Author: Himaja ( Trek Leader at BASCOOL )
Edited by: Pooja Prasad

Now that you are here, let me ask you this. Have you guys felt that incessant urge to tell that secret you have been keeping for too long. That’s the feeling I get right now. So what is it that I was about to spill the beans on? A couple of weeks back I had been to this aaahhmazing place that has a quirky name to it – Mayavi. Where you ask? Aah….not yet. That was by far the best weekend I have had. We were a group of six people from Bangalore Adventure School who set out on a lazy Friday night from Bangalore. It took us about five hours to reach this place. Are you still wondering what is THIS place? So there you go, it’s a cave! A gorgeous cave to be precise. Read on to know more about the cave and our adventures on this absolutely fun trip. 

A short video that shows the shining mineral deposits at the far end of Mayavi caves.

Before I begin to lose track of what I am writing; because trust me that happens quite often with me when I am writing about my travel escapades.

Here is our Team Mayavi of BASCOOL cavers – Gokul (Lead Instructor), Praveen, Kulpradeep, Sudeep, Zanis, and I ( Himaja)

Thats our Team Mayavi

At 4:00 am on Saturday, we reached a village close to a historical fort; as we got down from our vehicle we stretched a bit and took a quick nap on the cement pavements (thanks to the sleeping bags). The sound of blaring loud speakers from the nearby temple woke us up just in time. We then quickly finished our morning chores and drove back to the railway station where we were supposed to pick up Praveen. We picked him up and promptly started our drive.

Team Mayavi inside the vehicle
Team Mayavi inside the vehicle

On the first day, the plan was to go to a nearby touristy cave – Belum caves – all normal so called “adventurists” from Bangalore visits this cave often – no biggie. All this while my mind was harbouring a childlike excitement to venture into THE CAVE! Did I tell you the lunch we had just outside Belum caves at one of the village restaurants was yummy, reminded me of my grandma and the awesome spread she used to cook. 

We also happened to visit a GHOST TOWN. Aah, the perils (err the fun of traveling with BASCOOL). This place true to its name was spooky and Gokul in his trademark style started telling us the story about this place and not surprisingly we all burst into laughter.  If you’d like to know the story come to one of our meeting over ice cream sessions. Yes, Team BASCOOL meets once a month to discuss and plan our future explorations.

Here is another article dedicated to this Ghost Town

After spending sometime in the ghost town we packed our food for night and drove back to the trail head. This place has a temple of Lord Shiva surrounded by majestic red stoned hills. As we walked down the path we found a gigantic huge banyan tree with long hanging roots. As you might have already guessed we did not miss a chance to swing using the roots. It was so much fun and we got some amazing Instagram worthy pics as well. 

Gokul and Sudeep started walking to the other side, the rest of us followed them and walked about 1km to this place, covered with lush green trees. We also found this beautiful waterfall covered with bright green algae and the cool breeze providing us a perfect spot to camp. As the sun set and the blue sky turned dark, we picked our sleeping bags to call it a day. I just lay down looking at the sky and that is the kind of peace I’d never trade for anything in this world. The beautiful night sky with its glittering bright stars could put any star hotels to shame. In that quiet moment I kept wondering what could possibly give people the peace of mind and a happy soul. Is it money? Is it fame? Is it physical beauty? I still don’t have answers to it but I’d found my happiness on that night. I felt a deep sense of calm as I slept wishing for an awesome day the next morning.

As the night progressed we experienced a drizzle, and but nothing that could dampen our excitement for tomorrow. People sleeping nearby were snoring away to glory. All of us woke up around 4am searching for isolated places to carry out our morning chores. Finishing up everything we quickly got ready for our exploration.

Shoes on, helmets on, ropes in, equipment in, water, food, GoPros, we ticked all the boxes and now were all set to venture into the Mayavi cave. One hard look at the entrance of Mayavi, gave me goosebumps! Bats were flying in and out thinking why do these humans always disturb our privacy. As respectfully as we could, we entered the cave without bothering the poor bats! 

Himaja near a stalactite
Me near a stalactite

Entrance: Almost 15feet in depth. We were supposed to traverse this without the help of any rope. Sudeep got down first and I followed him as he guided me to plan my steps and I was down in no time and within 10 mins everyone was inside the cave. As we started walking inside the cave we were so mesmerized with the beauty of the tall gigantic walls forming a canyon and there is a formation that resembles a chandelier and also a trail of glittering mineral deposits.

Me sitting near a speleothem inside Mayavi caves
Me sitting near a speleothem inside Mayavi caves

First obstacle: It was about 15feet tall. Sudeep and Gokul went in first. Gokul set an anchor and with the help of a rope we all climbed up. Next up is a section that is six feet tall, you may either climb six feet or you can crawl under the rock. I preferred crawling as am very bad at climbing. Once you cross this there is a passage on the left side where the walls seem like a sea of glitter when light hits them. When we were busy praising the beauty of this cave, Gokul was busy setting an anchor for the next obstacle (It’s no easy task being an instructor).

Second obstacle: This is a place where the oxygen is in low supply. We were also sweating profusely. When there is lack of oxygen your brain starts slowing down and it is extremely important to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best so we carried portable oxygen cylinder in case of emergencies. 

This is the place where there is a 20 feet rock obstructing the way. Gokul set an anchor using ropes and all of us ascended the rope and then descended on the other side. Here we decided to spend 5 quiet minutes after switching off our headlamps.  The sparkling walls, the absolute silence is probably what heaven feels like, atleast I did experience bliss.

Everything went well till now. Now we are supposed to the climb back the first obstacle that we descended. when I looked at the rock I was like what the heck, do I have to climb this up?……. Gokul had setup a 2:1 mechanical advantage system using a pulley. This was to aid in our ascending.
First Gokul let zanis wear the harness and another harness was wore by sudeep the rope is tied to sudeep with the help of figure 8 when sudeep pulls the rope zanis will move upwards but he has to use this upper body strength to reach the top as zanis is a rock climber he easily reached the top. I am still not sure what that setup was. All I know is that we used 3 harness for the entire team. The first person (Zanis) was wearing one and he was at the top. Sudeep was wearing another harness and was giving a belay to the person who is climbing or getting lifted. Others took turn to wear the third harnes and climbed or got lifted up.

First Zanis and then next turn was mine already looking at the rock my hands and feet become cold I was preparing myself that I came this far and I cannot giveup now I was ready so the others to pull me up with the count of 1…2….3….. they pulled me up I reached the half of the distance this is where I have to use my upper body strength I tried to pull myself up but I failed I tried again again and again I was exhausted so the others all were breathing heavily I cannot put them in danger they were encouraging me come on Ninja you can do it just take a deep breath calm your mind and you will reach the top in no time……

Me about to enter a tight squeeze inside the cave
Me about to enter a tight squeeze inside the cave

I took a deep breath I don’t know what I did weather I crawled or pulled myself up I don’t remember anything but I heard all were like thank god and I found myself on top. This is where lack of oxygen can play tricks on your mind. After this I went into the sparkling side passage and laid down. That moment, I was blank. I don’t know what am supposed to do. Wanted to help others but I couldn’t – I was exhausted. Then Gokul reached up. All our bags were pulled up, untied the ropes packed everything and all were out within sometime.

First Praveen was out and next I was out we all had that awesome great expression on our faces that we achieved something beyond words. 

‘’Sharing is better than receiving. When we share, we grow so much more. Feeling good is better than looking good. Looking good does not solve the internal feeling.’’ 

What I am trying to say is that spend on experiences. Experiences are investments. Cover the earth before you run out of time. Because the truth is, the best experiences first leave us speechless and then they turn us into STORYTELLERS.                                                                              

Story Teller,

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