August 6, 2009
A Sprint To Ooty
It was a long time since we had a bike trip, the last one being to Mekedatu where we had been barbecued like a cheap chicken on a slow flame. So after that exhausting summer ride we had decided to give a break for bike rides, until further notice. That was almost 1.5-2 months back. Hence having some wild bikers genes still in our blood we decided to undertake a bike trip.
Called for all the interested guys. Since it was a bike ride and is always associated with some sort adventure & danger, there were few takers for it. Since to enjoy this trip there had to be some minimum number of riders, we used to literally stop guys we hardly knew and force them to come for the bike ride :). Anyhow totally we had 8 people on board(nandan, manju, harsha,raghavendra,shantu, prasanna,jaggu and myself) which frankly was more than i expected.
We initially planned to have a 2+ day trip, but prasanna's and harsha's team had some crucial releases and we had to cut short to just around 1 day.
So we decided to visit Bandipur and return back to Bangalore. But our fate had more awesome and evil plans for us.
Day 0 (5th June 09, Fri)
So off we started on 5th June friday on 4 bikes. 3 Pulsar 180 and an Apache 160 (No bullying of Apache here :)). We had planned to leave Bangalore at around 6.30 p.m. but as usual we guys are never on time(read some people getting lost inside the city itself, some people doing last minute shopping) :). We left Bangalore at around 8.15 or so. Nandan and Jaggu had already left and so had manju and raghavendra. We were to converge at hotel Kamat on Mysore road.
Avoiding the busy Mysore Road within the city limits we joined it near kengeri via the Uttarahalli road. The ride was simply superb. It was as if gliding on water, in short
It was event free and we reached Hotel Kamat and the remaining group was waiting for us there. Had a very good Jolladdha rotti meal over there and after lazing around for around 1 hr we moved from this place.
The ride through Bangalore-Mysore highway at night was really good. We travelled at a good pace, never-ever over speeding ( i know, my mom might read this :P). But we faced one major problems were the unmarked humps strewn across the entire stretch of the highway.We were jumping on this speed-beakers like "tiny little frogs". Other than that the night was totally clear and we were able to observe the stars in the sky which has become a rarity due to Bangalore's polluted sky.
Anyway reached Mysore at around midnight. Had not booked any rooms in here. So moved to Hotel Govardhan on Sri Harsha Road, just opposite to the Mysore Palace, which according to reviews on net is decent and economic place. After much bargaining by raghavendra and co ( i lack this skill. Am always on the extreme sides :)) brought down the price to 1200/per night .
Had 3 rooms to our name with 3+3+2 distribution. The state of the rooms were really pathetic.
Found hairs on the bed and all. The sheets seemed dirty. Somehow we put our towel and all on the bed and slept. Due to the refreshing night drive on the Blore-Mysore road i had become the " Night Owl" . Kept pestering the other members throughout the night and had almost 2.5-3 hrs of sleep.
Day 1 (6th June 09, Sat)
Got up at around 5.45 in the morning(Other's took their revenge from last night by waking me this early :( ), went through our usual chores and got to ready to leave to our first destination "Himavad Gopalswamy Betta" just before the Bandipur Forests. Since we wanted to catch the mists covering the top of the hill we left early. Probably at around 6.30 or so.
We started on the Mysore-Ooty road (NH -67). This is a 2 lane road without any dividers.
Now this early morning ride was even better than the last night trip. The entire road was covered with trees running parallel to the either sides of the road. And it was sligtly drizzling, not too less not too intense....just perfect. We can say this as the perfect bike riding conditions.
The road till Gundlupet via Nanjangud was real good. Looked like it had been repaired recently. Guess they anticipated our arrival. :P. After Gundlupet when we took a diversion to Bandipur on the Ooty highway the road was pretty much damaged. ( Guess there was some miscommunication here :( ).
On this highway we again took a right on a village road(There is a Gopura Gate at its mouth) to reach the Gopalswamy Betta. Road was pretty ok since it was a village road. Came to the foot hills of the betta where there is a forest office checkpost. They collected 15 or so per bike entrance charge providing us receipts later, and off we started climbing the betta. When we had just started the ascent Harsha spotted a group of wild elephants in a distance. Looked like 2 males and 4 females. What a life for the males :). The roads are pretty steep here. The entire ascent was picture some and as we climbed further up we were engulfed in a thick layer of mist. We could hardly see more than a couple of meters.
Reached the peak at around 9 or so, where the Gopalswamy Temple was situated.Total distance from mysore is about 80kms. Now we were totally exposed to the elements of natures. Gale winds blowing with full force, rain, mist. I would have been carried away in the wind if I was any lighter :).
Went to have darshan at the temple. There the priest told us since this peak was always covered in mist the mountain got its name "Himavad Gopalswamy Betta". Wandered into a sort of grassland behind the temple. There we enjoyed the blast of wind and the mist. Imagine this, when i relieved myself there, I couldnt even see a single drop touch the ground :D.
Anyway after spending some time here we started towards Bandipur. Reached the main road NH-67 after having junk food I had brought along. We didnt have breakfast in the morning hence our tummies were rummbling very badly. There is absolutely no decent Hotel on the way since Mysore. Hence entering the Bandipur Reserve Forest we found a hotel, Bandipur Plaza. The food was a big "OK" and nothin more than that. Now satisfying our hunger we moved on deeper into the forest range. Now the roads were very good and we reached the Bandipur Forest Reception.
Here itself you will get the hint that you are in a reserve forest. From a distance we could see a huge herd of dear grazing on the grass. Also we found out the morning safari had just left and the next batch was at 3.45 p.m. a good 4 hrs for us to kill.
Since we thought there was no point in waiting for the next 4hrs on the reception room like homeless beggars, Nandan came up with an insane plan of going to Ooty and come back for the 3.45 safari ride. I too seconded that and others had no other choice but to bow to our wishes.
Hence we continued on the same NH-67 towards Ooty. Now we saw lot of animals on the way deers, snakes, wild boar,wild buffaloes and even an elephant grazing peacefully by the road side.
We reached the TN border, the boundaries which we humans have created. Understanding that we having come from the Karnataka side of the border the Guards(Not sure if they were police or forest guards) demanded Rs 20 /per bike bribe for entry or else our vehicle paper's will be checked. So pretty confident that ours were not stolen bike's, we opted for the later. First came Jaggu's turn, then Manju and Prasanna in that order. All their papers were perfect. Now the officer in charge was growing desperate. Now came my turn. My RC book, insurance, licence all were perfect. But since he came to know that my Pulsar was more than 1 yr old even though we were nowhere near city limits he asked for my emission test. I produced it and to our dimay the emission test had lapsed just the previous day. Then he started threatening us that he would put a case on us and such crap. Anyway since we didnt have any other option we paid him 100 bucks to keep his mouth shut and let us go.
We moved on the highway. This side of Bandipur Forest in TN is called Madumalai forest. The roads were pretty awesome and feel which we get while riding through dense forest is enchanting. We reached the place Masinagudi where there were 2 ways to reach Ooty. To our left was the shorter(30kms precisely) and tougher (The Legendary 36 hairpin curves) route to Ooty and to our right was the longer and much safer bus route. And we guys craving for adventure took the left turn. The road soon becomes very narrow and we first encounter a very narrow bridge. Only cars and jeeps can traverse this road and nothin bigger than that can.
We traversed for some 10-15 kms and reached the foot of the famous 36 hairpin curves ghat. This ghats were as tough as their reputation goes in the bike riding communities. Prasanna not being exposed to hairpin bends before this took a fall in the first curve. This completely shook his pillion rider Shantu and he had transformed himself to a motivational speaker (not cheerleader :D) and kept encouraging Prasanna to take it slow and steady , working their way up the hairpin bends. It was me who completed the hairpin bends the first and there was a great sense of achievement associated with it.
After completing the ascent when we were nearing Ooty it started to pour real heavily. It was nearly 2 in the afternoon. We took shelter in a shanty hotel along the roadside. Had hot cups of tea to warm us up and took some picture to prove that we had reached Ooty. But there was no point in doing site seeing in ooty in such heavy rainfall. So we started the return journey back to Bandipur in the heavy rain. Hence we stayed in Ooty for just 10 mins :P.
It is really difficult to ride a bike in heavy rainfall. Unlike in a car where u can atleast have ur eyes open and alert , here u have to close the visor to have some breathing space for ur eyes which results in dew formation on the visor resulting in diminished sight. The rain drops were coming as bullets and literally it was painful when they came in contact with bare skin.
Slowly we moved towards the entrance of the 36 hairpin bend . The guard stopped us there saying that two wheelers are not allowed in this route in heavy rainfall as it was very dangerous. Hence we had to take the longer bus route. It was still raining cats and dogs and we were drenched till the bones. The visibility was so less i had not other choice than just following Jaggu's brake lights. If the brake lights went left i went left, if right i did the same, if it slowed down i too slowed down. I cant imagine how Jaggu leading the pack could see anything, but he was Moses to us :P.
Now completely drenched in rain we started to shiver. I couldn't even feel some important part's of my body thus putting a question mark on my future generations :D. But the view that nature offered to us when we were suffering through utter misery was simply superb. The entire path was covered by eucalyptus trees giving mindblowing view and also a pungent fume from its leaves. At one point when we could not take the shivering and cold no more we stopped the bikes and started to run wildly on the main roads like wild bulls in order to warm up our bodies and feel our fingers and legs. The four wheeler drivers were staring at us like some wild animals they were getting to watch in a jungle safari :).
We continued to ride our bikes in the rain showing our determination and seeing this mother nature too decided to challenge us. But in the end we were victorious :). It rained continuously till we reached Bandipur Reception area. Found out the safari had been canceled due to the heavy rains. Imagine us not going to Ooty and loitering in here, we would have been greatly disappointed without the ooty ride nor the safari. Anyway rested for a few minutes on the benches of the reception and moved towards Mysore. By now the rain was more tame, as we encountered during the morning ride. We moved with our wet "halath" towards Gundlupet and there with just one break reached Mysore at around 7 p.m. . Everyone was wet, dirty and exhausted.
Hit the bathrooms, changed into some dry clothes. We have driven almost the entire day in wet clothes. Now it felt like heaven. Raided the first hotel we laid our eyes on and everyone ate like a ton of food, since we didnt have lunch we were hungry as hell.
It was India's first T20 World Cup match. Everyone was feeling sleepy and even the hardcore cricket fanatics could not control their sleep and everyone was into bed by 9.30 p.m..
Had a very sound sleep.
Day 2 (7th June 09, Sun)
Got up around 6.45 in the morning and everyone prepared for the return journey to Bangalore. Since Prasanna and Harsha had to come office on this day they kept pestering everyone to quicken up.
Anyway we left Mysore at around 7.45 and continued towards Bangalore. It was a nice sunny day in complete contrast with the previous day to everyone's relief. Had breakfast at Hotel Shivalli MTR which was too good. Reached Bangalore and bidding adieu to Nandan, jaggu and remaining took the diversion at Uttarahalli road and in the end reached my house.
Thus came to end the most awesome Bike Trip i had ever undertaken. The Night ride in Bangalore-Mysore highway, the morning ride to Gopalswamy Betta, Bandipur, Ooty, the 36 hairpin bend route, return journey from Ooty and getting completely drenched in rain, shivering, all these things will be in our memory for a long time to come. :)
Total Distance Traveled: 595 kms
Total cost per person(including fuel, lodging, food): 975 bucks