Thursday, October 20, 2011

The ZMA brothers out on the prowl…..

The after effects of the last Western Ghats ride: 

The last four day weekend we covered Mullayangiri, Bababudangiri, Jog falls Malpe and Almost everywhere in between. It was a wonderful experience in 24/7 rains. Newer were we spared of the rain gear. After a four day ride, expected some “GYAN” at home and office. After few days, my Mother wanted to know how the ride and places covered was. That was when the entire ride movie was premiered at Home. After patiently being a good audience to my screenplay, she replied to a firm voice “You will go wherever you want all the time, but newer do what I ask you to “was a bit confused about what she meant. After having a leisurely time over a coffee after few days asked her what did she wanted me to do. “Why don’t you go to Sonda and come, it’s been a while since anyone of us have been there” came the reply. Just what I wanted for.BTW Sonda is a spiritual place nestled about 20kms from the town of Sirsi, in the midst of the western ghats. My family makes an annual visit to this quite temple town, but unfortunately this year wasn’t able to make it. No prizes for guessing what was cooking in my mind by now. 

Dasara seemed to be the perfect time for the ride, but then thought of the number of people clustering into such places during festivals. Decided to do a week start to mid week ride. Discussed about this over a coffee with Gautham, he told me to keep him updated and expressed his hopeful intentions of Joining in, but wasn't very sure of making it. Later that day got a PM from him asking me to leave as per my plan and if possible will join midway. 

Day1:  Bangalore-Tumkur-Gubbi-Arasikere-kadur-Birur-Tarikere-Bhadravathi-Shimoga-Sagar-Thalaguppa-Mavingudi-Mensi-Siddapur-Kansur-Sirsi-Sonda-Yellapur

 Come 09.10.2011 saddled up by 4AM and take the elevated highway for Tumkur. The initial plan goes  like this: Bangalore – Tumkur-Arasikere-Shimoga-Sagar-Thalaguppa-Siddapur-Sirsi-Yana-Karwar-Dandeli. The weekend traffic on the highway was almost dead. Took the turn to Gubbi, and was greeted by a crater right in the middle of the road. Hoping this to be Shubh Shagun, rode till the next sign of tubelight was visible. The first stop for the day was welcomed by 4-5 Canis lupus familiaris( for the scientifically inadvanced folks like me it’s the DOG)  with full rage. I am not sure if the riding gear intimidated them or not, they just pounced upon me. Then came the guy from the tea shop to my rescue. I don’t know if riding gears save you from a fall or not, it definitely does from a dog bite. Few minutes pass by and their eyes don’t just take off me. After having a cup of tea, I am in a dilemma whether to start off again gearing up or not. Don’t know what happened to them, one after the other slowly started to vacate the scene. Finding the right time I start the engine all of them start chasing and the whole drama come back to square one. By now I had enough of these, put the bike on side stand, and get off the bike, the dogs also stops and their courage, subsides. This technique works 95% of the time( 5% depends on your luck).

The sun starts peeping out of the clouds over the town of Gubbi, then opens up NH 206 in full glory. It had rained the last right in this region, so the chillness of the morning was extended to 9Am or so. By now the taste buds was craving for some nice tasting breakfast. Come Shimoga outskirts and I barge into a old style, teak wood furniture faintly lit hotel. Why this choice ? If you want to taste the specialty menu of any region, one needs to visit such places than swanky looking fast foods(My personal opinion). Had my quotas of Idli Vada combo and head towards Sagar.

Lets see who's got more torque:p

Somewhere before Yellapur 

With a full day in hand, decided to go to Tavrekoppa lion and tiger Safari. One horn gesturing my presence and permission to park my bike, the guard stopped me at the entrance and asked me to wait for 45 min or so (don’t know for what reason). Was definitely not in a mood to wait for so long so head directly to Sagar. Reality strikes just before entering Sagar, potholes whom I had missed for the past 100 kms or so seem to re appear. Filled fuel to the brim and head towards Thalaguppa and Siddapur . By now Thalaguppa –Siddapur, a fairly good enough road opened up for a super fantastic forest roads from Siddapur-Sirsi-Sonda.
   The road quality is brilliant now, I mean it has upgraded from being average to good to excellent now. Dump my luggage and head to the temple dining hall for lunch. To my bad luck, the lunch timings was over. Had to resort to idlis again at a small shack at a distance from the room. Then begins the journey to Yellapur. I was falling in love with the country side over and over again. Spent some time at a stream side place and head back to Sonda. Got a msg from Gautham stating that he was ready to roll the next day. So many years of friendship and first long ride together, was excited. So told him to come down to Jog falls instead of Yana. After few calls to the family, the solo rider till now crashes for the day.

Day2 :Sonda- Siddapur-Sirsi-Thalaguppa-Jogfalls

Begins with getting up at 4AM, getting ready to offer prayers at the temple. Finish the good deeds at the temple by 5.30 and start for Jog falls. Visibility drops drastically once I exit the temple town. Head straight to Siddapur , have coffe with some biscuits and return to do one more lap of this stretch. Stop at the same hotel for an early breakfast. The hotel guys gave a weird look which read like “are we serving a mentally low profiled idiot”. After gulping 3 plates of upma and a plate of Dosa, head to Jog Falls. Enquire at the PWD guest house for stay and Bingo, got this big haunted looking room for a throw away price. All thanks to the weekday.
                          Checked in, did a minor survey around the bike checking for any loopholes. The DOCTOR( not the Rossi types, but Gautham) drops in by now. Soon he freshens up, both have lunch and head towards Kargal for a brief photo shoot and to get the view of the falls from different angles.

View from the room

By the riverside 

The pillars of the Jog bridge still carry the logo of The Government of Mysore 

 Since very few guests were there, we were served home food from the manager of the guest house. It started drizzling by evening, and when it drizzles in this part of the country, it doesn’t usually stop at that. Soon the concert of lightning and thunder start. Few minutes down the lane, power cut around the entire region and two or three huge lightning probably a kilometer and a half or so strikes just above the falls, we could see all four of them so bright, that it made our day. The lightning and thunder saga continued for the next two hours or so. We could even see each other’s face clearly whenever the lightning struck. By now our eyes started paining because of the supercharged HID lightning. Hoping for an even better tomorrow we say good night. 

Time pass photography, credits : Power cut :b:

Day 3: Jog Falls-Kargal-Nagavalli-Bhatkal-Kundapur-Udupi

Phata phat get ready for the ride to the beaches. Decided to take the Jog-Kargal-Bhatkal route instead of the longer Jog-Honnavar-Bhatkal road through the forest. The initial few kilometers after Kargal are scenic post that the road quality deteriorated but was very much ride able. 

Post Kargal

Tried getting a peep into Linganamakki but the guards refused to give entry. Passed through a small village where we fed ourselves with delicious dish of Dosa curry for breakfast. After riding for about 20kms under vibrator mode or so we reach Nagavalli Check post. Stop there to get few snaps after passing through step cultivated grasslands. This place was so calm and peaceful, so silent that we were very resistant to leave this beautiful place. 

Near Nagavalli check post 

Post few kilometers good roads open up for Bhatkal. This is where two wheels take a mark over SUV’s was able to negotiate the curves much better than a six foot wide monster. Furthur ahead civilizations begin visible bigger slowly and steadily. Enter NH17, we spot a HMC showroom where we wanted to get over the small niggles. NH17 is one of the most notorious highways in the state, as I mentioned somewhere, it’s like signing an agreement which would state that Himself/Herself is responsible for their own accidents even if the vehicle is parked by the side of the road when you are sipping coffee/tea in the roadside shop. The stupidity of the road users become exponentially higher if we travel south on the same road. Later we stop at Marvanthe Beach by the road side. This is by far one of my favorite stretches of NH17.
At HMC service center, checking for the fork "O" ring damage 

Alongside Maravanthe beach 

Nature's own paddock stand :D

One of the only two pics together 

Finally we reach Malpe to have a late lunch. The person at the reception immediately recognizes me and with a smile asks how many rooms we wanted this time (reason: we had a group booking the last time). Dump the entire luggage in the room, and head down for the restaurant for lunch. Humidity was piling up with every minute passing by. Later in the evening, once we reached the beach to view the sunset, was surprised by the number of people around on a weekday. Spent some quality time seeing the sun surrendering to the waters of the Arabian Sea. 

Different people different moods 

The sun surrendering ...

Different shades of the evening 

Now comes the next question “How do we reach home tomorrow?”  Called up the frequent flyer on this route (read Mav=Prashanth) to how do we go about covering Kudremukh also enroute. Thanks for the info buddy. So it was decided that we take Kudremukha-Chikmagalur route (one the most scenic stretches of Tarmac currently).

Day 4: Udupi-Karkala-Kudremukh-Kalasa-baalehole-Baalehonnur-Aldur-Chikmagalur-Belur-Hassan-Kunigal-Bangalore
Reluctantly we wake up early to have a early start, after we get ready and go down to saddle up, an old man walks up to me and asks if I am not the one who had come few weeks back. Recognizing him to be our room service guy from the last visit, the head automatically nodded. With a small doubt he questions whether I had lost my helmet, a white one with some designs on it with my name written at the back. I confirmed with a nod and a “YES”. The next few golden words that came out of his mouth was that they had found it and one of their staff had kept it safely somewhere. But the catch in the story was the person who had kept it safely had left for home last evening and was expected to come back only in the afternoon. Good things don’t get back to you so easily you see. We requested him to have a final search, if he didn’t get it this time, told him that will come back or arrange someone to collect it somehow. Finally the guy comes out with a white helmet written on it was my name and blood group.
The old meets the new :D

Was so happy to see it back in my hands at least for the struggle we under went to procure a new one the other day. Now one more problem arises, the space to fit in the helmet in our already over packed luggage , Somehow was able to fit the helmet in Gautham’s back pack after dumping half his luggage on to my saddle bags. Thanking the Hotel staff a million times, we leave the place with a smile on the face. Now begins the longest leg of the entire ride. Pass through some horrible stretches and reach Bajagoli. Udupi to Bajagoli reminds me of the car/Horse that used to be outside KidsKemp or any other big apparel shop where kids put a coin and have a bumpy ride for 60seconds or so. One small turn to Kudremukh and its entirely different scenario, roads of paradise open up. Stop at S.K.Border to enter the vehicle and rider details in their log book. Initially the Guards were very hesitant to let us in, even they were under this huge misconception of anybody wearing a complete riding gear is up for racing. It took a while for us to make him understand that we were on touring and nobody on earth will race with saddle bags and back packs tied to their back. The roads inside Kudremukh are one of the best pieces of tarmac one can find in the Western Ghats. All thanks to the ban on the mining of iron ore from the region. The roads seem to be very good than what it looked like a decade ago or more, when there used to be a time when we used to put our heads out of the car to feel the mist outside. After few photo stops we reach the town ship of KIOCL (Kudremukh Iron ore Company limited). What a peaceful place, very neatly maintained. People moving around in slow motion, no harsh sounds from vehicles or loud speakers, probably the purest form on naturally available oxygen content which is almost nonexistent in the metros nowadays.


The after effects of Kudremukh:D

People busy with their daily routine 

Finally take the exit and proceed towards Kalasa. Mistook a turn at Baalehole, and suddenly it was like riding into flood hit Amazon basin. Superb tarmac turns into slushy roads, vehicles getting struck in those and even further ahead didn’t even matched 10% of what we passed by for the last 100kms.  Thankfully a lorry driver told us to take the correct route. In the mean time, dark clouds began to gather above us. So shifted the lunch stop to Aldur/ Chikmagalur. Soon as we reach the outskirts of Aldur, it starts raining and surprisingly the dark clouds had moved away and clear skies we seen in the direction that we had to proceed. Stopped for some authentic Malnad lunch at Aldur. With tummies full, both the riders and the machines set out again munching mile markers one after another. Cross the city of Chikmagalur and enter the race track (read Belur-Hassan stretch). 

No prizes for guessing the place 

As you reach Hassan, Stupidity and ignorance of road sense take priority again. Once we enter NH 48, here comes an idiot on a splendor who thinks he is the only one using the highway but the fact was behind him was the both of us and besides us was a swift guy and behind him probably another 15 cars, most of us are honking to ask way to over take. But the splendor dude was least bothered. Finally had to shout and call the kid who was sitting behind him, and signaled him to call the guy riding. Fortunately he turns back and I signal him to the long line of vehicles suffering because of him. The dude showers us blessings and thankfully gives way. Stopped at Bellur Cross for a butt break and to replay the memories of Gautham’s college days. Reach Bangalore safely at 7.45PM or so clocking 1525kms on the odo( for me)

Pics Courtesy : Gautham

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