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Location: Bangalore

Friday, June 06, 2008

Chennai-Munnar-Valparai



Friend's marriage function at Chennai on a Thursday evening.. Considering the 6Lane stretch between Blr & Chennai, it’s a crime to use public transport especially when you have a bike like ZMA! So its going to be a Thursday evening bike ride.. then why not cover Fri/Sat/Sun as well..?? that’s how I ended-up figuring out a custom made route forcefully.. I am saying forcefully because except Chennai, rest of the route is not so new to me and I know it’s going to be a blind mile munching run. The only interesting aspect was that the monsoon had already started in south KL and places like Munnar & Valapari were in charm as they used to be.

The route was like Blr – Krishnagiri – Chennai – Krishnagiri – Mettur – Pollachi – Valparai – Angamalai – Munnar – Sathiyamangalam – Mysore – Blr.. 1800 kms..a mixture of good/bad/crap roads and sunny/sultry/sweating/foggy/cold/shivering/blasting thunderstorm conditions.. ohh, forgot to add.. there was this 'windy' condition as well around windmill famous Palladam side.. so strong winds ready to thrash the bike any moment and I had to hang on literally.. the trip had every possible condition in it and that was another aspect to keep things interesting.

The first 1.5 hrs in the trip was spent to get myself out of this Blr.. then a 3hrs max throttle ride on the 6lane till Chennai.. possibly the best road I have ever seen.. then an hour of Chennai traffic before reaching the reception.. meeting friends.. taking pics... dinner etc.. the same night, spent another hour of Chennai traffic to come out of it and stayed in Vellore.

The next day it was a late start and a long mad run towards Valparai. The lunch break was at SaravanaBhavan-Dharmapuri,.. a good TN lunch after so long! It was 3pm then..there was this piece of info running on my mind that Valparai ghat section is not open to 2-wheelers after 5pm and that pushed me in to a mad run for the next 2.5hrs till the check post.. only to find that that rule was not meant for Valparai going 2-wheelers but for another deviation going to Monkey falls.. a big relief.. i can make use of this finding for some other trip, ..for some other late night climbing.. ;-) ..anyways it was almost 6 by then.. about to dark.. a very good time for the ghat climbing.. after the half way, the bird view of Aaliyar dam was pretty calm & soothing!



Soon I reached Valparai only to find that the town is infested with tourists..OMG.., its a bad news. Valparai is a pretty small town designed for tea estate workers and surrounded by tea estates and forests. With just 2 lodges , the town is definitely not ready for these ultra touring families but year 2008 has stretched its long arm to catch Valparai's neck as well.. local people are facing this change for sure and I could see a mixed response on those faces. Their life,..the day full of hard work in the estates under harsh conditions..the body trouble ..the family issues..money issues..and when the sun goes down, you come to the town center to your fav shop for a drink & chat with your friends and i am damn sure you dont want to see those ultra faces hanging around with a heavy wallet! I just managed to find a place to stay with someone there remembered me from my earlier visits.. thank god!

One of the next day's interesting plan was to hit that 50kms forest stretch as early as 5AM to increase the chances of animal spotting.. but don’t ask me how, I woke up only by 8:30AM.. and then a heavy TN breakfast(yep, Idli/Sambar/Vada/Kesari/Coffee) :D .. started only by 10:30..just 2 kms out of the town and into tea estates I realized something fishy with the bike.. stopped and had a closer look. It was the chain which was hanging like a garland.. :) ..came back to the town and got it tightened.. changed the oil as well suspecting its condition.. and it was 11:30AM by when I could hit the track for a 5AM plan and it all happens and no one can question me.. its solo u see.. ;-)

I wasn’t expecting anything new in this forest stretch with this broad day light.. but the fact was that it had rained heavily for the past 2 weeks and the whole area was so green pleasing the eyes.. the smell was so fresh and refreshing. I slowly got into that mood and started admiring every aspect on that beautiful stretch.. the road was bad & filled with water filled pot holes.. but it was nothing to complain as I was already riding slow looking around. Later came out and crossed Athirampalli falls.. no question of stopping to visit the falls as the KL tourists were in full flow. The next target by then was Munnar...there is this beautiful ghat section starting from Kothamangalam all the way up to Munnar with thick vegetation and so many water falls on every turn.. but to reach that ghat, i had to cross one long 1.5 hrs of mad traffic zigzagging session.. in-between stopped just for 5mins to cross a water body in a ferry and in that 5mins I was sweating generously.. the one thing I hate with KL humidity on sea level.



Soon I was on the start of the ghat by around 5:30pm and I had a late lunch of typical KL special Kappe+curry. Then it started getting dark slowly.. the vehicles in the ghat were in a confusion whether to switch-on the head lights or not for whom I didn’t hesitate to say 'let there be light'.. ;-) In between the rain picked up.. stopped and switched to my rain gears.. and it was raining all the way till the top.. reached Munnar around 8:30pm only to find that the whole of 101+ lodges there are all duly occupied by ultra touring families and I had to come down 5kms to a nearby town to stay. I had this slight miscalculation that the rains are on and tourist season is over.. but it seems like that was the last week before schools will reopen and I was trapped nicely. For the betterment of ultra touring families, I gave up my next day's sight-seeing plans and I decided to take it slow.

Woke up to see the Munnar town being fogged-up heavily.. nice views all over.. spent some time clicking around.. had a nice breakfast and started around 11am.. after all the packing up, realized some thing fishy.. another closer look brought me to the fact that the rear wheel is flat.. :) I was happy that things like these are coming to lime light when I am fresh and standing nearby a town and not when I am tired and in some remote ghat section. I did ride with the flat wheel for 5 kms before reaching the shop to fix it.. and started around 12.. and then this beautiful downhill towards Udumalaipettai.. took it very slow with too many breaks. Later part of the day was spent on a mad run.. some shitty roads.. some non-stop thunderstorms for 4+ hrs.. and finally at home by 11:30pm.

This trip had nothing special or specific as such but it had everything in it which kept things going interesting! :)







































9 Comments:

Blogger Praveen said...

As always nice entertain log and nice hard ride and pictures :)

6:21 AM  
Blogger Peru said...

once again, beautiful pics from arun :-)

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Anonymous Kylene said...

Good words.

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Blogger Time and Space said...

Dude, give some nice captions for the pics, it will be even more entertaining.
Am new to this hobby and the pics are very inspiring !!

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Blogger Rakesh said...

That looks like one solo hell of a ride..Awesome places..And the weather adding to the taste of sweetness of nature.. Looking forward for this ride soon.

10:14 PM  

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