A short trip to Kodaikanal, Land of Magic Mushrooms

Travelers and Mode :-

  • Ford Figo : Atul and his family (wife, 6 years old daughter and 11 months old son), Abhishek and his wife.
  • Honda Amaze (ZoomCar) : Nayan (me) and my wife, Amit and his family (wife, 6 years old daughter, 2 years son)

Story behind the trip :-
Atul has moved to Bangalore in December, 2014. He is quite a traveler. Once he settled down in the Bangalore with the family, he started looking out to explore Southern India. In February we (my family, Atul’s family and Abhishek’s family) went to Udupi and Murudeshwar. We did that trip by train and hired taxi. Neither me nor Atul is big fan using any other mean of transport except our own vehicle. I prefer bike and Atul prefers car. And our travelling story goes long back. I, Atul and Abhishek has done Leh using cars (Hyundai Accent and Maruti Alto) in 2009. Coming back to the point, while coming back from Udupi Atul said now next trip we will do using self drive vehicles. Abhishek, who is always in favor of using Bus or Train, was a bit skeptical about it, still he said okay. I casually said why not Kodaikanal, as none of us had been there. And destination was finalized.
Next was to decide the time. We decided that it would be some time in summer. After sometime in the office I heard someone making plans for 1st May. Then I realized it is a long weekend and can be utilized well. So I pinged Atul and Abhishek to check, and as expected they were ready. Till now Amit was no where in the picture. We started planning for the trip. I proposed to take my bike (Pulsar 220 Dtsi) and Atul’s car (Ford Figo). Atul will drive the car with three ladies in the back seat and Abhishek will be in the front as navigator. And whenever he feel like he can switch to my bike as pillion. I had already started searching for accommodation (that is always my job, to find out route, finalize the accommodation). While all these things were being planned, Amit (he is my friend since graduation days) had a major dis-agreement with his boss, so he had resigned from the job without any offer in his hands. So he was staying quite tense. I asked him come to Kodaikanal with us, it would be a good change for you and his family. He thought it over for few days and then agreed to it.

Accommodation and Cars :-
Now once all the people had been finalized, next step was to arrange for mode of transportation. We needed two cars and if possible at least a sedan so that we can have our luggage in the boot. We checked in our circle but since it was a long weekend everybody has some plans. We (at least I) were not comfortable with chauffeur driven cabs, as it changes the meaning of travelling completely. In one of the travelogue I had read about the ZoomCar. But I also remembered that people who hired the car had some issues at the Kerala border. Still I visited the site of ZoomCar to check if they have made some arrangements to handle such scenario. And I must say that they had done a wonderful job. We decided to take Honda Amaze, as it was the most affordable sedan available and also I had already driven my friend’s Amaze. So we booked the Amaze for 4.5 days (lots of calculations involved to decide why 4.5 days when our trip was of 3 days. PM me if anybody needs details).
Once the transport was finalized, I started exploring TripAdvisor for accommodation in Kodaikanal. And it was very easy to settle down for Hotel Villa Retreat. Here comes the twist. It does not have four identical rooms for all of us. They have two more properties, Villa Orchard (2 BR Cottage) and Vila Lakeside (3 BR Cottage). So we decided to take the entire Villa Lakeside and one Deluxe Room at Villa Retreat, which will be required only to sleep.

Journey to the land of Magic Mushrooms (I missed Magic Mushrooms though) :-
Schedule was to leave 4 am on 1st May from my house at Bannerghatta Road. But thanks to the IT industry I reached home at 10 pm on 30th April. I woke up at 4 am when everybody reached my home. :( We started around 5 am from my place. Route I had figured out to take : Bangalore – Hosur – Krishnagiri – Dharmapuri – Salem – Namakkal _ Dindigul – Kodaikanal. First thing that needed to be done was to pay the state tax for the ZoomCar vehicle. And it needs to be done at the first RTO Office in Tamilnadu, which is just after the Hosure toll booth. Somehow I missed/forgotten it. ](*,)I realized that after covering almost 30 kms. I asked Atul to stop and wait there and I will go back and pay the state tax and meet him, then we will proceed. This entire thing ate up almost an hour. After that the drive was pretty smooth. NH7 is quite fun and boring at the same time due to perfectly laid tar. We were thoroughly cruising at 100 – 110 kmph. After crossing Hosur we took our first break around 8 am. Had tea and fresh idli. After a break of 30 mins we started ahead.
Next break we took was to fuel up, I don’t remember the place (I am very bad at remembering names). We tanked up both cars and moved ahead. Next stop was just before Namakkal Toll booth. There is a huge board of Raja Bakery, behind that a restaurant is there (never stop on this one). We tried Plain Dosa and Masala Dosa, and it was just not edible. It was 1 pm. We reached Dindigul around 2pm, and from there took a right to Kodai Ghat road. Next stop was Silver Cascade Falls.

Silver Cascade Falls

After a quick break we moved ahead as that place was fully crowded. Soon we reached the checkpost for Kodaikanal entrance. One good thing that I must mention. Just before the checkpost there were some volunteers who were stopping vehicles and giving the cloth sack in exchange of polythene bags. That is quite a nice way to keep the entire surrounding plastic free.
After driving on the beautiful ghat roads we reached Hotel Villa Retreat around 3:30 pm. Entire city is has been divided into narrow lanes by making most of roads one way. It was very difficult for any first timer like me to wander around in the city, that too in a car (I missed my bike during the entire way, but once I reached Kodaikanal and saw the traffic and roads, I missed it most). As I mentioned earlier, we had one room booked there. Even for the Villa Lakeside these people do all formalities. We completed the check in formalities, had our welcome drink. Then we asked for the directions for Villa Lakeside, they got us two Indicas as escort vehicles =D> (one for each car, but at extra cost though ](*,) ). The cab which escorted Atul’s car took them proper way (as care taker of Villa Lakeside, Subbu was with them). But the cab which was escorting my car took us in a one way around Kodai Lake as it was a shorter route. What a jerk. It lead to chaos on the road as it was fully packed with tourists and their vehicles. We got stuck there. And to cover 1.5 kms it took us almost an hour.


Sitout area at Villa Retreat

Villa Retreat Sit Out View

But when we reached Villa Lakeside all frustration tiredness just faded away. It was a neatly maintained old style Villa just the way I wanted. \\:D/ It had a fire place in the lawn, and another one in the living area. We kept our luggage inside, and that’s when we realized everyone was damn hungry. But nothing was readily available (of course it was a Villa not some hotel, they cook what you will ask and that takes time). We asked Subbu for options and guess what, Dominos to the rescue. We ordered pizzas and other stuffs which was delivered in 15 mins and finished in 5 mins. I am not a pizza lover, but anything would have tasted best at that moment.:mrgreen:

Villa Lakeside

Once everyone got refreshed, we took a walk to Kodai Lake which was around 100 mtrs from the Villa. We thought to roam around for sometime and then will go for dinner somewhere near by. We were not in a mood to take out the car. The journey from the entrance of Kodai City to the Villa Lakeside had made us damn tired and also traffic has increased near the lake. One good thing was temperature had dipped to 13 C, so for us it was pleasant (there were people wearing sweaters and jackets though :lol: :shock: ). We took stroll around the lake (nothing much to see) and around 7:30 pm decided to go for dinner. Now the real question came how we will go as we had to go to city center which was almost 5 kms away. Ladies refused to walk and Atul refused to take out the car. So I said lets take one car which I will drive and get a cab, and reach Villa Retreat which is near to the city center and will park my car there. Cab came after half an hour. By the time we reached Hotel it was already 8:30 pm. Atul’s son was quite irritated by that time so they decided to have dinner at Hotel itself. Rest all of us left in the hunt for food (very bad decision). Soon we reached Hilltop Inn. First they said they can’t give a single table for such a big crowd (6 people) and more than that there is a waiting for half an hour for one table. We kept going here and there but not a decent hotel to have a proper non-veg dinner:x. At 10 pm we reached back to hotel and had dinner there. From there we came back to Villa Retreat around 11 pm. Every one was tired so they went to the bed. And we opened the bottle of Chivas Regal which we carried from Bangalore. :supz: After a couple of pegs, I went to wake up my wife as it was our anniversary. Amit had got a cake arranged. We cut the cake and around 12:30 me and my left for Villa Retreat to sleep.

Sightseeing in KodaiKanal :-
    Next day plan was to go for sightseeing and cover some famous places like Pine Forest, Dolphins Nose, Berijam Lake, Moir Point, Pillar Rocks, Fairy Falls, Guna Caves. All these places are on a single road surrounding the city, and it one way too. Take the Observatory Road, from there get on to Poombari Road and keep following it. And you can cover all places. Total stretch is almost 20 kms (don’t ask time required to cover it, you will come to know pretty soon). As I mentioned, last night we came to the Villa Retreat and others were staying at Villa Lakeside. So I needed to take the car and go there, and from there we all will leave together in both cars. In the morning we got freshen up in the hotel itself and then went to Villa Lakeside. By the time we reached their (around 8 am), breakfast was ready. We had Idli and Poori in the breakfast.
Villa Lakeside – Just Like Old Times
    Everyone was ready to leave by 10 am. We left Villa Lakeside, did a complete circle of Kodai Lake (even that is one way and our stay was located just half kilometer from the cut to get on Observatory Road if you are skilled enough to drive a car in one way). Once we get on to the Observatory Road and holy shit. :shock: :cop:  Miles long of traffic jam. It appeared as if everyone came to Kodaikanal for the long weekend. Patiently I waited in the queue to get the jam cleared. Atul was just behind me in the other car. We were just waiting for almost half an hour at one place. After that traffic started crawling. In the first one hour we covered 1 km on that road. I waved Atul and asked shall we turn back. He said lets see for sometime and if situation remains same we will turn back. Outside temperature had crossed 30 C. It was an uphill road so car was also running in 1st and 2nd gear. After sometime I got the opportunity and I zoomed pass almost 10 to 15 vehicles in my ZoomCar. \\:D/ But another bummer. I could not see Atul in my rear view mirror. I asked Amit to call them up and VIOLA we were out of network coverage. So I started moving ahead slowly as we had already entered on one way road (Road is two way only till Observatory, so if you have to turn back, do it before that). We skipped Observatory as it was fully packed with tourists, no place to park the car. Like any other place, wiser drivers had parked their car on the road itself and went into the Observatory.
    With Atul nowhere in the sight and no option of turning back and no network coverage in our phones, we kept moving ahead. We reached Pine Forest View point around 12:30 pm (2.5 hours to cover 8 kms) :Hangman: We stopped there and try to look for an option to park the car. I get a place to park my car almost 500 mtrs from the view point (it is not a point but now Pine Forests are fenced and there is an opening to get down into the forest). It was hot outside and everyone refused to walk till the view point. So finally we said bye bye to Pine Forest and moved ahead. I thought I will somewhere on the way and wait for Atul. But the road were pretty narrow, and there was a long queue of vehicles both ahead and behind me. So I had to keep moving ahead. I had kept my camera in the boot so was not able to click any snap of all the population explosion happened in Kodaikanal that weekend.
    Around 1 pm we reached the Forest Check Post (my guess, it was like a normal check post though). From here there is bifurcation to go to Berijam Lake (you need to take a right from Ten Miles Round Road and get on to Berijam Road). Villa Retreat person told us that you will need permit to go to Berijam Lake. But in all the hassles due to traffic I completely forgot that and did not take the permit from check post. After crossing the check post I found a place where I can park the car. Amit inquired from other drivers and they said we can neither go to Berijam Lake nor to the Moir Point without the permit. :x Still we thought better we should stop here and wait for Atul’s car. I was irritated to the core due to all this traffic and legal obstacles. I mean for Brijam Lake I can understand but what made government to decide that permit is required for Moir Point. It was nothing but a watch tower 50 mtrs from the road. Some of government laws are completely beyond my understanding.
    We waited there for almost half an hour, but Atul’s car was nowhere in the sight. We were still not in the network coverage. We proceeded and soon we reached the Moir Point. There I just slowed down to check if an place where I can park the car. There is a designated parking area. I was just thinking shall I park the car and take my chances to visit the Moir Point. The same moment a police person and started saying something in Tamil. Oh, I forgot to mention, if you don’t know Tamil you don’t belong to this place. Very few people speak (or pretend to don’t know) any other language than Tamil. I asked him for parking place. One other person come and spoke in tooti-phooti Hindi. He asked did you get the permit. I told no, we did not know about it. Whatever the charges are we can pay it somewhere here itself and visit the Moir Point. Police man refused straight forward. Then I said at least I can park the car and wait for other people to join us. He said go a little ahead and then park, the parking area is only for vehicles with permit for Moir Point. What a rubbish way to promote tourism. Anyways, I moved ahead and after around 500 mtrs got a place to park. Here I got a a bit of network coverage. I called up Atul and then came to know they went back from the Observatory as they were not comfortable in moving in this much traffic, and also his car was getting heated up. So they went back to Villa Lakeside. So we decided to move forward and cover places, if any. Soon we reached Pillar Rocks, which was 3 kms from Moir Point. There also there was a huge crowd. Still somehow I got a place in parking area. Ticket for visiting Pillar Rocks view point is Rs. 2 per person. Since I had got a parking place, we decided to pay it a visit.
attachFull614956  Pillar Rocks
    We stayed there for quite some time. I did not find anything outstanding in those Pillar Rocks. Those were just normal cliffs, a bit higher though. Another good thing was it gave a nice view of Nilgiris ( I hope I am right). This place was also full of tourist and monkeys.
The Nilgrirs
Enjoying the Loot
    After few snaps we left from there. Road starts to descend from here. Once you are out from the crowd of Pillar Rocks you can see the Golf Course on your left. That is also one of the tourist attractions if you ask any local or see the tourist map. But we were not in a mood to be that kind of tourist. So we moved ahead. It was already 2:30 pm. Soon we reached Kodaikanal City limits. Amit called up Atul to check about the lunch. Experiences from the last night had made us very cautious when it comes to food. Atul said they already had lunch at Villa Retreat itself. And they have left for Kodai Lake. We also headed directly to Villa Retreat. By the time we had our lunch, it was already 3:30 pm. We ordered food and it was raining every now and then, and soon it was rainbow time.
   While we were having lunch I got a call from Abhishek that he has booked the tickets for boating. I was never such kind of traveler, but I had succumb to the request of others and the high command (wifey). Atul’s car was parked at Villa Retreat. But people in my car said they wanted to change before going for boating. So instead of leaving the car at Villa Retreat, we decided to go to Villa Lakeside and park the car there.
Sit-out Area at Villa Retreat
Kodaikanal City as seen from Villa Retreat
    Around 4:30 pm we left Villa Lakeside and started for Kodai Lake where other people were waiting for us. When we met, Atul and Abhishek said that our number of boating will take another an hour. For boating in Kodai Lake you have to take your coupon (Rs 260 per boat, for 20 mins). And you need to take it between 8 am to 6 pm, at 6 pm ticket counter closes and by 7 pm boating stops. So we decided to hire bicycle meanwhile. Me and my wife took separate bicycles, whereas Amit took bicycle with double seat and paddle. We covered entire stretch of bank of Kodai Lake (8 kms). In the start I found riding a bicycle a bit difficult as I was riding a bicycle almost after 10 years. But it was really fun. I took me back to childhood days. Each bicycle costed Rs. 50 for 30 mins. We covered total 8 kms in 45 mins. Once we are done with the bicycle ride we went check the status of our boat. Still there was almost 10 people ahead of us. So ladies decided to for their favorite pastime, window shopping (actual shopping was planned for after the boat ride).
Shops by the side of Kodai Lake
    Around 6:30 pm our turn for boating came. But at the same time came the unforeseen, potty for Amit’s son.:toimonster: We asked him to go to Vila Lakeside and come back once it is done. He went and soon the last boat was ready to go. Till 6:55 pm we convinced him to wait. After that he said either we should go now or come back next morning at 8 am and take the ride. Next morning we had the plan to leave. I called up Amit and he said it will take time so better we should take the ride. It was just about the sunset.
Sunset at Kodai Lake
    We took our boat ride of 20 mins. Atul and Abhishek and their families had already gone on other boat. During our ride I tried my hand at the boating. And I must say River Rafting and rowing a Coracle Boat are much easier than this one. Our boatman was also an interesting and quite charming person. He gave us all the information about Kodaikanal. The employees of TTDC at this place were quite gentle and helpful.
Banks of the Kodai Lake
   Once we are done with boating we all were hungry and desperately needed tea. So when ladies went for the shopping we decided to have tea. There was one lady who was selling roasted corns. My wife took one and she said it was fresh and yummy.
The Corn
   Around 8:30 pm we called it a day. I was damn tired due to driving around in the heavy traffic for almost entire day. Tonight we did not take any chances and in the morning itself we had asked Subbu to make dinner for us at the Villa Lakeside. We reached at Villa Lakeside around 9 pm. Dinner was ready, but we also had a plan for Bonfire in the open. Subbu had already arranged woods for it. After resting for a while we asked for Kerosene Oil from the lady who is the main caretaker of the house. And let there be some FIRE.
The Fireplace
attachFull614972  Bonfire at Villa Lakeside
   Post the Bonfire, we had our dinner and hit the bed. We had decided to leave early so that we can avoid the traffic. Next day we left Kodaikanal around 9:00 am (it was not the early we had planned for :p). We crossed half of the ghat section and at one of turns I saw a watch tower. We thought at least once we can see the Nilgiris in peace.
The Nilgiris
The Nilgiris
    After travelling for another 30 mins I saw the same waterfall, don’t know its name, but it was a beautiful one.
The Waterfall
The Valley
The Valley
    While going we had faced a situation where there were not much option for food. This time we were not ready to take chances. So it was decided that I will lead the way and will stop the first place seems feasible to me. We crossed Namkkal Toll around 1:30 pm. There was a veg restaurant just after the toll booth. I stopped the car there. But everyone was still in the shock due to the dosa we had in the same stretch while going to Kodaikanal, so no more veg. After travelling for around 15 kms, I saw a board with something written in Tamil. I could not read that, but pictures of chicken and goat caught my attention. I don’t know the name of the hotel, did not even have the snap. But it is bang on the road, with a hoarding in front, and you can see hut/cottages behind it. The food was awesome and well priced. We finished our lunch and moved. Next stop we took at Savarna Bhavan before Krishnagiri (it is on the opposite side of the road). Around 9 pm we reached our home.

City Hopping During New Year

It was September 2011, and I was already excited about the bike ride we have been planning. Yeah yeah, the yearly new year and Xmas holidays were still two months away. Our Comapny Policy states that each employee has to donate his five earned leaves in the name of ANNUAL SHUT DOWN. I had pretty straight strategy, since I am forced to lose my income in the form of my earned leaves, I would make 100% utilisation of it. I just cant simply sit at home waiting for 31st night so that I can go to some hotel/bar/pub and party which I can do any day through out the year. So the plan was just to hit the road.

As usual the job of selecting destination and finalising routes was on me and Sachin. The plan started with an idea to visit Madurai, Rameshwaram, Kanyakumari, Kovalam, Munnar and come back to Bangalore. We started with enquiring about the accomodation. Since it was the year end and also the season for Sabrimala Pilgrimage, almost everything was already booked. So by the start of December, path for our bike has been taken a completely new shape. Now the final route was Bangalore – Sakleshpur – Coimbatore – Valparai – Thrissur – Yercaud – Bangalore (only Sakleshpur and Yercaud were final by then, and we were in the mood to decide once we reach Sakleshpur). It was a ride of almost 1600 kms, through various landscapes including hills, falls and forest areas. By 15th December all the accomodation details were also in place. In Sakleshpur I had arranged the stay at Planters Club in Sakleshpur with the help of my friend Gana. In Coimbatore and Valparai, Vinod’s Uncle had booked hotels for us. In Thrissur we had Sachin’s house to cool off. In Yercaud we had booked Star Holiday Resort. So all set to go. The plan was to hit the road on 24th December, early morning. Gana had a bottle of Glenlivet Limited Edition which we decided to have on 23rd night.

Bikers (Left to Right)

Nayan Nilank on Pulsar 220

Sanjay Shetty on Royal Enfield 500 cc Standard

Vinodh Krishna on Royal Enfield Classic 350

Sachin Narayanan on Royal Enfield 350 cc Standard

Riders of the roads less travelled

Riders of the roads less travelled

December 24th, 2011 – Bangalore to Sakleshpur (280 kms)

Sanjo (Sanjay Shetty) had already announced that he has some office work to be finished in the morning, only after that he can leave. As usual, Sanjo was showing the his ultimte loyalty towards the job, and announced that we can leave by 9:30 am. But by the time we all gathered at Sachin’s place at Vijaya Bank Layout, it was already 10:30 am. We mounted the Video Camera on the Front Around 12:00 pm we started from Shell Petrol Bunk in Gottigere. We decided to take Nice Road and hit Magadi Road.  The plan was to take route : Bangalore – Magadi – Kunigal – Channarayapatna – Hassan – Sakleshpur. We hit Magadi Road around 12:45 pm and after dodging all the traffic for around 10 kms, WOOHOO, it was all open smooth and curvy road. Sachin had already taken the lead with Vinodh following him. I and Sanjo stopped somewhere near to Thaverekere to switch on the camera.  The ride on the road was so enjoyable that we just forgot about the path we decided to follow and just follow the road through all the bends and curves. After covering around 25 kms I saw Sachin and Vinodh parked on the left side waiting for us. Sachin waved me to dont stop and carry on.  After riding for almost 30 kms, I had to slow down due to increased traffic. It was Huliyudurga. I asked Sanjo (being a Kannadiga) to check for the route to Kunigal. He asked with a local mechanic and got to know we need to follow the same road and we would hit Kunigal Junction around 30 kms ahead. Sanjo said “I am feeling hungry, lets have something then move ahead”. It was almost 2:00 pm. I said “we will cross the city and stop at first eatig joint”. Due to construction work, road was in pretty bad comdition. After riding for around 7-8 kms, I took the diversion and saw a dhaba kind of establishment on the right side of road, and waited for other three to join. We parked our bike inside and occupied one hut. The establishment had around 4-5 small huts to be occupied by different group of customers. We ordered for one Chicken Kabab, one Methi Chicken, one Chicken Butter Masala and 10 Tandoori Rotis. It was not yummy, but with our stomach all empty we found it delcious. After the food, we had a round of tea which was quite refreshing. We were done by 3:30 pm and ready to hit the road.

Next stop was Kunigal to buy some water. We reached Kunigal around 4:00 pm and stopped to get water bottles. From Kunigal it was proper 4 lane NH48 (Bangalore Mangalore Highway). In Kunigal the videa camera was mounted on above the tail lamp of my bike.  Next stop was Channarayapatna, which is 75 kms from Kunigal. We ddecided to take full advantage of good roads and cover the stretch quickly. We were already far behind our schedule, thanks to our late start. I was now leading and soon my speedometer displayed the speed of 80 kmph. Zooming through the traffic, I stopped at Channarayapatna Junction sharp at 4:35 pm (thanks to timestamp of snaps). After a quick break, we started off with plan to make next pit stop at Hassan, 40 kms ahead. Once we cross the Channarayapatna, the 4 lane highway transformed into 2 lane road, heavily loaded with the traffic. With all bikes loaded with saddle bags and we in the riding gears, we were like aliens to passers by. And I was the centre of attraction with camera mounted on my bike. 🙂  Struggling through all traffic, we reached Hassan around 5:30 pm. I had been to Sakleshpur earlier with Gana and mark my words, the traffic sense of Hassan residents is horrible. You cant predict which way the vehicle in front of you will turn or from which side of road a pestrian will jump on the road. After crossing Hassan city I could not see anyone in my rear view mirror. I parked my bike on the side of the road and within few minutes Sachin joined me. After aorund 10 mins Sanjo and Vinodh came. Everyone desperately needed tea (thanks to our office routine). I am very apprehensive about stopping in the city for all these quick breaks. So I suggested that we would stop tea break after hitting Sakleshpur bypass. But before we could reach the tea stall sun was apready going down. Being a photograpy enthusiast, we stopped for a quick photography session (although while looking for a spot sun was almost set).

Sun is already down while we were looking for a spot

Sun is already down while we were looking for a spot

After travelling for few kms we stopped for much needed tea break. We parked our bikes in front of Car Repair Workshop. Soon we were surrounded by mechanics and all were quite amused with the camera mounted on bike. They were trying to figure out what that was. By the time we finished out tea, it was already dark. We started slowly towards Sakleshpur on the rough patches for few kms. After that we were back with on the nice wide road. It was total fun riding on the pitch dark road. But Sanjo was not pretty comfortable riding in those conditions with his low power headlight and high beam lights of oncoming traffic. Around 20 kms before Sakleshpur we had to wait for Sanjo to join us. After listening to him I decided that I would tail and help Sanjo with my high beam on the curves.  We reached Planters Club around 7:30 pm. It was pretty decent arrangement, thanks to Gana. Only pain was you cant roam around in shorts and slippers, you need to be properly dressed with shoes to go to bar and mess. Once we settled down, had two cups of coffee (who will drink tea when you are surrounded by coffee estates), caretaker came to take the order for dinner. Ohh did I mention, in places like Planters Club or Munjarabad Club (where I had stayed last time), they dont have a fixed menu, you can order whatever you want and the chef will cook it for you. So we asked Akki Roti, Chicken Curry, Rice, Sambhar for dinner and Chicken Kabab and Pepper Chicken for snacks. We freshen up and we were in the bar around 9:30 pm. Over the drinks we decided that we would go to a place Kegenari from where you can get 360 view of Western Ghats. It is located around 17 kms from Sakleshpur towards Charmadi Ghat. On 25th December we would visit that place and on 26th we would leave for Coimbatore. Had few drinks in the bar followed by dinner, we hit the bed around 1:00 am, as it was not long ride tomorrow. I must say the Chicken Curry was fiery hot with chilly and green pepper.

December 25th, 2011 – Sakleshpur (50kms)

Everyone left the bed around 10:00 am. Later on we came to know that Sanjo and Vinod had got up around 8:00 am had their breakfast and then again trying to sleep off. We got freshen up around 12:00 pm (it included cleaning up aur bikes also 🙂 ). We ordered for Biryani in lunch and thought we would go to Kegenari after lunch. So we hit to Billiards room. Played Billiards with a glass of beer till the lunch got cooked. Around 2:30 pm we had been informed that lunch has been served in the dining hall. We had Biryani which was not that much spicy, thank god. We enquired about Kegenari and came to know that since it is peak of coffee picking season so we might not be able to go to the top, as it falls in some private coffee estate. Its better to roam around rather sitting at the club. So we took our bikes and head towards Shiradi Ghat (by mistake 🙂 ). The plan was to sit and watch sunset which we missed yesterday.

After crossing Sakleshpur town, I asked Sanjo to enquire about route to Kegenari. He checked with one of the Nariyal Paniwallahs, and he pointed us towards the road heading to Shiradi Ghats and said its hardly 14 kms from there.So we headed towards the Shiradi Ghat. We crossed Munjarabad Fort which is around 11 kms from Sakleshpur town. It was just the begining of Shiradi Ghats and road was getting curvier and curvier. I was leading and thought we just want to watch the sunset, place hardly matters. I just zoomed pass the Munjarabaad Fort and entered in the Ghat section road. Road was steepily climbing up and up. We had covered just 6-7 kms and found ourself stopped due to traffic jam. I though shit, now we have to head back as I knew how much time it takes in the Ghats to clear a traffic jam. By that time Sachin had already moved ahead in the jam and we thaought we would give it sot to pass through it. When we reached in front, found that a mini bus had rammed into a lorry while turning on a curve. All terrified faces of passengers on board was not a pleasant thing to watch. Anyways we moved ahead and crossed the traffic jam and stopped for a Tender Coconut. Sun was already on its way to hide behind the hills. So we decided to move ahead and stopped at the first good spot. Sachin and I spotted a good spot around 7-8 kms down the road. But at that time Sanjo was ahead us. So I ripped and chased Sanjo to get him back. We just sat by the side of the road on a stone and watched sun going down behind hills.

Sunset at Shiradi Ghats

Sunset at Shiradi Ghats

We reached back Planters Club around 7:30 pm. Over the coffee it had been decided that next day we would leave for Coimbatore as early as possible. And ordered for Akki Roti, Chicken Curry, Rice and Sambhar :). By the time dinner got ready we freshen up and pack our sadlle bags to minimise the time next morning. After couple of drinks, we finished our dinner and hit the bed around 10:00 pm.

December 26th, 2011 – Sakleshpur to Coimbatore (360 kms)

The plan was to start by 8:00 am as it was a long distance to cover today, wtih Sanjo and Vinod being quite apprehensive about cover this much long stretch in one go. Route to reach Coimbatore : Sakleshpur – Hassan – Hole Narsipur – Elivala – Mysore – Nanjungud – Chamrajanagar – Hasanur – Dimbam – Bannary – Sathyamangalam – Annur – Coimbatore. We finished the coffee and loaded our bikes with saddle bags and headed towards Saklespur Hassan Bypass road around 9 am (yeah, again we were an hour late :(). It took us around an hour to reach Hassan and we stopped at roadside joint to have something for breakfast. We had some masala rice, checked out about the route and were back on the road, heading towards Hole Narsipur.

Road from Hassan to Hole Narsipur, State Highway 88, was in a pretty nice condition. Smooth road, surrounded with lush greebery, passing through villages, rides was proving to be pleasant one. Sachin was leading the group. Around 30 kms before Hole Narsipur, I saw Sachin stopped the bike on the side of the road. I stopped and asked about the issue. He said “I am feeling damn sleepy, rice effect”. While we stopped there Vinod said he needs to tank up his bike. We stopped there for around 15-20 mins, I took some snaps while Sachin was taking rest. We stopped at an Indian Oil Petro Bunk after around 5-6 kms from our last stop. My bike was still in main, giving a mileage of around 48 kmpl :). From there we started and I was leading. I was cruising at the speed of 85-90 kmph, and Sachin was just behind me. All of a sudden I saw a hump just ahead of me, it was not painted so I could not see it. Also there was not even a single hump after Hassan, so I was not expecting anything like that. The next moment, my bike was all in the air for a moment. When I landed I thought of applying brakes, but WOOHOO another one, and my bike took the same course in air. I slow down and Sachin overtook me and signalled to stop. We stopped, Sachin started “dude what are doing, I was just behind you and my bike also took off”. I explained “there was not even a single hump in last 60 kms, and the first one that I encountered was the unpainted one, what could I have done”. Anyways Sachin checked his bike, settled the saddle bags and we moved ahead. We were about to reach Hole Narsipur, we passed one water body on the right side of road. Just after 100 – 200 meters, I saw one on the left hand side. I overtook Sachin (he was leading after the hump incident :)), signalled him to stop. Moment I came to Sachin he said “are you also thinking what I am thinking”? I said “lets take a detour and take few snaps”. We waited for few minutes for Sanjo and Vinod to catch up and after that we take a detour of 50 – 60 meters.

Village Houses on the bank of Water Body

Village Houses on the bank of Water Body

While we were taking snaps one of the villager, who was crossing on a bike, stopped and chit chatted with Sanjo (as he was the only Kannadiga among us). Sanjo later on told “this is kind of a reservoir, which Gram Panchayat has made to harvest fishes, and they give contract for fishing for it, and other surrounding small water reservoirs”. After the photography session we quickly started towards Mysore, as we had came just 60 – 70 kms from Sakleshpur, and still had to cover 290 odd kms. We hit Mysore via Elivala some where around 12:30 pm, and it was getting really hot. Sanjo and Sachin need to fill up their bike. While they were getting their machines tanked up, Vinod enquired about the route to Hansur. We took Mysore Outer Ring Road and headed towards Hansur. The Ring Road was under construction and full of diversions.It took us around an hour to cross Mysore and hit Kozhikode Mysore Kollegal Highway. We all were quite hungry and tired (thanks to Mysore traffice), and all of us were signalling each other for food. After almost 30 kms, I saw Maharaja Punjabi Dhaba on left hand side of the road. It was a very rare thing to locate a dhaba on the highways of South India (no pun intended). We parked our bikes, removed our riding gears and threw ourselves on a khatiya. We started with tea, and ordered Dal Fry, Butter Chicken Masala and Tandoori Roti. Sanjo ordered for a lassi (which he never got :D). Food was pretty decent. We complemented our lunch with another round of tea. We geared up and hit the road to stop at Chamrajanagar, which is 40 odd kms from there, for tea.

We reached Chamrajanagar somewhere around 4:00 pm, from there we needed to take a left to hit the road leading to Hasanur. But Vinod and Sanjo were going ahead us and they missed the left turn. I had to rip up and I stopped them after some 3 kms. We took a U turn and get into the road which Sachin had shown me, and where he was waiting. The road was not in too good shape, and quite bumpy due to nice patch work. I was tailing and Sachin was leading. I felt that Sanjo’s bike was not stable, sometimes it was going left or right without any reason. Within few minutes Sanjo stopped the bike and said he is not able to keep his eyes open due to sleep. I asked Vinod to stay with him and take some rest, and I moved ahead to stop Sachin. I saw Sachin waiting after 6-7 kms. We waited there for around 20 mins for Sanjo and Vinod. We crossed Suvaranamathy Dam and got on to the road leading to Bannary via Hasanur through Satyamangalam Tiger Reserve Forest Area. The road throught the forest was in amazingly good condition, not even a single pothole. We reached Hasanur around 5:15 pm, and decided for a quick photo break, after taking a small detour. We knew that we were way behind the schedule, but the landscape was so mesmerizing that we could not resist and stopped.

Beautiful Sathyamangalam Forest Area as seen from Hasanur

Beautiful Sathyamangalam Forest Area as seen from Hasanur

From Hasanur we started around 5:20 pm, and it was aready started getting dark. Next stop was at Bannari which is around 25 kms from there. We decided to take a break at Bannari as from there we need to climb down through heavy ghats with around 14 hair pin bends. We reached Bannari around 6:15 pm, had a quick break and started descending towards Sathyamangalam which is approximately 15 kms from there. We reached Satyamangalam around 7:30 pm. Took a tea break there, and proceed towards Coimbatore. From there we drove non stop to Annur, which is in the middle of Sathyamangalam and Coimbatore. In Annur Vinod (who was leading now, since only he can read sign boards written in Tamil) and Sachin were waiting for us, as Sanjo was not comfortable in riding during night with high beams of oncoming traffic and I was tailing him. From Annur we started and entered Coimbatore around 8:45 pm. It was a complete chaos of traffic. Vinod’s Uncle had booked room for us in some Comfort Hotel which is in the R.S. Puram. We reached our hotel around 9:30 pm, checked in and asked for dinner order. Surprise surprise, it was a completely veg hotel. We ordered for Veg Manchurian, Dal Fry and Tandoori Roti. And we went out to Flames Pub. Man liquor in Tamilnadu is f**king expensive. We come back after just a beer and a peg of whisky. I could not have dinner, thanks to the great taste. Around 11:30 pm we hit the bed, and there was a snoring competetion within minutes.

December 27th, 2011 – Coimbatore to Valparai (120 kms)

We were ready to leave for Valparai by 11:00 am. Sanjo and Vinod already had breakfast while I and Sachin were getting ready. I did not feel like having anything after tasting last night dinner, so I decided I will have smoething on the way in some bakery, along with tea. We loaded our bike with saddle bags, put on the riding gears, and Oh yeah, we were again aliens for all the hotel staff, customer and passers by. We were just about to start off and Vinod was mounting the camera on his bike. Oh I missed that part. We had two HD Mountable Cameras with us, one was mounted on the rear fender of my bike and another one on the handle bar of Vinod’s bike. Ok, so when Vinod was trying to mount the camera, he found that someone has taken out the screw from the camera mount. so we cant mount it. We spent next one hour searching for some appropriate screw so that camera could be mounted again, but all in vain. So with a heavy heart we left the market area and head towards the OLD National Highway, which leads to Pollachi which is 45 kms from there. Just before taking left for Old NH, we stopped on Indian Oil Petrol Bunk to fuel up our bikes. Fuel indicator lamp on the speedometer console was glowing red now, still my bike was in main. The trip meter which I reset at Shell Petrol Bunk in Bangalore was showing 696 kms and my bike has not hit reserve yet :). Still I also got my tank full, and we all headed for Pollachi around 1:15 pm. The road was heavily loaded with traffic, and Vinod had taken the lead.

We reached Pollachi around 2:00 pm. Since I did not have my breakfast, I was damn hungry. But on either side of the road, I could just see either veg restaurant or bakery. Its a normal human tendency that he ignores whatever he has in the present hoping that he would get something better in the future. With the same hope we kept going. Vinod enquired about the route from Pollachi to Valparai. We had to go through the city, and it was a pretty congested one. I could see the eating joints while we were crossing the District Court area, but there was no place to park the bike. Sanjo and Sachin got stuck somewhere in the traffic. At a very junction we needed to head straight for Pollachi. I and Vinod proceeded. But the junction was so small and so heavily stuffed with bikes, cycles, pedestrians and of course TSRTC buses that it was very difficult to figure out the road and keep going straight. So Sanjo and Sachin took left by mistake. Meanwhile I and Vinod dodged the traffic through hardly 10 feet narrow streets and reached flyover which was under construction. We were waiting for Sanjo and Sachin, Vinod got a call from Sachin. Sachin told them about the route, and in 10 mins they reached. Everyone was hungry by now, and we had almost reached the exit of Pollachi. But none of us wanted to go back and look for food, so we proceeded. At the very end of the Pollachi township I saw a board on the right hand side of road. It was in Tamil which is like a jalebi for me, but there were pictures of Chicken, Egg and Fish on it. I just put on the left indicator and signalled everyone to stop. All of us crossed the road, and parked our bikes in front of the shop. We stuffed ourselves with Scrambled Egg Parantha (not Paranta and Scrambled Eggs), Half Fry Eggs and Poori Salan, and the Coconut Chutney was amazing. We had two rounds of tea as dessert. Food worked as a catalyst to our brains, and we mounted the camera with tapes on the handle of Vinod’s bike. Around 3:00 pm we left for Valparai which is 70 kms from there.

We reached Aliyar Dam around 3:30 pm and found many tourist vehicles there. We stopped there just for a quick photo break and moved ahead. I started moving slowly on my bike waiting for others to join, all of a sudden Sachin zooped ahead of me and soon he could not be seen anywhere. Gradually Sanjo and Vinod also joined me. When we were crossing the Check Post for Aliyar Dam, a person from Check Post shouted to stop us. When Vinod went to check about it, person in the Check Post asked “the one biker which had already gone ahead and did not stop, you have to pay for him too”. We paid the toll for all four bikes and started on the uphill road to Valparai. Valparai is 40 kms from Aliyar Dam and route consist of 42 hairpin bends. Road was pretty smooth, surrounded with trees on the both side. Somewhere the trees are so dense that we needed to switch on headlights. After around 3 kms I found Sachin parked on the side with camera in his hand, and it was now clear why ripped to be ahead of us. Soon we started on hairpin bends. At the 9th hairpin bend there was a spot from where you can see the entire Aliyar Dam Reservoir. We stopped there to click few snaps.

Three Musketeers At Aliyar Dam Enroute to Valparai

Three Musketeers At Aliyar Dam Enroute to Valparai

After the quick photoshoot we decided that the next stop would be in Valparai. But the road and surrounding was so much beautiful and picturesque that we stopped for another photoshoot just after 24th hairpin bend. We were riding through Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park. It was an amazing experience. After 41st hairbin bend, road started to descent, and forest on the both side of the road were replaced by tea planatations. We reached Iyerpadi around 5:15 pm, had a quick tea break there as we needed to empty up the memorey card of the camera mounted on my bike. After 15 – 20 mins of break started towards Valparai. We reached Valparai around 6:30 pm. Vinod’s Uncle had arranged our stay in Wood house Resort (please dont go by the name, it was not any resort, just a guest house). The rooms were pretty decent, for bachelors at least, with attached bathroom fitted with geyser. We ordered caretaker of the resort for dinner (Chicken 65, Chicken Curry, Ceylon Parantha, Biryani Rice) and we left just to roam around. We went to the market, had tea and cake, purchased a bottle of Old Monk and came back to our room. After having dinner and everything, around 1:00 am we left to check out the town again. We did not see even a single person on the road. We took a walk of around 6-7 kms, Vinod and Sanjo got into the stream flowing near by to the guest house and we came back and hit the bed. Next morning when care taker asked about the last night, Vinod, being the translator, narrated him the entire story. Then he said you should not have done that, sometimes leopards get into the in search of food. We were just staring at wach other.

Valparai Town During Night

Valparai Town During Night

December 28th, 2011 – Valaparai to Urakam, Thrissur (130 kms)

We had decided beforehand that from Valparai we would head to Sachin’s home which is approximately 20 kms from Thrissur city. We started from Valaparai around 11:00 am for Thrissur. We decided we would take most scenic route and so : Valparai – Upper Sholayar Dam – Chalakudy – Potta – Innajalakuda – Thrissur(Bypass) – Urakam. We came out from the Valparai town onto Valparai road, and stopped to mount cameras on my and Vinod’s bike. We mounted the camera and started towards Upper Sholayar Dam. After few kilometers I felt that something is touching on the front tyre. I stopped the bike and checked but could not find anything. By that time rest three also came there. I gave my helmet to Sachin and went for a short test ride to confirm the noise. When I came Sachin there was a black tape (which we used to mount camera on Vinod’s bike) got stuck to the front tyre. He pulled it out. So we proceeded further. I was leading as my bike had a camera mounted on the rear fender. The road was route was simply awesome, smooth roads, lush green tea plantations on both sides, bends after almost every 100 meters. The sky was perfectly bright and clear.

Lush Green Tea Plantation, and Road Crossing Through It

Lush Green Tea Plantation, and Road Crossing Through It

After travelling for almost 20 kms, we needed to take a right turn of almost 90 degree curvature from Primary Health Centre. I keep watching the rear view mirror for others. This time I could not see anyone. So I was shuffling between looking forward and looking in the rear view mirror. And at that right turn, the moment I took the turn I saw a big TSRTC Bus almost at the right edge of the road. I was like shocked, as it was not completely unexpected, but never had imagined that it would be so quick. I stopped my bike just after 50 meters from that right turn. I waited there for others to catch up. Soon Sachin same and I signalled him to keep going. After around 10 mins Sanjo and Vinod also came. After covering around 12 – 13 kms, we reached Upper Sholayar Dam. It was huge and quite scenic. The village houses made on the edges of hills were looking amazing. We realxed there for a while. Vinod got some local fruit from a vendor near by, almost half a kg for Rs. 10. It was so sour that could finish just one. After clicking few snaps,we started moving towards Thrissur. The road crosses throug Idamalayar Reserve Forest and Sholayar Reserve Forest.

We at Upper Sholayar Dam

We at Upper Sholayar Dam

From Upper Sholayar Dam onward road was a bit bumpy, lots of potholes crossing through villages. After around 15 kms, we reached Idamalayar Forest Reserve Check Post. Sachin went to the office to make the entry for all four bikes. Then an officer came anc checked all saddle bags loaded on our bikes for liquor. Also he instructed us not to throw anything in the forest, and also not to stop anywhere for a longer duration. After completing all formalities we started on Anamala Road. This road connects Valaparai Road to Athirapilly Road. Since the road was not good enough so we were riding at a very slow pace (average speed was 20 kmph). Due to this slow speed, Vinod started feeling sleepy. We had to stop for sometime.

Quick Stop In Idamalayar Reserve Forest

Quick Stop In Idamalayar Reserve Forest

The quality of road kept detoriating with every kilometer. And also the forest was becoming more and more dense. After riding for around 20 kms, we got into Sholayar Reserve Forest (there is no clear demarcation though). Vinod was still drowsy. So we stopped at a curve where there was space to park the bike and sit. Vinod parked his bike and sat down to relax. I took out my camera from the saddle bag and walked around 100 feet ahead. While I was taking their snap, I heard some movement in the forest across the road. I was concentrating hard and removed my sunglasses, and was trying to see whats happening in the grove from where the sound was coming. I was feeling a bit apprehensive also due to the fact that the area is full of elephants. And passers by getting attacked by an elephant is not an uncommon thing to happen in that entire stretch. Suddenly I saw monkey type creature jumped from one branch to another. I pointed my camera in that direction with a hope to capture some nice snaps of it. But the creature was barely visible. I saw Sachin coming towards me with his camera in hand. He asked “what happened”. I said “there is some monkey type animal on the tree, but it is barely visible”.  After some observation, Sachin said “its a Lion Tailed Macaque“. I had 18 – 200 mm lens zoomed to the maximum and was trying to take its snap from there itself. Sachin walked towards the grove to capture Lion Tailed Macaques with 18 – 300 mm lens. After sometime he disappeared in the forest. I waited there and got lucky to capture one of it in one snap (as they are second most camouflaged animal in the forest). After around 5 mins, I saw Sachin almost running towards us. I understood something is wrong. He came to me and said “there is an elephant hardly 30 feets away, so lets move”. We quickly packed our cameras back in the sadlle back and got back on to the ride.

Sachin was continuously in lead after that incident. And most of the time he was no where near us. He was going as fast as poosible, as there is a bond of love between him and elephants since the day he started visiting such areas. We were trying to catch up with him. That elephant incident was proving fruitful, as Vinod was not feeling sleepy anymore after that. 🙂 After covering around 17 kms in almost 45 mins, we reached the highest point of the route, which was also the end of Anamala Road and start of Athirapilly Road. This spot offers a mesmerising view of Poringalkuthu Reservoir. And it was pretty huge. There was a group of engineering students, whom we crossed on way from Valparai till here. They also came and stopped there. While I and Sachin were taking snaps, Vinod got properly interviewd by them, regarding bikes, saddle bags, source, destination, everything.

Magnificent View Of Poringalkuthu Reservoir

Magnificent View Of Poringalkuthu Reservoir

After the quick photoshoot we started towards Thrissur. Next stop was Potta which is around 23 kms from there. Anyways, we began to descend. It was quite a road, full with potholes, or I should say it was a bed of potholes with patches of road in between. Still the ride was quite scenic, through the deep forest and with hairpin bends every now and then. So we were moving at a very slow pace. Sachin was leading and was going at quite a speed (thanks to the affection between him and elephants). I was keeping a watch on Vinod and Sanjay in my rear view mirror, as I knew that they start feeling dizzy in these riding conditions. And at one of the curves I saw only Vinod in the rear view mirror. I asked Vinod to go ahead and I stopped for Sanjay. Sanjay came after few minutes and he said that he is feeling sleepy. I said this area is famous for elephants so we should not stop here. Once we reach Potta then we can stop there for tea. On moving ahead we saw Vinod was also waiting for us, as Sachin as already taken a lead of almost 4 – 5 kms. There were bamboos on both sides of the road. At one curve I saw Sanjay taking right and kept on going right. THUD THUD THUD. His helmet covered face recieved few tight slaps from tree leaves. I overtook him and stopped. I asked him to stop for sometime. Suddenly he saw fresh elephant dung just few feets away. Sanjay said “no, no, I am not sleepy at all, lets move”. 🙂 After covering around 5 kms, we saw Sachin waiting for us. And we all were riding together again towards Thrissur.

Around 04:00 PM, we reached Athirapally Falls. We stopped at one of the eateries and ordered for Ommelettes, tea and some pakodas. By the time it got prepared I just took a stroll near the falls. And it was the same shit. People were taking a bath (not the dip) as if they had not taken bath a long time. Most of them were even using soap, shampoo, detergent and were trying to clean up the fall with the foam. I seiously don’t understand the thought process of such people. We finished our snacks cum lunch, put on our riding gears and started to our destination. Just after the entrance for Athirapally Falls, there is a Kerala State Check Post. We stopped at the check post and Sachin went to fill in details. Then cops from check post came to our bikes and asked us to open saddle bags. I guess they were searching for liquor, as it is quite expensive there. We were done with formalities, and wlecome to Kerala. From there it was proper two way road, and full with greenery on both sides. Also traffic was quite high on this route, that too typical Kerala Traffic, each and every vehicle was zooming in a zig-zag manner. Soon we got adjusted to the traffic, which we had not seen after leaving Pollachi. We reached Chalakudy around 05:30 PM. I saw a proper four lane highway, and was relaxed. It was NH47 (Thrissur – Kochi Expressway). But to my disappointment, just after 100 meters, we took right from the underpass leaving that express way behind. And we were back on the same kind of road, on way to Potta. Till Potta road was somewhat bumpy, with very narrow streets connecting to the road, every now and then. I was finding it a bit uncomfortable, as you never know when anyone will come from any streets without bothering about oncoming traffic.  We hit SH22 near Urakam around 06:30 PM (covered around 30 kms in one hour). And we were at Sachin’s place by 07:00 PM.

We were welcomed with tea, biscuits and bananas by Sachin’s Uncle, who stay just next to Sachin’s house. We hogged on those, and everything was over within few minutes. I was planning to take a hot shower while Sanjay and Vinod had already occupied the bed, and Sachin was busy meeting his relatives. I called up Sachin and asked him that we need to arrange some booze, to get rid of tiredness. 🙂 He said we would go to market in sometime. Since Sachin’s parent does not stay there so there was nothing in the kitchen. I filled up the ice tray and put it in the freezer. We went to terrace for a while. It was completely quite and calm there. We just gazed upon stars and full moon. By then Sachin had came back. I and Sachin went to market near by which was around 7 kms from his place. When we reached the Kerala Government Liquor Shop, we saw a long queue on the payment counter. You have to pay and get a slip, and then move to delivery counter, hand over the slip and you will get your stuff. This is the scene throughout the Kerala. But I was happy to see Black & White available there (it costed Rs 1800 though). Sachin was in the queue to get the slip, meanwhile I was checking out available brands. I saw Bullet Beer there and thought of taking it for Sanjay, but forgot at the time of payment. The shop was stuffed with varieties of Desi Daru, and Beers which I never heard of. We took the bottle and came back. I freshen up and Sachin was again engrossed in arragements for dinner. Once he came back again we both went out to get some snacks. There I searched for ciggarettes and was unable to find Gold Flake Kings. But we got Thunder Soda. 🙂 When we came back, I asked Sanjay and Vinod to freshen up.

Around 08:30PM, Sachin’s Uncle got us dinner. And we were just waiting him to go back so that we can start with our drinks. Before we could have thought of anything else, Sachin asked his uncle for a drink. I made drinks for everyone and started discussing about the plan for next day. We took our drinks and went up to terrace. Sanjay and Vinod were a bit apprehensive about driving all the way to Yercaud next day. They were saying to stay somehwere in between and day after tomorrow we will go to Yercaud for sometime and continue to Bangalore. I and Sachin were thinking, if we are going to Yercaud then we shoud stay overnight (we had bookings done from Bangalore itself). Sachin said he had to finish some work next morning and we can leave by 11:00 AM. Finally even Sanjay and Vinod agreed. We finished our drinks and went down for dinner around 11:30 PM. Homemade Rice, Sambhar, Pallaya, it was amazing. We stuffed ourselves and hit the bed.

December 29th, 2011 – Urakam, Thrissur to Yercaud (350 kms)

I got up around 08:00 AM. Sachin had already gone to finish his work. Sanjay and Vinod were awake but had not freshen up yet. I left the bed, freshen up and started packing my stuff into the saddle bag. Around 09:30 AM Sachin was back. By 10:30 AM we all had our saddle bags packed and we were heading to Sachin’s Uncle home to have our brunch. Sachin’s Aunt served us with delicious food, Idli (special one, I dont know the name), Plain Dosa, Rice, Sambhar and Chane ki Sabzi. We hogged on the food and overstuffed ourselves. Earlier our plan was to leave latest by 11:00 AM. But by the time we were done with the food, it was already 11:30 AM. We loaded our bikes with saddle bags and started around 12:00 PM.

The route we needed to take was Urakam – Pattikad – Palakkad – Coimbatore Bypass – Avinashi – Bhavani – Sankagiri – Poolavari – Salem – Yercaud. Sanjay said he needed to tank up. And it was decided that we would stop at  We started on SH 22 which led us to Thrissur, and we take a right from there towards Pattikad. Whoa, what a maddening Kerala traffic. We reached Pattikad around 01:00 PM. From there it was uphill ride for around 20 kms enroute to Palakkad. Initially Sachin was leading the herd and Sanjay was tailing. But once we hit the Palakkad road, I dont know why but Sanjay started slowing down. He was riding hesitantly, which was not good. So I started tailing him. Sachin and Vinod had already gone ahead. At one time while overtaking he got so slow that I almost hit him from behind. It was quite frustrating. So I moved ahead of him and was keeping a watch in the rear view mirror. In all these traffic chaos, we forgot that Sanjay needed to tank up. Sanjay reminded me of that. We stopped at a petrol bunk where he tanked up. My machine was still running on the fuel that I filled in Coimbatore. 🙂 After tanking up we just stopped to buy a bottle of water, had a smoke and proceeded. Now the traffic was not that much and I let Sanjay go in front. I saw Sachin and Vinod parked near a Tender Coconut Wallah, but I guess Sanjay missed them. I ripped and catched Sanjay. We took a U-turn and came back to the spot where they were waiting. Sanjay had a tender coconut and we were again back on the road. After around 3-4 kms Sachin and Vinod also tanked up. Next stop was Coimbatore bypass.

Till Palakkad road was good, it was two lane though. We reached Palakkad around 02:30 PM. We did not make any stop there as we were already behind the schedule. From Palakkad to Coimbatore it was smooth double lane Toll Road, NH 47 (that too two wheelers exempted :)). We covered that stretch of 55 kms in 25 odd minutes, where I touched top speed of entire trip, 138 kmph. For Coimbatore city you need to take a left from the NH 47. We kept on going straight, and next stop was Avinashi which is around 90 kms ahead. After covering around 20 kms from Coimbatore we saw construction of four lane road going on in full swing (which I saw in the same condition even three years back). The road was either four lane of diversion. There was a diversion after every 250 meters. The frequent diversions resulted in very slowly moving traffic. At some diversions traffic was almost stand still. As we were on bikes so we were able to dodge the traffic on most of diversions, and able to move at a steady speed of 20 – 30 kmph. 🙂 At one diversion, one Scorpio zoomed across me, cutting the lane. WTF! No traffic sense at all. Suddenly I saw its number plate and realised no wonders driver was like this. Number plate readed KA-13 ** 007. My name is Bond, Rowdy bond. 🙂 Anyways, we kept riding at the same easy pace. We reached Avinashi around 04:30 PM. Due to the road full of diversions, we all were tired and a bit hungry also, so decided to take a quick break at the out skirts of Avinashi.

We saw a bakery with space to park all four bikes after crossing Avinashi and stopped there. Filled up ourselves with Veg Puff, Bun – Jam, Cakes and Tea. There also every one was staring at us like we are not from this planet. We started from Avinashi around 05:00 PM. After Avinashi, the road was again full fledge four way highway (Salem – Ernakulam Highway). I had a feeling that my bike was not taking on jerks in a very good way, due to low tyre pressure. After travelling fro around 10 kms saw an Indian Oil Petrol Bunk and stopped to check the air pressure. Now we were moving at a steady speed of 70+ kmph, thanks to nice road. During dusk the visibility was not too good for high speed. Also there were quite a number of side roads getting merged on the highway. From those side roads, two wheelers, small tempos, even pedestrians were getting on to the highway without even bothering about the traffic. Just before Bhavani while passing an underpass, I was splashed by something, some kind of microscopic insects I guess. My helmet visor was completely covered with small dots. I had to stop, no other option. All four of us had the same condition. Once we stopped, we realised that somehow its not the regular dusk. The sky was red instead of being saffron. I took out my camera from the saddle to capture it. Mean while Vinod called uo Star Home Stay, where we had the booking in Yercaud to inform that we would be reaching a bit late. (We were running just 2 hours late). We clicked a few snaps, cleaned our helmet’s visor and started from there around 06:50 PM.

Dusk at Bhavani

Dusk at Bhavani

From Bhavani we rode continuously to Salem, and reached the outskirts of Salem around 07:20 PM. We stopped there to check if there is any ways that we can avoid getting into Salem City. While we had tea, Vinod checked woth the shop keeper about the route. As per the shop keeper, we have to cross the entire city and take SH188 to Yercaud. We asked Vinod to call up Home Stay to enquire about route, dinner and booze. The guy at home stay also said the same route, took the order for dinner and informed about the unavailability of booze. Vinod we had to take liquor from Salem itself and then go. We entered Salem City through Sankari Main Road. It was packed with traffic. We reached SH188 via SH159, Sandaipet Main Road, Fort Main Road, Vankatappan Road, Bretts Road, Cherry Road. Vinod was also enquiring about TASMAC stores on the way. Just after Cherry Road, he saw a TASMAC store on the other side of the road. There I saw the whiskies which I never jeard off, and we enquired about the whiskies they never heard off. Even Old Monk was not available there. So we picked up eight bottles of Kingfisher beer, and started on SH188. Just before the uphill road, there is a toll booth. Vinod stopped and paid the toll while we moved ahead. Yercaud is around 29 kms and 23 hairpin bends from the toll booth. The SH188 was pitch dark, with not even a single vehicle when we started on it around 08:00 PM. I stopped just before the first hairpin bend and mounted the camera on my rear fender. Sachin had already ripped too ahead by then. When we were at 8th hairpin bend, a droplet fell on my visor. I thought it may had came from some tree. Gradually I realized that it was drizzling. I recalled that Vinod was saying that Cyclone Thane had hit Tamilnadu and we may get rains on way. We found Sachin waiting for us after 12th hairpin bend. At 20th hairpin bend GRT Nature Trails is located. It is quite a locatiuon for anyone to stay. Its one set of rooms have a marvellous view of valley. We thought to give it a try if we can get a accomodation here itself, as Vinod and Sanjay were almost dreanched by then. Vinod and I went to reception and enquired about it. The guy at the reception shown us a room, which we liked it. But he asked for Rs 4000 for a double room and also we need to check out by 10:00 AM next day. What shit! Vinod called up the Star Home Stay guy for direction. We reached Star Home Stay around 09:15 PM. We had booked a cottage (Super Deluxe Suite in their terminology). It was a big double bed room, with a guest area with sofa-cum-bed in it and a big sit out balcony.  We checked in, unloaded our bikes and called up cafeteria to deliver the food in room itself. I asked Vinod to enquire about the TASMAC store or any bar near by, from where we can get some whisky or rum. The temprature was dipping at a very fast pace. The reception guy said tehre is a bar near by where we can check. Vinod and Sachin decided to go there. But I had something else in the mind. “Guys there is a spot near 18th hairpin bend from where there is clear view of Salem City and GRT Nature Trails. I want to take a snap of both. So by the time you guys get whisky or rum, I am going with Sanjay till there to take few snaps”.

View of GRT Nature Trails from 18th Hairpin Bend

View of GRT Nature Trails from 18th Hairpin Bend

It was around 10:00 PM and drizzling. Sanjay wrapped camera and tripod in a polybag. I took out my bike and we started towards the 18th hairpin bend. When we reached the SH188 and started descending towards Salem I realised it was quite windy. We reached to the point which I noticed while coming in 20 mins. Chose a proper location where there was a gap from which you can see full lit Salem City and brightly lit GRT Nature Trails. I put on the indicator of my bike so that vehicles passing through can spot us from a distance. It was a deadly silence, not a single sound other than the pouring of raindrops. When Sanjay was mounting the camera, I felt that I heard some footsteps. But suddenly it faded away. Sanjay put the camera on long exposure shot. “Did you hear that”, I asked Sanjay. “What”, Sanjay asked. “The foot steps, like someone is walking towards us. I heard it second time now”. “Dude don’t freak me out, lets take snaps and go back”, Sanjay said. We took few long exposure shots of Salem City and GRT Nature Trails, wrapped up camera and tripod and rode back. By the time we reach our room, it was around 11:00 PM.

View of Salem City from 18th Hairpin Bend

View of Salem City from 18th Hairpin Bend

By the time I took a hot shower, dinner was delivered to the room. We ordered Chicken Pepper Dry, Chicken 65, Chappati, Chicken Curry and Biryani Rice. Sanjay, Sachin and Vinod were already having beer. To my disappointment, Vinod and Sachin did not get any whisky or rum. I had snacks as I was really hungry after the shower. Then I narrated the entire footstep episode to Sachin and Vinod. Sachin said on the 2nd hairpin bend there is a huge board stating “whatever may be the case, do not stop at any cost at any point in the entire route after dark”. “Can’t you have told this earlier”, I said. While we were having all this conversation, door leading to the balcony open by itself. Now everyone was alert. Sachin said “its nothing but wind”. Sanjay who was sitting next to the windo with a broken window pane, said “if it was wind then I should have felt it, but I did not feel any wind at all”. We all went to balcony. It was now raining heavily and became chilly. Sachin checked the temprature in his watch, which was 23 C. “No ways” Vinod said and took the watch from Sachin. He put the watch on the railing of balcony and within 5 minutes, it was showing 8 C. We came back to the guest area and were enjoying our beer and watching TV. After another 15 – 20 minutes, again the door of balcony open by itself. All of us were just staring at the door. We came out to balcony. It was around 12:30 AM and entire area was covered with mist. The visibility was reduced to 10 feets. Sanjay started his research work on the door. He closed and opened the door multiple times. And EUREKA, if you don’t close the door properly, the latch gradually slips and door opens on its own after sometime. In all these analysis and chit chatting we never realised it was already 01:15 AM. I had my dinner and hit the bed. Since it was not a long ride tomorrow so we can get up late and start off for the final stretch of the trip.

December 30th, 2011 – Yercaud to Bangalore (240 kms)

I got up around 08:30 AM and asked Sanjay who was there in the guest area to order for some coffee. I freshen up and came out to balcony. It was amzing view. The peaks were covered under mist, it was drizziling and the temprature was about 12 C. In another half an hour or so, coffee was delivered in the room. Hot cup of coffee in such a weather, sitting in the balcony looking on to the misty peaks, oh! it was heaven. Soon we had to face the reality, and we started packing our stuff. Today we would be covering aur last run of the trip, to Bangalore. By the time we packed our saddle bags and loaded it on to the bike, settled the bill, it was already 12:30 PM. nd it was still drizzling. Route we decided to take was Yercaud – Salem – Thoppur – Dharmapuri – Krishnagiri – Hosur – Bangalore. We took the SH 188 to Salem and started descending on Salem – Yercaud Ghat Road. I had the video camera mounted on my rear fender, as I wanted to capture the entirely mesmerizing ride. It was drizzling and the entire valley was covered with mist. We were descending at an average speed of 40 kmph. We crossed Salem – Yercaud Toll Booth around 01:30 PM. There was no sign of rain in Salem City area.

Misty Peaks of Yercaud

Misty Peaks of Yercaud

We stopped at the entrance of Salem City to check about the shortest route to cross the city area. We crossed the city via Cherry Road, Rajaji Road, Peramanur Main Road, Omalur Main Road. After Omalur Main road we got on to NH 44 (Old NH7). We stopped there to tank up. There was a boy on the petrol bunk who was checking the air pressure in our bikes. He was very curious, and asked a lot of questions (as he only knows Tamil). I saw there was a Punjabi Dhaba just beside the petrol bunk. I suggested that we should have lunch here itself, as we did not have breakfast and it was already 02:15 PM. Sachin said we will have it in Thoppur, I know a nice place there. We said ok, so next stop Thoppur which is 35 kms from there. We just had tea there. I thought on this road it should not take more than 45 minutes to cover 35 kms.  We had covered just 15 kms when rain strikes again. This time it was raining heavily and amde worse by heavy wind. My bike’s rear tyre was swaying badly due to wind. My speed was dropped from 70 kmph to 40 kmph. All of us were ducked as most as we can to reduce the wind repulsion. After 10 minutes the rain stopped. It was raining almost every 10 minutes. At most of places the road had become slippery also. Riding cautiously and struggling due to heavy wind, we reached Thoppur around 03:30 PM. Sachin pointed to one small marketing complex kind of place on the other side ot the road. We took a U Turn and came to that place. Just before the building I saw a Punjabi Dhaba, I thought Sachin must be talking about this place. But Sachin rode ahead and stopped in front of building. The board in front of me read Sarvana Veg. “What the hell, you asked us to ride 35 kms in this condition to have food here, have you gone mad”, I was pissed off. By that time Sanjay and Vinod also arrived. Sanjay said he will have tea and biscuits, but can not have Rice and Sambhar, which was the only thing available there. I suggested better we should go to the dhaba and have food there. Before anyone could have responded, I started my bike and went to the dhaba. Everyone followed. 🙂

Clouds near Thoppur

Clouds near Thoppur

We parked our bikes just in front of the entrance of dhaba. Since it was still drizzling, we decided to sit inside rather than under the tree. We asked about the availability of food. The owner-cum-chef said whatever you, we have chicken, egg, rice, roti and some another bird, looked like some breed of hen, Sachin said it was bater. So we ordered for Bater Masala, Checken Masala, Tandoori Roti and Egg Fry. And the cooking was on. Vinod asked the owner that can we have beer here. He said not in the dhaba, as cops do not allow that. But there is a place in backyard of dhaba where you can have it. They took out left over two bottles from Sanjay’s saddle bag and went into backyard. i just sat on the cot to keep an eye on the bikes, as they were loaded with saddle bags with camera and everything inside that. While they were having beer, a group of people in fourties came out from the sitting area just besides the dhaba (it was some family area kind of space :)). They came and stood near bikes and were discussing about bikes. I asked Vinod to just go and take a casual check on bikes. Vinod went there and was bombarded with questions. They asked him regarding price of bikes, saddle bags, mileage, whatever they could have asked. In another 15 – 20 minutes lunch was served. The food was tasty, and spicy for normal weather. But in the drizziling and chilly weather that was tasting just awesome. We finished our lunch, settled the bill and were back on road by 04:30 PM. We thought we would stop at Dharmapuri Cafe Coffee Day, which is around 27 kms from there.

As we started from Thoppur it started raining cats and dogs. The visibility was reduced to 20 feets and bike was swaying pretty badly due to wind. We kept our bikes in the left most lane and keep on driving at a steady speed of 40 kmph. We reached Dharmapuri around 05:30 PM. There is Anand Bhawan on the other side of the road, and we got confused it with Cafe Coffee Day. I was the first one to take a U Turn. I waited there at Anand Bhavan for 10 minutes for them. Then I saw Vinod coming. He said there is no CCD here, its in Krishnagiri, around 40 kms ahead, we will stop there for coffee. We rode for around 50 meters in the opposite direction and headed for Krishnagiri. It was getting dark and raining also.  Due to high beams of on coming traffic, it was very difficult to ride at a good speed. I knew that CCD is on the other side of the road. I saw a truck moving at a good speed of 50 kmph in the right lane. I put my bike behind it with a gap of almost 10 feets, and kept on going. We reached Krishnagiri CCD at 06:30 PM.

We had been riding in the rain from almost 6 hours. We all were drenched to the bone. We were sipping our Cappuchinoes and everyone was staring at us with only one expression in their eyes “a bunch of insanes”. We finished our coffees and were back on the road by 07:00 PM. It was still raining and droplets on the visor of helmet with headlight of oncoming traffic was making it difficult to ride. I lifted my visor up so that I can see the road clearly. Now I was riding at constant speed of 60 kmph. We rode non stop, as due to riding in the rain, in that drenched state, had been tiring for every one and we all wanted to reach our home ASAP. We reached Hosur around 08:00 PM. Crossing through the peak traffic in Hosur was nerve breaking. We did not took any break, crossed Hosur and moved towards Bangalore, which was another 24 kms away. I reached Electronic City Elevated Expressway around 08:45 PM. I waited others to come. Soon Sanjay, Sachin and Vinod also came. From here Sanjay and Vinod had to take the Elevated Expressway and me and Sachin had to take Begur Road. So we parted our ways from there. Our ride through three states, five places, almost 1600 kms in seven days came to an end.

Route Covered

Route Covered

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ज़िंदगी की सांझ

सूरज धीमे धीमे पहाड़ियों के पीछे क्षितिज को छोड़ अंधेरे की आगोश में खोता जा रहा था| उस दमकते सूरज की ढलती हुई लालीमा को देख ये एहसास हो रहा था ज़िंदगी की हर खूबसूरत चीज़ का अंत कितनी जल्दी हो जाता है| यूँ अकेले बैठे मदिराकी चूष्कियाँ लेते हुए ऐसा लग रहा था जैसे सूरज सी दमकती ज़िंदगी कल की ही बात हो| और ज़िंदगी की उस लालीमा को निगलती हुई सांझ कितनी जल्दी आ गयी, इस एहसास से हमेशा अंजान ही था|

आज जब पीछे मूड़ के देखता हूँ तब यही मह्शुश होता है की ज़िंदगी में कुछ खास खोया तो नही लेकिन अर्जित भी क्या किया चंद हसीन लम्हो और सुनहरी यादों के अलावा| जिन दोस्तों के साथ मौज मस्ती के पल बिताया करता था वो तो कब के शादी के बंधन में बँध इन सब चीज़ो से विदा ले चुके| और उन को अपने गृहस्थ जीवन और संतानो की परवरिस से फ़ुर्सत ही नही मिली दुबारा उस आनंदकी अनुभूति की| और जिस किसी को मिली भी तो उस के अंदर की उमंग ही ज़िंदगी के थपेड़ो ने ख़त्म कर दी थी| कितनीबार कोशिश भी की अपने आप को भी गृहस्थी की उस भट्टी में झोकने की जिस के लिए सुना था की यह लोहे को आकार देकर प्रतिमा में बदल देता है| घरवाले सुंदर, सुशील, खूबसूरत लड़की ढूंड के लाते, और दिल था की मानता नही| हमेशा इसीभुलावे में रहता की “कहीं करती होगी वो मेरा इंतज़ार”| इसी चक्कर में उम्र कब निकल गयी पता ही नही चला|

आज जब कभी जिंदगी की किताब के पन्नो को पलट के देखता हूँ तो दिल में मीठी कड़वी यादों का ताँता सा लग जाता है|वो अपनी कक्षा की किसी हसीना में पर दिल आ जाना, और फिर एक रोज़ उसी को अपने ही किसी सहपाठी के साथ कॉफीपीते या आइस्क्रीम खाते देख कर मन मसोस के रह जाना| तो कभी किसी को दिल ही दिल में बेइन्तेहा चाहना, लेकिन इज़हार-ए-मोहब्बत सिर्फ़ इस लिए नही करना की कहीं दोस्ती से भी हाथ ना धोना पड़े| आज उन दोनो को ही जब ऐसे जीवनसाथी के साथ देखता हूँ जो की और कुछ नही मजबूरी की एक गठरी लगती है, तब सोचता हूँ इस से तो बढ़िया होता की मैं ही बेगैर किसी चीज़ की परवाह किए बात को आगे बढ़ाता तो शायद आज हम दोनो ही खुश होते| और दोनो को ही दुनिया में किसी और चीज़ की ख्वाइश भी नही रहती|

इन सब यादों और सोच के बीच पता नही कब अंधेरे ने सूरज को लील लिया| सांझ की वो सुनहरी लालीमा अब रात केआँधियारे में बदल चुकी थी| लेकिन दिल ने आज तक कहाँ उम्मीद का दामन छोड़ा था जो आज उसे हाथ से जाने देता| इस अकेले दिल में आज भी कहीं से वही किरण झिलमिलाती हुई यही इशारा कर रही है की हर रात के बाद एक नया दिन एक नयी शुरुआत ले के आता है!

Life as WE see it….

                We as an individual, nobody are dumb enough to understand what life has to offer to us. It’s just the difference in the perspective we see it. In the philosophers’ word, someone see the glass half empty whereas someone the glass half full. Yeah yeah, I know it could have been summarized it in just two words, optimistic and
pessimistic. I wish the life could be so much black and white.

The concept of being black and white applies for the relationships also. We always see any relationship as existing or it was never there kinda thing. But we always ignore the grey area. And take my words there is nothing wrong in it. Ultimately
it’s the being human attitude aspect of us which never allows us to look in for could be existing bridge over a chasm, which can also be called as a grey area. But if you introspect or ever you can retrospect, the biggest grey area plateau is always between love and friendship.

I don’t know, maybe I am wrong, but if someone ever ask me that what  kinda person you can fall in love with, I know  the first factor would always be friendship. You can’t ever love a person without being friends. Because to love someone the first
step is always that you should know the person in and out, you should be able to stand by the person through thick and thin of life. And I don’t think no one other than a friend does that. Sorry for being rude, but I am not considering those who have a firm believe in the concept of arranged marriage.  But that’s completely my point of view.

Okay, coming back to the grey area. I never realized when it became a passion for me; I started observing people very closely. And I know it’s very fruitful for me, as every new person observed gives a completely new perspective of life. But what
hurts me most is all of us always give a blind’s sight to the grey area, the unidentified portion of the relation that exists between the two clearly identifiable aspects of relationship. Yeah I am talking about being in love with your friend.  And girls please don’t mind, and  it’s a personal observation, being a guy it is very easy for me to fall for a lady friend of mine. But for any girl it is one of the toughest tasks to digest the fact that one of her friend loves him. Is it really that tough?

I  know all those dialogues and you don’t have to repeat it, “I know you are my  best friend but I never thought that there could be something called as love between us”. Come on dear, how can you fall for a stranger. You don’t have any
freaking clue about him. I know physical appearance matters a lot, even for me. But seriously that’s not the end of story. Your life always goes beyond the  appearance.  It is about how you care for  each other. It is how you can nurture the relationship. It is about understanding the fact that you don’t have to say it explicitly. Yes, it is about love. It is  like planting a tree. All seeds are almost of same shape and size, but one of them ends up in quite a magnificent tree if properly cared. Same is the case  with human relationships also. We start friendship with a bunch of people at  the same note. And you can always find a person among them with whom you want  to spend your life with. Just because the fact whatever you are expecting from  your Prince Charming, he is almost there. It’s just a matter of fact can you identify him.

You know life is not that much easy as we always dream of. And that is completely gender  agnostic in true sense. We may have rules of “Ladies First”, but when it comes to life there is just one rule; be smart and handle and grab everything in time. Once anything is lost, is lost, there is no point in repenting for it.  So are we really ready for it?

The Nature, the Wild and a Sojourn to Life at Jungle Retreat, Wayanad

I don’t remember how, when and why the discussion started. But all of sudden Sajith pinged us on Skype that we shall go to some trek trip. I was like what the f***, how could he even thought of that. 😦 He knows what a lazy bum we are. Anyways, it started from Skandagiri, then Kudremukh, then Kumara Parvat. But as the brainstorming proceeded, everyone started seeing the ground reality. We started considering place like Chikmagalur, Kudremukh, where we can get a resort to relax. Sachin, as always, suggested that he knows a pretty decent home stay in Kartikulam (Wayanad), we should go there. After some research on web, we liked the reviews, snaps and videos of the place, “Jungle Retreat”. So the destination was finalized. And wow, fourteen people confirmed about joining in. Mode of transport was the next question. As usual I, Sanjay and Sachin were in favor biking till there. But at the same time rainy weather of Kerala popped up as a not major, but yes, concern for biking almost 300 kms. (We just did the same to Kushalnagar couple of weeks back though). Sachin suggested we can go by two cars and rest on bikes. Someone suggested why not we should hire a vehicle and all of us go together, having booze and fun all the way. Not bad. And here comes the wonder girl, Shruthi. She shouldered the responsibility to arrange a fifteen seater Tempo Traveler.

It was quite an interesting situation. Sachin had confirmed the stay for ten people, as they can’t accommodate more than that. It was like for the first we were able to get such a big group and we were not able to find a place where this much big group can stay. We started looking for some back up option, as we didn’t want to miss this chance where so many people had given a positive nod. After few days, things started getting back to normal. First Lovish backed out then Satish. 29th July, the day we were starting for the trip, head count was eight. Plan was to watch a movie after office, have some beer and dinner, start around 1 am, so that we would reach Nagarhole by 6 am (as gate remains closed from 6 pm to 6 am, for the safety of travelers). In between we had to purchase the stuffs required for the journey.

Due to mom’s check up I had to take leave on 29th July. And thanks to Apollo Hospital and Bangalore public transportation service, instead of 3 pm I reached office at 9:45 pm. I called up Sanjay to check where those guys are. Sanjay said that even Vinod (not Agent Vinod) is not coming as he has to file his IT returns. I was speechless, could not react to it. Anyways, Sanjay was at the liquor shop purchasing booze for the trip. Sachin, Vinod and Vinay went to Jimis, which is harly 200 meters from the office. Sanjay came back to office by 10:00 pm, and then we too went to Jimis. Sajith, Meenu and Shruthi told that they would come later, but certainly before 1 am. We had beer and dinner at Jimis and came back to the office around 11:30 pm, planning to watch some movie in office itself. By the time we reached upstairs, Shruthi also came by. We started watching “Laws Of Attraction”, but with all the jokes being cracked, it was pretty difficult to watch. Sajith and Meenu also came by that time, and we started off around 12:30 am.

We  started from Richmond Road and stopped at a petrol bunk  after Banashankri to fill up the Tempo Traveller. The plan was to take route Bangalore – Mysore – Hunsur – Gonikoppal – Kutta – Kartikulam – Jungle Retreat. Sanjay had already got a crate of beer for the journey.  So the moment we started from the petrol bunk, Sachin, Sanjay, Sajith, Vinay and me, each of us opened a can of beer and started pouring it in the mouth :D. Thats what a trip was always meant for us if we are not riding/driving. After finishing a couple of beers  and a clicking a couple of snaps, I was fully charged. I started demanding “arrey bhaiya koi to salima chalao (someone please play the movie)”. So Sanjay plugged in the USB drive and played X Men First Stand.  But not even before ten minutes were over I dozed off. Other enthusiastic people watched The Fast And The Furious after that, and didn’t sleep at all I guess.

I woke up around 6:30 am. We had reached Gonikoppal. Before moving ahead and considering everyone’s hunger,  we decided to have  breakfast there itself and then to move on  to reach our destination, Kortikullam. We stopped at “Hotel Deviprasad (with  usable washrooms) 🙂“.  We  started with tea and ended up with everyone except me gulping dosa, vada and idly. Even  after staying almost five years  in South India,I still can’t  have all these things in my breakfast. I still prefer Bread Omelette, Bedhmi Puri, Sandwich in breakfast,  I never get it thats a different issue. But I should not let myself to discuss about my breakfast tragedy here. Over the breakfast Sachin told me about the intelligence of our lame driver. When we crossing  Nagarhole while going on Hunsur –  Tittimati Road, there was a single Tusker crossing the road. And some intelligent guy had parked his Swift with hazards light on. Ideally in such a scenario, you should stop and let it cross the road and get into the Jungle. But our driver just zooped past him. We were lucky that Tusker didn’t move a bit, else the vehicle would have been easily toppled over. We hoped the Swift people had also left safely. After having breakfast and tea, we started for Jungle Retreat, Kortikullam. And after all the legal formalities, handling the cops  on the way, bypassing the homestay for almost a kilometer, we reached  our destination around 11 am. And seriously  no one was disappointed after reaching there. The place was a heaven for all of us. Lush greenery, complete silence and no one except us in the entire homestay made our day. Jungle Retreat is a 10 acre farm set in the middle of the Jungle. It was fenced with electric wires carrying 12V current to stop animals from coming near to the homestay.

Since we didn’t ask for the breakfast on 30th July, Saturday, while booking the homestay, we didn’t get anything to eat after reaching  there, everyone was hungry though, I was literally on the verge of dying due to hunger. They got us tea meanwhile. Just after the tea, along came a lovely lady, mistress of the homestay. She was a Botany Professor, so she was completely enthusiastic about the place. And it was quite nice talking to her. Once she left we settle down in our rooms and  was pondering over the ways to spend time. We didn’t have to do anything, and everyone was tired and  hungry (and we had already told  them our preference about  lunch). In between, Sajith was just loafing around and hecame back to us telling that he is going for a walk with the man of the house. We were like its better to go for a walk rather simply staying  here and waiting for food.

By the  time Meenu and  Shruthi got ready, Sajith had already finished  the walk and was back. But the owner said one of his staff, Pramod to take us for a stroll to the periphery of the homestay. The moment we started on the Jungle Trails, everyone got a notion that its gonna be fun. We hardly walked for 200 meters and WOW, we spotted a herd of deers, with Stag, Doe and Fawn in the group. What a welcome by wildlife in the Jungle for the wild crazy bums like us. As we moved ahead on the trail, it was becoming more and more muddy. And everyone was like who gives a shit about what the condition is, just have fun. We crawled up on the muddy surfaces came down. In between Sanjay kept going in the mud to get his feet dirty and then in streams to wash it off. Suddenly Sanjay felt something under his pants, not anywhere around the sensitive areas though :P. He folded his pants and WOHOO, a Leech was enjoying his toxic blood, and it was dancing like a drunk. Pramod show us a small house where Tuskers usually come to have fun. We also saw many footsteps of different kind of animals. Sachin kept us telling about those like which animal it was, which it would have gone, and all that. We found a trench surrounding the Jungle Retreat. Pramod told that it was to stop Tuskers from getting into the fields and plantation area.

After around an hour and half troll we reached back to the cottage. Now the examination revealed the real picture. Everyone ferried at least one Leech with them, except Vinay. Pramod brought some salt to get rid of Leeches. We got rid of Leeches, took bath (whoever wanted) and still lunch was not ready (it was just 1 pm though and we had been served with one plate full of Britannia Marie biscuits). Sachin pulled out the bottle of Black & White. And Sachin spooted the hidden talent of Shruthi. She can be brand model of any product. When I came back from shower, all were sitting in one of the porticos (Shruthi had dozed off already), and thinking what to do now. Sanjay and Sachin had already figured out I guess, they were having whisky with hot water and biscuits :). I asked Sajith to get the beers which we had gived to keep in the freezer, but he was like I am damn tired to walk even few steps. Finally Vinay volunteered to get it. He also got playing cards from them. We started  gulping beer and started playing Bluff. Around 2:30 pm we saw some one was  keeping plates in the dining area. HOORAH, lunch was served. Chicken, Rice, Chapati, Tomato Fry, Curry, Beetroot, Papadums, Salad, a complete meal.

After stuffing ourselves went back to cottage to decide whats the plan for the day. Jungle Retreat people had arranged for the Night Safari @ 9:30 pm, but it was just 3:30 pm. So we had at least 6 hours with us. Within 15-20 mins, Sajith, Meenu, Sanjay, Shruthi were dead asleep. Sachin clicked few quick snaps of all sleeping beauties. I, Sachin and Vinay were awake with beers. I and Sachin picked up our cameras and came out with a wish to capture some more nice snaps. We sit out in the dining area from where one can see the Jungle. After clicking few random snaps, both of us decided to go over the Watch Tower and spend some time there. Vinay also decided to join us and we asked him to get beers. Watch Tower was located a bit away from the main homestay, surrounded by fields. I and Sachin reached there easily. Thanks to me, I asked Vinay to come through a different way, and by the time he reached Watch Tower, his feet were fully covered with mud. And he was quite happy about it. :D.  We were having beer on the Watch Tower, all of a sudden Sachin pointed towards the Jungle, “something is happening there”. We saw a herd of Deer being chased by a group of Dhols (Wild Dogs). After  finishing the beer  we came down from the Watch Tower and decided to take a walk along the main road. I and Sachin, I guess were really high. We were discussing about trekking to Brahmagiri Peak, which is just 1608 meters high. Generally people start off around 7 am and come back by 5 pm. I was like “sure sure, we must do it, next day we can do it”. 🙂 Thank God it was just Sachin who listened to it (he was also in the same mode).

Sachin said Thirunelli Temple is almost 3.5 kms away, and we thought to walk down there. We met the owner of homestay at the exit. We told him about our plan of promenade. He instructed us to not to go beyond the next board  put up by Forrest Department (since it was in Malayalam, I could not get what it says). Anyways we nodded and started on the road. Then Iasked Sachin (he knows Malayalam) what owner was saying. He told that since this area has huge number of Tuskers and it’s almost dusk, so don’t go too far. There are chances that you people may encounter a parade of Tuskers. But, as usual, we didn’t pay attention and crossed the board, which was hardly 250 meters from the homestay. There was not any sound other than the sound of Jungle. We were marching down on the road, suddenly one Tempo Travelled zoomed  past us.  And within  a couple of minutes we saw it zooming back. Driver slowed down near us and said something in Malayalam, and drove away. Sachin, the interpreter, said he was saying  don’t  go ahead there are Tuskers, so better we go back, should not take the risk. Same moment we  heard  a loud noise, but could not see anything. Without any second thought, we turned back and started going back slowly. No one was saying anything. I justed switched my camera on the movie mode. There was nothing as such to shoot, but I wanted to capture the sound of Cicadas. Their sound was pretty shrill, and making the surrounding very spooky. We saw Pramod coming in his Qualis. He told the owner had asked him to go and look for us. Pramod asked us to get in the vehicle and he will take us for a tour till the temple.

It  was around 6:30pm and was pitch dark. Pramod was driving  and at the same time doing the job of the tour guide also. And  Sachin  being the most frequent traveller  among us, was giving  his inputs too. Every now and  then we were spotting herds of deer,of all numbers and sizes. Thirunelli Temple was around 7 kms from the  homestay (not 3.5 kms). Thirunelli Temple was built in somewhere around A.D. 800 by Chera King Kulasekharan. Thirunelli Temple is the only temple in the world where the devotees can perform all the rituals related to one’s life, starting from birth to death and life after death. Since we were drunk, we didn’t go into the temple. But we got the result of our efforts, three packs of Gold Flake Kings cigarettes, which we forgot to buy and surviving on Gold Flake small :(. We reached back to homestay around 8 pm. Everyone was still dead asleep.

We  woke up everyone. Sanjay the laziest bum went to take shower. Shruthi was in full relaxing mode, so she didn’t even think of that. 🙂 Rest of us just chit chatted there in the balcony itself. When everyone freshen up, it was time to refresh ourselves with beverages (whisky and vodka :)) we brought all the way from Bangalore. We sat in the dining area, listening to the sound of Jungle, enjoyed our drinks. Around 9 pm dinner was served. We stuffed ourselves with all the veg and non-veg delicacies. Around 9:45 pm, Pramod came to take us for Night Safari.

When we came out Mahindra Commander Jeep  was waiting  for us. Route for the Night Safari was Jungle Retreat – Thirunelly Temple – Tholpetty and back. We just hopped in, Sachin in front seat, I, Meenu and Sachin in middle row, and Sanjay, Shruthi  and Vinay in the rear seat. We started moving on the same road to Thirunelli Temple. Hardly after 250 meters we spotted one Tusker and a Calf (baby elephant). At that point of time I realised that Jungle is a completely different world during night. After couple of minutes we proceeded. In between,  Sachin and Sajith were lighting the small areas of forest by torch, on either side of road. I must say deers were in a huge number in that area. Pramod told that even Leopard and Lion had also been spotted in those areas. After covering almost 5 kms, we took a U-turn and went back. Plan was to go towards  Kutta. I was hanging out from the Jeep on left, Sajith on right  and Sanjay at  the back. And  feeling the cold breeze on the face can’t be expressed in words. After covering around 2kms, OH YEAH, we spotted a Bison. Pramod just stopped the jeep.  Bison of that size can easily topple up the jeep. Bison  kept moving slowly towards the jeep. Sachin said there is another one to the left of us. We spotted two Bisons hardly 100 meters  away from the road  getting into the Jungle. And another two were on the road.  We just waited there, and no one was  uttering even a single word. Slowly all four Bisons get into the Jungle. All of us exhaled at the same moment. We proceeded on our Safari after that. Within an hour or so Shruthi was found sleeping. It was completely dark, and the visiblility was only  due to Jeep’s headlight. It had started raining by then, and I was still out enjoying the rain. All of a sudden, I and  Sachin spotted almost 5 feet long Banded Krait, right in the middle of the road. With stripes on its body was glowing in the headlights of jeep, it was looking even more beautiful. We covered  almost 15-20 kms in the Safari, and it was real fun and adventure.

We reached back at the homestay around 12:30 am. I was dead tired, not due to Safari, but I guess it was rain effect,which I enjoyed for almost the entire Safari. We got down at the entrance of the homestay and it had become full muddy and completely slippery due to rain. Sachin got down first, and asked everyone to be very careful. Then he asked me towalkaheadand he show the way with torch. I was about to step on the stairs, BANG. I turned around  and saw Sachin was on the ground. he slipped and lost his balance, and while going down he banged his head on Tempo Traveller parked there. Anyways, shit  happens with everyone and he was not an exception. We reached the cottage and I  and Sanjay went for a quick shower. SHIT, geyser was not working and had to manage with cold water.

It was almost  2 am, and we were sitting in the balcony. Sachin was being vigilant. He said that last time  when he was there he had  spotted a Tusker near this balcony itself. After sometime we decided to go inside the room. I got into a blanket and took  out the vodka bottle. We were just having fun and vodka pegs. Hardly after 30 mins, Vinay failed to stay awake and slept off then and there itself. After sometime Meenu also dozed off. Rest of us were just kept talking, talking, talking, about wild animals, ghosts, marriage, and all bullshit of course. I must say what ever you talk about, sharing experiences is always enlightening to everyone. Around 3:30 am, I tried waking up Vinay. Shruthi was just  besides him.He made such a weird sound that she literally freaked out and shouted “just let him sleep na”. Around 4:45 am, I also went off to sleep. When I went to other room, I didn’t find any blanket there (as all the blankets were in other room). Rather than going back to other room and get the blanket, I just took one towel and covered myself and I was half dead. Before going to sleep Sanjay thought to have a last cigarette of the day. He just pulled the curtain to open the door and WHOOSH, let there be light. It was a full bright morning.

Around 10 am Sachin and Sanjay came to wake me up. Obviously I was not in a mood to leave the bed. But within a couple of minutes everyone was  there. I thought its better to get up. Sachin asked what you were dreaming off, when I came to wake you up you said “Sanjay dega”. I was like what the hell. I didn’t even remember that some one tried to woke me up before also. And everyone kept me haunting with the same question through rest of the trip. Sanajy said breakfast is being served. I saw Vinay sitting alone in the dining area, he must be very hungry. He told that Bread Omelette is there in breakfast. I felt that I am in seventh heaven. But when they serve the  breakfast, it was Rice Cakes and Grams Curry. It was a shock for me. So I asked Sachin to check about Bread Omelette.  In another 5 mins, it was there. I overstuffed myself, as I knew that we wont get any lunch (later on we decided to have a buffet at  Royal Orchid, Mysore). After finishing the breakfast, we started  packing our stuffs, as its time to accept the reality and checkout.

Around 1 pm, we checked out, waved good-bye to the owner couple and started back for the Bangalore. We had hardly travelled for 10 minutes,  Sanjay shouted “we need  to go back, my car and house keys are missing”. So  we went back. And again finally we  started for Bangalore. Sachin said we will take a different route this time. Route that we decided to take was Jungle Retreat – Kartikulam – Nagarhole – Bavli – Heggadadevana Kote (HD Kote) – Mysore – Bangalore.

We reached Nagarhole National Park Gate at 2 pm. It was a single lane road, full of speed breakers.  But it needs to be like that, as there is no dearth of Michael Schumacher drive alike in India, who can easily have a collision with some wild animal which is crossing the road. We were going really slow, and we were enjoying it. On the left side of the road was very dense forest throughout and the right hand side of  the road was farms and couple of houses here and there. After travelling for around 7 kms we spotted a Parade of four adult and one baby tusker. Sachin said I really envy you guys, you came first time on this stretch and you saw so many types of wild animals. I came so many times in these  areas but I never ever saw this much. We came out of the Nagarhole National Park at 2:45 pm. Just beside the gate of park, there is one Elephant Rescue Camp. There was one huge Tusker chained there. We reached near Kabini around  3:30 pm. We stopped at a place from where we can see the complete reservoir, took few snaps and continued on our way back.

By 4 pm everyone was really hungry, except Shruthi as she was hardly awake. But time to have Buffet  @ Royal Orchid, Mysore was already over. Sachin suggested we should hit the Bangalore – Mysore highway and have something in any of the Cafe Coffee Day. Around 5:30 pm we hit the Bangalore – Mysore highway. There were somany dhabas one by one.I suggested  that we should stop at anyone and have some solid food. Our driver suggested that Adigas is hardly 15 mins away we can have food there. But I really hate these places which serves very restricted menu. Then I spotted a Fish Land (with Bar attached ;)). We stopped there and after getting down, I shook Shruthi to get her out from the hibernation. First we ordered beer to get rid of hang over. Then Pomphret Masala, Angel Masala, Sardine Fry, Prawn Fry, Neer Dosa, Fish Curry, Chicken Curry, Boiled Rice. PHEW, what a feast.

After the food everyone was awake. We kept on chatting, pulling legs of each other. And we had the time of our life. After sometime driver asked shall we stop at CCD. I thought he might be feeling dizzy after food, so I asked him to pull over. We all had coffee there. Before starting, I got Lemon Ice Teas. I and Sachin poured the remaining vodka into that (it was Sachin’s idea). Everyone liked the taste of it. We hit Bangalore around 10 pm. Shruthi and  Vinay preferred to get down on the way to office near their homes. I, Sachin, Sanjay, Sajith and Meenu reached office around 11 pm. Around 11:30 pm we parted our ways to our way  back home, and one more funride came to its end.

Ride to Kodagu

July 1st, 2010

Dheeraj called me up in the evening and asked “Sir we are going to Nandi hills on Saturday morning, will you come”. Being a enthusiastic Rider, without giving it a second thought, I said yes. I guess it was first long ride for most of them. While coming back, all of them said we should plan for a longer ride. Always count me in. That day we came back and as usual, everyone forgot about planning for a longer ride.

I had already been to Coorg once. This time I was full of enthusiasm as I had a passion for bike rides. After a week or so, one weekend, I casually asked Dheeraj, thinking of riding till Coorg, what do you say. “Just tell me the date and time, I will be there”. So uploaded a public event on facebook. People started giving there opinions and suggestions. Most of them was saying its raining, not a season to go there, bla bla bla.

Thats when Sanjay (Sanjo) and Akshat joined in. Although I had a thought that bigger the group, more fun it would be. But even four was sufficient. We decided that we will start off on Friday evening, after office.

July 30th, 2010

Friday evening, Akshat text me he will not be able to join. I informed Sanjo about it. He said “now what”. “Who cares dude, we will go”. We had decided to start off from our office at 7:00pm, Dhiraj would come and join us at 6:00pm. But as it happens always we did not start off at 7:00pm.

Dhiraj as promised turned up at 6:00pm. Dhiraj & I were supposed to go shopping for a Jacket for Dhiraj and Gloves for me. But we somehow managed to buy the jacket. The jacket too was same as the one bought by me. We returned to my office at 7:15pm. But as usual, Sanjo was stuck with some last minute office work. Sanjo finished his work somehow by 7:30pm and then we started off from office by 8:00pm. I and Dhiraj on their P220 and Sanjo on his Royal Enfield 500.

We had planned to ride into Mysore road via Nice road, as via Corporation it would be jam packed. We hit Jaynagar via Wilson Garden. Then plan was to hit Arakere junction through Dalmia Circle. After Dalmia Circle, we missed the cut and lost the way. So reach Arakere Junction by 9:00 pm. From there we reached nice road entrance @ Gottikere around 9:20 pm. The moment we started on the Nice Road, and it started pouring. We kept riding slowly, and hit Mysore Road by 10:00pm. On Mysore Road, we stopped to refuel Sanjo’s bike. We decided to stay at Mandya, and then proceed further Saturday morning. With a pit stop to have a tea, we reached Mandya around 11:30pm. We covered around 85 kms in 2.5 hours, thanks to continuous downpour. We went straight to Hotel Gururaj, which was on the Mysore Expressway itself. We got the room there, which was not great, but ok. Then came to know that we will not get the dinner there, as its late.

On enquiring, one steward said that around half a kilometer ahead, there is a fast food joint where we can get something to eat. So we took our bikes and started on Operation Dinner Hunt. After around 2 kms we saw the mentioned so called fast food joint. I cant express the degree of disappointment after seeing the so joint. Anyways, we ordered Egg Fried Rice to be parceled. Behind that joint, some people were boozing. We got three plates of Egg Fried Rice and two ommelettes after 30 mins. When Dhiraj took out his wallet to pay the bill, WOLA, cops came. Suddenly all the lights went off, and one of the cop started beating one of the autowallah. We settled the bill and moved from there. By the time we reach back to hotel it was almost 12:30am. Plan was to have dinner, sleep and start in the morning as early we can.

July 31st, 2010

We had planned to leave by 6 am on our further journey. By the time we finished our breakfast it was already 7:30 am. We hit the road around 8 am. We decided to take Mysore – Hunsur Road to Yelwal to beat the traffic. Road till was not very smooth. It had rough patches every now and then. Without any pit stop, we reached Yelawal around 10 am. It was a stretch of 43 kms. We stopped at Yelwal to freshen up with tea.

From Yelwal, Coorg is 130 kms. We decided to take next stop directly at Coorg. Within an hour and covering 80 kms we reached Kushalnagar. From Kushalnagar, road bifurcates for two destinations of Kodagu region. Right track goes to Madikeri and left takes us to Coorg. We took left from there as we had planned to stay somewhere near to Irpu Falls. We left Kushalnagar junction by 11:30 am.

We follwed the route that we saw on one of the websites. From Thitimathi, we took Siddapura forest reserve route. After crossing Siddapura, we reach Virajpet around 2 pm. There we asked for direction to Irupu Falls and came to know that we had to take another route Ponnampet which was around 35 kms. After a short break, we started back to Ponnampet, which we had already passed by while coming to Virajpet.

From the morning, we had been riding in rain. But as soon as we headed towards Ponnampet it started raining heavily. We stopped under a tree, as there was no other shelter. Within 5 mins we realized that there is no point in standing and waiting the rain to stop. So again we started our journey. Through all the curvy roads and heavy rain, we reached Ponnampet by 3 pm. On reaching Ponnampet, Dhiraj said he needed to refuel. All three of us were hungry to the core. We decided to have lunch in the Ponnampet itself and then move further. There was one restaurant (could not recollect the name) near to the ptrol bunk. There we stuffed ourselves with Chicken Kabab, Fish Fry and Chicken Biryani. It was really exquisite.

We then started moving towards Irupu Falls around 4 pm. For all the time we were having that delicious lunch, it was not raining. We had travelled just 5 kms or so, again it started raining cats and dogs. But we decided to keep moving. And this time we did not repeat the same mistake. First of all, due to rain it was like a curfew situation. Getting a glimpse of people was very rare, as all of them were enjoying the warmth of their home. But Sanjo kept on asking for the direction whenever and wherever he got a chance. We crossed Hudikeri, Shettigeri and Srimangla, and seriously it was all deserted. And more than that we three were a matter of amusement for all of those faces peeking out from their windows. We were like lone riders on those drenched roads. We reached Irupu Falls by 5:30 pm.

Reaching Irupu Falls was satisfying beyond words. But to our disappointment, it gets closed at 5 pm and opens at 7 am. Sanjo tried to negotiate with the guard there to take some extra money and let us in. That did not work out. So we decided to look out for some place to stay near by. There were numorous homestays, and best part was all of them were at uphills. We started looking for and reached one of the homestay through muddy roads. Our rear tyre was swinging like waist of a belly dancer. When I applied brakes and put my legs down after reaching at the top and in front of homestay, I could not stop my leg from slipping. I had to let my bike fall, slowly. Sanjo and Dhiraj were laughing loud. Anyways Sanjo negotiated with the owner of the homestay. She asked for Rs. 1500 for a night for all three of us, which was quite economical for us. But the only issue was that they will not provide food, we have to get it. Same was the scenario with all homestays we checked.

We started to move towards Kutta for some more options. After travelling for around 2 kms from Irpu Falls, we saw one guest house. On negotiating we got stay for Rs 1200. Food issue still remained same. We inquired for the food and came to know that we have to get it from Kutta, which is just 5 kms. By the time I and Sanjo finished our enquiry, Dhiraj was already in bed. So I and sanjo had to Go to Kutta and get food. Kutta was almost 9 kms from the guest house. And road was mind blowing, pitch dark and full of potholes and creaking bridges. Along with food, we also got a bottle of whisky to rejuvenate ourselves.

Good part was at such place the guest house had a geaser in the bathroom. We were fully covered with mud and drenched. We had relieving showers, followed by whisky. We had Chicken Fried Rice and Chicken Kabas in the dinner. When we hit the bed, that relaxation feeling was out of the world.

August 1st, 2010

We left guest house by 7:30 am, and reached Irpu Falls. Sanjo said “did we go by same route last night, yesterday it was not this rough”. so we finished for what we put so much effort. We visited Irpu Falls, went to the top and came back by 8:30 am. We had coffee there and left for our next stop, Namrodoling Monastery (Golden Temple), Bylakuppe; by 9:15 am.

Bylakuppe is around 50 kms from Irpu Falls via Ponnampet, Gonikoppal, Ammathi. We reached there by 1 pm, making a pit stop at Ponnampet for brunch. After reaching there we realised it was worth taking the pain to come off route to visit the place. It was quite and peaceful inside the Golden Temple. We did some shopping for souveneirs and headed back to Bangalore around 4:30 pm.

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant in Periyapatna. It was not as good as restaurant in Ponnampet. But due to hunger, tiredness and desire to reach home, we stuffed ourselves with Pepper Chicken and Chicken Biryani. Then we started for our way back home. Our next stop was Mandya. So we covered almost 180 kms in a single stretch. When we stopped and looked at each other, each of us realised the importance of home sweet home. We reached Nice Corridor at Mysore Road around 9:30 pm. There all three of us parted our ways towards our home. When I was riding alone on the Nice Corridor in the drizzle, I could feel my rear tyre swinging.

And yes it was a memorabble, adventurous, tiring, drenching and nice ride. The very next day all three bikes were in respective Service Centres.

Love and Friendship

“Pyar dosti hai , agar woh meri sab se acchi dost nahi ban sakti to main us se pyaar kar hi nahi sakta” – Rahul in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

When I heard this dialogue first time in the movie, I was like what shit, what is that, who thinks or talks like this.

But you know, JINDAGI ROZ CLASS LETI HAI. So with every passing day, I was getting new lessons, enriching myself with new experiences and exploring new horizons in every aspects. From 1998 to till date, I have been to three major cities, New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Three cities with completely different lifestyles, completely different cultures, completely different ways of living altogether. Also in between keep visiting new places domestic and abroad. During the same course I made new friends, met many new people, saw many new, old, usual, weird aspects of relations.

I saw many friends getting married, arranged, love, love-cum-arranged, arranged-cum-love; saw many friends broke up, on good note, on worst note; saw many friends broke up and again patch up. But the situation which always interested, or rather fascinated me is when I see love blooming up between best friends.

You know all of us expect that the person with whom we wanna spend our entire should be able to know us in and out. We expect that our life partner should be able to listen even when we dont speak, should be able to pamper/pacify even when we dont say that I am feeling low. So, I think thats what best friend always do. They understand each other, they support each other, they are always there for each other through thick and thin. We just dont feel how the time files when we are in each other’s company. We always want to spend our entrire life with my best friend, at least I do.

But I guess, thats only the case when we a see a friend in them. Seeing the same person in a different a frame, in the frame of LIFE PARTNER gives us goose bumps. First of all we are never ever ready to think in that direction. Even when we do, there begins the conflict between mind and heart. Heart says its pretty normal and it is the way it meant to be. But the mind says, dont be a feel, what if she dont feels it same way, you would be a loser at both ends, you wont get love and also you would be losing your friend. And thats the point where most of stop thinking about it and move on.

Another interesting scenario is, when two people break up and one of them proposes that we can be friends at least. Its very easy to say so, but when it comes to really enforcing it, its very difficult. We try to give it a shot, asn initially everything seems to be fine and in place. But gradually we start feeling the same spark among us, and thats when you feel yourself torn from within. Thats the time when ignorance comes in picture. We start ignoring each other due to some unknown fear. Or our ego comes in between, that how can we go back to something that we had left already.

These two relationships are the most mystifying to me always. But one thing that I am sure of “Friendship often ends in love, but love in friendship, rarest of the rare”.