Today we are supposed to leave for Munnar. Last day was complete rest for us and the 250km ride doesn’t seem as big a task as first day’s 780km. After some chai, biscuit we hop on our bikes head towards Kerala, our 3rd state in the tour.
Last night we spent an hour to figure out of we should do Munnar. Reason being Manas wanted to be back in Mumbai by Tuesday as he was short of leaves, while me and JK had them overflowing… After a long bout of puzzle in planning and figuring out how to save days, we decided that we’ll roam Munnar on the way, and the next day too we’ll leave in late morning after visiting Munnar’s tea garden / museum.
The down hill ride from Ooty was spell-binding. Trees, smooth down-hill road, cool air of December, the early morning sun rays cutting past through the leaves and not to mention the throttle control in our hands. We came down via Coonoor, another hill station just below Ooty having its own fairy tale railway station. We stopped for snaps at a point where we could see a river down the valley, mountains stacking behind the scenery and the sun finally throwing its golden hue into the picture.
The 5 am alarm bell reminds me of a devil pushing you down in burning oil pan in hell – scenes from Tom & Jerry. I get up only to realize I’m around 800km away from the comfort of home with 2 other dumb-fucks like me sleeping besides me. Its Ooty today, another 400km before we finally take a break from riding and start enjoying our vacation.
I push others and try to clear bowels. Ya – emphasis is on try. This early morning routine will follow us for next 10 days. JK gets up and needs a सुट्टा and chai before his dump. He goes downstairs while me and Manas try to gather our senses. We check out around 7am and head straight to the टपरी where we have chai and biscuits and continue with our biking talks, bikes, kilometers, roads, slopes and ghats.
Almost past 7.30, we mount back on bikes and head towards Sira, the junction where we’re supposed to get off the comforts and speeds of NH and onto the state highways of Karnataka. Just after Chitradurga, roads start to change with the scenery. The roads have constant diversions after 3 km or so for a new flyover over small junctions or villages, while the nature changes its trees. I start to see more Coconut trees and its farms. A sight that will be common throughout the trip. From concrete farms of Mumbai, to shrubby sugarcanes of the black soiled central and south Maharashtra to the red clayed Karnataka transforming into a greener coconut and palm tree laden earth. This was gonna be better by the end of the day !
The board of “Historical town of Sira welcomes you” was just around the turn, and we stopped near a truck-dhabba for breakfast. One might wonder how different is a truck-dhabba. So there are 3 types of dhabbas that I’ve know of
Truck-dhabba – the most authentic of all dhabbas (it may be called something else if its not in central or north india). Its only purpose to serve food. It may not be most hygienic and but could be tasty. The ambiance is not certainly a point to be discussed. Its pricing and other attributes mean only truck drivers and local laborers could patronize it. Oh and I forgot there is nothing like a clean toilet / washroom in such places. The cleanest place to pee would actually be outside the toilet.
Car-Dhabba – for the elite tourists touring in cars. Food is typical of what you find in cities, cleaner. There is a neat shaded parking for cars unlike the dusty open areas found in truck-dhabbas. The prices reflecting the extra effort gone into maintenance of toilets, tables, flooring, etc.
City-Dhabba – only thing dhabba-ish in this place is the name of the restaurant/hotel. Such establishments are only found in cities. The ambiance is made to look like a punjabi road side restaurant with fake or cut-through vehicles mounted on the walls. The food is a typical with its prices touching the ceiling where the bold colors and vehicle cut-outs are mounted.
Its past 5.30am and we’re waiting at the Panvel junction watching guys in dark extorting from truck drivers. JK isn’t here and not even responding. He calls back saying he is locked in traffic. He finally makes at the rendezvous point with 2 of his bags stacked over each other on the pillion seat. Manas’s first statement after a gaali for being late is
भेनचोद ये क्या लगाया है ?
JK agrees, he said he thought it was hoisted and was almost like a full-back-rest, but now its kinda dangling and unstable. Its already past 6, JK is more than 30 mins late, and we can’t even start without fixing JK’s bags. Manas with his endless resources of bungee cables, ideas of hoisting bags on a bike gets through with the problem and JK’s bags are now bomb-proof. Still as a dead person. We finally leave by 6.30am, already an hour late, which we’d rue later.
The following is the original draft made by me and JK (in the office 😉 )
Mumbai – Hubli, night halt (day1) 576km (8hrs+) [travelling]
Hubli – Ooty, night halt (587km, day2) (10hrs+) [Mysore is 100km less, about 8hrs] [travelling]
Ooty (day3) [rest]
Ooty – Munnar, night halt (day4, 242km, 5hrs+) [rest + travelling]
Munnar, and around (day 5) [rest]
Kochi, port (day6, 130km, 2.5hrs) [rest + travelling]
Allepely, night halt (day6, 60km, 1hr+) [rest]
Shornour(jk’s home village) (day7, 166km, 3hrs) [rest]
Shornour, and around (day8, ) [rest]
Bhatkal, Karnataka, night halt (day9, via Mangalore, Udipi, 474km, 9hrs) [travelling]
Jog Falls, Gokarna, Karwar, night halt (day10, 84km+150km 4hrs+) [rest + travelling]
South Goa, palolem, agonda, etc, night stay (day11) [roaming + rest]
Panhala, night halt (day12, 300km, 5.5hrs+) [travelling]
Panhala, tour and around (day13, 50kms) [rest]
Mumbai, (day13/14, 397km, 6hrs+) [travelling]
If we see our daily activity as Riding only and Travelling (T), Rest (R), Travelling&Rest (B)
About 5 heavy travelling days, 7 rest and roaming days and 3 roaming + travelling days. So pretty evened out, more of rest + roaming as we would want.
Petrol – 3600km, ₹ 6000 in petrol (assuming 45 kmpl.)
Lodging – 13 days night halt ( appox ₹ 4000 per person, assuming per night appoxx ₹ 1000/3 )
Food – ₹ 1300 (appox 50 per meal x 2 x 13)
Misc – ₹ 1000 (souvenirs, laundry, etc, IF ANY 😉 )
Bike Maintenance – ₹ 2000 (hopefully none, but – engine oil, punctures, but adding an upper side)
TOTAL – appox. ₹ 15,000 (₹ 14300)
A bike ride to Murud with JK and Surya visiting some of the most beautiful and picturesque coastlines in India. Starting with Alibag, Kashid, Murud, V Beach (Murud), Diveagar, Aravi and its hilly road overseeing the beach
and finally Shrivardhan.
Mumbai to Alibag (via Pen, Vadkhal)
Alibag to Kashid
Kashid to Murud.
Murud to Dighi (via a ferry: Rajapuri Jetty to Dighi Jetty)
Dighi to Diveagar
Diveagar to Shrivardhan
Shrivardhan to Mangaon (NH 17 junction via the long Mhasala ghat)
I used to wonder why kids in their paintings always paint the cliched green mountains, blue sky and a river flowing by through green valleys brimming with yellow-green farms. Today, I knew why ! – ‘Cause its a sight that leaves a mark on your memory. Mine was stamped today.
Saturday evening Manas called and an impromptu bike-ride was on the map. Kurze Dam, which is just close to the Talasari junction on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad, NH 8 highway.
Back to the kids’ paintings – By September, the earth has been painted, replenished and cleansed as well. The sights that we saw on our way were just from the kids’ art books. The flushed-clean highway clinging to the green bosom, climbing and caressing the green paddy fields, which were close to being harvested giving a slight hue of yellow through the broad green spectrum. The air too was crisp-clean. Every single particulate dust had settled. The small, yet picturesque hills around the Manor region added another touch of flavour to the picture. As if that wasn’t good enough to put in a frame, the sky with its receding black clouds, was now azure blue.
A right turn from Talasari took us through a lazy little country side still oozing of the wet spells that were continuing to be intermittent. The gravity dam’s wall was just ahead of us, the road kept moving along the wall teasing us as it would never touch the dam wall. We spotted a small brown opening through the grass and we ploughed through to the base of the water reservoir.
It was still raining, wind creating a wonderful mixture of the droplets. The water body streching ahead of us till we could only see the mist in trees far in the background. At our feet though was the pungent brown mud, blades of grass fizzing through it. The whole sight reminding why people in country side can’t think of places like Mumbai as their home.
Kids passed by us adoring the R-15 and the other lowly models. I asked them
तुम्ही पोहता का इथे ?
to which they eagerly pointed out at the base of the reservoir where they were heading and ran off. JK looked at them run bare foot, and his philosophical counterpart murmured
साला कोई टेंशन नही है
I too pondered … we had lost all, the carefree attitude, the innocence, the honest smile, everything.
We took a few snaps and headed back towards the base from the dam wall. To my surprise the kids were actually swimming, jumping in the water. We rushed and joined them. The water was warmer than the air, which made us feel out of the world! Manas enjoyed clicking our water buffalo (JK) and the kids with his water proof camera.
On our way back we had some parathas that my mother had helped us with and Granola bars with Mars chocolate that Manas always keeps handy on his bike trips.
Even the hot shower by the end of a wet, cold ride wasn’t good enough to wipe clean the warm swim that we enjoyed.