Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Ooty-25 Ride

Route Taken: Bangalore-Kanakapura-Kollagal-BR Hills-K.Gudi-ChamarajNagar-Satyamangalam-Coimbatore-Kothagiri-ooty-Masinagudi-Begur-Kabini-HD KOte-Mysore-Bangalore
Love for this place, Nilgiris started over a decade back. After the initial bus trips, it was to take the road all by yourself. These were the days when Mysore was still two lanes and considerably less traffic, except for the notorious sand laden lorries coming from the river beds. The roads then were filled with Ragi and Rice. Miss those tiny shacks which has now made way to McDs, KFC's and CCD's and Empire. Post Mysore was like riding into the unknown. Mysore-Gundlupet route was a Dangerous stretch for motorists back then(Its a different story that it has changed a lot now). "Luckily" there wasn't much pressure from my parents with my riding. Then comes Santosh's Pulsar from the first lot. Whenever he is out of town, it was left under my care. Thus began the journey on two wheels to Ooty. 

Those were the days when the telephone booths were the only means of calling back home to let them know that I am safe. Mobiles phones and GPS were a light years ahead technology for a college going student. One phone call to home, and Mom giving gyan over an STD call would almost cost a liter of fuel :P The initial trips used to be very scary just by the sight of an elephant way ahead, also was not very sure of taking the Masinagudi route. The first time i dared to take the hair pins alone was on a TVS Victor. I still feel pity for draining everything out of the poor thing to take the climb. This ride increased the confidence by leaps and bounds on solo riding. Then came home the Pulsar 150 UG3. After some rides to Nandi and nearby places, Head straight to Ooty. Later this became a regular route for going south, like to Munnar/Valparai/Kodai etc etc. 

Initially Ooty meant only Charring Cross or at the most Coonoor. Didnt have the confidence or the money to experience the inner stretches. As the days went by, the distance of each ride took an upward Curve and a lot many places were added. Elephants dont scare me as much as it used to, earlier. Till date had numerous rides to Ooty and Every single ride has been special in its own way be it being chased by wild elephants, or spending a night at a shack because of the timing restrictions, during chilling winter or spending hours sitting alone at bison valley writing my college assignments. My Tamil has picked up a lot, interacting with localites on these rides. Its a sad thing that many tourists have spoilt the sanctity of the place, Its more or less become a nuisance especially over the past 3-4 years. As a result of which access to many beautiful areas have been restricted. Still a lot of places to see off the tourist list, exc ited to take those roads soon again. 

More than the love for the place, the "ride" to the place is what i have loved over the years

Nothing much to write about, will let the pics do the talking.

Atop B.R.Hills 

Enroute Kodanad View Point 

Happy faces at Doddabetta

Enroute Avalanche 

We rode together after almost a year

One of the most photogenic machines, off late  

Backwaters of Emerald lake 

Kabini Dam 

Nugu Dam

Deepak's idea to celebrate the 25th ride to Ooty

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Castrol Power bikers ride

Castrol Power Bikers, the name, as understood(rather misunderstood) by the many refers to Racing or stunting. But on the contrary it was about riding to any destination of one’s choice. Being one of the 9 bikers selected through the contest was a very good feeling. An excellent initiation by Castrol Biking to encourage those who are passionate about Biking, more so with touring. Slowly but steadily, moto-touring is gaining prominence for good.

The Preparation: 
When you plan a big ride of considerable number of kilometers, a lot of things have to be planned and prepared to have a safe and incident free ride. The priority being the machine first and then the person himself. A routine check of cables, tires, engine oil, electrical or any other minor niggles which can prove costly midway through the ride were attended.

The electricals given a thorough check 

Air Filer Changed 

Few electronics to accompany the ride .....

The luggage packed..... all set to go ......

Three routes kept flashing my mind time and again , The Leh circuit, Northeast and the West(including Rajastan and Gujrat). Was almost confirmed for Northeast, till the news of floods there were aired on Television. Access to most routes were denied in fear of being washed away. Then it was a contest between the West and Leh. Mom asks “why do you want to see a barren land??? go to Leh/Himachal instead”. Leh was anyways on the cards, sooner or later, so chose not so conventional West route. The main reason for choosing the latter was to set eyes on the pristine sand dunes of Jaisalmer and the White Desert of Rann of Kutch.

The day before the ride, I visit my aunt’s place and tell her that I was going to Rajastan the next morning. First question : “How many days does it take to go to Rajastan? “ My reply : “If there aren’t any delays , should reach there in close to three days“. She wish me a safe Journey and then came the million dollar question “What time is your train ???” My cousin and myself burst out laughing. Then clearly explained her the motto behind the ride, then with some gyan and a hot cup of coffee she wished me luck.

Day1 : Bangalore-Tumkur-Chitradurga-Hubli-Belgaum-Kolhapur-Satara.
The alarm rings at 3.15 AM, the first sound which marked the beginning of a journey which would be my longest till date. Quickly finish the morning duties and was all set to be on the road by 4. Wished Mom and Dad goodbye and head towards Yeshwanthpur to connect to the ever boring NH4. First stop for the day was somewhere past Sira. Stopped at a so-called “Bakery” which still served the pre independence era buns and other bakery stuff, but thankfully the tea was freshly made.
The journey begins 

A cup of tea, and a brief stop for some photos proceed towards Hubli/Dharwad for a long break and an early lunch. First mistake of the day: filled fuel station at Haveri, which seemed a new and well maintained . Tanked up only to realize later that it was highly adultrated. The engine starts knocking like hell. Check the spark plugs, which were fine. Given no other option had to empty the tank to fill up some good quality fuel. Shorter distance, need to burn fuel, no other option than to open the throttle completely. 

At a food place found this                 

               The Dry NH4 for sometime, Near Nippani                                 

Thankfully it was was raining post Dharwad, which brought down the temperature drastically. Some distance post Sankeshwar, a fully grown peacock flies across the Six lane highway and and lands on flat grass for its famous full flexed dance, which in rural India marks the arrival of Monsoons(or rather for whole different purpose :P). For a city dweller, its just an amazing sight u just can’t resist to watch
                       At Tavandi(so-called Ghat), Ashok Leyland testing its LHD buses

Reach Satara by evening for some highway Vada-Pav, national snack for any time of the day in MH :)

Day 2: Kaas Platue-Mahabaleshwar-Wai-Shindewadi-Khed-Lavasa-Dehu Road-Chakan-Malshej-Chasole
The day started, with the bike drenched the whole night, but I was not complaining. First place on the itenary was Kaas Platue. Looked like I was over expecting the flowers to bloom soon after the first rains. Took around 45 min to reach Kaas, forget the flowers, couldn’t even see the road properly because of the fog and rain, so much that missed the sign board(If at all it was there) to Mahabaleshwar,  had to take the same road to Satara and then to Mahabaleshwar. Found this wonderful spot near Kanher dam( If I remember correctly).

It was drizzling with intermediate breaks in between. Loneliness was best experienced.  Once I leave from there to start the climb, it starts pouring and the visibility comes to its all time low. Took a break at Hotel Shreyas for some heavy breakfast, wasn’t sure when the lunch will be served. Entered the restraunt with a dripping jacket and request the manager if he could arrange a separate table so that I don’t spoil their dining space, but he was like “Its alright Sir, You are more important more than the tables and chairs” clean bowled on the first ball. Saw a board that read breakfast buffet Rs.120/- and the menu that comes along. For a person who hogs a double unlimited meals for breakfast, what more does he need. Unfortunately that was only on weekends, so settle for a Dosa for now. The journey towards Pune start thereafter. Rain gods show some mercy post Mahabs.

From Harrison's Folley, Panchgani 

The cops stop me at Khed, some distance after the toll. Check the documents “thoroughly” and tell their Sahib that this guy has gone mad(in Marathi, this much Marathi I can understand). Reach Chakan and ask a rickshaw wala, during a butt break for  directions to Malshej, the way he told, every single turn, the distance between each village, rivers bridges etc etc , oh my god , he put any GPS to shame.

Somewhere post Narayangaon

Finally reach Pimpalgaon Dam, the dam was only a fiction for that moment , couldn’t see ten steps ahead of me. Started a conversation with one of the guys at the shack selling corn, to kill some time as well as shelter from rain. Found a very basic accommodation, thanks to the corn seller. Dump the luggage and try some roads off NH222.

A localite suggested Chasole, which had a temple. Coming back was the highlight of the story, the place becomes dark, dense fog coupled with rain, could not see the road, just kept getting closer to some light I saw far away, hoping it to be the highway. In the process, trespassed into some farm mistaking it to be a road. Fun it was ultimately.

Finally after may be hour or so reach the highway and stop at a shack which served some yummy dish, which had very close resemblance to Poha, but not Poha.

Day 3 : Malshej-Otur-Bramhanwada-Kotul-Akola-Sinnar-Nashik-Saputara-Vansda-Unai

Was looking forward to an awesome day up ahead. Proceeded till Otur for some Poori Bhaji to tank up a growling stomach. Turn left from Otur, it was like getting into the heart of rural India.

Before Otur

People already up in the fields, sowing seeds and other farming related activities. I couldn’t resist myself from just stopping at a place where a group of kids were singing a song while their parents were working in the field. Proceed towards Bramhanwada. Rains had eased in this part of the route. Hardly anyone frequented this route even though it was named a state highway. Just the kind of roads I love.

Fender Art

 MH gift for today :) BTW the shoe is black :P

Post Akola , it becomes even better, with trees forming canopies by the side of the road. Mad rush begins from Sinnar towards Nashik. Stop at a roadside dhabha 40-50kms from Saputara for lunch. The road starts getting better in terms of slush, speeding buses spraying water on you. Reach Saputara and started searching for a decent place to stay.

Hello Gujrat :)

After searching around 12-15 hotels, came to know that, you are very unlikely to give a guy who is travelling alone, accommodation. Was a “What the hell” kind of situation, you can elope with an underage guy/gal, they are happy to give you cottages(even discounts on top of it). But for a person who is single(read alone), they don’t. Got seriously annoyed with Mr.Amitabh Bachan, he did not give a hint about this while promoting Gujarat Tourism. This was how my first step into Gujarat in twenty seven years went through. So proceed towards Vansda hoping to find a roof above my head for the night. Meantime I just checked the elevation, for a hill station it measured 1010 mtrs ASL. I almost start fainting, because my house itself is around 925m ASL. So that meant I should be collecting entry fees from people entering my area.

Few pics from Saputara

Caught in the act

Wish i had a home there

Roads, fantastic throughout.

 The only place recommended in the whole of Vansda(atleast from the options that I saw) is the forest cottages near Waghai(before Vansda, if you are coming from Saputara) checkpost. When enquired the forest official said it would cost Rs.500/- per day, but was unavailable for the day. Really loved the place. They also arrange camps by the riverside. For people who are light on budget, wanted to experience something different, then This is the place. People who fight for an AC room in a hill station, please stay away from it. The guy at the fuel station suggest me to stay at Unai, about 10kms from Vansda, where the chances of getting accommodation was higher. Thanksfully found a beautiful temple, after which the small town was famous. After a free meal at the temple, call it a day.

Day 4 : Unai-Buhari-Bajipura-Madhi-Kevdi-Dediapada-Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary-Rajpipla-Bodeli-Halol-Kalol-Godhra-Lunawada-Modasa-Ratanpur-Udaipur.

Temples bells were the the alarm for the morning. Freshen up for a small visit to the temple(more importantly for the prasad).

Unai Mata                                                                            

A route check with a truck driver, proceed towards Rajpipla and then entering Rajastan. How much I praise the quality of roads in Gujarat, it’s not sufficient. Fell in love with it. At a small shack somewhere post Madhi stop for some light breakfast. Early morning showers, with some Samosa and tea, ah made my day. Knew it was a long day ahead.

Road towards Kevdi

Saw a small lane on my right which looked beautiful, took that road to Kevdi, a small town and then to Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. Sadly no animal spotting took place, or rather didn’t waste time in searching for them. Connect back to Rajpipla. The fun began to deteriorate as the numbers on the signboards started decreasing towards Halol. The sun was furiously shining on my head. Stop at a place called Hotel Delight, some distance before Godhra, for a very late lunch.

From here the curvy roads started defining the word “straight line”. It looked like people who built this road, earlier specialized in building mortuaries. Some distance before Modasa Riding on these roads can put your granny’s lullabies to shame, for making you doze off. Want proof??? take this

Roads which redefine the word: Straight 

Some distance before Modasa Crossed the Tropic of Cancer. 

At Ratanpur,Rajastan

After nearly 14-15 hours of being on the road, finally reach Udaipur for the night. Checked in at the first hotel visible. What a day it was , nearly 575kms though the forests,villages and highways.

Day 4 : Around Udaipur
Today was a relaxed day, not much riding but only to restore the calories which I had lost in the last few days. Wanted to go around Udaipur, initially felt like the city was 1-1 clone of Mysore, people leading a relaxed life, no hurry for anything. Wanted to see Fatehsagar Lake, the famous Udaipur palace, Bharatiya Lok Kala Mueseum and the local market. First visit was to Bharatiya Lok kala Mueseum, the apathy of the Govt towards this place was quiet evident. Handicrafts and other memorabilia exchanges from places as far as Brazil and Mexico were displayed. Loved the puppet show that had little audience.

After a while shifted the location to Fatehsagar Lake. Stopped at a shack opposite to the lake where I had lassi the previous night. Had some fluids to keep myself hydrated. Right next to the shack was Maharana Pratap Memorial. Later head towards Sukhadia Circle(which was like the thindi Beedhi in Bangalore), but more organized place to have some awesome street food. A must try for anybody travelling to Udaipur and loves food.

Fatehsagar lake 

Maharana Pratap Memorial

 U saying something buddy

Food Joints Around Sukhadia Circle

After the tummy full enter the Palace premises. Have no words to describe the place and how it was maintained. After about two hours of going through an era of royalty, it was time for the daily security drill of the palace guards.

Anybody game for this Silver helmet????

Pichola Lake Palace 

Venue for a Royal Wedding

Day6: Udaipur-Gogunda-Jaswanthgarh-Sayra-Ranakpur-Sadri-Bali-Falna-Sanderao-Pali-Bulletbaba-Rohat Jodhpur 

It was a bye bye kind of situation to Udaipur, enjoyed every minute of my stay here. Slowly creep out of Udaipur and hit the highway(NH27) towards Gogunda. Stop at a toll gate soon after Gogunda I get to meet two bikers from Mumbai who were on the way to Jaisalmer and Leh.

My Temporary home in Udaipur 

One needs to take an abrupt right turn(read no sign boards and gap in the median is around 4-5 kms ahead) and not many people to confirm as well. Once you take the right, you can feel that you have taken a wrong route for sure, the road is one third the highway and passes through small villages inching closer to Ranakpur. It starts pouring and roads keeps getting narrower as the miles go by. The small villages start disappearing and lush greenery fills the area.

After some distance spotted a wild buffalo carcass on the road. Initially assume it to be hit by a bus or a lorry, but on closer inspection, it revealed a different story. The legs were ripped off and marks of claws were present, which makes the statement evident that it was a wild animal meal. Not sure as to which animal had its meal or what is the dominant predator there, any experts here can pour in their inputs.

Reach Ranakpur to visit the temples, reach the first temple, which was being renovated. The area was raining cats and dogs. Visit the first of the five temples, and then the rest.

TIP for Anybody going to Ranakpur: Photographs can be taken only after 12 Noon, so plan accordingly. http://www.indiatourisminfo.net/rajasthan/temples-in-rajasthan/ranakpur-jain-temples.php . However this restriction is only to the main temple and not to Parasnath, Neminath and Surya temples

 Sadly miss the diversion towards Kumbalgarh and proceed towards Sadri. Roads were horrible, added to it was relentless rains. In one way getting completely drencehed in the rain provided some much needed relief from the afternoon heat post Sanderao. Truck traffic increases exponentially after Sanderao. In order to go to Jodhpur, one need not enter Pali, there is an outer road before the city where if you take left, it will lead to NH 65 and eventually Jodhpur.

The Name says it all ......

Bullet Baba at Pali(Rajastan)

Om Banna

Stop at Bullet Baba, where the age old Royal Enfield is being worshipped as a deity. But contrary to belief, there was no liquor being offered at the temple. http://www.bykez.com/2012/04/bullet-baba-of-jodhpur-india/ . Reach Jodhpur by evening. Find a nice accommodation near the clock Tower .

Around Ghantagarh, the colour of the dial changes every second

Kesar Lassi 

All this for 600 bucks, Total Paisa vasool 

Day7 : Mehereangarh Fort and Jodhpur-Balesar-Pokaran-Chandan-Jaisalmer

Good Morning Jodhpur:)

View from my guest house terrace

Wake up late, after having a truck load of street food the last night. Freshen up and leave for the mammoth Meherangarh Fort which is like a 10-15min walk from my guest house. The Fort has an elevator to reach to the top from where one can get a beautiful view of the “Blue City”. Here again was happy that such a structure is so well maintained. The fort so huge that my legs started aching walking through the never ending corridors of the fort. 

                                         A loner in the pond in front of the fort

History built brick by brick, Meherangarh Fort

An old man whose head was almost touching the ground 

One tourist, unintentionally clears his throat and our old man gets back to his position(read pose for tourists)

Outside the Turban Hall, localites teaching how to tie a turban 

 Inside the palace museum

Sheesha Mahal

Armours, this is what interested me. the knowledge they had in making these amazes me.

 Looks like any body not paying their electricity bills will have a present from this guy :p

 Making up for the absence :)

 Corridors of Meherangarh

Find a place to rest and have something to eat. Next to me sits a Sardarji panting after a walk through the fort. An old man (probably in his Sixties) walks up with a can of water asking if we wanted some. After we were done, the sardarji asks the old man how much did it cost for the water. The reply from the old man shook me for a second “Sirjee aap ki yahaan se(read Punjab) itna paani deh the ho, unka kabhi hizaab rakhte hon kya, ek glass paani mein ka jaata hein. Aap khush ho toh hum bhi khush “. Seriously the ethical nature of the people of older generation like him is almost non-existent in the present generation. Really felt happy and proud of this man. People like this are the ones who promote a place, not those film stars who do for money and don’t even know what is the capital of the state whose tourism they are promoting.

Effect of Modernization  

One of the many artists who perform inside the fort premises

Jaswanth Thada

 Meherangarh as seen from Jaswanth Thada

Lunch Time 
India's Largest Desert turns into a watersplash location:) 

 Reach Pokran by 5, still no relief from rain. Passing through a small village see a peacock, the longest I have seen till date, may be 8-8.5ft in length fly low across the road. Stopped the bike and ran behind it and waited for some time for it to open the feather and dance. Reluactantly it sits on a tree, and another peacock joins it. On closer look there were around 9-10 peacocks out in the open.

One more Joins the party.All of them were big,fully grown males. had there been a female around, all the males would be in a police station :p

Found this masterpiece signboard alongway. 

Reach Jaisalmer around 7. The temperature was around 40deg for the day(courtesy the Local news Channel), that’s when I told myself “Welcome to Rajastan”

Day 8 : Around Jaisalmer
My place of stay was right opposite to the fort, so thought will give it a visit. The first glimpse of the fort will make anybody feel that, it’s the most disgustingly maintained historical site in Rajastan. Main reason for it is the number of people residing “inside” the fort. Mainly the fort gives residence to the Brahmins(who used to do the religious duties) and soldiers (who used to save the fort and residents from foreign intrusion). The architecture of the fort amazes anybody who visits it. The stones structures are assembled as in a jigsaw puzzle to build the fort at most places.Moreover the usage of cement/mortar is very minimal/ absent.

View from my room

Khanphewsion, Khanphewsion Couldnt idenify my hotel which was somewhere right in front :p all thanks to the cloning architecture

Few pics from the fort

The Queen's part of the Fort: look at the intricate ventilation in the walls

 The main lanes of the fort :p

 Jain Temples with some brilliant sculptures

 Patwa ki Haveli

 The Mandir Palace turned Hotel

Gadisar Lake, which didnt look like a lake at all,rather like a pool :p 

One confusing part of Jaisalmer is that, be it a fort, havelis, palace, hotels, post office, bus stand or even pay and use toilets all share the same style of architecture and the same color of stone. The specialty of this sandstone is that, when sunlight falls, it gives a shade of glittering gold, and hence the city is called “Suvarna Nagari or the Golden City”. The afternoon heat was offered without any mercy.
Came back to the hotel for some filling lunch and leave for Sam Dunes, for my first visit to the dunes in my life. On reaching there was initially as struck by the beauty of this place. Was there very early for the sunset. Took the camel ride for about an hour, before we found a nice place to witness sunset. The camel was like taking an evening stroll, as if I was taking it for a walk and not the other way round. Sunset was not so beautiful as expected.


While returning met Sanjeev Somnath who was doing a Rajastan circuit as well. We find accommodation  at a desert camp in Sam. There were some cultural programs held to woo the people around. Feeling very bored, both of us sneak out to experience the dunes on two wheels. How we did it is a story for another day. After about a hour and a half or so, we get back to the cottage for some much needed rest for the day

Day 9 : Sam Dunes-Dhanana-Jaisalmer-Barmer-Sanchor-Tharad

Plan was to start from Sam and go to Ramgarh and Tanot and then return to Jaisalmer to pick our baggage. On discussing with a localite, he told the closest point to the border is around 40kms from Sam. And have some good Sand dunes further ahead of Sam. So dropped Tanot and head towards Dhanana Check post. A big round of applause for Border Roads organization for their work done in maintaining the roads around here. As we keep going further and further the roads starts becoming better and better. The dunes start occupying the majority of the roads. After about 40-50 min, we reach Dhanana, a place with only one check post, a telecom tower and a small shelter for the soldiers.

The desert Camp where we stayed

 At Dhanana Checkpost 

 The Sand Dunes of Dhanana

 Sanjeev on a Photosession

 Narmada Canal, lifeline of Jaisalmer

 One of the 119 villages evacuated overnight, during a military operation some time back 

 This is how roads end in Dhanana:p

 Chat with some soldiers for some time and start for Jaisalmer. On the way back we found this wonderful pristine dunes, not very far from the road. Both of us were astonished by the sight of it, and Sam dunes were in no way comparable with these.On the way back Visit Kuldhara village which is now a archeological site. For more infohttp://www.filmapia.com/published/places/kuldhara-ruins 

Return to Jaisalmer and Sanjeev leaves to visit the fort and I start for Rann of Kutch.

The biggest mistake of my journey, take on NH15 when the sun is right on top of my head and on a tummy full of aloo parathas. It was “the” most boring stretches of road hands down. Not far away from Jaisalmer I stop under the shade of a tree for a power nap of 10 min, as I was almost yawning all my the way till there.
Reach Sanchor by 6 for a much needed long break. Traffic increases from Sanchor, mainly the trucks going towards Kadla Port. Reach Tharad, see around 30-40 Dhabhas on either side of the roads, it’s like a hangout place for these truckers. Wherever there are truckers there is information transfer :)  . Initially my plan was to go to Rann of Kutch from Lakadia side, But one of the truckers suggested to take the Kutch from Nadabet side. He explained that it would also reduce the distance and also easier access to Ahmedabad for my return journey to Mumbai.

Day 10 : Tharad-Nadabet(Rann of Kutch)-Tharad-Palanpur-Ahmedabad-Vadodara
Started from Tharad by 5.30AM towards Nadabet. Nadabet is around 60kms from Tharad. Was keeping my fingers crossed. Was hoping it to be dry, but many things doesn't happen to our wishes. It had rained heavily for the past few days, making the Rann of Kutch a slush pool.

After crossing the first Checkpost, try my hand in getting the bike on the Rann. The tyres started to sink in like it was on quick sand. Had very tough time just to take a U-turn and get back to the road. It took almost 45min just to come back to the road. Proceed towards Nadabet Temple which houses Goddess Nadeshwari Devi.

Temple at Nadabet

This area also houses a division of Intelligence bureau. The officials first check my ID proof (Driving license and Pan Card) and vehicle Documents. Then my phone was checked for call lists and Messages, followed by my camera. After gaining confidence, start a chat over the details of my ride. Tea, Snacks and some Prasad was offered. With a tight hug by the four officials, I was let go only after I accepted a request to drop an official till the last check post for civilians before the border.

Checkpost 2

 After spending some time with the rest of the soldiers at the checkpost. Was told that during summer, soldiers are not put on duty for Two/three days at a stretch. The shine from the salt would be so much that, it can cause temporary blindness.

Leave from there to Tharad to pick my baggage and leave for Ahmedabad or Vadodara for the day. Crossed the Tropic of Cancer again ahead of Ahmedabad before settling for Vadodara for the day.

Day 11: Vadodara-Bharuch-Surat-Vapi-Silvassa-Mumbai.

Last breakfast in Gujju land for the ride

 Confusion on the highway

 Nothing much to be told about the route, its straight, it’s beautiful on either side(not like NH4 and NH7), Its traffic infested as if there is free lunch for everybody and more importantly, there are N number of places for lassi and other Gujju speciality dishes. Probably for the first time I loved riding on Six lanes.

Some distance past Silvassa, during a butt break, met a fellow rider, Satyen Poojary who was riding back from Leh. Not seconds before we start a conversation, it starts to pour. We bid good bye to each other and leave towards Mumbai.

The father -Son Duo posing 

Saifu, you know what , i am not interested in your girl friend anymore


After 10 days home food was on the menu at Koushik’s place. The junior was confused(rather scared) looking at my attire.

Day 12: Around Mumbai

A Jungle inside a jungle, at Sanjay Gandhi National Park

A sort of rest day, got some stuff done on the bike and went to meet Mr.H.V.Kumar, the person referred by many as the Human Atlas of India. He was instrumental in planning for the ride. More so the ride after Mumbai. A very courteous human being, with a brain full of roads. One interesting incident:
Mr.Kumar introduces me to his wife saying “he is riding from Bangalore to Rajastan covering most parts of MH, GUJ. “
Mrs Kumar: with a smile, she replied “Tell me something new”.
With a giggle we proceed with our conversation. Kumar Sir, thank you for the time and suggestions for making this ride a very memorable one.
The Man and "The" Machine

Get back to my brother’s place as I had to start early the next morning.

Day 13: Mumbai-Panvel-Mangaon-Divegar-Srivardhan-Harihareshwar-Bhagamandala(ferry) Bankot-Kelshi-Anjarle-Harnai Beach-Dapoli-Dabhol(Ferry)-Dhopve Jetty-Tavasal(Ferry)-Jaigadh-Ganapatipule.

Leave the city of Mumbai by 6 and slowly creep out of the city towards Panvel. To my bad luck the traffic was chocking around Pen, all thanks to the truck that had broken down on one of the curves. Not sure of the Mandwa Ferry proceed towards Mangaon and for Diveagar and Shrivardhan. Was loving every inch of the ride from Mangaon, roads going as per their wish, merciless rains. Reach Harnai beach for a late lunch.

Before Diveagar

At Bhagamandala

Ferry No.1 for the day (Bhagamandala-Bankot) 

Why Should boys have all the fun :)

 Once you start climbing Bankot 

The climb from the exit of the ferry to the top has got magnificent views of the river merging into the sea.

 Before Harnai

The best past of this route is the aerial view of the beaches alongway. MSH4 Hugs the coastline, in literal sense

 At a view point atop Harnai

The ferry operates from 6AM to 9.30PM . However if it is post 9.30 ferry operates at some extra cost(This facility is available at the mercy of the ferry agents)

Sonia And Supriya at my service :D

 At Dhabol ferry point

 Dabhol has got a mini port operating

Then came the toughest part of the journey today. From Dabhol , the ride towards Thavasl to catch a ferry to Ganapatipule. The Scheduled last ferry for the Jaigadh Side was at 9.30 PM. Pitch dark roads , hardly anybody to ask for directions, very few villages passing by. At one of the place a village elder when asked for directions, came out of his house, took me to a point where i could see bright lights on top of a mountain. "keep getting closer to that light and you will reach the ferry point" He gave the directions to go, any screw-up i make, it was only myself to be blamed. To make matters worse, there were landslides at two locations where a huge rock had settled in the middle of the only to allow vehicle the size of a Nano to pass through. So my chances of getting help in case i need, is almost eliminated. The directions from the village elder was the only thing running on my mind, and made sure that those Lights from Jindal plant didnt go out of my sight for long. After almost an hour or may be even more reach Thavasal. A big sign of relief. Ganapatipule is still 20kms from Thavasal. During a  conversation with a Bolero driver about directions to Ganapatipule, he introduced me to another guy on a trax, which ferried fish to Ratnagiri. He agreed to lead me till a place where he would turn for Ratnagiri. The only word to describe the roads from Jaigad ferry point to some distance is "Nightmare" considering the time of the day. At one point, we confront a water crossing, where both me and the Trax driver were unable to see the other end, due to rain and darkness. He agrees to go ahead and I was supposed to follow his trail. After few meters, there was steady level of water, which instilled a bit of confidence and I start following the trail of the Trax. And suddenly the the Trax start going downwards. I could neither go back or stay in that water. Keeping the bike in High rpm's i proceed further. Just when i was about to exit the crossing, the ZMA stalls. The driver from the other vehicle who had agreed to wait till I crossed the puddle, came running to get out of the water. Reason for the Stalling, the water had busted my Spark plugs. Immedietly find a shady place from the rain to change the plugs. Thankfully water hadn't entered the air-filer or the carb. Thanking the driver for all the help i proceed towards Ganapatipule. Stop at the first place where I could find food and shelter and crash for the day. This day will be remembered for a very long time.

Day 14: Ratnagiri-Tarkarli-Sawanthwadi-Bhanda-Panjim-Margoa-Karwar-Ankola-Kumta

Alarms ring at 6AM and I loot out the window, its pouring. Freshen up have breakfast and coffee , its still pouring. Waited till 8.30 for the rains to relax a bit, but such a thing didn’t happen.

Outside my room at 8.30. Its not clear from this pic, but its pouring outside.

Somewhere around Ratnagiri :p

Overlooking Tarkarli (One of my Fav pics of the ride :) )

Given no options proceed towards Tarkarli via Ratnagiri and Mithgvne. Had fallen in love completely with MSH 4 by now.The roads from Banda to Panaji had been freshly laid and was traffic free. Thankfully was able to reach Santacruz to satisfy the growling stomach. Wasted no time in taking leave from Goa(reluctantly though) towards Canacona. Initially thought will stay at Karwar but the roads and not much rains changed the location to Honnavar or Kumta. As you cross Karwar, the sorry state of roads begins. After coming through MSH 4 and NH17 on the MH side, this was like a curse. Found a decent enough hotel right by the highway for some much needed rest. Struck a deal for Rs. 250/- and was super happy because the room was BIGG and neat. At some time around realized the reason for the low tariff. The room was right next to the railway track, in short, I was jacked.

Day 15: Kumta-Honnavar-Jogfalls-Sagar-Shimoga-Tarikere-Arasikere-Gubbi-Tumkur-Bangalore

This day was like Home run. No rain ride around here is completed without a visit to the Second highest waterfall in India, Jog Falls which was on the way. Waited for an hour or so for the fog to clear, but unfortunately I was disappointed .

Trucks on rails .The building adjacent to the track, visible, is my room. Hope one can imagine what a "sound" sleep I had last night 

 The "Best" view I could get of the Falls after waiting for an hour

 Around Sagar

Initial and Final Odo readings

Owing to return later some time, crawl out of this place.

After riding around 5800Kms over 15 days, the Man and machine reach home territory.

This had been an experience of a lifetime for me. Would like to thank everyone who helped me go through this, be it winning the contest or planning an itenary or infrastructural help. Without your time and willingness this would have never happened. Most importantly would like to thank Castrol Biking for this wonderful opportunity. Hope to have this co-operation with you going forward as well. Also hope that in the coming years, there would be more such events which bring out the true colors of motorcycling, be it in motorsports or touring. Thank you one and all again.