Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Biking to Wayanad, Kerala

After a long long long hiatus I finally went biking, traveling, exploring hitherto unvisited places. Exploited the 3 day Republic Day weekend to the hilt.

Trip planned was to Wayanad, Kerala. A small district in the northern part of Kerala. Distance from Bangalore is around 350 kms or more, depending on which town you put up there. The two most known are Sultan Bathery and Kalapeta.

Starting off at 6am in the morning on Saturday morning, we were greeted with cold-chilly-winter-morning-just-after-sunrise air to the extent that even at 7 o'clock we were blowing smoke through our mouth, nostrils and possibly every other opening. Additionally one of my friends did not have gloves. His hand chilled so much that we had to stop half-an-hour into the drive for a round of tea-and-biscuits, which restored some fuel to burn energy inside. Another stop for tyre air-pressure check we were off to Mysore.

The Mysore Palace (not the more beautiful front side view) The Bangalore-Mysore State Highway (SH-17) is an awesome 4-lane thing, the only irritant being occasional speed breakers. So sudden that you can't brake because the vehicle behind you will hit you, and you can't jump over if you not confident. Do what you will !!! But nevertheless, awesome road and a pleasure to drive on.

After the breakfast stop just outside of Mysore, awesome roads through the Bandipur National Park. Looks more like a tree-lined pathway on which you can keep meditating.

This clump of forest hits you as soon as you cross into Kerela border, and is probably the first place where you can stop without blocking other traffic.

Scene outside our place of stay - Eastern Tourist Home, Sultan Bathery. Bloody cheap @Rs. 300 for a room with 3 beds and a clean bathroom. What else does a biker need !!! On Saturday we just lazed around in our room and rested our tired bones.

Some Christian celebrations in progress outside the Hotel Windflower - good food at reasonable rates. We had most of our meals here.

The same Christian celebration procession. We tried to ask around a lot but no one could tell us what the thing was exactly about.

On our way to Meenmutty Falls on Sunday morning we hit this kind of greenery all around. No wonder Kerala is called God's own country.

We missed our dirt path turn to Meenmutty Falls and almost landed in Tamil Nadu. The guard (in the pic) at the border let us know the way back. The road in the picture led to Ooty (another destination in the future for me !)

Tea gardens just before starting our steep 1Km trek down to the waterfalls.

Meenmutty Falls. The trek was pretty steep and thankfully short at 1Km. Even our guide slipped once. We 3 grouped up with another group of 4 and took one guide. The rates charged are : Rs. 300 upto a group of 10. Rs. 30 per person above 10. Apparently there is a gentler slope to go down, which the guide takes if you have females in your group.

Kuruva Islands. Rather Kuruva Dweep (as known locally). The road is through Pulpally. And there are two roads from Sultan Bathery to Pulpally. One is the easy main road off the road that goes towards Mysore. The other is from the other side of the town of Sultan Bathery, which goes through jungle and potholed roads. Not a soul in sight for kilometres at length. Always the fear of getting lost. More challenge for the biker in me !!! But Kuruva Islands in themselves turned out to be disappointment. We reached late. The boating time had ended. And it did not look like there was much to do there anyways.

While returning from Kuruva Islands we lost our way, mostly thanks to me. I was leading the group and just kept going on. Then we realized we were lost and there was absolutely nobody. In the twilight, it was getting difficult. And then we saw these woods lying there. After driving quite some distance on the wrong road, we came across a kindly autowallah who guided us back.

We started back on Monday morning and reached Bangalore by afternoon. It has been an awesome ride. Especially given all the mountainous roads and their U-turns (they are called twisties in the biker's lingo I learn), it was a fun ride. But yeah, there needs to be a lot of caution on these roads.

Having been there once, it left a lot be explored. Kalapeta for one. And then people tell me that the backwaters are in the southern parts of Kerela. I must visit it one more time and with more time and enterprising people with me.


On a separate note : I also did a solo trip to Chennai over the Christmas weekend. And found awesome roads. The toll road from Bangalore-Hosur-Vellore-Chennai is really well-maintained and not a single jump anywhere. I have dreams of buying a HD V-Rod Screaming Eagle someday. When I tell this to people they ask me where I would drive it around in India. I think I found the roads.