Thursday, September 24, 2009

Savandura Ride 'O' Trek


Arun called me along for a small trek to Savandurga rock near bangalore. Been to this place many times but never went up the rock. Its a steep climb on the rock face to the summit. Taking the wrong path could get one stuck on the steep rock face not knowing hot to go up or down. Cos if you loose a foot hold there is nothing to break the fall and would roll down all the way. Many have lost their lives here. There is a dilapidated fort up there built by KempeGowda. It was his home for a few years to escape arrest from the British. Due to its steepness, its very difficult to attack from below. The only way to defeat the ppl in the fort was to surround the rock for at least three months and wait for the people above to run out of food. But the kings had their ways. As for recent stories, this is a fav place for couples and there have been a few murders.

There are basically two rocks Karigudd and Biligudda. We are going only to Biligudda which ppl go. Very few ppl know the route to climb the Karigudda. As its not just a one piece rock, its getting broken down by elements and there are lot of craveses plants growth to go through. All the above info given by the guide Raja who we hired. The way up is pretty simple but we need a guide help us out to avoid very steep paths and at some place let us know where to step. Some patches which look very dry are the parts which slip more. Arun is very interested to do this trek and encourages me to come along. Gives me his super flexible and sticky rock climbing shoes, cos i am not much into trekking and was apprehensive about climbing sheer rock face! where as he managed with normal sports shoes which he had quite some tough time! He has also brought us lunch. It had been raining all night and still was drizzling as we started in the morning. Arun tells that even if there is a break of half hour int he rain its possible to climb the rock. Thus went there to see whats the situation. Things looked encouraging as we got there. Called on Raja the guide. Dumped all our riding gear in his house and of we go to the trek.

Friday, April 03, 2009

My Big Escapade - Destination Unknown...

Been on a big ride of 175 days and 25508 KMs.

The track has been...
BigEscapade at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: Geotagging Community


As i sit at the southern tip of India, naively imitating Swamy Vivekananda, a mix of emotions rush to my mind. Sense of achievement, euphoria, disbelief and despair. Despair cos its all going to end soon. Thrilled at playing back my entire journey so for, in my mind. The places i have been, the people i have met, the experiences i have gained. All this feeling the cool breeze from the Indian Ocean i am staring at. Been more then 170 days on the move, living a nomadic travelers life on my Karizma. Across India, Bhutan and Nepal. It all sums up to one thing that i was happy at that moment.

On the way to beach in Kanyakumari, visited the museum on Swamy Vivekananda. His great journey across India was depicted there. He was short of money to pay for the boat man to take him to the now Vivekananda rock. He jumped into the strong waters and swam across to the rock. Spent quite some time there contemplating his journey so far. I felt right to do that myself too. Though i did not swim across to the rock, it was nonetheless great introspecting my travel so far.

It all began with suggestion and encouragement from my friend. Who recognized that i had not many bondages or commitments. Had my own share of disillusionment of this world due to some events. I could go on a big escapade away from my regular life. In what bettor way then riding away on my Karizma, which i love to do. Felt just right and din know what else to do other than this, in life at that point of time. My friend also gave me an high level itinerary.

The general far fetched idea being an all India ride, did some planning with my friends, though i was mostly passive on the route. Initially it was supposed to be a clock wise ride around India. Since i was not sure of how long i would last on the road and how long things would permit me, we decided it would be counter clock wise. So that i could ride out places i had not visited first. East coast, Bhutan, North East, Nepal, Ladakh and West coast was the basic itinerary. It was all wish full thinking at that time. The only fail safe being if something unfortunate happens, dump the bike at a transporter and fly home.

My friend helped me out with lot of ideas for the journey including the idea of geting custom fabricated panniers made. Took like 2 weeks to get that done in parts with four different parties. Shopped a lot, GPS phone for tracking and Laptop for logging among other things. In a months time i was ready to hit the road.

The day i was to start, had a small walk with my dad who had to let me go being unconvinced. The first thing i felt pushing the bike of the stand was, boy has it become monster with all the load. Did give me scares. My friend came to see me off and i started riding out of Bangalore crossing the city in the peak traffic. Soon i was riding away on the Kolar NH with Destination Unknown. With no idea of how long i will be able to continue on the trip. Its was Vijayvada for the day as i wanted to go out of my normal touring radius. Thus i was moving towards the east coast. Visiting places which i had only heard of. Vishakapattanam was quite a place especially on the beach road and made for a good day's halt with a lot of places to check out. Continued upwards on the east coast, stayed and visited places like Bhuvaneshwar, Puri, Konark and Chilika Lake. The sun temple at Konark was fascinating relic though a bit explicit in carvings. An evening on the Puri's beach was like a bliss. Crossing a couple of states i was still able to communicate in local language which helped me a lot. Telugu is my mother tongue and i could speak a some bengali which meant am kind of at home all through the east coast as for a language is concerned. Got off the NH 5 and settled in for a night at Digha, a coastel town, with cement beach! Had a nice ride on the very hard flat beach on my Karizma, before heading for Koltata. Took an off beat route crossing the Hoogli river by a ferry. Interior west bengal is thickly populated and its always dodging the traffic on my overgrown bike. Make it to Kolkata the City of Joy in 12 days. My father comes around for a visit and its couple of days break there. Here on the journey ahead had lot of uncertainty as lot less people travel around here on motorcycles. It was a gamble riding to Sunderbans and even had to sail over to an island on a small boat meant for people, along with my bike. Luckily found a place to park my bike and had couple of nights stay at Sajnekhali Wild life resort. Well no luck with a tiger spotting on a whole day's boat ride, but for couple of trails of day old pug marks.

So far so good and Bhutan was next on the itinerary. Hopping over Siliguri, Entered the Royal kingdom of Bhutan, and put up at PheountSholing. Its a border town along with an Indian town Jaigon. The two towns separated by a wall could not be any different. Felt the sense of freedom and security walking around in night, where i was always on the alert on the east coast India. Could get sim cards for 20 Rs and immediately activated on the go! Permits was time consuming and also needed a call from Indian embassy to get things going. Ride ahead on my first international road trip to explore the Himalayan country. Had couple of days of holdup due to a landslide, before reaching Thimpu. It was so very developed and felt like i was in a European town. Very nice and polite people around here but i guess there are always exceptions as my phone got mugged here of all the places. Statistics makes no sense i guess. Well have to move on. Rode around the Paro airport, the only one in Bhutan, to visit Takshakt Geomba also known as Tiger's nest, Perched on the side of a sheer cliff face. East of Thimpu i could see not much development. It was just miles and miles of winding mountain roads and a small towns on the way. Could ride for hours and still be in the same geographical area. But whose complaining as those were beautiful riding days on the mesmorising country side of Bhutan. The Himalayan mountains were on the greener side with highest pass around 3700 meters and any higher would need trekking. Loved taking breaks and gazing at the valleys and mountain ranges. After 10 days and 1400 Kms traveling in Bhutan, I exited at the Samdrup Jongkhar town bordering Assam state of India.

All of a sudden a sense of insecurity grips me. Such a transformation coming from the safe haven of Bhutan. Most had advised me against traveling North East India but for my co conspirators of this trip. Added to that there was serial bomb blasts a couple of days before i reached Guwahati. Had seen only a couple of triplogs on net of people traveling this region on motorcycles and cycles. I was in contact with them and they were kind enough to guide me around over phone. I would be lying if i said i wasn't scared. Riding towards Guwahati, keep seeing these boards by Military, advising against terrorism. Lucky that a friend of mine from collages days was from here and i put up at his parent's place. This was comforting and i could think straight. Visiting Arunachal Pradesh was first on the cards but the permits were not available for couple of days. Thus i moved down to Meghalaya and stayed in Cherrapunjee for a night, riding over the ridge of a picturesque valley. It was a bit funny cos i had wore all my rain gear when i entered the second most wettest place in the world and it was bone dry! What do you know it does not rain for four months here! Its surprising how in this modern age of Internet many things we learn by going to actual places. The places and villages and people felt really strange and the only way i can express is that it felt strange. Lot of places to visit around there, including a long hard trek to check out the amazing living root bridges. Back to Shilong for a couple of days rest and permits for states of Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal.

From there on i am supposed to be riding in troubled areas as i move in to Tripura. Never thought i would be riding in these states. People not really vella and i had meal for like 5 rupees. There were even military escorted convoys to get to Agartala the capital of Tripura. Some how i was allowed with out the convoy. Guessed the trouble makers would not be interested in a single bike. Was hosted by an police Inspector in Agaratala for lunch. Nothing like a home cooked meal to energize. Stayed near Neer Mahal, the lake palace for a night. Its first rains of the season as in head east to Mizoram. My idea of riding through an interior route to Aizwal, the capital, got foiled by rain. Had to stay at

Mizoram border town khanmun's guest house, nestled in forest kind of place. Had to back track and take the horrid route via Silchar. Entering the hilly state, the difference between the neighbouring state of Tripura was very evident. For a change i see lots and lots of Karizmas and many new bikes there. Aizwal was perched on steep hills with hardly any buildings and households on flat ground. The rear of these structures were supported by couple of stories high stilts. Spent a nice evening there with a local bullet group who came to visit me. Had a chance to visit a lake inside burma. But that would have been a three day trip with bad roads and rains. Mizoram was very safe and there are no sign of trouble. But next up was Manipur, where there are atleast 30 active militant groups even now. Most people advised me to avoid Manipur. Took confidence from cyclists who had toured manipur and went ahead. Again rain was spoil sport here as i attempted to ride to Imphal via the Natorious NH 150 also know as Tipaimukh Highway. But the attempt was enough to give me shivers riding into deep narrow forest road. Any way came back to Aizwal and took the Silchar route to Manipur. Heavy military presence in this state. Lot of soldiers patrolling the highways. Was even hosted by a Assam Rifals camp for a night. Was lucky enough to have a glimpse at how soldiers in action live. The Major, my host also gave me a good insight of the state of affairs in the troubled state. Made it to Imphal the capital the next day. Guess that is the only city in the state. Kohima was next up and i was out of Manipur with no trouble at all but for heavy rains. Sad that such a beautiful hilly state is in turmoil. Not yet breathing easy as i just entered Nagaland. Again contrary to all i have heard about this state, it was a peaceful ride and stay actually.

Exited Nagaland from Dimapur and headed straight to Kaziranga National park. Spotted lot of One Horned Rhinos on a fantastic early morning elephant ride. It was time to head north into Arunachal Pradesh. Since monsoons were approaching fast i decided to skip exploring eastern Arunachal as rains are supposed to be deadly around here. So Tavang was the only place i felt feasible. Got permits in Tezpur and soon i was crossing over the Misty Sela pass to reach Tavang. Thanks to suggestion of my friends and a veteran motorcyclist's article in , i went straight to DC office and then to Mountain Brigade to secure the permit to Visit Bum La, a disputed border mountain pass between India and China. The next day was luckily of clear weather and gave a window to attempting the pass. Had to get clearance by 3-4 check posts before i could proceed. It was tough, especially a some meters of incline on rounded stones. But it was rewarding atop Bum La. Was hosted well by the Sikh Regiment stationed there at the Border personnel meeting hut. Then it was kind of escape for Arunachal as i had to ride out terrible rains to get back to Assam. Looks like my North East leg is over and i head to Sikkim after a couple of day's rest in Guvahati.

Reaching Gangtok, i was suddenly in a tourist region. Looks like 'dangerous' part of the trip is over and from then on it was in safe touristy places. Well i could breath a sigh relief. Loved Sikkim and a couple of days of party at Gangtok was great to unwind with out worries of safety. With some hard work at getting permits, visited Nathu La, the trade border pass between India and China. Felt great to be there. It was time to head north and the rest of the Sikkim ride was mindbogglingly beautiful. Plenty of waterfalls around. ChungTong is a point of Y fork and i had a awesome rides to Zero point and Gurdongmor lake on either side of the fork. The bright blue Lake being at an altitude of 17000 feet. First time i get the taste of riding wide open high altitude places of himalayas. The development in north sikkim was hardly any thing compared to south. Had troubles with basic needs of phone coverage and petrol. Had to barrow some as well. Couple of landslides and fuel shortage made sure that i would spend a night at police check post in the middle of no where. But loved every moment of all this. Spent a day at Pelling gazing over the Majestic Kanchanjunga mountain range. Then ride out of Sikkim into Darjeeling to experience the famous toy train.

Before i realized i was out of country again, this time i entered Nepal via Pashupathi nagar border town. There was some political turmoil in Nepal just a week back and i was advised not to get there. But contrary to news on TV, things were peaceful here. Nepal is not all hilly as its got lot of plains south of Nepal with the Mahendra Raj Highway being life line. Crossed over the Kosi river and reached Kathmandu, which would be my base in Nepal for some time. It had been almost 3 months into my trip and my father came over to visit me. That was a great couple of days spent with him before he left to Bangalore, wishing me luck. It is crowded in Kathmandu. But the tourist area Thamel is quite a happening spot for chilling out. Do a couple of days ride to north of Nepal to the Kodari border town with China. It was full of activity at the border. A little south and rode more of the beautiful countryside till Jiri. The plains and hilly regions of Nepal are as different as they can be. Thought heading west but being encouraged by my friend, took a flight to Lukla. So that, with a couple of day's trek, could get a glimpse of Mt. Everest! There are no roads here so had to resort to flight and trek. Since i dont do trekking, was very skeptical in what i was getting myself into. After couple of hard days of trekking, was blessed with a clear day and there i spot the Mt Everest. Almost head back, but got tempted to go ahead till the Base camp, self motivating all the way. It was tough days, having to deal with AMS and long walks, but it was very very rewarding reaching the Everest base camp and Scaling Kala Patter to view Everest as closely as possible by non professional. Felt the sense of achievement and it was time to get back on the road heading west.

After the triumph there was a set back. A kid ran onto the road from behind a parked truck and got hit by my bike. Next two and half days were nerves uncertain days spent being a forced guest at a police station. Luckily the kid was ok to be discharged from the hospital and i was free after paying the hospital bills! That was an experience too. Made it to Pokhara and settled a the calm lakeside are around Pheva lake, a haven for tourists. Fantastic place to unwind and freak out. Before heading south to India, thought of taking couple of days ride to Muktinath, which turned out to be a very tough offroad ride for two days. Was awesome place to visit but the horrid paths and couple of bike spills took a toll on my health and lost it big time in Pokhara with stomach Infection. After 3 days of no improvement, trusting that riding would heal me started uncertainly towards India heading south. And i did get bettor!

Varanasi, one of the holiest places of Hinduism was the reason for detour away from Himalayas. It was the hottest temperatures i have ever ridden, touching 46 degrees. Spent a day at Varanasi having a boat ride looking at all the Ghats, visiting the Kashi Vishvanath temple and also witnessed the great Aarthi ceremony held everyday evening on the banks of Ganges. It as hot as hell and was time to get back to the hills of Uttaranchal and Uttarakhand. It was a few days of beautiful peaceful country side ride in these states and nice stay at Almora. Rode all the way to Badrinath. Had more places in mind to visit but it was all cloudy and misty in the hills and could not gaze on the mountain ranges. So it was time to move on.

Step by step i had rode through many legs of the journey and still found myself and the bike going strong. Yeah i had to deal with increasing backache. But i was still good to go. Stop over in Dehradun for a couple of days hosted by a very good senior Doctor, who was kind enough to drive me to Rikesh and Haridwar. It was time to get into my final leg of journey before heading home. This part was my dream from 4 years and yes it was Ladakh. Thought of riding the circuit clock wise so i would be gaining altitude slowly. Did not want to deal with AMS like i had to in Nepal.

It was unreal looking the 'Welcome to J&K' board as i rode into the state. Finally i was on my way to Ladakh. Crossing the Javahar tunnel, Kashmir valley welcomed me. Dal lake are in Srinagar was a fantastic place i spent a couple of days. The relaxing shikara boat rides are a thing to remember. Ride out to Gulmarg and found the place well deserved its name. The slopes covered in white with flowers.

With disturbance in Srinagar, moved on and stayed at Sonamarg in a Tent. The beautiful of Himalayas yet again apparent. Crossed the tough Zozi La which lifted me into Ladakh. Made it to Kargil and decided to ride out the Zanskar valley. First time in the trip i needed to carry extra fuel with me. This was a long detour with hardly any roads. The offroad path riddled with stream crossing were tough especially in the evenings. Being the peak of summer, the snow melt streams are quite heavy. Other than that, the Suru and Zanskaar valley were beautiful places to ride. Felt every thing the eye could see was mine as there was hardly any one for miles together. Got to gaze at Parkachik and Diran Durung Glaciers. Both of them came up as a surprise as i naively hadn't made any home work. Back tracked to Kargil and it was time to get Leh'd. Finally i am there in Leh crossing over a couple of passes and unworldly landscape. Took a couple of days rest as a breather.

Nobra valley ride for 3 days was very relaxing and pleasant, with weather blessing me with some sunlight. Scaled the Khardung La, officially world's highest motorable road. Finally i got to get my picture on with the board with my bike. Every day's ride in the himalayas has something different to offer. Checked out the Hunder sand dunes, panamic and on the return tried out Wari La. This was the less traveled path and isolated. It was just beautiful out there feeling the magnitude of the mountains. Had to some tricky obstacles to cross and made it at the end of the day and back to Leh. Since i had time in had, wanted to explore eastern Ladakh and sketched out a circuit. Very less first hand info available as few ride these regions some closed to foreign tourists. Stayed at the bank of the famous high altitude Pangong lake. Since i could not find any company gave a try and was successful in scaling Marsimek La, solo. Felt unreal to be there at the place i used to dream of. Continued east and rode along the LAC with China. It was mind blowing experience with all the isolation, wide open spaces till the eye could see. The uncertainty of path as i just had tire tracks to follow. The warm reception and hospitality of soldiers posted in these remote places was touching. Salutes to them for dedicating their lives so that we could have our way of life. Reached Hanle, one of the villages in eastern most Ladhak. With hardly any arrangements for tourists, had a home stay. Also had a tour of the Observatory there. Heading west towards Nyoma, the landscape was unbelievable with colorful mountains. The beautiful blue Tso Moriri was a bit hard to reach with some rough path, but in the end it was worth all the effort. Reached Leh with satisfaction and there was only one direction now. Its South.

Heading out of Leh was already in the direction of Home after months of wandering. Ladakh was not yet over as i had to cross many passes like Tanglang La, Baralach La and finally Rothan Pass before reaching Manali. Climbing down Rothang was very though with all the slush and bad weather. Made it to Delhi the next day. Pretty happy at having a relaxed tour of one month in J & K. Was hosted by a friend in Delhi, met many friends in Delhi. It was the hottest and most humid place in my entire trip! Ofcourse would not leave the capital without visiting India gate.

The ride down was through Rajasthan. Explored the city of Jodhpur before heading south into Maharastra. Swine flu was the headlines as i entered pune and again another news i found over hyped by media as i spent couple of days with my friends. Explored a bit of Maharashtra by visiting Mahabaleshwar, panchgani and Thoseghar. The western ghats as always was best to travel in monsoon. Then rolled into karnataka after 5 months. Relaxed a day at Goa and Bijapur with relatives. Kanyakumari was the target before i actually ride towards home. Caught the west coast from Mangalore and headed south. Was quite an adrenalin experience riding in the fast paced crowded highways of Kerala. Finally made it from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Wanted to check out some ancient temples in Tamil Nadu, and with trip almost at end, faced break down of my bike. Lucky that i was near Trichy and was able to get the bike fixed there. Visited the Srirangam temple, and the Big temple at Tanjavur, before reaching Chennai.

Like all good things this trip had to come to an end and made it to Bangalore after almost 6 months on the move. My father relieved to see me back and congratulated me on the achievement.

My companion, the HeroHonda Karizma behaved flawlessly, till the only break down almost at the end of the trip. Braved all the rough terrains, distances, altitudes and weather extremities with me and ran for thousands of Kms just on oil changes. The maintenance was only replacement of consumables like disk pads and chain sprocket sets.

To give numbers, the trip was of 25,508 Kms spanning over 175 days and 3 countries. Which i never thought would be the case when i started out. Thanks to friends all over the country who helped me out with info and logistics, was able continue the trip comfortably.

We never really know what we are capable of till we actually give it a try. Now when i look back on those days every thing looks so unreal. I can still remember each day of the trip and will never forget i guess. In they end they are memories of life time.

Here are the Links to the Logs of the Days...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Red Hills and Bekal Fort


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.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

BR Hills & KRS Dam Backyard


Was not really in a party mood though I had 4 days holiday. But wanted a day's ride anyway. Wasted two days a rest due to hurting back. Damn that bowling machine at forum mall. Friday evening felt fit enough, with no other place coming to my mind thought of a ride through BR Hills and check out the KRS dam from the other side, where PraveenS had gone some time back.

Woke up at 5 am, and got ready lazily was out by 6. Hit the Mysore road and boy was it chilly. My hands in my not so thick gloves were freezing. Was unprepared for that cold temperature. Any way sun will bring out the warmth soon. Could not ride fast because of the cold and kept speed just around 100. Reached Shivalli MTR by seven for break fast and nothing like a hot cup of coffee in the winter morning, well at the CCD next door. Back on the road turned left at Maddur towards kollegal. Now on it’s a mix of good and bad roads and hope my back is fit enough to take it. Was becoming a nice ride through the country side. Crossed Malavalli and wondered y din I come through Kanakpura, which would have saved me some time. Anyway there’s lot of time. The unfinished roads/muddy stretches which I had seen last year still there! But thankfully it was over soon. Now thought of exploring few detours if the look interesting. Tried one but it led to a farm house soon. So turned back and had a butt break. Got rid of insulating rain jacket as the sun felt warm enough. Riding solo, have the luxury to stop as many times or as much time as I want. Not much of a speed fest. Guess ZMA relaxes one:) Reach kollegal and ask around for Yelandur. Take a couple of turns to get the right way out of city. Just out of city I see a sign board to BR Hills straight in not so good roads and the road going right towards Yelandur! But BR hills is where I want to go so take the small road. This road went through villages. Fields on either side in Golden color ready for harvest and farmers working in full flow gathering the produce. They laid the crops on the road so that passing vehicles would trample them and grains get separated from the straw. Passing through one of the villages, the road took a 90 degree turn. But there was a straight mud road and a prominent board saying Amekere(Tortoise Lake) 10 kms in kannada. Asked a tea shop guy near by about the lake and he was totally discouraging. Saying like "Saar, don’t go there, there is nothing, only mud road, forest and no people" well that only induced curiosity in me and a lil to his amusement I took the mud road and went in search of Amekere. In no time I was out of the village and riding on open space. Seemed strange with not much trees around too. I came across a canal and few more detours from the path. With lot of time thought of checking one of those. picked one at random and after a lil time riding on the undulating terrain I ended up in a dead end which opened up to a field! Actually the mud along a shallow hill was being used up for what ever purpose. Hardly any one around. After a couple of clicks I head back. catch the main path and went towards amekere, all the while getting away from civilization. Opens spaces with trees and mountains visible at a distance. Stop a couple of time to feel the quite openness. After around 5-6 kms came across a lone village house. Asked an young lad about the lake to which he confidently said 4kms ahead. Well ok and I ride ahead. Just after that there was godown kinda building to the left and almost immediately the path turned into a narrow gravel strewn rock path! And was now going along a small dried up canal. After a km or so found grass on the path with mud visible only on the tire tracks! and bushes around getting taller and the ambiance getting quieter. I even passed a dried up elephant dung. OK so this is elephant area. Atleast the dung was not fresh. After another KM the track went straight into bushes under trees. Now here I stopped and the whole place felt spooky. It was deafeningly quite and all I could here was the ringing in my ears (thanks to the knock on my head in my crash last month). By now my meter was down and got scared. And hastily turned back. Felt like a defeat but fear was over whelming. When I looked back on the path I came could not believe I rode this interior path for such distance, especially me not being much of an adventurous guy. Started riding back and felt bettor as the things opened up around. Reached the village house and breathed sigh relief. Asked the lad about the path, just then his father came running to me and said "The lad does not know anything, I would not have let u go ahead was I here. Its just a small lake and does not look good also. Its very dangerous ahead with all the animals around. We carry a weapon like this (pointing to a sickle in his hand) when going alone around here. Had and elephant come to you what would you have done?" ! with a gulp in the throat I asked him what other animals are around to which he said elephant, deer and tiger! Man! The stuff we do in ignorance. But wonder how come the lad who grew up there not aware of this and confidently told me to go ahead. Dunno whom to believe. May be the old guy 'PutBannapa' wanted to discourage outsiders. Never know. Any was they guided me to a short cut to reach the main road for which I had to ride along the canal which I had crossed earlier. This was a mud road as well and went on like for few kms before hitting the main road.

Now back on track I enter the BR hills forest reserve. Nice smooth narrow roads. Now I putter along slowly enjoying the ride. On a turn I saw a trail going into the forest guarded be two forest guards. Madhanna and Jhadaiyya wont let me pass through. Or even if allowed I doubt weather I would have gone in alone. Chat with them for some time, it seems they guard the post day and night taking turns and always carry a weapon with them. A rifle or a sickle to defend themselves from wild animals. Take a couple of poser pix with Jhadiyya's rifle. Ok ok it was not loaded :). Rode through and started the climb for BR hills temple. Went all the way but too many vehicles and I was in no mood to walk up. came back down a bit to a view point, where I could see the mountain range and forest. The suns up in full glory but not really hot in winter. Blinding the eye though. I don’t wear the goggles so that I can look at the colors naturally. Ride back a bit and take right towards K'Gudi. This goes into deeper forest and bushes right by the side of the road. At one point I saw a couple of dogs. But looked strangely Red. Wait min they must be foxes! Boy I have wild sighting. I pull out my cam in a hurry and they scampered away into the bushes just after focus and before click!. Prolly they got scared looking the pilot lights that were on my bike. I walked up a bit with the cam to see if they were around but they had vanished. Later I was enlightened by Arun that they were infact Dogs, but wild dogs 'Dhole'. These dogs roam in big packs or 30-40 and are quite some killers! It was all quite and i ride along slowly under the canopy. stop many times and kill the engine to feel the forest ambiance. This was my first solo ride in which I was not in a hurry and I stopped at will as much as I wanted keeping my own pace. That’s the advantage of solo riding. But had no company when I stopped. After some blissful riding reach the JLR. This JLR has quite a number of wild animal sightings on the safaris they conduct. I went near a tamed elephant and spent some time. Was already 2 O clock and din realize how time flew. Now I think I may short of time to get to KRS water side. Kinda still got three hours. Ride away from the resort stopping in between for pix. The road gets bad and bumpy. Guess the other side was good for the sake of the resort. Them I came up on a place where the either side of the road opened up. The grass on both the sides dry in golden color and the trees green. Was an amazing place. Spent some quite time there and took a few self photos with timer. But gotta move on. I was hungry by now. reached chamaraja nagar by 3.15. Called up PraveenS to ask directions for the KRS water back yard which he had visited some time back. After a lazy lunch started by 4.

Man now I gotta hurry. Wanted to get some place near water by 5 but looks like I am short of time now. Mysore some 56 kms. Thought I will make it in good time but the road was bit bumpy and my back started hurting a bit and so downed the pace. Numerous irritating road humps. Some how in my random thought I remembered Jim carry and wanted to try out one of his antics. When I saw a villager waiting for a bus, I would leave my handle bar and move my hands forward and backwards as if I was running. LOL. Should have seen the look on their faces, looking at a biker in full gear, goggles running while sitting on the bike:D. Boy did I amuse myself. After Nanjungud it was like mad traffic. Every car, truck, bus and tractor ripping at full capacity! Really wondered y all the easy going touring vehicles have to rip in this narrow 2 lane road!!. Was quite a challenge overtaking vehicles. It was almost 5 by the time I got to Mysore. I have to reach KRS 18 kms and the search for an unknown place all before sundown. Seemed like lost cause now. Just before entering the city saw a sign board for KRS to the left through the ring road. Gladly took and ride throttled to the full. This way avoided getting into the city. Covered some 20 kms in no time. While I was enquiring for KRS and at signal one guy suggested me a short cut instead of following the hoards of vehicles going to KRS. Thanks to him I save some time. Before reaching KRS, fueled up and asked the attendants about a place to go near the waters of KRS dam. It was a like a big conference and they told me about the place called Blue Lagoon, or KRS beach or what ever. But from the directions it was going to the left of the dam where as PraveenS had gone to the right. It was already 5.30 and decided to try out the new directions. Sure enough I found the left towards 'Ulwandi' town. Don’t rmbr the name properly. Asked one guy in the town and he showed me the way asked y would u go in this time?!! Now what was that? Any way after the town sure enough there was a mud road to the right. Took it and I could see faint glimpses of water and KRS Dam. After a couple of kms seemed to be going away and a final curve towards water. The sun was still holding up for me and I finally see the approach for the water. Just than an old man stopped me and demanded 50bux saying that I am entering his property! Paid him up and offroading to the water. Now this is right opposite shore to where PraveenS had gone. Here I am facing the dam from the other side and sun behind me. So can’t exactly see the sunset on the water from here but still an awesome place. The whole place just for me and guess there are thousands of ppl on the other side of the KRS dam. Managed to get there just in time and pull out my cam for some pix. It was amazing place with water on three sides and a dam wall on the other side of water, sunset colors. Could see the island named Blue Lagoon to which I could have gone had I come earlier. Any way this is great time out as well. The sun went down and lights started appearing on the dam wall. It was getting dark and not a soul in sight. Was almost dark before I pushed myself out of that place. Now wanted to get out of the unfamiliar territory in a hurry. But not before stopping in between for pic of the dam wall with lights. All the while I was here voices of an old couple bickering from a near by farm house. Move ahead through dark empty roads towards the main road.

Get back to the main road, and it’s the traffic jam time with hundreds of vehicles approaching KRS. I just about squeezed through from the left side through the bushes and sand. The opposing vehicles had occupied the entire left lane and I just about managed to paddle away. One of the qualis guy asked me what was the jam for? I got irritated and said it was cos of ppl like you who occupy the wrong lane that the jam started. He asked me again and I same the same again. Stupid fellow. As I get away the vehicle to the right are in stand still and hundreds of more vehicles approaching unrelentingly. Boy are they going to stay on the road for quite some time :D Damn Mandya district traffic management all they have to do is put a divider on the road! Any way took a deviation to Sringapatna instead of going to Mysore. It’s getting colder now. Reaching the 4 laner to Bangalore I stop to wear the extra jacket and now its rip time overtaking the vehicles. Lot of traffic on the highway. But its fun zipping through them. At on one particular tight right hand curve I was zipping between vehicles and after the curve saw the speedo to be at 95!. The new bike zma is amazing. Stop for coffee and sandwich at CCD and it’s a fun ride till Bangalore.

Reach home by 10 PM with 465 kms on the trip meter. This ride back from Mysore was unusually awesome and that’s when I realized that it was the first time on the zma. overtaking is just a breeze. All in all a nice day out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On Auto Pilot?

I wake up last Sunday morning with an aching body. WTH? both my thumbs paining. Ringing in my ears. I feel like I am drunk! I sit up and try to analyze the situation. I find my knee pad and shoes in my room instead of hall. Walking a bit wayward. I find 2 X 2 inch ghash on the kneed pad.

The cargo pant which seems to be neatly tucked into the cupboard has something to tell. Find it torn badly at the right knee.
Don't recollect taking this photo:

Did I have crash? but when I went to check my helmet and yeah, I did have a crash alright. But when? I don't seem to remember anything. The gloves torn at the outside of thumb costing me some skin. It failed me here cos the rest of gloves were well padded. Then I vaguely remember going for the Shivalli CCD for a coffee. But seemed like a distant memory. Still trying to get hold of things, go down to check out the state of ZMA. To my surprise I find its the CBZ that's banged up.

Don't know when I switched bikes. May be I had taken it for a small ride when it happened. What happened? when? nothings coming to my mind. Looks like I have come back on my own cos the bike was parked where I always do. Early morning though it was, went to the nearby hospital for some first aid, tetanus prick and xray for my hand. But things are still a bit hazy. A nurse cleans wounds on my thumbs and shoulder. Was she pretty? I don't remember now! I guess memory management was not fully operational at that time. Shoulder? yeah the 'small' sized riding jacket too is like big for me exposing my shoulder, I seem to have fallen belly down. The doc says I might have had a concussion and 'post traumatic amnesia' due to that. Must have taken a good knock on my head. And no fracture on my hands. I walk to the medical shop, and he says "How are you today sir?" Me:"What are you talking about?" Shopkeeper: "You had come yesterday evening for medicines. 3-4 times and seemed like ur mind of off!". OK! so I was walking around on my own after the crash. I successfully seem to have hidden this incident from my dad cos Not to get him worried. As all he said was "you were behaving strangely and going out of the house 3-4 times!". See the cellfone call register and find a couple of calls I made last evening and call up to enquire that. I forgotten couple of hours before the incident as well. A call I made in the previous day morning seemed like a distant memory. Over next couple of days I discover I have a fracture on my cheek bone. Nothing to be done for it. Each of the three docs who had a look at it pressed my right cheek bone and i hear a crackle! "Oh, dont worry about the sound" said each doc!. CT scan says brain's ok. And will be a few days before the ringing in my ears go and appetite returns. Keeping figures crossed! Doc advised not to ride/drive for a month! But guess I can manage riding around if not bike trips for few weeks.

Moral of the story:
Be ATGATT. (All the gear all the time)
Wear knee pad to save ur knee.
Wear knee pad outside to save ur favorite cargo pant!

Why is this here? Cos it was an escapade from myself!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Waterfalls, Forests & Beaches Ride


Arun invited me for his last bike trip as a bachelor. It was like 17 months since I had been on a multiday bike trip. Looked like things are working out and I agreed to join him. Plan? Well knowing Arun I don’t need to worry about the plan. Sathodi & Magod falls near Yellapur and then Gokarna from there for a lazy relaxed.

The route we took:

We were to start by Wednesday evening thanks to the generous 4 day weekend. I packed my stuff in a back pack and thought to secure it with net. Just a back pack? Well its been so long that I went out that I had now clue as to stuff I needa carry except the basic stuff. So left the cramsters. Took it to Arun’s place in the morning and it was tough riding with the back pack having its own mind. Got worried as how will manage for 4 days and offroadings. In office chat discussing with Arun realized I needed some more stuff and so we went home to get my cramster saddlebag and tankbag. Man that was such a good thing. No worries of the luggage flying off. Out of office by 7 and some how the situations made sure that we leave post dinner by 9.30 pm.

We take the nice road and break at Nelamangala for a cup of tea. We have to stop there for a cup of tea. Its compulsory ;) Initially we thought to make it till Haveri and dump ourselves. Taking is pretty easy pace. It was awesome on the 4/6 laner at night. More so for me with no limitations on time for the day. I could ride all night with a grin. Some sections after Tumkur had these reflectors on each lane! With my HID glowing ever more of em and bright, it was unreal and felt like being in a computer game. More so on the wide curves with four lines of these to guide. Then on it was high paced ride maxing out the ZMA. Man the bike’s awesome :). After an uneventful fast paced ride till chitradurga, it was the dreaded stretches under construction till haveri. This is the famous bad stretch of the Iron Butt attempts between Bangalore and pune. It’s well past 1 am and we have to deal with bad roads now. Though Arun was pretty unhappy with the road, I was all in the ride. Enjoying this as well. Plus it’s keeping us awake. My bikes HID coming in very handy. Suddenly I see things blurred, helmet getting coated and then we realize it’s the fog. The head lights of other vehicles looked like giant blobs of light. Just then we found a dhaba with no other customers and ppl ready to cook for us. It had typical dhaba cots too. Roti, dhal, anda burji and omelete for the food. They took their own time while we caught some breath lying on the cot. The food was just too good coupled with the environment, cold, foggy. It was nice experience. We carry on dealing with the surprises on the road taking breaks at will. Post 4 am we started looking for a place to shack up and as we passed towns some how we din feel like staying there. This not being a regular tourist route, pretty devoid of decent amenities. By 5 am we crossed Haveri. We were supposed to take a left at haveri but since the roads got bettor we gunned past the turn for 20 kms before realizing. Then we stopped for a tea at a dhaba and decided what to do. We consulted the map and found a interior road going to yellapur via Mundgod and locals confirmed it. So bit we thought. Went ahead on the beautifully 4 laner and after Toll plaza at Shiggoan, we found a turn to the left none the less. We took it just at the day was breaking. Yellapur some 60-70 kms. We wanted to make it quick and rest.

But we were in for a surprise. As the day breaked, the remote countryside came to life and we needed to stop and embrace the dawn. The early morning colors looked amazing every where. Cameras could not capture the real colors. Every setting bringing out a different colored hue in the pic. None the less it was refreshing for us especially after the tiring night ride covering all the horrendous roads just before. Started moving but we were made to stop n number of places for clicking opportunities. This stretch was soon becoming a highlight of our trip. To our surplice we even found a Tibetan Refugee camp! This road virtually not being taken by tourists, the people were surprised to find two big, black loaded bikes. Quite a big settlement with many lamas. Felt out of place and thought it was not polite to take pix of them so vacated the place soon. But not before taking couple of pix of the monastery from afar. The roads toggling between good and bad. We found no vehicles with more than two wheels. Rather no other vehicles at all. Passed through villages where ppl going on with their morning chores at their own slow pace. Had to dodge livestock of cattle, buffalos and goats many times. At one point the road just ended! Wat the Heck?!! Just then a villager pops out of the side of the road with his cycle saying this is the way. Well there was this small metal bridge we were supposed to take! It was strong alright. Actually a bridge was broken and the small metal bridge was made instead. Had some one taken this road by car they had to go back all the way till NH! Reach yellapur by 8.30 am and settle in the only decent accommodation in the town. Hotel Sambhram. Freshen up have breakfast. Thought we would check out magod falls before a couple of hours of rest. And also thought y not steal half hour nap before that.

Half hour became 4 hours and we woke up by 2.30 pm :D. Pushed the magod falls visit to next morning. Had lunch and started for Sathodi falls by 4pm. With all the luggage dumped in the room we with just the tank bag. Looked dry so did not carry the rain gear. 28 kms it’s supposed to be. Took the deviation and entered in to the narrow roads. Stoping few times to click. And then there was the threat of rain. And I din wanna get wet. We secure our electronics in plastic and put em in the tank bag. And it started raining. Man! But in just no time rain let off. The terrain got undulating we were climbing down and could feel the pressure difference in the ear! Get to the point were its 9 kms of offroading. Well who does not like offroading. There were quite some ppl to visit the falls and all of them were returning while it was just us going towards the falls. The trail followed the lake and at the opening Arun said lets get down to the water level. I asked from where? He said from here.! This guy knows where he is going. Some how I also manage to following getting down on the tricky almost vertical gravel face taking help of plants. Spent some time near the water. With nobody around but us. Get back to the bikes as it was 5 already and reach the end of the trail. We have to hike for like half a km to see the falls and few ppl there were left were trickling out. Was almost 6 by the time we got the first view of the falls. It was majestic with all the splendor and glory with post monsoon waters. I try to get some good shots. The last part of the path to get near the falls was pretty tricky hops on the rocks. With enough crevasses to swallow one. Arun jumped on em in a nimble way and found himself a good view point to the falls. While me decided not to be so extravagant and crawled onto a stone with a good view of the falls. Took quite a few pictures with various settings. Then it was falls gazing till it was getting dark. I coax Arun that we get of the stones in the day light. Which we do. It was scary crossing many places and soon Arun found out that I would not make a good trekking partner ;). We get to walk the path in moon light. It was amazing walking through thick growth of vegetation in the dark. Arun tell me is experiences in child hood where he at young age went to hike in the forest with his dad in the night. Well that’s where he gets his courage for these stuff. We get to bikes and for the ride back. Arun stopped at point where it opens up to the lake with a cement platform. We stop there and spend quite some time. Chatting, clicking and feeling the eiary loneliness in the forest with not other human for quite some distance. Sure it was spooky for me but Arun was here alone at that time the last time he had come! It was awesome watching the clear sky with stars, moon light reflecting of the lake. But faint enough to cheat the camera of a view. By 8.45 we start back and I take the lead. Ride out the offroads and HID coming to good use. On dinner while discussing we thought we could give palolem beach in goa a go as well. Crash out for the day catching up sleep of the previous day.

Get up by six am and we ride towards Magod falls 18 kms away. Nearing the point it was annoy piece of road work with lot of gravel making the bikes move side way. When we get there looks like we beat all the tourists early in the morning. So the neatly maintained view point complex was just for us. Had tea the care takers place and get to the view point. The falls is quite below from the view point and was missing a leg! I mean when I visited the falls a couple of years back in peak monsoon the fall had lot of brown water and an additional channel of waterfalls. It was nice gazing at the fall early in the morning. When we were coming back we see this adrenalin loaded youths playing on the park equipment meant for kids, with all their might. Felt like they were on steroids and were no less active than monkeys! Wish I had taken a video. Was wondering what was wrong with them. Then we came to know the reason. These ppl were budget travelers stuffed in a couple of TempoTrax all night with less space and they were blowing out the frustration. LOL. Not mocking at them but the situation felt really funny. Get to the room freshen up, pack, have food and time to leave by 12 PM. I notice quite few scratch on the tank cos of the tank bag. I improvise and put a banyan under it and it prevented more damage for the rest of the trip. If only I had thought of it in the beginning of the trip :(. Any way we were supposed to get to Supa via dandali, an interior road Arun wanted to try. After the cream road from Yellapur we find a deviation to the left on enquiring we found out that it goes through anshi national park and thought giving dandeli a skip. This off beaten path should be more interesting. We were stopped and the forest guards and asked. The guy himself did not know that we can go to dandeli through that road as well :D. But his partner enlightened him and we were in. It was narrow road through greenery. And suddenly we endup in a settlement of employees of Power plant. The small sleep town was amazing neat with wide double roads! It was quite extravagant. Any way get on to the path and roads not promising. Well we did leave the soft tarmac for a reason. Its going to bumpy all the way. All the way getting away main roads. At one point in a small settlement we find a fork and both going to anshi town but the one on the left had something to see. People were clear there but we took it any way. We were riding in the Dandeli-Anshi national park now. Ever few meters there were small cement boards with pictures of different animals with a request to save the species. Man have they tried to market the area!. The path seems to be worse this side compared to the other road of the fork. Then we were surprised by place of tourist visit. ‘Syntheri Rocks’ it seems. 2 kms of dirt track was indicated and ok we will take it. We were surprised to see quite a few tourists there. It involved quite some climb on the steps to view the rock formation, which we felt was not worth the effort and time after we saw it. It was hot and humid as well. Continue our quest for anshi town. The roads really deteriorating. But atleast it was evenly uneven. As in no potholes and stuff and the path was evenly bad. Trusting our Michelin tires we gunned the track which seemed to be going on for ever. Even it passed the path which was wet due to rain but we were spared of it. But the ride through the forest growth on either side made up for it. As we neared Anshi town the roads got really horrible. Finally in the town and enquired the distance from Karwar and the road condition. It’s supposed to be nice roads after couple of KMs and its 50 to karwar.

I told Arun about 50 kms but not about the good road to give him a surprise: D. On hearing I could see him gearing up for another 50 kms of crap roads: D. Like the guy in the town said, smooth wide twisties opened up for us. Yeeehaaa. Lets role now. First time on twisties on my ZMA and revved the engine hitting 110 too in bursts between the curves. Just wat we wanted to blow the bad road frustration. We even got on to a short cut by passing karwar and were ripping to goa. But still guess it was too late to make to palolem beach by sunset time. Entering goa were welcomed by a jam caused due to an accident in the narrow road highway. Squeezed through it and Arun suggested a road off the highway to the left. Since we are late any way we could avoid some traffic atleast. After some distance we were blown way. An unnamed beach devoid of people except a family of 3. And just in the time of sunset. This was freaking awesome timing. We got of the road and pushed through the sand to get on the beach and parked the poser bikes on the sand. It was euphoric environment. Cool breeze, sun going down golden colors on the sky and hardly any ppl on the whole beach which was only for us. Just then rain drops played spoil sport. :( We scrambled to save our electronics and I got into rain suit while optimistic Arun was ready to get drenched if needed. The rain did let off but any way we have to start now. Since this was off the high way we had to ask around a lot before we could find our way to palolem beach. It was bustling with hep crowed typical Goan style. Enquired for a room and hoped for one against all odds at a resort near the beach. No surprises in not finding one. We did try some more resorts a lil of the beach but no luck. Man that was a turn off, Arun asked if we should head to gakarna, but I was not in state of riding any more. Had not had proper food the whole day. Then he suggested only option to stay was the Canokona some 12 kms away from the beach. It was a crappy place with safety concerns. It was hot and humid horrible place to stay. I always end in such place after hard days riding. Arun lifted my spirits saying it would be bettor when we get to the beach. We lightened and went to too up to the beach. I was feeling sick as well. Found ourselves a table facing the beach and order some food. And what else Drink as well :D Arun wouldn’t have, so it was me alone. I save drinking for these occasions. Beach is where I like it. So after 17 months I order Smirnoff Vodaka. Some food in and I feel the energy. Some vodka in and I feel the happiness ;) Well it was good times for sure. I take some long exposure shots. And while showing a pic to Arun drop the cam lens first on the sand. Quite some sand between the rollers went in to roughen the movements of the lens. Can’t help it. Had 4 large and where I never had so much. Emptied the table and for a stroll on the beach. It was fun and frolic till late in the night. Playing with the camera taking weird long exposure shots, befriend a dog which friendly with drunk guys I guess, found a jellyfish on the beach. I wanted to stay there for the whole night but we had to get back don we. Get to the crappy place coax the owners to put bikes under the stairs before the locking the gates and crash for the day.

Wake up to a commotion outside. Lots of noise. And I have this huge headache. Yes I was having a hangover first time for me. Guess I had a lot last night. Stomach also acting funny. Drank lots of water and came back to senses. Wanted to get out of that forsaken place. Couldn’t not even find simple food around. Small stuffy hotels only. Dirty place. What contrast from the prev night’s cool luxury? Get packing we leave by 11 under hot sun. What a relief when we got on the move. Now it’s straight to Gokarna. An uneventful ride till gokarna stopping for a few clicks in between. The cam's lens wont get in unless assisted, thanks to the sand :( hope it works atleast till the end of the trip. One good road sandwiching a bad stretch. We fill the bikes tanks to brim with cheap petrol in goa, before crossing over to Karnataka. 50 bux an ltr! Turn right to the deviation by around 1.30pm. Ride a few kms till the gokarna town entrance and then realized what if there are no rooms in Seebird resort. Wanted a comfy place badly, else dunno wat to do next. Arun calls up the resort and there are rooms. Awesome. Not long before we are there. And get into comfy spacious cool room. Freshen up and rest for a while. We even get food delivered to the room itself. Nice full cores meal is what I wanted. Relaxed till 4.30 pm and then went to Om beach two up my bike. No riding gear, just the valuables. I insisted for a pic at a curve overlooking gokarna beach. Cos I had a similar pic of me from 4 years back. At that time also I had come to gokarna on my first multiday trip on my new bike with around 5k on the odo!. First time visiting gokarna after the tar road was made and man quite a ppl at the place. Arun really fancied a Honda XR750 parked at the Namasthe hotels parking lot. Namasthe hotel is bustling with people. It used to be laid back before the road to this place was made. We walk along the beach clicking at will. Arun wanted to find us a nice place on the rocks on the other side of Om beach to see the sunset. It’s almost sunset by the time we get to the rocks. And soon we find a nice place to spend the evening. I experiment a lot with the cam taking pix under the changing lighting conditions. Must say photography is hard work! Soon I am done with the cam and settle for the evening. It was awesome gazing at the vast openness of the see with the changing colors of the sky. And after sun down we could still see the land/water scape around thanks to the moon lit night. Occasionally we could see the mountain top glow with the lights of vehicles moving to and fro Om beach. We stayed put there till 8.30 and time to move back. Now my powerful LED torch came in handy to find our way back through the rocks to the beach. Then something hit my knee. I freaked out and pointed the torch and found this huge 4 inch frog. Prolly he was stunned as well and lay still on the ground. Me and Arun take like 20 pix with various combinations with flash, without etc before he got fed up and hopped away. Funny frog: D. Back at the resort some nice food and you know what ;) Since I did not want a hangover next day, like a good boy I settled for a quarter of RUM. :rolleyes: Even went for a small bike ride! Well yeah I know risky, I was riding at like 5-10kmph but still exhilarating none the less hehe. After the rest of the food I wanted to take a wanted to take a walk outside the resort but by that time the gates were locked :(. I sat in the drive way staring at the moon for some time. Want to be in the open when high. But mosquitoes forced me inside. Ok funs over and ZZZZzzzzZZZ.

Day breaks for my by 7 am after a comfortable sleep at a nice place. Arun wants to rest more. But since I was up wanted to check out trail which went towards kudle beach. So I went alone. Again no riding gear and just the cam. Thinking its just near by and no big deal. It was nice riding early in the morning. Then I find the trail to the right and it’s not so simple. It’s a heavily gravel strewn path and turns out to be tough offroading session between thick growth on either side. And I did not have any gear on. It was going on and on and did not want to turn back either. Still not comfy with ZMA on offroads as I am on the CBZ. Guess I need to get used to this bike more. I finally reach a point where one gets down to Kudle beach. The path ends here. Well its make your own road from here. I remember looking this plateau like place from the previous day from the main road. So I ride up the gentle slope of grass land till I reach the edge. Park my bike and its clicking time. It was amazing up there high up with sea on three sides. Did a small walk there with cold early morning see breeze. Too good. But have to get back home the same day so negotiate the offroad session carefully determined not to take a fall. Get back to resort for breakfast. Got pampered at this place. Any thing will be served any time. With nothing but a boring ride back we slackened and started as late as 2.30PM! Ohh man its going to be late night before we reach home. Arun wants to change the engine oil and luckily found a mech that to on Sunday. He was right hardly 500 ml left! With the oil change we were good to head home. Crossing Honnavar, Arun suggested to checking out an abandoned road. We went in and it opened up to a lake with some stuff in the middle of the road. So it sure is abandoned alright. But what do you know, some freaking activates went on there I guess. Some sick people had skinned two lizards! Threw the head and discarded the limbs. Bad smell in the area as well. We got back on the main road thought of checking out jog. But once on the bridge we saw less water and lot of ppl. Arun did not want to be in mist of so many ppl. So we din go in to view the falls. Not much water any wah. One more awesome twistes session till sagar. Then we deiced that we would have stop for food after the bad stretches are over. Reached Shivmoga by 7 and took almost an hour over the bad roads to get past kadur. I almost lost it once when I happened ride on two successive deep potholes albeit at low speeds. Dunno when they will repair this important highway!. We are getting tired now. How we wished that we had started early. Stop for dinner and spend some time at a dhaba. The person seems to recognize Arun. And many other places ppl recognize him cos that’s how much he has traveled around Karnataka :). Will fuel for self in we start by 9 pm and it’s a fast paced ride on reasonably good roads and good light to aid. Make it to home 1.10am.

Was a very relaxed easy going 1358 kms trip. We had so much rest in the trip that we felt like it was actually many small trips hehe. We were spared of rain almost whole trip. We weren’t really in a mood for adventure and things worked out just fine. And last to say, ZMA was awesome.