Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Red Hills and Bekal Fort



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I was in for a three day ride. All the planners were not. So was not sure as to where and what. Its gonna be solo. Thought i might as well spin the bottle in the morning and pick a direction! Yeah right. Couldn't catch sleep thinking where to ride. So 1.15 am i took the Eicher map and Decided it would be B'lore-calicut via ooty day1, calicut-kundapura day2 and kundapura-kudremukha day3. Some plan but helped me catch sleep.

Out by 6 am. The whole day was supposed to be ride through with no places to visit. Took a break for coffee at shivalli CoffeeDay. Lot of bullets parked. All were head for the Rider Mania 09. Called Santoosh to see if the Bikenomads are nearby so that i could meet them on the way. They were on a ride to wayanad. Then next comes call for Prabul, who's heading up to ooty!. What a surprise. Then i thought would catchup with the group and ride together and split at Gundlepet with the guys and split with Prabul at ooty. Then i pick up pace to catchup with the group supposed to be riding slow! I reach Mysore still no sign of them. Then i gun towards Gundelpet. After Nanjungud called up Prabul only to know that the group was at Mysore bus stand restaurant for breakfast! So i over shot them. Then i thought i would as well carry on. All the while see many bullets heading to ooty. Stopped at Pug mark restaurant for breakfast. Called up Arun who said that the route i picked up was not very interesting. Could as well try ooty-sultanbatheri-kalpetta-mananthavadi-kannur. Just then Prabul calls up asking my wearabouts. He was planning to visit Red hills on the other side of ooty. Thought might as well join him never been there. So i wait for him. He showsup at the restaurant by 9.45am. Now got company. Then we ride together. We enter the bandipur wildlife sanctuary. Then a funny things happened. We saw a narrow road split to the right while all vehicles went left. We though y not explore it, only to find opposing vehicles staring at us and after a while it joined the main road. Only then we realized that we headed up a one way hehe. So much for being explorers. Then we carry on and see forest fire on the left in full blaze. At one point had ride through smog blowing out on the road and felt like furnace! We come to the masinagudi deviation and lot of cars parked waiting to get in. It seems a bus has entered the narrow road and has no clue what to do. Prabul and me sneak through the gap and we are free. And no traffic will enter for quite some time thanks to the bus. This was even bettor then the road till now, narrow and undulating. The environment in transition from green to brown currently being transient Golden. It was looking great around actually. Then we spot a walking trail going to the left of the road. With a grin we gestured each other to get on it. Now we offroad riding through the trees and reach a clearing. Take a break there for some pix. We then continued ahead which led to a village of sorts. Prabul want to try a different route getting back to the road very confident of his navigation skills. We took some walking tracks and soon enough i lost way and followed Prabul till we hit a dead end. Now we both were lost :D No use back tracking as it was all confusing riding between trees jumping faint walking tracks. But knew that the road was towards the mountains and sure enough Prabul found us the way out. Hurray good to be back on the tarmac. It was a nice lazy ride till Ooty climbing up the famous 36 hair pin bends. Now lot more bullets are seen thumping their way up. We get into a cute lil restaurant for food. Prabul gathers information on the Red hills route. It seems that the hills around that part are covered with redish sand and thus the name. It was quite cold and chilly around ooty and going to be more so as we ride up to the red hills.

This road was more scenic and lots of greenery around. We stopped quite some places for pix. The ambiance was awesome. Blue sky, greenery around, chilly air and bright warm sunshine. The roads got narrower and worse. We were looking for Redhills dam. But we found many lakes on the sides of the road in all shapes and sizes. was 4 pm before we realized. At one point there was a gentle grassy slope going down to the lake and yes we went offroad and followed left along the slope till we felt it was too steep and stopped. It was a mind blowing place with a ameaba shaped lake and hills again on the other side. Sun was staring down from the best view of the place and so not great pictures. Din feel like leaving the place. Then came this forest dept worker who asked us to leave as it was restricted area!. Well ignorance is bliss:D Then we continued and the road turned literally to offroad and sun setting fast. We wanted to stay in the red hills resort which we found by 5.30 pm. The view around the place was awesome and at 5k the place was too expensive and romantic for two guys to stay there hehe. But the resort owner was courteous enough to offer us tea and snax. We had a conversation about the place and heard that it drops to -3 -4 temp in night sometimes it seems!. Its now getting dark and have to ride back. One option was Parsan's valley which Arun suggested, but the locals there discouraged us saying that there is a crazy one horned bison there which gives two wheelers a chase. It was also getting dard and had to ride all to way to ooty to find us a place for the night. In ooty by 7 and took us like 1.5 hours to find a room. Accommodation is quite in demand there even in off season. Not to forget it was freezing cold around!. Its very difficult to find a bar and restaurant there. Its either one of them only. So ended up having em at the room itself. We chit chat and doze off not knowing where to head tomorrow.

Woke up at 7 am and too lazy to get out of the warm blanket. Wanted to settle in a beach resort and indulge in luxury for once. Kundapur sounded far considering we have to reach by 4 pm to make justice. Prabul who wanted to go to kodai decided to hit the coast with me. Was around 9 am when we got moving and 10 am we done with break fast. Now we get out of ooty towards Gudalur. Man o man mind blowing road it is now! smooth wide twisties. Was bad roads last time i was there. It was an amazing ride. With plenty of engaging opportunities on either side. First it was sneak in through the fence to get in a sheep farm. Well the whole bus loads of ppl snuk in ;) Never seen a sheep farm before, smooth hills and hills with just grass. Yes Windows xp theme like. Got back and we find a trail on the right. So more offroading we do till the dead end at the fence of another sheep farm. Funny lot of hills and land but no sheep! The sheep were sure there quite far and had to use max zoom to capture them. Quite peaceful open space. Get back to the awesome road. Then i realize that my bike's speedo cable has conked off! man that was a turn off. We realized we are making very slow progress and kannur before sun down seemed tough. Road from gudalur to sultanbhatery was narrow and rough and hoped things would improve after that place. Once we are into sultanbathery we catch the awesome road towards kalpetta, wide smooth twisties. It got too engaged with and gunned towards kalpetta when i get a call from Prabul calling me back. Sure enough we had to take a right deviation before kalpetta to hit Mananthawadi. The roads got bumpy and it was going on and on. Now the weak spot in my back started hurting. I followed Prabul whose throttle is fixed at 80 good or bad roads. My back pain was getting bad. My back is getting weak i guess and i am not getting any younger as well! We stopped for a lunch and i had a kerala style lunch at Mananthavadi, where i unwittingly ate too much. Then it was a pain full ride for me with full stomach getting into cramps and back muscle really hurting. We had to take a break. Its then i realized the environment around. Was actually nice ride under tree canopy! After the break rejuvenated i went ahead stopping intermittently for Prabul to catch up. The road was uniformly lil bumpy and kinda narrow 2lane twisties. Cos of the road surface could not ride motogp style and instead tried the motocross style:D I lent out side the bike leaving front break alone and banging on the rear break which skidded the rear tire and caught grip soon cos of the rough road. It was conscious effort though. Then on was actually enjoying the ride jamming the rear break at every curve where i could feel the rear wheel hop hop hop hop and catch grip. It was great fun and resulting adrenalin took care of my back i guess ;)

We hit nice tarmac and did quite good progress and it seems we can hit kannur by 5pm and sure enough we did. Waded briskly through the busy city in search of the Maskot beach resort and were pissed finding it. How can it be a beach resort when u have a wall and drop after it with lot of stone and water hitting them! Somebody gotta teach them the meaning of beach resort! One of the waiter said that there's one at Talasassy beach 20 kms south. We were thinking of luxurious beach resort all day so we decided to give it a go. We rode at quick pace on the smooth roads and get to Talasassay beach by 6pm. WOW wat a beach, was very shallow and there was 10s of vehicles having beach riding\driving sessions! Took a couple of rounds on the beach as i wanted to do beach riding from long time. Pix session and all. Skids on the sand etc. Ok tad crowded but would be good to get into the promised resort now. Saw hoarding for Palm shore beach resort. And were in for a shockker when we found it. It was just a 2 floored house with very basic amenities. Man how can they call it a resort! Guess it was us who were looking for goa style resort outside goa. Were really not so enchanted with the beach that we would stay there with all that humidity!. So we we went back to Kannur got into a comfy hotel which had Bar & Restraunt at the same place ;) That was it for the day.

Next day Prabul wanted to leave soon as he had to reach bangy early. But he over slept. 7 when we woke up and in quick time Prabul was ready to leave and bid him byes. Ok so it was a solo ride today. Thought i had lot of time and was 10 am when i got back on the saddle. My plan for the day was to visit Bekal fort, ride through the kanhangad-talakaveri road hit coorg and then Mysore Bangalore. Sounds simple. But saw a board saying kasargod 100 kms. Ohh man how could i get so lazy in the morning. But was in for a relief to know that bekal fort was near kanhangad which was around 65. Din really wanna ride much of the bad coastal roads after some distance from kannur. At Neleshwaram saw a board saying Turtle Hatchery. Cut the speed and took the narrow path. Road for a couple of KMs and hit the beach. It wasn't a tourist beach, but one with a fishermen's village. Found a net enclosure with Turtle hatchery written on it. And just one nest fenced and marked. I expected a lot more turtles. But i atleast found 1 lone baby turtle in a glass container inside the hatchery. Few clicks and i was on my way. Boy was it getting hot and humid and sweaty. Enter khanhangad by like 12 pm and ride to bekal fort entrance. Have a lot of walking to do and lot of luggage on the bike. So i requested at the near by bekal resorts receptionist to keep my stuff while was in the fort. Thanks to him all my luggage, riding gear safe reception room. Now i can jay walk in the fort It was blinding sunlight. Relived the moments from my last ride here 4 years back. Walked around the fort. Quite tiring none the less. But was worth it. My back ach showed up again. Man this is not good. After around 40 mins i had to head back before the resort guy goes for lunch. Was waiting for me to take my stuff. Was quite a chore strapping the luggage and wearing the gear in the blistering sun.

With all the visit done it towards home now. Called up guys asking for directions and got into the kanhangad bhagamandala road. Awesome twieties with banking. Remembered the ride 4 years back where we had just gone crazy here scraping pegs and shoes at ever corner here. But this time i take it lil easy. The roads started deteriorating. My avg speed was down to like 30 kmph! And yes the back ach worse than ever. The last time i had this pain was in spiti himalayas after ridng 5 days offroad. But now the pain is in after riding a lil on bumpy roads!. At this rate how will i ride ladakh. The narrow road goes into the forest and other wise which is supposed to be an enjoyable ride, but not so for me. The back ach getting really bad and that worries me lot. Felt like by riding days were over!. Finally nearing Bhagamandala the roads smoothen out and back happy to be relieved. Remembered Arun telling me about a Nalknad palace, and had to catch a deviation before bhagamandala. But i dont see it and get into the small town. One inquiry, i am supposed to leave the smooth road towards coorg and instead catch the bad road towards Napoklu. By this time din want any thing of bad roads. Stopped for the lunch. Before the end of it the curiosity got the bettor of me and decided to go to napoklu 20 kms from there! Sure enough was greeted with bad roads and back started crying. Going was slow and bumpy and started cursing the govt the ministers etc etc. Came to napaklu and entered through the T junction. Asked about the palace. I was told that it was 10 kms more to the right near Kakkabe with horrible roads and coorg is 25 kms to the left with reasonable good roads. I know what these ppl mean by good roads. By good roads they mean where they dont feel the bumps while going on a bus! but i was on a bike relatively new and hard shox. Reluctantly i ditched the palace idea went to the supposed to be good road. 3 kms into it Arun calls up asking if i found the palace and not to miss it being so near. Now din want all that effort to go vain and went back to napoklu towards kakkabe ready to ride out horrid path. But to my surprice it was butter smooth! Cant really trust these locals regarding the road condtions! Made it to kakkabe in no time and after some asking around found the Nalknad palace. Its basically big house built by Doddaveerarajendra in 1792 as a hide out from british. It was used by his son also who eventually was caught by British right at this place. The care taker Anand gave me a tour of the place and showed how vandals had spoiled much of the paintings. The palace has been restored to some extent. It had a small court room, many dark rooms meant just to hide in etc. Now happy to have made it here time to head back.

Learn that it is bettor of taking the road through virajpet instead of coorg as i had to back track. So virajpet it is and throttled to do some day light saving. The roads mostly good till virajpet. A spirited esteem guy kept overtaking me and was driving really great in that narrow road with amazing control. it was fun to follow him. He stopped at the next town. Later on the road got lil bumpy and narrow heading towards hunsur. It was dark alright, and as i entered the preyapatna hunsur road, it was boon from heaven. International styled two lane smooth road with reflectors and lane marking et all and vehicles zipping in either direction at break neck speed. SLURRP! time to join in the party. Adrenalin pumping ride zipping through the vehicles trying to overtake each other. Not to long after the road become 4 laned with divider! 50 kms to mysore still to go. With no disturbance either side of the road it was full throttle time till Mysore. Hit the Mysore ring road so as to avoid getting into the city, catch the Bangalore road for a quick paced ride through the Mysore Bangalore traffic. This road is quite fun with all the traffic to play with :D. Took a break at Shivalli CCD again. And guess what i had at CCD? Biriyani of all things! All the bulleters going back from rider mania had finished all the food at CCD!. Finally reached home by 11 pm.

Was approx 1000 km nice ride, but for the back ach. Have to do something about it but in the end it was a fun ride.

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