VELLORE: On the outskirts of Vellore city are the Chenganatham Hills that, of late, have begun attracting hikers and health buffs regularly in the mornings.
The 500-metre elevated hills houses Chenganatham, Melkuppam and five more villages, with around 200 households each dotting the hill tops. A tar road was laid recently enabling the hill residents to have easy access to the foothills.
“I love the quiet and serene environment here,” announced Shanmugham, a local businessman in his late forties and an asthmatic who climbs the hills almost every day. The walking, he said, has had a positive affect on his health.
Arvind, an engineering student, has lost 10 kg after he started hiking six months ago. “I spend around one hour walking and jogging and it keeps me active the whole day,” he said adding that he would miss the exercise regime once he went to the UK for higher studies.
Visitors arrive from 6 am, many of them on their motorbikes and a few on bicycles. They leave their vehicles at the foothills and begin climbing up the hills, some through the tar road and some through the slippery, rocky terrain.
“I was using sports shoes earlier but I discovered that climbing bare foot is a wonderful experience,” said 50-year-old Arumugam, a grocer from Sathuvachari, adding that after a year of hiking, his blood sugar level has come down considerably.
Social activist Chandrasekaran, a regular, pointed out that the hill regions across the district must be made user-friendly by the district administration as a health resort by promoting eco-tourism. More sit-outs, drinking water facilities, supportive rails in steep areas for children and the aged, and view points could be established along the route. Expressing concern over the littering of plastic bags and liquor bottles by tipplers, he underlined the need for police to prevent such activities that spoil the serenity of the hills.