This ride is one of the memorable rides for me, in that I rode alone the entire Nallamalla forest for 500 kms, after trekking 500-meter cliff for 5 hours. Rode through the Srisailam forest area at night alone, and it was the scariest ride of mine too.
After Araku trip last year via the less-known route, Ahobilam, the route between Nandyal and Giddalur, and the picturesque Nemaligundam located in Nallamalla forest are in my top list to ride. Last week on Friday, suddenly Adithya, another member, called me and asked me how about a ride to Ahobilam. Adithya has been away from riding since the Leh trip in 2010. I was delighted that he want to ride again, and that too to a place that’s in my list of riding. I immediately accepted and we discussed about the possible dates to ride. As Ahobilam is 360 kms away from Hyderabad I told him we need to stay overnight to explore the place properly, and I also suggested taking the return ride through the Nandyal-Giddalur route, Nemaligundam, and then Srisailm and Hyderabad. The return ride is completely via the entire range of Nallamalla forest from Ahobilam to Srisailam.
The route map…
The Nallamalla forest is an extension of Eastern Ghats that stretches from Srisailam on the top and ends at Tirupathi down. It has one of the thickest forests in India and is a protected Tiger reserve. The height of hills averages at 550 meters sea level and the peak height at 1150 meters. Ahobilam, Mahanandi, Nemaligundam, Srisailam, and Tirumala are the most famous pilgrimage centres located in the Nallamalla ghats.
Finally, the dates are decided to be July 9th and 10th. Got ZMR as my ride, thanks to Rakesh. Adithya rides a black Karizma R.
Route: Hyderabad – Kurnool – Nandyal – Allagadda – Ahobilam = 370 kms
The previous night got ZMR from Rakesh, and did not check anything about bike as the bike was serviced very recently. Reached Gachibowli by 6 a.m. and waited for Adithya before the flyover. 10 minutes later Adithya arrived and we started at 6:15 a.m. Took the service road of the ORR and entered Banglore highway by 6:45 a.m. The NH7 is a beautiful four-lane road and we started cruising at 90-100 kmph constantly. The climate was cloudy and seems it just rained the night before. Though the soil was wet, no farming was started yet, due to lack of rains since the onset of monsoons; the fields were just ploughed.
Got opportunity for the first time to spend some good time with ZMR on highways. No doubt, it’s a tourer’s delight with the same character as Karizma. The clipon handlebars are nice and riding posture is a little aggressive than its sibling.
The beautiful four-lane highway to Banglore
We reached Zadcharla soon and stopped for breakfast at a restaurant. I was having difficulty on the highway as the right RVM of ZMR is broken (the RVM was not available anywhere in Hyderabad). I decided to go inside Kurnool and search and see if one is available. The breakfast was better than expected and we were on road again by 8:30 p.m. As we were getting late, we started to ride at 100 kmph. Soon, I started to get bored of the four-lane highway as my brain was becoming passive due to less activity on the road. I asked Adithya to stop at BP petrol bunk before Kurnool to fill fuel. Adithya stopped a few kilometres before BP petrol bunk, took a pee break. He wanted to ride the ZMR, and we exchanged our bikes. We started and Adithya was leading me, and a few kilometres after I spotted the BP petrol bunk, and I saw Adithya zooming ahead of it without stopping there. So, I couldn’t fill the fuel. We reached Kurnool by 9:30 a.m. and stopped at Hero showroom for the RVM. We got negative reply and was shown another service center. We enquired there too in vain, but the person there called some other service center there and, unexpectedly, the RVM was available there. We had to ride back again to the NH7 and got the RVM to much of our delight.
Adithya and me got separated in the Kurnool town for a while and we both met after Kurnool towards Nandyal route. We were shocked to learn that we spent almost 1.5 hours in Kurnool town searching for the RVM. It was 11:30 a.m. already and we need to cover another 140 kms to reach Ahobilam. I was expecting a nice scenic ride on this two-lane highway, but I was disappointed to see the road being widened to four lanes. Construction was going on and the ride became a little difficult. Adding to it, though cloudy, the climate became very hot and humid, and the lands on either side of the road was very dry due to lack of rains. We stopped just before Nandyal and it was already 1 p.m. I started to dislike the ride slowly. Adithya told me that the trekking at Ahobilam not possible in the evening and so suggested that we take Giddalur route and cover the Nemaligundam and stay at Giddalur for the night. Start early morning and reach Ahobilam for the trekking. I agreed to that and started again towards Nandyal. I found chain of Karizma to be loose and making lots of noise. We stopped just at the junction of Giddalur route to fix the RVM and to tighten the chain. We enquired with the mechanic there and he said we could do the trekking at Ahobilam in 3-4 hours by evening. So, again we decided to ride to Ahobilam, which we later found to be wrong. At Allagadda, we missed the bypass to Ahobilam, and rode through the little town. The road was a single lane with little uneven patches. The climate was hot and humid and we were a little uncomfortable, adding to that we were hungry too. We took a break just before the Ahobilam, ,and the roads started to become a little scenic.
The lands were dry due to lack of rains even in mid of July.
As we were nearing the Ahobilam, we entered the forest and slowly the climate became very cool all of a sudden. I felt a little happy for that, and soon we reached Diguva Ahobilam, the place at the foot hills, by 2:10 p.m. We quickly had dinner and started enquiring the trekking routes. We found there were 9 temples to visit, out of which two temples are in Diguva Ahobilam, and the remaining 7 temples are in deep forest in ‘Eguva Ahobilam’ which is 8 kms away. It was already 3 p.m., and we were suggested by locals there not to go for trekking now as it takes as it takes at least 5 hours to trek one part of the Eguva Ahobilam. We also found one temple to be in deep forest 22 kms away and that we could take a Jeep for a charge of 1850 rupees. We were totally confused as we did not understand the areas there. Finally, it was 4 p.m. and we decided to visit three temples in Diguva Ahobilam n the evening, stay at the night, and then do trekking early morning. I was disappointed a bit, as it was hectic day without much relaxation in nature. We put our luggage at Haritha resorts and started to visit the three temples down there.
I somehow was disappointed and told Adithya that we just ride till the Eguva Ahobilam first and then come back to visit the temples. As we did not fill fuel at Kurnool, the ZMR’s tank is nearing empty. Checked the tank and found petrol to be sufficient for another 50 kms. We slowly started riding into the forests and soon the climate became more cool and forest became more deeper. Finally, I started to enjoy the climate and forgot all about the confusion and frustration I faced. Soon, I was immersed in the beauty of the forest and there came a smile on my face again.
The thick forest…
Soon, we reached ‘Eguva Ahobilam’ and it was the end of the road. We need to trek from there.
We rode back to Diguva Ahobilam and visited two of the 9 temples, Chatravata Narasimhaswamy and Yogananda Narasimha Swamy.
Later we visited the main temple in Diguva Ahobilam, the Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple, built by Sri Krishnadevaraya. I was surprized to see the beautiful sculptures and carvings on the pillars of the temple. We were amazed at the expert craftsmanship in those old days without much technology, and I am sure nobody in this modern world could replicate them. We were deeply immersed and spent quite a bit of time visiting the temple. The vedic mantras took us in to enchanting world. Me and Adithya after the darshan, had a nice chat about the Telugu language and the history. I was really happy to end the day like it finally.
The main temple front view
Felt sad to see these beautiful sculptures in neglected state…
The ‘Vijaya Stambham’ erected by Krishna Devaraya.
The temple view from the back
Mr. Monkey testing the new RVM on ZMR.
We came out of the temple at around 7 p.m., and just before I wished for the rain. As if the Lord Narasimhaswamy blessed us, it started to rain. It took us sometime to decide where to stay for the night, and we finally took a room at TTD guest house. Though the room was not good, its okay for bachelors for a price of 155 rupees a day. The rain became very heavy and we had to use umbrella to go out for the dinner. I was worried about bikes’ safety as we parked them outside. Luckily, the supervisor there allowed our bikes to park inside. After the dinner, the rain became more heavy and we were worried about the trekking tomorrow, as the heavy rain may disrupt our plans.
Finally we retired to bed unknowing of what would be our trek and ride back home the next day.
Day Two will continue…