Thursday, February 21, 2013

Talakad and BR hills (Bike trip to nowhere)

I was at office on Friday when I happened to get the idea of going on a bike trip on Saturday  It was a 2 day weekend. I asked my friends Ravi and Vikas if they would be interested and they immediately agreed to this. We later pooled in four more people by the end of the day. The biggest problem in front of us was about the location. The best of locations for a bike trip were on the Mysore side, but we wanted to avoid it due the strike going on in Mandya about the Cauvery water issue. In spite of all this, we decided to go to Talakad.

Destination- Talakad and BR Hills
Total Distance covered- 400 kms
Mode of transport- Bikes
1. Hero Honda Karizma:           Ravi, Vikas
2. Yamaha SZX:                         Prashanth, Harsha
3. Hero Honda CBZ Extreme:  Vinod , Balkrishna
4. Yamaha FZS-                         Sudarshan (myself)

Route: Bangalore- Maddur- Malavalli- Talakad- BR hills- Malavalli- Maddur- Bangalore

Photo: Route from Bangalore to Talakad (Courtesy: Google maps)

Photo: Route from Talakad to BR hills (Courtesy: Google maps)

It was Saturday morning: All of us decided to meet up at Rajarajeshwari Nagar arch at 6:00 AM, but by the time all of them gathered, it was 7.00 AM. It was a beautiful sunny morning and the warmth of the sun gave a soothing experience in the cold weather. We halted at a small tea stall near Ramnagaram. We rode to Channapatna thereafter, where we stopped for breakfast at Hotel Vaishali.

    Photo: Halt at Hotel Vaishali (Channapatna) for breakfast

    Photo: Ravi posing for a photo as we were having the breakfast

The breakfast at Vaishali was decent. After finishing the breakfast, I noticed some birds around the hotel and I got busy photographing them.

Photo: A Brahminy kite flying over the hotel

After completing the breakfast, we decided to continue our journey to Talakad. Some of us swapped bikes here. We took a left at Maddur and headed towards Malavalli. As we kept going ahead, the road kept getting worse. We could not speed up on this stretch. After about 10 to 12 kms on this stretch, we gave a halt as most of our backs started aching. We then continued till Malavalli. Personally speaking, after driving on this stretch, I would recommend one to go via Kanakpura main road. I noticed a Pelican at a lake near Malavalli. I immediately halted the bike to take a few snaps of the bird. Vikas  and Vinod (with Balu)  also stopped immediately. However Prashanth (with Harsha) didn't notice this and raced ahead.

Photo: Halt next to a lake near Malavalli

Photo: The Pelican spotted at a lake near Malavalli

Photo: Ravi, Vikas, Vinod and Balu

As I was clicking the photos, the others contacted Prashanth and Harsha, and asked them to halt. We resumed our ride. We went a little ahead and saw that the protestors had blocked the road near Malavalli town. We somehow managed to take a small deviation and went through some interior routes to rejoin the road to Talakad. In the meantime, one of us called up Harsha and found that the road was not blocked when they crossed the place few minutes ago. So we asked them continue on the same route so that we could meet them at some point on the route. As we rode some distance we saw Prashanth and Harsha who halted for drinking coconut water. Vikas and I (with Ravi) halted our bikes. Vinod and Balu (who were ahead of us) had not noticed them and rode ahead. We called them up and asked them to go directly to Talakad. We finished drinking coconut water and left the place. We reached Talakad by around 12 noon. On reaching Talakad, we encountered a check post where we had to pay  Rs. 5 per head for entry. After paying the entry fee we rode further inside. There was a sign board showing the direction towards Cauvery river. We followed the sign board and reached the river banks where we had to pay another Rs. 5 per bike for the parking. We parked our bikes at a shed which was made for parking the bikes. We met Vinod and Balu there. We decided to go and see the temple first and then play in the river. We walked towards the temple. The path to the temple was covered with sand making it difficult to walk for us. There were a lot of beggers on the path. We reached the temple after walking for about 10 minutes. The place around the temple was full of sand. The region in the immediate vicinity of the temple had been cleared. We spent some time playing in sand and photographing.

 Photo: That's Harsha

 Photo: Prashanth photographing the temple

Photo: Vikas

Photo: The group (Excluding me)

After spending some time around the temple we decided to move on. We headed to the Cauvery river bank. The bank looked more like a beach because of the sand. There were a lot of boatmen there. One of them approached us and asked if we would be interested to go for a ride on the coracle. He said the charges would be around Rs. 20 per head. We agreed to it. We were asked to leave our footwear on the river banks itself. We were very hesitant initially but then agreed to it. It was fun though; all of us kept splashing water at each other through the ride. After the ride, we decided to spend some time in the river. Balu decided to stay back and take care of the belongings. We played in the water for about an hour or so. The water was dirty because of the leaves from the trees on the river banks. 

Photo: Don't know what Vinod was up to

It was close to 3 in the noon when we were thinking of leaving. We were thinking whether to head back to Bangalore on the same day or cover another destination. We decided to head to BR hills on the same day and halt there for the night. We decided to leave immediately. We had not had our lunch. There were a lot of hawkers around who were offering lunch (meals) for reasonable prices. Since we had to cover about 60 kms more, we decided to continue our journey. We asked some of the locals about the route to BR hills and continued the journey. We stopped on the way at some road side stalls to have some chats since it was almost evening. We confirmed by asking the locals there if we were headed in the right direction. They confirmed the route but said we would have to be there before 5.00 pm in the evening as the guards would not allow vehicles to go or return from the hills after 6.00 pm. We continued riding. The route was beautiful  as it was lush green all around. We reached BR hills at around 5.45 pm. The guards at the check post told us that they would not allow the vehicles to return beyond 6.00 pm. We asked if stay would be available at the hill. We were told that since it was a weekend, most of the rooms would be booked and it might be hard for us to find a stay. We discussed among ourselves and decided to continue to the top of the hill and try and look for some accommodation there. We rode up to the hill. The road there was not in good shape. It was a narrow road through the forest with quite a few potholes. We reached the top of the hill in about 15-20 minutes. We tried looking for an accommodation but it was very expensive. They said it would be about  Rs.  2000 per room and they would allow up to 3 people in each room. We decided that it was not worth staying back there paying so much. So we decided to head back to Bangalore the same night. The locals also mentioned that there was a temple at the peak of the hill. So we decided to visit the temple before we leave. On reaching the top, we witnessed a very beautiful sunset. Some of them went to the temple. The remaining of us decided to stay back and witness the sunset.

Photo: Post sunset at the top of BR hills

It was around 6.45 pm when we decided to head back to Bangalore. We rode down the hill and reached the check post. We saw a few more vehicles caught up there. They were trying to convince the guards to let them go. The guards however recognized us when we went to ask and permitted us to leave. We asked them if there was better route to reach Malavalli. One of the guards directed us to go via Kollegal. He said that the roads were better on this route and we could reach faster. After taking directions from him, we continued to ride. We reached Maddur around 8.00 pm. All of us were really hungry, so we decided to have dinner at Empire hotel. We halted at Empire hotel for dinner. The food over there was spicier than normal. So we ate slowly. It was almost 10.00 pm when we left the place after dinner.

Photo: Harsha and prashanth during dinner at Empire hotel

We reached Bangalore around 12:00 am and halted at Nayandahalli signal. Ravi asked me to stay back at his place in BTM layout as he felt that it might not be safe for me to go alone through the ring road at that time. I decided to go home rather as I was very tired and wanted to be home after such a long ride. I dispersed from the group at Nayandahalli signal and headed to my place through the ring road. I reached home at around 12.30 am and saw the trip meter. It had clocked exactly 400 kms when I reached home. I was very tired and went to sleep immediately. It was a much deserved sleep after a day full of travelling.