met the same folks we had talked to on our way to the point and they enquired if we found what we were after. We thanked them for their help and found our way back to where Jagan and Mohan were waiting for us.
This confluence was a tough one. The trek to the confluence was not bad, but the thorns we encountered made it a painful one to reach. We would have been really happy if we had managed to get closer than we did, but this seems good enough in the circumstances.
We drove back to the National Highway and headed towards Dharmapuri and then on to Krishnagiri, Hosur and Bangalore. We encountered very heavy traffic from Krishnagiri and lost a lot of time. We finally reached my home at 2145 hrs. Jagan and Nath took a little while longer to get to theirs.
This wound up a fantastic trip! We successfully reached five confluences (12°N 76°E, 11°N 76°E, 11°N 77°E, 11°N 78°E & 12N78E) in three states (including the first one in Kerala) and traveled a total of 1200 kilometers in a little more than two days.
Time to plan the next confluence hunt!