1488 kilometres, 4 days of superb riding, the experience of riding the Ninja 300 shod with CEAT Tyres, the roads which I rode through and the places I visited. This was one memorable ride which I will cherish.
Day 1: Hosur -> Electronics City -> Ramnagara -> Srirangapatna -> Hunsur -> Kushalnagar -> Mandalpatti -> Madikeri (326 Kms)
There is something magical about waking up early and feeling razor sharp and getting ready for a ride. It was 05:50 am; the weather was chilly, making it a perfect start to the ride.
I took NICE road to ride through Mysore road via Electronic City. NICE road is one of the best roads around Bangalore which has a legal 120kmph speed limit and you can reach any exit point quickly. From the NICE road exit point is approximately after 110 km; the road diverts at Srirangapatna from where the two-way road starts. The entire 100 odd kilometres is a busy road but it was a smooth ride.
After clicking some photos & getting hydrated I reached Kushal Nagar at 11:30 am. It was 90 odd kilometres from Srirangapatna to Namdroling Monastery (Golden Temple). It is the main attraction as the distinct architecture of the temple & the huge Buddha statues are not often found in southern part of India. This place is also said to be one of the largest Tibetan settlement outside Tibet.
Rode another 40 km to reach my next stop, Mandalpatti at 01:30 pm. The diversion from Abby Falls to Mandalpatti is pathetic. Broken roads, no roads & crushed stones is what I got. I let the CEAT tyres handle the harsh terrain thrown at it. There was only one shop at the entrance where we need to buy an entry ticket to proceed.
Lunch time! Ordered Maggie and was enquiring about the possibility to take the Ninja to the end point of the trail, for which the shop keeper said it is possible but not for this bike due to its low ground clearance. Another motorist who was coming back from the trail said, “Forget about taking your bike inside. It is impossible! There are rocks and foot deep potholes.”
Damn! I was thinking “Am I going to park the bike and take a jeep to get in there?” NO! I then decided to reduce my bike weight. Unloaded the luggage and handed it over to the shopkeeper then proceeded with only my backpack.
Being a short rider, here is my perspective about the trail. It is very much possible but, tricky. There are only 3 very bad parts. Patience is the key. When approaching a trail stop the bike, check for the best possible path and then proceed. Carrying less luggage will help you with handling the bike better and of course good tires! I am lucky to have had a brand new set of CEAT tyres which gave me 100% confidence to ride on this tough terrain.
A view point is at the end of this trail. You need to buy another ticket from the forest depot and climb a small hill to witness the awesome view of the mountains. Though this time it was not green; anywhere during monsoons should be a treat to your eyes. Returned, saddled up and thanked the shop keeper for taking care of my luggage.
Cauvery Home Stay, a simple yet pleasant home stay is where I chose to rest for the day. Since I was the only one who stayed there, food was not available. However, there was a hotel on the highway just behind the home stay where I had my dinner. With all wonderful experience and memories of the day I was enjoying both the Ninja & the CEAT tyres ever more. Slept with a smile!
Day 2: Madikeri -> Sullia -> Bantwal -> Tannirbhavi Beach (Mangalore) -> Maravanthe Beach -> Murudeshwar (317 km)
The day began at 6, prepared myself and the Ninja for another day. Left the home stay at 720. The roads were exceptional with lots of twists and turns, it was definitely an addictive drug session which lasted 30kms. Not at any point did the CEAT tyres scare me in the twisties and held the bike well on tarmac. It was a regular road till Mangalore from then. Over all the roads were good.
I had no plans to visit any places within Mangalore, but one of my closest friend suggested to check this beach called Tannirbhavi. The entrance to the beach has a lot of trees and even in the afternoon you can spend time in the shade watching the waves. There were a few shops for soft drinks; snacks and a small kid’s play area with a few games. Spent time there, had snacks and lime juice then headed to another beach which is around 100 km away from Tannirbhavi.
Maravanthe Beach, a stunning place close to the highway. Only a bird’s eye view can justify how stupendous it is, having both tarmac and the ocean side by side. Since I wanted to explore this place a little more, I took a small road diverting from the highway at the end of beach road and ended up in a place where they make concrete tetrapods. Huge structures like these are always great for captures, took some photographs and headed back to the beach.
The highway was being expanded and the roads were new which made me ride on the same stretch 4-5 times. I then realized that I was getting late for the next destination which was Murudeshwar.
I reached Murudeshwar at 6 PM. The welcome was given by tourist guides surrounding me asking if I needed accommodation, I parked my bike and checked if I could take the bike inside the beach. It was a positive reply from many stating that there are no restrictions. With a big smile on my face, I took the Ninja to the beach. Had serious fun riding on the beach. Seeing my riding gear there were many questions from different people asking who I am and what I do and so on. There were these 3 kids who stuck with me when I was taking photos, asking me a lot of questions and made sure I took their photograph. After the photo and video session, I started my hunt for the hotel. My only requirement was a good parking for the bike and a decent stay. I then found Hotel Kamath Yatri Nivas, which was very close to the beach and had a good parking area which was not visible/ accessible from the road. I asked for a beach view room and got a room on the 1st floor; it was decent and affordable.
Took a quick shower and visited the temple. After finishing the darshan enquired about the timings for the Rajagopuram lift service. It was from 07:30 AM to 06:30 PM. Hence visited it the next day. Had dinner, walked on the beach for a while and ended the day relaxing and watching the pleasant beach waves from my room.
Day 3: Murudeshwar -> Honnavar -> Jog Falls -> Sirsi -> Yellapur -> Dandeli -> Ganeshgudi (295 km)
The day started with going to the temple to get blessings from Lord Shiva. I had been to Murudeshwar many times. However, this was my first time to the Rajagopuram top. It is on the 18th floor and I should say the view is astonishing. This should be one of the ‘must things’ to do in Murudeshwar and an early morning visit will you make you even happier seeing the sunrise and an awesome landscape one side and the never ending ocean on the other side. The lift operator & the ticket teller were very strict regarding timings so they gave tickets only after 07:30 AM, so don’t start very early.
It was a Friday and being a weekday it was not crowded. So standing by the window and watching the ocean and the spectacular view was long lasting. The lift service operates continuously and you can take a return trip whenever you wish to.
It was 9 when I left the hotel and started towards Jog falls. I knew it was not the right time to visit Jog now as there is literally no water in the falls. However, I wanted to ride through the ghat which made me and my friends feel scared long back when we drove through the ghat roads as we saw only 4-5 cars in the entire stretch of 60 odd kilometres.
The road from Mangalore to Honnavar is undergoing 4 lane expansions. So there are diversions, patches, broken roads & new roads. Over all it is just ok at this point of time.
After crossing Honnavar, there was a new road with butter smooth asphalt for around 30 km. However, after that the roads were average and broken. Once again, the CEAT tyres performed exceptionally well and I was not worried at all to take on the broken roads.
There are 2 viewpoints in Jog falls. From this route you will reach the new viewpoint first then the other old point is 2.5 km from there. You cannot go down the stairs to get close to the water falls in both the viewpoints as earlier since it is closed now. As I expected there was no water, so clicked some photos and moved on to my next location. It was 01:30 pm and I had to cover another 170 odd kilometres.
Dandeli, it is famous for its water sport activities, wild life sanctuary & the Supa hydroelectric dam. A place called Ganeshgudi is where you will see most of the water sports, located in the path of water flowing from the dam which makes this place a perfect spot for rafting, kayaking & still water sports.
From Jog falls crossing Sirsi, Yellapur and reaching Dandeli was a very time consuming ride. Being a state highway there were villages, broken roads and narrow forest roads. Still I enjoyed the ride as it was very scenic. Stopped at Yellapur for coffee and reached Dandeli by 06:30 PM. I still had to cover 25 kilometres to reach the place called Ganeshgudi where I rested for the day.
The route from Dandeli to Ganeshgudi is the most used road in those surroundings. It is a new road and I loved it. It was dusky, cold and those reflectors which were placed only one side of the road and guiding me through corners & zero traffic made a perfect evening ride. You will have to concentrate and take every corner with caution as they are difficult when you are carrying speed.
The first resort I noticed to the right when you enter and ride deeper in the Ganeshgudi was Fly Catcher. Checked the place and was satisfied with the tent they were providing and it was reasonably priced too. The long journey made me tired and I did not want to look for alternatives as I was happy with the resort plus they allowed me to the park the bike right next to my tent. They gave me a 4 bed tent which was occupied only by me and my luggage. After refreshing, had dinner and took 2 blankets to beat the cold. I wanted to spend sometime in the hammock which was available for me and dozed off. After 30-45 minutes I got up feeling freezing cold and went back to my tent to sleep.
Day 4: Ganeshgudi -> Dandeli -> Dharwad -> Hubballi -> Chitradurga -> Electronics City -> Hosur (550 km)
I was told that rafting depends on the water flow in the river and that is possible only when the dam officials decide to open the dam gates for power generation. Had breakfast and was eagerly waiting for the news about the increase in water flow. The answers were either unknown or negative; I decided to wait a little longer and was hoping to experience rafting. 10:00 am they said that the dam gates are still not open and it may be opened afternoon that day. I had another 550 km to cover and already lost a lot of time. I went to the river to try whatever sports which was possible at that point of time.
Zip lining followed by kayaking is what I chose and had real fun on both rides. Though it was 10:30 it was not very crowded and I did not spend any time in queue. Spent an hour there and headed to my resort to take a shower as I was fully drenched after both rides. It was 1 PM when I am ready to hit the roads; I was planning to reach home before midnight.
I took the Dandeli -> Haliyal -> Dharwad road to catch up thinking the roads would be good. Haliyal to Dharwad was mostly broken roads. It was the worst road I encountered on this ride; I was worried about punctures due to the road condition. However, the CEAT tyres once again were exceptional; handling whatever was thrown at it. Finally reached Hubballi at 03:45 pm.
Seeing the 4 lane road I was greatly relieved. I had another 460 km to cover but had less tension as I was riding on a 4 lane road where I can carry a good average speed.
The CEAT tyres after crossing almost all kind of roads including single road, double roads, broken roads, no roads and ghat roads was now on the speedy smooth highways. Not having ABS on the Ninja kept me always in caution during panic braking. Being a Duke 390 rider myself for past the 4 years I had to pay extra attention during hard braking. These tyres never let the grip go away on the highways and I was really impressed the way it handled braking.
I was stopping every 100 km to refresh myself and took short breaks. I reached home at 10 PM.
A BIG thank you to xBhp & CEAT Tyres for sending me a new set of tyres for the baby Ninja 300 and making this ride happen.