And a life called Journey…
“Success is not a place at which one arrives but rather the spirit with which one undertakes and continues the journey.”
7 bikes, 14 crazy riders, 50 hairpin bends, 1 Serene Nilgiris, 3 lazy pachyderms, homemade chocolates, midnight jungle trail, a game called ‘Wolf’ and a life called journey……. and much more were all in store for Chennai Trekking Club (CTC) members last week. All we needed was a sheer desire to ride, ride and ride to discover new highways, towns and heights.
TGIF! …That was the first chant uttered by all the members on that Friday. We were all happy to gather at the exit point of Bangalore at 2 pm. The most surprising element was the range of bikes that stood to brave next three days. While a Royal Enfield stood in grandeur to outsmart the rest, three Pulsars were not too far behind. There was a Splendor who all ready to join the league and last but not the least, we had a non-geared Kinetic Blaze who was ready to set highways on fire. Vrooooming through the sugarcane fields….. At 2 p.m we started from Bangalore towards Maddur (known for its famous Maddur Vada) to take diversion towards Chamaraja Nagar. Much to everybody’s joy, the journey towards Maddur was a pleasant one as we were riding on one of India’s best highway. As we took diversion from Maddur to Chamaraja Nagar, the roads started to sing the actual plight of rural areas. Even the erratic bumps, irritating potholes and the speed breaker cattle couldn’t falter our spirit on that day. As we were passing, the sugarcane fields surrounding smiled at us as if they were the only ones happy to greet us. How Sweet of them….Frequent brakes were taken to catch up with the trailing bikes, photo-sessions, a drink and discussions to guess how worse the road can be ahead. After all it’s the recession time……
Cruising under the moonlight
We left Chamaraja Nagar around 7. We had another 150 kms more to cover to reach Mettupalayam – our first base camp. Much to despise, the roads continued to get worse from bad and now under lights the travel got even more challenging. As we neared the Tamil Nadu border, the road conditions drastically improved surprising everybody in the group. The next two hours of journey was now an open challenge for the riders with the ghat sections finally foraying in our journey. Hairpin curves, narrow road, gigantic vehicles ahead were all waiting to welcome us and we were the best guests they would have ever hosted. We reached Satyamangala town around 9 and after a quick dinner we proceeded towards Mettupalayam which was now 50kms away. Thanks to some tamil folks in our group, we managed to convince the locals for a decent place to roost for the rest of night. After a quick chit-chat session, sleeping mats and bags were spread all across for the group to earn a well deserved sleep after a successful and tiring first day.
At 6 am on Saturday, with the river roaring and peacocks crying, it was a perfect alarm for us to wake up for yet another exciting day. After a roadies pose for a photograph, we headed towards the town to meet our 7th biker who rode all the way from Chennai to join us. We were now 7 bikes and 14 riders ready to explore the Nilgiris. The first spot was Conoor which is 50 kms from Mettupalayam with 14 hairpin bends on the way. The nippy weather in the morning made our riding even more pleasant. We managed to spot and click some wild elephants on the way and sprawling tea estates marking the true spirit of Nilgiris. After a quick breakfast in Conoor, we headed towards Dolphins Nose, a tourist spot which boasts of a hill which is in a shape of a dolphin’s nose, a thin waterfall which adds more beauty to the mountains. Members also managed to catch some a couple of lovers romancing in the Nilgiris. Alas, they were shooting for a music album. From Conoor, we headed towards the queen of hills – Ooty. The thick traffic density between Ooty and Conoor almost reminded us of Bangalore traffic. The city of Ooty has almost lost its charm with swarming tourists and vehicles dampening her beauty. After eating our lunch, it was now time to buy some homemade chocolates for near and dear ones before leaving the city.
Time – 4 p.m
Current Location : Ooty
Destination – Masinagudi, Madumalai forest range
Distance – 50 kms
What’s on the road – 36 hairpin bends, Zebra crossing for monkeys and sambars and look out for HTV’s struggling to ascend the highway
Road rule – Ride on second gear only
Follow the rules or you perish….Yes, Riding through 36 hairpin bends on a steep road was a hair-raising stunt of the entire journey. Even the pillion riders had their prayers on the lips hoping we cross them safely. For riders, it was a matter of pride where their riding skills were now actually tested. It was not the speed that would determine their caliber. It was all about intelligent and balanced riding that mattered the most. As we crossed the 36th hairpin, there was a cheer in every rider’s face and a perpetual contentment of riding through one of the most fascinating ghat section successfully.
We reached Masinagudi at 6 pm. All the members were in a light mood that evening to unwind their excitement, tiredness and looking forward for the midnight jungle trail. We spent time talking to each other, sharing light moments, cracking jokes and discovering a new strategy game called ‘Wolf’. Teams were divided into wolves, villagers, a cop and a moderator. The entire objective of the game is that wolves should kill the villagers while villagers have to kill the wolves with the help of cop. The wolves managed to kill the villagers and cops this time. The game can be googled for readers’ interest. After a light dinner, we hired two jeeps with for the midnight jungle trail. The jeeps with their lights switched off paved through the dark and dense forest line to spot some animals. The pale moonlight was the only source of illumination on that night for us. It was a tough luck for us. Some of us managed to get a sneak view of a stag who ran away once he spotted us. We passed by the stream and waited for some animals to pass by. But this time they didn’t hear our prayers. We left back with much disappointment. But it was an exciting day for the bikers to cheer on their accomplishment of scaling the most exciting road between Mettupalayam and Masinagudi – a total of 50 hairpin bends.
The finishing touch
On Sunday, we left Masinagudi at 9 am after a breakfast and browsing the cricket scores. Sachin was retired hurt after a blistering knock of 160+ runs. We had another 300 kms to reach home. We crossed the Karnataka border to reach Bandipur forest areas. Tender coconuts entertained our parched throats as we passed on to reach a temple spot Gopalaswamy temple near Gundlupet. The temple is located on top of a hillock where Lord Sri Krishna with his flute is busy blessing his devotees. At 3 we reached Nanjangud for lunch and at 5 we were in Mysore city. We took the express highway towards Bangalore reminiscing every moment that occurred in past two days. The journey had everything in store – Follow the riding rues, be disciplined and overall a team member. CTC members truly stood to their endurance, obedience and concern for each other as always. Three cheers!
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end”
Written by: Ajit Pai
Organized by: Ramki/Arun