Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012 - The Welcome Ride

Everybody has their own way to celebrate the new year, So had one for me. VALPARAI had been on my mind for such a long time, but somehow things would not fit into place whenever I "almost" rode there.

The day before the ride 

So Location and Date decided, wanted to make it Solo, since it was ages since i rode alone. So saddled up for the first light of Dec 30th for Coimbatore where I would halt for a day for the New Year and finish up few pending jobs in the city and then head to VALPARAI and return to Bangalore via Wayanad (if possible via Madkeri).

The onward journey was peaceful since I left Bangalore by around 4AM. Few people were already in the new year mood on Mysore road with people playing loud music and dancing by the highway :b: With minimal breaks reached Teppakadu Junction in less than 4 hours. It was feeding time for the pachyderms in the elephant camp adjacent to the junction. Reached there for a butt break.

Few pics of the Elephant Camp and the road ahead:

I used to laugh at Ads which show that a person can get super human powers after eating "Chawanprash" From now on, will stay quiet after seeing this 

Other attendees at the camp 

From Bison Valley View Point 

Twisties anyone ....... here I Come 

Fluke Fotography

On reaching Ooty , it started to drizzle which added to the shiver. Stopped for a boiling cup of Tea to making some effect on the body, It did but not for long. Once on reaching  Coonoor, the rains intensified and fog engulfed everywhere and visibility reduced to mere meters. To make matters worsen landslides accompanied by accidents due to poor visiblity brought the entire ghat section to a standstill for some time. After a fighting a Battle of Plassey to reach Metupalayam brought some sign of relief. The journey from Metupalayam to Coimbatore was even worse. The roads have been ripped apart in the name of widening, which meant causing more delay.Finally reach Coimbatore around 2PM. 250kms(Bangalore-Mudumalai/Teppakadu) in less than 4 hours and 140 kms(Mudumalai-Masinagudi-Ooty-Metupalayam-Coimbatore) in 7 hours (which included more breaks to fight the rain and few photo breaks).

Left from Coimbatore for Valparai on (considerably) cold morning. Road Rash and NFS combined had already started on the Coimbatore-Pollachi road. The first stop for the day was at Aliyar Dam. My personal opinion is that anybody passing through this place towards Valparai, Its not worth the time spent to buy the tickets and walking up to the dam, you can have a better view of the dam from the ghats.

Around the Dam

My ghee Roast being prepared 

Read about the "YOUNGEST RIDER AWARD" , I turn my head and I see this 

Panorama Pic of Aliyar Dam from the ghats

Had a ghee roast which was as wide as a daily news paper :b: Now Reached Anaimalai Info Center before Valparai and returned down for round TWO to enjoy the ghats down hill. The initial plan was to halt at Valparai or Chalakudy for the night and start for Wayanad the next morning.

Few Pics atop Valparai

Backwaters of Sholayar Dam 

My quest for some nice pics of Bisons was a failure(sadly). Since Valparai was over quickly started for Chalakudy. After a few stops( courtesy : Sholayar backwaters, too scenic to resist) reached Malakkappara checkpost on the Kerala Border.

At Malakkappara Check Post 

After few fomalities at the check post , was allowed. Now comes the interesting part of the ride towards Athirapally Falls. The roads to Athirapally from the KL checkpost are by far one of the creepiest forest roads that I have ridden solo. the only sounds that you can hear is of the stream flowing or crickets yelling their vocal chords out, occasionally a snake crossing the road. Sometimes there are broken roads but at most places there arent that can be even closely called a "ROAD". Almost 30kms into the forest not a single vehicle has gone passed me or have anything come in front of me. I start doubting myself, but every memory cell in my brain telling me that there wasn't any other deviation that i might have crossed. Few minutes later i lift my head after by God's grace a decent enough patch of road arrived, but my brain stopped working. And the reason for it : An old man, in long beard and shabby clothes most likely in his 70s or 80s walking all alone with only a stick in his hand in such dense forest. I am dam sure had he made up his mind to launch an attack, it wouldn't have taken him a while. Had my eyes on him till he was out of my sight. After 60kms or so from the previous check post I reach the other end of the check post where there is faint human activity happening. Not far from there is Athirapally Falls, and from there Isle Of Man TT , KL version opens up. Beautiful piece of tarmac all the way till NH47 to Thrissur. BY now the plan for the stay had shifted towards Nilambur/Manjeri but had to settle down at Angadipuram.

Forest Roads after the old man incident 

Before Athirapally

Athirapally falls at a distance

Ghats of Wayanad

A closer look 

Will not take much time to see the other side of the board soon

Pachyderms few meters from the checkpost

At Channapatna, the city of Toys

The last day started much earlier than I intended to, all thanks to "ultra loud" private bus horns outside the room. The weather was just about perfect to head out towards Wayanad. The ghats are being laid superbly(don't know weather it will withstand the Kerala Monsoons though) Reached Kalpetta around 11. After a relaxed 7 hours of riding in the mid day sun reach home by 6.30.

Route Taken : Bangalore - Mysore - Ooty - Coimbatore - Pollachi - Valparai - Athirapally - Chalakudy - Thrissur - Shoranur - Manjeri - Thamarasherry - Kalpetta -Sultan Bathery - Gundlupet - Mysore - Bangalore