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The Lost Fear - An adventure ride to Chikmagalur, Agumbe and Malpe.

Only those who risk going too far, can possibly know how far they can go - T.S. Eliot

Hi readers, this post is about another awesome bike trip with two other friends.  (Not alone this time :-p ) This post may seem long, because the trip was that long.

It all started with a plan to visit Pondicherry with a bunch of friends. And as always it remained just on a piece of paper and a couple of route maps on google maps which never materialized. But they say everything happens for a reason. Yes, I didn't know the reason untill we (Me, and my friends Anirudh and Nikhil ) decided to go on a marathon bike ride. We sat down in front of our laptops and chalked down a plan to visit Chikmagalur, The Land of Coffee. As it turned out the plan was just an outline of  a trip to these places which turned out to be the best of each of our lives.

This time we Kept It Simple and Silly.

  • Three friends,
  • Three bikes ( All Pulsar 150s.. Definitely Males :-D ) 
  • Three places to visit  
  • Three days and
  • Three Brave Hearts. (Yes, this was needed indeed !!)

As people say, "Jaha teen ka tigda vaha kaam tha bigada!" But people just talk. We made it as "Jaha teen ka thigda, kaam tha thagada!!"


As for the plan was concerned, we had decided the places of our stay - Chikmagalur and Agumbe. The initial draft contained 2 bikes and 3 of us, so we could share the ride. At the eleventh hour Nikhil insisted to get his own bike too. This was just the beginning of an awesome bike trip. None of us at this moment ever had imagined that this would be one of the craziest and one of the most memorable trips ever.

Road Map. (Zoom in for more info )

Day 1 : Bangalore - Hassan - Chikmagalur (240 kms approx)

We left Bangalore at 3.00pm on a Saturday afternoon. ( We had to leave our office early to make up for the time. And yes we work on Saturdays too!! ). Filled in some fuel, pumped up the tires, helmets were on and a roar (vrrrrrroooooommmm vrrrooomm) sprung the plan to life.!!

Me


We hit the Bangalore - Mangalore Expressway (NH 48, which is a six lane highway) after a ride of about half an hour through the busy roads of Bangalore. The road till Hassan is one of the best roads I've ever seen.



Anirudh








We rode for around 2hrs nonstop at an average speed of 50kmph. We still had 4hrs of journey left for the day and a pit stop was much needed. We stopped at a cafe near B.G.S Institute of Technology near Bellur Cross. The trip read 100kms.



Nikhil




We started again after that brief stop. Fueled our bikes again and set for the ride. The road was awesome. So was the ride.

Time for some snaps. Captured some while riding, when the road was empty.
Please don't try this. Its done by trained professionals who have developed these set of essential skills over a period of time. :-p





The sunset seen from the highway was an amazing sight to see. Yes, the sunset as seen from a "Highway" riding the bike is an experience in itself.

The Sunset from Highway. What a view!


We neared Hassan town,
As the sun went down!!

We noticed, Nikhil's Bike chain had become loose and was making a lot of noise. Worried faces. Looked around and luckily found a small bike garage just on the other side of the road. Lucky! The bike was repaired in no time. The mechanic said, few more kilometers and the chain would have cut. Very lucky indeed. We still had to cover more than 80kms now.


The road from Hassan to Chikmagalur is a State Highway. SH 57. The road is pretty good. We had no much problem on the way. But its better if you travel in the day time. We reached Chikamagalur KSRTC Bus Stand at around 8.00pm. We found a lodge nearby and stayed there for the night.

Had a heavy dinner and back in the lodge, even after riding so much, nobody was sleepy until it was almost midnight. I suspected we might get up late the next day!

Day 2 : Chikmagalur - Mullayanagiri - Kemmangundi - Bhadravati - Shivamoga - Agumbe (260 kms approx)


In front of  so called "Parking"


As I'd suspected, we got up late!! Nobody to blame ( or rather all of us ). Got up at 7am. Yes, 7am is way too late to get up when you are on a road trip. Finally after all the morning routines we were ready to leave by 8 o clock.

The Parking Lot :-p








Other than Mullayanagiri we had two other choices in mind; Z point or the Hebbe falls near Kemmangundi. We had to choose one because of the time constraint. When asked a local guy about the Hebbe falls, he said it would be closed as it was being made a Tiger Reservoir. So we settled for Z point.

I had seen Mullayangiri and Z point both once when I was pursuing my Engineering. The new thing for me here was the ride. Enjoyed riding in the morning fog, though it was falling off quickly as it was 8.30 already.


As we rode up the hills, we saw a beautiful scene and like a magic all of us had turned off our bikes to stop and savor the beauty of nature for a while. Such was the beauty of the place. The awe of the nature had captured us all!

Bliss :)

Beautiful!


Nikhil - Kiran - Anirudh

It was 9.30am when we reached the end of the road. We had to climb 200-300 steps to reach the peak of the Mullayanagiri hills.

Kind of selfie.

After climbing, it was again time for some pics.



Inside the cave.


Crawling down!


As we crawled down to the base of the hills, we were completely drained of energy. We all had tender coconut to get going again.!!

The next destination was the infamous Z-point (Kemmannugundi). And how we reached there? Through the territory of Tigers. That is the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary.

Checkpoint
    11am - We left for the Z-Point (Kemmannugundi). The ride for another hour took us to the checkpoint at Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. 

We were made to enter our details along with the vehicle Reg.No. by a lady over there. A word of caution  by her, to be careful along the way as some tigers were spotted "Chilling out" by the roadside. And I think that spiced up the journey a bit, as we were anticipating to see at least one. (although from a safe distance :p ) But we didn't.


It was one hell of a ride through the sanctuary. The road was horrible. Wait!! Was there any road after all?? We had seen one of the best roads a day before and the counterparts were here!! We were all by ourselves along the way, except for occasional citing of Homo Sapiens :p We stopped on the way as our bums were burning.

Worst road! Is there even a road?

Of course the pics were in order.

Kemmannugundi Kallu. :-p


Teen ka thigda!




It was an endurance test for both bikers and the bikes riding through such miserable roads. And we were happy that both the Bikers and the Bikes were in good shape after the endurance. By now we had reached the base of Kemmannugundi(Z - point).

Food :-D
   
We were hell lot tired and needed some fuel for ourselves to get going. There was a food mess nearby-the only one. There was no choice. We weren't expecting a good quality food there, but we were served the delicious poori and dal fry. Dal fry was just mouthwatering.


We knew we had to eat less because we even had to trek the infamous Z-point in the scorching sunlight. We had to eat. But not more enough that it would be difficult to carry a fat tummy up the hills. It was around 2.00pm when we finally left for trek. The worst time to trek I must say.

Never ever ever ever (Arnab style ) go for a trek other than early morning or late evening. I learned that after the trek was over.



We carried our bikes to a nearby place and from there we had to trek. We chose to carry our backpacks along with us, since it had some valuables. Again, shouldn't have done that, but there was hardly any choice. It was so hot in the afternoon even in during those winter days. Whoa. I was very tired after initial minutes after commencing the trek. Luckily, on the way there is a small falls by name "Shanthi falls"






Seriously, at the sight of that falls, we got some 'Mann ki Shanthi' ( मन की शांती ) (relief). All of us were so tired and were sweating heavily. It was like an oasis in a desert. We were so happy at the sight of it. Nikhil and Puranik went in for it wash their faces and to get refreshed. For me, the heat was unbearable. I just went in and had a little 'Head bath' ( ತಲೆ ಸ್ನಾನ ). :p





It was a great trek and a great sight to see even in the scorching sunlight.




I would say we were a bit disappointed because the timing was not proper. We should have been there by the earliest. Anyway a lesson well learnt. Apart from that, the view from the top the hills is way too awesome to be just depicted as a picture. The pictures aren't making justice to the actual scenery out there.



After we crawled down the hills, we got refreshed (F5'ed) at the same Shanthi falls. Shanthi was so शांत (silent) and kind to us. :D



The next destination, Agumbe was not near. 170 kms far! We had to ride hard to reach there by time. This part of journey was an interesting one. It was around 4pm when we finally left for Agumbe. We thought if we rode at 80km/h and even if we stopped in between, we would be there in 3 hrs of time. LOL. What were we thinking?? My wrist watch read 9.30 when we reached Agumbe.

The journey from Kemmannugundi to Agumbe was fascinating. The route was Kemmannugundi to Bhadravati to Shimogga to Agumbe. On the way, we wasted some precious half an hour to visit Kalhatti Falls, which is near Kemmannugundi. There is nothing notable at Kalhatti falls other than a little stream of water falling. Absolute waste of time. And our back were straining because of backpacks. Neither of us had thought of this before. None of us had ropes. I tried some "Jugaad" and tied my bag to the backseat somehow.

After riding for some time, it was time for another refreshment break. We stopped at Kenechenahalli ( I guess)  had coffee to let us keep wide awake and then left. It was around 5pm.  From Kemmannugundi to Tarikere, is a State Highway SH57. Good roads. And from Tarikere onwards, is a National Highway. NH 206. The roads were spotless and the weather was great. The sun had calmed down since the afternoon. Thus the ride was great. However, we had so many pit stops for natural breaks and refueling.

The National Highway stretches past Shivamogga, but we had to take a diversion towards Agumbe. We had 100kms more to travel and it was already 6.00pm! Whoo.. Now we were a little worried. We asked a local guy about the route, He asked us to be more careful as the roads very curvy and that he had seen some horrible accidents. There was a wild life sanctuary on the way, near to Thirthahalli. He had warned us not to stop anywhere near that area.

With all this in mind, we went ahead for the ride. We aimed at reaching Agumbe and staying there for the night whatever may be the conditions. We couldn't afford to miss the Sunrise at Agumbe. Thats what we were going there for.

Since childhood, I always read in books that Agumbe is a great place and it rains heavily there. I don't exactly remember in which grade I was, when I read a story about a guy, who was born on Dec 25 and who lived in Agumbe. I don't remember any details other than the exotic Sunrise and Sunset that was described in the text. This was in the syllabus for that grade. (Huh, I remember so much :p) Since then I had in my heart, to visit Agumbe at least once in my life. Some things remain for life. Don't they?

Coming back to the story, in no time, it was dark and the sun was shy hiding below the horizon. As we rode our way through the Shettihalli Wildlife Sanctuary. To get some Adrenaline gushing through the blood, we decided that we would all turn off all our headlights to know how does it feel to be lost in the dark. 3...2...1...and the lights were off. What the F..was the first reaction to the sight. Well, rather that was our first reaction to "No-sight".  It was not just dark, it was very dark, pitch dark. It seemed as though we had lost our vision. Nothing in front of our eyes, eyes were in search of something to see, even a ray of light would have sufficed. But there wasn't any. We realized how alone in the jungle we were. And in no time, the lights were back on in full glow. Our minds started to think about what would happen if one of our tires blow out and what if a wild animal comes in our way. We kept the faith in God, and went ahead.

While on the way, as it was night time, we were in line, one behind the other separated by a safe distance. It was difficult for any one of us to lead the way throughout. So for some time, I would lead the way guiding the other two. After some time, Anirudh would overtake us and lead the path for some time and again Nikhil would do the same. What I loved the most was that nobody ever spoke about leading the ways alternatively. It just came out as an understanding. :)

It was around 9, when we had crossed the sanctuary and were nearing Agumbe. There is guest house called "Doddamane" which means a Big House. We called up them and asked if we could stay there for a day. And they were all welcome. After a ride of another half an hour, we were at the heart of the city. We reached Doddamane and stayed there for the night.

Three bikes chilling out in the chilling cold!! (Parked in front of house)


The hospitality was at its best. After one hell of a ride through the worst roads, through the jungles, and a tiresome trek and a tiresome journey, it was the last thing we expected. They were waiting for us. We were received by an elderly person in his late thirties or early forties. We were provided with hot water to get refreshed. And after a brief gap of 15 minutes or so, the dinner was ready. It was a traditional supper which included Rice, Dal – a special kind of dal and varieties of other gravies. I don’t even know what the recipe was called. But it was delicious and with the tinge of great hospitality, it was like a cherry on top of ice cream.

The specialty of Doddamane is that they never ask you for money. You can give whatever you feel is right. And they have won many awards for best Homestay and donno what all. I could see all such certificates proudly hanging on the wall.



Day 3 and Day 4 : Agumbe - Udupi- Malpe - Mangalore - Sakaleshpur – Hassan - Bangalore (500 kms approx)


Wondering why have I combined both days under one subheading? Well, there is a reason behind it. As you will know in some time.

The previous night we had a chat with the guy at Doddamane, about the place and all. He sketched out a route map to Kundadri hills which was 15kms from the place. He said we should be leaving latest by 5.15am if we are determined to watch the sunrise. Hell, we were! That was my sole reason to be at Agumbe. To watch the exotic sunrise! I couldn't afford to miss out on that. Neither did Anirudh and Nikhil.

We were woken up by the same guy again in the morning around 4.45am. We had had a good night sleep. We got up, refreshed and were ready to leave in the next 15 minutes. The previous night we had parked our bikes outside in the cold weather. We were expecting some trouble in waking them up. But there wasn't any. So, we all left.

Few minutes into the ride, my bike stopped. Anirudh and Nikhil were ahead of me. I honked, but they couldn't hear. I tried cold-starting my bike holding the choke. But all in vain. I was in the middle of nowhere. Darkness everywhere. The guy back at Doddamane had warned us about the elephants. I was worried. Not because of the elephants, but because I might miss the sunrise, which I wanted to see since my childhood. I tried starting my bike with kick start, but that didn't work too. I had almost given up. I called up Anirudh so that he could pick me from the spot. But hardly one would hear the phone ringing while on the ride. I had no idea what to do. I was thinking may they will notice that I was missing and they would come back for me. And then it hit me, that my fuel knob was in off position. What the hell. Previous night after we parked, I had turned it to off. Now I turned it to ON position and there goes my kick start and vrrrooomm. My bike starts. I quickly gained up speed and I was almost travelling at more than 70-80km/h in the chilling cold. After about a ride of 2 kms, I saw two headlights nearing me from the opposite end of the road. It was them. They were coming back for me.! After a brief stop, for a minute to talk about what had happened, we left for the Kundadri Hills. 

The morning fog was so thick, so dense that we could hardly see anything beyond 10 feet. We thought of taking some pics. In the picture below, you could see the moist on the lens. 
It would not be wrong if I say I cannot describe that morning in my own words. Anirudh and Nikhil were right behind me with their headlights on. I could see my shadow on the fog in front of me, as if it was some wall. Whoa. Such an amazing sight to see your own shadow floating in air.!! Great feeling. We recorded the video below.




After a ride of another 6-7 kms we reached the base of Kundadri Hills. It was an uphill ride of about another 7 kms from that point. It was so steep. Our bikes never went past 3rd gear. Again it was a very dense fog for the first few minutes. After that there wasn't any. Not because it had fallen off. But we were at a greater height and fog was down the hill.

Finally we reached at the top of the hill. It was 6.00am.

Before the sunrise! :)

Awesome!


We reached atop the hill and waited for the sunrise. It was a great sight to watch all the city below us. The fog had wrapped the whole city with some flaws here and there. It looked like an ocean with many small boats afloat.

An ocean of fog!


After some time, the sun emerged from below the horizon, driving away the darkness. I had never seen such a vivid sunrise in my life. It was so refreshing. Again we were awed at the beauty of nature!

Time for some silhouette pics.


Pic of day 3 :)

:)


Even at such a height, there was a pond atop the hill, which never dried.

Check out this awesome video - View from Kundadri Hills.



After savoring such a sight, we decided to roll down. The fog down the hills was falling off. When we reached down the hills we hardly could see the sun because of the fog. We took some pics on the way. It was like we had come to a totally different location.



Mesmerizing!




Out of words to caption this!!


We reached Doddamane, had some breakfast there, and left for Malpe at around 9 o clock.

Literally a big house - Doddamane

We knew it was going to be a long long ride. But we also knew we could do it. The route was Agumbe to Udupi to Malpe. Whether we would go to Malpe was to be decided on when we would reach Udupi.

The road from Agumbe to Udupi is a State Highway, winding down the hills with numerous Hair-pin curves. We had turned off our bikes all way till we reached the base. The road was not that good, but the Hairpins compensated for that :) But we had lost our time because of the hairpin curves. The road from the base of the hills to Udupi was't how a State Highway should have been. 

It was around 12 when we reached Udupi. So we still had time. We had some light refreshments and then headed for the Malpe beach. I hadn't seen a sea in 6-7 years. I was excited. As we neared Malpe, the smell of fish was very irritating. After a while, we had adopted to that smell. 

We just went in, changed clothes and went in to the beach. Whoa. It was awesome!! :) We played in the beach for about an hour or so. We wanted to go for water sports ( I was bit scared at the sight of huge sea) but we didn't have enough money to take up the sports. Even the ATM nearby wasn't working. So we got ready to leave again. By now, it was 3.00 pm.

View from a distance.

Good times. :)

:)


We had to cover whopping 400 kms. We had seen in Nokia Maps from Anirudh's phone that it was a National Highway from Mangalore to Bangalore. We knew it would take more than 6 hours for sure. We had estimated to reach Bangalore latest by 9.00 or 10.00pm. We rode for about 2 hours nonstop and then stopped to have some snacks. It was around 6 by now.

The interesting part is yet to come!!

Nikhil's tire was punctured. It was fixed in about 20 minutes, as there was a puncture shop just beside the restaurant where we had snacks. As we were speaking to the mechanic, he said we would reach Bangalore by midnight 3am. The reason being, the Ghat section ahead!! The Shiradi Ghats (Western Ghats) We were like What The F.. It was a NH when we had seen in the maps. So what?? It was a NH through the Ghats. I had rode my way on bike through the same ghats, when me and some other friends went for a bike trip to Kukke, back in my college days. I knew it was going to be a ride of a lifetime.

But accounting for the Ghat section, we thought may be we could reach Bangalore by 12am. We thought the mechanic was a freak who said it would be 3 am!!

So we continued our ride. We rode hard this time. We had covered around 100 kms, in less than two hours. We had reached the Gundya cross now. We were tired. Our backs where aching because of the worst roads. We had just entered the Ghat section. The larger pie was yet to be eaten. We had covered only 10 kms of the ghat section and we had to ride 40 kms to get away with Ghat section. After a break for about 20 minutes, we hit the road again. It was 8.30 already. The roads were even worse this time around. There were many potholes. It was the worst road. It took us almost 2 hrs to cover those 40 kms.

It was 10pm. When we reached near Sakleshpur. We had to take a call on whether to continue the ride or not. I wanted to stay there for the night and even visit Sakleshpur next day. But the other 2 were ready to go for the ride. I asked them if they could control the sleep. They nodded. So, I went for it too. I knew I could control my sleep.

It was another 220 kms ride from Sakleshpur to Bangalore. We knew the road this time. The roads were best. It was NH. So now, the estimate was 5 hours, that means we would reach Bangalore by 3am, just as the mechanic back at Bangalore had said. We realized he was not a freak. Instead we were!!

As we rode further, we felt the fury of the night. It was freezing cold. Me and Anirudh didn't even have riding gloves. Our hands had become numb. Our body was freezing. It was getting difficult to hold on to. So we stopped near a petrol pump to put on extra clothes and cover our hands. I totally emptied my backpack and put on all the clothes that I had. The cold was intolerable. Now I was wearing 3 Shirts and a Jerkin. and 2 jeans and 2 pairs of socks. Everybody had done something similar. We also covered our hands with other clothes. We filled fuel for bikes and then left. We still had more than 150 kms to cover and it was 11.35pm. The estimate was the same. Reaching Bangalore by 3am. An hour more into the ride, and we had covered only 40 kms because of the freezing cold weather. The cold air was even pushing us to sleep. We kept on and on.

I was worried about what might happen, if one of us caught sleep on the way. So every 5-10 minutes, I would ride beside them, honk and then show a thumbs up to know if they haven't  slept off. In return they would do the same. After another few minutes, Nikhil would do the same, and even Anirudh. We were a team. It was getting even colder and colder. We were singing songs to keep ourselves awake. But even that wasn't helping. Suddenly I would notice that I am not singing anymore and would get a little worried. The brain needed rest. It wasn't listening to our own commands. It was around 1.30 when we reached a Highway Toll Gate. We stopped there and kept our hands on the engines to warm them up. We used to keep on the silencer and get a little warmth. It wasn't enough. The brain was craving for some sleep. Me and Anirudh thought we would sleep for some time near the toll and leave after some time. Because it was the safest place. There were many vehicle moving around, there were people. And there were lights. Nobody would rob us there. And there was no danger. But Nikhil said there was a bus stand nearby and we could sleep there. 

We were so sleepy that we were already resting against a wall there. We were in no mood to get up. But somehow we did. We rode for another hour or so. It was 3am by then and we had 80 kms to cover. The threshold was reached. Nobody could ride another inch ahead. There was bus stop a small one with shelter by the side of the road. We parked our bikes there and just went in for the sleep. The idea was to take a power nap of about 30 minutes and then get going. I had thought nobody would wake up until morning. But Anirudh woke up exactly after 30 minutes and woke us up. 

I was in no mood to go for another 80 kms ride. The other two were ready. I knew they wouldn't let me sleep there alone. But I somehow managed to sit on my bike and ride. My brain was very heavy. I knew that to keep myself awake, I had to ride ahead of them. Because there was it was pitch dark. If I ride watching the tail lamps, I knew I would sleep off. So I took the charge and rode hard for few kilometers. Every kilometer seemed like a light year. The morning dew had started to fall. We needed to wipe our helmet glass to get a clear view. Now we stopped more frequently to warm our hands from the engine's heat. 
It so happened that we would ride for some distance and then suddenly realize that we had no idea how the last few minutes passed by. Were we sleeping?? Might be, might not be. We might have slept with our eyes open!! Whoa!! This happened to all of us. None of us knew what was happening. We were  pushing our luck beyond limits.

It was still 50 kms, and the ride was getting difficult. Our ears were buzzing with the sound of the engines. It was the horrific moment of each of our lives. We were dying to reach our homes. It seemed like we were riding on the same road since forever. That was the worst feeling ever. 

Riding even in such conditions was my first most daring thing I ever did in life. I knew that even if the tiniest of the things went wrong, I wouldn't be alive the next day. I would not see my loved ones again, I would not do the things I wished even if something little went wrong. It was the worst feeling ever. I was prepared for it. Prepared to face it. 

Fear is one thing that captivates not only the human race. But all the living things. I had that fear and I was loosing that fear as we rode. It was the first time in my life, where I had seen how the night progresses, by being outside in the nature. Its horrific. Our noses were blocked. The whole body had already become numb. and it was about to give up. We had to only hope. Have that little faith in the good. That's what we did. We had to take that leap of faith. That needs some great courage. I am happy we all had that. 

We reached our homes around 6 am the next day. (The reason why the subheading has Day 3 and Day 4 together.) The sight of the roads that we traveled everyday gave us great joy. That feeling cannot be described in plain words. It can only be experienced.

Of course the phone calls were in place. I called up everyone whom I'd remembered while on the last part of the ride. It was soothing. 

Final meter count reading 999.7 kms :)

This trip was the most adventurous of all the numerous trips I've had till today. This trip has made me more wiser person. And the realization that anything can come your way at anytime. The idea is to be ready for everything. This trip also has taught me numerous travel hacks and also many facts about life.

And I suppose this might be the longest post I have ever written. Why wouldn't it be. It had many things. We rode on the best roads, and the worst roads. Saw the beautiful places, trekked in the scorching sunlight. Rode through the jungles at night. Witnessed an exotic sunrise, played on the beach. Rode through the Ghats during night time, saw both the sunset and sunrise while on the ride. Rode for about 20hrs in a day!! And yet alive to write this post. Feels so great to have done/witness all these in a single trip.. :)

If you have made it to this line, I would like to thank you for your tremendous patience. Please leave your comments below, and if you like this, please share it with your friends. I'll be writing about my  another bike trip to Waynad soon. Till then,

Keep watching, keep travelling!

2 comments:

  1. Superb write up man:)...
    i could really feel and relive each and every moment that is described here...(got goosebumps:))
    keep travelling and keep posting!!:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wonderful pics, wonderful write up ! Kudos to u guys. #Respect!

    ReplyDelete

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