Destination : Dandelli Tiger Reserve
Riders : Kartik(kartikpai) & Haivaan (utsavchs)
Rides : Karthik-CB Unicorn, Haivaan – RTR HE
Departure : 12:03:2011 07:00Hours
Meetup Place : PimpleGaurao
We had a plan to start early in the morning at 5:00 AM on 12th March 2011, but due to various issues like sleepy nature, coldness and availability of light delayed the ride a bit till 7:00 AM. We started from Kartik’s home and headed towards NH4. The stomach’s of our beasts were empty, hence we stopped at a nearby shell petrol pump and filled up. Kartik din’t carry cash, hence we stopped again at a nearby SBI ATM. Thankfully it was working, but it din’t had Rs. 100 notes hence he had to satisfy with a Rs. 500 note. And finally we rolled out.
The sun, although very bright, was quite merciful upon us. We checked our watches, it was 9:15 AM. Just out of the city, we decided to go and have some breakfast. Kartik had the famous vada-pao and I went on with my so-common official breakfast Poha. Later had a cup of tea and some cigarettes. The hotelier was generous enough to give us change for the small bill and a big note, the Rs. 500 Note as I too had Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes as the night before I too was unable to get change of big notes, with all the due respect and regards to State Bank of India’s ATM. We rolled out once more, passion in our hearts and strong belief in ourselves and our machines and of course the roads.
We were clocking 90+ speeds and soon we reached the first Toll booth to find a huge jam of vehicles and trailers and soon we found the reason. A trailer while coming from Satara had lost its control and rammed on to the barriers and fell side-ways. resulting in the jam of both the ways. Anyways our bikes being small we could easily sneak through the gaps of the motion less vehicles, honking their horns.
We were taking less breaks and trying to cover up more distances. We were on triple digit speeds, and soon we reached Satara. Here we took a break for cigs and a bottle of water. We bought a packet from a nearby shop. The air felt cleaner than Pune. Soon we took on the roads to Kolhapur. We crossed Karad, and by this time due to a small over hand on top end of the RTR over the Unicorn, I was leading while Kartik was tailing. We both were on triple digit speeds and kilometers were crumbling to our speeds. I really owe a great thanks to the over bridge, over the city of Karad for allowing us avoid the huge traffic. After this the road to Kolhapur was crossed in a jiffy as both of us were doing triple digit speeds and the traffic was less. The roads were awesome here, the tyres gripped roads perfectly and the machines flowed without a bit of friction. It was butter smooth.
The time was already 1:45PM and the heat of the sun was beating us down. We reached the borders of Maharashtra and Karnataka, and there were huge boards aside the NH4 complete with a huge toll plaza. We zipped passed it, to land onto the lands of Karnataka. The lands changed into white barren lands, with the black straight road on it going on and on for hundreds of kilometers. We could see more than ten kilometers of the vehicle-less road, straight ahead. Hunger was very much active in our stomachs and we had to stop soon. Just by luck we happened to notice a Hotelish Dhaba. It was pure veg, and was run by Muslims. The building also looked like of Mughal Architecture. The soil in front of the hotel was so loose that as the Unicorn’s tyre started running on it, a cloud of red soil dust covered the RTR.
We parked our bikes outside in the sun, as there was no shade. As we walked in, people nearby started staring at us, as if asking “Who are these fellows with such an attire of guards ?” to which we paid no heed. As we walked in, I noticed the people were more interestingly watching Khatta-Meetha film, of the action-comedy star Akshay Kumar or also known as Akki. We found the prices damn cheap and to our delight it served thali, a form of lunch which includes starters, main-course and dessert in a single plate. We ordered special thali, and it got served quite late. It consisted of 2 different vegetable bhajjis, a bowl of paneer masala, a dal tadka, and a buttermilk type of thing along with a bowl of rice, 3 chappatis and a masala papad. All of the items were tasty and spicy. A meal of such type at Pune, would cost nothing less than 80 INR. After a drink of limca, and kartik of coke we had a smoke before we rolled out once again.
Once again, we hit the empty roads and scarcely some vehicles with registrations of KA-22 and KA-30. We were doing 90s when we realized that we were nearing a city. Soon after a ride of 30 minutes, we hit the city of Belgaum. The city was over crowded with people, vehicles, trucks and NWKRTC busses and policemen were seen every 15 yards. It looked as if the city, was undergoing an election as the boards of various people and political parties were placed on every nook and corner of the roads and the crossovers. On top of that, we had no idea of the roads in the city as which road to take. We were asking here and there and were stopping to and fro. After a lot of hassle we found out the right direction and the right way to proceed. We stopped short for a drink of fresh pineapple juice being sold nearby.
After the short break, we moved on the road to Ramnagra. We could scarcely see any population. The heat was dehydrating us badly. Here on this road, I was warned by Kartik off the KRTC busses driving badly. This patch, till Ramnagra, was not so good as the NH4 but being a SH it was comparatively a lot better than what we had faced on Tamihini Ghats on our last ride to Alibaugh. The roads were empty and looked much promising. After a short stop for a smoke and some water, we were soon hitting 90s and 100s. The landscape was changing, from a building and civilization infested area to a more of villages with low population, then huge areas of farming lands and finally the trees began to be seen. The woods had taken over the population finally. The trees were huge, towering over the roads and bathing the roads in their cool shades. We crossed a patch where four trailers had crashed in the night into the woods and bumped into the trees. I was very much amazed to see the truck’s front part to be dented with the windscreen shattered into pieces while nothing really happened to the tree to which he crashed into except some scratches visible from a distance.
After a ride of 40 minutes, we reached Ramnagra. From here the roads separated to Dandeli and Panaji. We stopped here for a drink of the refreshing lime-soda. After a short discussion with the local folks, the shop keeper and after having a cig each, we took to Dandeli. The roads were awesome with the turns were begging us to go and do some cornering. But we knew the roads were treacherous as we were previously warned by the locals, hence were not pushing the limits still were hitting 90s and 100s. The road was a two way, double laned , wonderfully tarred as good as the Lavasa roads and the turns were a lot more than any normal ghat way. The roads were completely empty, covered with the huge trees and the left side was a deep valley with gravellious roadends especially the corners. A slip and it would result in a fall a hundreds of feet into the perilous deep jungle.
While entering the forest reserve, we were first greeted by a peacock striding across the roads and disappearing behind the bushes. Sometime later, a brown monkey was spotted by us which was scratching its body on the ground. The reserve was very calm and quiet. We could hear the distant birds cooing and screeching. We stopped at the entrance of the Supa Dam to read the boards, which I couldn’t read due to it being written in Kannad. We heard something move in the bushes behind the boards. After investigating the spot for good 5 minutes, we sped off to Dandeli city.
After 15-20 minute ride, the landscape changed suddenly. It started with slums then a petrol pump and finally the crossing where we took a right and went on the J.N road. And found ourselves a resting place – Kamat Yatri. There was a small shop beside the Hotel, where we had some soft drinks. A funny incident happened at this very spot. Kartik, who hails from Mangalore, was talking in the local language and I, as obvious din’t understand a thing.
We checked in, after paying an advance of Rs.500 at 6:45PM 12th March. It was a single room, well furnished non-AC. After a short rest till 7:45PM we went out for dinner. There was a nearby restaurant, named Shetty’s Lunch home. I had a quarter whisky and was really trying it out for the first time. The first peg was too hard for me. After having the awesome fish, chicken and egg we were full. We finished somewere near 10:00PM and after paying the bill we headed to retire for the day at our rooms. I watched the cricket match where India was bowling and had given the target score 297. Anyways, to my dismay India lost the match with due thanks to Mr.Nehra for bowling stupidly to Mr.Peterson who hit the ball for boundaries and boundaries only. Managed to see the last over where Dhoni’s team which bled blue was defeated. I was feeling sad to see India loose, so switched off the Tv and the lights, switched on the Mortien (am really afraid of the birdlike mosquitoes In the forests) and went to bed.
We woke up at 6:40 in the morning and got ready. I suddenly remembered we din’t bring toothpaste and toothbrushes. I went out in the morning to get them, and found all the shops closed. After searching high and low, I found a small shop at a bus stand to be open and bought toothpaste as toothbrushes were unavailable. I had walked 3 kilometers, in the morning after about 15 years, and it really felt good. Last time when I had walked such a distance in the morning was when I was a kid and used to go to get milk, at my former home at Kolkata. While returning I found the fruit shop open and bought some bananas and apples.
I returned to see kartik still unready to leave the cozy bed. Hence I I went on to take a bath after waking up Kartik. At 8:00AM we hit the roads again after checking out of the hotel. We found that there was a court at the near end of the J.N. Road. After asking a few auto-rikshaw walas about the nearby visiting places, we went to the Sintheri rocks. It was a long way through the forests again. We rode 60 kms through the forest. Kartik noticed a black monkey, where as I mistook a yawning jungle dog for a tiger and took the run of my life. Later I told kartik, about it who told me it was more possibly a dog rather than any chance of tiger. Tigers stay very deep into the jungle, and also are nocturnal. We continued our way to sintheri rocks and eventually after getting bored of the forest, we took a break at a bridge over a small flowing stream and continued after sometime.
The Bison River
The road to Sintheri Rocks, is a heaven for offroaders. A 3 km, pure dangerous offroading track, to which an entry is required. The cost is Rs. 5 for the Two-wheeler and another Rs.5 for the adult riding it. Well that money is a lot worth spending for the Sintheri Rocks’ experience. We parked our bikes and started descending the few hundred rough stone-cut stairs leading to the Sintheri rocks deep below. The rocks are smoother than anything you have ever seen or experienced. Even glass is rough besides them. The complete place is of Lava formation thousands of years back in a volcanic activity. Most probably it might be the one which gave the black soil to the Konkan and eventually spread over Maharashtra thousands of years ago. The descend is very informative about the earth’s crust, the tectonic plates or the continental plates, the rocks found around us- how and approximately when they might have formed.
Strange waters at Sintheri Rocks
The water around here is very strange and looks heavy. The water is very deep and even the shallow parts are of the same continuous smooth rocks. Its said, that the place has a very high gravitational force. All around the place were birds, but they never came above the water body. There were natural caves all around and 3 of them were the majors, one looked very beautiful while other one looked as it went deep inside the rocks. Kartik said, that there might be a lot of underwater caves in that place, which is has a high possibility. While climbing up we went by the other trail, which inspite of being rocky, was a good one and little steep with a deep rocky foresty george on one side. Here we understood the meaning of more gravitation. It was too much tiring to trek up that stretch, combined with the heat, the dehydration was way too much.
The Sintheri Trail
We took off from Sintheri rocks to return back to Pune. We found a shortcut to through the forest ways by asking a forest guard. We reached Ramnagra where we had breakfast at 11:30AM. We then proceeded to Belgaum. This time we reached it faster, after crossing the spot where some trailers went into the forest. This time a crane was trying to tow the trailer out of the forest. We reached Belgaum and filled our tanks and had to cross the heavy traffic filled streets. Some of the roads were blocked by police as there was a procession going on of something. I still feel that there was an election going on with funny looking policemen with their hats guarding the city. It was actually Karnataka Sahitya Sammelan happening at that time. After a tiring ride though the traffic, atlast we reached the NH4.
Resting on NH4
We were doing triple digits and I was leading again. We took breaks under a roadside tree after 150kms from Belgaum. Had some fruits to refresh ourselves and then again went on our way. We crossed into the Maharashtra border shortly. I was going at 126kmph+ speeds and was the first to reach Kolhapur. Kartik had stopped midway for a drink at a roadside stall and I had to wait for him for about half an hour at the Kolhapur entrance. We had lunch at the McDonalds and I was warned again by kartik of the Speed Interceptors on the Kolhapur – Satara Stretch with the speed limit of 80 only. We left Kolhapur and had a target of reaching Satara within the next 40 mins by 6:30PM as we din’t want to do that stretch after sunset. We were doing good speeds even with low light and a high density of vehicles on the NH4. As the sunset was approaching the light was fading so was our ride nearing an end. At 6:20 we crossed into Satara and had a break. Thirst was nearly killing us with tiredness on the verge of over powering us. We drank some water, sugar cane juice.
Some people saw us with the guards, and were asking us about why we wear them and their availability in Pune. After a thorough checkout of Kartik’s Knee, Arm guards and Gloves they came on my Jacket. After their inspection they went off and we too paid off the bill and after a short smoke we continued our journey to Pune. As the evening was dawning upon us, Kartik’s tail lamp went off. I had to backup him as even his brake light was not lighting up. We continued like that to Pune. The traffic on the NH4 was so much that every nook and corner was jammed. We somehow broke through the traffic and reached Chandni Chowk at TMC marking the end of the ride of a thousand and hundred kilometers with the last smoke.
We refreshed ourselves at TMC before commuting to our respective homes. Such we ended the ride, taking 2 days of time which ensured we take our stamina to a new level leaving us tired but completely enjoyed with memories and sights to last a lifetime.