Thursday, April 5

Bangalore To Munnar: From Mundane Highways to Misty Hills

In spite of the sleep deprived night, we were on time the next morning. We saddled up, put on the rain gears, tipped the helpful guard and whizzed past the lanes of Krishnagiri town to land up into NH 7 again. The ride till Salem was supposed to be mundane, cruising in the highway, burning liters of gas, but whoa! What do we see? A sedan skidding all the way from the road divider to the ditch on the left! Lucky chaps they were to have had a safe landing without any injuries! Overtaking sharply on wet roads can lead you to doomsday: lesson learnt. Speed of the gang slowed down considerably after this incident and we were riding slower than normal at about 80k’s an hour.10 more kms on the road and we see a small car surrounded by a mob and the driver getting beaten up! Another skid story, this time a villager hit on his knees! A few more distance and the signboards read: “Dangerous Curve ahead, Ride Slow”, a happy go lucky truck driver must have missed these writings in bold and ended up barging into the hillock on the sides, breaking the iron fencing. The impact had brought down some huge rocks from the hillock on the road and created a road block for heavy vehicles. We sneaked in somehow through the blockade and the thought came straight into my cerebrum” What’s in store for us for the rest of the ride? Already saw three of them in a row now!”
After the brunch at Salem, the cruise started on the super smooth NH 47, which was as straight as an arrow for a considerable length. We had no plans of following it straight down to Coimbatore, rather wanted to take a short cut turn from Perundurai. Google Maps came as a savior every time and we never seemed to miss a turn! Tamil Nadu roads are flat and wide, free of potholes and that makes them equally boring and sleep provocative. The hugely colorful political cutouts of magnanimous sizes all around were the only interesting sights my eyes found to keep themselves open! The ample road signs on NH did their part and caught my dizzy eye, indicating us to take a left and enter Perundurai town. The next hour or two had us driving down traffic free two lanes intersecting the vibrant villages. After Kangayam, the roads got better and we controlled the rats running up and down our stomachs for another 33kms, till Dharapuram. Road Side shacks can give you delicious tastes, I always believed. The belief was reconfirmed after we ordered the scrumptious biriyanis twice!

A suggestion to take a different route, from a SUV driver came as a welcome break for us, from the prosaic roads we landed up in a territory of wind! A newly laid silky smooth tarmac lay ahead with inviting wind mills all around the aisles. The pleasure ride ended in 28 kms and we took a left turn to join the Pollachi – Udumalpet road. Crossed the hustling town of Udumalpet and it was time to leave back the banal highways for a refreshing ride uphill, amidst the misty elevations and the deciduous and evergreen forests of the Anaimalai Tiger Reserve.

The ride from the reserve gate to the foothills consisted of following narrow lanes, going up and down the rugged terrains and slowing down occasionally to get oneself clad in the fabric of the Shola grasslands, so typical at high altitudes of South India. The company of the sprinting mongoose or the hopping squirrel along with barbets and parakeets crossing ways was keeping me busy when a checkpost became visible at a distance with a signboard reading ”Relax, You are in God’s Own Country”. A stream of excitement started flowing down my spine as it was my first ride on two wheels to this enchanting land I have read and heard so much about.

After making an entry at the post and thanking our luck for reaching before 6 pm, we slowly penetrated into the deep forests of Karian Shola National Park riding up and up into the alluring hills embraced by moving clouds. The sandalwood forests of Marayoor was soon left behind and the ambience was getting as engrossing as ever with the insects tuning up a perfect symphony and forests making way to the sprawling tea estates on either sides. Darkness was creeping in fast into the misty hills and fog was capturing the panorama around when she came and came pouring! The rains! 

I let go off the visor and let her kiss my face, playing the welcome song in my ears! But the conditions were getting as difficult as it could for a rider, fog, rains, darkness and now craters on the road! Speed kept dropping and so did visibility; the headlights also didn’t seem to work. I continued my blind ride with the symphony of rain till some lights started blinking in the distant valleys .Munnar was slowly undraping its ornamented self only to announce the end of a dream ride embracing nature! We had done almost 470 kms from Bangalore and were finally at one of the prettiest hill station of South India.

Other Stories from the Trip:

Start of the Journey : Rain Ride To the God's Own Country

Mesmerized at Munnar

Munnar to Periyar - Fog Ride to the Tiger Reserve

Experiencing Onam at Thrissur - Kerala's cultural capital

Athirapally - India's Niagara, Kerala's Pride

Kochi at Night - Explorations and Conversations

Ride through Kerala's Hinterland : Kochi to Kanyakumari

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