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Thread: Bird of passage - TW5 Participant blog

  1. #1
    Cruise Machine experimentalhead's Avatar
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    Default Bird of passage - TW5 Participant blog

    I sail through the roads, like a bird through clouds
    Like a bird I soak in the sun, in the dusk and the dawn
    Like a bird I soar so high, freedom is the only thing I see
    Like a bird I head in many directions, with no inhibitions
    Like a bird sailing through clouds, I cruise through these roads







    I want to be like a bird. Birds are awesome travelers and explorers. To me they symbolize freedom and are truly true wanderers. I feel like one whenever I take my motorcycle and fly away. No hindrances. No inhibitions and just experience pure sense of freedom. Many times prefer to fly (in my case, ride) solo. Stop where I want to; spend how much ever time I want to, depending upon how awestruck I am, at one place; Eat and stay where I want to.

    Before we continue, for your information - this is gonna be a detailed read, ladened with many images and words. I hope and am sure that you will not be bored. I may take a long runway before taking off. Please be patient.

    This will be like a three course meal.

    1. Appetizer. You would get to know me as a rider and my weekend wanderings before we take on long journeys.

    2. Main course. This will be heavier, served in two parts.
    Part 1: Southern Odyssey A leisurely ride;
    Part 2: A relentless run to white desert.

    3. Dessert. The hidden grand canyon of India and natural underground caves

    So, let me serve 'STARTERS'.

    WHO AM I? WHY DO I TRAVEL ON A MOTORCYCLE?

    Hi. I am Raghavendra CM (Friends call me Raghu and some cut it further short to CM, my initials), who is a typical MNC bloke during weekdays, but not the one who complains about work. Rather I am grateful to my job which enables me to fulfill my desires, especially traveling. Apart from spending quality time with family, I indulge in reading books. If I am on internet, most of the time is spent going through travel blogs and nitty-gritty of motorcycles. I am a voracious eater too. When I am not traveling I begin with heavy starters, heavier main course, followed by delightful desserts.

    I had to go into a long hiatus due to personal and professional commitments. However by April 2015, I had a vague idea that I would get some time to immerse myself in passion of motorcycle wandering. With the encouragement of my wife, who is my pillar of strength, along with my younger brother, who is my true inspiration to get into this amazing passion and reluctant Mother, I realized my dream of upgrading to a nice motorcycle. Welcome Benelli TNT300. My last two years savings reserved for a motorcycle upgrade was well spent.

    Just like a bird, I cannot be at one place for long. I follow my thoughts. My thoughts are like my rides. My thoughts wander. So, do I. Wandering has its charm. As we all know, and everyone says, Traveling is adventurous and, of course, fun. And, when done on motorcycle, level of adventure is taken to next level and fun is matchless, and when you make it unplanned and just follow your current state of mind and thoughts spinning in your brain, it becomes wandering. Every Wanderer is a constant seeker. Wanderer in me keeps the fountain of curiosity alive. When you are curious, you are like a child constantly seeking answers to myriad questions. Wanderer in me keeps asking questions which keeps the enthusiasm alive and drives me to explore many destinations in different directions. So, I started wandering with my new love, my Benelli, to many places. Sometimes I would ride for entire day and sometimes for few hours which I would get before or after other commitments.

    I travel for many reasons.

    'JOURNEY'

    The journey, more than the destination, is what makes us ‘the motorcycle travelers’ err ‘Wanderers’ to hit the road. To me riding is being in a tranquil yet conscious state. Once I am on my motorcycle, there is no fretting about the past and there is no worrying about future. I am in the present. I am Conscious. To me, this is being alive. Now, invariably, riding propels me into this mode. Riding always brings out unused abilities of mind. Super focus and highly disciplined. Riding makes me feel responsible. To me that is freedom. Enjoying your passion yet being responsible and harmless.

    Be it cruising through beautiful highway tarmac or through a bumpy forest or country side to see a lake or a waterfall; a glorious piece of history; seek peace in a temple; feel the breeze on top of a hill; sunrise; sunset; colorful clouds. I just rode where my heart and mind wandered to. Sometimes I just rode with no reasons attached and no destinations in mind.

    Some pictures from weekend wanderings.
































    'PEOPLE'

    By nature, I am always told that I fall under a category called introvert. But Wandering has given an opportunity to interact with different kind of people. Wandering on my motorcycle, I express myself. Initiating a conversation with strangers always seemed challenging. But, not anymore. People everywhere have been so good, courteous and nice and are more than willing to talk to a traveler and are always curious to know more about him/her and what he/she is up to. People represent and embody different culture and tradition. Many people, many cultures. Every action represents a culture, a tradition. Be it mass bathing, mass dining or even mass massaging. Even a small conversation with locals tells you so much about conditions of that place.












    'FOOD'

    Food, Yummy! is a fantastic reason to travel. Trying different cuisine and that too locally is an adventure in itself. You know what I mean. It’s fun but you are putting your tummy on line. Is it worth? You bet! It is! When you are in a big city like Bangalore, one doesn’t have to go anywhere to experience different kinds of cuisines. But food also represents culture of a region, a place and people. You got to taste the food from where it belongs to, surrounded by the uniqueness of its tradition. Eating in Rajasthani or Gujarati restaurants in Bangalore can never be same as savoring same cuisine in Bhuj or in Udaipur. So, I travel for food too. I am a voracious eater. But while riding, I am careful with amount I eat.



    MAIN COURSE - PART 1: SOUTHERN ODYSSEY

    I wanted to fly away little far and for little long. It was not difficult to get leaves as I had taken after long time. Initial plan of ‘love birds ride’, as my wife wanted to accompany me, had to be shelved at the last moment due to unforeseen circumstances. This gave me an opportunity to embark on a solo ride. But, I had no plan in my mind. I did not want to tax my brain at the last moment. I decided to go with the flow as I had no idea about in which direction I would be heading. After a good night sleep, I woke up and got ready with all gears and luggage. I told my wife that I would head south, but no destination yet in my mind.

    It was a weekday, and office going crowd almost habitually made me take wrong route towards office. I took the right turn just in nick of time and after surviving through curious stares, thanks to my gears and me sandwiched between tank and tail bags, I reached a junction where I had to decide upon further course. No left, no right, just straight. I continued and one of the boards read around 600 Km to southernmost tip of mainland India.

    I was excited and roads were beautiful. With Sun lighting the path bright, I rode on. My tummy growled and I am not the one to ignore it.



    As I continued, I was greeted by green all around. Thanks to post southwest monsoon. I was maintaining decent and sane pace. However signboards kept inviting me to take a stop at the glorious temple town of Madurai. By the time I finished my lunch, I had succumbed to the invitation.







    I had no idea that Madurai would be such a busy town. It was brimming with people everywhere. I rode around for some time and I was not surprised when many people and school kids gathered around me as I stopped to decide upon accommodation. Many in Bangalore, including my friends, are well versed with all four chief languages of south India. But, I was handicapped with Tamil. My wife always acted as a translator, in absence of subtitles, while watching a Tamil movie which would happen once or twice a year. I really missed her here. But this was fun. It was already being funny. Madurai Tamil dialect did sound little different to from what I heard in movies. Finally, found a good accommodation.

    I decided to leave my Benelli in secured parking space and take a stroll towards temple. The way I had dressed up revealed the fact that I am not an expert at wearing a dhoti. It acted in my favor and people who were already very courteous became warmer and everyone smiled at me. After walking some distance I learnt that temple was still far and may not get ample time to be inside. I hopped on into a share-auto which seemed to be in an eternal vibrator mode. My co-passengers got down after sometime. I finally succeeded in taking a selfie.

    Yours Truly: ‘Vanakkam’








    What a marvelous temple, I exclaimed within as I approached east tower entrance. So many people. As I made my way in I knew that this evening would be special. Moreover, it was first day of Navaratri. I had heard that this temple was huge and an evening is too less a time to see the entire temple. I wanted to live through every minute of this experience. My command over language may not be fitting to describe the architectural grandeur. I got lost. After paying my obeisance to and seeking blessings from Goddess Sri Meenakshi Amman, I walked through long passages captivated by carvings and paintings. I was enthralled by classical music and also a Bharatanatyam performance.











    I was in no mood to step out. After spending quite some time sitting near holy pond, observing people and ambiance, I stepped out. I had learnt that Madurai is famous for Idli. Idli is not new to me. But wanted to know how different these Idlis are. Locals helped me with finding best place to enjoy delicious Idlis. For me Idli is a breakfast item. Here, it is staple food for dinner. Murugan’s Idli shop served some mouthwatering and smoothest Idlis. I could say that this is the best I ever tasted. I also realized that there are many varieties of Idlis. Share-auto helped me to digest these Idli while returning to hotel.

    After sumptuous breakfast, I thought Kanyakumari could wait for some more time and decided to ride east. Last night I had noticed that my Hotel was on Madurai-Rameshwaram road. Highway signboards/ milestones were really acting as my guiding points. So, started towards Rameshwaram. It was not a multilane highway. Roads were narrow with lot of traffic. I cut through many villages. It was getting hotter. I stopped occasionally to check luggage and also to have tender coconuts which are much needed relief to the system



    As I was riding I came across a group of cyclists wearing Tee shirts with APJ written over them. I had seen previous day as well near Madurai. I waved at them and proceeded. Pictures of Pamban bridge and Dhanushkodi, I had seen in many travelogues, started flashing in my mind as I closed in on Rameshwaram.

    Previous day



    On way to Rameshwaram



    First sight of sea and I was elated. Then I saw a board saying Pamban bridge. I could not wait. As I approached the bridge, I saw a big crowd. I thought of coming back later and headed towards town of Rameshwaram.





    I was greeted with a cool breeze and drizzle. After checking in and having curd rice for lunch, I headed towards Dhanushkodi. I was unable to control my excitement. Beautiful roads took me to Dhanushkodi.



    It was sweltering and I was drenched inside, thanks to my gears. I was an amusing spectacle to all other tourists there. My imagination of riding on sand and going to the beach was punctured when I was stopped by cops and local jeep drivers and told that I could not ride any further and have to go by a jeep or a bus. I was disappointed. My requests were futile. Adding to my concern was leaving my bike there as it was getting too much of attention. A coconut vendor who spoke Hindi asked me to leave the motorcycle in his custody and asked me to not to worry. After having a tender coconut and I got into a mini bus which we were told that would not move till all 15 seats are occupied. I sat there explaining about my ride and answering questions of other tourists. Then the drive to Dhanushkodi was surreal with those sand trails, rollercoaster drive, butterflies flying along with occasional sighting of peahen. I, being solo, got the chance to sit next to driver. I was in a fantasy world.









    Once we reached Dhanushkodi, I spent time away from crowd looking at the sea. Some were taking holy dips. Some took a stroll along the beach. I sat there watching few ‘Lingas’ to whom ‘poojas’ were performed. This was the place from where Lord Ram had built the bridge to Sri Lanka, not very far, to bring back Goddess Sita. I spent some time to take pictures. It was so unreal.









    Then we were driven to a place where there were many dilapidated structures and I learnt that this place was swallowed by a high intensity cyclone. I also saw the stone which was used to build Ram setu. It had many pores on the surface and that’s the reason why these stones did not sink and rather floated.











    Sun was going down quickly. We reached back the main junction. I had couple of more tender coconuts as the custodian of my bike refused any money for looing after my bike. I thanked him from my heart and headed back to Rameshwaram. On my way saw a deviation towards Lord Sri Kodandaram swamy temple. Beautiful stretch with water bodies on either side. Beautiful setting. Rode there for couple of times and then thought of coming back to that picturesque place next morning. I was smitten by the beauty of this place.



    Freshened up and went to Sri Ramanatha swamy temple. Cell phones and camera were not allowed. Huge and beautiful temple with one of the biggest Nandi statues. I immersed myself in the tranquil of temple. Spent good amount of time there. Paid my obeisance and sought blessings of almighty Sri Ramanatha swamy and thanked almighty for giving me an opportunity to live my passion.



    Dinner time. Went to a nearby hotel and asked in Tamil about special dish in Rameshwaram. He said Dosa. So, I concluded that Dosa and Idli are the most special items in Tamilnadu or these guys were not revealing it to me. Ordered Dosa. Thanks to Dhanushkodi heat and humidity, my body was thoroughly squeezed, and in no time I was in deep slumber.



    I got up very early and rode to Pamban bridge. It was still dark. But, many fishermen had already got to work. Many boats looked like paper boats I made during my childhood. I parked my motorcycle near the bridge and took a long walk. I stopped many times just to enjoy the beauty of the sight. This is India’s first sea bridge, on Palk Strait, connects Rameshwaramto mainland India. It’s an engineering marvel. I spent a lot of time here and was greeted warmly by locals who were jogging in their lungis, which was amusing yet admirable.















    Then, I headed towards Sri Kodandaramaswamy temple, which was on way to Dhanushkodi (Remember the deviation, I mentioned earlier. A road flanked by water on either side). When I reached Sun was still trying to break through clouds.



    I was the only one there and I rode my Benelli to my heart’s content on that stretch followed by some crazy photography at the end. It was fun. “If you feel lonely and bored when you are alone, then you are in a bad company”. I was certainly not in a bad company even though I was all alone there.







    I returned after spending lot of time. After an average breakfast, I checked out. I was riding slowly looking at many posters which were not there previous day and then I started noticing many pictures of The Great APJ Abdul Kalam Sir as well in those posters. I inquired and learnt it was Abdul Kalam Sir’s birthday. I remembered the cyclists I had seen on my way to Madurai and Rameshwaram. I decided to visit Kalam Sir’s memorial and burial place. I paid my respects. There were lots of political party workers. All clad in white. White Lungi, White shirt and many in white slippers too. When I reached the spot, love and respect towards Kalam sir was very evident as there were lots of commoners who also carried saplings to plant. After paying my respect to the great man, I answered few questions about myself and my motorcycle. Then I requested one of them to take my pic. People around were so amused with my attire, bike and luggage, I seriously do not know what they thought of me, but they cleared the entire crowd around memorial and made me stand alone to click a picture. And, they all greeted me with lot of respect as I waved them good bye.







    I had seen this image of a temple on seashore. Images of temple walls washed by the waves attracted me a lot. Moreover I had to take ECR to reach this place. It was icing on the cake. So, I had again decided to a take a detour, a specialty of unplanned rides. Like a bird I was flying in whichever direction I wanted. My imagination of East Coast Road was that road will run parallel to sea and I can enjoy the view of sea while riding. But that was not the case. It ran parallel to eastern coastal line but nowhere close to sea. Road was fantastic. It was a straight stretch passing through many villages and small towns. There was hardly any traffic. Soil color changed from red to black. In some stretches, either side of the road was populated with towering palm trees. It was little hot but since I was in the plains, breeze was good enough to keep me and the bike cool. I started getting weird smell and which grew stronger. Then I came across water bodies divided into multiple sections and around each section a huge pile of white material was lying. And I could also see an Industrial area. I got curious to know about what this white powdery material is. Stopped and checked. It was salt and this was the famous Tuticorin Salt pan. Salt was being harvested. The smell was very strong and wherever I looked I could see these salt mounds. Tuticorin, also known as Thoothukudi, is a major port city. I did not enter city, took by pass and reached NH 7A.







    After my lunch, I continued my ride. Roads became narrow but surrounded by green and were in good condition overall. I was excited with prospect of seeing another beach and the grandeur of temples in this part of the world. I reached Tiruchendur and I was struggling with my completely broken Tamil when the hotel’s watchman came to my rescue who spoke fluent English. I asked them to give me a good room with no bed bugs as my last night sleep was disturbed due to them. They agreed. But the room was not only unclean but there were just too many mosquitoes at least some 15 to 20. When checked with hotel folks, they were like ‘Sir, there are no bed bugs’. I laughed and said ‘Yes! I requested you to give me a room with no bed bugs. That does not mean I am fine with room full of mosquitoes’. They were polite bunch. They also laughed and changed my room to a better one. There were few mosquitoes. But room was bigger, clean and a better one. Caution: Please carry Odomos cream to avoid any mosquito bites, and to have a peaceful sleep. I freshened up and went to temple which was just five minutes’ walk from hotel.

    One thing I would like to mention is just like we are used to seeing pigeons and crows around in our daily lives, you see peacocks in and around temple. Since, hotel I was staying was very close to temple, I saw quite a few peacocks in the hotel’s premises and in the compounds of other hotels as well. Peacocks are such beautiful birds! Extraordinary! When I went to temple, I could see so many peacocks everywhere. On temple’s main tower, on street light poles, roof tops. Everywhere!

    The temple was stunning and there were so many people around. It was quite a busy area. I went to beach for a brief period. The view was just amazing. After enjoying a small stroll on the beach, I went to temple. It was quite big. Taking pictures was prohibited. I paid my obeisance and took blessings of Lord Subrahmanya and goddesses Sri Valli Devi and Sri Devasena Devi. It was just fantastic to be inside temples in this part of the world.

    Legend of Tiruchendur temple:

    Now this is interesting. Inside temple, one of the pictures displayed showed Lord Muruga standing between sea waves and temple. There was a mention of date 12/26/2004. Tsunami! Remember! I could not read anything from the display. I requested a gentleman to translate that for me. He too struggled but informed me that when Tsunami struck the eastern coast and caused irreparable damages to many towns around this region, nothing happened to this temple. Miraculously only around temple area, sea receded by quite a distance and nothing happened to temple. Gradually sea came back to original level when Tsunami subsided everywhere else. Miracle! Power of Lord! I was thrilled to learn this.







    Then, it was time for dinner. Went to a nearby restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised to hear name of a new dish ‘Idiyappam’. I had never eaten this dish. Upon asking, the waiter said it’s like noodle strings and has to be eaten with coconut milk. It was very nice and delicious. I was still hungry. So, upon asking the waiter about what else would he recommend, he suggested Uttappam which tasted great. I hit the sack. Odomos and mosquito repellant worked. I entered deep sleep mode.





    Got up early and went to beach to see sunrise. It was around 5.45 AM. There were many benches installed in the temple premises facing sea and all were occupied. Many were going to temple for early morning prayers. I went to the beach and just waited for the sunrise. This was one of the most beautiful sunrises I had ever seen. It was cloudy and I was apprehensive of missing the sunrise. But just like a strong will sun broke through dark clouds and it was a magnificent sight and great lord’s temple was adored by every ray of sun. What a sight! With peacocks everywhere looking towards the sun from temple roof, it was just spellbinding.





















    After breakfast, started towards southernmost tip of peninsular India. Locals asked me to not to take ECR as it was not in good condition and asked me to ride to Vallioor which will then put me on NH7. I obliged. Beautiful roads and once I was on NH7, I passed through the stretch where trees were less and windmills were more, I guess, and surrounded by huge mountains.







    I could not contain my excitement as I approached Kanyakumari. I just rode straight to the sea where Vivekananda memorial and Thiruvalluvar statue. I spent quite some time looking at the sea and the statue. What a beautiful sight it was when waves collided with the huge rock. It was hot and I went to have a tender coconut. First time, I was asked whether I want green one or red one. I was like 'Red one!' I asked for difference and I was told, Red would be more sweet. Tried and it was more sweet indeed.

    Rode to sunset point. Enjoyed the sea. It was serene as nobody was there. Spent some time and decided next destination and started off.
    while riding back, I asked a group of youngsters to take my pic. I noticed that they all started spiking their hair. I was wondering seeing that. Then they surrounded me. I looked at them. They said yes let’s take a selfie. I just could not control my laugh. I burst out. They asked why? I said that I requested for my picture. They were like ‘Oh. Appadiya! (Oh. Is it!)’. But I did not want to disappoint them. First took a selfie with them and then one of them took my pic.











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    Default Re: Bird of passage - TW5 Participant blog

    Travelogue Approved
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    Give your details here if you want to help your fellow xBhpian stranded in your city

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    Default Re: Bird of passage - TW5 Participant blog









    Then I started towards God’s own country. I passed through town of Nagercoil where almost all roads were in bad shape. As I entered Kerala, roads became narrow with heavy traffic. Traffic was so much that I found two good hotels on the other side of the road but just could not go the other side as buses were just not stopping and kept coming one after the other. So, did the cars. I was just not able to go other side despite waiting for traffic to ease. In Bangalore many locals use a slang ‘cycle gap’ meaning small passage for someone to intervene or escape (Ex: You give him cycle gap, he will say something to ridicule you). I did not get that cycle gap to cross the road. I do not know whether it is like this always, but on that day traffic was so heavy. However, some roads were beautiful with typical tender coconut trees on either side forming canopy and keeping me cool.

    Moreover, there was no gap between two towns. One town ended and another one began. And, I saw this small board saying ‘Welcome to Kerala’. That’s it! I expected a much grander and bigger hoarding announcing the god’s own country. It was an abrupt entry into Trivandrum I thought. No hoarding; nothing; Unannounced. Or perhaps I missed the board. Had decided to meet my younger brother and spend rest of the evening with him before I resume my ride next day. After a long time I was meeting my brother. There was so much to talk about my motorcycle and the ride with him. Four days ago I had no clue that I would be meeting him so soon.





    Next day we got up early and visited Sri Padmanabha swamy temple. We spent good amount of time there. After that I resumed my journey towards Alleppey. How could one not visit famous backwaters when in God’s own country, Kerala. I had a leisurely ride. It was little hot and tender coconuts came to my rescue again. Reached Alleppey and started looking for a nice stay. To my luck I got a resort which was undergoing maintenance as the season was about to begin in a week’s time. But, it was quite an adventure for me to take Benelli into resort as there was no road and I had to sneak in through a narrow passage between a small lake and a compound. A small mistake and I would be in the water. I was told that I was the only one in the resort as tourists would start pouring in after a week. Had snacks and freshened up and had a nice chat with one of the managers of the resort who also got a nice boat ride arranged for me through backwaters. I was told that backwaters are not deep and hardly six to eight feet deep. I was surprised to know that. Again, I was the only one in that big boat. I was asked by my captain to sit at the roof to get a better view. I obliged and it was a terrific ride. I noticed that every household by the backwaters had its own boat. I visited paddy fields. Witnessed a cricket match, next to paddy fields, for some time and enjoyed beautiful sunset.

























    All the staff, except the chef and a security guard, was gone by the time I returned. I went for a walk. The resort was typical Kerala styled and gave a sense of eighties era. Everything had a traditional touch. I spent lot of time introspecting and on retrospection. After a chat with chef who was curious to know about my trip, I enjoyed a simple meal which was too good. It started raining outside after the chef left. Only an old security guard and I were in resort. I sat looking at the backwaters in the dark for quite some time. I could hear the music being played in one of the house boats parked nearby. It was an eerie feeling to be almost alone in the resort on the banks of backwaters

    .



















    That's me on the backwater trip, earlier in the day.What a feast to eyes. I just sat on the porch enjoying the early morning sunrise in the land of exotic backwaters. It was cloudy as it rained entire night. I saw many going on their personal boats. I was in no mood to leave this place. I sat there for quite some time. Then, cleaned the bike and lubed the chain. After a tasty breakfast, I checked out, thanking the staff of the resort that has been very nice to me















    This was the road to get in and out of the resort.





    I had decided to go to Palakkad via Kochi and Thrissur. I was pleasantly surprised to see a four-lane highway from Alleppey to Kochi. After I crossed Kochi, I
    saw a board stating Athirapally falls and it was 25 Km away. I gave it a thought and decided to ride to the waterfalls. Road was narrow and nice. After sometime, road got bad with lot of potholes. Again as road improved, I met two guys on a Royal Enfield. We exchanged information about our rides. They were riding from Mysore to Kochi. When I told them that after Athirapally, I would get back on highway and ride to Thrissur. They requested me to not to take that route. Instead, I was insisted to ride to Valparai from Athirapally and then from Valparai to Pollachi. The way he narrated the road condition and scenery convinced me to change my plans. I am grateful to him for directing me in the right way. We had a nice chat for quite some time about our rides and bikes. Then I bid them goodbye and rode towards Athirapally.









    I got a glimpse of this beautiful waterfalls by the road. I was exhilarated. Then at the entrance, I got parking and entrance ticket to waterfalls. I was worried about where to leave my bike with all the luggage. Removing all the luggage and loading it again would take some time and I was in no mood to do that exercise. I requested a shopkeeper to take care of my bike. But he was reluctant as he said police may cause problems. I went to another shop and requested the lady of the house to take care of my bike and luggage. After a good look at my bike and my attire, she asked me to park the bike next to her shop.Since it was Sunday, there were just too many people. I was disappointed to see a fence preventing people from getting close to falls. One can enjoy the beauty of this great waterfall from certain distance. Waterfall was surrounded by a huge hill ranges densely populated with trees. I learnt that fencing was done as some untoward incidents happened when people got too close to waterfalls. I still saw some people going to places where it was clearly stated to not to enter. I had a good look at the falls. Then I returned to my bike, thanked the lady, and started towards Valparai. Valparai was not even in my plans till this afternoon. I love it when some gems come along the way.









    After about couple of kilometers of ride I reached another check post. The chief of that check post was reluctant to let me continue as it was already 3.30 PM. I was told that the route passes through thick jungle where many wild animals cross the road. And, since it was a ghat road and road was also narrow, it would take close to three hours to cover those 85 Km. I told in English that I could cover the distance and reach Valparai before 6me.30 PM. The guard showed my bike to the chief and said something in Malayalam and the chief of the post let me pass. I thanked them and started my journey. In no time I came across another waterfall by the roadside. Stopped for couple of minutes, enjoyed the beauty and resumed the ride.



    What a road! What a scenic route! It was just awesome! Curves cutting through jungle! I thoroughly enjoyed every minute and every mile! Stopped quite a few times to see nature’s untouched beauty. I was so excited and immersed in this ride and beauty around, I forgot to have lunch. Surprisingly, my tummy did not complain either! Took few pictures. Some places made me feel like as if I was riding in ‘Pandora’ created by James Cameron in ‘Avatar’. Some small hills looked like islands floating in a huge water mass. Spectacular! As I closed in on a place called ‘Malakkappara’, roads were not good and infested with pot holes. I reached the check post where I showed the slip given by Athirapally check post. I inquired about road condition ahead and distance to be covered.













    Road curved through tea estates. It was getting dark. I checked the time. It was only 5.15 PM and it was misty all around. What a sight! I Then I crossed the Sholyar dam. Now, I was riding through only tea-estates. Reached Valparai, a small hill station. Checked in at a small hotel called hotel holiday break. Staff were very polite and co-operative. Room was very clean and price was very affordable. It seemed as if the town had only one main road. Walked around for an hour and then had ‘dosa’ in a nearby hotel. Came back and slept off as it was very cold wondering how many dosas I had during this trip.











    Sun had risen just then, and like every day representing sheer will power, was breaking through clouds. Hotel manager had told me last night that from my room I get a good view and he was not wrong. It was just splendid. I stood by window for quite some time and just tried to bathe in the early sun. Then, got ready and checked out. Was in no mood for breakfast as I wanted to hit the road. 40 hair pin bends were beckoning me. While packing my bag a gentleman approached me and said he was curious to know about my trip. Answered his questions about why I prefer to travel by motorcycle, about the motorcycle itself and about my attire. He shared his business card and said he keeps coming to Bangalore to visit his brother and said he would like to travel with me someday. He said he was more into caves exploration. I thanked him for his kind words.







    I was out of Valparai and was in middle of super green tea estates. I was surrounded by mist and saw many sign boards warning to go slow as it was mist spreading zone. It was cloudy and overcast. I was ecstatic as I rode through misty tea estates crossing few small villages. It was heavenly feeling. I felt like as if I was riding through a dream. I stopped at many places just to soak in the nature around me. Soon, I entered Anaimalai tiger reserve. Riding through the woods was one of a kind of an experience and I started my ride down hairpin bends spread for us riders to enjoy between Valparai and Azhiyar. Road was butter smooth. To be honest I have not seen such beautifully laid roads on any ghats I have ridden till date. Not a single small pot hole. It was so stainless. I enjoyed every curve. However, one has to be very careful as you come across buses climbing up and down. You will also come across locals riding on their two wheelers without any safety gears. More than anything you got to be careful with cars especially while cornering. I stopped at a tea stall run by a tea estate which also had a stream running down resembling a fall. It was cold and right atmosphere to enjoy every sip of tea. I was joined by a family who wanted to click few pictures of their kid with the bike. I just smiled and nodded. In the meantime girl sitting in the tea shop was telling in Tamil to another person that last week another bike which looked like bullet but bigger and noisier went by same road. It was very amusing to see her innocence while explaining the bike and the noise it made.































    I was enjoying every curve. I was riding down and made way to a bus. I saw a bike with three guys climbing up. It was quite steep. I saw a kid sandwiched between two adults and no helmets on any of the heads. I felt something was not right. The rider panicked seeing bus coming down the steep and in no time I saw all three going down to their right along with the bike. I immediately parked the bike and rushed to these guys. The rider was so panicked that he just lifted the bike and was pushing it up the steep since he was unable to start it. I saw a car coming down the steep and it was the same family I had met near the tea stall. I asked the guy to calm down and slowly pushed the bike to a safe place. In the meantime, we heard the kid crying. He had a cut on his palm and was bleeding. I took my first aid kit out and cleaned the wound. It was not a deep cut. Cleaned it and applied antiseptic ointment. A couple riding a bike joined us. They were relatives of these guys. They rushed to us and helped me to cover the wound with bandage. After all this, they were ready to ride again. I requested them to not to ride without any gear. They had a helmet but was not worn. I told them not to get me wrong and informed them about how helmets, gloves and knee guards keep them safe. Also informed them that triple riding is not legal and absolutely unsafe as it was difficult to balance on such steeps. They agreed and assured that henceforth they would adhere to road safety norms. Then they resumed their ride. I sincerely hope they reached destination safe and sound without any unwanted events.









    I reached the base. I looked up and found the hills at the top still covered by mist. It was spectacular. I came out of the tiger reserve and stopped again to decide upon the next course of ride. An old lady asked me whether I would like to have tender coconut. The way she asked me was with so much love, I could not say no. I was given the biggest tender coconut I have had till date anywhere. It had so much water and so sweet and it was equal to having two tender coconuts. I thanked them. I said ‘Nandri’ (Thank you). Then I asked them ‘Ethana Money? (what is the price?)’. I found it funny that old man was taking out his cell phone and told me the time. That’s when I realized I said it wrong. ‘Ethana mani? (what is the time?)’ was What they heard. I said sorry and corrected myself. They were laughing innocently. I took a picture of them and I became little emotional when they saw their picture and the way they reacted. The granny squeezed my cheeks and wished me good luck.









    From there on wards it was straight and beautiful roads. I reached Pollachi and from there I rode to Tiruppur. Road was very nice. Then I was on NH and it was a multi-lane highway. I twisted the throttle and was doing good speeds and there was no traffic. I stopped at Salem for lunch as I was very hungry. That’s when it struck me that this would be last meal of the ride. I asked the waiter to serve me a special TN meals. He obliged. Meals was very tasty. I was very happy as I would be seeing my mother and wife in about three hours’ time. At the same time I was sad that ride would end. I just recollected entire ride. I was so happy that everything went so smooth. I finished my meal, took a deep breath and resumed my ride. Beautiful ride. When I rode past Krishnagiri’s Sarvana Bhavan where I had my first breakfast of the ride, I started missing the entire ride. I did not know when would I get next opportunity to go on such ride. When I saw the greenery around, the concrete jungle of Bangalore flashed in my mind.








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    Rusted krishna77's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bird of passage - TW5 Participant blog

    If someone wants to go through the blog of yours properly, he/she needs at least 40 minutes. It's such well written and well captured! I've also never seen so many amazing pictures in a single post.
    Take a bow!

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    Default Re: Bird of passage - TW5 Participant blog

    Lovely pictures and superb ride. I have heard so much about the roads of Valparai which you have brought alive through your travelogue. A must do on my list. Thanks for sharing
    Ride To Live

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    Cruise Machine experimentalhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bird of passage - TW5 Participant blog

    Quote Originally Posted by krishna77 View Post
    If someone wants to go through the blog of yours properly, he/she needs at least 40 minutes. It's such well written and well captured! I've also never seen so many amazing pictures in a single post.
    Take a bow!
    Thanks Krishna for your kind words

    Quote Originally Posted by akshay View Post
    Lovely pictures and superb ride. I have heard so much about the roads of Valparai which you have brought alive through your travelogue. A must do on my list. Thanks for sharing
    Thanks Akshay

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    Keyboard Warrior chaosaddict's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bird of passage - TW5 Participant blog

    Awesome log mate, thanks for sharing it here though I took a glance in the TW 5.0 website
    BENEATH THE REMAINS.........
    Instagram - chaosaddict666 (follow for atypical uploads on heavy metal, bikes, alcohol, chakna, life, fashion yada, yada)
    YouTube - chaosaddict666 (Disclaimer: crappiest uploads ever, viewer discretion is advised)

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    Default Re: Bird of passage - TW5 Participant blog

    MAIN COURSE: PART 2: A Ride to ‘White Desert’ ( Rann of Kutch )

    After my South India solo ride, I resumed my weekend wanderings. Every time I complete a ride, it is followed by a drive or an outing with family or a vacation. This time it was a vacation. After we returned from our family trip, I was still left with around five days of my vacation leaves. So, I was thinking about how well to utilize these five days. One thing was for sure. I just wanted to ride. I always wanted to ride to ‘The great Rann of Kutch’. But five days seemed too less and that too without any plans. Then, I decided to just start the ride and take it on day to day basis. I knew that this would be like an endurance ride but with sufficient rest to body and mind. Moreover there was no race against time. After obtaining necessary approvals at home, I started my ride.

    I like endurance rides. To me endurance ride is to be at safe and sane speeds and spending long times on the saddle. These will automatically take care of the time and distance factors.

    I stopped somewhere between Dharwad and Belgaum for lunch, after spending about six hours on the saddle. I had ensured that I was properly hydrated throughout as it was hot. After lunch and good amount of break, I resumed my ride and entered Maharashtra. Roads have been well laid and are in super condition. As I entered Kolhapur belt, I came across these road side sugar cane juice shops which served one of the best cane juice I have had till date. I gulped down so many.







    I continued my ride with drinks breaks. I crossed Kolhapur as sun was going down. I stopped for a while to enjoy cool breeze and a mesmerizing sun set.



    I reached Satara and decided to call it a day. I started looking for accommodation. I rode through busy streets of Satara and inquired about clean budget hotels from locals. One of them guided me to a hotel Sagar. I was given a good discount by the manager when he learnt that I was riding from Bangalore and planning to ride further into Gujarat. I answered his queries about my gear, my bike and how could I ride such long distances.

    I freshened up and went out hunting for good Maharashtrian food. Again I was helped by a local rickshaw guy to a small hotel called Maratha Bahar. I ordered for a simple Maharashtrian Thali and it was delicious.



    After having ridden around 810 Km, my body yearned for some good sleep.

    The excitement of riding and having limited time made me get up even before my alarm chimed. I got ready and checked out. I was in a dilemma whether to continue further or to take a diversion towards Ajanta and Ellora. I thought of first riding to Pune and then decide.

    It was a beautiful morning. I enjoyed riding through tunnels. I also came across many groups of youth on their motorcycles, without any protective gear, following another young man carrying torch and was being constantly cheered. All I got from them was loud cheers instead of any information.









    My motorcycle chain was loose and was making noise. So, I decided to stop by at Pune Benelli service center. I reached there by 8 AM. I was asked to wait in the lounge and I was given a very warm treatment and bike was thoroughly checked before it was handed over to me. I sincerely appreciated their concern and kindness and moved towards Mumbai, as I decided to enter Gujarat instead of diverting towards Aurangabad.

    I was thoroughly confused while riding towards Mumbai as I reached Express way on which motorcycles are not allowed. A nice taxi driver helped me to locate the right path through ghat sections.





    As I entered Navi Mumbai, heat was taking its toll on me. Also, I was stunned with amount of traffic I was seeing. Even though I am from Bangalore, I must confess that human and vehicle populations were slightly intimidating. Moreover, I was confused as I was given different directions by different guys. Somehow I made it to Thane from where it was not so difficult to find the way to NH towards Surat.

    I had so much of fluids, did not feel like eating anything. So, I asked the waiter to give me something light of his choice. And he served me Misal Pav. It was tasty which made me to order additional Pavs.



    Roads were just brilliant. However one has to be careful with the way vehicles are driven and ridden in wrong lanes and from opposite directions. I was enjoying the ride with occasional breaks. There were few diversions due to road repair and construction work. But diversions and service roads were also in good conditions. As I cut through Vapi, Surat, Bharuch and Vadodara, Sun was ready to close the shop and it was time for me to look for a stay as I had clocked close to 700 Km for the day.


    I reached Anand and again with the help of locals found a decent lodge called Rama residency. I was given a discounted price yet again. People were so courteous and kind throughout this trip. They really portrayed true meaning of ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’.

    I had a nice Gujarati Thali, followed by a small spin around Gujarat where I found Cane juice shops service delicious cane juice for just Rupees 10 per glass. After having couple of glasses, came back to hotel and had a chat with hotel manager about ride from Anand to Kutch and about the route which and more importantly how to avoid Ahmadabad traffic by taking Sardar Patel ring road.







    I was served hot coffee early in the morning along with some sandwich. Though I had not asked for the same, the manager had arranged for it as I had a long day ahead. While checking out, he also offered me sweets which with a heavy heart I had to politely decline as there was no space in my baggage to carry. He understood my situation and asked me to take them if I revisited. I thanked and started my journey. It would be a long day ahead.

    I took the route I had discussed with the hotel manager last night and it really helped me to beat the traffic as I approached Ahmadabad. I took the following route: Anand - Nadiad – Sanand – Viramgam – Dhrangadhra – Bhachau – Bhuj. The route has fantastic roads with less traffic and also as I rode deep into Gujarat, I started seeing the rural side of it. I also saw many people walking towards some destination. Upon inquiring I learnt that they were Jain pilgrims. Hats off to them as they were braving the heat and dust and were walking unflinchingly towards their destinations. Some were even pushing a wheel chairs carrying older pilgrims. I refrained from taking their pictures as I thought may cause inconvenience to them.



    I reached Bhuj and I was inquiring about route to Rann. It was Sunday afternoon. I was told by one of the locals that I would need permission to enter that part of Kutch and that day being Sunday ‘Bahumadi Bhavan’ where all government offices are situated was closed and I would have to postpone my plans to tomorrow. Now this threw cold water on my excitement. For a moment, I thought I should have thought about all this and planned accordingly.

    Then, I decided to ride to this Bahumadi Bhavan. I found it with help of locals. It was closed. I was disappointed and when I was thinking about what to do next as in another two days I had to reach Bangalore as extending my leaves was ruled out. At that time, one gentleman was coming out of Bahumadi Bhavan compound. I stopped him and explained him about my situation, hoping he could help me if he was an official. When he said ‘You don’t have to come here for permission and you can directly ride towards Rann and obtain permission on the way’, my joy knew no bounds. He confirmed that even on Sundays permissions were given. I thanked him and without wasting a minute rode towards Rann of Kutch.



    Roads were beautiful and traffic was very less. It was like riding through wild wild west. Barren lands till your eyes could see. I also witnessed couple of mini whirlwinds.







    I reached the post and obtained permission by providing relevant information and ID proof. The in-charge asked in Hindi “ Aapko Bahut Khatin hua hoga bike mein yahaan taka aate aaate (It must have been very difficult for you to come here on bike)”. I humbly said “Nahin sir. Bahut mazaa aaya ( No Sir. It was lot of fun )”. He smiled and said all the best. I thanked and proceeded. I was unable to contain the joy as I closed in on Rann of Kutch.



    When I reached 'Safed Rann' and as I rode towards it, I punched in air with joy. The first glimpse of white desert was a strange feeling as I was at one of nature’s strange areas.







    BSF personnel checked my permit and allowed me to proceed further. As I got closer, I could see the land turning white from brown.

    After one point I was told that I cannot ride further. I had to either walk or take a ride on a horse or camel carts. I struck a deal with a horse cart guy and I was the only one on his cart wherein other carts were filled completely.





    The land turned whiter as I got closer and it was surreal. When I reached the point from where all I could see was the desert made of salt, not sand. I was told by the tangawala that this would be like a fantasy land during full moon day. He told a bit about himself and how they are doing this job for generations. Then it was my turn to answer his questions.



    I met a very jovial guy who took my pics. He was full of life and fun. After taking few of my pictures, he also posed for a couple of pics. I really enjoyed talking to him. He was super cool and fun.







    Full of life



    The man and the beast. Bhimji with his horse.





    Down to 1 horse power



    After spending good amount of time, I started my return journey. I was thirsty and stopped for couple of cool drinks on way to Bhuj.







    I reached Bhuj, paid obeisance to almighty outside Swami Narayan Mandir. Then headed towards Ahmadabad.



    Benelli was center of attraction throughout.





    Rode through saltpans near Bhachau. Here I did not encounter strange smell that I experienced near Tuticorin. A beautiful evening was coming to an end. I rode relentlessly before I decided to hit the sack at a hotel near Ahmadabad outer ring road. Had ridden around 940 Km at the end of day and was in deep slumber in no time.





    Another beautiful morning ride.



    It was a very hot day and I took many breaks including a heavy Gujarati breakfast.



    Somewhere near Vadodara I came across this old gentleman who was full of life riding this unique luggage carrier which looked like a Bullet from the front and made one of the loudest exhaust notes. I had seen few of these previous day as well.



    Re-entered Maharashtra. Beautiful roads. I was careful enough this time to seek good guidance to bypass Mumbai and reach Pune.







    After Panvel, I missed the signboard and entered Mumbai-Pune expressway again. This time I was stopped by cops. However, after telling them that I am a new guy to this route who was guided by locals and explaining about my ride, cops let me go and also showed me the route to get on NH4. While riding through ghat section, somewhere between Khandala and Lonavala, I again got on to expressway and this time I was hundred percent sure that there were no sign boards. I cursed myself and was slowly riding back. I stopped couple of guys and checked. This time they said I could ride on expressway before exiting to Lonavala. I was bamboozled. I reached Satara around 11.30 in the night and checked into same hotel I had checked in on first day. They asked me about my experience in Kutch. However they let me off when they learnt that I had ridden around 815 Km for the entire day.

    On the last day of ride, I got up late after a good sleep. I bid hotel guys good bye who had been very warm towards me. I just kept riding with breaks to quench my thirst.

    I entered Karnataka and was back to Idli, chutney and Sambar.



    Gradually a hot day turned cooler and pleasant. Conditions suddenly changed from sweltering to overcast.

    I paid my obeisance to Lord Sri Ganapathy near Chitradurga, my home town, for having seen me through this journey of 4100 Km in about four and a half days.

    I reached Bangalore at 9 PM to my family’s delight. So much to talk to my family and friends.

    Was I happy? Yes! Was I satisfied? No! Still many more rides to come.











    DESSERT: Grand Canyon of India - Gandikota Fort & Natural underground caves - Belum caves

    I had an opportunity to ride along with my friends to one of the hidden gems called Gandikota fort. It was a beautiful ride through some picturesque landscapes. Fort is surrounded by a deep valley with massive boulders and river Pennar. We spent the evening at the gorge. Next day morning we were there early and it was a breathtaking sight. After spending lot of time near the gorge, we explored the fort seeing some of the major structures like granary, Jamia Masjid, Sri Madhava swamy and Sri Ranganatha swamy temples.

    While returning, we visited Belum caves which are second largest natural caves in India. This is an underground cave providing a unique experience. We were dehydrated by being in caves for long time. Thanks to our gears and humid conditions inside caves. We explored some really dark corners of caves. It was lot of fun.

    We had two fantastic days in the heartlands of Andhra. Just like solo ride, a group ride has its own charm. Group ride is one of the best means to forge a stronger bond. Be it riding in a file, waiting for another rider to regroup, taking pictures, sharing food. Just fantastic! I thoroughly enjoy both formats, though solo is my first choice.
































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    Default Re: Bird of passage - TW5 Participant blog

    Quote Originally Posted by chaosaddict View Post
    Awesome log mate, thanks for sharing it here though I took a glance in the TW 5.0 website
    Thanks buddy

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    Default Re: Bird of passage - TW5 Participant blog

    Superb!


    P.S. Which camera did you use?

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