Friday, January 14, 2011

MUNNARE'D


When someone thinks of tea, there are three prominent places in India , where tea is cultivated in abundance. Assam, Ooty and  Munnar(pronounced "Moon-aar" short for "moonu aar" meaning three rivers) . Munnar  known for its mist covered hills, exotic plantations, vibrant variety of flora and fauna, Panaromic views drives even the  laziest of lot to pack the bag and head towards this one of a kind bio diversity.  Decided to do a solo this time as well, but Monty and Rajiv wanted to accompany on this Road trip. A reunion of old college buddies, three set of wheels, A tank full of fuel, bags packed the ride was On. Even though Monty and Myself had been on such four figure rides ,it was the first time that Rajiv would be doing something of this magnitude.
The initial plan was to ride through the New Year but had to postpone it. So the immediate dates were the coming weekend that had to be extended. Bikes serviced, Papers checked, Fuel filled off did we decided  to take the once upon a time smooth SH17. Rajiv had never been to Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta(HGB), so on his request decided to include that in the plan.


Day 1:Bangalore-Coimbatore
Bangalore-Mysore-Gundlupet-Madhumalai-Masinagudi-Ooty-Kotagiri-Metupalayam-Coimbatore







Got up by the first sound of the alarm at 3. Within no time got ready after finishing the daily chores. Around 3.45, got a call from Monty that he was already at the meeting place and Rajiv was on his way. We left for Mysore at around 4.15. Since Rajiv was not so experienced in doing such long rides, we decided that I would be leading and monty would sweep. Since it was a weekday the traffic on SH17 was sparse, we could average 80-85 all through. The first stop was at Mandya to brave the cold with a cup of hot tea or coffee. The next stop happened to be just before Gundlupet for breakfast before we start climbing for HGB. As expected thick for engulfed on the top. Had tea with the forest guards, spent some time roaming. BY then fog disappeared and clear sky brought the sun with it. After a few photos we left for Ooty through Kalhatti Falls(36 hair pin bend route). Reached Ooty by afternoon and stopped at Kothagiri for lunch after visiting Doddabetta. Ooty to Metupalayam through Kothagiri was fun riding with many twisties and lesser oncoming traffic than the usual Ooty- Coonoor-Metupalayam route. Visited Catherine Falls on the way .Once past Metupalayam that the arrogant bus drivers decidied to take charge of the road ,pushing every two wheeler out of the edge of the road. Due to road widening work in progress it took almost two hours to reach Coimbatore. At the entry of Coimbatore things became worse as the traffic came to a standstill. Reached my friend’s place and decided to give the wheels rest after clocking 405 kms for the day.

Day 2:Coimbatore-Munnar
Coimbatore-Pollachi-Udmalpet-Chinar W.L.S-Marayoor-Munnar.












Day 2 was relaxing as the riding distance was lesser compared to the previous day.Getting out of Coimbatore was a bit of problem, but once past the ride was getting better once the wind mills started to rotate by the road side. After a few photo breaks we managed to reach Chinar W.L.S. One has to enter the details of the vehicle and your from and to destination, the guard lets you in with waring not to stop in between. Reached Marayoor for breakfast .Later continued the journey through the sandal wood forests. Stopped by Lukkon Falls, which is not much of a tourist place (in my opinion as there was less water), even though it is in the list of places to Visit around Munnar. On reaching Munnar by 12, I tried calling Praveen from Kerala XBHP , who were having a GTG in Munnar by the same time but couldn’t get through. Checked into a Nice two bedroom cottage with attached kitchen and a balcony for just Rs.1000/-, which was a very good deal. The cottage was good enough to house 5-6 people easily. Dumped the Luggage, freshened and decided to take the cochin route to visit Attukad waterfalls and Pothamedu View point. First it was Pothamedu view Point ,which gives a spectacular view of the valley. Attukad waterfalls is worth watching, for which one can take the route through the tea estates for about 3 kms. Rode through some superb stretches through twisting roads amid Tea plantations. We had get back to the cottage as our friend was about to reach Munnar town. The fog was getting thicker by now and on the way back, we could get see that the Pothamedu view point completely engulfed by fog. After long hours of useless talks, we decided to call it a day, planning for the next day to visit Top Station and Echo Point and head back to Bangalore.

Day 3
Munnar-Marayoor-Chinar W.L.S-Udmalpet-Dharapuram-Kangeyam-Perundurai-Shankari-Salem-Dharmapuri-Krishnagiri-Hosur-Bangalore







The day began at around 7 when the room boy knocked to ask if he could get us coffee or tea. Ordered tea to kick start the day. We knew it would be a long one for we had to cover almost 550-575 kms for the day. Got Ready and Left for Echo point and Top station. The Indo –Swiss diary didn’t attract me enough to give a visit. As we left Chinar W.L.S the sun was shining bright(rather hot) on our heads. It was then that we realized that we made a mistake of choosing the route to ride in the hot sun. With no options left we stuck to our plans. This route drains the energy level in the body. Added to this , all thanks to unending number of vehicles returning from Shabarimala and some political rally increased the traffic by three folds. Reached Bangalore  by 11.