When was the last time, you did something for the first time?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Kodaikanal bike trip part 3

After a short halt it was time to move on

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We hit Kumily at around 11:30 am (approx 120 km from Tiruvalla), since we were riding apart we got caught up and separated in Kumily traffic – while arun halted at a restaurant I kept on riding and was soon surprised to see Kumily exit post.

Few phone calls to arun and soon I caught up with him at the restaurant he stopped at.

Lake Queen seemed to be a big hotel with a vegetarian section in ground floor ( Ayur cafe) and an AC restaurant in first floor from the parking spot – from the main entrance I guess AC restaurant comes in ground floor.

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Don’t know why the hotel was called Lake queen as I dint see any lake nearby but there were few other hotels called Lake shore and so on – so I assume there might be a lake nearby.

With Thekady nearby majority of the tourist prefer to stay in Kumily as the accommodations are cheaper than Thekady.

The food was affordable and good, while Arun had masala dosa I stuck to idly sambar which somehow was a rare commodity in Trivandrum- even if you get idly sambar it wont be dipped in sambar as we are used to eating.

At the restaurant Arun showed me his bike documents as he was concerned about border checking - got a bit apprehensive glancing through his insurance papers because there was no validity date mentioned on it - probably because it was a commercial bike . Anyways there was nothing that could have been done so hid my apprehension and told him the docs were good to go - there was no point worrying him.

After a 20 minute break we started towards our next point Theni which was around 60km away , plan was to have lunch from there and then push towards Kodaikanal which was approx 120km from Kumily

It was descend all the way from Kumily and the roads leading out of it was in bad condition, forcing us to go slow especially Arun who I suspected was feeling a bit lethargic and sleepy after a good delayed break fast.

I was getting a bit worried as we had a long distance to cover including a climb up Kodai ghat section however the bad roads wasn’t really favorable.

Few kilometer after the descend we hit a crowded town, and the most standout aspect of this town was its traffic light which was RED as well as Green, Arun and me were confused as to stay or go because half the traffic was stopping and the other half kept going – somehow from the looks of people there it seemed like a normal phenomenon - pheeew weirdly strange.

Couple of kilometer after that town the road suddenly became awesomely straight; though the tarmac was not really smooth it was good enough with hardly any traffic to let us rip. Soon we were ripping past 80 kmph and at times found myself at above 90s

something I had never done and enjoyed immensely – at this rate we should make up for the lost time and may end up gaining some time. though we didn't discuss it I am pretty sure that this was one of the moment Arun really enjoyed and I suspected he did hit 100 at certain times

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And apart few occasional stops as Arun was cramping we did make good time, As I realized later the seat of TB was very hard and the fact that he was not really used to such a long drive may have contributed to his occasional cramps – but the big man did well to keep up the momentum though I suspected he was a bit more uncomfortable than he admitted.

Taking a well deserved break
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One of the big attraction of this section was a spell binding paddy field, we chanced upon it quite by accident when we took a detour to try and find an access to a beautiful skimming waterfall that we saw from road.

Though we couldn’t find an entry to that waterfall we did came upon this sheer beauty – which could not be explained nor could any photo do it justice

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Glad that Arun forced me to take this photo

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Finally after a brief photo session, we forced ourselves to bid good bye to the paddy field and move on - had there been an accommodation option I am certain we would have taken it – it was that beautiful.

Arun was a bit surprised to find such a lush field in hot and dry Tamil Nadu however for someone like me who has seen much of India it was not really that astonishing but the sheer beauty was unmentionable

my bike at the splendor
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the photo doesn't do justice to the beauty
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Our plan was to stop in Theni for lunch but the town was so crowded and congested we decided to push forward and try our luck in finding a roadside dhaba – my idea was that every km we went further in search of dhaba the lesser the distance between us and our final destination for the day (Kodaikanal)

Strangely we didn’t find even one proper restaurant or dhaba enroute and kept going.

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One major irritant factor were those big overloaded autos who will drive slow in the middle of that awesome road and wouldn’t give you space to overtake despite numerous honking.

Pretty soon I lost my patience with them- cant they understand that they are slower than a cycle?

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By now we had started to take things a bit easy as were under the impression that this road will go on and we may have just 10-15 km of Ghat section climb. Imagine the shock we received when we arrived at the base of the Ghat section to find that 48km of the remaining road was purely on Ghat section.

Reached the base of KodaiKanal by 4pm – we have to climb to the very top of that mountain – that’s where Kodaikanal is- wow that’s a looooong climb!!!!

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We soon shifted gears as much as possible in ghat section and tired to make up time once again as it was already 4 pm and we had to reach the summit before night fall.

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Had fun riding through the twisties as in some areas we were able to maintain speeds of up to 50 kmph safely however then there were sections where every 10-15 meters we had to gear shift, which kind of got irritating.

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Had to navigate this unexpected Slush Monster – thankfully we passed through with no major issues- though Arun’s brand new lactose shoes got real dirty- he had to sacrifice one of his socks to clean it up later guess he was afraid his wife finding out as it was her present.

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As soon as we reached the sliver cascade waterfall few kilometers before Kodai - we were literally surrounded by agents canvasing for hotels/resorts.

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This waterfall comes immediately after the Kodaikanal entrance gate\toll booth and I believe is called the Silver Cascade.

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Since we were anyway in search of a good accommodation, we gave a ride to an agent named Dravidium who was going to show us a good property with an excellent view with garden in front called Kodai Gate.

This property is approximately 2 km before town and on the roadside, the access to this property is through a steep incline bylane where my bike struggled for the first time, anyways made it to the top and the first thing we noticed was no garden haha

The view was good but there was no proper sit-out or balcony to enjoy the view and at around Rs 1200 per room we felt it was not worth it.

So we left the place and decided to go down to the town for a better accommodation, we were in search of a cottage like accommodation which has a decent garden in front and a good view of the valley.

By 6 – 6.30 we entered proper Kodaikanal town, and started to bike around the town in search of an accommodation fitting our need without any luck.

Finally we decided to bike down to the lakeside where we had Kodaikanal version of bhelpuri which was pretty tasty considering the weather was getting real cold and that too pretty fast.

Arun then called up his friend in Saharja who had studied in Kodai and still knew some people there, he promised to get back with a reliable contact.

No callback came for more than 30 minutes and now engulfed in cold darkness we decided to head back to Kodai Gate hotel.

As luck could have it Arun’s friend callback at that time and gave us the contact detail of a guy named Ganesh , who had an Homestay near to the observatory.

A quick call to Ganesh to get the directions and off we were, and boy was it cold- I had anticipated some cold but this was way above it probably due to the recent rainfall in Kodaikanal.

Both of us were in summer clothes and had not bothered to pull out the sweaters from our bags, Thanks to my riding jacket I got some warmth but both our hands and finger were literally frozen solid.

Since Arun had forgotten to bring any woolens other than sweater I loaned out my woolen gloves to him, I was hoping my Twister gloves will be sufficient to handle such weather but what a shock – I felt as if I didn’t have a gloves on – My hands were exposed to the elements as badly as Arun’s were.

That’s when I was seriously considering the sensibility of buying this gloves.

To be frank apart from the knuckle protector I really don’t see any practical purpose of atleast using Cramster Twister – atleast it was a good wake up call ( lesson 2 – need better fleece glove for Himalayan circuit )

In Freezing cold ( and I literally mean freezing cold – I am used to Shimla and Ladhak and this was equal to that maybe due to the month and rainfall) we met up with Ganesh and his friend who arrived to pick us up on his Avenger.

Luckily the homestay was not far away and though it was not luxurious at Rs 800 for a 2 bedroom setup- it was a nice and decent bargain.

Once we had settled down and it was time for the most important mission of the day (from Arun’s point of view) poor fellow had gone without any Alcoholic drinks for the entire day and the moment we were settled in the homestay – we took Arun’s bike and went in search of a wineshop.

Amazingly it seems Kodai has only one wine shop (near to BSNL office) and boy was the place smelly and full of dirt. Got an overpriced pint of vodka and headed back into the cold in search of a good restaurant for our dinner.

Some searching around for a good restaurant found us at Hill Top restaurant – a nice place to have good veg and non veg food with over friendly staff – got the food parceled and went back to our homestay.

Had a good relaxed drinks & chat session, however by 10pm we were dozing off so decided to hit our bunks– guess we were more tired than we thought

Tomorrow around Kodaikanal

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