Sunday, November 07, 2004

Hogennakkal Ride

Another long weekend and we were planning on a short ride.. Informed Praveen who is convincing his better half that riding can be an enjoying pastime, and Lohit ... and we planned the trip to Hogenakkal. Originally we planned Ooty where Kartz asked us to join him in his camping adventures but we decided to ride to HOgenakkal instead since we did not want to ride much.

Sunday dawned with a very bleak weather. Getting up was a pain and I nearly abandoned the idea of getting up and facing the day.. but Rocks was over enthusiastics about dong the ride. I was in two minds since I was not comfortable about riding in the rain.. and then I thought to myself what the heck...

Met up with Lohit in that despairing weather... at 7:30 in the morning which looked like a depressing 5:30 am in a rainy morning !! We rode our way across the highway towards Krishnagiri. We would have to go straight from Krishnagiri and then reach Dharmapuri. The whole highway it was drizzling and well Praveen's wife had a tough time with light clothes and no mud flap on the bike. But she was sportive enough and carried on soaked to the bone, until we could get a dry T shirt for her and after Praveen fixed the back of the bike with a gunny bag... it was a different story that Praveen will never be allowed to forget this ride... ha ha !!

Met Ambar on the way who was on his way to Waniyamwadi to have the famous biryani.

After the smooth road down to Krishnagiri we came across lots of bombed roads. Rains, bad roads, aside the ride was pretty ok. After Dharmapuri, we entered the roads to Hogenakkal. Lohit had some issues with his electricals which ws giving out confusing signals.. the guys did some tinkering ... and we were on our way...

The roads slowly started becoming smooth and we could see a lot of vegetation... suddenly we come across beautiful ghat section which was amazing to behold... small and beautiful.... I may be biased but mountains definitely do something for me.. and nothing like riding the curves on mountains...

We took a break there,.. talked to couple of smart monkeys... the monkey population seemed to have been thriving here and it was nice to see that . .

The weather was clearing up and we rode on to through the winding roads through the dense forests till we came upon the sound of water gushing by...

Roads were okay and the weather had started to warm up... we parked our bikes and immediately we were accosted with boatmen who wanted to take us across to the other side... we were asked whether we would like to have a whole round which would take about 2 to 3 hours for 300/- and we took our breath and selected two guys who were not pushing too much ( reverse pschycology or what ) and they led us to their coracles ... and we convinced them that we would like only the half and hour ride and see some part of the falls and not the whole thing.

I was not to enthusiastic about the water since I could see a lot of mild rapids... though the others were excited. Praveen spotted fried fish and he wanted to have lunch and then go across .. but then decided that we do the whole sightseeing and then go for lunch.

Getting on a coracle was a first for me... so I was pretty nervous... somehow managed to get on it... we were three of us, Rocky, Myself and Lohit in one and the other was occupied by Praveen and Aashika. They looked pretty and here I was shitting bricks..

The boatman took pity on me and assured me that I did not have anything to worry as he would be there to hold me first if anything happens. I need not have worried.. since it was a short but fun ride... we crossed over to the other side where it was crowded with people....but not that crowded too.. in fact the existence of people somewhat reduced my inherent trepidation of the huge falls. And we walked across the pavements where one of the boatmen took us to vantage points from where we could view the falls well...

There is also a small tower.. from where we can climb and have a birds eye view of the majestic falls...
We took a couple of pics and nearby we spied young boys say maybe 10 year olds trying to dive from a great height... but for 5 rupees.. if you give 5 rupees one of them would show you the dangerously steep dive and you would get a thrill... we decided not to encourage the boys... what does one have to do for money ??

Anyways.... we crossed back and while crossing back, the boatmen were very nice enough to let us pose in the coracles... they stopped the coracle in the middle and stood for some seconds... And then came one of the most terrifying parts for me... they started to spin th coracle for fun... I was like holding on to dear life... I am not the merry go round type anyways... never was and the water and the coracle made it like WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE... and I was praying fervently while the others had fun !! we could see that many boatmen were having fun... what a way to get a thrill to go circles in rapids...

After the crossing we paid those guys some 150 per coracle and started for lunch... Lunch was a slow affair... fish fry was fast but the actual meal took a long time in coming. We almost lost our appetite and we had to get back to .. .

After lunch... we sped our way climbing the ghats and then the weather was pleasant.. the rains had stopped and the roads were also familiar now... we did not have to stop for many breaks and were back in Bangalore by 8:00 ...

It was a great way to spend a day ...

Short Impressions...

Bikes need a mud flap specially if it is raining otherwise it is painful for the rider
Pillion riding is not all that easy like it is made out to be..
Rain gear is a definite must for rain rides...

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Back to Bangalore...

Day 3

Route - Chennai - Sriperumbedur - Kanchipuram - Ranpet - Chittoor - Palamner - Mulbagal - Kolar - Hokote Bangalore

We started early afternoon from Chennai and after a heavy Tamil nadu breakfast at another great joint, we carried towards home. On the way we stopped for a few breaks since the road was good and we did not need to stop very often. At Palamner, Rocks stopped to change our light bulb which was fused and while he was doing that, I spied a little hut by the road, where an old lady was hovering and another old lady was picking peanuts from the tree. I asked in tamil whether Kapi was available. A chatty old man who was sitting by the road came up and said they could make tea but a hotel was nearby if i wanted to go. Along with him was a truck driver who was also resting for the day. We had a conversation with my broken Tamil, Hindi and some good tea. The old man extended his hand of hospitality and offered me peanuts which were freshly picked and some biscuits... the truck driver told me stories of how he would go through small roads and how he would avoid check posts. I asked him a couple of questions.. he seemed to be well travelled guy with the gab and I am was always a sucker for travel stories...

After a hot cuppa and saying warm goodbyes, we carried on.. and reached home just after sunset. I enjoyed the whole ride at this time since I got to see many different phases of the sunset. And how it played with the clouds... it would have been an awesome capture on the camera... unfortunately I have to wait till some other time...

Now its time to plan another ride... or a drive.... who knows.. but we are always ready for the highway


Highly reccomended: A visit to the RE factory. Its worth it... All Bulleteers must go there...
Royal Enfield has opened a new showroom in Chennai and its a cool place to pass by... you must check it out...

Mahabalipuram is good for a short visit.
Chennai is cool during rains..
ECR is something you have to ride on... its an experience to be experienced...
Croc farm is worth a visit...
Many thanks to Dodo and the Madras Bulls who have made our stay in Chennai a memorable and enjoyable one.

Chennai in the rains ..

Day 2

We woke up to mild rains and it was a beautiful weather. The sun was playing hide and seek with the rain and it was fun to watch who would last the longest.. and the effect of the sun and the rain coming and going over the sea through the clouds was amazing. I was wishing I had a better camera to capture that moment. But maybe some other time..

We saw that the beach was busy with the fisherman hauling in their catch for the day. Velu one of the fisherman with whom we got talking to.. told us that they leave for their fishing at 3:00 in the morning... and how they had to go further and further away into the sea to catch big fish. They were all a friendly group.. some folding nets, some running to get the fishes in place, some sorting out the fishes, some running to save themselves from the drizzle when it rained. Fishermen here believed in not only co- existing with the fishes but also with other domesticated animals and a good house would have dogs, cows, chicken and pigs with them.

Velu promised us to take us to the sea for 200/- and show us the five temple which have are under sea. We did not take the risk since it was a wild time for the sea but we told him that we would come back and take him up on his offer. You can also go fishing with them for a small amount if you are interested.

It was all good since we spend a lazy morning... walking by the beach. We had a hearty breakfast at a nearby restaurant... shared with a black puppy and watched the rain fall the sea.. As soon as it was dry, we left for the shore temple which would be opening in at 9:00. The shore temple displays 6th century architecture. The temples seem to have been built on single stones sometimes... the sculpturers starting their work from top so that they dont do much damage to the structure...

After the Shore temple we moved out of Mahabalipuram and towards the Croc park. We were riding through the ECR. It was a great ride. We met some good sports bike too who were freaking out with their bikes totally opened up. We missed out on the Tiger's cave while coming. The crocodile park has been an experience. I have never seen so many crocodiles at one time .. sheesh !!! it was like that place was infested with them reptiles and well though I dont hate reptiles.. I dont love them either... I have a healthy respect for them...

We could see snakes and turtles besides crocs... I personally think that this place should seriously try and find a wider space.. or let the crocs go to the wild.. its too much now... BRRRR !!!

Then we entered the town of Kovalam which was nothing great so we moved on. On the way we saw another rider in a bullet most probably from the Madras bulls... did not know him but it was good to see another bull on the road.

In Chennai we were met by Daniel aka Dodo who took us to his house and from then on we went on to the Royal Enfield factory. Dodo also did not know the way to Thiruvattyur... where the factory was. So we went on riding through one of the worst parts of Chennai, a la Majestic in Bangalore.. just add to that less space more trucks and filthy because of the rain....

On reaching the factory we were made to wait dfor sometime before Ajay Pai came and took us around the place. he explained to us how the place worked and how the machines worked and it was very enlightening for us. We then got to meet Mr Vaiydi, Director, Marketing, if I am not mistaken along with Naveen Malhotra. We had a very nice converstaion where feedback was exchanged and we learnt a lot too. I was more interested in the bullet coming up with an electric start. I would then be able to get myself one.... I am secretly hoping that I dont have to kick start the machine when I buy one.

After the visit we went to Ponnuswamy's and had a very late lunch... If you are in Chennai, you have to visit this place. For food lovers this is the best Chettinadu Cuisine house that you can get at a very good price. Its is Eggmore. We went on to meet some of the Madras Bulls gang. It was nice of them to catch up with us. We met at Cake Walk by the beach. Bala and Kavita, Dosai(Manoj), Anthony, Jai, Brijesh, Shwetha and her sister were all there... it was great to hog on good desserts and have a nice get together... that continued in Dodo's house where Bala regaled us with body shopping stories from US and his wild life adventures in Kenya. I think I shall plan a trip to this place... his stories have totally fascinated me..he is another avid traveller and its always nice to exchange stories... with such minds...

I crashed off while the men hung around late.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Monsoons in Mahabalipuram, Kanchipuram and Chennai and a visit to RE factory

Route Taken

Bangalore - Hoskote - Kolar- Mulbagal-Palmaner- Chittoor - Ranipettai- Kanchipuram - Chengalpattu - Mahabalipuram

This has been a year of continous rains in Bangalore and mostly all over India... so traveling in bikes was not the first option. Just when we thought that it was getting dry and planned the trip to Mahabalipuram, we got news that the East coast was having good rains.. This was going to be our first solo ride and we were looking forward to it.

But we decided we would brave it out anyways. Unless it was one of those heavy coastal showers which we encountered in our trip to Calicut, it would be fine. We were warned by Daniel aka Dodo to be prepared for rains...

Anyway we started off early Friday morning heading towards the east... and going past Bangalore and Hoskote, we quickly passed Kolar and reached Mulbagal. We bypassed two three good hotels.. and I thought that we would get to pass by more and continued.. And to our dismay, we could not find any good hotels beyong Woody's.

We stopped by a nice little inn which said Hotel and thought we would get some coffee in our stomachs at least. As soon as I went inside I was welcomed with a big mug and directions to go to the ladies toilet. I did not know whether to laugh or just stare. Before I could finish my question about coffee, he insisted that I go to the toilet. Again I asked patiently.. and he ultimately said no coffee was not avialable but yes toilets were... hahah !! and we were charged
some 5 rupees to use the dilapidated toilets...

Since it was festival time, we had minimum traffic... on the way and reached Kanchipiuram without any difficulty. While riding on the State highway, we received some sporadic showers. It so happened that whenever we stopped and wore the raincoat, the rain cloud would pass by leaving us high and dry. We got so tired of wearing and taking off our raincoat, that we finally decided that we would brave the showers as and when they came. Well it was a good decision since the shower was light and would dry up after a few seconds.

Kanchipuram is a beatiful old city and it was here that we had lunch. Kanchipuram is known for its temples and we reached just in time for lunch. We had sumptous lunch in Kanchi at Saravana Hotel which serves amazing vegeterian thallis. They have good parking space for the bikes too.

As we moved around in Kanchi we could see that this city had a lot of temple heritage and it was scattered with temples at almost every corner of the street. Old Architecture.. and tanks which must definitely be a historian's delight. After lunch we continued on the highyway to Chengalpettu.. and then Mahabalipuram. After a short while we reached Mahabalipuram or Mammalapuram. Entering this small town it felt good to reach the destination.

As we entered this town it reminded me of Hampi and Goa. Hampi for the ruins and Goa for the tourists coming in inspite of the off season time. We looked out for a hotel sine we wanted to rest our backs and start exploring. It was 2:45 and we were ready to check out the town. Our search for an economic hotel near the beach took us through the concrete paved "gallis" to the fisherman's village near the shore temple. Rock s was more persistent in finding a hotel
near the beach..

We got a good deal for 300/- and the room was basic and was good enough with water running and good double bed.

The name of the hotel is Sea Shore hotel I think. Its a house with room facilities with an attached restaurant.My first thought was FISH FRY and BEER but I was patient. I had read that fish was really cheap here and I was keen on having my fill of fish...

After refreshing we started off on the ECR to check the town and went and visited Krishna's Butterball, Arjuna's Penance and some other cave temples. We wanted to go visit the Lighthouse but visitors were not allowed so we gave up and made our way towards the Shore temple. We walked through the rows of shops sporting only scultures
and the sound of hammer hitting the stone was constant and it seemed like it was part of nature.. Friends if you are interested in sculpting this is the place to come to. The displays of the sculptures were awesome. ( click on the pics to view the larger versions)

I wanted to click some good snaps but since it was already past sunset it did not make much sense to go to the temple. We walked around the beach area and as we were taking a walk, we came across a snake charmer speaking excellent American English ( reminded me of the hawkers in goa). Now this was an interesting sight. I
stopped and watched what that guy was doing. He took out one snake and then the other and showed us some tricks.. I was fascinated by the snakes... one cobra and one young snake... the poor cobra was awakened by a pinch on its tail.. poor thing... but it was showtime for them folks.. the charmer...made them turn a 360 degrees for a better close up and he said that he would charge 50/- for the snaps...When I told him that I was not a foreigner, he sobered down and asked me to give him whatever money I could... well who was I spoil his show and he had put up a good one so I gave him 50/-. A good performance has to be appreciated.

What I could see that they were making lot of money from the non Indians. The streets were scattered with shops specially catering to the people coming from outside India. In some of the places we wanted to eat, the guys blankly said that the restaurant did not have variety... and the moment a foreigner landed up they bend their backs to fulfil the orders... discrimination in our own land... SIGH !!

We went back to the hotel and s at down to have something to eat. Here I was expecting good meals... but I was mildly shocked to see the prices in the menu. Fresh Catch was displayed but a small fish would cost you 150/- and above. And a small piece would cost you 80/- to 90/-. Though it was not like Goan Beach shacks where Fish curry and rice cost us some 220/- and the same thing away from beach cost us 22/-, it was still not very reasonable price for fish which was freely available ... from the sea. I was thinking to myself that fish was cheaper in Bangalore.

Now in these restaurants, you cannot expect immediate service since the food is freshly prepared and is served hot at your table. Nothing is kept ready. This is not a fancy hotel but a hotel made from home so service is also slow. This is a place to just chill out. So patience is required, unlike a couple who came here to eat and made a big scene of telling the waiter to get what was ready immediately and thus resulting in confusion and as if this was not enough, the wanted veg dishes to be made... in a hard core non veg fish serving restaurant. Well to serve them right, they had their dished served very late... and by this time the husband was almost entering the kitchen and doing an audit. This provided good entertainment for the rest of the people who were enjoying the food.

I could also see a lot of Kashmiris who have made this town a good centre of business and they were minting money with their stuff... Went to a handsome fella's shop and browsed through this silver jewellery and other stuff. His
jewellery was awesome and I could not resist buying some. If you pass by this place, be sure to have a looksy at these stores...

We turned in early since we were kind of tired and the last thing I remember was the sound of the sea lulling me to sleep....

Day 2 In Chennai

Day 3 .. Back To Bangalore !!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Irreplacable Memories Day 3

Morning dawned with good sunshine and it was a great time to take off. We decided that we would visit the Tungabhadra Dam on the way. So off we went while the bikers were still getting ready. Heinrich, Indira and Jangs also took off early. While Jangs and his group took off straight we went to the dam walked up the hill and enjoyed the beautiful old construction of the dam.

After that we were on our way.. cruising through the way .. we had Jangs and his group for company. Our Jeep was loaded with the saddle bags of the bulleters ... but it was less this time... since they were taking off late...

We ripped across the highway. Jangs and the group were obviously faster. We came across many overturned trucks on the highway. It was a pathetic sight. But we carried on.. Reached the outskirts of Chittradurg and stopped at a ncie house like hotel by the highway.. which had a garden restaurant and everything... and we ordered our meals.. Lunch was good but it made us have a big hole in our pocket. We were slammed with a bill of 700 plus for 3 fish thali meals, one vegeterian meal and a starter. When we asked for the menu the manager refused to show us the menu saying that it was outside the menu and they had extra charge... and all that.. and to top it all they were mixing the orders from one table to another..

This was the same with Jangs and his group and after warning the bikers, we took off. It was a bad experience and we learnt a valuable lesson...
If you are lunching in Chitradurg, please do not forget to ask the price of the orders that come to you..

Funnily the food on the whole trip did not cost us that much as we paid for that one lunch fiasco... Still gets my goat whenever I think of it ... One the way we filled gas at a bunk which had this nicely carved statue..

Anyways, back on the highway, we came across heavy showers of rains which kept us company for a long time till we reached Bangalore... and finally we reached home replete with good memories of Hampi.

Hampi is a photographers paradise for both amatuer and professional. Make sure you take enough rolls with you if you are like taking pictures !!

Some important information about Hampi.

Map to Hampi

Map to go about in Hampi.. Actually its easy to go about in Hampi. You will get local maps and local guide books and the sign posts are vey user friendly to follow.

When to Visit

The ideal time to visit Hampi, is from October to March.

How To Get There

By Air : The nearest airport is Bellary (74 km). Other convenient airports are Belgaum (190 km) and Bangalore (353 km).

By Rail : Hospet (13 km) is the nearest railhead. Hospet is linked by rail with Bangalore, Bijapur and Hubli.

By Road : Hampi is 353 km from Bangalore, and 13 km from Hospet. Buses ply regularly to Hospet from Bangalore.

Where To Stay

Hotel Mayura Vijayanagar, Thungabadhra Dam Hospet, Tel:08394-48270

Hotel Priyadarshini, Station Road, Hospet, Tel: 08394-48838.

Hotel Malligi, Hospet-Bellary road.

Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneswri, Kamalapur, Hampi. Tel:08394-51374 ( we stayed here... and we recommend this highly)

KSTDC Cottages.Tel:08394-8108

Useful Links

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Exploring Hampi Day 2


We were supposed to get up and catch the sunrise at Hampi but it was not to be.
here is pic of what the sunrise looked like... absolutely glorious!!! This picture is courtesy one of the RTMC members.(I forget the name I am sorry)

While the others went ahead before 6:00 in the morning, we slept it out and started off after a lazy breakfast. The weather was just great... rain clouds were present but besides some drizzle the day was clear... thus started our exploration... here is pic of what the sunrise looked like... absolutely glorious!!!

Queens Bath:
A old bathing place which the Queen used. It had its own changing rooms and great viewpoints. This bath was open to the sky and surrounded with a moat. Though the building looks quite simple from outside one can only imagine the granduer inside the building.

Mahanavami Dibba:
This is an enomous area where kings once sat on gem-studded golden thrones and watched processions pass by. The platform sports densely carved bands of horses, soldiers and depictions of the various aspects of courtly life. There is a pyramid like structure which has nice carvings on it.. The irrigation system runs through it..

There is a beautiful tank called Pushkarani which looks like an optical Illusion with its so many steps there... the whole Tank looks like it was built with black granite...

I explored further and found another amphitheatre like area and a seat where the kings must have sat..and watched some show or the other... or maybe it was another tank for the kings and queens to enjoy the beautiful man made lake...

This place has lot of other small ruins which you can explore with leisure... I wish I had more time...

Hazara Rama: a typical Dravidian temple... and this has lot of sculptures depicting the story of Ramayana in three tiers describing the whole story till after the birth of his twins Lav and Kush.. The sculpting is the wall is worth spending time. There is a hanuman sculpture here.. Hampi was previously also the capital of the Monkey People... and it was known and Kishkinta... thats why the stress on Ramayana

Lotus Mahal : A small enclosure inside huge grounds. the walls which protect this enclosure is still there.. and one needs to see how uniquely the walls have been placed ..One would imagine royalty coming here and relaxing... the mahal itself is a small place surrounded by huge grounds.

You need to buy a ticket to enter this place which is valid for the Vittala temple too.

Elephant Stables: - As you walk through the green lawns in Lotus Mahal... you come across the elephant stables which seem like huge... rooms .. one can imagine how much care they were given ... this being an important mode of transpot there

Guards House - To one side of the tables there was another huge building which many ignored and went off.. We went ahead .. i was pretty curious what this building was meant for. It had one elephant statue resting at the gateway One of the natives, dangling his legs ... and with a nonchalant attitude told us that it was the guard's house... It was a huge building... with lot of artifacts and a nice garden... the building was at a height... I guess so that the guards could survey what was going on......

Nobelman's Quarters: This was a little further from the Lotus Mahal.. and we went ahead to explore the Nobleman's Quarters... a huge space of land with collapsed building blocks... gives the impression of a huge chunk of population might have existed in this area.. you can go up the steps to have a panoramic view of the area... the guards might have stood at that very point to surveyed all the nobleman... or soldiers...

Sister Rocks
this is a marvel to see,.. imagine two cards inclined and balancing each other by touching it at the top.. now imagine two huge round stones doing the same thing and touching each other just at a point and standing like that... Awesome.. According to a myth, these stones are two sisters who have been turned into stone.

Lakshmi Narasimha - A huge monolith statue which is sometimes mistaken for Ugra Narasimha.. A huge piece of architecture which is difficult to imagine that it has survived all the years to be a witness to all of the wacky specimens... like us.... People mistake it for Ugra Narasimha but it has been specifally mentioned that this is Lakshmi narasimha..

Badavilinga : Next to the Narasimha.. there is this amazing 12 ft Shivalinga known as the Badavi Linga.. this has always water around it since a canal passes through it..

Krishna Temple: This is an old temple built by Krishnadevraya in 1523. We found a young boy dressed as hanuman and willing to dance if we gave him money... we shooed him away and took some photographs... of the nice pillars.. what struck me was the eerie silence in these temples... but I could imagine devotees thronging here for their pujas... There are many small temples inside this temple.

This is on the way to Krishna Temple.. thought that the gates with the Jeep looked really cool..

Mustard Ganesha:
This is a huge monolith of Ganesha which you can go and see... we did not wait around this statue as we had a lot of things to cover. This is also one of a kind statue very well made. This statue is 12 ft tall and is placed in the open with a mantapa.

Virupaksha Temple:
This is one of the main temples in Hampi. We did not spend much time inside this temple as there was a huge crowd singing and dancing there... The road in front of this temple is flanked by shops and restaurants.

Here we halted for lunch... in one of the small restaurants which had boldly written captions " Recommended by Lonely Planet" . This place caters more to foreigners so if you are ordering toast and omlete you will get it faster. There is a unique thali known as " African Thali, which we did not have the stomach to try. I ordered some pineapple pancakes, lassi and sandwiches which came pretty fast rather than the indian thalis which my friends ordered.

We called in the gang who by this time were scattered. Some tried to take a short cut and got duped by auto.
DO NOT try taking shortcuts. All of the things can be seen one after the other so you can chill out and take your bike around and park and walk where you wanted to see stuff.

So while the gang was having lunch, we walked by the side of the river Tungabhadra...

Suddenly for some reason I remembered the song...

By the rivers of Babylon..
There we at down
there we wept
when we remembered the bygones... ( ok i made that up instead of Zion)

Pondering at the ruins and the huge area of what might have been I felt somewhat sad and melancholic.
Market Place:
The market place is just opposite the Virupaksha Temple .. This is a huge area and once upon a time it used to be the market area for the people living in that kingdom. At present this place is used as an amphitheatre during dance festivals and all that.

Vittala Temple:
This is one of the most beautiful places in Hampi. This contains the essence of Hampi, I must say. It contains a huge area of monuments. The river Tungabhadra flows by its side... Inside the grounds you have the Vijaya Vittala temple containing musical pillars... a guide can show you how it sounds by beating it with the help of the knuckles... clicked some shots here too... This temple is full of beautifully sculpted works of lotus, swans, etc...

Just in front of this temple is the stone Chariot which is like a work of art. Its reminiscent of the Sun Temple in Konark. It was raining that day.. and though it ws not the right moment for photography.. i could not resist taking some shots

Kings Balance:
Outside the Vijaya Vittala Temple complex to your right, a few yards away you will find the Kings Balance where the king used to weigh himself with golds and diamonds and that weight used to be distributed among the poor.

Then to chill out we relaxed by the river banks of Tungabhadra drinking tea from a small shack... it was that time of the day when the birds go home and farmers come back from the fields... bliss...

We came to back to the Hotel. The gang decided to go to the Tungabhadra Dam where there would be some musical fountain display and all that. Some from the gang relaxed. We did the same... chilled out .. had dinner and waited for the guys to come back..

The guys were back and they decided that they would light a campfire and have a great time. While I was busy with our friends, the rest of the guys chilled out by the fire with some good drinks...

Day 3

Friday, September 10, 2004

On the way to Hampi ... Day 1

Day 1 ... 10th September, 2004

It was a Friday that I was looking forward to... I have been wanting to visit Hampi and dreaming about it from the moment that we decided that we would be going riding to Hampi.

Started early in the morning along with the Bullets. We decided to take our Jeep since we had friends with their 2 year old, visiting us and we wanted to share the fun of motorcycle riding with them. The Jeep became a storage section for the saddle bags.

Hitting the Tumkur highway close to 7:30, we carried on and decided to take a break near the toll gates. After sometime we hear that Vikas one of the riders has had an accident while avoiding a stray dog.

And well luckily he escaped with nothing but a few scrathes and a broken light bulb.He was pretty sporting about it. Reminded me of Bumboo and our Wayanad trip when he attracted all animals to hit him.. we called it animal magnetism...

On the way Sagarika who was riding for the first time had a tough time hanging on .. without a back support and a tiny seat... for the pillion. She opted to come in the jeep.

Anyways, carrying on towards Tumkur, we had breakfast of soft Thatte Idlis and Vadas and hot coffee in our usual place in Catsandra...which left us feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Continuing along the road which was pretty good and had few bumps... the scenery that opened itself before us was spectacular to say the least. The whole landscape which is usually dry... was lit up with a carpet of green grasses and yellow sunflowers... it was a beautiful feeling to drive along the highway...

Passing by Mangalore Highway, we took a version to Kudiligi, and then on to Hospet. Took lot of breaks of hot tea and then finally reached Kamalapuram, Hampi where we rested ourselves at Hotel Mayura. I highly recommend this hotel. You can book in advance and you can also go and get a room during off season..

Rates start from 400 to some 1000/- and the facilities are very useful. They have a good canteen which also caters their version of European food along with South Indian Thalis, veg and non veg. Rooms are clean and water is also good.If you want to destress yourself you could also go in for the ayurvedic massages which the hotel provides... ( they might make a tiny hole in your pocket, but it is worth it.) The hotel itself is situated among huge land area which has a long driveway and lots of green grasses growing.. or maybe it was because it was monsoon time.

This picture is just the driveway to this hotel... If this is off season for Hampi, I tell everybody to go and visit the place only at this time. You can benefit from the greenery and also from the cool breeze blowing which according to the natives is a rarity since temperature rises up to 44 degrees C.

Had a decent meal and lazed around in the evening with the kid, and with friends.. You could hear crickets "cricking" away along with frogs coming out of their hideouts... and jumping here and there.. the hotel sports a small tank of fish and two tortoises too which was good entertainment for the kid.

Weather was just perfect and we were ready to face the next day... we fell asleep to the anticipation of what we would visit the next day...

Day 2
Day 3

Monday, May 17, 2004

Tamarind Highway Day 2

Day 2

Morning dawned with the realisation that the day was getting to be very hot. We freshened up as the rest were still dozing. A couple of us who were up and about decided to go get some breakfast. We had not arranged with the resort to provide us with food. We found a joint very near the resort and had some tea and biscuits and some nice discussion with the Madras Bulls guys... Some of the madras bulls had already left Pondi in the night.

I guess it was a good ride to and back since it was not too far from Chennai. Since most of the guys were still sleeping when we were back, we decided to strike out to by ourselves to the town. We would not be coming back this side so we said our good byes to the Madras Bulls, Dodo, Brijesh, and all of them who were so cool to sponsor this stay in Pondi. We said our goodbyes to the rest of the guys and left for the main town. The sun was already beating down pretty harshly and it was not even 9:00 am.

We were familiar with the town so wanted to just "surf" the town, lets say !! We went down to the Beach Road where we had breakfast by the beach cafe and chilled out by the sea and then decided to cruise around the colonial area of Pondicherry and in that process did some shopping...

There is a good market for handmade goods which are pretty cheap and useful ... which become painfully expensive the moment they reach Bangalore...

Do not forget to rest a while by the shades of the big trees in the park near the Beach Raod. We relaxed for sometime there. of all places this is my favourite place to be in Pondicherry.. by the beach road in the evenings and walking through the park in the daytime.. the wonder of it was that while it was burning hot in the sun... the moment you stood under the trees, it was like you had reached natural airconditioning zone.

I have not experienced this difference in temperature in bangalore when in the shade....that makes you appreciate the summer all the more... Since it was a Sunday many had come down to spend the day in the park and all the sitting areas were full of kids and families just enjoying their Sunday... once side I could see two sisters playing hide and seek, on the other hand I could see a group of elderly people playing cards... and then some women sitting in a circle talking... I guess they were taking stock of the week's work ha ha !!

But this moment, seeing everybody busy being happy in their own relaxing without the hurrying made me appreciate the quality of life there... Yes I would like to do that someday .. live in that area and go to the ashram, sit by the sea or the park and then just reflect... and then go back... maybe to Auroville... ah yes time to reflect...

By this time we were having tiny hunger pangs and then mulled over where to go for lunch.. Of all the places Rendezvos was the nearest and the best. So decided to head there... I have become a die hard fan of this place by the way... LOL. By this time the rest of the group also flocked in. Praveen, Mahindra and JFK. Tiwana had decided to go via Chennai. Keerthi and Soup decided to stay back for one more day and enjoy the place...

We had another amazing lunch here and then headed out to the highway by 3:00 after the guys did some shopping for themselves... courtesy yours truly... I was the only woman in the group and urged them that if they did not take home such nice gifts for their family it would be a sin... hahaha !!!

Anyways, on and on we went. We had to reduce speed since Praveen and JFK's bikes were running in so we kept a steady but medium speed. We stopped after every hour or so and then carried on..

On reaching Gingee, we stopped again for some photographs... JFK did some cool and freaky posing ... and I obliged him by capturing the Alpha male moments .. with a profile and then both the man and the profile... and he was mighty thrilled with the portraits... of him and his new baby... ( he had just bought the STD 500 you see and had got it with him to Pondi for a spin) and you thought that women were narcissistic... LOLOL !!

Reached TV Malai at dusk and had some snacks at one of the hotels...

My ordeal started when it was dark.. firstly I could not see anything but the stars and then I was so inspired by the feeling of riding under the starry sky that I thought out a poem... well a sham of a poem which went like

Under the starry sky as we ride
without a care or a sigh
the cresent moon is shining shy
watching us head home cocooned in its soft light....

Well guys that was one of the rarest occasions when I could come out with something resembling a poem... I was feeling raelly romantic riding through the wilderness with only the mountains and the stars as witnessess... its a heady feeling...

Mahendra ( I just got that his name was Mahendra and not Mahindra ... sorry about that Mahendra !!! ) was riding pillion with JFK since he had packed his bike to bangalore. He then took turns in riding Praveen's and JFK's bike.

Now this guy had the tenacity not to doze off while riding. And I was amazed at that...since he said that no matter what he could never sleep while riding. JFK who was by this time very tired and sleepy just wanted to reach home. He also gave the bike up to Mahindra while he dozed as pillion.

Mahendra then started to play with him ... just when JFK would go off to sleep he would accelarate and JFK would hit his helmet ..* tak* on Mahendra's and wake up.. Mahendra continued this till JFK came up with a defense policy even in his sleep LOL... mahendra gleefully recounted the phase when we were taking a break... haha to the utmost consternation of JFK.

Now where yours truly was concerned, she was fighting a losing battle with the sandman and was trying her level best to keep her eyes wide open...but it was a constant struggle...

The whole time I would try to concentrate on the inky blackness and *tap* I would go off to sleep. And I was also * tak taking Rocks helmet with mine.. Once I almost

Believe you me !!!! Its no fun sitting pillion at night and the road being so smooth...

My endless struggle with my sandman and my dream catcher was making Rocks very edgy and he was shit scared that I would fall off and I was trying my best not to fall off.. Little did he know how I was trying to battle the onslaught of sleep...even though every time we would stop and I would wash my eyes with precious water.... nothing was working

Beat this... you are travelling on a smooth straight road in the inky darkness and the speed is some 50 to 60 kmph and add to it the constant thump of the machine...and cool breeze swhishing by..... even a crazed incomniac would have fallen asleep. And I am a person who appreciates sleep so it was touch and ZZZZzzzzzzzZZZZZz for me !!

Anyway this time luck was on our side so we reached the end of the Tamarind Highway pretty fast. Here we took a break and the night and the hour inspired us to think about ghost stories.. JFK told us an almost-ghost story... well my imagination was fired up anyway.. so Mahendra ( the great strory teller ) tempted us with a tantalising ghost story which we were eager to listen .. we breaked for tea somewhere insignificant near the highway and Mahendra started his storytelling which turned out to be a welcome break from the sleepy ride and had us splitting in laughter.... By now I was wide awake... and we had reached the outskirts of Bangalore... soon after we reached home feeling fulfilled and exhausted... yet another journey finished and yet another day ends.... but with warm memories of percolating Pondicherry.....