Thursday, August 24, 2006

Kummalam @ Kodaikanal

"Yeh dostii ham nahii thodenge..." was I singing as we were tearing through the dark highway. Suddenly I heard a scream from Biru from my side. Well he is shouting the same song! We were three of us on three bikes with loads of passion for biking. We started earlier that evenning around 6pm for kodaikanal. The members of the crew were Varun, Biru and myself (huez).
We were determined to do this trip inspite of fewer bikers, and my bad cold. After resetting our trip meters to zero we headed for the big trip. We crawled through the city traffic untill a few kilometers before electronic city praying to God that it should not rain as the clouds were threatening for a heavy shower.

Our plan was to ride most of the distance as much as possible before 1am and stay at the place we reach that time and then to start towards kodaikanal the next day morning. The destination is 480km from bangalore the farthest hiwayREBELS had attempted till date. We just crossed Hosur and we didnt have track of each other. I was thinking these guys were ahead of me as I stopped for water earlier but to my surprise Varun and Biru were behind me. I stopped just before dharmapuri to call them. But their mobile phones were dead. So I waited helpless for 20 min praying that these guys would either call me. Atlast they arrived. Then we had nice food at dharmapuri. We met a Cab driver who was very frienldy. He cleared all our worries about the weather in that route.

Its 9pm and we still need to cross Salem and stay either in Namakkal or in the next town Karur. We made to Namakkal around 1am deciding to rest for the night there. The next day it was 7:30AM when we started from Namakkal and reached Karur where we had our breakfast in a nice hotel. Being a tamilian myself i was happy to be in tamil naddu and have pure tamil food. Especially to lead the gang when the rest of us dont know tamil! Any way we loaded our camera with film role and started towards Dindugul planning to have a meeting point at Aravakuruchi about 40km from Karur.

At Aravakuruchi Biru was speeding like a demon not listening to my Bike screaming horn. So i thought well catch at the next stop. But Varun stopped at Aravakuruchi without knowing that we sped. By the time i caught Biru i started zooming so we did quite a lot of distance without a stop. The climate is very hot this time around and we were desperate to climb the hill.
Atlast we reached the hill base where we refreshed ourselves with lots of tender coconuts. The venor was so happy with the business with us that he gave a coconut free! Meanwhile our machines were taking good rest cooling themselves, and getting ready for the climb. Once we crossed 2 hair pin bends we could feel the cool breeze and sudden change in the vegetation.
Kodaikanal welcomed the bikers with a mild drissle of rain. Wearing the jackets for the rain, enjoying the dense vegetation around us we rode with a smile in our faces. Silver cascade falls was the first attraction in there one would notice as its on the way well before we enter the town. We had hot coffee and roasted corn and few snaps to cherish the memory. Next stop was at our Lodge.

After a quick refresh we went to Coaker's Walk this one ultimate view point. One gets to walk around a hill with a deep valley on the other side with amazing hill backdrop. But this place has been commercialized now and very crowded. I had been there at the same place around 15 years ago. This place was amazing at that time. It has lost its original glory these days. Green valley view was next in our cards. Unfortunately it was very foggy and all we saw was a white wall. piller rocks, pine forestes were other places we visited. Upper lake view really knocked us down with the splendid view of the lake surrounded by dense vegetation. Devils kitchen (alias guna's cave) was the place where the famous Tamil movie Guna shot. It was very slippery through the steeps of a hill in the end was a huge cave like a slit. It was heavily foggy not allowing us to enter the place. We took some snaps and left for our next place.

We went around the lake 3 times, once on foot and twice on bike. Damn Kodaikanal is very cold than I expected freezing the hands. We visited a park, a falls ame Vatakanal falls (disappointed after seing the falls ). Had a nice treck around the pine forest nearby. The ride to the Dolphins nose (a view point) was unforgettable experience as there were no road just a rocky way on which the tourist buses go. We were the only crazy riders going by bike. At one point we had to park our bikes and treck down through a stepp slope on a hill. The climb down is easy but was so tough to climb back. Anyway the view point was amazing. We sat there for quite a lot of time admiring the view sharing our experiences about the trip so far and stuffs like that. It was here that Biru revaled his love for dogs! He fed a wild dog with as much as 6 breads till the dog was satisfied.

It is now sunday evenning we were in high sprits we went all around kodaikkanal just for the ride sake. We again went to all the view point locations. There was a tree very old as much as 500 years! A forest officer going that way to his resiednce stopped by and gave us some insights about how to calculate the age of a tree. He is a research person in horticulture. His gesture was so warm made us feel at home in the forest. During dinner Varun met a travel agent who gave us the complete route info. The route was through palani. Biru had earlier given a hint about the existence of such a route but we didnt have exact route. The speciality of this route is that it goes thorugh palani and then through sathyamangalam ghat section and to chamrajnagar. This route is little longer than our earlier route but this is challenging and also through the forests. So we cancelled our earlier plan to visit Berijam lake and Mathikettan forest for monday. Because for hiwayREBELS the ride gives more high than anything else.

The risk through this route is that wild animals would come on the road especially it is notorious for mad elephants often comming to the road and cause lot of damanges. So we had to cross this stretch on day light to avoid animals on the road.

Next day after breakfast we started from our room around 11AM had a good breakfast and headed towards palani. This section of road was amazing with around 20 hairpin bends. The road was windy and a treat for a biker. we had a lot of snaps in these sections. We loved every section of the road till palani. Had a short break just before palani for tea. Our next will be for lunch. We were running out of time as we had to cross sathyamangalam ghat section in day light. To our trouble there was a very strong wind from the east(our left) The wind was so strong it almost pushed us down. But inspite of the heavy wind we sped our way at 110km. We stopped at Tiruppur at around 2:30 pm for lunch at a punjabi dhaba. There was a guy who made us panic about our plan to go throught sathyamangalam and suggested a different route. But we were determined to do this route and no turning back at this time. But we were alert after this and didnt wasted our times in frequent stops. We had a goal to reach sathyamangalam in an hour which was 55 km from where we started. And we accomplished by riding like hell! No slowing down in the towns. Especially in Avinashi where the traffic in the town was bad. I loved zip zapping through the traffic there. Even though we topped speeds of 110km/h we could only cover 55 km in an hour as it could involve the slowing down at traffic.

Now its 4:30PM and it had been raining in sathyamangalam. We had nice tea and snaks and were really enjoying talking about the drive so far. It was here that Varun was happy as his bike passed 2000km mark. The roads were wet that slowed us down a bit as the ghat section began. The roads were so slippery that I almost slipped. We saw a truck upside down in a hairpin bend that sent alert signals to us. The view of the settting sun amongset the hills was amazing. There seemed to be a Car Rally happening at this section as we saw a few red coloured rally cars comming from the opposite direction. we had few photos there and headed towards Chamrajnagar.

The road from chamrajnagar to mysore is the worst section that we had seen in the past 1000 km. Our average speed became 25 km/hr in this section. Atlast we reached Mysore. We had food in a dhaba and started towards bangalore. The have been a heavy rainfall in this area. The roads were very slippery and didnt allow us to drive more that 105km/hr on mysore road. Mysore road used to be our top speed test zone. We had done speeds of 124km/hr in this road earlier. Ofcourse that time the road wasn't wet. The trip is about to end now as we crossed Bidadi. Had our last cup of coffee for the trip we left towards bangalore. After 40 minutes we are at Delmia signal as Varun left us to his house and Biru and myself going to our house.
We rode almost 1200 km this trip, through more than 50 hairpins and few more lessons learned. Lots of head turns and few people really called us crazy when they saw us on bikes. This trip is over leaving us with lots of roads yet to be conquered.

Onward: Bangalore, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Toppur, Salem, Namakkal, Karur, Dindugul, Vattalakundu, Kodaikanal
Return: Kodaikanal, Palani, Thirupur, Sathyamangalam, Chamaraj Nagar, Mysore, Bangalore