Different places, different tales - a concise photo version of the solo Blore-Delhi trip I did. My intention here is to keep the post concise, just have an elaborate caption explaining moments of this photoLog experienced during my ride. The idea of the trip started with a feeling of me being captured by the passing sights and facets of our diverse country while travelling on train from Bangalore to Delhi during my college days. I remember being especially stunned by the different terrains, its people, flora & fauna, food etc. so the desire to experience the same thing while being more in control of the journey was almost natural. Also, living in India one tends to miss out on so much beauty and experience while being drawn by the few highly popular rides like the Leh ride. Having done that, I was hoping for a more diverse ride full of open route options to switch so I can take the road that I feel better on rather than a fixed route plan - But out of all the reasons my primary one to do this was to romance the roads on my new Honda CBR250r... West oriented Central India seemed best for that... So here goes...
Having done plenty of group and solo rides on an RE mount, I was very confident with luggage... But I still needed to test the luggage carrying capabilities of my new machine but I couldn't help take the easier route once I saw what Cramster had to offer (Indian, built well and designed by an ardent rider)... and what better way that to test it while setup for a long - unplanned ride... all I knew was I had an extremely reliable machine that can take me places... Loaded for the ride. Her name is 'Jericho' ... yeah not her original name... dont ask... she's a Tom Boy...
The first thing I do when planning a bike ride is how I can get off the multilane highway and look for ways to ride on traditional two lane roads, they're curve, sexy and surely possess more trees on the side to stop by. This was one such spot when I got off the main Bangalore - Pune NH4 Highway... Soon concrete disappeared into fields layered onto the earth, the rail track reminding me of my train connection. Bangalore and its surroundings never fail to enthrall me, maybe its the temperate climate, the constant breeze or the rocky hill outcrops all around the place.
These are the roads i'm talking about, 2 lane quieter roads that twist and turn with the landscape... definitely extend the travelling distance, but hey, what else are we here for as riders This photo was taken near Kadur in Karnataka, India. The roads in Karnataka state have taken a massive upturn from the past decade with most interior roads well kept too, I was thoroughly impressed.
Right after I left Shimoga, I was greeted with a lush countryside road that suddenly made me realize that I had indeed come out on a solo Trans India Bike Ride. The rich, natural scenery immediately ignited emotions of excitement, curiosity, uncertainty, happiness, freedom, oneness and many other ride related feelings.
Ambling along the road dazed by the beauty that each turn of the corner reveals, I come across this large house with a big beautifully kept courtyard among lush trees and a sign that says 'Gabadi River Edge - Homestay'. I just drove in without even having any second thoughts. The home owners were very kind and courteous, they own a large traditionally made villa, great rooms and food made from the freshest of organic produce. And the best part of the place was the view... beyond the green garden foliage was River Tunga lazily flowing and because the river makes a bend here you can see the banks and have a view that spans quite a distance. Another utterly fantastic place to stay near Shimoga is Harakere RiverView Farm Stay.
The next day I got up willing to be off on an adventurous start, for one I chose to take the State Highway 52 and being remote you can forget about having a ready cell network. This was a little tea stall by the road among plantations of rubber and nut, proved to be a fantastic place for a twenty minute power-nap and some fresh tea after that to set me up for the rest of the day (love this part riding).
Rivulets and streams... oh so many along the way... singing to my heart... to mend the very mood of mine to sway... Well what can I say...
... I literally spent forty five mins on the banks of this stream trying to catch a 'Paradise Fly Catcher' through my camera lens. The views are sure to delay you if you ever choose to travel through this area. North West Karnataka.
Around Jog Falls near Sagara, Karanataka is the second highest waterfalls in India, falls from a height of 830 ft and is a very popular spot among tourists. My intention was to check the area that is before the actual falls, usually these areas are rich in biodiversity and offer quite a few locations to dip your feet into the water. overlooking to the north side of Sharavati National Park, I parked the bike by the wayside and snuck my way to a nearby waterbody, The views were of course... fantastic.
'Road Art' or 'Artwork on Road' done by the road construction dept. The red mud looks so rich in contrast to the green foliage and the grey thin road. Loved this part...
Anyone who's travelled the western ghats or NH 17 is familiar with such sights where the road goes through these pieces of massively high mountainous rocks on either side... The scenery is breathtaking. If you own a sports bike, whack the clutch when you reach the middle and give a rpm shout out to hear it rumble inside. Some guy riding on the opposite side gave me an RPM shoutout as a greeting while he went past me. The guy owned a CBR600rr and that thing sounded so darn fantastic and engineered. Loved it.
Being so close to the coast one can expect humid weather whatever the season may be, but to help rejuvinate bodily fluids you'll find plenty of tender coconut stalls to help quench your thirst and give your stomach the much needed tender coconut care required while eating outside. I tell you the CBR is a pleasure on any sized road. Curvier the better though - So much fun and a sense of exhilaration due to its supremely well done chassis that draws mass right to your footpegs... Just love controlling and un-controlling it
Chai by the road in a reserve forest area... there are somethings that can only be done in a non-developed country and I surely make use of all its advantages.
...On the Goa - Mumbai road, this road isn't just a pleasure to ride on, but its practically making snake love to the rivers of the area. I am surely riding this one plenty more times.
By now I was completely immersed in riding the country, having come more than 1400 kms alone on the road I felt ever more like a wandering traveler; being one with the bike came quickly every time I started the engine, I was very readily meeting fellow travelers and bikers often resulting in some really funny instances of tale telling, the curves on the road felt like home... the agility, control, responsiveness, power and the balance of it all on this bike was actually quenching my soul - Is was truly lighting my fire.
Here's a big problem on this road... actually more of a dilemma, every time you let yourself go and start enjoying the responsiveness of the bike, you'd see one of these which would compel me to stop and go "OOOOHHhhhhhhh" at it apart from controlling the urge to put my camera on overdrive.
To Foreigners and Indians not used to biking in India - Be extra vigilant on the roads here, DO NOT EXPECT LANE DISCIPLINE and understand the hierarchy described below:
Kings - They will not give way and will probably eat up your part of the road, especially if you're driving lower down in hierarchy and finally, they WILL use their mass/bigness to their advantage without even the slightest caution or regard for someone lower than them.
Unloaded/Empty Trucks AND Luxury cars/SUVs:
Queens - Fast, quick, emotional (if you overtake them, they're likely to take it as a challenge), many times dont care about drivers lesser in hierarchy coming in the opposite direction while they overtake, however, they do show compassion in the end by cutting back in lane making sure her people get just about enough space, if she's in the mood for it that is.
Politicians or Kings Ministers - They are the taxpaying owners of the road... they're a mindful lot as far as they see you... but being a highly distracted lot they often don't see or pay much attention to the pains they give drivers who are lower in the hierarchy. Unconsciously of course... lord have mercy if you wish.
Heavy Loaded Trucks and 3 wheelers:
Working class - They work within the constraints of what their machine allows and circumstances allows them to do, can get frustrated at times and eat a lot of road. Basically lane minded and seasoned with the road but they cant hear or see everything so you need to particularly alert them with honking or lights to get their attention.
Dogs/Pets - ^ They ^ will expect us to give way period. Do you see the white line on the edge of the road? The bit of road on the left side of it is where we ought to be, if the mighty kings and queens allow us to even exist. Only option - Stay vigilant and come up with safe ways to turn the disadvantage of size into an advantage (very possible in India).
There are patches on this road that become completely devoid of traffic... I was enjoying my bends and could see how much I could push my bike, the balance combined with the posture and positioning makes this ride of mine an absolute pleasure... I have not yet had a day when I felt withdrawn or dissuaded to ride my bike... ever... I just love my machine. With scenery like this, the smooth roads and riding it on my bike i'm in my most preferred situation at this point
My body drives - My soul rides... is a phrase I often use... it encompasses the feeling, emotion and high that you get while riding. No other motor vehicle allows you to experience the atmosphere around you with this much interaction, one other experience I've had that comes relatively close is sitting on the roof of a passenger bus or driving a topless jeep. This picture is an expression of being out there and being able to experience more.
This spot proved to be a superb lunch spot, had a few Vada Pavs I had gotten packed, saw this little area beside the bridge in the previous picture and decided to roll down by the river where I spent an entire hour gazing at the riverbed filled with pebbles of different shapes and hues. In a car - I would've looked, verbally appreciated nature and moved on *Halflife.
Tea Stalls like this - You can spend hours here, sleep on the bench, convince the owner to keep an eye on your bike and bags while you nap. Then wake up to photograph birds around and have a nice cup of tea for less than Rs 5 (USD 0.06) and a smile. Just one of the many reasons I LOVE my country - Tea Stalls.
The setting sun reflecting on the Konkan Railway line, makes for such a fantastic 'evening note' to end the day. This was somewhere near Khed, Maharashtra.
The Panchgani area of Maharashtra has very deep rooted connections with the Hindu culture, the place suddenly comes alive with colourful trees and gardens, thanks to the planting done by John Chesson, a superintendent in 1860 during the British Raj era. There's lots of dried golden grass in the picture which turns into lush green come July... a sight to see.
The whole area of Mahabaleshwar/Panchgani is filled with these wind cut mountains that soar straight thousands of feet from ground up, the sight is daunting yet amazing.
I was almost at Pune here much ahead of the estimated time... thanks to my mile crunching friend in the picture... ruthless!
A very charming old man, kind and knowledgeable about the area and the crop that grows in his fields. One of the good things about riding solo is that you use all the talking time to interact with people around, leading to a lot of interesting times, this man invited me to a nice tour of his fields followed by some much appreciated lunch made from the choicest of organic produce.
I'd never get to interacting with this good man if I were in a car. Heck I wouldn't have even stopped by this place in a car... and the sights i'd miss would be criminal.
As always, I have to get inspired by a river or a canal or a lake or pond or a rivulet or some sort of waterbody for a powernap. Here I spent almost an hour and half just napping in the shade on a hot afternoon. The shepherd i'd met earlier directed me to a spot he uses that has a little trail leading to it... Cant get better than that... like I said experiences of a long distance rider are far more diverse than a driver - you soak up more of whats around you, more of the atmosphere.
Riding through these undulating hills on these fantastic roads was a joy that I cannot yet explain in an accurately formed sentence, but one thing this place did was get the 'Rohan Song Theme - in Lord of the rings' ringing in my head... if there were a Rohan in India, t'would have to be here.
You know everyone seems to be smitten with Ladakh - Leh and go there by the hoards... Superlative place that and the experience as well but what we tend to forget meanwhile is that there is this entire country dotted full of places as unique as any one of the sought after routes.
Part 2 coming up after approval.