A Ride Through Wilderness: Bangalore to Periyanaickenpalayam (Day 1)

By September 19, 2014Motorcycle Rides
This post covers Day 1 of the 4-day ride. Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4 will be posted soon.

Some rides are planned months in advance, some weeks, and some happen just like that, out of nowhere. This was one of those out-of-the-blue rides for me, and it was an exciting one indeed.

Thankfully, the 4-day ride was planned meticulously by my fellow riders. I just had to follow their lead, twist my throttle, and enjoy the ride.

The ride turned out to be much better than I expected. Hills, valleys, forests, rivers, dams, flat landscapes, remote villages, bustling towns and some boring highways; we covered them all, plus more.

Number of Days: 4

Date: 26th to 29th, July 2014

Main Areas Covered: Gopalaswamy Betta, Ooty, Munnar, Vattavada, Athirapalli, Valparai, Anthiyur.

Riders Intro

Number of Riders: 5

Riders and Motorcycles:

  • Salman on Royal Enfield Classic 500
  • Balakrishna on Royal Enfield Classic 350
  • Pramod on Yamaha R15
  • Arun on Bajaj Pulsar 150
  • Martin on Honda CB Unicorn

Background

My friend Balakrishna had told me about the ride he’s going with his colleagues a few weeks before the start. It wasn’t until two days before the ride that he asked me whether I’d join him too. I asked him to forward me the ride itinerary.

There was a long weekend coming up (in working professional terms), and avoiding Ramadan at home is always a pleasure. Plus, I’d be coming back home to eat Biryani. It took me a day to make up my mind. That was it. That’s how I went on to participate in this memorable ride.

One funny detail was that I and Arun were already friends on Facebook (we’d met online in groups related to atheism, rationality and freethinking).

Martin, aka The Forest Rider, was the brains behind this entire operation; kudos to him for arranging such a wonderful ride and taking care of all the intricacies.

The theme of this ride was Forests & Wilderness.

Day 1

Route: Bangalore – Kanakapura – Malavalli – Kollegal – Yelandur – Chamrajnagar – Gundlupet – Gopalaswamy Betta – Bandipur Tiger Reserve – Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary – Masinagudi – Moyar Falls / River – Masinagudi – Kalhatty Falls – Ooty – Doddabetta – Kotagiri – Mettupalayam – Karamadai – Periyanaickenpalayam

Total Distance Covered: ~420km

Wilderness_Ride_Day_1_Map

Google Maps: http://goo.gl/0eqH8Y

We’d decided to meet in front of Bosch, Adugodi at 5 AM. I was the last to arrive. Everyone was eager to get started. We started our journey from there at around 5:15 AM and reached Kanakapura Road soon after.

From there on it was a pretty uneventful ride. We stopped at a Darshini (don’t remember its name) for breakfast; it’s a common stop for all riders passing through this road.

Once we’d filled our tummies, we throttled towards Malavalli.

Kollegal_Main_Road_Junction

Malavalli junction. The road pictured here leads to Maddur.

We stopped at the Kollegal Main Road junction for tea once we reached Malavalli.

Malavalli_Tea_Stall

Standard tea stop for all riders passing through this junction.

The initial plan was to ride through Mysore and Nanjangud to reach Chamrajnagar, but we changed plans after suggesting to Martin (our ride’s leader) that taking the Kollegal-Yelandur-Chamrajnagar route will be much more scenic and enjoyable, and faster too.

Martin_Arun_Pramod_Route_Discussion

Serious discussion under way. To go right or left?

To_Kollegal_from_Malavalli

We go left. Towards Kollegal.

It was a beautiful stretch indeed. I’d suggest you to always take this route if going towards Ooty from Bangalore.

Kollegal_to_Yelandur_Scenic_Road

Scenic surroundings. | Photo Credits: Arun

Kollegal_to_Yelandur_Piss_Stop

Everyone deserves a piss break. | Photo Credits: Arun

Kollegal_to_Yelandur_Beautiful_Roads

Great roads. Not much traffic either. | Photo Credits: Arun

We stopped for a while after Yelandur to relax; reached Chamarajnagar at around 9:10 AM.  Soon, we were on our way towards Gopalaswamy Betta.

We took diversion towards right around 9km after Gundlupet to head towards Gopalaswamy Betta.

To_Gopalaswamy_Betta

Gopalaswamy Betta can be seen in the distance.

To_Gopalaswamy_Betta_2

I like to take POV shots. Expect more of these.

Gopalaswamy_Betta_Halt

Martin stretching out. Pramod appreciates it. Arun clicks on.

To_Gopalaswamy_Betta_Pulsar_Classic500

This was the result of Arun’s click. | Photo Credits: Arun

To_Gopalaswamy_Betta_Group_Picture

A group pic. Yay! | Photo Credits: Arun

Gopalaswamy_Hills_Group_Picture

Arun joins the picture. | Photo Credits: Arun

Bala_Gears_Up

Bala hiding his secret identity.

Gopalaswamy_Betta_Roads

The road leading towards Gopalaswamy Betta checkpost.

The road here was fine till we reached the checkpost, but once the climb started it was in a very pathetic state. However, the surrounding area is very scenic.

Gopalaswamy_Hills_Checkpost

The checkpost. It will be closed for private vehicles after Dusshera. | Photo Credits: Arun

The reason why we even chose to come here is because the authorities are planning to close the road to private vehicles after Dusshera. This is being done to protect the wildlife here. Visitors’ vehicles will be allowed only till the checkpost, after which they’d have to take a minibus run by forest department if they want to reach the top. According to the officials there, 4 minibuses are to be introduced, and the fare will be around Rs. 30/-.

Gopalaswamy_Hills_Checkpost_Ticket_Counter

Martin paying the entry fee at the counter. | Photo Credits: Arun

This may as well be the last time we rode beyond this point.

Gopalaswamy_Hills_Ghats

Halted just after the checkpost to take a few snaps. | Photo Credits: Arun

Gopalswamy_Betta_Roads

The curves look inviting. | Photo Credits: Arun

Gopalaswamy_Hills_Roads_3

The roads were in pathetic condition. | Photo Credits: Arun

Gopalaswamy_Hills_OVerview

This picture looks great. | Photo Credits: Arun

Gopalaswamy_Hills_Roads

A very bumpy ride. | Photo Credits: Arun

Gopalaswamy_Hills_Roads_2

Be careful of potholes filled with water. | Photo Credits: Arun

Once we reached the top the climate changed instantly. It went from warm to cool within a few moments. It was almost as if we were transported to a different place. It was also very windy.

Gopalaswamy_Hills_Fog

Finally, we reached the top. | Photo Credits: Arun

Gopalaswamy_Betta_Top

A view from the top of Gopalaswamy Betta.

Gopalaswamy_Temple_Top

This is the temple.

Gopalaswamy_Hills_Temple

Some people come here just to visit this place. Strange. | Photo Credits: Arun

Gopalaswamy_Hills_Temple_Sideview

A view from the side. | Photo Credits: Arun

Gopalaswamy_Hills_Temple_Architechture

Closeup of the architecture. It looks great.

Gopalaswamy_Hills_Wind

It was very windy here. | Photo Credits: Arun

We didn’t linger here for long. Arun was the only one to climb the stairs and go behind the temple to snap some pictures. It started to drizzle and we hurried back to continue on your ride.

Gopalaswamy_Hills_Meadow_2

Another view from the top of Gopalaswamy Betta. | Photo Credits: Arun

Gopalaswamy_Hills_Meadow

Scenic meadow. | Photo Credits: Arun

Once we traced our way back to NH-67 (Nagapattinam-Coimbatore-Gundlupet Highway), we continued on our ride towards Bandipur National Park. There’s not much to talk about the route here till we enter the Tiger Reserve area. Once we enter the Tiger Reserve though, we’re surrounded with trees all over.

The last time I rode through here my bike ran out of fuel. My friend had to rush back ~15km to a petrol bunk to bring me fuel. Make sure that you have enough fuel if you’re entering this area, because there are no fuel stations to be found for the next 30-35km.

It’s disappointing to see plastic bottles, cups, snack wrappers, beer bottles and other junk being thrown on the side of the road by the visitors. The environment here needs to be protected at all costs. If none pays heed to the instructions laid out by the forest officials, what could one expect?

Bandipur_Tiger_Reserve_Welcome

Welcome to Bandipur! | Photo Credits: Arun

Bandipur_Tiger_Reserve_Roads

Bandipur Tiger Reserve is quite popular with the tourists. | Photo Credits: Arun

It started to rain heavily once we reached the ticket counter area for Safari (we had no intention to go on one though). We parked our bikes and waited for the rain to dwindle.

Monkey_XUV_500

A Mahindra fan spotted.

Bandipur_Tiger_Reserve_Welcome

Group picture. Martin looks excited.

Bandipur_Tiger_Reserve_Group_Picture

I’m in this one. It was raining at the time this pic was captured. | Photo Credits: Arun

Bandipur_Park_Area_Monkeys

Monkeys are celebs here.

I noticed an interest phenomenon while we were stranded here. The monkeys here are really smart. They know how to open a bag’s zipper and search for contents within. One had almost opened two of my bag’s zippers while I was concentrating elsewhere. He would have gotten away with it too had there not been a bungee cord tightly wound around my bag.

The rain slowed down soon after and we were on our way once again. Saw a herd of around 50 Deer towards our left. If there are any Tigers left in this reserve, then they surely must be happy.

We exited Bandipur Tiger Reserve and entered Mudumalai National Park after crossing the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border. This part of the forest was full of greenery. The roads here were great too. It was spellbinding, though it’s nothing compared to what we would be experiencing later.

Mudumulalai_Wildlife_Sanctuary

Beautiful forest roads. | Photo Credits: Arun

Mudumulalai_Wildlife_Sanctuary_Roads2

The greenery here is magical. The fresh air even more so. | Photo Credits: Arun

Mudumulalai_Wildlife_Sanctuary_Roads_3

We rode on and on for what felt like eternity. The ride was blissful. | Photo Credits: Arun

Mudumulalai_Wildlife_Sanctuary_Roads

Error 404: No Stress Found! | Photo Credits: Arun

Mudumulalai_Wildlife_Sanctuary_A_Ride_Through_Wilderness

Btw, how did Arun click all these? | Photo Credits: Arun

I’d seen a Gaur (Indian bison) the last time I’d been through this forest area. The luck was not on our side this time though (Martin? Where are the wild animals? Hehe…).

Mudumulalai_Wildlife_Sanctuary_Bala_Spotted

Bala has spotted something. | Photo Credits: Arun

We did see an elephant though. Not sure whether it was a tamed or wild one. Martin thinks it was a tamed one. I’d say it doesn’t matter; an elephant is still an elephant, tamed or otherwise. We were lucky enough to see it in its natural environment without any shackles (it had a bell around its neck though).

Bandipur_Tiger_Reserve_Elephant

Elephant spotted. Wild or tamed? Not sure.

Bandipur_Tiger_Reserve_Elephant2

Hey there!

Bandipur_Tiger_Reserve_Elephant3_Bell

It looks like it’s laughing. Notice the bell around its neck.

We then diverted our steeds towards Masinagudi, one of the five ranges of Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary. This is a beautiful and picturesque place that is surrounded by hills all over.

Masinagudi_Mountains_Closeup

Masinagudi is a beautiful place.

While Martin, Bala and Pramod headed towards the place where we would be having lunch soon, I and Arun stopped by a scenic place for a photo session. With such vast hills in the background, there was no way we’d be missing this opportunity (especially Arun, the ever-willing photographer).

Masinagudi_Mountains

Arun taking a picture of his bike with hills in the background.

We continued towards the restaurant after our brief photo session. The restaurant looked nice from the outset. It had a large parking area where some motorcyclists had already parked their bikes. Most of them were Royal Enfields (which also included a Diesel variant), some were Harleys.

Masinagudi_Hotel_Parking_Area

This restaurant has a spacious parking area. | Photo Credits: Arun

Bala and Pramod ordered unlimited Gujarati meals, while I settled for a dish which I don’t even remember now. Martin and Arun took the limited meals I think; not sure about that.

Masinagudi_Hotel

A good place to relax after a hard day of riding. | Photo Credits: Arun

This place was seriously understaffed. The meals arrived late, and the quantity served was stomach wrenching (and not in a good way). Bala and Pramod suffered the worst fate, for they had ordered an unlimited fare. They got tired of waiting for the seconds to arrive, and soon the rest of us were bored too. We just gave up after waiting endlessly and ordered a Lassi each to finish our meal; sadly, even that turned out to be bad.

It’s a good place to relax after a long ride, but the food and service wasn’t up to the mark.

We moved towards Moyar Falls after our lousy lunch. The falls are around 10km from Masinagudi. The road leading towards the falls was well laid out and a breeze to drive on.

We stopped at Maravakandy Dam en route to check out the surroundings. It’s a small dam with a mini powerhouse. The view from the dam was quite spectacular. I’m glad that we stopped here.

Maravakandy_Dam_Scenery

Spectacular view from Maravakandy Dam.

Arun_Photographing_Everything

Arun and his camera were inseparable. Every riding group should have one guy like him.

Maravakandy_Dam_Power_Plant

This is the small power generation house.

Bala_and_Pramod_confront_Martin

Martin dropping a beat!

Finally, we reached Moyar River. We were told by the villagers that visitors are not allowed near Moyar Falls. We stopped near the river’s edge and took some snaps.

Moyar_Falls_Bank

We stopped here to ask the villagers for directions.

Moyar_Falls_House2

The area here is pretty scenic. The falls is located behind the buildings.

Moyar_Falls_Spartan_watches_On

Spartan!

Moyar_Falls_House

A closeup of the buildings and the surrounding area.

Moyar_Falls_Goats

Goats, hanging out near the artificial bank.

Moyar_Falls_Goat_Sexy

I’m sexy and I know it!

Moyar_Falls_Come_at_Me_Brah

Come at me bro!

I liked the way the road curved towards the falls. So we decided to go there anyway, but there was nothing for us to see. We headed back to Masinagudi and were on our way to Ooty via the famous 36 hairpin bends route.

Pramod_R15_Moyar_Run

Pramod was very eager to go back.

While heading back to Masinagudi we spotted a Peacock on the roadside, but by the time I could stop, take out my camera and shoot, it was already gone. Peacocks are very sensitive to sound and will scatter in an instant if they sense any danger.

Anyway, the ride to Ooty was enjoyable as expected. There were a lot of government buses (TNSTC) plying through this route. The abysmal power combined with overloaded passengers made these buses really struggle while climbing; they were crawling with such a speed that you could walk faster than them.

This also made it difficult for other vehicles to ascend, especially cars and tempo travellers. We struggled a bit too, but motorcycles can always manage to overtake these slow monsters easily.

Once we almost reached the top, we took a diversion towards Kalhatty Falls. It’s around half a kilometer from the main road (the road here is very narrow). We reach a dead end where there was not much to see. One has to walk downhill yet another half a kilometer to reach the falls.

Kalahatty_Falls_Ooty

Martin asking me, Bala and Pramod whether we’d join him. | Photo Credits: Arun

Me, Bala and Pramod decided not to go and let Martin and Arun take the plunge. After seeing their snaps from the falls, we realized we hadn’t missed much.

Kalahatty_Falls

Joke of the day: Kalahatty Falls. | Photo Credits: Arun

We then resumed our ride towards Ooty. The final stretch of the road leading towards Ooty was in a very bad state. My motorcycle’s fuel tank had reached reserve; so I filled up at the first petrol bunk we came across.

Ooty_Blind_Curves

To Ooty. Also, this pic is cool.

The climate in Ooty was pleasant as usual. Since it would be getting dark soon, we didn’t halt here.

From Ooty we moved towards Kotagiri. The roads here were amazing. Bala and Pramod enjoyed the ride here more than me for sure; they were leaning heavily in the curves and just taking pleasure in riding along the twists.

Kotagiri_View

Picturesque views all over the place. | Photo Credits: Arun

Kotagiri_Somewhere_Near_There

Somewhere near Kotagiri.

Kotagiri_Twists_Turns

Smooth roads with twists and turns. Perfect for riding. | Photo Credits: Arun

Kotagiri_Smooth_Flat_Roads_2

Can’t stress enough how smooth the roads were. | Photo Credits: Arun

Kotagiri_Smooth_Flat_Roads

Zoom! | Photo Credits: Arun

We stopped for tea and snacks once we reached Kotagiri. Had tea, bajji and some snack made of soya chunks. It was already 7 PM by the time we left here.

Martin had booked us a room at C.K. Hotel in Periyanaickenpalayam. The sun had set and we had to wade through high beams in the dark to reach our destination.

Mettupalyam_View_Point_Night

Mettupalayam View Point at night.

Hotel_CK_Perinaickanpalyam

Our accommodation was decent enough.

Blind_Musicians_Donation

A mobile music band comprised of blind people. Innovative way to ask for alms. These types of vehicles can be seen across Tamil Nadu.

Our accommodation was decent enough. We parked our bikes in the basement and dumped all our luggage and gears in the room. Once we’d refreshed, we headed out to have dinner at a small restaurant nearby. The dinner was great; I had Kothu Parotta.

Our first day of the ride through wilderness had come to an end. We still had a lot to look forward to, and the excitement was palpable. We all went to sleep soon after.

This post covers Day 1 of the 4-day ride. Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4 will be posted soon.
Salman Ravoof

Salman Ravoof

Eccentric, mildly sarcastic, and very straight forward. A geek at heart. Adventure, science, and intelligence excite him. Likes to keep rummaging through random topics in his free time. Always ready to learn, except when he's hungry. Connect with him on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.  

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