Day 2: Pallani-Kodaikanal-Palani – 138 km
This is the second blog of K2k Ride. You can check the first one here.
It was 9 AM and our alarm ringtones woke us. We had slept only for 2 hours and decided to complete the sight-seeing ASAP. All of us had breakfast at the hotel which served good food but after seeing the bill, we were shocked! This was really disturbing and did not make any sense for the food we had. We had to pay for our mistake of choosing this hotel and cursed ourselves. This was the only mistake or regret we guys had in the entire trip.
We guys quickly rushed towards Palani temple perched on the hill. Few friends had informed us about the cable car and also the wonderful view from the top which was a must. The ride to temple on a cable car is really exciting and scary also. The gradient is too high and one really hopes that the steel cables do not snap! If it snaps then one cannot imagine the consequences…
The ride was completed in less than 20 minutes and we reached top of the temple. One signboard really disturbed us, especially me. The board read – Hindus only! It was really disgusting to see such a signboard, especially in India which is symbol of cultural diversity and universal brotherhood. I have travelled to various parts of India (North, South and East) and visited many temples but never have seen such explicit signboards. We guys came down quickly to make sure Kodaikanal was not missed. We reached our hotel by 12, got fresh and left with our bikes. By now TN weather started to show its true colors and we guys were feeling the heat.
It was lunch time and our stomach was growling for food. We kept looking for some good hotel but couldn’t find any on our way. Luckily to our surprise we found a small makeshift hotel with a signboard reading – meals! We immediately pulled over and enquired with the owner who seemed to be little scary. But once he started serving us, we couldn’t believe his warmth and hospitality. This lunch was the best veg food we had in our entire trip and all of us had a big smile.
This time the bill was soothing and we guys were shocked to pay (happy). Dileepa gave him a tight hug and I thanked him with my broken Tamil language. Instances like these make our trip more memorable and we start appreciating things.
After a heavy lunch we finally reached the base where a signboard read – 1/14 hairpin bend! I had a big smile on my face and looked at other guys. We never knew that the road to Kodaikanal had hairpin bends. We started our climb and each turn was proving out to be fun. This reminded me of Kolli Hills ride which had 70 hairpin bends.
As you navigate through the bends, one can see the amazing views, clouds perched on mountains at a distance refusing to move and many monkeys sitting at each hairpin bend welcoming you. We reached the waterfalls after paying the entry fees. This falls is a small one but very scenic with numerous stalls of food and show-piece articles around. Once you cross this waterfalls, the atmosphere becomes very cold with visibility dropping to zero and small bursts of showers welcome you. This is something similar to what I experienced in Bhutan which throws unexpected weather at each stretch of the road.
It was 6 PM when we started our return journey to Palani and it was getting darker. The width of roads is good enough for one four wheeler and on either sides it is deep gorge. One wrong move and you are in deep grass 😉 we were careful with our ride and made sure that we are not too far apart. It is advisable to be extra cautious under such circumstances and control your instinct of riding fast. Finally by 8 PM we reached Palani and straightaway headed to have dinner. I explored a new dish this time – Egg Parota. Do try this guys, it is yummy and I bet you that one cannot finish it.
After a good dinner we headed to our hotels and as soon as I switched on my internet, I got few messages. One message was from my friend Arvind who had previously done this ride. He had few important and useful information/tips for us. I sincerely thank him for the suggestions and also urge all fellow travelers to update your journey frequently on social networking sites. This has many benefits: your friends and family are assured of your safety, friends get to see places and also inspired to partake such rides and few go on to share their experiences/suggestions.
After a good discussion with Arvind I updated my guys about the changes. All of us were OK with the plan and we slept at 12.30.
Day 3: Palani-Pollachi-Valparia: 152 km + 75 km (local sightseeing)
It was 4.30 AM in the morning and we woke up for an exciting and much awaited day of our ride. All of us got fresh and checked out at 6 AM to start our journey to Pollachi! Time and again I have been saying about the excellent TN roads. This ride from Pollachi to Valparai via Udumlapet was no different. The roads are amazing and well maintained minus the road mannerisms. Somewhere in between Palani and Udumlapet I lost sight of Dileepa. I and Arun waited for Dileepa at a railway crossing for 20 minutes. But there was no sight of him and I was shit scared. I turned my bike and went looking for this chap but no signs at all. Even the calls were not going through and all attempts to trace him went in vain. Finally after 30 minutes of search I got a call from Arun, telling Dileepa is ahead of us and waiting!!! I was so furious and blasted him for this. Anything goes wrong and the blame was on my head which also throws the plan for a toss. From there on I asked him to be within my line of sight.
We reached Pollachi at 8 AM and had our breakfast. In South India and more so in Tamil Nadu, the white coconut chutney served with Idli/Dosas/Puri is a must. It is such a mouth-watering dish that you cannot live without having it for breakfast. We left at 9 AM and reached the entrance of Annamalai Tiger Reserve in an hour’s time. This was the entrance for our much awaited and Must-Do ride! The mesmerizing and breath-taking 40 hairpin bends were waiting for us (Looks like I’m bonded with hairpin bends). I had seen these roads in numerous travelogues, magazines, articles and websites describing how it is a Must-Do.
My hands were itching to accelerate and start off! But at each bend you are automatically pulled over by the scenic views and you refuse to continue your ride. Some of the views are shared in the pictures and thanks to Chiranjit/Dileepa for these amazing clicks. All along these roads you can see lush greenery and tea estates. This is definitely a treat for your eyes and welcome change from the busy bustling city life filled with numerous apartments, shopping malls and pollution. The cool breeze hitting your face is an inexplicable feeling and one has to experience it. Each stretch can be a wonderful backdrop to movie shots.
Once you cross the 40 hairpin bends you are welcomed by some amazing tea estates. Waterfalls Tea Estate is one such. We pulled over for a cup of tea and it was one of the best tea I had. The guy at this tea shop shared a card when we enquired for accommodation. I called up to this number and the guy over the phone gave us a good deal. The stretch from Waterfalls Tea Estate to Valparai is a scenic one and you will be delighted to ride on these roads. It was 12.30 when we reached Valparai and check-In. The accommodation offered to us was not a high-fi one neither was it too bad. This was a perfect deal/value for money. On a budget trip with friends (guys) I suggest you should opt for such stays.
When we enquired for lunch most of the localites suggested Mary Matha Mess. I badly wanted to have Non-Veg food and Chiranjit agreed to accompany. Dileepa and Arun were on the other side of table with veg food. I have no words to describe the food which was served to us! In short – DO NOT MISS. Especially chicken biryani and fish fry.
Post lunch we had few places to cover which were close by. We decided to visit Nirar dam first followed by Sholayar dam. The road to Nirar dam is full of greenery running through tea estates but is in very bad shape. There is nothing much to see at this dam and you will be disappointed after visiting. From here we headed to Sholayar dam and this stretch is a beautiful one. You are greeted with numerous small villages on either sides of the road as you cut across numerous tea estates. I could see one vehicle with TATA TEA written on it. Now I know from where my tea powder comes 🙂 The road to Sholayar has many sharp turns with blind spots. One has to regularly honk and be extra cautious because the local state buses ply on these roads with great speed. I was feeling as if it was a F1 circuit with my Aliza serving as F1 car. One can actually test his/her riding skills and the bike’s performance on these roads. For all those bikers out there – try this once…
We reached back to our room at 7 PM and from there headed straight to same restaurant – Mary Matha Mess. The guy at the counter was happy to see us and had a big smile on his face. Post dinner we hit our beds around 9 PM only since next day was even more exciting – Jumbos waiting…
@Palani: Rajalakshmi Hotels
@Valparai – AST Travels – +91-9442194475
Food: Mary Matha Mess – Valparai – +91-9443577619 – 04253 222689
Places to see:
Palani Temple, Kodaikanal, Pollachi-Valparai stretch, Nirar dam, Sholayar dam