Southern soujorn

Bangalore - Pondicherry - Danushkodi (2011):

This was the first trip along with friends after a long time being back in Bangalore. The early morning start helped us beat traffic, and we reached A2B between Shoolagiri and Krishnagiri in quick time. Had some wonderful idlis/pongals/vada and headed out in no time. Took the left towards Chennai @ Krishnagiri, and the right towards Pondi shortly afterwards. One of the bolts holding my avenger's rear license plate fell off, a quick fix of using a stick to hold it up, and a rider to tail me fixed it till we could find a local mechanic.

 Then began the nightmarish ride till Tindivanam, where we lost track of the time it took us to complete the ~180km. On route we were caught un-aware @ the sight of a huge fort in Gingee. After in-numerous stops to help our bodies recover from the pot-hole ridden roads, the 4 (Arun, Raghu, Sindhur and me) of us met up with the other rider (Sandeep) from Chennai, and hit some amazing roads all the way till Pondi.

 Pondi was in my opinion totally confused. On-one had you have these beautiful promenades, café's and cheap booze, but on the other hand not enough watering holes. After a dis-appointing night-out, we headed out to  paradise beach, which was simply spectacular. We had our share of food and beers to douse the heat, and the return journey to Pondi was utterly chaotic and fun @ the same time. As it happens, there was a flash strike on the highway, and we got diverted on to narrow roads. We kept following the traffic till all the cars came to a complete halt, as the roads just disappeared into the fields. Luckily for us, few local guys on their bikes asked us to follow them, and we rode in the fields till we hit the tarmac again.

 It was time to head back to Blr, but I was not satisfied with the ride. I decided to ride back on a longer route to Blr via Tiruchirapalli -> Dindgal -> Salem -> Blr. So, I started early morning @ 5am after ditching my friends who headed back to Blr, and proceeded down south. The single lane roads were empty, and simply superb. The steaming hot idlys on the road side along with thick coconut chutney fuelled me on till Tiruchirappalli. Stopped @ cart to drink orange juice, and that's when the trip took a complete different route. Met a group of german's riding RE's, who were surprised to find that India does have bikes with gear lever on the right side :)

  Right in front of me was the direction to Rameshwaram. The choice was made when my office approved one more day of leave, and I started towards Rameshwaram. Closer I got to the Bay of Bengal, the wind picked up speed.  The wind was throwing me around, and making me tired and finally I had to stop. After a quick nap under a tree, I reached Rameshwaram around 5 in the evening. The sight of the railway track floating ontop of the sea, the views from top of the bridges overlooking small fishing towns is quiet something.

  Headed right to Danushkodi, and stopped @ some islands connected by roads flanked on both sides by the sea. @ the end of the road, parked the bike, and sat on the beach to view the sun-set. After what looked like ages, started back to Rameshwaram, but something made me park my bike on the road. Sat on the bike in total darkness and listening to the sea crash into the boulders on both sides of the road. 

  Finally after some hours caught a quick nap @ a hotel in rameshwaram and started back to Bangalore. The ride for most part was un-eventful, but was struggling to find fuel bunks @ 5 in the morning. Madurai traffic is chaotic, and one to watch out for. The after-noon sun and the heavy lunch got to me. Found a bus shelter, and slept for 1- 2 hrs, till the sun came down. The ride from then on was really nothing to write-home about. Reached Blr by 7pm, totally exhausted, dehydrated, but the first long ride after years was all worth it.

  Some pics @ Album1, Album2

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Bangalore - Kanyakumari - Kodaikanal - Mysore - Bangalore (2011):

A school friend of mine (Sudhi), who also happened to be a travel photo-grapher with a media house rang me up and asked me if I was up-to a ride to kanyakumari. That's all it took for us to hit the road on a weekend. The plan was to ride out in the evening from Blr on a friday.

  The progress was slow, but un-event full till we passed Krishnagiri. Just as the sun started setting in, Sudhi's RE began to act up. The light started fluctuating, and as any self-respecting RE owner would do, quick fixes were attempted all along the way. This got use few km closer to the ghats, when the light truly went bust. We stopped @ a petrol bunk, and as luck would have it,  a local truck mechanic turned up to get some fuel. We waited for his return @ the hotel next to the bunk. After un-successful attempts, the mechanic wanted the bike @ his place few km's down hill. Luckily the bullet had its parking lights on, and with my ever reliable avenger providing light for both we reached the shop. The wait for the mechanic, who was mid-way repairing a truck was painful to say the least. But this provided me a window of opportunity to grab some sleep on the chair he had provided, while Sudhi was wide awake hoping to get the bike fixed. Dinner time came and went, and our hope was now to at-least have breakfast @ Kanyakumari. Close to mid-night the mechanic triumphed in fixing the lights, and we began our ride, me refreshed after some decent sleep, and Sudhi all drowsy.

As we were destined, the lights after burning bright for few minutes, decided to fade away completely. So, the target was to reach Salem and have it fixed by RE service guys. 2 bikes with 1 head lamp in the night on a deserted highway was no joke. The exhaustion made us stop @ a bus shelter around 2am, and I again caught some sleep, while Sudhi played watch man. We reached Salem before dawn broke, and it took us some time to find the RE shop. A call to the owner of the showroom (number of shop sign) around 9am was what fixed the problem. The service manager got in touch with us, had our bike looked into on priority, and gave us the waiting room. The only sad part, my avenger was not allowed inside the compound. As you might have guessed, I again slept till noon, when we finally got the bike. A burnt alternator was the cause of all the pain.

After thanking the hosts for such a quick and good job, we started riding, till we stopped for lunch. I hogged, as I was hungry, while Sudhi skipped the meal. The ride after that was one of  the most painful I've ever undertaken. Under the sultry burning sun, I was cooking under the riding jacket. This was my first ride with a armoured protective jacket (a gift from the Sudhi), and was it painful!! We suddenly realized to our horror that we were hallucinating which made us almost crash. To our pleasant surprise, we saw a CCD which was for real and stopped. Sad part, no AC, but they had these fans with huge blades. The guys working there allowed us to stay on till the sun went down, and finally Sudhi caught up on lost sleep.

We started riding around 5pm, and once we neared Kanyakumari, the sight on the windmill farms was spectacular. After a marathon 28hrs, we reached our hotel. The following morning, we visited some local places, and to my surprise had one of the best punjabi thali's ever. This is where we parted ways. Sudhi had photography assignments to complete, and then ride to Rameshwaram, while I had to head back to BLR for work.

I started early as usual, and made brisk progress till Madurai, and planned to stop @ a ghar dhaba on the out-skirts on Madurai. I was glad to by-pass madurai, and was looking forward to the break when the fuel ran out. I was dumb-founded, as the fuel ran out close to 100km before the usual range. Cursing the adulterated fuel, I started pushing the bike (riding gear, bike laden with luggage). Luckily had to push just ~2km to the bunk, where after a short break, I realized @ the current pace, I would reach Blr before dark. I recalled having seen a deviation to Kodai, so Kodai it was. Took the left to Kodai few km up the high-way and was cruising till I realized I was lost. A few help with directions, was back on the road. The climb was decent quick, so stopped @ Kodai for lunch.

That is when I heard 3 guys on 2 bikes speaking kannada, and out of curiosity asked where they were headed to. Mysore, was their answer, and they were starting right then after fuelling up. Again the choice was simple, and I decided to ride with them to Mysore. So got back on the bike, and we decided to ride toward pallani -> Sathyamangala -> Chamarajanagar -> Mysore. The Pallani route had some amazing curves and hairpin bends, devoid  of any traffic. After a heavy lunch @ Pallani we reached Sathy when it was dark, and convinced the forest gaurds we were not fooling around, and riding to Mysore. He believed our story and let us through, while others were denied to ride in the night, as the ghats are tricky with 29 hairpin curves, and possibility of encountering wild life. The climb was amazing, and surprisingly the traffic coming down-hill were patient enough to let the climbers through. We reached Chamarajanagar and grabbed some food @ a dhaba, and began our ride to Mysore.

The roads were pathetic, ridden with pot-holes, and the narrow roads were scary to say the least. Blinded by the on-coming vehicles lights, we took almost 4 hrs to reach Mysore. My parents were surprised to see me @ the door step in the middle of the night. Grabbed some sleep and rode to Bangalore the next morning to work.
Few pics @ Album

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Bangalore - Mysore - Bekal fort - Muzhappilangad - Mahe - Vythiri - Wayanad- Mysore - Bangalore (2011)

This trip was just before I got married. Had been explicitly told by my family/relatives to cut out the biking till I get hitched. Had heard a lot about Bekal fort in Kerala, and having been to Pondi, thought will hit the other Union territory in Mahe. Planned for a 3 day trip and started off on a Saturday morning to Bekal fort.

First stop was @ home in Mysore for brunch. Had a small nap, and started for Bekal around 12 noon. The roads were simply breath taking to coorg. From Madkeri, the road toward Bhatwal was under construction, hence the traffic was being diverted. But not so for bikes, hence began the descent on empty newly tarred curvy roads. After Sulya, take the left towards Jalsoor, and head towards Kasargod, and later one more left @ Boovikam. Almost everyone in this part of Kerala speak Kannada, so asking for direction wont be a problem.

The problem if any, are the people on these narrow curvy roads, filled with blind corners. You got to take it slow, and be alert all the time, and watch out buses, who will brush you aside without even giving it a thought. But, these country roads are a breeze on a bike with so many curves, that you actually for once start craving for a straight.

I reached Bekal fort around 6pm, and to my horror the closing time of the fort too. So checked into some cheap local accommodation, and went looking for few cans of beer. Ended up having the famous Kerala paratha, and Egg curry for dinner, and went to bed sober, as I couldnt find a sniff of beer. Walked across to the fort in the drizzle, which made the fort even better. The view from the fort out to the beach/sea/cliff in the drizzle is really something. After spending close to an hour @ the fort, hit the road asap, as the forecast was for a apporaching storm.

The next stop was a drive-in beach @ Muzhappilangad. This ~5km in length beach has densely packed sand, which allows you to ride/drive on it. You will find few food carts selling pickled mangos/pineapples/amla, icecream, chips..etc. Don't advice riding into the waves, as they can corrode the metal. As I was closing in on Mahe, the anticipation grew, and fell. Before even I realized I reached Mahe, I was already outside of the UT. Fuel is pretty cheap there, so plan to fuel up. Disappointed, I decided to head to Waynad and stay overnight.

It was dusk by the time I reached the foothills of vytiri, and the fog was setting in. Had a tough time climbing in the fog, and choose to follow a bus which was really taking the corners hard. Decided to stop at Kalapet, as vythiri resorts were all booked for the weekend. The rain caught me unaware, and almost skidded off a curve, as the brakes took some working to stop. Had to put on my rain coat, as the rain was really belting down hard. Tried my luck @ Kalapet, and the Woody's management was very helpful, though they dint have any vacant rooms for the night. They did find me a dorm, but I decided to ride to Mysore as I had ample time before the road was closed @ Sultan Battery (9.30pm).

Ran into a bunch of riders from Mysore again. I really do not know what it is with Mysore and biking, but I seem to run into one or the other no matter where I go. Rode all the way till Mysore and reached home around 11pm, completely drenched.

Some pics @ Album

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