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.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Chilling out in Wild Valley, Feb 26th - 27th , 2005

Thats what we did this last weekend !! Went riding all the way to Wild Valley farm which is a valley nestled in the centre of the mountain range.. far from the madding crowd and definitely far from everything techie... LOL...

Started the ride at morning seven. Met up with fellow biker Mayur.. By the time we were
hitting Kanakpura road it was blasting hot. The heat combined with dryness was pretty
tough but we kept on hoping that the destination would be cooler.

At Kanakpura we met the Bangalore Chapter of 60 kph who were on their way to Coorg..
and rode with them for sometime and then went on our way.. since we had to cover good
distance and wanted to beat the heat as soon as possible.

As we hit Kollegal, we took the diversion to the right and carried on. We passed a couple of green tank bunds which had exotic birds feasting on diving and catching fishes... which was a delightful sight to see... As soon as we took this diversion.. it was just a thin strip of fairly good road and lots of dried fields on both sides.. mostly already harvested raggi and maize... and sometimes you would meet a tree or two... Though it was isolated ... it was a pleasure riding without any interference... We started coming across mountain ranges... followed the path which went along with the mountain range. It was like discovering the length of the range which was never ending as we rode...

Came up to a small village known as Lokhanahalli which was one of our landmarks. We stopped on and off to push some liquid in our systems.. and then continued.. I took the time to click some pics.. Wild Valley does not have phone connection or signal.. so Mayur wanted to call up his parents to let them know that he was not lost in the wild but definitely reaching there... We had reached the Dhondenling Tibetian Settlement.. at Odeyarpalya, which looked very pretty and which we would check it out while returning back.

Continued along the same stretch of road through some sparsely scattered native population busy with working with the harvested raggi and finally we reached the checkpost between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.. You do not need to pay any amount while entering Tamil Nadu. That fee is taken care of by the farm. You would have to pay a nominal fee to Daniel when the bills are settled.

The road to the farm is pretty rough along filled with uneven highs and lows and a lot of gravel. It will be great if you are going on a four wheeler but i would not really advise caution if you are riding.. Its a short but quite unpredictable stretch.

We reached there just in time for lunch. two small groups were already there chilling out. We met Daniel who was very hospitable. He invited us to use to pool which was a cute thing and welcomed us with fresh lemon juice which was really refreshing.

After sometime we had lunch.... which was a pretty chilled out affair with home cooked food and all along with fresh farm vegetables..!! One of the guys in one of the groups just wasted the food which was a sacrilege I thought ...If you do not want to eat do not serve it in your plate.. this was like deliberately insulting the chef. After lunch Daniel invited us for a short trek down the stream .

We trekked through the boulders and saw lot of fresh foot prints of different animals. The stream was kind of a waterhole where all the animals come to it seemed. As we were walking through quick sand type of soil, boulders, dead branches, it was like we were totally in the wild at the mercy of the peering eyes from inside the bushes.

Daniel is an experienced farm owner and he has seen different type of hunts.. for example wild dogs hunting a baby deer. It is a different story that the native tribals jumped on the almost dead baby deer.. and made a tasty meal out of it then and there... I was thinking to myself... how are we different from hyenas who wait for someone to hunt and then take the catch away from under its nose...

As we neared the stream, the farm guide along with Daniel suddenly told us to be quiet an all of a sudden we were instructed to run since there were wild elephants already in the stream and Daniel did not want to disturb them or rather did not want to get disturbed..

In the jungle wild life is rampant thanks to Veerapan who is the process of hiding in the jungle consciously or subconciously protested the animals from being poached or hunted. That made me feel good. It was nice to co- exist with wild life like this where they know their territory is safe and the farm is usually left alone..

Daniel told me about the tigers there.. but how the govt does not bother about them anyways.. since it would involve a long drawn out project to protect the tigers. And since the place did not boast of plush accomodation like Nagarhole where they concentrate all the forest research work..this part of the forest is totally ignored... reality bites but thats how it is...

As the sun set over the mountains the campfire was lit and we sat in a circle on the wisely arranged curved stone blocks.. a bottle of vodka, the starry sky above, them music of different species of birds doing this and that.. and great company... and long stories... just when i was thinking that this was perfect getaway, I saw the moon rise behind the mountains. It was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen .. In a few seconds the whole valley was alight with moonlight. It was the most romantic time of the day. I thought to myself.. I could easily compose a song or two if i stayed for a week :) . Or write a book for that matter..

The other groups were of a different kind. One of the groups got their laptop for music and
all.. and the other group... did not bother about anything but making loud noises and
having beer which was pretty noisy. In spite of all this we had a great time.. round the fire.

It was chilly and after having 4 pegs I went to my tent and tripped off to the ZZZZ land.

Day 2

At night we could hear wild elephants trying to come inside the farm. They are pretty
insistent mind you but the guys who were on watch chased them away. Daniel also slept
in one of the tents.

Morning dawned with the chirping of birds. After a long walk around the farm with the help of a guide, we packed our bags, had a fresh bath and great breakfast. We were on our way by 10 in the morning. We planned to go to Dhondenling settlement in Oderyarpalya which was on the way. It was hot to the extent that you coul feel your pores crackle with dryness... The ride was not a comfortable one for me since I was in the process of having a heat stroke.. Reached the Tibetian settlement.

Now this place is awesome. It is like a small country in its own . A very well organised village with great farms. The villages were divided into A village, B village, C village... etc. Each alphabetical village would be self sufficient and not far from each other.. they were placed in different areas easily accessible to each other yet having its own identity... between the farming landscape. Its a sight to behold. All the main offices were in the centre of the town. I was amazed by the beauty of this placed tucked away.. at the heart of the mountain range. The Dalai Lama usually stays in this town in his palace when he comes visiting. His palace is also quite colorful though we did not get to see it from inside.

After having lunch of tasty momos, and three glasses of sweet curds, we made our way from this little haven ... It was getting hotter and hotter and I was feeling sicker and sicker even though I kept myself replenished with oranges, electrol, water, etc ... we reached Bangalore at 6:00 and I just crashed off for two days... as a result of excess heat. But all said and done it was a great trip and we will do it again when the monsoons make the land greener and more beautiful..


Map to get there !!!

This seems to be the worst time of the year that you would ride to this place killing to say the least.

Take your own booze if interested.... this place does not supply booze !!

Take lots of water.. and electrol if you are travelling at this time of the year.. the weather is quite bad ...

Daniel owns about 100 acres of land here.. but only 12 acres of land is used for the farm .

He has planted all the trees in this land.. it was a ravine... it seems and had only three trees..

Its the ideal place for couples... so make sure you take your better halves... along with you to enjoy the beauty of this place...

Its heaven for trekking enthusiasts.. you can choose from the easiest trek to the toughest one which will take you high above the mountains !!

This place is not commercial and if you are interested to get in touch... you could get in touch with them through their website or mail me at pbaruah@gmail.com