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Kaiwara – Bheema Bhakasura Betta & Kailasa parvatha

6 May
    6 of us – monks, raghu, finny, Ummi, skm, ppr(me) – on 4 bikes decided to visit Kawiara, the temple town with mythological significance, situated in Chintamani district, about 75kms from Bangalore. We met at the Tin factory near K.R.Puram at 7am and took the fly-over heading towards Hoskote along the SH75. A 20 minute ride took us to Hoskote, and just after the toll booth near the Government Hospital, there is a deviation to the left heading towards Chinatamani. Another 30 minute ride, covering 25km of straight SH82 Chintamani Mani road (some one must have had an easy time designing this route because there are few little curves to be handled), and we arrived at the H-cross (intersection of Chintamani Main road and Kolar-Chikballapur road). One can find super-soft Thatte idlis here for breakfast. After the H-cross, the road deteriorates and is under construction for almost the entire 16km ride. The arch leading towards the town appears to the left near the Kaiwara cross and a 3km ride leads one straight to the temple complex.

Entrance to Bheema-Bhakasura Betta

    One can park their vehicles at the complex for free of cost. Our first item in the itenary was climbing the Bheema-Bhakasura betta situated opposite to the temple complex. According to Mahabharatha, this was the place where the battle took place between Bheema and Bhakasura. A small trek of 40 minutes along the stone steps with a good tree cover leads to the peak where one can find paintings of the fight between the two on the boulders. Along the trek path you can visit the Chamundeshwari temple, Hanuman temple and Lakshmana teertha. Lakshmana teertha has significance from the Ramayana. The water source is believed to have been created by Lakshmana to quench Mother Sita’s thirst by cracking the hill open. The view at the top is good.

mural depicting the Bheema-Bhakasura fight at the peak

Amar-narayanaswamy temple

    On climbing down, we visited the Amar-narayanaswamy temple. The ashram is build under the name of Narayanappa also fondly called Kaiwara Thathayya. We then rode upto Kailasha giri situated about 7kms from the temple complex with the roads not in good shape. The hill is famous for its cave temples and meditation hall inside the man-made caves. Upon completion, we rode back 6kms to Vaikunta along the route to Kaiwara. This place is famous for Yoganarasimha Swamy temple and Gavi Amarnarayanaswamy temple which is present in a natural cave on the hill. From there, we rode back to Bangalore by 2pm, completing a mini-trek and small ride combo which is our target for all single day trips.

Enroute to Kailasha parvatha
Cave temples at the Kailasha parvatha

Stone arrangements for blessing

Gavi Amarnarayanaswamy temple
Points to be noted:
1. Route: Yelahanka-K.R.Puram-Hoskote-H cross- Kaiwara and back.
2. Bike distance: 170kms
3. Time taken for trek: 40 minute climb.
4. Difficulty: Very easy.
Pics links:

MakaLidurga trek – Ending 2011 with a trek.

5 Jan

    After a 3 month sabbatical, it was time to restart the trekking experience. Almost everybody have plans for partying or trips to start a new year. But our gang is unique. We welcome the new year by lying around in the home lazily  as usual.. 😛 We wanted to finish 2011 with a small trek and zeroed in on MakaLidurga, a small hill near Doddaballapur close to Ghati Subramanya. Standing at 1350m, MakaLidurga is a small trekking spot and has a Shiva temple at the top along with a dilapidated fort.
MakaLidurga hill – our trekking destination for the day
    Seven of us Manja, Skm, Ummi, Monks, Blank, Manish and me (ppr) were supposed to meet at my home in Yelahanka at 7:30am. Thanks to monks, who arrived 2 hours late, we were only able to leave by 10am.. 😀 We travelled for an hour along the Yelahanka-Doddaballapur road (SH9) with the initial 20minutes being four-lane and then changing to two-lane road and then found ourselves at the MakaLidurga railway station. We parked our bikes at the employee quarters and walked along the railway track to the base of the hill. This took about an hours walk. One suggestion here is that if you don’t want to trek along the railway line, you move ahead along the SH9 for another 1km and there is a small mud road leading to the base of the hill. One can park their vehicles there and then begin the trek.
At makalidurga station. L to R: blank, monks, manja, skm, ummi and manish

Trek along the railway line to the base of MakaLidurga

    We began the ascent at 11am. The trek is amidst a heap of boulders thrown about with an easy path to climb. The view of the hill-range is beautiful and the weather was ultimate for trekking – No searing sun and mild cool breeze blowing across the hills. The path we took initially gave a view of the railway line and SH9. After the initial climb of 15minutes, we cross over to the other side of the hill which gives a view of the lake at the bottom of the hill and finished the climb all the way to the top. This way, we got to view two different sides of the hill during the trek which is not the case in most of the small treks. Took a couple of breaks and reached the fort at the top in an hour. The top most point of the fort had a small mound with soft dried grass. We spent half an hour time there having the 360 degree view around us. We explored the small but sturdy fort, visited the Shiva temple and gobbled up the snacks. 
View from the top
SH9 and MakaLidurga station visible from this side of the hill

    By 2pm, we were ready to leave and the climb down was a lot easier. On reaching the base of the hill, we found a pathway leading to the railway station parallel to the existing railway line (this path is for the new railway line). I suggest people trekking the track route to use this path, as the majority of the walk is on the single railway line and its quite risky to use, with so many trains running around. 
Framed monks 😛

    At 4pm, we took our bikes and headed to Ghati Subramanya temple. We travelled about 500m from the railway station back towards Yelahanka where there is a deviation towards Ghati. A 3km ride took us to the parking lot near the temple. We had a good darshan and had lots of snacks including “special” Bhel puri.. (Please don’t ask me what was so special about that.. 😛 ). The ride back had a lot of traffic probably due to many people heading towards the city for new year and reached home by 6pm. A smooth ride, beautiful weather and a mini trek to finish of 2011  – the year of good treks and trips. It was really a wonderful year for trips.. 🙂
the 7 trekkers – Monks, manja, me, blank, Ummi, skm and Manish (L to R)
Points to be noted:
1. Route: Yelahanka-Doddaballapur-MakaLidurga-Ghati Subramanya temple- and back.
2. Bike distance: 90kms
3. Time taken for trek: 1 hour climb and 1 hour climb down and two hours trek along the track.
4. Difficulty: Easy.
Pics links:

Ladakh – A Ride across the bikers paradise on Earth

14 Sep
    Every individual has dreams – Dreams of achieving things, Dreams of following their passion, Dreams of places to visit. One of mine (in a list as big as it could get) is to drive across Ladakh. When Monks(shashi) started with the initial plan about 3 months before the journey, I knew I was going. This meant two birds in one shot – Ride for multiple days and visiting the heaven for bikers. Tintin started planning for the trip. As has been the norm in our trips these past few months, there were multiple drop outs and to top it all, even the original planner Monks dropped out (curses to u Monks.. u had the most stable bike in the gang!!!). Finally Nithin (Tintin), Vineeth (MoMS), Pradeep (sk), Senthil and ppr(me) were ready to go and when we couriered our 3 bikes (2 Pulsar 180cc – mine and tintin’s and 1 hero honda hunk – Senthil’s) on 16 Aug 2011 from Bangalore to Jammu through Gati couriers, we knew it was the point of no return – Our bikes have gone. So, we have to go. 🙂
Day 1: Gentlemen its time to go!!!
Sunday, 28th Aug 2011 – Bangalore to Delhi to Jammu
    Knowing that Rohtang pass is one of the toughest passes to ride across, the plan was to avoid it in the first phase of the ride and instead go via the Jammu route to Leh. Even though this a longer route, the roads are superb and scenic beauty of Kashmir valley is one to behold. Since, tintin had his exams till the 27th of Aug, we planned our flights to Delhi on Sunday the 28th Aug 2011. The 5 of us were ready with 3 saddle bags and two trek bags at the BIAL to catch the 10:35am JetLite flight to Delhi. By 2pm, we were out of the Delhi airport and we had 8 hours to kill before the train to Jammu. So we planned to visit the Humayun’s tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Nizamuddin railway station with an entry is Rs 10 for Indians and Rs.250!!! for foreigners. Why is there such a huge difference in pricing? After all, they too are here to watch the same place.. Its not as if they are being shown the same place though a better view/position… The monument in itself is beautiful Persian architecture, but inside the monument, it literally stinks. Renovation on the outside itself is not sufficient, the government has to make sure that the money goes into cleanup inside as well. By 4pm, we were out and decided to visit India Gate, which is a memorial for the Indian soldiers who died in World War I. It is also one of the main centers of agitation for IAC(India Against Corruption) and their crusade in Delhi other than the RamLila maidan. It was the same day Anna was breaking his fast after the government approved to table the Jan Lokpal bill to the standing committee. So, there was a sense of celebratory mood around India gate. Tens of thousands of people wearing Gandhi topi and waving India flags were shouting slogans and dancing to the tune of a band. We dont know if the majority of the people assembled there understood the version of the bill, but still they were dancing away happily hoping it was for a good cause. The traffic policemen had a hard time controlling the tempo’s and omni’s with their loud-patriotic songs on their speakers, honking away to the joy of the people around India gate… Had food in Andra Mess and reached The Delhi Sarai Rohila station to catch the 10:15 Duranto train to Jammu Tawi.
Humayun’s tomb

India Gate

Day 2: Ride through the tunnels… 🙂

Monday, 29th Aug 2011 – Jammu to Srinagar. 304km – 9 hour ride.
    The First Day of bike ride… 🙂 We arrived at the Jammu station at 7:30am and took an auto to travel the 10km to Gati office in Shiv market. We got our bikes delivered and used the petrol we carried in bottles as the courier guys dry out the petrol tank before transporting. By the time we had the first taste of paranthas in this trip and were geared up with the saddle bags on our bikes and gloves, arm, leg guards to protect ourselves from any untoward bike incidents it was 11:45am. Senthil and sk in the hunk, Myself and MoMS in my pulsar and tintin alone in his pulsar along with MoMS’s and sk’s bags was the way we were gonna ride in the trip. We drove through to the hill station called as “Patni Top” about a 100km ride – One of the closest places to Jammu that experiences snow fall. The roads are superb at most places. We had a wonderful first view of the Kashmir valley from Titanic point. Then we rode through the most amazing 2.5km “Jawahar tunnel“, dug through a mountain of Pir Panjal range between Banihal and Qazigund. It is  guarded on both sides by Indian army and photography is strictly prohibited. Seriously, it was one of the high-points of this bike trip… The ride through the beautiful tunnel. Now the second high of the day: The “Green Tunnel” – On the way from Ananthnag to Srinagar there is a small town called Bijbihara. Here, a natural tunnel about 2 Kms is made by poplar trees on either side of the road. It barely allows sunlight inside and the ride along this stretch is absolutely amazing to say the least. We reached Srinagar by 8:30pm and booked a house boat (H.B – MoMS wink-wink :D) in Dal lake at the cost of 3.6K for the night including dinner for the night and the breakfast the next day. Titanic view point, Jawahar tunnel and Green tunnel – Triple delight on the first day!! Good day in office…. 🙂
First view of the Kashmir valley
Green tunnel

En-route to Srinagar
Day 3: Zoji la here we come.
Tuesday, 30th Aug 2011 – Srinagar to Drass. 150km – 6.5 hour ride.
    The package in the house boat include a shikara or boat ride in the Dal lake. By 8:30am we rode in a small boat and within the first minute of the ride we were being pestered to buy ice-creams. Then came the ornaments, the Saffron flower stigmas called Kumkumpoovu, traditional Kashmir attire photos and the list goes on…. For an hour and half the ride was through the force-sellers and were happy when we arrived back to the House boat with sk being the only victim buying 12gms of Kumkumpoovu. Then we had Jin-Ho Choi, a Korean, whom we befriended in the House Boat, singing English country music songs for us. By the time we left it was again guess what!! 11:45am…. No matter what distance we were to do for the day, we were able start the first two days at the exact same time… 😛
     We hit the beautiful Sonmarg valley en-route with a slight drizzle and a beautiful river. The roads are not much to boast about but still we travelled at decent pace. Then came the Zoji La or the Zoji Pass, 9km from Sonmarg and a vital link between Kashmir and Ladakh. At 11,575 ft, it is the second highest pass after Fotu La on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway. The roads are pretty rough to handle with steep elevation at places, no tarmac and a rock ridden ride. We took quite sometime to clear the stretch. Once we cleared the pass, the roads became bearable to ride and by 6:15pm we arrived at Dras – the second coldest inhabited place on earth. The Tiger hills is clearly visible from the town. The rooms in “Hotel city view” are cheap at 500 for 5 people and the food is decent. We went to visit the Dras war memorial and found that the entry was prohibited for the day, as an officer of the Indian army was there to commemorate the memorial. So we turned back. The next day was Ramzan and this Muslim dominated region was in festive spirit with prayers running all through the night.

Route leading to Zoji La

Day 4: The day of double puncture.
Wednesday, 31th Aug 2011 – Drass to kargil to Lomayuru. 162km – 12.5 hour ride.
    By 7am, we were ready to leave as we had to cover the entire stretch to Leh which comes upto 290kms. A 7km ride led us back to the Dras war memorial. The designated person showed us around and explained the happenings of the 1999 Kargil war with the Tiger hills, Tololing and Pt.4875 – the three major points clearly visible in the backdrop of the memorial. We bought our souvenir T-shirts and were really moved by the number of soldiers who laid down their lives to protect our borders. As the saying in the wall of the memorial goes: “These soldiers gave up their today for your tomorrow“!! We salute you brave sons/daughters of mother India. On crossing Kargil, we found that none of the hotels that were open on Ramzan day served veg food, so we decided to continue and try our luck ahead. About 15km before the Mulbek town we had our first puncture of the trip. Senthil’s bike had a rear tyre puncture and to top it off, he had no tool kit. Our pulsar tool kit spanner didn’t match and we were in a fix. So, after struggling for 1 hour, we decide to remove the luggage from tintin’s bike. Senthil travelled alone and sk along with MoMS carried their travel bags along with Senthil’s saddle bag till Mulbek to find a puncture shop. It took another 1.5 hours to change the tube as the back tyre nut was so tight that it took three people including MoMS(who is a giant by the way) to remove it and replace the tube. From here on, an hours ride took us to Fotu la, at 13,479 ft, it is the highest in the Srinagar-Leh highway. Along the way, we can notice the greenery of the Kashmiri valley dissappearing to give way to the barren hills Ladakh landscape. To add more trouble to our day, Senthil’s rear tyre went bust once again. We were 25kms away from Lomayaru and we decide to repeat the process of Senthil riding alone. He rode at 10kmph which made our journey arduously slow. Finally, at 7:30pm, we were in Lomayuru, the Buddhist town. We took a couple of clean rooms in “Moonlight Restaurant” and enquired about bike repairs. To our disappointment, the owner said there were only puncture shops in the town which were closed at this time and it was better to take the bike to Leh to get it repaired and check for Rim/tyre damage after the 40km ride on a punctured tyre. It was decided that we shall take the bike to Leh through a small truck and get it repaired the next day but at the cost of losing the buffer day. Bad luck. But we cannot except a bike trip even without a small incident… So, after our first taste of Ladakh local cuisine, still in good spirits, we went to sleep like logs. It was a tiring day.
Dras war memorial

@Fotu La
Day 5: Bike service day.
Thursday, 1st Sep 2011 – Lomayuru to Leh. 138km – 4 hour ride.
    We were informed that the mini van will be available around 10am. So, we had time to kill and visited the Lomayuru monastery and had our breakfast of puris… 🙂 The van cost Rs.3000 to travel that distance. And to make proper utilization, we dumped all our luggage (by all luggage, i mean even MoMS!!! 😀 ) in the van. The roads were blocked by the BRO for road widening for a few minutes and finally we were let through. The roads are absolutely marvellous. We also find the sangam of zanskar and Indus in a small town called Nimmu before we reach Leh. About 50 km before Leh, we reach the Magnetic hills which is said to defy gravity and pull the vehicle upward. But it is just an optical illusion and we too tried our hand on our bikes. Not very exciting to be honest. We finally reached Leh at 2pm and spent the next 30minutes searching ATM and garage shops. Finally we zeroed in on the garage and checked Senthil’s bike meanwhile tintin and sk booked a hotel for us to stay and also visited the DC office to get the “Inner-Line Permit” required for the travel to cross the check posts at several locations across Leh as we border two “friendly” neighbours. Finally, we tweaked our bikes too to make sure it doesn’t trouble us in the days ahead. By 6pm, we were free and visited the Shanti Stupa, a Buddhist stupa which holds the relics of the Buddha at its base. Situated on a hilltop, it also provides a good Panoramic view of the entire city. Our search to visit Leh palace was a disaster as we roamed around in the dark for an hour to finally give up and reach our rooms in “Shanti Palace” costing 1600 for a double room.
Lomayuru Gompa

Nimmu town

Shanti Stupa in Leh
Day 6: Khardung la baby!!!!!
Friday, 2nd Sep 2011 – Leh to Nubra valley. 132km – 7 hour ride.
    By 9:30am, we had left our luggage behind in the hotel (as we were returning back to Leh the next day) to start our BIG ride. We were going to cross Khardung La – the highest motorable road in the world, standing at 18380 ft. After a 40km steep uphill ride, of which, the roads deteriorate after South Pulu, we were finally there…. The zenith of motorbike riding. It is as of now, officially atleast, the highest point till which one can take his bike in the world. Felt absolutely happy with the feat. But along the way, we found about 50 girls trying to conquer the Khardung pass on their cycles. All I can say is “Bravo”!!! You need absolute determination along with physical capability to achieve such a feat. We took T-shirts as Souvenir and posed for a lot of pics. Had hot black tea at the restaurant in the top and after a stop totalling 30minutes, started our ride down to Nubra valley. MoMS had the first effect of AMS(Acute Mountain Sickness) due to the low air pressure at high altitudes. Then it got to me as well. After a 10minute ride down, I decided to sit pillion in Senthil’s bike and Sk rode my bike. We stopped at North Pulu for our lunch. MoMS puked out water… Good that we hadn’t had breakfast….:P Then the ride became easier with good roads and downhill ride. We crossed Khardung village. Here I took my bike back and sk instead rode Senthil’s bike. A 43km ride took us to Khalsar village. Here there is a deviation to the left which takes us to Dikshit and Hunder and going straight would lead us to the model village Sumur. Our plan was to halt at Hunder for the night. So after riding for 23km we reached Dikshit and a further 7km led us to Hunder renowned for its sand dunes. The gradual change from barren hills landscape to that of sand dunes, after crossing Khalsar, is quite beautiful and one to watch out for. The Shyok River can be seen all along the route. We found a hotel “Olgog guest house” charging 800 for the 5 of us. We then went for a ride on Double humped or Bactrian camel in the well conserved sand dunes for 15minutes costing Rs.150 per head. Then we sat on the dunes to watch a peaceful sunset and then retired back to the room.
@Khardung La

Nubra valley

Double humped camel ride in Hunder
Day 7: Back to Leh.
Saturday, 3rd Sep 2011 – Hunder to Sumur to Leh. 172km – 9 hour ride.
    We started early next morning, as we had to cover Sumur along the way. We visited the Dikshit Gompa. Then took ourselves all the way till Khalsar before taking the deviation towards Sumur. Visited the monastery and started the ride back to Khardung la. By the time we reached Khardung village it started raining heavily and we stopped to have our brunch. Once the rain abated by 1pm, we left to North Pulu and there I was affected by AMS again. Got severe head ache. This time SK took the reins and rode to Khardung la. About 5km before the pass, the rain had created a huge slush on the road and the BRO were doing there best to make the pass accessible once again. I got down from the bike and started to walk across the slush and in about a minute i was totally stuck in the middle of the slush which was about 1ft. The BRO employee helped me and MoMS out to walk across and we waited for about 1.5 hours for the road to be cleared by the time which it even started snowing. Head ache + ride in the slush + a bit of fear + snow = great combination to screw up one’s mind… 😛 Finally they let the vehicles pass and we never even thought about stopping at the Khardung La top this time around. The ride after that was again easy on reaching South Pulu. Downhill ride and good roads again. We reached Leh back at 6:30pm.
Dikshit gompa

Gompa in Sumur

En-route to Leh
Day 8: Flop ride day: Bad bike day 2 + Bad health day… Another ultimate combo… 😛
Sunday, 4th Sep 2011 – Leh to Zingral and back. 190km – 9 hour ride.
    For the first time in the trip, the first thought that came to my mind as soon as i woke up was “I need to get back home!!”. My body was aching like hell and I was running a slight fever and I didn’t have a clear head. I told MoMS straight that they should leave me and go ahead with the trip. After 10 minutes of blunt “No” for an answer, I decided to go ahead but as a pillion for the entire day. Bad start to the day. By 8:30am, we checked out of our rooms and left to the route taking us towards Chang La. A 15km drive took us to Shey palace which isn’t much to boast about and then took an hours drive along good roads to Karu where we had our breakfast. Karu is the junction of deviation towards Chang La and ultimately to Pangong Tso while the other road leads to Manali. The route is pretty good with not so steep curves but Senthil’s bike decided to behave like a TVS 50 and grunt ahead even for small inclinations. On reaching Shakti, we were absolutely certain that something was wrong with the bike when I, who was riding pillion, had to get down and walk short distances to allow the bike some breathing and climb time. The bad day just had turned worse. So, we returned back to Karu to find a garage and the guy took 2.5 hours to clean the carburetor, airfilter completely and even changed the spark plug. We decided to go ahead with the plan of reaching Pangong Tso the same day as the roads were supposed to be ultimate. The second time around, the bike started moving a bit smooth and the by the time we reached Zingral which is 13km before Chang La, the bike sputtered to a stop uphill. We decided it was too risky to take a bike across the pass which might not climb back tomorrow as the towns after the pass were not renowned for a garage. We rode back the entire way to Leh, to not take any chances with the garage in Karu, only to find it closed for the day. The worse had just turned to worst. It was an end to a pathetic day of riding and hardship, with no distance achieved and a precious day lost. But we were finally able to visit the Leh palace… 🙂
Shey Palace

Enroute to Chang La

Leh Palace
Day 9: Reattempt to conquer Chang La
Monday, 5th Sep 2011 – Leh to Lukung (Pangong Tso). 155km – 6 hour ride.
    Now the other 4 decided not to wake me up until the bike got serviced completely. Which was a good move; considering that, I got the required rest and was rejuvenated and ready to go ahead with the ride. By 10:50am, Tintin and Senthil had serviced their bikes. I was back to my riding position and since we had taken pics en-route the previous day we literally ran non-stop from Leh to Chang La, the third highest motorable road in the world standing at 17586ft. Both the bikes were looking in good condition, which was a positive as  tintin’s bike too gave a hint of problem during the previous day climb. It was the best climb we had during the entire trip with no hiccups or stops. From here it is a 41Km ride to Thangste which has restaurants and we had our lunch at 3:30pm there, before travelling a further 34kms to reach Lukung crossing the “Pagal naala” literally meaning “The Crazy Stream”. Lukung lies in the edge of the banks of the 134 km long endorheic lake (is a closed drainage basin that retains water and allows no outflow to other bodies of water such as rivers or oceans – thanks to wiki 🙂 ) Pangong Tso. About 2/3rd’s of the lake belongs to Tibet. By 5pm, we were in the shores of the lake and clicking hundreds of pics with our bikes. The sunset changed the colour of the lake from aqua blue to dark blue to green to ultimately black. After all the bad luck the previous day, it turned out to be a good day to ride and awesome place to stay. We stayed in “Martsemik camping at Eco huts” costing 1300 for two huts; a bit on the higher side though. This was also the night, when the dreaded addiction started – UNO had stuck and it had two more new victims – sk and Senthil to its bag. uhahaha!! 😛
We played with the torches even when the camp people pulled the plug out of the diesel generator…. 🙂

@Chang La

My beauty at Pangong Tso

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Day 10: The most beautiful sun rise and then the Start of the return journey.
Tuesday, 6th Sep 2011 – Lukung (Pangong Tso) to Rumtse. 165km – 6 hour ride. 
    Woke up at 6am to watch one of the best sun rises at the lake side. Now I am confused between Ethina Buja, Kumara parvatha and Pangong Tso sunrises as to which is the best. I Might never be able to decide for all we know. Its a good confusion to have though… 🙂
    Tintin was courting the idea of riding all the way to Tso Moriri the same day, in-order to make up for the day lost on Sunday. Majority voted against it, as we had the biggest challenge of riding ahead through the Rohtang pass and we didn’t want to tire ourselves out before the main event. Also, the ride to Tso Moriri and back required us to carry petrol in cans as there are no petrol pumps en-route. Ultimately democracy prevailed and the idea was dropped (All hail democracy!!). After the sunrise, we rested for an hour and then packed slowly as to speak in a serious note, we didn’t want to the place. It was beauty beyond anything we can imagine for people living in other parts. I was in love with the place and the sun rise. The change in colour of the water from black to golden to green to dark blue to aqua blue will stay etched in my mind’s eye forever. These are the memories for which we spend our money to travel long and hard. I was really happy to have witnessed such amazing beauty.. 🙂 Tintin and Senthil decided to go ahead a few kms ahead towards Spangmik to take a few more pics. The sadness had set in that we are leaving the place and I told MoMS that I will be heading back home directly from Leh for the second time in this trip. Gradually, I decided to go ahead with the ride to complete the journey. Had breakfast of noodles in the army camp close to the bank and bought a T-shirt as souvenir. The ride back to Karu was uneventful and nonstop again. My bike was showing signs of trouble similar to Senthil’s but not to the extreme. So, we cleaned the bike’s carburetor at the Karu garage before going all the way to Rumtse instead of the intended Upshi stay thus cutting the next day’s journey lesser by 35kms. By 5:30pm, we arrived at the homestay at a cheap rate of 100 per person. Now here’s something interesting…. We met a Canadian lady, who stayed with us in the home stay. She had travelled all the way from Canada to New Zealand to Australia through East Asia to Pakistan and now in India and she intended to carry on through Turkey into Europe in her cycle. Now we can make two inferences from this. This lady is passionate to the level of addiction in cycling. And most importantly, she must be having a pretty good pay package to cover such a huge trip. So, quoting this example we can claim for a good pay rise this coming year… 😛 
Day2 of UNO addiction continued into the night before sleeping hard for the big day ahead. A 254km ride through the passes.

My fav moment of the trip – Sun rise at Pangong Tso

Day 11: Long ride day in pretty good roads.
Wednesday, 7th Sep 2011 – Rumtse to Jispa. 254km – 11.5 hour ride. 
    We awoke at 6am to begin the big day. Starting early was the best way to begin a big ride day and we did just that. By 7:15am, we were ready with our bikes packed. A 32km ride took us to Tanglang La at a height of 17582ft is the second highest motorable pass in the world. The roads were under repair, so ride was pretty slow. The descent from Tanglang la leads us straight into the More plains which is 40km plain area of mud roads, flanked by mountain ranges on both sides which indirectly means, it is a heaven for dirt biking. On covering half the plains, sk wanted to ride and gave him the bike. This was the first instance in the trip where there was a request from the other side with the last 3 instances being due to AMS twice and bad health day…. 😛 By 12pm, we reached Pang and had our lunch which turned out to be costlier than even some of the cities we visited in this trip. Then it was turn to cross the two passes Lachulung La and Naki La and cover the beautiful Gata loops-Upper and Gata-loops lower end. The scenery by this time had changed back to the eye pleasing green hilltops to which we had become so accustomed to all these years(thanks to the western ghats!!). By 4:30, we were in Sarchu and we were coming to the end of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and entiring Himachal Pradesh. I forced sk to give me the bike back… I couldn’t bear to see other people drive in those beautiful roads and its scary like hell to sit pillion in the Ghats trusting the other rider’s driving skills for your life…. All hail MoMS for his record of 100% ride in pillion position for 12 days!!!! 😀 On crossing Sarchu by about 20kms, we found dark clouds hovering in the proximity of the hilltop nearby. I feared a snow storm and suggested that we turn back to Sarchu but all others were in favor of moving ahead to Jispa which is 85kms from Sarchu (To hell with democracy!!! when u lose… :P). We crossed Barlacha La and reached Zingzing bar at a pretty decent pace. A localite there, to my relief said that the chances of snow storm was pretty less. This cooled me down a bit… One of the most dreaded things for me is to ride in a snow storm… never been in one but its pretty scary… 😛 Finally arrived through superb roads to Jispa crossing Darchu by 6:45pm. The home stay where we decided to settle for the night had no display boards. They charged Rs.700 for two rooms with a guarantee of hot water which never materialized.. 🙂 So no bath for the 2nd consecutive day… we were stinking literally!!!! 😀 
@Tanglang La

Day 12: Hardest day of bike ride.
Thursday, 8th Sep 2011 – Jispa to Manali. 134km – 6 hour ride. 
    The pre-finale day of bike riding and the toughest yet was to be faced. We were ready, but not raring to go.. 😛 The initial journey is pretty good with decent roads in most of the places… The scenery and beauty of Himachal was in its full glory all along 74kms ride through the small towns till we reach Rohtang pass. The roads again turn bad during the final part of the climb and MoMS and his negative comments began (again!!)… “Is this it?? I was expecting much more from Rohtang pass”. 20 minutes had passed since he commented when we found the first signs of slush filled road. At first, we continued to ride together and then each of the pillion riders got down to walk while the riders tried to maneuver through 1/2 a feet of slush while trucks and tourist vehicals were stopped to prevent from movement to and fro. After half-an-hour of struggle it became almost impossible to ride. The next 3kms took 2 hours to maneuver through, with suggestions and help from multiple stranded passengers. After struggling through the next 1km we found a camp conducting Paragliding. At Rs.600 per head for a 3minute jump, it was a short ride but for a first timer it was quite sufficient. We parked our bikes and jumped from the top of the cliff along with the pilot/maneuverer. It provided a good relief after a painstaking ride during the past 3 hours. We climbed back to the cliff and had our food at “Fouji Dhaba” – an interesting name.. 🙂 Meanwhile the vehicles which were trying to climb the Rohtang were returning back to try their luck the next day. Hard Luck!!.  It was good planning of tintin to shift the Rohtang for the return journey thus making sure we covered the hardest part of the ride the last. It then started raining in the Ghats reducing the visibility to less than 5meters. The drive was painfully slow to avoid colliding with incoming vehicles. We reached around 6pm and stayed at the “Rohtang view” hotel in the outskirts of the city for 400 per room for the night. We finally took a bath after 3 riding days!! Lucky… thankfully we weren’t travelling by public transport else we would have been kicked out for offending the senses… 😛

Rohtang pass slush

Thats me paragliding… 🙂

Day 13: The last bike ride day and the case of “Crazy insane nutcase maniac driver”!!
Friday, 9th Sep 2011 – Manali to Mandi. 110km – 3 hour ride.  And then to Chandigarh
    The final day of bike riding began late. We got up-and-running only by 11am. A three hour ride to Mandi covers Kulu, along with the second 2.809km double-laned tunnel(near Aut) of our ride in NH21. Again it felt awesome to be a part of and experience good engineering. We couriered our bikes through Gati back to Bangalore at the cost of 4211 for transportation including packing. We booked a Bolero from the taxi stand for Rs.3400 for us to be dropped in Chandigarh. Now when the driver started the drive, we the front seaters immediately knew we were not going to survive the trip. This Foul-mouthed maniac drove like a maniac too… He had no sense of care but had absolute control of the car (I think so!! hopefully!!). If I counted correctly atleast 8 people should have been killed including a dog, a horse, our own driver and tintin who was sitting right behind the driver at multiple incidents. Along with that atleast 10 other drivers were foul-mouthed by him. We wanted a peaceful ride and we never got that till we reached Chandigarh after a 6 hour drive through bad roads, worse traffic and worst driving. This was also a day when we didn’t have any food… 😛 The drive itself was sufficient to keep our brains occupied. I am not talking about our 12 day ride but about the cab ride to Chandigarh!! It will last a lifetime for sure…. 😛 We were taken to a Rajhans hotel in area 52 for the night. 
P.S: UNO had continued through since we started playing in Pangong Tso…. 😀

Manali view from hotel
2.809km Aut tunnel
Day 14: Two faced Chandigarh
Saturday, 10th Sep 2011 – Rock garden, Rose garden in Chandigarh
    The hotel didn’t provide bedsheets, neither a mat nor a towel. One of the rooms given to us was stinking. To avoid all this me and MoMS went in search of better hotels near the ISBT bus stand only to find that the other hotels were in far worse condition. So, we decided that the only sensible thing that could be done was to get out of the rooms and roam around the city till night fall. Before that, we played the most boring 3 games of Rummy ever possible in the history of the game, with not even 1 person showing even the faintest sign of interest in the game. We then visited the 12 acre Rock garden designed by Nek Chand and then the 40 acre Rose garden. We then took a long walk across the city. This is when we observed the second face of the city. The area 52 in which we were staying was the worst area in the entire city with water logging, slush, bad planning and even worse conditions. But the other sectors were magnificent to say the least. 6 lane roads everywhere, huge footpaths with huge green cover, lush greenery and cycle tracks all along the road. This is when we came to know why Chandigarh is called the most planned city in India. I would love to stay there but never visit it for a trip because there is nothing worth seeing. The rock garden is a waste of space according to me… (Absolutely personal opinion!!) and well there is nothing else to see in the city when you remove that. We had a big dinner before retiring back to the stinking rooms for the night.

Day 15: All good things come to an end
Saturday, 10th Sep 2011 – Chandigarh to Delhi to Bangalore
    We caught the 7:33am  Janshathabdi to reach Delhi at 2pm. Reached airport 4 hours before the scheduled departure. Even the security guard didn’t allow us in saying “Itni Jaldi andar jake kya karoge saab”… 😛 We read novels which we had carried for the entire trip without even opening them once properly, to kill time. Finally caught the 7:10pm JetLite flight back to Bangalore to reach home at 10:45pm.
A memorable, once in a life time trip. A dream fulfilled. 2 weeks of life spent wisely !! 🙂
L to R: ppr(me), MoMS, Tintin, sk and Senthil
Things to be taken for the trip:
1. Saddle bags / Backpacks : Ones which can be easily fastened to bikes. Small back-bags for camera etc easy to wear while riding. 
3. Bungee chord and nylon ropes
4. Raincoat/Rain jackets 100% waterproof ones.
5. Riding jacket, gloves and helmets . Gloves,helmets for pillion riders. 
6. 1/2 pair Thermal inner wear and 5-6 pairs of normal inner wear. 1/2 Shorts
7. Good sturdy shoes and 1 pair rubber/foam slippers. 4-5 pairs of socks woolen/cotton. 
8. Knee and elbow guards (optional).
9. 3-4 pants (get 1-2 quick-dry track pants and remaining 1-2 jeans), 5-6 shirts/t-shirts.
10. Toiletries.
11. Huge plastic covers to cover the luggage during the rides. 
12. Medical kit including Diamox tablets.
13. Bike spare parts (tubes, clutch cables, brake cables, etc)
14. Bike Original Documents (Insurance, license, RC book, emission certificate)
15. Camera
16. Puncture and bike tool Kit 
17. Air Pump – leg powered pump
18. Sleeping bag (optional)
19. Torch.
Highlights of the trip:
1. Kashmir valley view at Titanic point.
2. Ride through Jawahar tunnel, Green tunnel en-route to Kashmir and Aut tunnel in Himachal pradesh
3. Clearing the Zoji La, Fotu La, Khardung La, Chang La and Tanglang La passes.
4. Sunrise at Pangong Tso…. Best of the trip… 🙂
5. Senthil’s bike giving 2 torture days… 😀
6. UNO games and the tauting/tricks.. 
7. Visit to the Dras war memorial 
8. Chappars tintin, sk, MoMS and Senthil for making this a memorable trip and
9. Finally, most important of all, The 12 amazing riding days in my very own beauty Pulsar 180cc though all kinds of road and weather -A Ride across the biker’s paradise on Earth —- Priceless…  🙂
1. Distance travelled in bike – 304km + 150km + 162km + 138km + 132km + 172km + 190km + 155km + 165km + 254km + 134km + 110km = 2066km
2. Cost per person including flight charges and bike courier to and fro charges = 27000
3. Ride Route: Jammu-Srinagar-Dras-Kargil-Mulbek-Lomayuru-Leh-Hunder-Sumur-Leh-Pangong Tso-Rumtse-Jispa-Manali-Mandi
4. A Big thanks to BMC Touring forum for helping us out during the planning of this bike trip.
5. A Bigger thanks to Himank, Vijayak and Beacon divisions of the BRO -Border Roads Organization for keeping our border roads in good shape and the roads along the passes… well passable!! 🙂
6. And the biggest thanks to the 4 chappars who were brave enough to accompany me and make this trip a memorable one!! 😀
Route maps:

Pics link:

Siddara Betta – Trek as a meditation… :)

1 Aug
    Siddara Betta, as the name implies, “Hill of Saints” (in Kannada) is renowned for numerous the Hindu sadhus and their meditations. Thus the name. But currently there are very few of the sadhus/saints left in the hill. Siddara betta fulfills the likes of different genre of people and hence quite famous among a variety of people – 
1) Pilgrimage to the temple of Lord Siddalingeshwara(Shiva) inside a cave – families and the old/religious kind.
2) Cave exploration – adventure seekers.
3) Trek to the top of the hill with a visit to the sadhu dhyana sthana – regular trekkers and photographers.
    After the deflated count to Madhugiri for a single day bike ride+trek trip and to add to that tintin’s MBA admission reducing the count even further, I assumed that the chances of going for such a trip was done with. But then again, the word “assumption” has proved to be wrong for me multiple times… 🙂 As I found out, 7 people  – Manja, skm, Ummi, blank, Raghu, Finny and me(ppr) – many first and second timers on bike trips on 5 bikes were eager for this trip and to top it all, it was “blank” who started the trip idea – The very same blank who cringed at the idea of a bike ride and who refused to join us on any of the bike trips. Indeed, it is a big turn around… 😛 We zeroed in on Siddara betta as we had this trip in the back of our head from a long time. 
The ride:
    At 7:30 am, on a fine Saturday morning of 30 July, 2011, the 7 of us met at Yeshwantpur railway station. We rode along the superb Tumkur road till our first break at The Kamat just before Dobbaspete to have our breakfast. We continued our journey totalling 40kms and took a deviation to the right at Dobbaspete and followed SH3 for the 35kms to reach Korategere. We stopped at a small lake where we can take our bikes all the way to the shore and took ample pics. The road turns to the worse on reaching Koratege and the ride is slower until we reach Birdena halli by travelling another 7kms. Here we take a left at a huge arch directing towards the hill. The ride from here is again good for 11kms to reach the base of the hill.
the 5 bikes (all red)
Super roads and my loyal bike.. 🙂
The trek to the temple:
    By 10:30 am, we parked our bikes in-front of the Shaneshwara swamy temple at the base of the hill. The 3km path is pretty easy, with steps carved all the way upto the temple entrance, thus making sure that, the Pilgrims ranging right from kids to the old do not find the trek intimidating. This means one simple conclusion, this trek is not the like the usual treks where we find ourselves amidst nature with no one else for company – Just peaceful and serene surroundings… The crowds throng the temple in quite large numbers considering that a trek of just 1 hour is required to reach the premises. This means there are shops close to the cave temple serving lunch too.. The temple itself is a small hollow/crevice in the hill which is home to Lord Siddalingeshwara. The kalyani in temple premises is said to hold medicinal value. There are lots of monkeys in and around the cave temple. So, watch out for your bags and eatables.
steps carved in stone

trek path

Lord Siddalingeshwara
Naga, Ganesha, Basava and Hanumantha(this ones looks life like)… 🙂
The caves:
    The main attraction of this trip is the cave exploration. There are several shopkeepers who also act as a guide in the caves for Rs.15 per person. It is almost impossible to navigate along the caves without a guide. So, we went along with a guide crawling, climbing, wriggling through the crevices and holes between rocks and boulders that form these wonderful caves. The guide was pretty good with him explaining the significance of the place and showing us the different spots of interest. Cave exploration is one of the many items to be done in my long list of items. And I must say the experience had us craving for more. By, 12:30am we we out near the temple entrance again. 
Room of the swamyji

Eyes of Iron-man(this 1’s made of stone though) 😛

Our guide helping others crawl through the crevices
The climb to the top:
    We had to cover another 1km along the path available to the right of the temple, to reach the hill top, which is a flat barren boulder providing an amazing 360 degree – panoramic view of the beautiful hills and surroundings. The weather was too good with an occasional drizzle of 30 to 40 seconds and return back to the cloudy cool Bangalore (though in this case Tumkur) is renowned for.. 😛 There are a couple of rooms made of stone available at the top along with a Shiva Linga temple. We spent close to 45minutes at the top exploring and photographing the pond, the rooms, clicking lots of pics of the unobstructed 360 degree view.. Also it note-worthy that 15min into climb, there is a small pathway leading away from the hill top, this leads us to Tapasvi mandira where sadhus used to meditate and also has a small pool of water close to it. We go trekking to enjoy nature along the way and not just to reach the destination alone… “the path is more important than the destination in itself” has always been the way for the trekkers. But if the view at the destination is worth climbing for, then it is an added incentive. 🙂

View of one of the two stone rooms at the top

Pond at the hill top

Climb down

Tapasvi mandira
40 minutes of nerves and tension:
    We climbed down to the temple premises and took back our shoes from the store where we had kept for safe keeping. Once ready and started the climb down, I checked my pockets to confirm if I had the bike key and alas it wasn’t there… 😦 The peace and enjoyment which we had in the trek went out of my mind in an instant. Then the nerves took over and started fearing the worst: 
1) If I have lost the bike key then, the bike has to remain here near the temple and we have to return to Bangalore to get the spare key back the next day and hope no one has hijacked the bike.
2) The second option, if we have to break the lock open, I had all the documents inside the bike so we had to give a complaint in the near-by police station for that to happen.
3) And finally the worst option which brought out the worst possible feelings: If I have forgotten the key in the bike then GOD save me and hope no one has seen the key in the last 3 hours… 😦
    Skm and me went back up the hill, to check if I had dropped the key, when I took my phone out to check for signal to call home. Ummi and blank went into the caves to check if I had dropped it when I took Skm’s camera out, which he had passed when he had to crawl through a crevice. Manja, Raghu and finny went down the hill to check if i had left the key in the bike. Frantic searching at the top and in the caves was to prove a waste of time and after 40 minutes, we got a call from Raghu/Finny saying that I had left the key in the bike. I am such an irresponsible guy right??? 😛 Seriously, I am lucky to be still having my beloved red-Pulsar 180 of close to 3 years and nearing 32000kms with innumerable rides… I will never repeat that mistake again. We learn the responsibilities from the mistakes we make and I hope it is absolutely true in my case this time… 🙂 Wah-re-wah! i have become a philosopher too.. 😀
View from the hilltop

View from the hilltop

Return journey:
    By the time all this hungama got over and we started our return journey, it was 3:30pm. We had our lunch at Korategere and then we made another mistake. The leading pack of bikers Finny, Blank and me missed the turn towards Dobbaspete and moved 7kms in the direction of Tumkur driving along one of the really bad roads. I advice bike manufacturers to go for Suspension regression testing along this route… 😛 I waited to confirm if others had made the same error to find Skm following us to inform the mistake. But by that time, finny had gone all the way and joined the NH4. So we followed him and wasted 10kms of journey along horrible roads and finally met Manja and Raghu back at Kamat. By the time we reached home it was 7pm. So, a 12 hour trip having bike ride + trek + cave exploration + a bit of adventure + tension + relief + friends = a weekend well spent… 🙂
Points to be noted:
1. Bike distance: 230kms
2. Route: Bangalore-Dobbaspete-Korategere-Birdena halli-Siddara Betta- and back.
3. Trek distance: 3kms to the temple + 1km to the hilltop = totalling 8kms
4. Time taken for trek: 1 hour climb to the temple premises. 45 minutes for cave exploration. 20 minutes to the hill top and 1 hour to climb down.
5. Difficulty: Easy
6. Unlike other treks, not many precautions are required. Just carry a water bottle. That should be good enough.
Pics Link:

Madhugiri fort – The acropolis of Tumkur

25 Mar
    It had been some time since we had a day’s bike trip. As Tintin would call it “Back to the basics”. With quite a few places left to be covered in and around Bangalore, we decided to visit Madhugiri fort near Tumkur. After too many drop outs(again and again… this is becoming quite a trend since the last few months… 😦 …. ) me(ppr), Tintin and finny were ready to leave on a fine Saturday morning in mid-March.
About Madhugiri fort:

    Standing at 3930 feet, Madhugiri hill in Tumkur District is the second largest monolith in Asia. The Ganga Dynasty, dominated by the Jains began the construction of the fort. Raja Heera Gowda of the Vijayanagar dynasty completed the fort. It was ultimately taken over by HyderAli/Tipu Sultan and at last became a part of the Mysore empire under the British control. There are quite a few trekking spots in the surrounding which include Chennarayana Durga, Devarayana Durga, Siddara Betta.

Madhugiri hill visible enroute
The D-day: Saturday, 19 March 2011
      Got a wake-up call from Tintin for a change. Usually, the trend is such that, I call up people and say that I am ready to leave… 😛 By 7:30am all 3 bikers were ready at the Nice road – Tumkur road junction. There are several routes to reach Madhugiri and we took the one via Koratagere. NH4 is a 4 laned ride but take the flyover every time. We tried to take the service road route and were perplexed by the number of road humps in place. 4 huge road humps for almost every crossing. This considerably slows you down. We had breakfast and packed our lunches in Kamat. After 30km, since the Nice road-Tumkur road junction, we reached Dobbaspet. Take a deviation to the right under the flyover and this leads you to a 2 lane SH3 in pretty good condition. 35kms into this road and we cross Korategere. Take a left at the junction. The roads are in pretty bad shape as we reach the Madhugiri town. Pothole ridden and in poor condition. But the slow ride had its advantages. There are quite a few lakes along the route. We spotted one very close to the road and took out bikes to the edge of the lake and it was snap time. Had a mini slide on the sand. Continued our journey and by 10:30am we were at the entrance of the fort.

        10:45am, cool breeze blowing around and we started the trek. The entrance to the fort is well maintained by the government and we have to commend them as there are only a few good things that showcase our history and one such instance is this Madhugiri fort and the signs were that its in pretty good shape. As we entered the stone slab filled steps of the fort, we craned our necks to see that the end of the hill was pretty close by and assumed our friend Monks taking 2 hours to complete it was a lie.. 😛 As the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, The same goes for the trek to this fort as well. Huge boulders lie around everywhere along the path. Stone steps are available during the initial few stages of the fort. Then as the steepness increases, the steps are replaced by carvings in the boulders which act as footholds and huge metal railings are placed for support all along the footholds.

Levels 3 to 7 visible at this point of the trek
Footholds on this boulder look like a spine of a monster

        You can notice all along the way that the place is ruined with scrapping and markings of foolish and unwitting men. Who in the world would come to know if X loved Y and why in the world that has to be inscribed on a such a historical place with paint on every possible nook and corner of the fort. I do not blame the government but the foolishness of the people who visit such a people and ridicule it to a lovers park. In some cases, with no place left to write such inscriptions/graffiti, people have written them on the few cactus lying on the hill too…

Graffiti on walls to graffiti on a cactus…
       We had not done any survey about this trip. So, each time we crossed one level of fortress and felt “Is that it?”, another level would be readily visible after a few steps. Can you imagine crossing 10 levels of this stone fortress with the enemy firing down from the top and throwing down water for you to slip?? And each time you cross over a level of fortress, the next one with the same if not more security was staring at you in the face to be conquered. It would have taken a huge effort to conquer this peak and yet it has changed so many hands. It is not sufficient if u have strength, you should know how to use it to your advantage too…

      On crossing level 3, we found a huge tank to store water. It shows all signs of one of the first models of rainwater harvesting. Major part of the rain water flows down into stone pathways made to be later directed towards the reservoir/tank. Seriously commendable skills of the architects of the fort. We finally reached the 10th level of the fort by 12pm.

Huge water tank after level 3

Madhugiri town can been seen clearly along with a few other surrounding hills.

Fort at level 10
Reservoirs/granaries in front of the single floored building
Beam of light from the ventilation visible in the dust particles 

Shri Finny Baba and Tintin swamy
Natural lake and a man-made tank visible from the top

      We had our packed lunch 10 minutes into the descent. By 45 minutes, we had reached the bottom with the weather gods showing their pleasantness in mid-March with a cool breeze and a not-so-harsh sun… 🙂 Had moosambi/pineapple mock-tail at the entrance to the town which tasted very good and we rode back to our homes by 5pm feeling pretty good covering an engineering marvel of historical significance.
A whale shaped boulder
Points to be noted:
1. Bike distance: 230kms
2. Route: Bangalore-Dobbaspete-Korategere-Madhugiri- and back.
3. Trek distance: 3kms up and down.
4. Time taken for trek: 1 and 1/2 hour climb and 1 hour climb down.
5. Difficulty: Easy.

Pics links:

Gopalswamy betta.

6 Aug
    This was a trip eagerly awaited by all of us .Eight Crazy people decided to wander into the Bandipur National park to find salvation ( Vanavasa as they call 🙂 ) 
    It all started on a friday Night of 5th June.Everybody after finishing the work were to be there at 6:30 pm at UttarahaLLi Junction.
    Four Bikes, Eight People. Nandan — “The Prema Kavi”, Jagadeesh —“The Cool Guy”, Raghavendra—“The Silent Assasin”, Harsha —“The Banker”, Nithin —“The Bully”, Manju —-“The MTV Roady”, Prasanna —-“The Coder” and Shantu—-“The Tormentor” comprised the Team Royal Bengaluru .
Our punctuality at stake, everybody did manage to find each other in the Kamat Hotel in the Mysore Road before Dawn could befall on us.
    Except one small incident – The Tormentor Getting Lost. When Bully told him to come straight in the main road to UttarahaLLi, he literally took the meaning and went dead straight into some galli. :P. Finally he did manage to find the right road. And our Roady going to shop at the death to buy some gloves for himself and The Coder. He did find them, at 60 and 150, totaling 210. Bargained it to 190 and then decided that the 20 bargain he got was for the 60 glove which by coincidence belongs to Roady. 😀
    The night Journey to Mysore passed of nicely. It was perfect night weather without any rain .Occasional breaks while riding ensured that we reached Mysore by midnight.
The Coder did a “Jump the Hump!” near Mysore and Tormentor screamed “ayyoooo” apparently holding his hind. 🙂
    We got three rooms in which only our Room had the most essential thing needed —– the T.V.
The Cool guy and Prema Kavi shared a room, The Bully, Silent assasin and the Banker teamed up for the second one (apparently cab mates) and the Roady, Tormentor, Coder for the third room. Everybody was quite exhausted and dead asleep in a few minutes.
    A few hours later the Coder got a call on his mobile, which woke even us up. Quite amused when he answered the call it was none other than The Bully —-this was the conversation “Le maga, Nidde barta illvo nange.Ninna Room alli bandu TV nodla?”. It took The Coder all his managerial skills in convincing him not to come. Kudos to Coder.
P.S: Though the bully had no intention of watching the TV, the real reason for his call was to disturb Coder and Prema kavi.
P.P.S: The hotel was “Awesome” as The Bully would like to put it. You can measure the awesomeness by just one small hint: The towels were used ultimately to dry our feet. 
    Next morning was when all the action had to happen. It was again Coder who got up early and started calling up each one in other rooms. Prema Kavi was the first to get ready (no body expected that though).The banker came to our room to give an update on what was happening in other rooms and all were almost ready by then .It was maybe 7.
    At last Tormentor got an opportunity to get ready and by then everyone was fuming on Roady and Tormentor and accusing them of delaying all the proceedings.
The Prema Kavi was already there near his bike with the Cool guy .he had called the Coder almost twice and in “kind” words expressed disappointment. The third time he called the Coder gave the phone to Tormentor and escaped. The Tormentor had to apologize (almost fall at his feet) and cool him down but a few words with him did make him come back to normal.
    We then started to our first destination.Himavad Gopalaswamy betta………………………………………
The initial Road to Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta is just Awesome. So our biky Pilots just zoomed along with considerable Speeds to reach the place as soon as possible. In-between thankfully our enlightened minds found that we would need Money for our further journey and some guys started looking for ATM’s while flying their bikes along.
    At Nanjanagudu, we found an ATM .Everyone wanted to show off that they too have an ATM card forgetting that they also would need money in their Bank Balance for the ATM machine to dispatch the Money :). As usual it was the Banker who rushed out for his favorite place .Unfortunately seeing the enthusiasm of these Bengaluru Boyzz, the poor ATM chap Crashed……….. 
    Banker was quite disappointed that he stood all the time in that queue while the rest were happily getting their photos taken and in the end he did not even have a photo of him or the Money which he wanted. But somewhere down he was very happy that he could go to his favorite place somewhere else again.
We stopped along the way to take rest. As soon as we stopped Prema Kavi ran toward the center of the highway. Everyone was aghast. Man why is he trying to commit suicide? What happened? Failures in Love were not a new thing for our chap .But……..
He went there suddenly turned back and said “onde ondu photo “. Generally dead people’s photo is put but this person will die for a photo…. Amazing…
The bikes again started and reached Gundlupet from which we had to take a turn. There was a sign board which clearly mentioned the distance to be 10 km but our Prema Kavi maybe knew some hidden shortcut and hence argued that it was exactly 3.001km to reach the top.
    The view while going to the top was worth all the pain we had endured so far. Nature was there in all her beauty .As usual our Photoman started posing. At the roadside, Center of road, under the road he was in all the places and giving those model-like poses. We all did get ourselves clicked too and started ascending the hill. Amazing, Amazing and just Amazing – the entire stretch along. While we were moving at the top our Banker picked up another amazing sight. No not the ATM but a herd of elephants at the bottom which we assumed to be Bandipur forest range. 
    By the time we reached the top it started to drizzle. It was chilly as the place name and everyone was shivering along as we ran at the abode of his almighty. The temple was also a beautiful sight. The priest there explained beautifully the significance of the place and everyone was quite pleased to be at that spot. We would certainly recommend this place to visit atleast once. When we came out of the temple the rain had subdued but it was very windy. Tormentor and Roady thought of circling the temple once and at one particular direction the wind was so strong that even the Tormentor felt like flying.
    There was a small walkway at the sides of the temple wherein u could venture out a bit in the green spaces. Our enthusiasts went, got some photos clicked and came back all smiling .It was a wonderful destination that we had planned and having such wonderful view in the morning we knew the entire day would certainly be worthwhile too.
    As we came down the forest officials who had collected the entrance fee without giving the tickets and our guys suspected of them pocketing it, stopped us and gave the tickets duly. This made them respectable in all our eyes and we had a few friendly conversations with them before moving on. As we were about to go our friend THE SAINT called Tormentor and enquired about our trip so far. It was very nice of him. While answering him Roady ensured that he lost few kilos by making him jog almost a few kilometers. Ya, he felt light after that strenuous workout.
    On the way back we came across a typical village road. Bulls, Cows, sheeps, goats came in large numbers out on the road to welcome us. Sooo nice of them. They did not leave us an inch of space to move. It was the Roady’s talented driving which ensured that we and our fans kept a bit of distance when we moved out.
We stopped and had all the stuff the Bully —our annadata had brought for us. The way we ate that we all knew it was badly time to find a hotel for our breakfast. Keeping this in mind we started again to the nearest hotel – The Bandipur Plaza.
    People enthusiastically ordered onion dosas, masala dosa and plain dosa. The cook having no onion dosa decided that a plain dosa with plain onion helpings in the middle was an Onion dosa. Same concept for masala dosa… No frying dosa with a hint of kara-pudi. J Anyway people were at breaking point with their hunger and Prema Kavi and Tormentor would have eaten The Banker if there was any more delay. So no one commented about the quality of food. Then came the amazing part: Everybody decided to have a go in the swing and see-saw set in front of the hotel. Defying gravity our Bully, Tormentor and Prema Kavi gave a torrid test for the poor swing and it passed with flying colors (take the words literally). As usual, more poses from Prema Kavi here.
Then began the journey to our second destination – Bandipur….
The journey was uneventful as such. Just plain bike ride. Nice cool weather, wonderful road… Need we say more??
    On reaching the reception, we came to know that the safari wasn’t supposed to start till 3-45pm that day. We still had 4 hours with us to pass. Then inspiration or enlightenment (what ever word you choose) hit Prema Kavi and Bully. We decided to ride to Ooty and return back for the safari by 4pm.
Thus began our final destination – Ooty
    A tusker, quite a few deer, wild buffaloes and “A white wild Horse”-never saw/heard about one in my life (and now we are doubting if it had a horn too 😛 and Tormentor as usual had read too many fairy tales and started repeating one of them) . Just before crossing the border in Madumalai, the cops stopped us for checking the docs. Rather to put it in a simple way – “It was vasuli time” for them. He wanted 20 bucks for each bike that totaled to 80. Our Prema Kavi being the honest man that he is decided that he would not take a single penny out of his pocket and confronted him saying we all had the required docs. Cool guy, Roady and Coder had their docs verified. Then came the bully – everything was perfect except of course the emission test which expired on 5th June and you call it coincidence or dumb luck we traveled on 6th. So he wanted to book a case but was not in a mood to open the register. Finally we persuaded him to 100 bucks which incidentally was given by the Prema Kavi’s bike mate Cool guy. And as expected Prema Kavi was cursing himself for that magical moment of honesty. J And our assassin meanwhile wanted a receipt for the mamool we gave to the cops… 😛
    Then began our journey through the hills, which had exactly 36 hairpin bends. The Coder will never forget the first one. J He was riding the bike for the first time on a hilly region -Third gear during the first hairpin… Accelerating… but bike slowing down…. It never flashed during that moment that he has to come to 1st or 2nd gear for the bike to pull trough. The bike virtually came to a halt as a car came straight for him and the Tormentor. Since it was a slope, the bike tilted and lo it was on the ground. Then came the Tormentor took a new avatar “The Cheer leader”. For the next 35 bends this is what the Cheer Leader said. “Hairpin bend to the left/right. Slow down. First gear. Accelerate. Sooper “Coder”. You are the king of hairpin riding.” At first the Coder felt a twinge of guilt that he could not even clear a hairpin. But that was replaced by amusement totally by the Cheering of the Cheerleader. The assassin met the two during one the hairpins and asked if they needed any help as he wanted to ride. The Coder wanted to finish all the bends and reach the summit on his own though it wasn’t much of a summit for many experienced riders like the Bully and Prema Kavi.
None of the friends could believe their ears that the total amount of time we spent in Ooty after riding a total of 250Kms was about 10 min. This is what we did: It started pouring cats and dogs when we reached the center of town. Parked our bikes next to a kaka tea stall, had 1 cup of tea. Meanwhile Prema Kavi started posing alone in the middle of the road asking us to take his pic while we were soaking wet. Everyone did so grudgingly and then bought tea packets as if to prove that we had been to Ooty and started our journey back to Bandipur. The rain had done one more thing: It had blocked the hairpin route of descending. So the Coder could not test his skills in riding much to the relief of the Tormentor. 😀
    The rain had cleared the road of traffic and we were wet to the skin. The Assassin rode with the Coder and the Tormentor with the one and only Roady. The whole descent was in heavy rain and windy conditions. At one point the cold got to The Roady. We were riding behind them. And the Coder stopped on seeing him park his bike. The coder slowed down and parked 20 meters in front of The Roady’s bike. And much to the Coders shock, the Tormentor and the Roady started running towards them helter-skelter. Then came Banker and Bully. They too joined in. Finally 5 pagal bikers including assassin were running back and forth the two bikes for 5 minutes. The oder did not even get down from the bike afraid that “The runner ghost of Ooty“ might get to him as well.
    Other than that nothing eventful happened for another hour until we reached Bandipur where we saw an elephant close to the road. The Prema kavi who had advised us during the onward journey that we should not take pictures of wild animals which could invite a fine of Rs.1000 decided it was time to break the rule as him being honest resulted in giving T.N mama 100 bucks. He took several pics of the tusker much to the amusement of the assassin who could not hide his glee in pointing out the word break of Prema Kavi.
     We reached Bandipur and rested for 30 minutes and none were in the mood for safari as we had seen quite a few wild beast and primarily we thought that the forest guard would not let us into the van which carried us through because of the amazing condition we were in by then. J
    We went back to Mysore and Prema Kavi decided it was time to play hide and seek before reaching the hotel. The Prema Kavi the hider and rest 3 bikers trying to find out which way or road he was exactly in. He finally found the way after a quarter of an hour and came straight to the hotel. The rest of them in their moment of brilliance switched of their phones and stood by the end of the K.R circle waiting for some information about the Prema Kavi and Cool guy while they were in the hotel and refreshing themselves along with the Coder and assassin who were supposedly waiting at the other end of KR circle in actual were outside the hotel too. Finally the banker decided that someone should switch on their cell phones and they arrived disgruntled and yet relieved that the Prema Kavi had not lost his head.
    After completing dinner, the eight of us crashed into our room to watch the India’s first match of the T20 world cup. With Prema Kavi swearing that he would watch the match at all costs and even referred to sending Roady to his room. Tormentor fell asleep even before the discussion began. Everyone except Prema Kavi left to get their much needed sleep. And believe it or not he never watched a single ball with Banker, Coder and Roady watching a few overs before chasing the Prema Kavi out. Prema Kavi’s honesty came to end not once but twice and his promise breaking streak continues. By the way for those guys who need reminding, he famously or rather infamous sweared to buy BRC T-shirt if Bangalore qualified for semis of IPL then changed the condition to Bang entering finals. Ultimately never bought the shirt. So the next time he swears by something, you know what to expect. 😀
    The next morning was our return leg to Bangalore. The Roady as usual decided by some algorithm that it would be best for everyone if he woke up last and delayed the return leg as much as he could with his packing and repacking of his gunny bag rather “GoNi chella”. The coder was pissed as he was scheduled to return to work the same day by noon along with Banker and kept humming about the issue much to everyone’s irritation. 😛 We had a wonderful breakfast at Shivalli MTR. The most amazing and unbelievable thing of the entire trip happened after this. Our Tormentor decided it was time he took the riding matter into his own hand and exchanged positions with Coder. He overtook Superbike which could have been a 500 or even a 1000cc. Everybody were dumb struck on hearing this news. Though the Tormentor let the poor “tormented” superbiker through ultimately, the superbiker would never forget the driving skills of the tormentor as long as he lives coz though overtaking him with an 180cc was a kick in his ass, letting him through by slowing down was a stab in the Superbiker’s heart. All hail biking god “The Tormentor”. J
   Ultimately, everyone reached safe and sound in the end. Especially the Tormentor who decided he was riding for his life by being extra cautious in Bangalore’s traffic and followed all signs and traffic rules including showing the signs for the turns with his hands along with the indicator. 😛
P.S: Not wanting to be left out as the only guy in the group not to have ridden a bike in the entire trip, the Banker decided to have a go. The Bully as usual would have turned the world upside down before he lent his bike to anyone let alone for learning. Next the Roady put forth a plan wherein the Coders bike would be used for testing (much to the Coders disbelief) and he the Roady would put his life in peril and sit behind the Banker. J The banker was successful in his 100 meter ride to fame and felt elated at having ridden without killing The Roady or having himself killed at the Coder’s hand if he had even scratched his bike.This concluded our wonderful ride .
P.S: Tormentor started this blog and gave the nick names to 8 of us…..