Thursday, September 07, 2006

2006-08-12: Bike Trip to Kochi

"I'll go to Nepal also, if u want me to, this is only Kochi...!"
"Think again, are you sure that you can go all the way on bike?"
"Yes yes, you don't worry, I'm game for the entire trip."

Gabbar was all enthused!

"I also want yo join you, on my Fiero in the worst case...!"

"Its not a small distance, besides, we'll be taking breaks in Wayanad.
Also, It will be raining heavily..."
"Not a problem!"
"Ok, Done! We are leaving Bangalore at 2AM sharp!"
"Ok, I'll start making all the arrangements."

This was Abdulla...

The Start

2AM, Bangalore.
We were all geared up for a 550+ kms bike trip to Kochi, via Mysore, Bandipur, Wayanad and Calicut. Everything went fine till we took our first break, at around 4AM beyond Maddur. Once back on road came rain, our fourth faithful companion in the trip!

The breakfast was taken at Gundalpet, around 60kms beyond Mysore. This is the place where the road splits for Ooty and Calicut. An early morning call to update Maa and Gabbar coming in terms with the actual distance to be covered were the highlights apart from the rock solid 'idli' here.

The road ahead was the highlight of the journey, cloud covered mountains to road side herds of deer! The only sad part was that we were not allowed to stop over and shoot once inside Bandipur WLS. It was as if a dream had come true, with a drizzle setting in...

Enter Wayanad

It was the h
oarding of Wayanad WLS that made us realize that we were no more in Karnataka but entered the 'cause' of the trip. Yes, it was Wayanad that had prompted me to take this journey up, knowing well that a bike trip to Kerala is not the best thing to do during Monsoon season. It was really difficult for me to convince people that it was actually the rain that had pushed me for this bike trip. Kerala is at its best during Monsoon, and what better than riding amidst the greenery with steady drizzle on - its heavenly! I was least bothered if I was getting termed as a Nerd, it was an honor instead...

Comes Sultan Bathery

This is one of the main towns of Wayanad, and probably the most popular one besides
Vaithiri (known for its resorts) and Kalpetta (distt. HQ). As such, we did not explore the town much, but then were pleasantly surprised with the cleanliness maintained throughout. It was decision time - which all places to visit, which to exclude from the list. Well, it was not the best of the things to do coz items were in plenty and time, as always, limited. Finally, we zeroed on three things - Edakkal Caves, Kanthanpara Falls and Pookat Lake. We took off the highway (NH-212, beyond Mysore, till Calicut) after around 5kms from Sultan Bathery.

Edakkal Caves

This was about 6-7kms off NH-212, “A stone in between” - The name comes from the fact that there's a huge rock resting upon two of the same kind below. The cave is located at a height of 1000 m on Ambukutty Mala near Ambalavayal. The New Stone Age pictorial writings on the walls of these natural caves at Edakkal are evidence of the civilization that existed in these regions in prehistoric times. Check out for more information. The more interesting part for us, however, was the 'Tri-State' point atop this mega structure - we can see three states, Karnakata and Tamil Nadu apart from Kerala itself where its located.

Kanthanpara Falls

It was as if we were going down to the basement of Wayanad, such was the down hill gradient to the falls. Once we reached the place, all we could see was a three feet cascade - a pure case of utter disappointment! Just as we were about to start back came a native girl. What she asked and then told us remains as clear as my understanding of Malayalam till date, but it was enough for us to go into the dense green vegetation and explore beyond. Thanks to the girl, we didn't miss upon one of the smaller but gorgeous water falls that I've come across. The silver lining to the falls was the sheer amount of water it was carrying down, and the mist it was generating. I really had a hard time in keeping the camera dry!

Lush Green Gardens

This was another first for me; never in my life
had I seen Tea and Coffee gardens going hand in hand with each other. There was this continuous carpet of Tea bushes, and before one realized and turned a corner, Tea was no where to be seen but replaced with Coffee plantations. The two kept up with there quest on playing the hide and seek game with us, until we realized that we had actually over run the way to Pookat Lake. With an untold agreement, we just moved on with our attention still being held with the greenery around us. We got back on NH-212 well beyond Pookat Lake, infact very close to Vaithiri.

Coming down the Ghats

Once we crossed Vaithiri, came Lakkidi's Ghat Section. The Ghats run for around 12 kms and one descends about 800 meters, to the plain lands of Kerala. We stopped over for some much needed break, more to feast our eyes on the view provided than to satisfy our tummies. This was the first time that I was at this location during day light and knew what I'd missed out upon in the past; all the while on previous occasions, I had traversed this during the darkness of midnight. All I could make out during those times was the twinkle of vehicles' headlights that gave enough evidence of the might of Ghats. Sudden jolt broke my trains of thought. We were amongst the worst section of roads till that point. Though the road widening was going on, it had little immediate relief. Continuous water flow had reduced the road to nothing. The struggle finally ended with the Ghats bidding adieu after a while. We had hit the plains...

Lying Low

In a flash we could make our the difference. The air was warmer, and typically humid. The heaven was history. Kerala is not known to have the highest population density for nothing.
People people everywhere. "We love Highways" seemed to be the mantra here. Let it be the kids or grown ups, they were all there. Even the cattle didn't spare the road. As time went by, the two of my co-travellers had started to get fatigued. Abdulla realized that he would not be able to move on without a proper rain gear. We stopped over for a bargain, and started once he was confident of his latest purchase. As the sun came down, we realized that we had moved a bit too slowly for our comfort. With rain constantly pelting down it would not be easy driving once natural faded. Further, taking NH-17 towards Gurvayur didn't help us much; we reached there late and it would not have been possible to visit the temple. In the process, however, we did achieve something peculiar - till the end of our journey, our route had not crossed over to the standard route from Bangalore to Ernakulam.

The Final Showdown

Driving in rain had never been the same.
Bright flashing headlights ceased to go low beam, neither did the volume of traffic got down (even though it was raining all, but literally cats and dogs). Wading through calf high water, we moved on. We finally reached my sister's place at around 10pm. Exhausted we were, but then, this was one of the best and most challenging drives for me till then. It retains its status even now, especially since I'm completing this write-up after a gap of five months including a 1000+ kms circular trip of Jog Falls!

Few stills captured during the trip can be found here...

Friday, April 07, 2006

2006-03-17: Kodaikanal, TN

The last time there was a plan for this hill station, it was only to be cancelled at the 10th hour, coz of a campus recruitment happening over the weekend; one of the reasons that I joined hp the very next day of my last exam instead of a week later! Lastly, Kodai couldn't wait for me any longer ;)

The Plan

16th March. I got a call from Milind in the evening.
“We are planning to make a trip to Goa for the coming weekend, you game?”
“No, not at all”, said I. I had just been back from Goa a couple of months back.
“Ok, if not Goa then do you have anything else in mind?”
“Umm… lets see. I have already seen most of the places in Central and Southern Karnataka.
Its already getting warm, so we should rather avoid the beaches. What about a hill station?”
“Which one, Ooty”? Asked Milind.
“Since you are planning to take the car, what about Kodaikanal?”
“Ok, let me ask my other two friends.”
“Madan and Vinod. You have already met Madan when we went to Ranganthittu.”
“I do have some work for the weekend, if I can finish or postpone it, I’m game!”


Probably, this was the first time that any plan made more than a day in advance was actually going to work out for me. As it turned out, I fulfilled all my weekend commitments before time and we were ready for the trip. On being informed about this plan, Abdulla (my partner in most of my recent trips) had a very simple question, “Do you have space for one more guy?” This time, it was Azmi who was going to miss out!

18th March, 21:45hrs. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Milind was actually there dot on time! Probably, it was the company of Mohan and Vinod that did the trick, but still…
In fact, it was Abdulla, the otherwise punctual guy, who did the damage. Never the less, we were only 15 minutes late on departure. The biggest blow to the schedule came when I came to know that 3 of us hadn’t taken our dinner. So, now instead of reaching Dindigul by 5 in the morning, we were sure, not to be there before 7am!

The Drive

One of the biggest reasons for my coming for the trip was the drive. We were going to do to and fro Dindigul driving overnight! Of all 5, only Milind and Mohan were to drive (apart from me, of course). By 12:40am, the 2 have had their stint at the driver’s seat, and it was time for me to take over after Krishnagiri. The road till Salem was going to be tough – first, the last year’s rain had completely eroded the tar, and second, the road widening was taking place. As we swirled around pot holes and diversions, wickets started to fall one by one. There was a serious competition going on for the stud with the loudest snore. Vinod was a clear winner until Milind joined the show – ‘Rang de Basanti’ songs just got lost somewhere; leave the guys alone, Milind directly competing with his Sony X-Plod!

This was the first drive in quite a few years that I got those glaring headlights; people forgetting about the dipper switch in their vehicles. That marred the average speed a bit. I was more than glad to stick to the basics (if you can't see what lies ahead, then stop!) of night driving; saw a couple of accidents, in one case, a truck had romped into one of those many bullock carts that take the NH without having any reflectors abroad!

Good Morning Dindigul

It was just about 6am when we stopped over for getting straightened out. It was time for Milind to show us his daredevils – something he is infamous for! We were snaking through typical morning traffic of rural India, at 90-120kmph!

Things improved marginally when we actually entered the ghat section, about 45-50kms in total; Milind could only manage 40-50kmph on ‘U’s and 20-30kmph on ‘V’ turns!! We stopped over quite a few times to get a casual glimpse of all the scenery in offering. Also, a necessary stop for few of us to unload themselves…

Enter Kodai

It was nearly 10:30 that
we entered Kodai, the Silver Falls greeting us at the doorstep! Once in, we looked out for a hotel, and found one cottage with much ado.
The evening went pedaling boats in the star-fish shaped Kodai Lake.

The Following Day

Croaker’s Walk

The visits started with a stroll down the ‘Croaker’s Walk’ – a km long paved pathway on a ridge with breath taking views. We felt as if we were actually air born, having a definition bird’s eye view of the cloud covered hills down below! Simply awesome! We had our breakfast in one of the resorts adjoining the ridge, a perfect start for what was going to be a perfect day out…

Suicide Point a.k.a. Green Valley View

Illustrated by a steep fall of more that 600 feet, this place was right there, at the top of our world. It got its name coz of a simple fact – once you let go of yourself off the edge, I’ll have to wait for a while, to catch you not before 1’m in haven! Just wondered, it could an excellent place for hang gliding…

Pillar’s Rock

You find not one, or two, but three 400 feet plus tall rocks, standing next to each other forming the edge of a hill. They looked like someone had just put them there, as a support for all the clouds that hovered above them.

Life on Edge

I’m not able to recall what this place was called, but then, who cares for the name after all. We simply went down the slope till we found ourselves on the edge yet again. But this was different. This thing was jutting out of the main hill like a nose. The view was simply splendid; steep valley in the background with the clouds conquering the mighty mountains…

Bird's eye view of the Kodai Lake

On our way back from the ‘Pillars’ and ‘noses’, we were hunting for what they called ‘Devil’s Kitchen’. But all we came across was a diversion that said ‘Top Lake View’. We deviated off track, and it was not long before we found ourselves at the view point. Few photo shoots and we were off, back to the cottage. We were to go to the Forest Officer now, to get a perm for entering the forest area engulfing the Berijam Lake.

Towards the Berijam Lake

The Timings are restricted till 11am to procure an entry to the guarded region. Thanks to Milind, Mohan and a considerate Forest Officer, we got a special letter allowing us inside. Just as we were about to enter the restricted area, we realized that this place was in fact less than a kilometer ahead of the ‘nose’ that we had been to. Little did we know what lied ahead to welcome us in the forest area…

The clouds and mist had been avoiding us till now. It was time to settle our differences and embrace each other. What followed was a treat for anyone coming to Kodai. More than the Berijam Lake, we liked the road taken. Spotted with viewpoints and misty stretches, this was just beyond our dreams… we were kids again, running and sprinting and making all sorts of poses for the camera!

Devil’s Kitchen

What we thought didn’t exist finally shown up on our way back. We had previously ignored this place saying, ‘Dangerous Place, Do not enter’. This time, however, we stopped over and asked the passers by. Bingo! We had hit the bull’s eye, for this indeed was the place. We kind of felt silly for the sign board initially. Once at the actual spot, we realized why the place was called so… We found ourselves probably at the top of one of those ‘pillars’. Out of no where, surfaced these deep cracks or caverns that led all the way to the bottom of the pillars – once you slide into one of them, even devil himself can't save you!

Way Back

Once back from Devil’s Kitchen, we went to a kitchen that would serve our food, Tava, a place that serves decent North Indian Veg food. Bidding good bye to the Silver Cascades, we were on our way down the hill. Mohan took over from me after half the decent, till we pulled over for our dinner. Once out, Milind, this time was fully determined to take the wheels home. He carried us till beyond Salem. He judged his ‘sleep’ to perfection! This was not at all expected from him, coz he, I assumed, was one of those guys who would go to any extent to prove them. Well, for me, he more than proved a point – that beyond that ‘reckless’ driver, there was this guy who knew his limits and put safety above all. I was really impressed! I then took over the wheel with Abdulla joining me on the front seat. The rest of the journey was uneventful, barring those 4kmph and 4.01kmph races between those overloaded trucks in between Krishnagiri and Bangalore! God knows when would these people have brains to just form a train instead of completing with each other, and in process, blocking the other vehicles to overtake them…

This trip reminded me of the one that I’d been to for Roseville to LA; the same enthusiasm and energy level.
Glimpses of the Kodai trip can be found here

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

2006-02-11: Shravanbelagola, Ranganthittu & Brindavan Garden

It happens once in 12 years. Its one of the most sacred rituals for our Jain Society – Mahamastakabhisheka of Lord Bahubali at Shravanbelagola.

The start

The ‘plan’ (if we can call it one) was finalized
very much at EOD (end of day) of 10th. This time, yet again, it was only 2 of us, Abdulla and I. Milind had other plans. He was to go to Ranibennur for his friend’s wedding. Thanks to our unofficial Central Karnataka guide, Raghu (our colleague and mentor here, @hp), we were kind of sure that we would not be spending the entire day at Shravanbelagola. He had mentioned that we may take an alternate route via Srirangapattna. Well, we took his advise, though not exactly in the way he would have expected (more on this later). We started close to 7 in the morning on the next day on my bike. Thanks to the nearly deserted Ring Road Jn after Yeswantpur, we had crossed Nelamangala by 8am.

A known Caller

9am. We were feasting on delicious Kesari Bhaat. Just as I was waiting for Masala Dosa to pitch in, I took my cell out; it showed me having missed a call. It was a familiar no, it was Milind. I dialed back.

“Hey Milind, where are you rite now?”

“I’m taking my breakfast right now.”

“Same here, having Dosa.”

“Am at home, visiting my friend @ Ranibennur got cancelled. When are you starting for Shravanbelagola, coz I’ll also join you.”
“We are in Kunigal (~90kms from Bangalore)…”
“Oh Sh**! I missed it! Anyway, what’s your program?”
“Will be reaching Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary around 3pm, once we are done with Shravanbelagola.”
“Great! I’ll join you there then. My friend, Mohan, will also be coming along…”
“Ok, see you then!”

So, Milind was not going to be away from us after all!

The Uphill Task

Once we reached SB (enough of ShravanBelagola!!), our next job was to get the darshan of Lord Bahubali, a.k.a. Lord Gomteshwara. His Statue, the largest standing monolith in the world, is about 60 feet tall, and rests atop the Vindhya Giri hill in SB. One has to climb more than thousand steps to get to him. It took us ‘some’ effort and about half an hour before we found ourselves at his feet. Well, kind of sad, you may call us being unprepared – the temporary platform set up in front of him is accessible only to those who take a pass for INR750 in advance. All we got was a little glimpse in the ‘through-fare’. Not satisfied, but contended.

Off to Srirangapattna

We detained
our plan to take lunch at SB till we found a good ‘dhaaba’. Gulped down some sugarcane juice followed by ‘badaam’ milked, and off we went. Thanks to the event occurring only once in 12 years, the government successfully managed to get the roads back in shape. All of 50+ kms were done within 1 hour. All we missed was a good place to find food. Srirangapattna came to rescue. The meal followed with a small sight seen into the capital fort city of Tipu Sultan. Though, not many photos could be taken, all my camera batteries had gone dead, and the alkaline ones were not all that promising!

Inside Ranganthittu

It was exactly 3pm when we entered the bird sanctuary. Milind called up, but the news was not all that great. He informed that it would take him another hour or more to catch us. Not waiting for him, we started for the all famous boat ride. Till we got into a boat, the only bird that we found was, well, the crow! Once onboard, I was seriously missing my SLR camera, and its new 75-300mm lens! The Siberian Cranes were the most populous of them all, though; there were quite a few other birds as well. One thing that was not to be missed was the crocodile, or the ‘magar’. I’d never seen so lazy ones in my entire life! Nothing used to flatter them – the boats and the birds treated alike. For that matter, even the birds had a sense of indifference to the humans around. They simply wore that typical ‘I don’t care’ attitude!

Enter Milind & Mohan

Milind lived up to his reputation of being as late as possible.
He showed up only at 5:50pm, 10 minutes before they stop entry into the sanctuary! He was bound to miss the boat ride, and he did miss it. Even after quite a bit of persuasion, he was not successful in getting the boating guy along… We stayed there till it got dark, and then, in magnificent moon-light, proceeded towards our last stop for the day, Brindavan Garden.

The Light Show

We found ourselves at the entrance of the famous garden around 7:20pm. This was the precise time that I had come here last, with my Sis. Just like the last time, we were not allowed to go on the Krishna Raja Sagar Dam; entry is prohibited from that direction. Now, the only way to enter the park is directly near the sluice gate reservoir. The only difference this time was the timing of illumination: Monday – Friday: After dark till 7:55pm (instead of 7:25pm) Saturday – Sunday: After dark till 8:55pm (instead of 8:25pm) As usual, the lights provided a spectacular view. We noticed that the sluice gate reservoir had been completely drained out and some de-silting kind of activity was going on near the North Side of Garden.

The return journey

We started around 9pm from the Garden, and after some 1 and half hours found ourselves in Maddur, feasting on some ordinary dinner. Yes, I didn’t misuse the word – feasting we were, as all of us were just so hungry! The break was a pretty long one. Apart form this, there was only 1 break, for tea near Bidadi. Milind and Mohan parted ways with us at the beginning of Lalbagh Road. I was not home before 2:25am, as I dropped Abdulla at his place around 2:10.
Exactly 420kms done for the day and bottom still not complaining! This time was really different – The ghost of bad roads (which ALWAYS accompanies Abdulla) somehow didn’t find a great company in us. May be, it was Lord Bahubali’s blessings that did the trick for us…

The photos can be found here.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

2005-12-28: Karwar & Goa

9 days of furlough @hp.
4 out of 9 days already used up to visit ‘Malgudi’!
5 days remaining. Got to drive during day time only because of ongoing winter…
But one thing that never came out of our minds was GOA!

We had been waiting for this for a long time and one of two incidences were not going to keep us back…

December 28th, tripped the odometer and off we were! The ARM was devoid of M – Milind, who was off to Pune with his parents.
This time, two guys on one bike. There was simply no space for nightmares in mind, just one thing, no points for guessing – GOA, what else!

Time to deviate
We got a call from Milind, suggesting us to take a deviation to Karwar instead of directly entering Goa via Londa. I liked the idea and our ‘planned’ trip went off track. But then, this was the last GOOD suggestion that we had from Milind!

The never ending saga
Once we crossed Chitradurga, there was no sign of Hubli, our next biggest stop and the deviating point. When leaving Bangalore, I saw a board mentioning “Hubli 360kms”. According to calculations, as we had already covered ~210kms, Hubli was only 150kms! But it would not be the case, as we later found out… with all the sign boards removed from the road and Hubli being no where in sight even after 170kms, frustration was starting to tell through our faces. It was never the distance, but the ignorance that we were getting annoyed at. Then, as I saw the VRL depot, I knew that we had finally made it. So much so, that when we posed at the Hubli-Dharwad Bypass hoarding, we had surely given Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay a run for their money!

Enter Karwar
I had a silent desire to ride on this part of NH-17 on the western coast every since I had been here with Neeraj. Though we couldn’t benefit from the view it would have put forward, still was very satisfactory. Once we reached Karwar, I just happened to look at the Odometer, it said 603kms. A record for me in a day, which was soon to be bettered…

Being in Goa
This was the experience we were longing for. From hills to valleys, from villages to towns and from beaches to babes! More on this in Abdulla’s excerpt.

On our way back – Initial set back
It was ages that I’d seen a Sun Rise. Doing it on the New Year’s Day was a feeling that would long be cherished! A new beginning to life. A new beginning to my odometer too, literally, because it read 001km! we had done more than 1000 kms from the time we had set out for Goa.
Thanks to Milind’s latest suggestion (for which he was made to feel sorry later on), we took the Panjim -> Ponda -> Londa -> Belgaum -> Hubli route to Bangalore. No doubt, the Ghat section in between Ponda and Londa was just too good, but all the good things regarding this route ended here. Some time after we entered Karnataka, we suddenly found ourselves within nowhere. With only huge dumpers on road (road is a misnomer here, I should rather say, relative empty spaces in between trees, occupied with dense red dust, huge boulders and broken down vehicles), we entered straight into hell! Normal road was simply no where to be seen, nor anyone on road who could confirm that we were still on ‘an excellent’ NH-4A (as mentioned by Milind)! After some 20+ kms and nearly 1 and half hours of struggle, we reached Ramnagar. Without any second thoughts, we took the shortcut to Hubli-Dharwad, a 63 kms of non-existing road which would save at least 90kms (if we would have gone via Belgaum). After some road-hunting (analogous to treasure hunting) and more than 2 hours of concentration, we found ourselves back on the Dharwad-Hubli Bypass road.

Continuing forward
After a total of around 16 hours of drive, we found ourselves in the heart of Bangalore. Drained physically, but not mentally, we decided to drop in at Brigade Road for our last bit of photo session. 10 minutes later, I was dropping off Abdulla at his place in Jayanagar. When I reached home, the odometer said 643kms. We had done a ~1650kms in the past 5 days. I was tired, but very satisfied. Its time to let the bottoms take a mini break. But the stress would be on ‘mini’, as till I have people like Abdulla around me, no trip is big enough to hold me back for long. His sheer presence, support and sense of humor had made all the difference; this otherwise lengthy trip made to look small and easy, something impossible if he wouldn’t be around.

The photos can be found here!

2005-12-24: Malgudi Days

“Ta na na tana na na na
Ta na na tana na na na …”

This is what was on my lips when we started for Agumbe on the morning of 24th December. Shiv had come down from Hyderabad just for this trip.
“I’m planning a break for the upcoming Bhagamandala@CoorgChristmas Hols and flying down to Bangalore, but see to it that I don’t spend the entire time in Bangalore!”, were his words minutes after he got his flight tickets confirmed. I was more than happy to oblige my partner in my first ever Bike Trip (to Coorg).

Shiv had arrived on 23rd afternoon, as per his schedule. The only thing that was to be finalized was WHERE. After spending something like 5 minutes discussing the destination, Agumbe was finalized. For those who don’t know, this was the place where Shankar Nag’s famous “Malgudi Days” was shot.

The start
We started in morning, instead of the general night time, owing to the already set winter. The drive till Chickmangalur was pretty smooth and uneventful. There were some stops for taking food and of course the photographs in Sun Flower fields. It was only after Chickmangalur that we found the roads depleted. Once we entered those fantastic coffee estates, everything was good but for the road. The Bhadra River presented a spectacular view, easily enviable by the Kerela lagoons. We were starting to get worried whether we would be able to reach Agumbe to see it world famous Sun Set.

The Breath Taking Moment
As we reached Agumbe, it was already six o’clock. We thought that we had lost it; missing it by whisker. But destiny had something else in store for us. The road was fully enveloped by tall trees on either side of road with sun lost some where behind them. Then suddenly or rather miraculously, the trees got separated opening up the sky right in front of us, with the road virtually coming to an abrupt end and a giant Red Ball coming down on us. What a moment! All the 455kms done from Bangalore till now were more than justified… The two us just carried on, speechless. The Sun Set Point/Platform was around the corner, but we had already seen what we had come for. One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life till now…

Night Halt
Once the sun had set, we started the climb down, negotiating those steep 13 hair-pin curves and some 10 odd kilometers before we found ourselves in Hebri. Some tedious negotiations with the Hotel guy and dumping our bag in the room, we were off for a much deserved dinner to a near by garden restaurant. What followed was one of the best dinners I have had.

Bad Beginning
We were on the road by 7am the next day. Destination – the Sitanadi River Camp (4kms from Hebri), for White Water Rafting. But we didn’t get a welcome there. We were informed that the water level in the river had fallen down enough to make rafting impossible; the Varahi Dam upstream being responsible. Now, what to do next? Thankfully, while we were trying to chalk out the itinerary for the rest of the day, we saw this house nearby. There was this very hospitable couple, Mrs. & Mr. Reddy, who gave us a warm welcome and helped us out with a plan for the rest of the day, not to forget the big bottle of water offered!

Something Fishy
We were on our way to Shringeri, up the Agumbe Ghats, around 40kms away. Once we reached there, it was a whole new experience. The place was cleaner than expected. Without wasting much time, we went in search of the famous ‘Fish Bank’. There’s this place on the banks of River Tunga, where devotees offer prasadam to the fish in water. One will be amazed to see the density and size of fishes that are there. Just unbelievable! There were just too many of them! The scene just went way beyond the hype that accompanies it. We spent more than 2 hrs here before proceeding towards our next and final stop over before returning back to Bangalore.

Good ways are back again
Once out of Shringeri, we were greeted by good road once again. We were on NH-13 and on our way to Dharmasthala, another pilgrimage of very high importance in South India. On our way, we went through the picturesque Kudremukh National Park. The evergreen forests (as we were told) were just mind blowing. We say the last of NH-13 once we came down a Ghat section on the national highway.

In Dharmasthala
We were not lucky enough to get the Darshan at temple here. The temple doors were closed till 5 o’clock and that would have been just too late for us to start back for Bangalore. Thanks to Ananth, we knew that there were other things here which would be of our interest. The Car Museum and the statue of Lord Bahubali atop a small hill were simply worth seeing.

Coming back
The journey was pretty smooth once again, thanks some major repair work taken up on Shiradi Ghats (which were literally unmotorable during my last stint, Puncture Trip). We had left a deficit of 7kms to complete 900kms when we got back home in Bangalore. This was a ‘pilot’ trip to the oncoming ‘biggie’, but never the less very exciting, and by far the biggest round trip I had done on my bike!

The photos can be found here!