After my Yelagiri ride, I was literally in love with Hairpin Bends. I had discussed many a times about how addictive it would be to ride on those roads. Many of my friends suggested me to try Kolli Hills and said it has 70 hairpin bends! This stuck to my head like a bolt and I made a note of this place in my Ride List. With full excitement I started googling to check out this place. Seeing the pictures of Kolli Hills, I had no second thoughts about visiting this place.
Kolli Hills or Kolli Malai is a small mountain range located in Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu. The mountains are about 1300 meters in height and it has 70 hairpin bends to reach the top of the hills. The Kolli Hills are part of the Eastern Ghats, which is a mountain range that runs mostly parallel to the east coast of South India [Wikipedia].
I was waiting for all my buddies to join this ride. But as always, the plan kept on getting postponed due to one or the other reason. I was losing patience and decided to do this ride alone if nobody turned up. After numerous changes in the plan and also the number of people joining the ride, it was decided that we shall ride on 25/07/2015. The plan was to leave in the afternoon after lunch and reach there by late evening. And the riders were – Myself, Mithun, Shivu, Dileepa and Chiranjit. But later due to some reason Chiranjit and Dileepa had to drop out. We started our ride at 3 PM after tanking up fuel at Shell Petrol bunk, Kengeri satellite town.
As we left it started to drizzle and but we guys refused to stop. The rains were also adamant and they started to open up a lot. We guys managed to take cover at the toll booth and also geared up appropriately to face the rain gods.
Rains slowed down a bit but did not stop completely and we had very little time at hand. I and Mithun decided to move on with the drizzle. Till Hosur it was cloudy and the drizzle continued. After Hosur the skies opened up briefly and we were able to take out our visor for some fresh air. The weather was awesome and cool breeze forced us to pull over at A2B (Adyar Ananda Bhavan) for a cup of tea.
From there on it was all about RAINBOW…….we could see many rainbows at regular intervals with varying intensity. It is very rare to see a rainbow in our concrete jungle, Bengaluru.
Once we crossed Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri, we reached Salem. From Salem there are two routes. One is to reach Namakkal and then go towards Kolli hills. The other is to take the Rasipuram-Salem highway and reach Kolli hills. We chose the latter option and took a left deviation after Salem towards Rasipuram. It was 7 PM when we reached this junction and the landmark is a HP petrol bunk. From here on you have to drive carefully and depend on the locals for the route or use google-maps. We reached the base of Kolli hills at 8.30 PM and wasted no time to start our climb for the elusive 70 Hairpin Bends…
Our google map was on and we had no words after seeing the picture! We all were excited and wanting to climb ASAP. The roads are flat and straight for first few meters. Once you have crossed the straight road; first hairpin bend starts and you realize that the ride has started… !! The thrill of riding at night and that too climbing the hill with 70 hairpin bends is something hard to explain. One has to ride to feel it and enjoy… one word of caution: be careful about the onward lorry or heavy vehicles which are hard to see because of the BLIND SPOT. Keep honking at the bends and take it easy.
After crossing few bends and as you reach certain elevation, the view of the town from top looks spectacular. It resembled a small galaxy of numerous twinkling stars. We pulled over to take few pics and the headlights were off. We were greeted with some special guests as soon as the headlights were off! Fireflies…we were totally enjoying the darkness for the first time with the view and the fireflies.
It was 10.30 PM and we reached the top successfully. There was a feeling of accomplishment on successfully completing one more ride. And then our stomach started to take our senses and the feel good situation. Luckily we found one couple who were about to close their fruit shop and we bought a pineapple. All the hotels and other shops were closed, so the only option items available were Pineapple, Jackfruit and banana. The lady gave us the best pineapple we could ever have in our life! It was fresh, sweet and mouth-watering to say the least. Four slices and we started humming! My suggestion – please try once pineapple at this place.
Our stay was booked at PA Resort and it was just few kilometers away. We reached the resort at 11 PM and it was not surprising that the dinner was closed and we had to manage with the pineapple! It was impossible, at least for me to sleep on 4 slices of pineapple. We quickly checked around the small village for any hotels or restaurants. To my luck one small hotel chap was about to close and I just jumped in requesting him to help me out. He agreed to make me Chicken Fried Rice! I wanted to kiss him, but later my senses prevailed 😉 that chap while going said me, ‘’Sir, taste and do let me know about it tomorrow morning”… I just nodded and headed back to room. The room was shabby and ill-maintained to say the least. But we had no other option, as all the hotels and resorts were booked full. I opened the food parcel and started to have. The first spoon of rice and I was hmmmmmmmm. That chap really deserved a kiss and I shouldn’t have stopped!
I checked my mobile network but it was flat, which meant it was time to sleep. Next day, Mithun was to leave early and I had to leave in the afternoon. We woke up at 6 AM and started with our bikes to drop Mithun till bottom of the hills. The ride down the hills with those bends and especially with the clear view was worth the pain we took to reach here. There was slight chill breeze and fog had covered the roads. The surrounding mountains were covered with clouds and numerous monkeys were sitting at each bend waiting to greet us. I will stop describing at this point and let pictures do the talking.
It was 7 AM when we reached bottom and it was time to say good bye to Mithun… And HIIIIIIIIIIII to 70 bends. I was excited to do the climb again and this time all alone….I took 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach the top with few breaks for pictures. Shivu was waiting for me and we had to check out our room by 10 AM. We checked out of the room and headed straight to the waterfalls which was 10 Km from our resort. The trek to the waterfall is a painful one with 1086 stairs and we were doing this on empty stomach! Somehow managed to reach the waterfall and it was worth the trouble we could. The waterfall was in full flow and many had gathered underneath to enjoy the falls. We stayed there for few minutes and started our trek back to the top. OMG, I sweated like hell. The entire ride so far was close to 400+KM and I never felt the tiredness, but the trek back was torturous.
Finally around 11.30 AM we reached top and after some distance we could find a house on the roadside. Here the lady served hot onion dosas! We filled our stomach to the max and started our return journey to Bengaluru. From there it was just ride and ride till our A@# cried. We only stopped to console them and again hopped to continue the ride.
As we approached Krishnagiri, I could see a heavy downpour approaching us. The scene of the downpour approaching was like Godzila coming towards us with one step at a time…and it finally came to us with a BANG…a car parked on the roadside was pushed few meters away because of the heavy downpour and gushing winds.
The rain gods calmed down after 20 minutes and we started our final leg of the ride. We reached our homes by 9 PM and the odometer reading indicated that we had covered close to 700+ KM…
***The pictures are taken from my IPhone and uploaded without any Photoshop/editing.
Bangalore to Kolli Hills Distance: 300 KM
Food: Plenty of Restaurants and Hotels (A2B, Saravanna etc…)
Accommodation: 3 – 4 resorts are available. But book the rooms well in advance. (Our stay at PA Resort wasn’t good, try something else)
No. of days required: At least 2 DAYS