Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ESCAPE TO SERENITY- Kodaikanal



ROUTE TAKEN : BANGALORE-MYSORE-GUNDLUPET-MADHUMALAI-MASINAGUDI-OOTY-COONOOR-METUPALAYAM-COIMATORE-POLLACHI-UDUMALAIPETTAI-PALANI-KODAIKANAL- BATHALAGUND-DINDIGUL-KARUR-SALEM-HOSUR-BANGALORE



Coimbatore always remembers me of Mysore, quiet and slow moving city. For a person like me there are a million places to visit around here. One more advantage travelling from Bangalore to Coimbatore is that one can choose a route that I would rate as one of the best biking routes in south India(Bandipur to Metupalayam via Kalhatti falls Ooty and Coonoor). So was all excited and had packed the necessary things well in advance. Being a solo ride and a weekend to combine, I decided to take optimum utilization of the same. My plan was to cover two popular hill stations Nilgiris and Kodaikanal.

 My mom was a bit tensed as I would be doing a solo trip this time. Reluctantly she wished me a safe journey at 4 in the morning. One more group of living organisms who were waiting to wish good bye were the canines at the corner of the street. It took me half an hour to get past Rajarajeshwari Nagar , all thanks to the never ending metro rail project. At the sight of the sign board which read SH17 in front the University it is a mix of all happy feelings in the world. There are so many happy rides on this very road. I had a couple of two wheelers who were traveling to Mysore for the first time. At that time of the day they didn’t know which way was Mysore. Giving them the directions I headed straight towards Channapatna CCD for my first break. It was terribly cold in the morning. What better way to warm yourself with a cup of hot coffee. The only company I had for the rest of the ride was a set of wheels and music playing in my ears. In no time I reached Mysore and parked my bike in front of Hotel Vishnu Bhavan right opposite the city bus stand. The palace town had just started to get ready for another peaceful weekday. I was the first customer for the day, so had the privilege of having steaming hot bisibele bath. My next pit stop was at Bandipur plaza, after passing through the extremely boring Nanjangud Gundlupet stretch. I mention this in almost all my posts. Once I was in Bandipur forest range music was off my phone, reason, it can distract your search for wild animals and can be dangerous while climbing the ghats. By the time I was near the safari, it was time for breakfast for safari elephants. I was given a chance to feed one gentle giant by name Jayaprasad, who thankfully accepted my offering.


The roads to Ooty from Masinagudi









Hardly half a kilometer from the safari few cars had stopped in middle of the road, it was a spotted deer crossing accompanied by a tusker who didn’t pose much of a problem for the vehicles. Further down I took the Masinagudi - Kalhatti route from here. The rains had left this place with full greenery. It was like Mother Nature had covered the mountains with a green blanket.







Stopped by the first hair pin bend for a few snaps. Then started climbing the hair pin bends and dealt with the twisties with utmost care. Since Ooty was a bit crowded( don’t know why even though it was not weekend) I decided to take a break for a Nilgiri masala chai. I would be making no justice if I don’t mention the condition of the roads, it was flawless, like most roads in Tamil Nadu. Traffic started to pile up once I was nearing Metupalayam as there was some road up gradation was going on. So the traffic was diverted through some narrow roads. One piece of advice for whoever is travelling to Tamil Nadu for the first time. Be very certain about the route because the government here thinks it’s a sin to paint the direction and destination signs, even government offices and bank addresses in English or Hindi. I used to be a victim of this particular non sense earlier but now able to recognize the first letter of certain places over here. Reached Coimbatore by 2. Called up Santosh’s sister, Matu and told her that I would be coming down for lunch. This time she was not as surprised as she was on my earlier ride to find me dressed like Niel Armstrong. The lunch was amazing. Watched movies with her kids and went out in the evening for some things to shop. Next day finished my work and was planning to leave for kodaikanal the same day. But Matu was reluctant to let me go the same day. After hours of convincing we came to an agreement that I would be leaving from there by the first light. Had a nice sleep that night and the next morning the phone started ringing “Waavin Flaags” to wake me up . 

Just before Pollachi

Enroute Perimalai







Silver Cascade Falls 


I had to delay my start as it had started raining. Even though it would have not hindered my progress out of the city, its not a good idea to start a ride with wet shoes and tires. Finally I hit the roads by 9. By then traffic had started pouring from all direction and it took me a while to find myself outside the city. The roads from here are so good that you wouldn’t feel like giving yourself a break. Finally reached Palani by 11.30 through Pollachi and Udumalaipettai. The stretch from Pollachi to Udumalaipettai are accompanies by wind mills on either side of the road. Took the road just behind the famous Palani temple to find a narrow road, to the corner of which was a supposedly read Kodaikanal 65kms( Sorry that was in tamil). I started to climb the mountains with so many twisties. The ride was just amazing with less on coming traffic, perfectly asphalted roads. Reached Perimalai and stopped for a brief photo session. From here the pine forests had already started. At one of the curves some 20 odd vehicles were parked to the left of the road. Assuming some accident could have taken place I slowed down. But the people were clicking photos which left me clueless thinking why on earth would people happily click photos if there were to be an accident. Then when I stopped and turned right it was the first sight of the beautiful Silver Cascade Falls which was almost covered by mist. My camera was out in no time clicking snaps of the Silver Cascade. As I started moving away the vehicular movement started increasing gradually indicating that I had reached Kodaikanal. Stopped at the lake, Stretched a bit and started to find a place to dump my luggage off the the rear seat. A cab driver from Bangalore was very helpful in getting a decent place to stay for Rs350/- per day which not a bad deal at at all. Checked into the room freshened up left for sight seeing.

The roads through Pine Forest 


The 4X4 Jeep route to Munnar


 The places on my priority list were the Guna Caves and the pine forests. Leaving from the hotel I came to a junction where one road led straight and the other to the right. Confused which road to take I waited for some vehicles to guide me. There came an Innova with a group of idiots who directed towards the wrong route. Without any second opinion I took the road which going down towards my right. I kept on riding but was getting no signs of any tourists going that way. When I had a look at my trip meter I found that I had ventured 15kms inside the dense forests. Then I realized I had taken the wrong route, because the hotel manager and the cab driver had told me that the places we only 7-10 kms from where I had been. But I was beyond that. So I parked the bike by the road and thought of waiting for some time to see if anyone passes by. After around 5 min I had the sight of a truck that ferried logs. The old driver told me that the path I had taken would have landed me in some village in Kerala and was kind enough to guide me to the right road. The first place I visited was the suicide point which had a memorial. Here there is a forest check post which cut shorts the distance between Kodai and Munnar by about 125 kms, but it was only for forest officials who would take that route to conduct some surveys. I swear, if had those Innova guys to be found somewhere nearby I wouldn’t have given a second thought in pushing them from there. Leaving from there I didn’t have the faintest of idea that I would be heading for a big disappointment, a huge tree had uprooted and fallen across the road making it impossible to cross. Even though the forest officials were trying to do their best the weather was not co operative. It had started to rain and had almost become dark. Thinking what would I do going to a cave when its dark I returned for my room. On the way I visited Bear Shola Falls for which one has to take a walk in the midst of nature. The visibility was quite low and the photos didn’t turn out to be good. Done with sight seeing, I parked my bike in front of the hotel and took a walk to the Bazaar Street. I was in for the best deals in winter wear. A Jacket lined with wool and cotton was priced at 50-100rs which was unheard in Bangalore and sweaters, they were even cheaper 100Rs for three. I had the place for only one of them in the baggage. Had spicy and yummy dinner and was off to bed at 10. 

The Kodai Lake at 7 



Enroute Bathalagund

Just before entering Home state



Got up to the same tone of waavin flags and started getting ready by 6 thinking of leaving the place by 7. Later I was told that hot water would be available only by 8 o clock because of which I had to delay the start by 90 min. So wasting no time I head straight to the lake only to see the mist covered all over, what a wonderful sight it was. After having idlis for breakfast I left the place by 8:45. I was off towards Bathalagund, enroute which I had to pass through the magnificent Rat tail falls, the very sight of which is so spectacular. Clicked a few pics and headed down the ghats. By now I was totally in love with them. Reached Bathalagund by 10 :30 and headed straight towards Dindugal bye pass. I was very much tempted to take Theni- Munnar route but the commitments the next day held me back. On reaching the four laned high way was into three digits on the speedo. This road is so good that even if doze off while driving, after an hour or so you can find yourself somewhere close to Karur. Stopped at Karur for lunch. Took an hour to have lunch because I knew that the next 150 kms or so would be very boring. I was singing at the top of my voice while riding but had no audience in sight. Rode straight till Dharmapuri Checkpost, and took a break to celebrate 1000 kms on the odometer. With clouds starting to form above my head I decided to ride nonstop and reach Bangalore before I am caught in the rain. The rain gods till now had shown mercy on me by not troubling with some serious rain anywhere. Past Dharmapuri the traffic increases which make it fun to ride. By the time I reached Hosur it was almost 4.30. All thanks to the city traffic even on a Sunday I reached home by 6. I had clocked 1189kms in which every kilometer was very memorable