K2k Ride – Part 1 (Palani – Kodaikanal)

Before I start off with this travelogue, let me put this straight – this isn’t a Kashmir to Kanyakumari ride because people using refer K2k for this. Maybe someday I will do that also or even bigger…

But here, the meaning of K2k is:

K – Kerala

2k – 2000 km distance covered in this ride

(K2k can also mean – Karnataka to Kerala)

So here it is, K2k Ride which was one hell of a ride covering many places like Palani, Kodialkanal, Pollachi, Valparai, Chalakudy, Thrissur, Kochi and Palakkad with numerous hairpin bends and scenic locations passing through acres of tea estates, reserve forest and many waterfalls. The ride was for over 5 days and completed on Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 bikes…

HERE WE GO:

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In the rider’s community there are few places which are categorized as must-do. Say for example, if you talk about North there is the Mecca of riders – Leh! And if you look at East then there is Guwahati-Darjeeling stretch. Similarly for West we have the Kutch and Jaipur circuit. But when it comes to South the first thing that comes to our mind is Kerala, some even call it as Monsoon Ride. And as part of this circuit there is Pollachi-Valparai stretch with its mesmerizing hairpin bends. In fact, it’s been featured in most of the ‘Top 5/10/20 roads to ride’. And moreover my recent addiction towards hairpin bends was also pinching inside which forced me to look upon my list. Valparai-Pollachi stretch was sitting there staring at me.

I was desperately waiting to ride on this stretch and kept looking for right opportunity. And the opportunity came in the form of an invitation – my friend and fellow rider, Vibhas aka Drugs Baba’s marriage!!! I straight away said yes to him and assured him of my presence – plus Aliza…

I started planning my itinerary and also invited my friends for the ride. Few laughed at the idea of bike ride from Bengaluru and ridiculed, and few had some other commitments which forced them to miss out on this ride. Only Dileepa, Chiranjit and Arun (Rameshwaram Ride) agreed. All of us were actually excited to partake this ride. The final draft of the plan was ready with the approximate budget and it looked good.

The plan was to start from Bengaluru and reach Kochi (Karukutty) covering Kodaikanal, Munnar, Pollachi, Valparai, Attrirapally falls, Chalakudy and Thrissur. All these in five days and specially return journey to Bengaluru from Kochi was biggest challenge in our entire itinerary. Frankly speaking, I was really worried about my back – @#$ and also the backbone.

This is my third visit to God’s Own Country but the previous two had been on different mode of transportation. And this time it was my favorite mode – BIKE. There is something special and amazing about a bike ride, especially on these long rides. You are sure to meet different people and experience different culture. The added beauty of bike ride is you can stop wherever you wish to and spend time without any worry or concern. The lost time can always be made up somewhere else.

I will break my entire odometer readings into three parts, for ease of reading and also for those who want specific locations for their future rides.

Day 1: Bangalore – Hosur – Krishnagiri – Salem – Dindigul – Palani = 470 Kms

Riding during night is risky and advisable to ride during daylight as much as possible. While riding at night there are many factors which gets added and make your ride little more challenging and difficult. For instance, the onward vehicles with high beam blurs your vision. Many vehicles which have no reflector or any signs and are standing like a deathtrap on the highway. Personally when you are struggling with your vision and trying hard to concentrate on the roads. The cool breeze at times can put you to sleep. The list can go on and on with the difficulties associated to night ride. But having said that, there are instances where one can’t really help but ride at night.

And we were in similar situation which forced us to ride at night. After a lot of jugaad at office we managed to punch out at 4 PM. luckily with my past experience I had instructed everybody to pack their backs and depart straight from office.  This really saved us at least 2-3 hours of precious time. We filled up bikes with fuel at Shell petrol bunk, Kengeri and by the time we left Kengeri it was 5 PM. From there we hit NICE road after paying the toll and to our surprise the traffic was minimum with perfect weather overhead. My only concern was the luggage which I had tied on to the fuel tank with help of bungee cords, because of the matt finish on my Thunderbird 350. But to my surprise and delight the bag never troubled me much till the end of the ride.

On the way we had few stops for a cup of tea and reached Saravan Bhavan. This place is special to us because we had our first pit stop here during the Rameshwaram ride. I recommend all those who happen to pass through this road to stop here and fill your stomach, you will not be disappointed. Each one of us were very hungry and ordered two dishes per head for food. It was 7 PM when we were done with the food and again we had smiles on our faces as we paid the bill. As we exited the hotel it was 7 PM and we realized that it was time to switch on the headlights!

Aliza all set for night ride @ Saravan Bhavan
Aliza all set for night ride @ Saravan Bhavan
Me & Chiranjit @ Saravan Bhavan
Me & Chiranjit @ Saravan Bhavan

The next milestone was Salem and we managed to reach there by 9 PM.  Our stomachs were making noise and it was time to silence them. We had good vegetarian food at Salem and quickly started off to our next stop, Karur. On a night ride, post 10 PM and that too on a cool windy day with light drizzle anybody can fall asleep. It was no exceptions for us and the only solution was to have frequent stops for a cup of tea. At one particular location there was a drunk man who came from nowhere in the middle of the road! Added to that there were no streetlights and no vehicle movement which could have made his presence felt. Luckily I could manage to escape from him but I am sure he could have been become a chicken for some other vehicle. We reached Karur around 12 in the midnight and our eyes were burning. To our luck there was a toll booth which served as a RED signal to us and we guys pulled over there for a quick break.  This was the best break that we guys had; sitting on the main highway behind trucks and chatting as if were some local school kids, with our toys beside us. I took this opportunity for a quick power nap on the road while other fellas were busy chatting 😉

Road is our Home…
Power Nap
Power Nap

It was 2 AM when we reached Dindigul and from there our next stop was Palani. As we entered Palani, there was a tea stall which was looking as if it is a 24/7 outlet. It was 5 AM in the morning when we had tea at this outlet and upon enquiry the tea stall guy suggested us Rajalakshmi hotel for stay. Here was our first change with the planned itenary – Instead of staying at Kodaikanal, which was another 60 km we decided to halt at Palani. This turned out to be the best decision that we took since Palani also was a good location for sightseeing and acted as central location for our further ride. We checked into Hotel Rajalakshmi after a good bargain for the price and all this with my broken/half/manageable Tamil! We badly missed a Tamilian and Keralite on our ride. It was morning 6 AM and we jumped onto our beds saying GOOD NIGHT to each other…

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