Tuesday 3 October 2017

Weekend Solo Ride to Rameshwaram

After 5 months of hibernation, it was time; for both myself and the good ol' bull to hit the road again. I was more concerned about its aging battery getting dead due to a lack of charging. Well, this concern turned out to be pointless, as I, later during this trip, figured out that it was already dead. So anyway, with the trip thought in mind, I decided to ride to work for a week for some warm-up. This was to charge the battery enough for the self-start motor to work and for me to get my rider reflexes on point. These warm-up rides to the office turned out to be fun commutes for a change:) I enjoyed every minute of it. There was this coffee-colored Maruti Ritz which used to beep its lungs out every time I rode up the platform while leaving the basement parking. It was so predictable that it was funny. Every time that car starts to scream, the security guard on duty used to come running, but then later he realized the reason and used to chill with a smile and watch this evening ritual.

Stuff would be packed into the backpack (used as the tail bag) and the small tank bag

So once the trip route was decided, the only thing to be done was pack for it. Nowadays, packing for a 3-day trip is not something I worry about too much. For me, if I am not doing any extreme weather riding, then packing becomes fairly easy. Bike's needs are somewhat simple, i.e. tools, spares, and engine oil. Only my clothes and accessories vary based on where am heading and what I plan to be doing there while off the motorcycle. So this time, it was highway riding and mostly populated (i.e. non-remote) areas and cities. The only consideration was for hydration and breathable clothes. This is because most part of my journey would be either mildly hot (first leg till Rameshwaram) or very humid (coastal sections, especially Pondicherry).

 Day 1  
Bangalore - Rameshwaram

This was the first day, yet the longest day on this trip and we (me and the motorcycle) had close to 600Ks to cover. So there was no rush to stop for the first 200 kilometers. We took short breaks on the way and started to relax when we got closer to Salem. I guess that's when the eternal peace of being on the road started to dawn on me.  So no more schedules, no more to-do lists, just an open road, a rumbling motorcycle, and an assorted playlist playing some of my recent favorites with no real sense of time. This combination is like a trance for me I would say, with the changing views adding the necessary freshness to every passing moment.

This patch has been like an old friend, I somehow stop here every time I ride through. Maybe due to the high ground and the road vanishing into the hills, that catches the eye.

One of the eminent leaders in this country. Her sudden demise caused quite a stir in her state and which was no less impactful than her entry into the political scene of Tamil Nadu state. No wonder it has been a challenge to find a successor.

This part of the highway is too good of a tarmac to cruise on, yet the lack of shade on the way takes every ounce of moisture out of your system. I had already planned to take enough breaks on the way and this place was a great discovery for that purpose.

One more opportunity for a break en route the famous (due to the fine condition of the tarmac on) highway 44

There was some beautiful scenery on the way as well.

I had to capture this frame for my own satisfaction :)

So I reached Madurai around 3 or 4 pm and took the diversion towards Rameshwaram. The route was a dual carriage highway that was under construction. So most parts of it were actually single carriage and I had to keep switching sides based on which part was under construction. Again this stretch was not that commercially populated, as there were not that many shops or houses on this route. So I just continued to ride, with the sun still shining bright and my hydration pack giving hints that it was about to run out. By this time, I was on the road for almost 10 hours straight, and 'that' urge to push through had kicked in. As I was trying my best to stay on the saddle and not think about any more breaks, a thought just passed through my buzzing mind; the bike had been doing constant 90-100 kmph for the last couple of hours without many breaks to cool off. It certainly deserved a break now! While this internal debate was going on inside my head, we had already covered some 10 odd Ks, hoping to find that exotically shaded place (a.k.a mirage) that would tick all the checkboxes, but alas; there was none. So we better stop anywhere on the side of the road, and so we did. At this time, the soreness (you know where!) was catching up with me. Dammit! This is a common mistake I do almost all the time; trying to push through, just to realize taking breaks would have been a better approach. So anyway, during this break, I had a check on the engine oil level and it was low, but not critically low, which was a big relief. For those of you who have no idea about iron barrel engines, they were never meant to do continuous highway runs, especially at constant high speeds. As the cooling tech (apart from many other aspects) is archaic and hence when pushed hard like this without adequate breaks they tend to complain. When engine cooling is not able to keep up, then it starts burning engine oil; which can have catastrophic (engine seizure??) outcomes if goes unnoticed for a long. So despite my long continuous run with the mistake of less number of breaks, the bull having a safe engine oil level was quite an achievement (for the bull of course :P). However, when I decided to resume my journey and hit the self-start with utmost certainty that it must have taken charge by now, there was only this mild humming noise and no cranking. Well, so it was quite clear that the battery is dead for sure, as with more than 500Ks of run it hasn't been able to take sufficient charge. Then there was this memory flashback of my ride from Ladakh when my battery had died and the only replacement I found was more than 500 kilometers away, all the way down in Chandigarh. Well, it was way back in 2014 and this was that battery that I had purchased from Chandigarh. So this has run its course and today am somewhere close to Rameshwaram today and have to look for a replacement. What an irony. So basically, Exide acid batteries seem to be lasting for roughly 3 years on the bullet, as it appears at least in my case.

So I decided to kick-start the bike and immediately got started with the drill. Then came the next discovery; the bike won't start despite a bunch of full-swing-pro-level-hard-core-bullet-kicks. Usually, when the engine has been running for hours and is this hot, it should start with even a half kick. But clearly, there was something not right here. And ironically I had an idea already about that 'something'. The last time I rode on the Madurai highway, I did long continuous stretches and constant high speeds with the mistake of fewer breaks, which had caused my bull's cast-iron engine to get heated up a bit too much, resulting in jammed pushrods and improper valve sealing, which resulted in reduced engine compression. So this time without wasting time I got started with the investigation. So here I was sitting on a deserted road (there was not a single soul for as far as I could see), the sun was shining brightly above my head, with a feeling of an early sense of dehydration in my mind, with the motorcycle's tappet cover open and a spanner in each hand. After the required inspection, I found out that my hunch was spot on and the exhaust tappet was tight as **** (fill in your favorite adjective here!). This was actually a relief, as I knew what to do in this case. The sense of relief soon got overshadowed by this stupid sense of pride (only bulleteers would understand) in being able to predict my bullet's problems so accurately. From another perspective, it was no achievement really, as I was the one who caused it :P LOL So I adjusted the pushrods to a level, wherein I could have some compression in the engine, for it to start. So I keep the tappet cover open and start to kick again with newfound hope and enthusiasm. The bike started after a few kicks, but something else was totally not right! "Now what ??", you must be thinking. It was the kicker this time. After starting the engine, it just hung loosely all the way down. This was a first for me. First I blamed the clutch plates until I realized, it was something else. The only part (among this series of unfortunate events), where I was happy was, I could start the bike. With all things said and done, I actually love this bike for the level of patience (and mechanical skills) its company has helped me acquire. You know what I mean right ;) Someone has rightly said: "Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors". This proverb I find so apt for motorcycles in general and spot-on for old bullet riders. 

So after some half-hours of this ordeal (which as you saw was quite educational in nature), I started riding ahead looking for a garage to get the kicker checked and possibly fixed. After some riding, came across a township on the way, with a small workshop, where the mechanic helped me adjust the tappets and confirmed that the kicker spring has broken. He said the only place I may find a replacement part is in the town of Ramanathapuram (locally called Ramnad) which was another 40 Ks ahead. The broken kicker was hanging so low that it was hitting on the bumps and rocks during some enthusiastic sprints on the way. So I stopped on the way and tied it to my airbox with a metal wire, while the engine was running. It worked out pretty well and was the solution up until I reach Trichy the day after (read on to know more about this). So I somehow found the Enfield Showroom at Ramnad but was disappointed to know that they have parts only for newer UCE engines. What a shame! Despite the broken kicker spring, I was confident in my bull's ability (and condition) to ride on. So I decided to carry on and try my luck with the repair work after reaching Rameshwaram. 

I reached 'Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge' in the evening around 6 or 7 pm and what a crowd. The bridge was chock-a-block with tourists and private buses and cars. There were people everywhere. This was my first visit here and I had no idea about the popularity of this place. So I somehow filtered through the crawling beeline of vehicles on the narrow bridge and got a little breathing space after touching the road in the island town of Rameshwaram. I was so glad my accommodation was taken care of by a friend for the night. So I straight away headed to the place, on the way passing Ramanathaswamy Temple. The famous high pillar corridor was glowing in the night accentuating its already tall stature and the sense of space inside the temple. My accommodation was merely 100 meters from the temple, so I decided to drop by later at night.

I parked the motorcycle inside the premises in a safe spot and headed for the shower. Up until Madurai, the highway is dust-free, but after that, it was a different story. I had enough dust and grime to get off my face (as thankfully rest of my body was covered due to riding gear) and not to mention the sunburn on the exposed parts of my wrists and neck. Surprisingly after a shower and a short yet relaxing stretch on the bed, I realized that I wasn't really that tired; at least not yet! So I decided to head out to the temple for the show (so to speak), which I had noticed on my way here.

Too much to ask for during a motorcycle trip, but very thankful for such a comfy accommodation! Thanks, Sandesh for making it happen! :)

So it was Vijayadashami Pooja (to celebrate the victory of Lord Ram/good over Ravana/evil) I guess and the crowd I saw on the way were devotees and families coming from all over the country to attend this.

Getting into the temple was a suicide mission unless that's what you are here for, but you can enjoy the ambiance and festivities happening inside, by being at the entrance.

As the night progressed, I saw many such processions where they brought statues of deities inside the temple. At one point an elephant also entered the temple (What???!) and vanished. Now you can imagine the size of the famous corridor I told you about earlier in this post.

So after enjoying the puja rituals till late, I decided to call it a day.

Though the GPS was showing that I was very close to the seashore, the darkness of the night and the noise of the gathering gave away very little for me to feel it. This doubt was cleared, with the first ray of sun the next day morning, when I woke up and looked outside my room's window. Read on to *see* what I am talking about.

Route Info: Bangalore > Hosur > Salem > Madurai > Rameswaram (599 KM)
NH44            : Bangalore > Hosur > Salem > Madurai (434 KM)
NH87, AH43: Madurai > Ramanathapuram (113 KM)  > Ramesharam (60 KM)

Road Condition:

NH44: 3 lanes, dual carriage, top-notch condition
NH87: 2 lane, dual carriage, unmarked lanes, under construction, not many shops/houses on the side
AH43: 2 lane, undivided, lot of diversions, gravel patches due to ongoing construction, no shops or houses

Things to know  : 

  • Rameshwaram is a small island town
  • It is the hometown of the late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, famed ISRO scientist and ex-President of India (2002-2007).
  • It doesn't have even one Royal Enfield workshop (you can guess the chance of other brands like KTM, etc) or knowledgeable mechanics
  • For any major technical assistance, the nearest 'town' is Ramanathapuram (also called Ramnad), or the nearest major city would be Madurai
  • People do speak and understand Hindi and English (to some extent) and are very helpful (based on my experience during this trip)
  • Looks like other than fishing, the second major source of income for this island town is tourism
  • Usual weekends are busier than you may think (and Dushera duration this island receives a flood of devotees from all over the country)
Places to See:

  • Pamban Railway Bridge (visible from the road bridge which you will ride/drive on while coming to Rameshwaram)
  • Ramanathaswamy Temple
  • Dhanushkodi (route info and more about this place on Day 2 of this trip)
  • Etc
Challenges faced:

  • Hardly any shade to be found on the side of NH44 (so if you see one, stop right there and take a break, as the next one might be 100 KMs away)
  • The exhaust tappet/valve got jammed due to the prolonged highway run at 90/100 kph for 500+ Ks
  • The Kicker spring broke (the first time in the history of this bike), making the kickstand hang loose
  • The battery wasn't charging enough to use self-start
 Day 2 
Rameshwaram > Dhanushkodi > Rameshwaram > Trichy

I had a sound sleep, with the A/C switched off. I was in no rush to get up, as I had planned to look for a workshop first to fix the bike, which usually opens only by 10 am in most parts of India. So I got up around 7 (or 8, don't exactly remember) to a pleasantly surprising view like this from my window.

Wow!!! So the GPS was right, after all. I was indeed close to the seashore.

Met this kiddo guarding my bull. Played with him for a while before stepping out for breakfast and a leisurely stroll near the temple.

So I had breakfast in a traditional restaurant near the temple. Due to the tourist season, there was a good deal of waiting involved after placing the order for something simple (and delicious) like 'Ghee Roast Dosa' and 'Coffee'. So had my breakfast and then decided to head to the end of the land (literally), also famously known as 'Dhanushkodi Point'. I decided to complete this stretch by the time clock hits 10, so that I can be back to fix the bike and head on my way as planned. Well, the first part went as per plan and it was awesome. No, not the fact that it went as per plan, it's the experience of the road to Dhanushkodi as well as the beach there. A must-visit for beach lovers.

Around 20 Ks of nothingness; the lack of resistance is evident from the strong crosswinds on this road. I had to grab onto my handlebars even while doing a speed below 40 kph.

This is where the road ends and you have to park your vehicle here and walk on the beach.

Beautiful sea green color of the Bay of Bengal, there was not a single wave on this end, unlike the other side (Arabian Sea); which was full of high-rising waves scaring people off that side of the beach.

View standing at the end of the Dhanushkodi Beach, possibly the farthest point of Indian territory

Seeing the motorcycle number, these two guys approached to have a chat. Turned out to be from Orissa, working for a construction company in Tamil Nadu.

Thanks to the gentlemen above, I could have a picture taken :)

Though I wasn't really done enjoying my time at the beach, I had one more place to visit on my way back; the ghost town. So left the beach and on my way back stopped at this spooky yet historic place known as the 'Ghost Town of Dhanushkodi'. You can read a brief write-up about this place here.

This structure used to be a water tank.

Once a city, now barely recognizable. Unbelievable that in a single night, the whole town got wiped out.

Now, what is this ?? Not a chicken, that's for sure! :D

The most photographed and famous church of Dhanushkodi. This one goes underwater in those parts of the year when the sea water level rises and this patch of land get submerged.

I wish I had this place to myself without any people around, for a good spooky photoshoot. But this is all I could get during my short visit.

The backside of the church, with the remaining part visible.

So after spending some time in this place trying to visualize how this town must have looked, back in the day, I finally decided to head back to Rameshwaram.

So after heading back, I straight away went looking for a mechanic. I wasted an hour or two both looking for and waiting at a mechanic shop, just to be disappointed. To keep it short, I realized that there was no way to procure a battery or even a kicker spring in Rameshwaram, that too on a Sunday. Their only source of modern amenities was Ramnad, which I crossed the day before and that wasn't of much help. So I decided to head to my next option on the way; Trichy, which is a city and had better chances of getting my stuff. Well, there was a place called Karaikodi on the way to Trichy, but by the time I would reach there, stores would be closed if at all they were open on a Sunday. So the best bet was to ride to Trichy with the motorcycle as is and get it sorted the next day.

Some failed effort at a garage in Rameshwaram.

Finally, I learned what a kicker spring's role is in my bike. You only realize the value of some employees, after you lose them, you know ;)

Before leaving the island shot some more photographs, which you can enjoy below.
Agniteertham, the place of 64 baths ritual (google it up for more details!)

A better view from the balcony on my floor.

Fishing is the primary source of income (apart from tourism), for the people of Rameshwaram

Close-up shot of the fishing vessels

The bridge connecting the island of Rameshwaram to the mainland of India (visible at the far end of the bridge)

I knew I would be riding through the evening, so there was no point rushing. During a break enjoy the sunset on a narrow single-lane road in the middle of nowhere. I just love the sense of serenity of such a place and such moments.

So I reached Karaikudi early in the evening and then made it to Trichy by night 10 (I guess). This wasn't without some more drama and adventure. There was this hellish storm that hit the patch just 30-40 km before Trichy. It was so intense that almost all four-wheelers pulled over from the highway as the wipers were failing. Even a perfectly tarred highway was filled with water, as the camber was too slow in wading the water off given the rate at which it was raining. Somehow I got an itch to ride :P Kids, don't do this, ever! I rode a little slow (50 kmph I guess) until my front wheel hit something really hard on the way. It took a moment for me to realize it was a depression on the highway filled with water. I think I was riding faster than I should have in such extreme weather conditions. Glad it didn't bend my front wheel or threw me off the motorcycle. I was alert from this point on and slowly the rain reduced to a drizzle and then vanished completely, by the time I entered the city of Trichy. I had booked a lodge while I was on the way, so I headed there straight away. Imagine this; Trichy was dry as a piece of paper straight from the mill and I was standing at the reception all drenched, with water dripping out of every part of my jacket and luggage. The lady in charge was kind and told me to put my gear on the terrace to dry if I wished. It was a new place for me, so I decided not to take chance and rather keep the riding gear in the room under the fan to dry. I was away from the coast now and the humidity was at the minimum, which helped a lot. I spread all my stuff around, as most of the waterproofing gave up in the face of that crazy storm I rode through. Thankfully the camera was dry. That again has seen its share of snow, dust, and rain, so I wasn't really that worried about it, but glad it was all ok. I must admit I had a great sleep, as I knew without a doubt, that I would be able to get my bike issues sorted real soon. So with stuff spread all around the room, I found myself some space on the bed to stretch my limbs and have a sound sleep.

Wait, again as you must have noticed, I reached here well after dark. So the morning view was again quite a stunner. Looks like am killing it with such ride routines :P LOL. Read on to find out.

Route Info: 

*New* Dhanushkodi Road: Rameswaram > Dhanushkodi Point (21 KM) > Rameshwaram

NH336: Rameshwaram > Karaikudi (141 KM) > Tiruchirappalli (88 KM)

Road Condition:

Dhanushkodi Road: This is in perfect condition (as of 01/10/2017)
NH 536/336: Undivided (single carriage) highway, dusty, at times narrowing down to almost a single lane

Things to know  : 

  • Dhanushkodi road opened for the public in July this year (2017) and allows traffic from 6 am to 5 pm (not so sure of the closing time, so just enquire once if this is critical
  • This new road is flanked by the Bay of Bengal on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other; due to lack of wind resistance, the crosswinds (a.k.a force) are quite strong on this route. So, in summary, drive safely and grip your handlebars well!
  • Karaikudi is a decent-sized city with modern amenities (you should be able to find auto parts and workshops here)
  • Trichy is one of the big cities in India and should be the place to go, should you seek service centers of any Major brands (RE, KTM, Honda, etc)
Places to See:
  • Dhanushkodi Point (and beach) is the last point of the Indian mainland towards Sri Lanka, merely a 20 km swim across the Indian Ocean (provided you don't get shot at or arrested by their coast guards)
  • Ghost town on the way to Dhanushkodi point (ruins of a town washed away in a cyclone on 22nd of December 1964 killing around 1800 people and wiping off this port town from the map)
  • Trichy has a lot of architecturally beautiful (IMHO) and huge temples and temple-esque arches
Challenges faced:
  • None except the kickstand spring which was already broken and a battery which was already dead; so all good! lol
  • This route as I remember was quite dusty, at least till Karaikudy 
  • There was this heavy downpour on the way to Trichy

 Day 3 

Trichy - Auroville / Pondicherry

Good Morning Trichy :)

Just in case you are wondering, this elephant did bless me and the bike :D

Shoes and insoles kept for drying on the terrace

Bike too had a safe and sound sleep am sure.

So at around 8 am, I was done with my breakfast. I searched online and made a couple of phone calls to Authorized Enfield workshops in Trichy. The main retailer Oxina Motors (which was also nearer to my location) didn't have the spare part I needed. However, there was this gentleman named Munesh who worked there, who went out of his way and fetched me the contact info of another workshop that might be having the spare parts. I contacted the number and spoke with Arun from K V Motors (formerly NA Motors) located at Beema Nagar. I was assured of the spare parts and mechanical help to get my bike sorted. So without delay, I packed up my bags from the lodge and headed straight to Beema Nagar.

The gearbox opened up and the culprit was spotted

Broken half of the spring

When on road, finding a genuine spare is a blessing

Finally got a new spring. Yay!!! Mr. Srinivasan, a veteran bullet mechanic, is doing the work. He was quite happy to see an iron barrel still on the road.

Got a battery from the Exide dealer at the best price:) So the battery from Trichy, replaced the one from Chandigarh, which had replaced the one from Orissa :D

Bull getting pampered at the workshop, with chain lubing and a new side stand, etc

So after taking care of the necessities and splurging a bit on vanity, myself and the bull said goodbye to Mr. Srinivasan and the team at KV Motors. They were not an official service center, but am very happy with their reasonable cost for parts and labor with very dependable service. If you happen to be in Trichy and need some work done on your bullet, do give them a visit (on the map app search for their old name: NA Motors, Beema Nagar). Don't forget to mention my name, you might get some special treatment. ;)

So by the time I was done here, it was past noon, so I just stopped at a small restaurant on the way and had lunch.

So with the bull back in its full glory, I was ready for a trip to Ladakh. But I was in south India and had a much humbler terrain to conquer; a ride up north to Auroville, near Pondicherry. So we rolled without a damn worry about anything. I reached the entrance of Auroville in the evening, as it was getting dark. I had only heard about this place and had done no prior research or booking. It seems people only visit here on prior (online) booking, otherwise, there is no one to greet you at the entrance; other than the security guard at the gate. The campus closes for visitors after 5pm and only people with a booking are let inside. So I did a bit of research online and tried a few numbers and got a booking done in 'Afsana Guest House'. Similar to this, there were many other guest houses inside the Auroville campus, which is kind of a reserved forest area. With the very patchy network inside the campus, I struggled a bit to find the guest house. Have a look at my route after entering the Auroville campus.

Finding my way to the guest house

Finally, after fooling around for some time, I found the place. The accommodation at roughly 4000 INR a night, was on the expensive side, but after having seen the property, I feel it was alright.
Entrance to the cottage; my boots are kept outside to dry (from sweat this time, not rain :P)

Just in case you are wondering, there was water in those bottles ;)


After a day of riding in hot and humid weather, this was my favorite place :)

So once I was all fresh, I wanted to go out. On my way to the guest house, I bumped into more foreigners than Indians. I wasn't sure what was the deal here. Also, it was a quiet place, I mean no noise, no crowd, etc. Which I loved the most about my Auroville stay. The only option for dinner was to go out of the campus and find a restaurant. I found 2-3 restaurants right outside. The decor of those cafes was nice and quite contemporary. After dinner, I was getting the itch to ride around the Auroville forest a bit, as I had a suspicion there could be some nice trails. Trust me, with the lack of a phone signal (which means data connection for using the GPS), I had tons of trail riding at night when I lost my way there.

In search of trails at night. :D Trust me, this wasn't the only such experience of this night ride!

So after I had enough of getting lost and riding through some interesting routes, I finally found my way back. Went straight to bed, and thankfully this time I had not many things to put to dry, unlike the previous night.

Route Info: 
NH32: Tiruchirappalli > Tindivanam (200 Ks) > Auroville (40 Ks)

Road Condition:

Decent road, nothing specific that I remember of this route. Oh yes, it was dusty in most parts as I remember.

Things to know  : 

  • Auroville (Aurobindo Village) is a model village which is based on a concept, that welcomes people without any bias of their cast, creed, religion, gender, nationality, etc
  • To visit or learn more about Auroville, this link should help
  • Near Auroville, ATMs are scarce and so are swiping machines; so withdraw and carry sufficient cash for your needs
  • Auroville to Pondicherry beach is merely 15 Ks, so if you driving/riding, you can stay at either of these places and still visit the other one any time of the day
  • Each of the places has a closing time of 4 or 5 pm, so inquire beforehand and plan your visit accordingly
  • The cell network is patchy at Autoville, so for any work (which needs active data connection) try and get it done before entering the premises
Places to See:
  • Matri Mandir inside Auroville (closed on Monday)
  • Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry
  • Pondicherry Beach
  • French Colony
  • few more are there (google it)
Challenges faced:

  • Finding accommodation in Auroville
  • Finding an ATM (which had cash) near Auroville
  • Nothing else really!

 Day 4 

Pondicherry - Bangalore

Waking up at Auroville was a bit different, as in you don't have a cellphone network, so when you pick up your phone out of your usual dose of anxiety, you find no new messages or emails or missed calls waiting on your phone. The place is so quiet, you get to hear more of the ambient noises mostly due to the wind. I am not sure of other guest houses, but Afsana was pretty quiet and tranquil. Breakfast I was told was complimentary so I had to visit the breakfast hall for that. Also, the night before I had spoken with the manager of this guest house, who had allowed me the last-minute booking. So I wanted to meet him in person, firstly to thank him for the booking and then to know about this nicely maintained property. So I stepped outside and was delighted with the morning view of this place. Hope the pictures below give you some idea.

The noticeboard at the breakfast hall was sort of a sneak preview of activities that happen in and around Auroville.

A well-stocked library with an interesting (and diverse) collection of books. Next time I visit, I wish to stay longer and possibly read a book from this collection.

The cottage on the left is where I stayed for the night.

The breakfast choices were simple and healthy (bread, omelet, choice of fruits, some variety of upma if I remember correctly, and a few more items). So I was enjoying my downtime here completely disconnected from the crowd and traffic. The only place remaining on my to-ride list for this trip was Pondi, which was close by. So I took my time packing my luggage and started off a bit late. In Pondi, I had to visit the Aurobindo Ashram, to meet a relative of mine, whom my mom wanted me to meet. So I rode towards Aurobindo Ashram. As I got closer to the Ashram area, the architecture of the building around that area really got me surprised. It was as if I am somewhere in Europe (where I had spent quite some time to know). Vintage European architecture all around. Starting from the street lamps to the cobblestone streets. Not a speck of dust (no really!) on the streets. At least close to the Ashram, this was the scene. If not for the Ashram, do give this place a visit for the sake of beautiful houses on this part; apart from the beach and cheap liquor of course (if that's your thing).

I have seen images of Sri Maa and Sri Aurobindo since my school days from various sources. Some kids used to keep their photos or dried flowers from their samadhi (the place where their ashes are kept).  It was a nice experience to finally get to see the place where they lived. It was only during this visit I got to know that Sri Maa was a French lady and that explained the western followers and the European influence on Pondicherry city. It seems the Ashram helped the city develop to its current state and still attracts the major percentage of tourists here, throughout the year. So after spending some time at the Ashram, it was time for me to leave and say goodbye to my relative there. On my way out of the city, I drove around the city a bit and finally decided to visit the beach road before my exit. 

Pondicherry beach road

As can be seen in the pictures it's very neat and well-maintained... there was this pier visible in the distance.

The bullet just shines anywhere it stands :) #eternallyinlove

Once I was through with Pondicherry, it was now time for a long ride home. I was happy thinking about the last few days on the road and glad we could get a good run after such a long break. Before I could head home, it was already getting late for lunch. I keep trying things that are out of my comfort zone. So this time decided to go for thali for lunch; the last I tried a thali meal was 5 or 6 years ago. I am comfortable eating with my hands only at home. It is mostly due to hygiene reasons while on the road and partly due to self-consciousness (blame it on western influence! lol). Anyway, it turned out to be awesome. I was lucky the place I chose, had really good food. Just to sink all this in, I got myself some filter coffee, which was served in a copper glass and vessel. Trust me it does improve the (perceived) taste of the coffee. Try it if you haven't yet.

A wholesome traditional South-Indian lunch.

After lunch, the ride continued with some more breaks on the way to sip some water or just to stretch and let the bike cool off. Breaks started to reduce as I got closer to Bangalore.

This is another spot I usually stop before entering Bangalore while coming from Hosur. This view is beautiful with the hills in the background.

So I made it home well before my dinner time. I had to order for the night. There was also some unpacking to do. Which I totally postponed until the weekend. 

It's always a great feeling to reflect on the encounters you had and places you saw and things you experienced during a trip. Next time I am on the east coast again, I will try and find a new road that takes me closer to the sea. That would be so cool.

Route Info: 
NH77: Pondicherry > Tindivanam (40 K) > Krishnagiri (180 K)
NH44: Krishnagiri > Hosur (55 K) > Bangalore (30 K)

Road Condition:

NH77: Patchy condition (if I remember correctly) and at places a single-lane broken road. Manageable for a motorcycle, but if you are in the car, then enquire for a better road
NH44: In good condition, all the way to Silk Board.

Things to know  : 

  • Pondi to Bangalore has multiple routes, so enquire to know the better one
Places to See:
  • Umm..in Bangalore ??! Lalbagh, maybe. :P
Challenges faced:

  • Nostalgia, of the last few days of this ride
  • Thoughts about office work, as I was getting closer to Bangalore
  • Some random yet serious thoughts on what's next !??

Hope you enjoyed this trip and the experience. Until next time...

Ride Safe & Ride Far


No comments: