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Road Trip to ‘Gods Own Country’

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4:25 PM chamoli: koi ride plan hai near future mein ?
me: bol yaar
mann to kar rha hai
hai to nahi
chamoli: next weekend wayanad ?
me: πŸ™‚
jan12-13
sounds cool
4:26 PM chamoli: 15th ko chhutti hai teri ?
me: confirm karke batata hoon … tentativel BIG YES πŸ™‚
nahi 😐
kis baat ki
chamoli: ohh
sakranthi
me: lemme chk
chamoli: karnatak mein to hoti hai chhutti
check ur leave calender .. zaroor hogi
4:27 PM to 14th off leke chal sakte hain aur lamba πŸ™‚
me: πŸ˜€
hai !!
chamoli: πŸ™‚
4:28 PM to bol kahan chalna hia ? πŸ™‚
4:35 PM me: ladakh
πŸ˜€
chamoli: bahut sahi beta πŸ™‚
The seeds were sown as above in what resulted in the longest ride for me till date.
The trip-meter read 1013 at the end of it but unlike the first impression, it was not such a long ride as we drove at leisure. The 1000 odd kms were done in approx. 4 days!
The travelogue (to the best of my memory) follows:-

Jan 12, 2008 (Sat, Day 1)

0630: Started from HP petrol bunk at MG Road. Staying in South Bangalore, I had always reached SH-17 (Bangalore-Mysore highway) via Kanakpura road. The town hall route was pretty new to me. Followed the veteran Chamoli bhai all the way.

0730: First pit-stop at Kamat on SH-17. Unfortunately was denied the pleasure of the breakfast buffet. Apparently, we were early for that.

[ Meanwhile, this first lap was quite difficult for me considering the fact that I had underestimated the morning chill. Was wearing a sweat shirt and a jacket but somehow the cold was piercing ]

Took a right before Mysore and sign-boards started to show “Infosys – 8km”. Having heard so much about the grandeur of this campus, I wondered if it would be on the way so that I could at least catch a glimpse but it wasn’t meant to be. We took a big detour and were on our way towards Nanjangud where we took another pit stop. Helped ourselves with some biscuits/juice and made calls to near dear ones to make them aware where exactly on the road were we.

The roads all the way till Gundlupet were pretty decent. At Gudlupet, we were supposed to take a right and soon we found ourselves at the check post of Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary.

1130: Bandipur Wildfile Sanctuary entrance was where we had to produce the documents for the officials to investigate. They asked from where we were coming and let us go. Does Bandipur have tigers? Well, i donno but I was at least hoping for some adventure. All I could spot was a lone monkey (courtesy chamoli bhai). The ride through the Sanctuary was fun nonetheless. It was almost noon and the road was lit up with bright sunshine. The shadows of the tall trees caused some confusion as I mistook them for potholes at times πŸ˜›

1230: Our first major destination was a place called Sulthan Bathery. I had envisioned this to be some architectural junk just like the Sulthan Bathery at Mangalore but this was indeed a sleepy little town. We were dying of hunger by now. We rode slowly through the town trying to locate a decent place to appease our hunger. The efforts turned futile and we were almost past the town when we stopped and did some local gyan gathering. The options we had were to ride to Kalpetta or go back to SB. After due diligence, the latter was decided as the course of action.

1300: Back at Sulthan Bathery. Finally parked at Hotel Regency and ordered food. It took ages before the order was served. Ever heard of chicken with matar (peas) … yeah that is what we had for lunch πŸ˜›

1500: As we had already measured the breadth of this sleepy town, we were not too keen on venturing out again in search of a place to stay, so we checked in at the Regency itself. Freshened up and relaxed for 10 minutes!

1520: On the road again. Towards Kuruva Dweep. I do not exactly remember the total kilometers we did from the hotel to this place. But the interesting part is this – At a V junction on the way, the well laid tarmac continued one way and the other path was a dusty stretch passing through foliage. While I was inquiring the distance from a person, chamoli bhai was already on the road less traveled and gestured me to follow suit. The next 3 kms was fun with dust flying all over. Surprisingly, there was onward traffic as well. It so happens that the other road is around 5 more kms of travel. We stopped en route to click some snaps!

1545: On the wooden raft which carried us across the Kabini river onto this 950 acre landmass. It is believed that this island is still inhabited by adivasis. I was hoping one popped out before us too but (un)fortunately it did not happen. There was a good number of visitors here and the only activity to be undertaken was a hike along the river to a place where the waters were shallow enough to get into the river. We weren’t too keen to do so and so took a leisurely walk and returned on the other side of the river in an hour or so.

1715: Sun was about to set when we started for Sultan Bathery. This time the 3km stretch was covered in a jiffy and we were surprised to have hit the well laid road in no time πŸ™‚

1830: One thing about Kerala. The roads are quite good but narrow, surrounded by greenery and it was exhilarating to drive. Back at the hotel.

1915: Outlook traveller / Eicher Maps strewn all over. Brainstorming the best way to spend the next day.

2000: Exploring the sleepy town on foot. Dearth of a decent bar resulted in us remaining thirsty. Although, the fishes and Kerala parotha we had more than made up for it. There were plenty of fishes to go down my throat in the coming days πŸ˜›

2115: Played fussball and table tennis in the hotel games room. Evened out in the end, with Chamoli bhai beating me in the table soccer and me getting the better of him in table tennis πŸ˜›


Jan 13, 2008 (Sun, Day 2)


0730: Breakfast at the hotel and ready to rock and roll. The plan was to hit Kozhikode aka Calicut around 4pm after having seen what was worth seeing on the way.

0830: At Edakkal Caves. Here is a small disclaimer – Twas a treacherous trek in disguise of a cave. After parking the steeds, it was 1km+ uphill walk will one reaches the entrance of the caves. And the entrance is all that can be called a cave. Post that is it open skies and a steep climb. While I was questioning the gear I was in – WHITE sweat shirt and jeans thinking it would have been so much better if only it were a pair of shorts and a tee, I saw a large group of females clad in the six yard of clothing popularly known as a Saree gleefully making to the top :-O The views from the top were amazing.

1045: Back at the base camp, if I may call it so, where we had some refreshing masala/lime soda

1100: Bought a handful of spices … actually saw Vanilla growing on tress πŸ™‚ from the quintessential Kerala beauty with an eternal pout, amongst other histrionics πŸ˜›

1130: At the Phantom Rock. Yea, this is a hillock which resembles the bust of a Phantom. Big deal! But I liked the fact that there has been no stone left unturned in attracting tourists to dumb places like these. Kudos to Kerala tourism. Mind you, the ride to each of these places was truly amazing.

1215: Back at the Hotel. We had left our saddlebags here.

1230: On the road towards Kalpetta where we planned to have lunch en route Kozhikode.

1315: Ordered the exotic chicken stew amongst others at Hotel Woodlands, Kalpetta. We had a tad more than our stomachs warranted simply because the preparations were scrumptious. On the road again. Meanwhile, the temperatures had begun to soar as we headed westwards.

1430: Pedal Boating and lotus watching at this fresh water lake called Pookote.

1500: Lakkidi ghats! Now this was something I had been waiting for because I just love riding on the ghat section. We could not get a proper view from the top owing to the time of the day. The rays from the sun had resulted in lots of haze. I, for once, mistook it to be fog but was corrected by Chamoli bhai. This section has 9 hair-pin bends (not too many :-P) and when the sky is clear, all of them are visible from the top. All I could spot were two but it was quite evident that the descent was damn steep.

1615: Tea time after having done the ghats. Our plan was to meet folks at IIM and take it further from there.

1845: At the entrance of IIMK. Here is some insider news. The IIM campus is not at Kozhikode. It is a good 12-15kms before that on NH-17 itself. The place is called …… We had overshot the gate by quite some distance and rode all the way back.

[ IIMK was having its cultural fest called Backwaters and this was the 3rd and final day. Parikrama was due to perform that nite and we could see the stage getting ready on our left side once we were inside the gates. It was already dark when we reached and hence could not get a clear picture of the campus. But what ever little we saw left me mesmerized. It is a 2km uphill drive before one reaches the hostel/academic block πŸ™‚ We dumped our luggage in one of our friends room and set out for the canteen. Some chin wagging over coffee/tea, exchanging some stories of our journey and knowing how they were doing assured that it was 1930. Neither of us were in a mood to watch Parikrama so we set out to explore Calicut … yeah thats the other name for Kozhikode. We were advised that there was virtually nothing to do in the city but we still ventured out. The two things which were on our mind were the Calicut beach and Kappad beach. Come to think of it now, the Calicut beach is best if avoided. It was over-crowded and just plain boring. Since, we were tired and it was late too, we decided to head back to the beautiful IIMK campus. We managed to save some moolah too by staying at the hostel that night πŸ™‚ ]


Jan 14, 2008 (Mon, Day 3)


0600: I did not sleep much and was up early as I had planned to capture the campus but bad light forbid me from doing so. Nonetheless, I roamed through the campus. It was pretty humid even early morning.

0730: Bid adieu to folks at IIM thanking them for their hospitality.[ This was to be our NH-17 day. Rode all the way till Kannur. There is hardly any stretch on this highway where one feels desolated. It is lined with shops etc on either side with towns coming and going in quick succession ]

0830: A detour of 5kms from NH-17 just outside Kozhikode took us to Kappad Beach. For the less informed, this is the place where the legendary Vasco De Gama set foot in 1498 and I was pretty excited about this fact. Yeah, I was. After much hard work, we were finally able to locate the small pillar which proclaimed so. Although there were a few more places we could have seen along Kappad, we decided against it.

0915: Having the last dose of fish and Kerala parotha. Twas marvellous! This was at a small dhaba just next to the secondary high school at Puthiyangadi. Highly recommended if you happen to pass-by.

0945: Back on NH-17. The highlight of the day was to be Muzhappilangad beach.

[ Tanked up just before Mahe. Gas is cheaper by 10 bucks in Kerala than in Karanataka. Saw an eyeful of backwaters on the way. Could hear and even catch glimpses of the waves lashing against the rocky beaches towards our left all along Mahe till Thalassery. ]

1200: At the driving beach finally πŸ™‚ Sand, Sea and Madonna. Wow!! πŸ˜€

[ This is 5kms ahead of Thalassery towards Kannur. A few kilometers of detour takes one there and then after the 2km or so of beach, there is another connecting road to NH-17 ]

1400: Lunch just outside Kannur.

[ We had planned to be at Madikeri by 1600 or so but hardly had any clue of what lay in store for us. Just 100 odd kilometers from Kannur to Madikeri but … butt aches! The road was bumpy with potholes showing up every now and then till Mattanur and a little ahead. But beyond that …. there was … well no roads! The 35 odd kilometers we did from Iritty till Virajpet will remain etched in memory for long. We were consistently gaining elevation without even realizing so. All this ride was thought forests but we dare risk even a second to soak in the beauty of the surrounding. The body was sore and I was waiting for the turmoil to end but it seemed like an eternal journey. A breakdown somewhere during this stretch would have been suicidal. Luckily it did not happen.

The board read “Madikeri – 41 kms” from where we took a left and this turn was the most welcome turn in my life. The road seemed like a butter spread and we just went zooming thereon. I cannot put in words what a welcome relief it was. Besides, the temperatures were dropping as Madikeri was approaching. For once I felt like God πŸ™‚ ]

1815: Reached the town center of Madikeri and scouted for a cheap n decent place to crash in. Finally, checked in at hotel(forgot the name). Freshened up and relaxed and planned for the last day of the ride.

2100: At the East End Hotel. This is actually at the east end of the town of Madikeri and we actually walked all the way till here (a good 2km odd) since we were not in a condition to ride. Had amazingly good food and chilled out with chilled beer for the first time during the ride. Man … it felt good!


Jan 15, 2008 (Tue, Day 4)


0800: At Raja’s Seat which offers a panoramic view of Madikeri. Misty hills in the backdrop, paddy fields in patches, coffee/spice plantations abound and generous amount of greenery thrown all over. Supposedly Tipu Sultan – the great ( You go anywhere in Karnataka and it is hard not to find some connection to him) came and sat here to enjoy the breathtaking views.0830: Breakfast at the hotel very close to Raja’s Seat (Forgot the name again)

1000: At Abby Falls. The entry to the fall has been closed and one cannot get to the base. The suspension bridge just in front of the falls offers the best view.

1115: Checked out from the hotel. The steeds were loaded again and it was time to head homeward. (280kms to go)

1130: Started from Madikeri. The 35-odd kilometers from here till Kushalnagar was bumpy with huge potholes.

[ Took a handful breaks. One to get the tyre pressure checked. Another to get the music going and so on ]

1300: Reached the famous Namdroling Monastery and this being my first visit to any monastery, I was awestruck by the beauty/serenity and the entire ambiance of the place. It seemed no less than a resort to me. This one place was where we clicked the most no. of photographs.

1400: Dimsums were to be found nowhere but the food in the adjoining shopping complex was quite delicious. Also bought a handful of souvenirs for folks.

1435: The plan was to hit SH-17 after crossing Srirangapatnam bypassing Mysore in the process. The roads from Kushalnagar/Bylakupe have been recently laid and hence were in top notch condition. They were broader than SH-17 at most places πŸ™‚

1645: Last pit-stop at Maddur CCD. Sinful indulgence in caffeine and the much wanted butt-relief-break

1730: Back on SH-17 for the last lap of the o-so-wonderful trip πŸ™‚

1830: Bid good byes at Manipal Road (Off MG Road, Bangalore), with the promise for another trip soon!

1915: At home from the longest ride of my life. Up is the only way to go, I believe. Good start to a new year albeit a couple of weeks late πŸ™‚

The snaps (unsorted/unorganized/ sans captions) can be seen here.

Written by Sangfroid

January 27, 2008 at 6:00 pm

9 Responses

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  1. Wow!! That sounds awesome.. πŸ™‚ Infact, I was supposed to be in Calicut for a meeting last week but the trip got cancelled somehow..
    Have been to Kerala and its one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. And exploring it on a bike would sure have been an experience of a lifetime..

    sam

    January 28, 2008 at 11:04 am

  2. Good style of writting, quite riveting πŸ™‚
    Log on more to your odometer…and keep typing…

    Prabul

    January 28, 2008 at 12:16 pm

  3. sahi hai bhai! bahoot maja kiya!!! πŸ˜€

    me envy now…

    Love

    January 28, 2008 at 12:46 pm

  4. hey neat! so now i need to cook fer ya n u need to take me on a road trip! πŸ˜‰

    Ani

    January 28, 2008 at 3:02 pm

  5. So the avenger brothers conquered god’s own country eh? Nice blog, spice up with some pics as you narrate. Hope to see more such travel logs from you πŸ˜›
    Btw, pls change the lid asap!

    Deadman Inc

    January 28, 2008 at 11:54 pm

  6. Sam, meeting at the beach πŸ˜› exotic!
    Kerala deserves much more than 4 days … it sure was amazing, but … yeh dil maange more πŸ™‚

    Prabul, thanks for visiting buddy. The odo shall not stop πŸ™‚

    LJ, hehe … maja maadi hui thee mast!

    Ani, deal! but only healthy food … u know less-oil, low cal blah blah πŸ˜›

    Vaas, far from conquering man πŸ˜› yea … will embed pics next time onwards n
    you are rite bout the lid, need to talk to SK!

    Sangfroid

    January 29, 2008 at 10:51 am

  7. yeah yeah yeah! Punju female tlaks of butter driping aaloo parathas n you talk of low cal! ~sheesh!

    Ani

    February 5, 2008 at 1:03 am

  8. Ani, I sooo luv d butter d cheese d aloo d “anything n everything” but … but m on a mission πŸ™‚ hehe

    Sangfroid

    February 8, 2008 at 11:33 am

  9. Thanks for sharing your work with us! Your theme is just awesome!

    Znakomka

    January 9, 2009 at 10:54 pm


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