Pirates of the Western Ghats –II – Bike trip to Kerala

Thursday, September 15, 2011

August 31st, 2011
    It was the starting day of the trip. 24 adventurous souls had gathered in CMBT to board the bus at 6.30 PM. But unfortunately we started only by 8.00 PM due to some delays.  We were ready to meet new people, to create new experiences, to explore new places and to cherish the new memories. This was the only thing on my mind. I was a pillion.

September 1st, 2011    We reached Cumbham at 7.30 AM. 8 bikes were transported by a truck from Chennai to Cumbham. 4 bikers drove from Chennai to Cumbham and vice versa for cutting the cost and transporting in another truck. Hats off guys!!


We all were getting ready by armoring ourselves with the safety gears and then moved to the petrol bunk for filling the beasts. All ready and set to start the adventure. We were on the go to Thekady from Cumbham.  The roads were lovely and the mountains far away had some great falls.


There were 2 bikes doing the sweeping work. I was a pillion rider with Koushick. When we were passing by the village, the biker ( Prakash) before us braked suddenly and we had to stop because of it. A guy in TVS 50 fell down. I got down and helped the person up. By the time I could turn to get back to my pillion seat both the bikes had disappeared. I started to laugh. I walked for some 300 meters, trying to call my biker and the organizers as well but could not reach.  The biker (Prakash) who left before my biker suddenly asked where is your pillion after which my biker realized and came back to get me. When I kept walking for some distance, I saw my biker coming back. I just could not control my laughter. The biker who forgot the pillion rider. This is the tag for my biker. We kept riding the beautiful Ghat road enjoying the climate, the breeze on our face and the clean air altogether making it a lovely time. We were on the way to Thekady while the rains had welcomed us. We reached the Thekady Lake by 10. 30 AM and had some good photo shoot there. 


This is the point; my leach friend had climbed my leg to have its favorite food. We started from there towards Kumarakom. We stopped for breakfast on the way. I had realized that my left leg was painful.  Not sure, how much blood was sucked for nearly one hour, and then Mr. Leach was already like a fully fed snake and then fell off from my leg.

We reached Kumarakom by 3 PM, parked our bikes in a petrol bunk with a help of a known person who had arranged for the houseboat for us. We were guided and led to the house boat. It was really a big boat house. There were 5 rooms below, dining room above and a kitchen.  WOW, that was my reaction. The boat moved and all of us were lost in taking photographs spreading to occupy all the corners of the boat.


The ride was so cool, it was like flying. The cook made us some hot tea and banana snack which was unique to Kerala. 


The evening went on with the clicking of photographs and the dusk had set in. There was a function going on in a nearby church and we hired a small boat to reach the opposite side of the land where our house boat was parked. Some members opted to be in the houseboat, while one set were interested to explore. We went to the area around the church and took pictures and sat nearby waiting for the boatman to take us back. So we reached back by 8 PM. Dinner for the night was white rice, beans, sambar and fish fry.  After dinner, we sat to play cards. It was a big round of people and we had our best time having fun playing cards. The best part of such trips is that one gets to know people who had different experiences travelling to various places across the country.
September 2nd, 2011

Anywhere I go; it has been a habit to me to wake up early to see a new morning in a new place.  It is so beautiful to see the morning in a new place.

Many don’t admire these in the group but are way too busy sleeping, which they usually do at home.  Sahaya and I got up early to click photographs of the first shots of the sunrise, but unfortunately it had been a cloudy day. However, we were able to capture the pink color of the sky when the sun had risen above the clouds a little late. The boat started to move to the place where we had got on board by 8.30 AM, by which time our breakfast was ready. It was hot idly, sambar and hot chatnee. Everyone wondered why chatnee was hot.  It is a usual way in Kerala to heat the chatnee and serve. 


We reached the end of our house boat stay and got down for a brief of the trip for the rest of the day by Koushick.


We had started our 180 km drive to Neliampatty from Kumarakom at 9.30 AM.  We had taken the coastal road, which was similar to ECR but a little narrow. It was the most amazing drive. On the way we stopped at Andhakaranazhy beach for a quick break. 


The waves mixed with breeze and sight and sounds of the place made our short time so blessed. We had taken some quick shots here and started to move towards the NH 47. On the way we had to take a ferry to reach Kochin city and it was a good ride by the ferry.

As we were riding the NH 47, there was a sudden pour of rains.

It was heavy; still we rode with the lovely rain. We stopped by a hotel for lunch since it was raining heavily and by the time we completed our lunch the rains has stopped. We started towards Nelliampatty.

It became 4.30 PM by the time we came to the foothills. One needs to cross the check post at the foothills by 6 PM, after which no vehicle is allowed to enter. We regrouped and started ascending to the hill town of Nelliampatty. It started to rain heavily again. The hairpin bends were quite steep and the turns had to be made with a wide U.Balaji had taken a sharp U turn and ended by falling towards his left side. The bus which was opposite to us stopped for us. We had quickly cleared the way and started again. The rain was pouring like anything. We were all 100% wet.  It was an amazing time riding through the mists. We could not see the bike in front or back. The level of mist was so much. We reached Nelliampatty by 6.30 PM with a heavy downpour of rain. The plan was to camp but due to heavy rain we had to find a place to stay. Luckily there was a dormitory available nearby and we had occupied it. We had an introduction session in our room. There were 2 big rooms. 12 people had occupied each room. We had a good time introducing ourselves and hit the bed soon after warming up and having dinner.
September 3rd, 2011I woke up at 4.30 AM. It was raining lightly and the breeze was quite heavy making the early morning even chillier. I went out to feel the climate and ran inside with my teeth cluttering. Vignesh woke up. Sam was snoring and he woke up more people. Bhuvana turned and saw as to who was snoring this loud. It was fun to watch this and I started to laugh silently and could not control it. Most of the people in our room woke up. We decided to go out for a round in the bike in that chilly weather to see if any animals come out in the forest. Me, Sahaya, Vignesh, Vishnu, Dinesh, Kamal and Sathya set out in the wonderful rainy weather at 5 A M to check out this. Unfortunately we were the ghost riders making our way in the dark that the animals were scared to come out seeing the ghosts. We came back soon and were all set to enjoy the 4*4 Jeep ride into the forest at 8.00 PM. There were 4 jeeps.6 people per jeep. We were off roading now  WOW. There were stones all through the way. The jeep is the best in these conditions. The balance held by the driver was amazing. The way was even tougher due to the rain making it more slippery. We reached to the top of the hill which had huge stones and was covered with mist.

 It was a mind boggling view point with a steep drop on one side which we were unable to see because of the mist. There were more leeches here. They had welcomed us well. Vishnu was their favorite, this time.

We had a marvelous time in this place. We were back to our dorm by 10 AM and had a quick breakfast. The plan was to visit a nearby falls which was totally filled with my dear leech friends. One jeep led the way to the falls followed by the bikes. I was in the jeep and hanged out of the jeep to enjoy the breeze and take picture of the easy rider formation.


We reached the falls after some tough time people had offroading and driving their beasts into the forest. My lovely leech friends, here we come. It was my first experience with leeches, but got used to it. It had rained heavily hence the amount of water flowing with the current was very huge. We had taken a look at the falls and left soon. There was one more falls where most of them took bath.

Only 15 minutes were given to them and they were done. We reached our dorm by 12.00 PM and got ready to leave to Athirapally which was 120 km from Nelliampatty. Since we were little late to start than expected time we had decided not to stop for lunch and keep going, hence we got some puffs in the town to eat and left the place immediately. I had given a name to Koushick as the bumpy bike rider. If there was a pit in front you can make sure that he will go into the pit and come out and whether there are ups or downs it will all be crossed in the same speed. Cheers to Koushick. We were heading to catch the NH 47. On the way we had stopped near the diversion which leads to Chalakudi. It was during this time that Balaji realized that something was tingling in his left hand.


He had taken off the jerkin to find out a river of blood with one big leech dead in the river. 3 hours had gone and it is really difficult to realize a leech bite. We named Balaji as Baleechi.

After some first aid by Sathya and Sahaya he was alright. Then we were on the go to Athirapally which had some spectacular roads and forests. There was the river on one side and road and residents on the other side. We parked our bikes inside a home and stayed in a nearby lodge. The people were really helpful here. We had dinner in a nearby hotel and returned back by 9.30 PM. All of us were asked to come to a hall above by Sahaya for a discussion. It was a feedback session and each one expressed their experiences. It was a good one to know how far the trip had turned out to each of their expectations.
September 4th, 2011

It was 4.30 AM. I went out for a walk for a short distance and guess what. It has been a long time since I felt that refreshing. The silent sound of the nearby falls made the morning even more wonderful. All were sound asleep and I had sat out to enjoy the morning in a new place. I woke up Sahaya by giving a call. So Sahaya, Vignesh, Dinesh, Kamal and I went for a long walk. We reached a tea shop to find out we did not get cash. There was a cute puppy there. We had played with it for some time and returned back from there. It had followed us for some time and then it returned back. We bid goodbye and reached the lodge. We were all set to reach Athirapally falls. Koushick was the sweeper this time. Ronick’s bike was punctured and the chain came out in the bike which was driven by Sovik. We stopped and I waited with Sovik and Piyush near a house, while Koushick went in search of a mechanic. It started to rain heavily again. We kept our bags on the bike and covered it with a tarpaulin and went into the car parking of a lovely home nearby. It was a good time to learn the experiences of Sovik and Piyush. After an hour an elderly man with a young boy stopped near our vehicle to check as to what had happened. He went to get a spanner and communicated that they would fix it. They were able to fix it temporarily but it would not last for more than 25 kms. If you leave the bike in the forest the elephant will throw it and you will be able to find the bike only in the tree above. This is the explanation which he gave when I told that we are heading to the reserve forest area. So Sovik and I went back near the lodge where the mechanic shop was there and fixed it up with the help of the elderly man. Thanks to the elderly man for helping us. Our bags were in the house which we had taken refuge for sometime during the rains. The uncle from the house came out asking about us and our hometown. He was very friendly and helpful in communicating. The bikes were in the mechanic shop and me and Sovik went to have breakfast. We came out of the hotel, to see Koushick and Ronick back to bike while Sovik reached to the mechanic shop to get the bike. We stopped over by the house where we left our bags and bid farewell to the family and started to Athirapally falls. We could not find the gang in Athirapally falls and I could not find network to reach these guys. We drove past Athirapally without taking a look because of the time we lost. It happens and let us keeps moving was the only thing going in my mind.

    We were off to the check point at the starting of the reserve forest area. Anywhere we went people were keen to take photograph of us. We had entered the registration number of all the bikes in the forest officer record and zoom off we went to the reserve forest. No horns, medium speed. The reserve forest was also a bus route from Polachi to Athirapally. There was a lorry which came in front and he told that there were elephants. WOW. We saw the fresh dung of the elephant on the road but not the elephant. Unfortunately we could not spot anything. We saw the wild eagle which was so majestic. We were out of the forest range heading towards Vaalparai and stopped by the way to check out the breath taking view of the Dam below.


At one moment it was full of mist and the next moment it was clear. We moved on to reach the Vaalparai which was the homeland of mists. No words to explain this beauty. We stopped by a small town above for lunch and then to the Sholayar dam for some good photography shots and moved towards the 40 hairpin bends which was like a race and reached Polaachi by 6.30 PM.


Our trip came to an end but it was worth the time we had spent making history in our lives of exploring through new horizons.

    We had a great time together, a wonderful set of new people who created new memories for us. Big thanks to the organizing team!!!



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