Tuesday, 5 May 2015

My (almost) Solo Trip to Valparai

Howdy Riders/Readers/Viewers,

Its been sometime, since I went out on a solo trip. So I had been thinking for a while and was waiting for an opportunity to do one. The May 1st holiday just before the weekend offered exactly that and who am I to say no to riding ?!! ;) However, a friend was eager to join as a pillion, so took him along on day 2 and 3. I really would love to sit and write about the experience of being on my own on an open road, but may be some other time. For now let the pictures take you through the journey. Hope you like it.

Wait a second. Some of you might appreciate a summary of the distance covered, time it took, fuel consumed, etc, etc and not much into reading texts and watching pics (Really?!?). For them here are some rough* stats:

Total Distance Covered: 1300 kms (including detours and roaming around, etc)
4 Day ride split up       : 389 + 196 + 184 + 366 (distance shown on google map, between points)
No of days                  : 4
Fuel consumed            : 35 litres of petrol
Average Fuel Economy : 35 km/ltr
Average Riding Speeds on-
Highways                    : 85 km/h
Mountains                   : 40 km/h

Food                           : 1200 INR (appx 300 per day)
Fuel                            : 2700 INR (Petrol rates vary a bit across states, so this is a rough figure)

Accommodation           : 

800 INR for the non-ac room we found near Periyar at night. In Coimbatore stay at home and Anaikatti stay at the resort, both were taken care by my friend Shiva. Thanks a bunch buddy for the food and it was great time I had with your family.

Breakdowns (if any)     : 

Nothing really. A wire came loose and was touching the rear wheel during ghat roads, so tidied it up with electric tape and then it was all good.

Lessons Learnt            : 

* Mountain roads too may close for the night, so do enquire when on a tight riding schedule. Best still, is not to have a tight riding schedule ;) 

* Don't miss out on small things on the way which might be more fun than you might have assumed. E.g. morning bath in the river in our case :)

* Check and correct tyre pressure for the vehicle load (with/without pillion/luggage) while riding in the twisties

* Keep the bike tanked up always and keep cash (not only card) when riding

Day 1 : Bangalore > Hosur > Krishnagiri > Dharmapuri > Salem > Erode > Coimbatore (break/rest/lunch) > Anaikatti

 Ride route map for first day

Leaving the concrete jungle via Electronic City road at morning 5:30.

One of my favourite experience always, sunrise on the horizon :)

It is always exciting to get a glimpse of mountains, while still being on the planes. Just a mere thought of of being on those ghats, excites me.

Taking a break on a beautiful morning next to a beautiful road. Too much of beauty, ain't it :D

Two different generation of the breed.

One of the most dangerous patch of roads with sharp curves, which is a collection of crashed vehicles parts. Here the whole car is still lying abandoned. Initially I didn't give much heed to the warning sign, but after seeing the numerous vehicle parts on road side, I slowed down to a safer speed.

I was getting a bit drowsy, so took a break here to have an energy drink.

Day 2 : Anaikatti > Coimbatore > Palakkad > Chalakudy > Pariyaram (Athirappilly Falls Road)

Ride route map for day 2

Two up, started late in the mid day sun, of Tamilnadu Summer. The view of those misty mountains helped me feeling good, despite the heat.

Tea break! I was so happy to find a shade for my steed. Actually between Bangalore and Coimbatore, its kinda rare to find some shade to take a break, solely due to the service roads being on both sides of the highway.

Finally reached Chalakudy. Enquired about the route to Valparai as mobile data connection was very slow.

Sun going down and still had a long way to go..

The plan was to take shelter in Valparai at night. But when we reached at the Kerala checkpost in Periyar (near Athirappilly Falls), we got to know, that the mountain road has been closed at 6pm for vehicles (both cars and bikes) and will only open the next day morning at 6am. This was a shocker, as I had plans to be back in Bangalore by Sunday night. Staying back for that night means I had to ride around 525 kms the next day, which wasn't a good idea, considering out of that total distance, around 100 kms is mountain roads. First of all its not safe to ride fast on the twisties, secondly what is the point riding fast through such beautiful roads when thats what I have come all this way to enjoy. So that night was a long night and I decided to add another day and have some fun on the way. Glad I took that decision and we actually had more fun the next day, as we had lot of time to spare and no rush. The non-ac room we could find in the last minute was a bad idea due to the hot and humid climate but the morning shower in the river more than made up for it:) Had we not been stuck on this road at night, we would have totally missed it.

Day 3 : Pariyaram (Athirappilly Falls Road) > Valparai > Polachi > Coimbatore

Ride route map for day 3

Morning surprise! Got to know about the Chalakudy river being very close to the hotel.

We took a lavish shower here and enjoyed the flowing water on the rocky bed. It was way better than a bathtub, or wait, it was actually the best-of-its-kind natural jacuzzi. Really!!

Locals taking bath

The beautiful 'Athirappilly Water Falls'

After this fall the Chalakudy river continues down streams and finally meets 'Periyar River' after 50 KMs.

Left the luggage in the hotel for a ride around the place

This route is simply beautiful with such lush green trees, its so shaded even in the mid of summer.

I could never have enough of this view..

Some of the the not so twisty stretches of the 'Athirappilly Water Falls Road'

Not famous, but there are many other tiny falls we came across on the way towards Valparai

Like this one!

Shiva munching on some cashew on a break..

It was a bit hard to believe the greenery, despite the hot and humid weather.

A landslide of sorts had the road damaged. Repairing work going on as seen in this picture.

Just after crossing the Tamilnadu check post, suddenly the view around changes and we got to see the mountains covered with tea plantation.

Sholayar Dam in the background

Roads surface in this stretch was a bit rough, but still manageable.

The 'T' junction on the way. 

Right we go !!

Can you see the woodpecker duo doing some headbanging on that tree?!! :)

Trust me, I live for such scenic views! No words!!!

My bull basking in the beauty, that this terrain had to offer.

Its always the arguable detours, which always led me to best of views. This was no exception. See the next photo to know what I mean:)

This place was beautiful. We sat here for sometime. As sunlight was fading away fast and we still had miles to cover before the night, we decided to come back to the main road and continue with the descent.

Shiva was in mood to shoot and we (me and my steed) got a chance to pose together :) Am not complaining at all ;)

While leaving from Valparai, the mountain roads and the view just starts getting exotic.

The scenery was just breathtaking.

Notice the snaky road we rode through, total bliss if you love twisties.

While entering Coimbatore local festival was going on to celebrate 'full moon'.

Thanks to the bike for reminding me to switch to reserve. This made us to stop and chanced upon few moments of the cart festival happening there.

Day 4: Coimbatore > Bangalore (same route as Day 1)

Its hard to find a shade on the highway side in TN. These bus stops could come in handy at such times.

Took a break, had water to stay hydrated.

Taking a break on the way back to Bangalore

Some hills on the way like this one, do look interesting.

Just checking out my bike's road presence at night. Reflectors doing a good job of keeping me visible on the highway. Still it could do better with some more reflective stickers.

The last 100 till home.

The return trip was a bit boring initially, as the thought of being back in office after such a great weekend of riding, wasn't all that exciting. Hey am just being honest here, so don't quote me for this one. Still I wouldn't be travelling so much if I wouldn't know how to change my mood for the better. A good playlist on my headset and opened up the cruising foot pegs, that did the trick. Its was a new ride am in, which took me across 350kms, right back to my door step. This was a long day and a hell of a long weekend. The moment I got to the bed I was so tired, yet so happy having enjoyed my time on the saddle. I am simply grateful that I get to do things I love and wish the same for you too.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" 
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to." 
"I don't much care where –" 
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go.” 

[~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland]

Hope you enjoyed this journey.

Ride Safe and Ride Far,


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