Monsoons ended a couple of months back and Winter has set in – but the beauty of the forests and countryside of Udaipur continues to enthrall – both the local trekkers as well as tourists who chose to come down to the City of Lakes and are taken in by the beauty of the lake and river source in the denser jungles upcountry.
One such place beyond the hustle bustle of the city is Popalti, a good 7km from Nai Village on the outskirts of Udaipur and 25km from the city center. Though the drive from Udaipur to Nai is not much to talk about during this part of the year (the Monsoon drive is amazing, though), the rugged drive from Nai through Bujra and then to Popalti is something that just leaves one looking for an opportunity to spend longer hours on the stretch – maybe cycle of walk through.
This time though, we were a team of four, one of whom, Mubarak is an avid high altitude trekker, whose love for the mountains having taken him trekking to Kashmir, Bhutan, Ladakh and the Shahyadris in Maharashtra. Mubarak, this time had a first hand experience of low altitude jungle trekking, which was like a walk in the park until the ascent up the hill happened.
Reaching Popelti, which is a tribal village and a dead end route, we come across a great water body, which when flowing with water during monsoon is heavenly, but in winters, is dry but welcoming due to its scenic beauty and calm surroundings.
We reach the village and park our vehicles – which are taken good care of by the locals. A walk across a bit of a patch gets us down to the lowest part of the valley, and then we cross the dribbling stream, which when running full in monsoon, gets tricky to cross. The village is inhabited by Tribals (or Adivasis) many of whom depend on the scarce local farming in the area, while a few take to labour or work in the city or beyond to earn their livelihood. They are amazing when it comes to hospitality though…giving the age old meaning to Athithi Devoh Bhavah.
Now we come through to the base of the waterfall zone, which is rubble and mud, but walk-able. With greenery all around, one gets to see a bit of specialized flora, which are medication and fuel source. Once the flat surface walk through the jungle ends, we come to the base of the highest point at Popalti mountain, the highest in the area.
A walk up the mountain, that is 60 degrees most of the time, takes about an hour and a half for someone with average stamina but a quick 45 minutes for the experienced and fitter walker. The pain of clearing shrub and sapling on the way up is nothing compared to the pleasure of getting up there finally.
With a 360 degree view of the countryside from atop this mountain in Popelti – Udaipur on the far left eastern side, with the looming Sajjangarh Monsoon Palace seeming like a peck down there; the Undri mountains adjacent to Ahmedabad route towards the South and just plain rock, mountain and jungle on the Western and Northern side gets you to simply sit and take in the amazing work of the Almighty.
The walk down the mountain was a task too, as we came down a different route…with rubble and moving rock making the descent exciting.
Popalti…a great place for a day trek just to be away and accompany nature…Nothing beats being up there on the mountains.
Author: Forest Trekker (Green Could Treks, Udaipur)