Ride to Kyatanamakki - Sringeri - Agumbe - Varanga | Why I named my bike Dhanno?

Places to see near Agumbe | 3 day Itinerary | Kyatanamakki Hills, Sringeri, Agumbe, and Varanga Jain Temple

Just when I was trying to stay strong and ride hard, a deer jumped from across the road in front of me. My bike immediately came to halt. Before I could think what just happened, the deer vanished into the woods. My heart was beating faster and faster by now
Hi readers,

I am writing after a long gap, and I hope and pray you all are staying safe and healthy. Today I bring you a new post about my ride to Kyatanamakki, Sringeri, and Agumbe in the last week of December 2019. That's my only long joy ride before the whole COVID-19 thing started.

When I think of 2019, I feel happy. I can remember what it meant to travel on your own terms. I can relate what freedom means. Come 2020, we are all confined to our homes, our laptops, and our phones. Well, many of you might have seen those WhatsApp and Instagram Stories with friends calling each other. That's the only good thing in 2020 so far. Anyway, back to the story.

Prologue:

Continuing my tradition of a year-end ride, I thought of riding to Kyatanamakki Hills in Chikamagaluru, only because I saw a photo of a bike at the top of the hills. The view looked amazing from there and I made up my mind to ride there. Little did I know that lack of research about the place would later give me chills. 

It was the evening of Christmas when I packed my bags, all my photography gears, and ready to leave the next morning. I was so excited about the ride on my new bike Dominar 400. 

Day 1: Bangalore - Kyatanamakki - Sringeri (360km)


Anticipating a long day and a long ride ahead, I woke up early and started early at around 7.30AM. Today was also Solar Eclipse, owing to which the weather was a bit cold when I started. As I moved out of Bangalore city limits and as the time was closer to the eclipse time, the Bangalore Mangalore highway was full of fog and mist. I have traveled on the very road for years, and it was the first time I was seeing such weather. 

So foggy even at 10 AM

I didn't stop for breakfast. Instead, I rode till about afternoon and stopped at a small cafe by the side of the road. Kyatanamakki was still some 70-80 km away. I ate enough in peace and continued towards the hills. The roads were beautiful and full of greenery. I thoroughly enjoyed riding on the small winding roads in the hilly region. This was a perfect opportunity to get my drone out and click some pictures. 

Kalasa Coffee Estate

Another look
So much greenery💚

My Dhanno 🏍

I was about 30-40 km away from the hills when I hit the bad roads. It looked like the roads were half done. I could see all the mud and gravel on the climbing roads towards the hills. I was lucky enough not to skid on the road. With all the mud and gravel things could have been worse had I miscalculated tiniest of things. 

The best of worst roads ahead🚧
After tackling these difficult roads, I thought "this is it". In my mind, I was expecting the road to be like the road to Nandi Hills or any other hills with roads till the top. But it was only a figment of my imagination. When the reality hit, it was one of the worst roads. Rather there was no road.

READ ALSO: Solo Ride to Thirthalli, Yana and Offbeat beaches

My bike was loaded with a tail bag that weighed about 6-7 kg at the rear, which the tank bag weighed about 8-9 kgs, which contained all my camera gears. Owing to this my already heavier bike had turned even heavier. I got stuck at a place as there was no grip and the skidding tyres did nothing to help my cause either. Due to rains, the burrows formed were closed with loose mud which couldn't allow for any grip. After frantically trying for about 15-20 mins and exhausting all my energy, I almost gave up. The hilltop was just 1.1 km far. Near, yet so far. I was totally dejected by the fact that I just couldn't take my bike past that spot. "This is it" I thought. There was nobody to even offer me help.

And finally, I saw two guys riding towards the hill on a Passion Pro. They stopped and offered to push my bike through. After a couple of attempts, my bike was through. "This is it", I thought again. But little did I know that what was ahead would take out every ounce of energy left in me. It was a total offroad. After a few hundred meters I just couldn't believe what my eyes saw. It was a never-ending road with big rocks all the way. I thought to myself "Forget about making it to the top. It looks difficult to even turn my bike around and head back." But I still went through only to see what lied further ahead. For the entire duration of the last 30 minutes, I was trying to push my bike through these rocks being in 1st gear. There was no room to lift my leg off the ground. Because the terrain was just damn too difficult for even the 4x4 jeeps. I only had a single wheel rotating off the ground. 


After a good 20-30 minutes, I was still not at the top. But this time around, I could see the road leading to the top of the hills. It was a very steep looking mountain. I was a bit skeptical at first even to attempt. But I just trusted my instincts and trusted the words of the guy who helped me, and raced towards the top. This final stretch had a different excitement and needed the utmost precision. A little imbalance and I would roll down the mountains to death.

Total offroad!
When I finally made it to the top, the view just took away all my tiredness. I just couldn't believe what I saw. It was breathtaking, it was stunning. The green mountains surrounded the entire view from the top of the hills. It was mountains and mountains everywhere. I was in total awe, lost at words! As the evening progressed, after clicking a few photos atop I left from there.

Dhanno at the top of Kyatanamakki Hills


Ye gaon mera hai.. aur mai iss gaon ka Jaykanth Shikre
My tired face!
Could I be any more happy?
Another bird eye view of Kyatanamakki

From my past rides in the jungle region, I knew it would turn dark pretty darn quick and I was in a dilemma whether to stay in one of the homestays neat Kyatanamakki or head to Sringeri for the night. After a quick thought, I decided it be Sringeri. As I feared, it soon turned very dark and I was riding on a lonely deserted jungle road. Those 30kms from Kyatanamakki to Sringeri had already started to feel so far already. I would be lying if I said I was not scared. The thoughts of my bike getting punctured and me stuck in the jungle started to creep into my feeble mind. 

Just when I was trying to stay strong and ride hard, a deer jumped from across the road in front of me. My bike immediately came to halt. Before I could think what just happened, the deer vanished into the woods. My heart was beating faster and faster by now. I thought the deer was being chased by a tiger or lion and I sped away from the spot as fast as I could without even looking back. This was one of the scariest experiences so far. 

I reached Sringeri and slept early, as I was too tired and I was anticipating another long day ahead tomorrow.

You can also watch my vlog here

Episode 1

Episode 2

Day 2: Sringeri - Sirimane falls - Kundadri Hills - Agumbe (80 km)

Today, I woke up at ease after fulfilling my sleep after yesterday's tiring ride. I had no real plan as always. Sringeri is famous for Shankaracharya Matha, and I couldn't miss it. This temple is situated on the banks of the Tunga River and has two main temples. One dedicated to Shiva, the other one dedicated to Maa Saraswati or Sharadamba. The temple premises had one of the best vibes I have experienced. Even with the chaos due to a lot of crowd, it felt so peaceful and a happy place for me. 

Feeling fresh at Sringeri
Sringeri Entrance

Beautiful vibes

Shiva Temple
Positive vibes all around!

After the 'darshana', I had a delicious and heavy breakfast at a nearby busy restaurant. It had the best filter coffee served. If you ever visit Sringeri and you are a fan of filter coffee, do try this place.

Best filter coffee 
Do try filter coffee here

Soon after, I learned about a nearby waterfall from one of my biker friends, and I decided to ride there. It was a pretty popular place and I did not hesitate to get into the falls even though I was solo. It was kind of weird, but once I was in the water, it didn't feel weird anymore. I spent close to an hour enjoying this tiny waterfall and it was time for lunch. I ate maggi and bajjis (pakoda) for lunch from a stall near the falls where I had kept my jacket and helmet, helping the local businesses. 

Clicking a selfie with school kids
Asked a stranger to click a photo
Selfie at this beautiful falls

Another one :p

The ride from Sringeri to Agumbe was a peaceful one. I had plenty of time to reach Agumbe and I took it very slowly. The narrow village roads were beautiful and filled with greenery. On one side of the road the farms were fenced and other side of the road was another farm. I stopped at this spot to click some photos.


Farms along the way


Lovely countryside!



I decided to ride to Kundadri hills for the view of the sunset and also an opportunity to capture the beauty of the hills through my drone. As I neared Kunadri, a few drops of rain welcomed me and reminded me not to take anything for granted. The weather was growing unpredictable and I decided to go for the hills anyway. This was my second time at this beautiful hill and trust me, a lot had changed. Starting from fences all around the hills to the newly opened snacks shop. It didn't quite have the vibe that I felt when I visited here around 5 years ago. For sure things change, and that's the essence of life. 

Aerial view of Kundadri Hills

Aerial view 2

Kundadri hills as seen from a kilometer away
The road leading to the hill top
Pond atop Kundadri Hills

I stayed in Agumbe Doddamane, one of my favorite places to stay in Agumbe. I was here in the same Doddamane again after 5 years and this time around nothing had changed. Absolutely nothing. It was as if they were living in a time capsule where the time is still. In a world of rapidly changing things, it gave me immense pleasure to be seeing Doddamane as it is. Trust me, I totally felt like home here. The hospitality of the hosts was top notch. Also, one good thing about this place is that they don't ask you for money. They don't demand. You can pay whatever you feel comfortable with.

Agumbe Doddamane
Dorms in Doddamane
It was here in Agumbe Doddamane, I met a few fellow travelers and we together went for a short walk right after the dinner and it was so soothing. The fresh air and the dropping temperature and so many stories to share with people.

Chilling night at Agumbe

You can also watch today's vlog here (Episode 3)

Day 3: Agumbe - Koodlu Teertha Falls - Varanga Jain Basadi - Agumbe (80 km)


I had an opportunity to go to Kundadri hills again for the sunrise, but since I had seen it before, I decided to get those crucial couple hours of extra sleep anticipating a difficult day ahead. I met two guys Arjun and Aditya at Doddamane the previous night, and we decided to leave for Koodluteertha falls together after a delicious breakfast at Doddamane. 

Beautiful roads..
The road to the falls goes through the winding roads of Agumbe hills towards Udupi. I have practically lost count of how many times I have been on this very road. It's a thrilling experience every time though. Soon we climbed down the ghat roads and it was now 30 km of interior pathetic roads. We could hardly go beyond 30-40 km/h. The roads were pathetic - full of potholes and sometimes full of small rocks put in to make roads. I took it slow as I was not wearing my riding jacket today. I knew the 2 km of trekking was going to be difficult. So I made a conscious choice to leave behind my riding jacket. Trust me when you are so accustomed to wearing a jacket, it felt so weird and also a bit unsafe during the ride. I took it slow anyway.

The Koodlu Teertha falls is a hidden gem in the jungles of Agumbe. From the parking spot, one would have to trek for 2km to reach the falls. One good thing I liked about this place is that it's not free to enter. Also, no plastic is allowed. If you want to carry water bottles, you need to pay ₹ 100 per bottle. This amount will be given back to you only if you bring back your bottle. Great idea.

The trail begins
As we started walking towards the falls, my bag that contained all my equipment started to feel heavy. We walked past one of the greenest trails. We found some of the tallest trees here. One of them was at least 30 ft tall.  

Camera could capture only so much

As we continued walking, we could hear a lot of birds chirping and the sound of the crickets. The path to the falls is well marked except in a couple of places. The unique thing about this falls is that its a single stream waterfall. Unlike other waterfalls, which are formed due to water flowing from different streams, this has just one stream falling from a height of over 70ft. One of the best waterfalls I have witnessed till today. Koodlu Teertha had my heart from the word go. I spent about an hour or two just enjoying the beautiful falls. I just didn't feel like coming out of the water ever.


Look at this beauty!

Me, Arjun, Aditya


Happiness!



Trying something different
Lovely!



I parted with my new friends after the waterfalls. They headed to a different place, and I had one more place in mind to click some aerial shots. I headed straight to Varanga soon after. Varanga is popular for its Jain temple built in the middle of a lake. Recently it gained a lot of popularity, thanks to Instagram. A small boat ferries the visitors to and from the temple in the lake and its quite a scene to view just to look at it. 

My rendition of Varanga Temple
Symmetry
Looks so different from this angle



After getting my share of aerial shots, I wasted no time. The weather was growing worse. The clouds seem to cover the whole of skies and it had me worried, as I had no jacket, and no rain cover as well. I tried to reach Agumbe safely before the rain could hit. Just as I parked my bike and entered Doddamane again, it started pouring like there is no stopping. Even though I was back to safety, one more thing that had me worried was the stay. There were no rooms available in Doddamane for that night, as the new year was just a couple of days away. The time was passing by and it was night already. I enquired almost every homestay/lodge available in Agumbe. To my dismay there were none. I had no choice but to leave Agumbe at night and head towards Sringeri. It was a big risk I was taking. One, Agumbe is a dense forest region. Riding on a motorcycle especially at night was not at all recommended. I had no choice. Two, due to new years, the probability of getting a stay in Sringeri was sparse. I headed anyway hoping for the best. 

Heavy rain in Agumbe!

The rain hadn't subsided even a bit in the last hour or two. I wore my rain covers over the already bulky jacket and left. I knew its risk I was taking as I stepped up on the motorcycle. I only hoped no mishaps during my journey. The road was narrow, it was pitch dark, no markings on the road and no street lights. I was just riding on my gut feel about how the road it. Occasionally, I would chase any 4 wheeler which drives past me so I can just follow it without worrying much. I breathed a sigh of relief as I finally reached Sringeri after a ride of about 1.5 hours. But the task was not over yet. I inquired a couple of lodges but there were no rooms available. Luckily I found a very small room, which was just large enough to hold a bed and my luggage. Not extra space of even one foot. I slept in the most congested room ever. 

The next day, I left straight to Bangalore after a nice breakfast at the same place I had 2 days earlier. As I traveled back, I thought of naming my bike Dhanno, for it did stick with me like the Dhanno from Sholay stuck with Basanti. Especially during the off-road scenes. Here I introduce you to my Dhanno. My companion for further years to come. Chal Dhanno!

You can also watch the vlog for this day here (Episode 4)



Dhanno!

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Little Detours: Ride to Kyatanamakki - Sringeri - Agumbe - Varanga | Why I named my bike Dhanno?
Ride to Kyatanamakki - Sringeri - Agumbe - Varanga | Why I named my bike Dhanno?
Places to see near Agumbe | 3 day Itinerary | Kyatanamakki Hills, Sringeri, Agumbe, and Varanga Jain Temple
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