Friday, January 28, 2011

My Trivandrum - Kodaikanal Bike trip

Let this be the beginning and not the end !

Trip Date : 21st Oct 2010

Some Teasers

If you had asked me 3 weeks ago about my plans for this trip I would have been flabbergasted to the point of laughing.

The trip was never on cards, even though Arun had expressed his desire to team up for a short biking trip within Kerala both of us knew that it would never transpire primary because I was planning a Sikkim\Bhutan biking trip, during the month of August \October.

Some Teasers

As fate would have it, for various reasons my Sikkim trip got delayed and finally I decided to call it off due to work commitments.

Now with Sikkim not happening I started to get restless and started to look for some other avenues to satisfy my hunger for some biking action, that’s when Arun once again expressed his desire to do a biking trip (his current package tour across Himachal with his wife was not going as planned)

Some Teasers

Slowly the jigsaw pieces came together and having finally decided to do a trip together, I got down to business of identifying the route; and off course hunting a rental bike for Arun in Trivandrum ( Arun being a NRI didn’t have any bike here)

After careful consideration Trivandrum – Tirumangalam- Kodaikanal – Kumily – Peermade-Vagamon- Trivandrum route was selected.

Map View

Terrain View

In a sense I wanted to see how well the Unicorn will handle over a long trip which involves – good as well as bad roads, little bits of off roading, serious narrow, twisting & broken up Ghat sections with its sharp switch backs and off course identifying its comfortable top cruising speed.

These would be valuable inputs for my proposed month long Sipti – Ladhak trip that I plan to do sometime in near future.
Well once the route was planned I paid more attention to getting the rented bike, the second bike was important as it would have been very uncomfortable for 2 people to travel on my small bike.

Arun was insistent on having a bullet, as he was used to that class of bike and as a devote malayali he foresaw no problems in getting a rented bike in Trivandrum.

Unfortunately for his illusion and my frustration, Trivandrum known as a tourist hub (Kovalam, Poovar and Varkala beaches) strangely enough didn’t have any bike renters- can you believe it.

Couple of bike renters in Kovalam were not interested in renting bikes out to Indians (no wonder why majority of tourists are giving Kerala a skip after their first visit – if Kerala is serious about its tourism then it needs to shun the white goddess worship)

Anyways despite weeks of bike hunting, I was no closer to the goal than I was at the start.

I did manage to find two renters who were willing to rent to Indians; however both their bikes were in garage for major repairs and the out dates were too close for comfort.

Overall the trip looked headed for disaster even before it started and I was close to calling it off.

Arun had reached Tiruvalla (his native place in Kerala) by this time (19th Oct) from his Himachal trip and was all eager to know the trip status since his Himachal trip was below his expectation.

Seeing his eagerness I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I planned to call it off , so I decided to give it one last try, that’s when this idea of getting the bike from Cochin struck me – with couple of professional rental service there, I knew it might work out though at a higher cost.

Discussed the matter with Arun in detail who welcomed the suggestion, the plan was for Arun to visit Cochin, check out and negotiate the bikes and then drive one down to Tiruvalla. All this process went very slowly much to my increasing frustration as I saw another well planned trip going down the drain.

Now that we were planning to take Arun’s bike from Cochin, I had to make slight modifications to original plan as Arun was not too keen to drive up till Trivandrum on his own, so I decided to meet up with him at Tiruvalla.

The new plan

I will drive upto Tiruvalla on 21st Oct and from there we will officially start our trip on 22nd Oct.

This time it will be Tiruvalla- Peermade, Vagamon, kodaikanal route , where we will visit Vagamon before reaching Kodaikanal.
As per the previous plan, we were to travel through the hot Tamil Nadu during the start and wind up through cooler Kerala so that we are refreshed.

Map view

Terrain view

The route consisted of some places that we had been planning to visit for a long time; and along with that I had chosen a route to do some advanced terrain handling testing of my recent accusation – the Honda Unicorn

But now we had to do it the other way and I would have to drive back via Tamil Nadu alone since Arun planned to go to Munnar from Kodiakanal and then head to Cochin to drop off his bike ; whereas me being on a tight schedule would have to head straight back to Trivandrum from Kodai.

Felt a bit odd, since now in the present scenario I would be riding alone for half the trip – still I had no major issues as I have ridden alone in past ; so finally the plan was sealed .

I had given my bike for servicing on Monday evening (18th Oct) just incase the trip transpired but not before giving the mechanics a clear threat to ensure that the bike is serviced properly , that seemed to have paid off because the garage called me up to notify my bike was ready for inspection and testing on Tuesday morning itself hahaha – went for the inspection and realized that even though they had done a good job, they had forgotten to replace the broken left indicator retainer- half an hour saw that finally getting fixed.

On the bike’s front had some doubt regarding the front disk brake as it was making a lot of noise and was not stopping the bike completely – the head mechanic assured me that it was due to recent wash and it will work properly as soon as the water dries off.- so the matter was settled.

Next activity was packing my Saddle and Tank bag on the evening of 20th October in anticipation of the big day if it did transpire, I had decided to carry majority of the stuff (san thermals\ spare petrol \ spare parts) as I was using this trip to not only test the bike but also my packing style and readiness for a Himalayan expedition. Being a four day trip this was the right occasion to understand basic but critical elements so crucial to long trips like packing.

I must say I was a bit skeptical while doing the packing as I majorly expected the trip would have to be called off as Arun had still not got the bike, however I decided to be ready just in case the trip materialized since I wont have any time for packing after that.

Click to continue


  1. Hi,

    Came here from Indiamike. And wow ! You have some good bike rides to your credit. I envy you guys for this... I mostly have to depend on other modes of transport. :-)

    BTW, Sikkim happened for me recently and it's a lovely place. :-)

  2. Hi mysticlama, enjoyed your travelogue to kodai. i am planning to drive to kodai in 2 weeks time, (i am from thiruvalla, with family), going the same route you took. thiruvalla-kumily-theni-cumbum-kodai. i have not driven to the ghats except for nelliampathy. could you give me tips about the drive and road conditions? i have a maruti zen. i want to know how it is driving thru the ghat roads, are these very narrow? and hair pins etc. thanks in advance.


  3. Hi Rahul

    The roads are decent and you should have no problem navigating either in Kerala or in Tamil Nadu. The roads are not as narrow as ones that you find in Himalayas. They tend to be narrow at only certain stretches like past Kumily however easily negotiable.

    Rule of Ghat section honk before every turn and give way to vehicles which are climbing

    Enjoy your trip

  4. Thanks friend.. Will keep posted after my trip.

  5. enjoyed goin thru ur trip.... keep throttling n jotting :-) cheerz!

  6. Hi,
    I know this is a late comment, but enjoyed reading this.
    Could you please give me some leads on from where did you arrange the rented bike at Cochin?

    1. Thanks Rameez

      We took it from IVAN he is a famous Royal Enfield mechanic & bike gagarge in Fort Cochin.

      Hope that helps and Bon Vovage

  7. Nice trip. Thanks for sharing. The various wonderful places to visit in Kodaikanal have lured generations of tourists who flock to soak in the delight of these Kodaikanal places to visit. Some of the must visit places in Kodaikanal are Bryant Park, Kodai Lake, and Berijam Lake. Explore best Kodaikanal tour packages also for wonderful vacations.