Sunday, January 28, 2007

Thenmala - Kerela

Route taken : Bangalore - Hosur-Krishnagiri-Salem- Dindigu -Madurai - Thirumangalam -
Srivilliputhur - Rajapalyam- Thenkassi- Shencottai - Thenmala

Sunrise26th of Jan was a long holiday and as usual we were itching to go out and explore the country. It was an ideal time to be out of town and that too in Kerela.

I had by chance come upon an article on Thenmala in one of the airline magazines and I convinced Rocks to venture on this trip. We called a few friends at the last moment hoping that they would be free and yes they were and yes that was the beginning of another travel.

We decided to do it a little differently this time. Instead of starting early in the morning we started late in the night. It was a tiring day and we wanted to get going and this time we thought we would try our luck driving in the night.

We were four of us, Doctor Prithvi, Prateek, Rocks and myself. Doc and Rocks would take over driving alternately. But the plan was to reach our destination by late morning.

Kuttralam We started by 9:30. Prateek had missed his food that day so he was very hungry. We went to a nice Dhaba on our way out via Atibele to avoid the city traffic. By the time we were done with our dinner and headed out it was almost 10:30 PM. Heading out to Hosur, we were driving along with loads of other buses and trucks who seemed to be very much at home. And here we were thinking that it would be relatively smooth driving. Thanks to some four lanes and good driving skills of Rocks and Doc we were past most of the traffic smoothly.

We reached Madurai early morning and had some hot south indian coffee and continued on to Rajapalyam where we had some hot breakfast. It was about 9:00 in the morning and we were eager to reach Thenmala. After freshening up we continued up to Shencottah, which was the border town of Tamil Nadu and Kerela. After Shencottah we were very much in Kerela. The road condition worsened and the scenery became more and more beautiful.

We deviated to Kuttralam since we heard so much about the falls and the place. No doubt the place is very pretty but this was not the right time to come to the falls I guess. All it all it was an Okay place. It would be nice place to relax again.

train on top of the bridge We could almost ignore the roads. As we climbed up the ghats, we came across some old bridge which was built by the British. We stopped to take photographs and then continued on our way. We reached the Eco Tourism Facilitation Centre in Thenmala. We had planned to take up the dorms there but then we saw that they had just a room and some toilets. It was a green room which would be converted to a dorm with sleeping mats. Well after traveling so far we were not so willing to rough it out to that extent. So we went and looked for another hotel.

Going by the standards the hotel we found was expensive without much facilities but it would have to do and we needed to crash off. We booked Hotel Green Valley which was being advertised in front of the facilitation centre. ON reaching the place, we went to the room and crashed off. I opened my eyes only by evening 6:00. Prateek and Doc were already up. They had an interesting visit from a colorful bird who went on pecking at their window as they seemed to be disturbing the bird in the process of doing something. Later on Prateek found that the little bird was telling them to buzz off since it had its own nest there.. hahah it was cute.

Evening was spent with having a few good drinks and lots of Kari meen which proved to be more than an expensive affair. We requested the hotel to provide us with a table and chair on the terrace and we were at peace with the river gurgling by and listening to stories of Doc and Prateek. We always have this time of sharing ride stories and it is always interesting. We planned on further trips and more drinks.. and it was a good time..

impressed by the organization Next morning we spent an hour boating on the river cruising along the Shendurey Wild life sanctuary. It was windy and the day started out cool. We were predicting rain. We were blessed with a few drizzles and before we could think about how it would spoil out plans, the rain stopped. The cruise was very pleasant and it cost some 60/- per head. It was a nice and calm experience if I could ignore the locals trying to touch me and trying to make some conversation. By now I was used to this and well I just kept to myself and focussed on feeling the wind on my face and seeing the calm ripples past by.

After that, we were dropped back to the centre where we booked tickets to the Leisure Zone which promised us a walk of 700 metres and after going through the sculptures we went to the boardwalk and then to the sway bridge.

It was a nice restful day and we then carried on to the elevated walkway in the adventurous zone where you could also enrol for rappling and rock climbing. We were content with the elevated walkway which would lead us to the top of the trees and back.

After this, we ate our fill at MFS Hotel and Bakery. I think I have become a fan of Pulicheri which is something like Kadi. Its a good coolant after you have had spicy food.

After this we started our way back. I drove till Madurai this time and the roads in Tamil Nadu are fantastic.. I must say. In the evening, Rocks took over and we reached Bangalore early in the morning.

That ended another good trip.

For more information on Thenmala click here
For snaps click here

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

RTMC 4A in Yercaud

Route: Bangalore - Hosur- Salem - Yercaud
Distance - 240 odd kilometers

view from Pagoda point..
Originally uploaded by Pallavi Barua.
It was time for celebration again.. RTMC was celebrating 4th anniversary and it was planned in Yercaud. One of the serene places very near Bangalore.
We could not take our bike this time since it was running in and we thought to do this trip with our Jeep. So off we went on Saturday morning all packed and ready to hit the highway. We waited for the other bikes to come in and we met Subin and his wife who were also joining us in their car.

So off we went. One group had already gone ahead. We caught up with them in Hosur at the regroup point where we would be having our breakfast. They left as we were having our breakfast and we went soon after polishing off some Pongal and coffee.

Hitting the road we were soon bombarded with flying grey butterflies. This reminded me of our Yelagiri trip where I saw innumerable butterflies. Maybe it was their mating season or something. They came at us from everywhere… and it seemed like a miniature scene from the movie Birds. LOL.

We reached Salem shortly and stopped to take some photographs.. there is a particular hill which swoops down to make a perfect picture and this time it was green.. because of the rains..
Lunch was a short affair where we had some BRIYANI (as the label said) and carried on ahead to Yercaud. It would take us some hour or so to reach the destination.

Salem was hot and humid and we were aching for the cool breeze that we were imagining high up in the mountains. We drove up 20 hair pin bends and managed to reach this pretty place. Yercaud is small and pretty. That's the first impression that I got about this place. As you explore further, you might be in for a surprise.

It is supposed to be known as Poor man's Ooty but I must say that this place is far better than Ooty anyday.. if you compare the commercial aspects and the crowd factor in that place. This is an ideal place to getaway with friends for the weekend from Bangalore. You need just two days in hand and you can relax and go sightseeing and come back to join office on Monday at the same time without any hassles..

The 4A affair was well organized and well scheduled but the only bummer was that there were more people that what was expected but that too was managed well. Anil, you did a great job along with your team there.

We were greeted by the bikers who already reached there and were relaxing. We met up with the Madras bulls who came in by late afternoon. Ranga and Dosai were fed up of being the sweep and nursing three punctures on the same bike. They left the biker to manage and continued. The said biker.. with a rubber band on his beard.. came strolling in after sometime.
Ranga entertained us with his bike stories of Leh. It was fun listening to him and have him pull Chaitra's legs.

We took off for a walk to explore the town. On the way we spied Anthony from Mad Bulls nursing a puncture. Well this was definitely not a Mad bull day. We met Dub dub and his pillion Ajit on the way. They seemed to be lost but they got their bearings when the saw the group. The whole town was buzzing with bulls and we definitely attracted attention where we went.
The cake was cut and a bike was rolled in by Prashi. I think it was the oldest bike in that lot.
The evening brought forth the gaiety and the party started rocking after a while and the dance floor was rocking with dancers… it was fun..

The cake was cut and a bike was rolled in by Prashi. I think it was the oldest bike in that lot. The Mad Bulls presented us with a cap each.. Thanks a lot Mad bulls..
Amidst this, Rocky took on the job to fix Vijay's leaking tank. That done.. Rocky misplaced his watch and went watch hunting. Typically it was in Muthu's room where he had been to clean up. And to think of it, this was the second time he almost lost his watch and he left it for the second time in Muthu’s dwelling place.. Is there a karmic thing going on between Rocky’s watch and Muthu … heaven knows.

Rocky came back to see that he had misplaced his bottle of vodka somewhere and went on a binge with rum and whiskey. The after effects of that potent mix of raw alcohol was not very pleasant for him.

The DJ did his job well in playing all kinds of music.. the Tamil songs were great to dance with. Sylvia, Ramat's partner was the busiest dancer of all. She seemed to love dancing and it was a pleasure to join her on the floor with the other gals.

It was nice meeting new members who joined us there... Freya, it was a pleasure to meet you. Hope we meet each other again on the highway. Anu, the same goes for you.
Sam came in loaded with T shirts for the group all the way from Tirupur.
We retired somewhere before midnight when I could not dance or move anymore. It was great fun and the final count of bikes was 84 attending the celebration.

Morning dawned with the chirping of birds and breakfast was the occasion to inaugurate the T- Shirts that Sam brought in the night before. Some bikers left early while we waited for two bikes which had some problems. We were giving one pair a lift. Sai and Sudha's TB had some issues with the engine. Sukesh's bike had some gearbox issues. It was decided that the bikes would be transported back by a truck in Salem.

We reached Salem during lunch time and the drive down was amazingly beautiful.. the roads were just perfect and we could see lots and lots of monkey families. This place must be a buzzing ground for them cute critters. You could see all shapes and sizes of them critters. Rocky also identified one as a lonestar cowboy hahah !!

After the bike formalities were done the group carried on while some of us stopped for lunch. We had Kuttu Parathas, a speciality of Salem which involves the paratha being shredded and then vegetables or meat added to it and fried on a tava. It was yummy.
We made good distance after that and reached Bangalore soon after 6:30 and laid our tired muscles to rest.

It was great fun joining in this event and hope to see more of you all riders on the highway…
Arun from Mad Bulls had a bad scrape where he broke his jaw and has to undergo surgery. He was riding pillion and we hope that he gets well soon.

For more details on Yercaud you could click these links

Yercaud- Poor Man's Ooty


More on Yercaud

There are enough and more lodging places to book yourself in. We stayed at the Hotel Shevaroy and it was a pretty charming place.. On the way to Pagoda Point, we spied some beautiful cottages which you could try...

Here is a link which you could try...which leads you to pretty Grange Resorts.

here is a collage of the party... you could view the scenic shots here.

RTMC : We ride therefore we are

Monday, August 01, 2005

Belting to Bellum Caves

Suraj on his Karizzzma
Originally uploaded by Jilmil.
August 30 -31st 2005

Route : Hebbal Flyover - Yelhanka - Devanahalli - Chickbalapur - Bagepalli- Penakonda - Dharmavaram- Anantapur(Regroup) right turn - Singanamala - Tadpatri - Belum -

- 290 Kms approx

Suraj on his Karizzzma Day 1

We were looking forward to riding to this place since riding had become infrequent for quite sometime because of the monsoons.. we planned this ride to this place since it would be pretty cool . At the outset we had planned for it to be a solo ride but then the word spread and we had a huge group who were interested and we thought the more the merrier. We planned to join the Wanderers from Hyderabad and Mad bulls from Chennai. RTMC would be also joined in by the Bike Nomads and some guys from IBM who had their own bike group. That was new but heck who was complaining as long as it was going to be a great ride...

Nandi Hills partially covered We started at 6:45 and continued on to Yelahanka... and then through Devanahalli. The international airport my dear Bangaloreans would be an adventure to reach.. I guess.. it seems to far away.. SIGH.. It was chilly and slightly windy and the weather seemed just perfect... We passed the Nandi hills the top of which was covered with rain clouds. Anyway we continued on to the highway and stopped at Bagepalli for breakfast of some idlis after which we hit the road. The roads were smooth and there was little or no traffic to our surprise... and we ripped through the highway.. On the way we came across a lot of railway crossings on the way to Penakonda and for a moment it felt like we were going round and round in circles... meeting the same crossings over and over again..

TIMBAKTU Just after the final crossing before reaching Penakonda, we stopped for a break.. since we had covered some 80 plus kms. Anil and ourselves were the first to reach the shade since we were doing some good speed. While we waited for the rest, Anil discovered that his tank was leaking. Rocky got to work on the tank.. We thought of chewing gum but that would not hold it for a long time... since it would react with the petrol and heat. So Rocky did the next best thing possible. He took some soap and a tape and glue and worked on the hole. By the time the others arrived the hole was fixed and ready to go.

I took the time to take some pictures and to my greatest surprise there was a milestone sporting the word Timbaktu - > 3kms. I could not believe my eyes. The boys also took some pictures on that post. We were off to Penakonda after the break. I spied Kumbhakarna gardens on the way and I told to myself that we would stop to take some pictures on our way back.

After Penakonda, the railway crossings disappeared ... and we could have a long and smooth ride.. because the roads were good. The landscape was dry and very deserted but it still had an earthy charm to it... and it was really charming to see green grass trying to grow no matter what the weather... just because this place had its share of rainfall.. no matter what .. life does survive.. given a little drop of encouragement.

018Unlike other parts of the south, civilization was not that widespread.. you would meet a small village on the way..which would be comprised of dried farmlands and some 10 odd houses.. The land was not worth cultivating due to the dry and hot weather... I guess..

We reached Anantapur which seemed like a decent town and had a decent population. Roads in the city were good and after some distance we reached Tadpatri. We were some 20 odd kms from Bellum now. Tadpatri was a crowded town full of dust and pollution and not a great place to take a break at all. One of the bikes had a split tyre which had to be fixed. This was a unique problem and we were all stumped. Seems like the seat was nailed from top down which caused a protrusion of the nail and that touched the tyre. Due to the friction and constant touching.. the nail split the tyre right through the middle. The tyres were changed and we carried on.

Traffic was madness and there were cars and buses coming from all directions. As if this was not enough, the city roads were pathetic with wide gaping holes and full of gravel which made a bike very difficult to apply brakes. We somehow managed to pass this town and continued our way to Bellum.
Walls built of the Special rocks.. called Cuddapah rocks
The road had lots of dips and curves and sudden bumps which seem invisible from a distance and it shows itself when you are too near it thus making it very painful for the rider and the pillion..

The land in this area was made of layers and layers of rocks laid like sheets and people seemed to be making everything out of these well formed polished stones. The whole area was like a stone quarry and it was like being transported into stone age... everywhere you looked, you could find everything from walls to houses to chairs to your daily items made of this particular stone.. It looked like black granite.. but someone told me it was Katpada stones if I got it right. And it was a strange experience to see this town...

All lined up This town was also very windy and we saw a row of windmills doing their trick.. and hopefully harnessing good enery for the people out there.

After some distance, we spotted a white Buddha in a lotus Position and Bellum Caves written on the hill.

We went and got our rooms and the dormitory was pretty clean. The place reminded me of Hampi's hotel where we stayed. It had a long driveway and a restaurant and a dorm. It boasted of a bar too but when we asked the guys they said that it was closed because of lack of license.. Well what a shame. We found out that we could get drinks from a nearby village. Two of the guys went to get the drinks while the rest settled down. The bike nomads arrived with their Bajaj Pulsar. There was some accomodation confusion but that was sorted out soon.
Just as all the bikes were coming in.. one of the IBM Pulsar riders.. riding right behind one of our Bulls, somersaulted over when the Bull braked. Now it is common sense not to be directly behind a bike at any point of time on the road.. I think it would be a valuable lesson learnt for a rookie.. Riding is just not as simple as applying brakes and accelerator.. There are some natural ethics that a rider should know about when riding long distances but I guess one learns from experience.

A face ? or an illusion We freshened up, had lunch in the restaurant.. and after a short respite went to the caves. We were informed that 300 trained police men and women would be coming on an excursion to see the caves.. and we would better hurry and finish our visit.. else it would be chaos.

Just when we started we saw three buses along with cars driving in... and while the crowd waited for the tickets... we hurriedly went ahead and started exploring the caves...

As Anil got us a guide, myself, Manoj and Rocks decided to go on our own and explore the caves,... before the crowd started.. The guide seemed to be slow..The cave seemed to be very humid but it was well lighted and well maintained. There were fountains and strategically placed lighting which made it a beautiful experience. walking through it. We quickly made our way through the different crevices in the cave .. explored this and that... went through highs and lows and then thick and thin spaces wondering at the stalagcites and the stalagmites.. that were were formed... We saw a huge replica of a ribcage .,.. formation and my imagination started creating a dinosaur or a big whale which died here.. it was eerie yet a very peaceful place... to roam around.

Stalagcites The caves were accidentally found it seems when the villagers were digging and it has been turned into a tourist destination ... I must say that they had done a great job. As we were exploring it was all quiet and finally we went to the source of the water... which was still flowing... it was so beautiful.. just sitting there... we were sweating like pigs
but it was great at the same time... we left quickly to explore the other sections when we were met with hordes of cackling women... and that was it.. the whole charm of exploration was gone. We made a quick job of getting away from the crowd which proved to be very difficult since just as we got rid of the group of women we were bombarded with an oncoming crowd of men... EGAD...
We somehow managed to finish our visit and came out to take a breath of fresh air... Sweet Jesus.. it was heaven ...

When we headed back.. we saw that the Hyderabad wanderers had wandered in and it was great connecting with GR and the rest of the riders. The Madras Bulls had also arrived after that. It seems that they got lost and had some bike issues... we urged them to go to the caves as it would be closed after 6:00 in the evening. They rushed in while we chilled out.

Evening brought in lot of cheer and it was good mingling with the riders..Manoj introduced me to his staple drink called Black Widow but I stuck to brandy which was a good alternative to my usual Vodka. Indira and myself the only women in the group had some nice conversation going while we clicked some snaps.. and it was good to have another woman around.. Slowly as the night progressed, some continued to make merry while we had a sumptous Andhra dinner and turned in. It was a good night... and it was going to be a long day the next day...

Day 2

I woke up the sound of gushing water and Bullets revving.. and in my sleep dazed mine vaguely recollected that we were here in Bellum caves and the Bathroom are right next to our room... That jolted me awake... and we freshened up fast and decided to leave by 8:00. Some who had a late night were still dozing while the Madras Bulls who
had a long ride ahead... started their bikes and were on their way. We had breakfast and were on our way some nine bikes.. while the rest started at their own time.

The highway was spread with good traffic since it was a Sunday and a day for all the truckers to ply their goods through. It was not a good feeling ... because the road kept getting blocked by the trucks and if we had a truck passing us by it would jolt us with fresh wind... and make us a wee unstable.. As we passed the town of Tadpatri, we almost had two mishaps. Jose had to backtrack suddenly because of a cyclist who thought of taking a sudden turn. We almost hit another bike who was bent on crossing the road inspite of seeing us coming forward. Luckily no one was hurt.

Kumbhakarna Statue The winds were stronger today and we somehow managed to keep up good speeds... if you would look at a bike froma distance you would see it lean at an angle as it went... because of the wind.... Atul, one of the riders gave up and slept on his bike after stopping at the side... for sometime before continuing.

We moved fast till we reached Penakonda. We stopped for a break to take a picture of the Kumbhakarna Gardens. This garden was named because of the statue of a sleeping Kumbhakarna and rakshasas trying to wake him up.

We continued till we reached yelahanka. There while taking a diversion, a truck forced us to hit the muddy part of the road and well we were saved because of the slush there and Rocky holding the bike well. I was shaken but then I guess I thanked our lucky stars that we did not face anything serious. No damage to any part of the bike.

We said our goodbyes and we hit home and crashed.... haveing another trip etched in my memory lane...


It is NOT safe to ride with a broken mudguard stay and a pillion to boot.
It is not just about riding but also about maintaining your bike well.
Crosswinds need not take your wind away if you find your position well..
Nailing down your seat from top down may cause more damage to your tyres than you can ever think.
Riding directly behind any bike does not pay. It may prove fatal.
Having control over your bike is the best way to prevent a fall.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Trekking to Kotagiri.... Ooty

Day 1

This trek was being planned for a long time and it was decided that we would trek in the Parson's Valley but it did not work out since there was some issues in permission. At a very short notice we could manage a trek in Kotagri courtesy a good friend's relative. So off we went on Friday night. The tempo traveller which was supposed to pick us up came in an hour late with a driver having a surly attitude....

We all got introduced to each other.. we knew some of the gang and some were new faces

1. Kapil aka Kaps aka Topi
2. Bumboo aka karthik
3. BaaBaa aka Kiran
4. Rakesh aka Rocky aka Budhua
5. Pallavi aka Pal aka Mrs Budhua
6. Vivek aka Mr Isolation
7. Sujata(Vivek's wife) aka Mrs Isolation
8. Suresh aka Billoo
9. Preethi aka Sherni THE mombati THE Tubelight
10. Rahul aka "Parcelling" aka "Tracking"
11. Upendra aka Cricket 12. Hemanth aka Chalu

It was almost midnight and by the time we picked up everyone driving all around in Bangalore it was past 1 in the night and we were raring to go. I was hoping that we could sleep but the seats were not comfortable enough to do so.

We were on our way to Mysore and halfway down the highway we saw that the driver was falling asleep on the wheel and however hard he tried he could not sit. It was scary watching him drive all crooked off the wheel and almost hitting the median in the middle of the road.

We stopped him near a shop and told him to rest for sometime before he continued. As our driver slept over the wheel, we sat outside chatting. I was just thinking how to pass the time.. when I spied a dog standing on a short door of the shop and looking at us curiously. I did not hesitate to go and say hello to him.

Raja as the dog was named... did not waste time making friends.. shy at first but gained confidence as I talked to it and in that process spied a cat too sitting on a stool...The shopkeeper a middle aged pleasant woman... was one who seemed to love animals.. she was very enthused looking at me taking pics and interacting with the cat and the dog.

This brown cat had a love hate relationship with the dog. He had a roving eye and like a typical male cat and to stop him from getting hurt he was tied.. I coaxed the woman to untie the cat... she told me that it was for his own good since he was known for his disappearing acts,.. this was a young cat ... very eager to explore the outside world.... Raja never hesitated to play with the brown cat and also tolerated the slaps that he got from it..

The shopkeeper ran inside and got her daughter and one more cat with her kittens.. Rani was the feline was called was a wary mother... since the kitten was only 80 days old.. the shopkeeper's daughter also came out and showed me kittens. Rani was anxious about her babies and did not know what to make of my camera flashes... but i assured her that her babies were safe and did not go near her...

It was endearing to see this family all busy even at 2 AM in the morning. After saying my goodbyes we boarded the bus and went on our way to Ooty through the Masinagudi ghats which had about 36 hairpin bends. We stopped at the foothills of Masinagudi and had some tea to take away the state of sleeplessness...The tempo climbed pretty easily up the ghats and we reached Ooty soon.

As we entered Ooty.. we were welcomed with heavy downpour of rain which made us wonder if we could do the trek. Sujata was persistently hoping that we would keep cozy with Antakshiri if it rained .... but no sooner the thought crossed our mind... the skies cleared and we reached our YWCA Anandagiri guest house which was near ATC bus stand in Ooty not far away from the railway station.

It was about 11 in the morning and we had to freshen up and start for kotagiri for the trek. Kotagiri was about one hour drive from Ooty. We were all lacking sleep and dying to take a short nap but that was not to be...

We all freshened up and started for Kotagiri. Breakfast was good at one of the south indian hotels... where we got fresh idlis and dosas. We had our fill. I stuck to idlis since we would be doing the ghats..

As we came out of the hotel we could not find our Tempo. The driver had cooly vanished leaving us there since he could not get a parking place. After walking for sometime Kiran aka Baba was sent to the hotel in the hope that the car would be there. And correctly we spied the car there from our end,.. Sheesh .. and then we all continued up the hill to Kotagiri.

The road seemed to be going round and round and the heavy breakfast took a toll of some of the gang specially Billoo who was not very upto the winding ghats. Baba also was feeling uneasy so he started talking nonsense and I joined him.. knowing his dilema... It was a beautiful road with lots of picture perfect mountains but we were too tired to appreciate it and by this time all we could think of was some sleep...

Reached Kotagiri and found the guide who was a part of the Kotagiri Wild life society and who arranged the trek through a friend's help. We also got introduced to Dr Ramakrishna who provided us with the guide. The guide Mr Raju took us to the Estate and told us that he would be taking us to Rangaswamy pillar which woud be some 6 hours trek to and back. Our tempo needed to be repaired and while Rakesh and Karthik were getting the guide our driver took some time to try and figure out what was wrong ...

We were all excited about it and ready to go. We went and stopped at the base of the hill which was carpetted with tea plantation. It was was a beautiful view. We did not know what to expect but we started the trek through the tea plantation and slowly the road started getting steeper and steeper. It was festival time here and the whole place was full of loud music and colorful decorations.

We trudged up the stony path and it became steeper and steeper .. it was a tough climb but after sometime we got used to the momentum of the walk and it was easy to carry on...from there.. we crossed through huge canopies of trees and came out to clearings which were pleasantly surprising.. sometimes it was a pond.. sometimes it was a new hill sometimes.. it was grassland.. it was interesting how the landscape changed after each jungle...

The crickets were having a gala time in the jungle screaming at each other and if you were in a movie... this sound effect would almost make you go crazy.. the path was scattered with ferns and it was cool though the sun was shining at full force.

Upendra who had just watched Kaal could not help compare it to the movie. I guess he was very impressed with the movie. He then told me the whole story of the movie as we walked...

We took short breaks on and off and reached the destination after about 2 hours. Rangaswamy pillar which was a huge monolith some 2100 metres above sea level. We were quite awed by the scenic view that greeted us... mountain ranges all around us and we wished we could camp here..
Our guide had another local guide with him who had led us here and he was like a mountain goat climbing this way and that. Reminded me of my native place were we used to climb like that ... now it was way past that time...

We had our lunch there which was kindly provided to us in packets by the guide. Lunch comprised of curd rice and tomato rice very well made from Hari mess in Kotagiri.

Some went down the slope to have a better look at the pillar... a couple of us had our lunch there. Baba who was a little hesitant to go below.. went down anyway but coming up was a problem for him and he got stuck on the rock suddenly realising that there was a sheer drop from where he was trying to climb up... it was a sight to see Baba totally frozen and spread eagled on the rock refusing to let go ... of his legs and hands. We encouraged him up but he remained like that for sometime... Upendra went down again to help him climb up.. Baba by this time had got back his fledging courage and came up the rocks...

After lunch we started back.. I started first since I was slow compared to the rest of the group and the rest followed some yards behind me... Upendra also was with me and we went on ahead slowly and steadily. The slopes upwards was sheer effort since my legs were quite tired by this time... but i pushed on ahead... till we reached the tea plantation and back to our Tempo.

It was a great day... and we were pleasantly tired. The gang wanted to trek some more.. but it was getting dark and we promised ourselves that we would be back to this beautiful place.

Thanks to the organisers who could ramp up a trek at such a short notice...

Kotagiri has many places you can trek.. and see ... and it takes more than a day to complete all of that.

Reached Ooty sometime past 9:00 and we stopped for dinner.. We managed to locate a hotel near our guesthouse but all places seemed to be full.. Somehow we managed to get places after discussing and negotiating with the owner.

Rocky and Kiran had already huddled up in the bar which the hotel sported which seemed to be very shady place... but who the heck cared... I went ahead and joined them since I needed a drink after all that trekking... We hit couple of pegs of brandy and some food which was pretty ok.. The restaurant attached was so crowded that we had people standing staring at you directly urging you to finish your food and get out.. I was happier in the bar.. with Rocks and Baba. The gang however was not so lucky to have good food. A couple went out had something outside.

We asked the others to continue while we slowly finished our drinks and the food and started walking back.. it was nice to walk back inhaling the fresh mountain air in the night.

As soon as we reached the dorm, there was a lot of leg pulling in the gang. Priti's bed just dropped a wooded bar suddenly out of nowhere. Rocky the ever ready fixer... went and tried to fix it with a candle.

Baba got the bed which was the next version of a rocking train. We somehow took bath with lukewarm water and went to bed. Before I knew it my the lights in my head went off.. and I was off like a log...

Day 2 :

5:30 in the morning and we all woke up to loud banging music... which was definitely not a pleasant way to start the day. We had no option but to get up. The music was blasting really loud now. There was some marriage happening on top of the dorm which was creating all that ruckus. We freshened up quickly.. and meanwhile I spotted horses riding inside the compound.. I was very excited to have a short ride since I had never ridden a horse..and one by one some of us took a ride.. when it was my turn it took some effort and Rocky's help to get on the horse.. and Priti also mounted another horse.. Priti's horse guide left her all alone to follow my horse and the guide...

Priti's horse was pretty frisky and I think he knew that he was free to do as he pleased. So he veru reluctantly brought her up behind my horse which was pretty docile.. just when we were about to go down a slope to reach where we started.. when suddenly the horse just fell down taking down Priti with it... My horse was halfway down the slope. My guide did not know what to do.. Priti was lucky that the horse did not fall on her. After dislodging Priti, the horse happily got up and shook himself..

My horse was a more docile fellow.. he stood as I clumsily got down again with Rocky's help. It was a great ride and myself and Karthik rushed to have a short breakfast at a nearby shop..

Before we started our journey I took some shots of the beautiful flowers in Ooty.. We started from Ooty and the plan was to go to Dodabetta peak and then to Pykara falls and then to Bangalore through other route. Dodabetta was a bad idea since it was a Sunday and the whole place was packed with weekenders coming for a break here..

The gang carried on to the viewpoint while Rocky and myself chilled out and took some time to buy herbal oils and walk up to the Toda hut model that they had placed nearby. This place was a 5 minute walk up and we saw all guys trying to take the best picture by the hut.. we went round the hut and when we came round , I saw a guy stripping his T shirt and trying a Rambo pose.. A la Salman Khan.. I wish I could take his picture but we were in a hurry so I asked him to move for a few seconds so that we could take a pic... LOLOL he thought that we wanted his bare chested muskuled pic and was disappointed when I assured him that we needed a few seconds for a pic of us... poor thing..

We started towards Pykara falls and I had heard lot of stories about this falls, The place itself was beautiful but it was crowded again. In the falls Kiran THE Baba.. decided to cross to another stone... and that was not agreeable to a cop who was standing by but Baba defiantly reported that in that place he was the police.. and finally somehow managed to come back.

We also picked up some baby carrots which seemed to be everywhere. It was a tasty snack to bite on the tender carrots. We had a short lunch and went on our way to Mysore and then to Bangalore..

On the way.. we played Antakshiri which was modified to a sad song special by Karthik. Everybody seemed to have fun. Karthik also played the cassettes which he got last Valentine which he did not open till then...We were passing by the Mudhumalai forest and we also saw lots of deers and a family of elephants waiting to cross the road..

After Antakshiri, it was joke time. And everybody started telling jokes. I was the silent spectator who had a great time. When there was a pause... it was PJ time.. And suddenly Hemant pipes up with the joke of how to kill an Elephant series ... which made everybody pull their hair.

Sujata was a box of PJs. She ended with a joke of the ping pong ball which seemed to go on for hours.. till we all were ready to get out of the bus...

As the joke session ended.. ghost storiies started which made some uncomfortable.. so it was stopped after sometime..

We had dinner at Shivalli and then continued on to Bangalore. The driver was as surly as you can get but we did not care. We reached home nice and happy near midnight.. planning for another trek very soon ...

And heres till we all get together again... Hip Hip Hurrayyyyy to Kool Trekkers...

Staying in Ooty ( one of the best places to stay which has a range of all rooms from 100/- to 1000/-)

YWCA of India projects, Anandagiri


Click here to know more about Kotagiri..

Monday, April 18, 2005

Hanging out in Horsley Hills ( Madras Bulls 3A) April 16th - 17th 2005

Route: Bangalore- Hoskote-Chintamani- Madanpalle-Horsley Hills

Saturday afternoon saw us riding through Hoskote to Horsley Hills in Andhra Pradesh. It was a hot afternoon and after a hurried packing and fitting in things we were later than usual and met a couple of the riders, Pravin Prakash(PP), Muthu, Sam and Jose who were waiting somewhere in Old Madras Road. The plan was to ride to Punnami Resorts in Horlsey Hills for the Madras Bulls Anniversary celebrations. We were looking forward to meeting the gang and this time there would be a huge party and there were plans to have lot of fun. Some of the guys had already reached the place since they started in the morning. We were the last batch to go there but since the place was just 150 kms from Bangalore, we would reach the place bbefore sundown.

We took a left from Hoskote and after some 60 odd kms we reached the small town of Chintamani. We took a break here to have some tea. We were used to travelling for longer distance and we took it easy since the place was near. Muthu's horn was giving some problem. Seems like there was some loose connection somewhere. After fiddling with it for some time, we decided to carry on to Madanpalle which was going to be our next stop. It was evening and the light was good. We stopped on our way to click some pictures. The roads were bumpy and cracked in between and had some diversions which made for some jerky riding and slowed down the pace but it was ok since there was not much traffic and we could do some good time. On the way we saw some monkeys disregarding the incoming vehicles and feasting on some melons which had fallen off from a truck.Monkeys being monkeys did not bother aboutn being razed to the ground by the buses that were plying on the road. They were more interested getting their share of the melons. We slowed down to swerve between the feasting monkeys and then continued.

We were some 10 odd kms from Madanpalle town when Jose suddenly stopped the bike. His chain link had been cut. Muthu did not see us stop so he carried on. Sam, PP and ourselves stopped to see what was wrong. It took some time but the problem was fixed.While they were fixing the chain, I took the opportunity to take some pictures. The sun was setting and it made a different but beautiful picture on the horizon. Scenes like that make it worth the while of travelling the miles.

After fixing the bike we made our way to Madanpalle a bustling town in Andhra Pradesh. Muthu was waiting for us there and he had also got his horn fixed there. Horsley Hills was some 26 kms from there. The landscape was rocky scattered with eucalyptus trees and trees sporting red flowers. The sun had set and there was little light and we climbed up the bends without much difficulty and reached the resort. As we reached the resort we saw two bikes heading back. It was Vipin and Vijayraghavan.

We saw a huge number of bikes lined up and it almost another Rider Mania. There were more than 70 bikes in all. It seemed that the RTMC members outnumbered the Madras Bulls. It was a pleasure to connect with the Hyderabad Wanderers who came to be a part of the celebrations all the way from Hyderabad. The place was rocking and the party was about to begin. We registered ourselves and took a room. Due to last minute entries, there were dearth of rooms and we had to share it among ourselves. The rooms were big amd comfortable and sharing would not be a problem. The party started with cutting of a sinfully sweet cake which we all feasted on. As I said hello to the guys and the girls, I spotted this deer who was walking around sniffing the food stuff that was in the floor.I could not resist saying hello to this curious beautiful eyed spotted animal who wanted to join in the party. He had a broken horn and he was tamed to roam the premises.It was unique to have the compan of someone who you would expect to be roaming in the wild. It was more interested in sniffing the liquor bottles than in the food. I guess it was experienced with the taste of the liquid. I did not waste time making friends with this quiet shy but frisky animal. Took some snaps and saw it roaming the grounds at its own leisure.

People started hitting the dance floor and one could see many variations of dances. Mani was the star of the show with his lungi dance. He kept giving the crowd a peep show every now and then... ( LOL). The famous Tamil song had everybody jumping in delight and hitting the floor har. Amber was high on spirits and was talking of bashing anyone who diid not do what he said. He was cursing Sameer in his drunken stupor who was trying to figure out the songs and fix the stereo. Sameer after sometime got fed up and went and picked him up and gave him a good shake putting him upside down. It was all a game and I got some good shots in that process. RTMC gifted Madras bulls with a pouch which would carry all the necessary papers along with money and stuff while riding.

I personally had downed three pegs of vodka and my small headache was starting to bowl me over. I turned in temporarily to relax planning to come back when the campire would be on. My head was feeling like thousands of soldiers were hammering me with their pins and I was dying to just bury my head somewhere peaceful. After sometime I went back to the campfire to mingle with the rest of the gang. Dodo had just come in. Dosai was happy. It was great meeting Mayur with whom we had a great ride to Wild Valley. Brijesh and myself discussed what books we were reading. I met Arul and a couple of others who actually read my travel write ups for information. That made me feel quite flattered.

Sandeep Dutta and myself got reacquainted. I also got a chance to talk to Sandeep Menon about his North East riding trip. He was one of the few riders who had actually visited my favorite place in the world where I was born and brought up ... Shillong. The very name brings in beauty to my thoughts and I was glad that some had got to experience that what I always keep writing and pining for.

Met up with some great gals too and it was nice to see more women in the group. Muthu had a bad scrape when he tripped over a bottle and almost hurt his eye. He narrowly escaped with a swollen eye and a cut beneath the brow. As we turned in, a small group was up talking and listening to Mani's stories. Reminded me of Mahendra who is another great story teller.

Day 2
Morning dawned to the sound of Sachin riding or should I say blasting his way through the roadsand waking us all in that process. It was a pleasant morning and we went for a walk to the place where you could spot the valley and admire it... while sitting on the rocks. Took some shots met some more of the gang. As we were heading back, we saw Sachin bring in Amber and few others to ride through this rocky ground. Looked pretty adventurous since there was this sheer drop just a few feet away. The place was beautiful and full of the trees sporting red flowers.

Breakfast was filling and after that we all started to ride back one by one. The Madras bulls had a long way to go. Abhi was waiting for Prashant to fix the JAWA 350 which he was riding. Abhi was kind of worried for it was running only on one cylinder. We made good time though the sun was beating down pretty strong. After sometime, we saw Abhi happily revving up in the JAVA which had made his day I guess. Adrian started late but as usual he made up his time pretty fast which was not a surprise. Muthu was not riding his bike because of his injury. KJ did the honors while Muthu came in the car with Anil.

The whole gang came together every now and then. We were riding with PP and after sometime we lost him. We waited but could not get in touch with him since he had left his phone back at home. Our only consolation was that we had the gang coming on the way and hoped that he was ok. We made our way steadily and reached Bangalore at 1:15 in the afternoon. We later came to know that his bike had run into some problems. Hitting on a bump a bolt which holds the rear hub in place was broken and his rear brakes needed to be dismantled. Prashant helped him out as usual and at the end of it all, he had to ride back with his front brakes. And all this after PP had just done up his bike. But then that is the beauty of the Bullet, even though it breaks down somewhere one can always ride it somehow back to one's home.

And thus ended another journey of the connecting with the brotherhood of common passion and the spirit of freedom. Thank You Madras Bulls for making our weekend special and it was great meeting you all. The party was great, the organization was great, the company was great and it was time well spent.


A party well organized is a party well enjoyed.
Be high but be smart ( dont know how you would accomplish that but however..)

Horsley Hills Details:

For enquiry please contact:

Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation

Punnami Hill Resort
Horsley Hills
Chittoor Dist.

Phone: 08571-279323
Fax: 08571-279324

Tarrif :
Governor Suites: 1000/-
Governor's Bungalow: 800/-
Wind Fall: 1400/-
Wild Winds: 800/-
Wind Whistle: 700/-
Family Cottage:700/-
Whispering Winds: 500/-
Single Cottage: 350/-
Dormitory: 100/-

Rooms are available with modern amenities, though water is a little scarce. A swimming pool is there for your leisure along with a gymnasium..

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Wilding it out... in Thekaddy and Periyar...


Bangalore - Hosur - Krishnagiri - Dharmapuri - Salem - Rasipuram - Namakkal - Karur - Dindigul - Batlagundu - Periyakulam - Theni - Cumbam - Kumily - Chakkupallam Estate.

Distance from Madiwala Flyover - 530 kms.

A long weekend and the club has planned a ride to Thekaddy.. this would be a long ride and would need a lot of discipline. The trip was kindly organized by Muthu and I would firstly like to thank him for the lodging arrangements he had provided for us at his family home and all that great food that the natives cooked for us. It is all these things that makes a trip so memorable... good roads.. good timing.. great place and excellent food.

Started at 5:15 in the morning which we just about managed to catch. There were about 22 bikes in all with four pillions. Off we went via Krishnagiri and then stopped for some tea on the way to Dharmapuri. Muthu who was carrying a bag sideways burnt his clothes on the sliencer since the bag was touching the silencer. He had to throw away his clothes at this point. :)

After breakfast we decided to stop for lunch at Dindigul. The pack of riders seperated into mini groups and kept proceeding... and we all regrouped at a petrol bunk before Namakkal. Muthu promised us a tasty lunch of biryani which was well known in that area. Entering the town in Dindigul, we were guided through the small lanes and shopping areas to finally stop at the famous restaurant which boasted of some heavenly biryani and we were not disappointed.. All of us hogged till there was nothing left to hog ... and after a pot bellied lunch we made our way slowly out of the town again guided by Muthu and hit the highway.

Meanwhile got to know the riders who were new to this group one by one. There were two ladies who had joined us and it was interesting talking to them. The roads were smooth and uncomplicated and it was one smooth ride. We did not get blasted much by the heat since we crossed the hot areas at relatively good speed and did not feel it too much.

Just before reaching Theni, Prashant's chain broke. We stopped and waited till he fixed it. Typical of Prashant, he was done in a few minutes and in those few minutes we were also surrounded by the village crowd who came in to see the from everywhere it seemed what was and as soon as Prashant finished fixing his bike we were off. I think he is a whizz at fixing bikes and has a great knowledge about Bullets. Given the amount of miles he has covered all over the country it should not be surprising that he would be so well versed with the problems and the solutions of the bike. Again as we were riding, Prashant's kicker just fell off and it was pure luck that it did not get smashed by the huge buses that we had behind and in front of us.

Prashant was back on the road and we followed him.. and we all regrouped near Theni and then after that at Gudalur petrol bunk. It was already cool and it was getting dark. While waiting at Gudalur, we spotted a lot of cute donkeys passing by and I could not resist taking some pics of these fine animals who redefined the meaning of the pharse beasts of burden. I noticed one almost carrying a whole house and walking effortlessly.

We hit the ghats and by nightfall we were at Kumily. Its a bustling town and can be called a central point to travel to many places in Kerela. Periyar lake is nearby. Munnar is about 100 odd kms from there, Kodai is also accessible from here.. and most of the towns seem to be between 100 plus and minus kms on and off. It would be ideal to keep this as a base when you touring this place.

Reached the estate house and did one of the most dangerous off roading in the dark. Muthu called it the Endurance Ride... and was it an understatement...The whole path to the estate is laden with big stones which is a nice path to walk in but definitely not something to ride through. After holding my heart in the hands... for what seemed like a lifetime we reached the house, freshened up and chilled out for the evening on ride stories and funny anecdotes.

Dinner was served hot and tasty and just at the right time.. with great food and some great drinks it was an end to just the perfect day. As I was dozing off, I heard Adrian and Lloyd rev up to the house late at night.

Day 2
Morning dawned fresh and cool. We were scheduled to leave for Surali falls and then Periyar Lake. The plan was to travel to Periyar lake book tickets , take off to Surali falls and then come back in time for the boat ride. When we reached Periyar forest and booked our tickets, the time went way off the list and we ended up chilling out with beer and a curious monkey in Periyar House, had lunch and started for the boat ride. We had a small photo sessions by the camera freaks who tried to capture a beautiful black squirrel on their lens.

We very well knew that there would be no wild animals and the evening boat ride was fully booked. So we all agreed to the 2'o clock boat ride anyways. We had this breezy boat ride for 2 hours across the lake and many of us fell asleep including me during the ride. Since there were no animals, the camera whizzes decided to take some shots of the sleeping humans. And there was lot of leg pulling. We did spot some wild bisons and deers and wild hogs. After two hours we were back on the road throught the forest. The plan was to ride to Surali falls and it was getting late. Some of the guys decided to head back to Periyar house and have some more beer while we set out with the other group for the falls. While coming out of the forest, "Vodka" aka Harish took a fall where he hurt his hand. He was on his RD 350 and miscalculated a turn.

To reach Surali falls early, Muthu took us through a beautiful shortcut. Though the road was good, it was not safe since it was newly laid and the gravel was still fresh. Chaitra took a fall after losing control of his bike. His pillion Sindhu, got hurt but she managed. Inspite of this it was a beautiful ride.. we were trying to make it to the entrance of the forest at the nick of time but even though we reached and bought the tickets.. we just could not make it. On the way, we saw some delicious grapes being sold near the vineyards but gave up the idea of buying them since we were getting late to go back. Two of the riders unknowingly picked an argument with a chai walli out there... which made them late by few minutes.

We had to content ourselves with the ride. On getting back to the estate house, we relaxed with some drinks and the other group had kindly remembered to get some excellent tasting beef fry. Some good vodka and some great food which the cooks in the house had thoughtfully prepared ( which had mutton curry, egg bhurji, etc), we had a perfect ending to the day. After eating to our heart's content we retired early since we had decided to leave early in the morning so that we could beat most of the heat and cover more kilometers.

Day 3

Rising early we started off at 5:00 in the morning and we effortlessly covered good distance.Watched the sun rise as we rode and it was a beautiful experience. While the group regrouped at Karur and then at Salem, we decided to continue from Salem. It was 11:30 and the heat was getting to us. Rocky and myself decided to carry on and have lunch at Dharmapuri. We reached Dharmapuri at 12:45 .. just in time for lunch and entered Hotel Sri Rama which laid a good meal. I feasted on curd rice and some more curd to beat the heat. It worked and after lunch we carried on till we reached Krishnagiri.

Meanwhile we got the message that Prashant's rear break had broken and it took him some time to fix that and he managed the distance with his gears and his front break.. Should I say Bullet Zindabad. It is only with a Bullet that you can take it around at any condition.

Took a break at Krishnagiri at a chai place whose owner welcomed us like long lost pals. We waited for some time for the group to arrive but then decided to carry on since th heat was getting to us. She remembered us from the time when we were returning from Hogenakkal . She had a small hut then and now she had her own hotel as she proudly told us. I was happy to see a known face. She makes a mean coffee. After refreshing ourselves with coffee, we carried on to Bangalore and reached home by 4:00 PM. The rest of the group made it by 5:30 pm which was a pretty good time.


  • Rookie riders should always take care of the right gear when riding.
  • Speed does not always thrill. One should know one's bike control and the personality of the bike before taking risks.
  • If you are passing through Dindigul, you must try the biryani place there... for details , contact Muthu.
  • Kumily is a good base to move around Thekaddy.
  • Helmets must have a thermocol covering inside or a proper fall back cushion. Chaitra's pillion got hurt in her head because of the lack of covering or so it seemed.
  • Jackets are a must while riding. Saves a lot while falling.
  • "Catching up" syndrome does not work with group rides.