Monday, September 11, 2006

My Rides : Trip V; Kodaikanal

Where: Kodaikanal, TN, India
Total Distance: 1000 Kms Approx. (500 Kms one way)

Vehicles: 1 Hero Honda CBZ (2002 Model) and 1 Bajaj Pulsar (2004 Model)

Total Expenditure: Rs. 8000 (Rs. 2000 Per Head)

Travel Duration: Thursday "Noon" 13th Oct to Monday 17th Oct "Early Hours"

Route Map: Onwards: Bangalore-Hosur-Krishnagiri-Dharmapuri-Salem-Namakkal-Dindigul-Kodai
Return: Kodai-Palani-Coimbattore-Saty-Chamrajanagar-Maddur-Bangalore

Travel Team: 4 Members

Pilots: Nitin S. Bharadwaj (Me), Retesh Gowda, Sumanth G., Harish Kumar G.R.

Tour Diary:

Thursday: Rain, cloud and gloom. This was the situation on a Holiday for Dussera. And our plan was on this very lethargic day. My pals were all set to roll by 1. But by the time the Pooja formalities are all over at home, I'm ready only by 2 PM. I'm the only one to have had a sumptuous lunch. The others are yet to eat. We reach Hosur by around 3:30 PM. It is still raining and we, being quite experienced in long, wet rides, are in our usual wet gear. A Track Pant, a thick Jacket, shoes and gloves with all 4 of us wearing helmets. The one smart thought we gave was, 2 helmets with dark visor and 2 helmets with light visor for appropriate riding conditions. At Hosur, the Lunch is taken and we start munching up mile after mile. In no time, we are near Krishnagiri where the beautiful roads wind through some really scenic hills, and that seemed to be enhanced with the misty formation upon them. Once at Dharmapuri, the sun slowly seemed to come out and tell... "I'm logging off now, CU Tomorrow!!". The roads worsened and with around about 70 Kms still to go to Salem, we are left at a Dhaba. Then again it starts raining and the worst part is the decent 4 lane highway has no paint on dividers, no road-edge markers and no white stripes. The road being jet black, my bikes' Headlamps+Fog lamps were not of much use. I, being cautious as not to ride too fast into pot holes, made sure I'm driving slow. We end up in Salem at 9. We manage to get a couple of decent Hotel rooms quite economically.

Friday: We leave Salem early, thinking that we will cover as much as possible in as little time. we stop for breakfast at Namakkal. By the time we have breakfast, the weather has changed from mild to harsh. The Sun is beating down upon us and we had not seen such a bright sun for weeks together literally. It started to steam underneath our jackets. Typically Tamil Nadu. When we reach Karur, some mind blowing roadways want us to snap some pictures of ourselves. In the riding gear, on those (not-so)mean machines. Just off Karur By-Pass is one of those Indian Oil Fuel Stations. There are almost all facilities here with an adjoining Dhaba and Premium fuels. Here, I suspect a puncture in my front wheel as it was nearly flat. I take my bike to a nearby local mechanic. He checks the whole tube but then concludes the trouble is with the valve-pin. We take 2 litres of Maaza. Retesh and I finish 1 whole bottle while the other 2, unexpectedly order for 2 full cups of tea (Which was 2 full water-tumblers of tea. Too much to drink under the scorching sun). Then, we head off towards Dindigul. The road seemed to be never ending under the burning Sun. It was a nearly frustrating run with the decently smooth roads flanked by dry land on either side and no one else to accompany us. we reach Dindigul and seemingly Retesh and Harish are both exhausted. Sumanth being a product of TN, was as healthy as ever. About me? I work out to be active in that sort of weather. So, I was fit and fine. I suggested that we all drink a couple of tender -coconuts to rejuvinate ourselves. We reached Kodai road by 3 PM. No lunch as such for us. The ghat roads were quite exhilarating and a downhill waterstream made us stop for some refreshing wash up and some pics. We reached Kodaikanal by 4:30 PM. The people in Kodai seemed a lot friendly and showed decent hospitality. For that matter, even Policemen were worth being respected. At the entrance, we stopped for tea and really hot Bondas. 30 Rupees of expenditure was really worth. We found a HUGE cottage to live in. A 7-Bed one with wooden floor and in a descending portion of the hill station. We settled there with some beverages.

Saturday: We start off going around Kodai. We enjoy all the scenics. All the view points, the lakes, Guna Cave (which got its name from Kamal Hassan's movie Guna). We also went boating and cycling there. Yes, you do get cycles for rent there. No safety deposit required. Make sure you don't cycle away too far. You may end up struggling to push your cycle back also. 'Coz some gradients here are literally more than 45 Degrees. Too steep. We came back to a Food World there, did some shopping for biscuits, chocolates, cool-drinks and went back. We settled in the cold night, expecting to be leaving early on Sunday morning, by around 7 AM and make a marathon Run back to Bangalore. Suggestions fly around to go through the Ooty route. I say it would be difficult for me as I've to reach office by Monday 10 AM at least.

Sunday: Morning, as usual, our plan flops. We leave the room by 9 AM. We shop for local home-made chocolates and reach the entrance of Kodai by around 10:30 PM after some superb photo sessions. We decide not to go via Dindigul-Namakkal-Salem route again. Being a little more adventurous, we chose the not-so famous Palani route which is a little narrow and broken at parts. Upon reaching Palani, the weather change is more than evident. We top up our fuel tanks and leave for Coimbatore. The roads are simply superb. Though these roads were only 2-lanes wide, the sparse traffic made things look almost as though they were too wide. And one more thing was that the straight nature of these roads with the dry look on either side meant that it looked like a never-ending story of riding for us. We kept going on and on, but the miles never seemed to end.

Anyways, we make it to Coimbatore at 3 PM. It is really hot. And the cops are really infuriating us in that slow moving traffic by telling that Bangalore is still way too far to cover by evening. Anyways, we come to know that the rough figure still stands at around 350 KMs. This infuses fresh physical waves into all of us. But the mind is already getting ready to switch off. I mean, we have already done like 300 Kms. We start riding towards Satyamangalam. It is around about 5:30 PM when we cross Satyamangalam and start off the highly in-famous 9 Kms hill section with 27 Hairpin bends. These hills are infested with native tribals and loads of wildlife. And it is already starting to get dark. I take over from Harish who is relatively in-experienced in these conditions. We happen to see peacocks, wild-boars. Thank God, no elephants/cheetahs as the boards around there boldly highlighted. Anyways, we also see a couple of tribals with their tiger-claw necklaces, deer-skin clothing and those typically well built muscles.

We stop at a restaurant after the treacherous hill-roads. It is already dark and hardly any vehicle around these streets. I'm done with light snacks. But the other 3 take it easy and we miss a bus which could probably have led us upto Mysore. So, as always, we start off and reach Chamrajnagar all on our own. Thanks to the Fog-Lamps and some experience we have, we reach the TN-Karnataka border. The cops at the gate check us and let us through. Now, a bit of Humor. Harish asks me if we are in Karnataka yet. Just as I was to reply to him, the roads answer him in a rather rude manner. Yes of course, a huge pot-hole welcomes us to Karnataka. Anyways, we had to make a choice of whether we go to Mysore and from there to Bangalore, or try to go to Malavalli, Maddur and join the Mysore-Bangalore highway. As our luck had it, we chose the odd 2nd option. As usual, Worst roads. Sloshy due to rain and poorly lit. And the time being close to midnight, with nearly 14 hours of riding on our record already, everyone is beginning to feel the heat in the... you know where!! Finally, we reach Maddur by 12:30. If we had taken the Mysore road, we should've been in Bangalore by this time. Anyways we reach Bangalore by 3 AM or so. All these people drop me off at my house and I give Harish my bike so he can reach home safely.

Now, this was the whole trip. I have a strange feeling that all of us enjoyed this thoroughly. Maybe, you've felt in my position and enjoyed this exhilarating experience with me as I come to the end of this post.

Try This Music: Turn The Page (Metallica)


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j0e said...

hi. A few friends and i are planning a road trip in south india. Could u tell us which is the fastest way from kodai to bangalore? and how are the roads?

Nitin said...

Hey Joe!! Extremely sorry for being late on moderating your comment.

BTW, not sure if it helps you now! But still,

The fastest route would be from Dindigul-Namakkal-Salem-Krishnagiri route. Because on the other route, all the way from Chamrajnagar is not suitable for bikes and small cars.

-- Nitin

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