Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Malnad inviting as always ..........


Not even a month from coming back from this place, somewhere in the back of my mind, there was this feeling that I have missed out the previous time. So chalked out an itenary to revisit this place before monsoon bids good bye for the year .The “this” here refers to “KODACHADRI”, one of the most beautiful places that the western ghats has in store. Saddled up by the day break of 6.11.2011 and head straight to Mathikere to pick my fellow travelers, Anjan and Kishore (both of them have not ridden any distance even close to plan, in fact Anjan had never even ridden a bike)



Yours truly .....

So Anjan and myself, on the ZMA and Kishore on the P150 were in a hurry to escape the bondages of the city life. Every mile post in the rear view mirror is always a sort of satisfaction, rather an achievement in my books. Addiction to such deeds can pull a lot of attention in the family circle(not my parents though), few even tell “why don’t you take a train or a bus or a cab if you want to travel, its much safer”.  With a shrug off the shoulder, I say to myself   “a ship is safer in the harbor, but that’s not why it is built for”. With all those comments doing rounds in my mind, brings up a smile and a sense of responsibility as well.

The day started at half past four on a cold winter morning of November. Went straight to the meeting point in Mathikere only to see my buddies chatting with the night beat cops who were interested to know what on earth were two guys were up to at that time on a Sunday morning looking like left over’s  from an alien ship. Seeing this I was guaranteed that we were not going to have an early start. Surprisingly, the cops didn’t bother us much but even wished us to have a safe ride. Took the elevated highway for Tumkur, and in about an hours time was on NH206. With a break in between we reached Arasikere for breakfast, where few of our college mates were waiting for us. Few plates of the dishes who names were mentioned on the old school “Tiffan Room” better known as …. Few stories flew here and there and the needle in the clock was moving way too faster than the speedo till the stop. Had almost wasted an hour or even more here.  Rode through potholed roads till Shimoga telling “Mera Bharath Mahaan” considering the state of tarmac. Had an early stop for lunch, considering the doubtful availability of anything edible further on.
 Shortly after crossing Rippopet, a small group of people signaled us to slow down. On enquiring they pointed to the road ahead where a small spectacled cobra. 

I felt pity for the reptile, these people had surrounded as if Shane Warne was bowling to a tail ender and all the fielders were on the batsman’s lap and shoulder. One good thing was that they did not cause any harm to the snake and also alerted the vehicles coming in either direction. After few us telling that its “common sense” to leave some space for it to escape into the forest. But the dam snake didn’t move an inch even after a bus passed by in close proximity. So we decided to move away from the snake, at least to a point where it’s comfortable to escape.
Soon after crossing Hosanagara, we entered a small village (which probably didn’t have a destination board also) Kishore was leading, since the roads were bad and I was with a pillion. At one point, from a house came an OX which looked hyper excited (don’t know the reason why) and kicked the headlight of the Pulsar, shattering the fibre and the bulb. Had it missed the headlight , it would have gone ahead to kick Kishore on the chest or would have knocked the head off his shoulders. Since we were doing 20 – 30 something speeds, luckily he did not have a fall and was able to control the impact. Now began the search for the headlight cover. On enquiring with the local mech’s the nearest possible places where could get one were either Sagar or Thirthalli, which were definitely not close by. So tentatively only the bulb was replaced and the fibre was taped joining all the shattered pieces together. Post this incident, the headlight looked like a jigsaw puzzle.

We reached Sampekatte, where we had booked accommodation around 3PM. After a sip of pure filter coffee, the tired body came back to life. 

Later we rode around the town and settled at a place where we thought we can witness the sunset. All this time was telling stories how we concluded “Raid de West” Ride in the region of the Western Ghats. Found a nice place by the canal, where we spent the whole evening. We hardly spoke anything, interestingly even Anjan, who can give any radio station a run for their money when it comes to blabbering all day long.
Came back to the place where we stayed for authentic Malnad food and crashed for the day.

DAY 2:
With still the sound of crickets making that chirpy sound, the lazy city bred “we” struggled to crawl out of the bed. Interestingly all of us were up even before the alarm rang. Within few minutes we had get ready and wait for Lokesh, the Jeep driver to take us up the mountain to witness the sunrise. The almost boiling water had almost no impact on the almost frozen bodies. Then came the “Kashaya” to give us some relief to the shivering cold. Then comes the MM540, the desi “Hilux”, which was getting bigger and noisier as it approaches our place. We start the climb at 5 or so. The initial climb was pretty smooth, but was still the two sets of wheels which were deep sleep back at the homestay. Slowly we were able to see the sky getting a bit brighter when the roller coaster drive was underway. The drive came for a halt on one of the mountains which Lokesh told was the best place to witness the sunrise. We wanted to have a better look, so trekked to the edge of the cliff. Every minute passing, the eagerness was setting in , wondering if fog or clouds could play spoilsport. Not making us wait for long. The guy with the utmost importance in the Solar System raised heads slowly and steadily. This moment made one of the best sunrise moments in my diary. 

After few pics we proceeded ahead to “Bhatru Mane”, the only place where you get something to please our tummies. After few cups of tea and biscuits, the climb to Shankargiri(the place where supposedly Shankaracharya performed penance) and  Ganapathi guhe( a cave dedicated to Lord Ganapathi) started and that is when I realized how lazy had I become off late.During the initial climb the breathing was like the exhaust note of the new CL 350 but on going ahead it was like the 70s and 80s RE.  

We saw people who were almost fainting midway.  After few stops for pics we reached the Top where already a group had pitched a tent the previous night or early in the morning. Spent some time and went in for the descent, which by now looked very easy, considering the early morning workout. Reached Sampekatte around half past ten ,where breakfast was calling with both hands stretched. With inputs upto the brim, went in for the the ferry to the Sagar Side and Again to Sigandur for a superfast visit to the temple out there. On reaching the pick up point, flash back of the previous ride here kept crossing my mind a few hundred thousand times. Contrary to previous visit, the place now was bright and shiny. With the ferry still in sight on the other bank, few people got their bikes straight into the water for a quick wash.

 By the time we had completed a brief photo session, the whistle from the ferry echoed in the surrounding. After disembarking the first ferry, proceeded ahead for Arasinamakki and Holebaagilu to catch the second ferry for Sigandur. The sight there was like the United Nations was providing free food and supplies to some disaster hit region of a third world country. People were arguing their as if they have booked their place in the ferry online and were denied now. Chaos prevailed everywhere. By the time we reached the spot where the vehicles would be loaded the first ferry had just left. This meant an hour to wait till the next ferry comes and then the bigger vehicles are put inside. When we finally reached the temple, the temple was closed and would open only by 3.30 which meant another hour of waiting. Time was becoming more precious by now since we had planned to go to Sagar to get the headlight issue fixed and also a ultra fast visit to Anjan’s family home in Sagar for some “chai – Paani”. By the time all the drama at his place completed it was around 7, which meant a decrease in the possibility of availability of spares. Finally found a shop which had the spare, and a mech who was willing to extend his time of work for the day. Reaching Sampekatte before 10 was out of question. Since we had to take a route which was twice as longer as the one we took in the morning, since the unavailability of the ferry after dark. And passing through Hosanagara and Nagara meant we had to do bad roads in the dark, with not even a single soul for help for kilometers together.  My only wish then was not to have breakdown of either of the bikes. Surprisingly, the Sagar-Hosanagar route was way better than the Shimoga Hosanagar route which we had done the previous day, even in the dark.  After break in between we reached the home stay around 11PM and hit the bed straight away without even changing the clothes

Like every good things in life needs to come to an end, or atleast a halt, this was the last day of the ride. The host of the homestay comes over to let us know that the breakfast was ready. With the tiredness of the previous day still having an effect, we tell him that we will be there in few minutes. He started enquiring about how was yesterday and if we faced any problems on the way back. With a negative reply to his question, we start sipping on the coffee served by the lady of the house. He goes on to say that he was worried if we were struck mid way due to elephant intrusion into Hosanagara town limits which was aired by the news channel all night long. The drowsiness just flew out of the body as soon as he told that and felt ourselves to be very lucky that we didn’t encounter anything of that sort.  There was high possibility that we could have been in deep trouble had we even saw the pachyderm on the way. The only human sighting we had the previous night was around Hosanagara and Nagara towns, which meant even lesser possibility of help in case of an attack.
With tummies filled till the brim, we bid good bye to the usually calm town of Sampekatte, towards Thirthalli. The roads till about 15-20kms from Thirthalli was something close to being told “very bad”. The road was as if it was made from clay and the rains had washed away everything on that. Passing through the craters with a pillion was nothing less than back breaking. A big relief came when roads started getting  smoother than butter. Rode non-stop till Kadur where we stopped for lunch. 

With a break on the Arasikere – Channarayapatna stretch reached Bangalore by half past seven.