Trip to Kodaikanal and back through Kerala

Posted: by Pulsurge in Labels: , , , ,

The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land...... G. K. Chesterton

How fast does one actually plan a ride and disappear into the horizon? Obviously am not talking about those Mumbai-Lonavla or Mumbai-Pune sprints. This one was the longest ride I'd ever done and surprisingly it only took me 24 hours to decide that I'll be riding to Kodaikanal. Ooty was always there on top of my mind and had pre-decided to ride to this place whenever I had the opportunity i.e. leaves.  With Christmas approaching and Friday being the only broken rift between the two day off to follow- I still didn't consider or even could imagine that I'd ride out for 4 days. But something struck me and struck me really weird. Just the earlier evening decided to bunk Friday and ride out to Ooty. Started info hunting on the web and a hyperlink took me to a page on Kodaikanal. Saw a few snapshots and simply fell for it. Ooty disappeared from my thoughts as it never was in my mind. A quick search and a few pages of print about this place stamped approval for the ride.
But deciding things and just hurrying out for the ride doesn't help- still had to seek mom's permission for bhatkaaving out for 4 days. But didnt tell her that I'll be riding to Kodaikanal, instead told her am going to Kolhapur. A few initial hesitations, but got through. Already late in the night and with plans of leaving next day- left packing for later.The day at office passed away with only thoughts of the ride lingering my mind. Got the old broken spot beam welded- though it was big and scatters a lot of light around- the throw of light with the HID inside is a blast. Had to collect knee guards from Sanket and meet up with the rest of the gang before I melt into the highway. Sanket was ready with the guards and surprisingly Ishtibhai, Prasad and Parimal dropped in. The short conversation unknowingly turned into a longer one without realisation- it was already past 11. Replaced the spotbeam while the conversations carried on and bid good-bye to the gang taking along their best wishes on the ride. Was past midnight by the time I reached home and after dinner- sleepiness crept in, no packing was done either. Decided to leave at 3- will sleep for some time. But then couldn't sleep, with each passing minute I could sense me crossing a km.
Started getting restless with every minute, jumped up and told mom that I'd be leaving right away- that expression on her face of "My son's gone crazy" was evident. By 1.30, luggage and myself both on the bike ready to leave. Tried to recollect hard in case I missed out on anything- well nothing I said to myself, everything is in. Bid tata to mom and sis and am making my way out of my area with dogs chasing me. Hit the Mulund toll naka and it struck that I forgot the printouts at home. Didn't feel like getting back, but I couldn't recollect the names of the places on the route. Took a U turn and am back home. Mom read those pages and asked "You're going to Kolhapur, what is this Kodaikanal?" Hurriedly snatching the printout "Its near Kolhapur" I said and disappeared in a flash.
As always, despite of having done many rides in the past at short notice and planning- something was still bugging me at the back of my mind. But then I know- a few kms of roll and the world starts feeling like heaven. No sooner was I coming out of the feeling- something really bad struck on Thane-Belapur Road. I could smell fresh burnt rubber and plastic- a glance on the other side and saw a terrible accident which I believe took place a few seconds before I touched that place. A totalled Wagon R with an equally smashed Indica. The passengers just got out of the car with one lady hurling swear words at the Indica driver, and worse- the other lady trying to wake up an unconscious baby crying her heart out. Two men chasing the Indica driver who was trying to run away from the spot. This was another near-fatal example of the rash drivers of call-centres. That particular scene made me go weak in the knees and all the mood of riding- like the car had been smashed. I mutely stood there watching the lady crying louder and louder by every passing moment- almost took a U-turn to go back home, but just pushed myself ahead. By then lot of people had gathered and I left the place praying to the almighty that the baby is alright.
Touched palm beach and started gathering speed and fortunately got over the incident. The chilly atmosphere and with the recently changed oil to Motul T5100, the engine was feeling really good at high revs- something like a flush. Decided to ride as long as I can without putting my foot on the road. Why not ride non-stop to Belgaum I thought- lets do it then! What a big difference it makes when you have better lights and a road lit up in front of you like a runway. Was cruising cosy at 80-90 getting through with Palm beach and the JNPT stretch hitting NH4. The roads were good- I could see them quite far enough. In no time I touched Khopoli and then there it was..... my phobia about the ghat section hits me. I was never concerned about any mishaps until I last rode to Hampi and someone telling me about theft incidents on a particular stretch.
I was looking for vehicles whom I could keep in company till I finish it off- no sign of any ahead and not even a headlight twinkle in my RVMs. Hell with it I said- lets see whatever happens. I gathered speed and luckily I spot a slow moving truck- get behind it and riding at what.....20 kph. The driver came to know that someone is following him- courtesy the bright spread of the HID. What else....he stops. Kya bad luck- I say to myself, and overtake acting as if I knew nothing. Could spot the driver giving me a real suspicious look. Pulled up the throttle and got in and out of the corners as fast as I could. On the last hairpin and I take a deep breath, merging with the expressway and started pushing towards my target. 
Lonavla's gone and so is Pune, in the Katraj bypass tunnel with absolutely no wind drag- with that delightful feel of your bike pulling up the figures on the speedometer. Give up plans of having tea before Khambatki- the usual place where I always stop. I just keep going, but then its nature's call playing a spoilsport. A distance-board swooshes past saying Karad 70 kms- cross over a toll naka and relieve myself. Check out the watch and the distance- its 5 am...265 kms in 3 and a half hours..NICE! I murmur. Gulp down two cuttings- an sms update to Sanket and am off. Remember Ishtibhai's hukka- the last time when I had fumes coming out of my mouth was at the Karnala Dhaba meet  pulling in the pipe with all my might, this time it was all coz of the dead cold climate. 

Pledging not to stop anywhere before Belgaum- I zip past Satara, Karad, Kolhapur- glance up and grin at the shed where Glen, Revel and me had a short nap while going towards Amba Ghat. A light blue spread of light hints the sun progressing up the horizon. A few moments later, the sun's out and rising, and so is the pressure again inside my body. A relieving stop again and as a formality click the rising sun- the shot didnt come out that great though.

Zoom past the state border sign and into Karnataka, over the rumbler strips of Sankeshwar toll plaza with the wide roads running as far as you can see and into eternity, I touch Belgaum. A look at the odo and the watch- 8.25 am and 510 kms- am delighted again at the distance covered. This time I take a longer break- do away with all the riding gear and soak in some fresh morning sun.

A couple of stops before Hubli for clicks.

Hunger got better of me and stopped over at Bankapur. Had Parotha and some weird tasting curry- for that time it it was neither breakfast nor lunch.

The bad patches of road between Hubli and Chitradurga.

Lost half an hour at Davangere hunting for a refuel, and another hour at Chitradurga for ATMs. First guided to a State Bank Branch- but with no ATM. Circling round for Syndicate Bank- again no ATM. Again some State Bank- cash is exhausted, the next- after standing 20 minutes in the line under the hot sun with my riding gear on and people giving me an alien-ish look, the ATM doesn't accept my card, neither does the next, another one- error message "please insert your card properly"- tried all the positions, didnt work. Well next- its out of order. Am out of patience now- felt like banging my head with the helmet. But finally hope does work- and some odd-named bank dispenses cash. Now I didnt know in which part of the town I was and which direction I have to take. Asked a couple of people and they added more to confusion- first I couldnt understand the language and three of them giving me three different directions. One tells me take this route and go to Coimbatore, next tells me to go to Madurai, the third says go to Mysore! What the..... Luckily I have Navendu's contact which he'd given me during an online interaction on Kodaikanal. I call him up and he tells me to hit straight to Bangalore. So I turn to these three chaps and ask "Bangalore where?" Bingo! This time all their fingers point in one direction. "Thank you" I say with a diplomatic smile on my face. Am off!
A short stopover for nariyal paani on the highway. This chap doesn't have change and I have to sip down 3 of them.

Into Bangalore City.

Stop over for refueling looking at my watch and the distance. 5.10 pm and 1043 kms. Navendu's sms arrives guiding me to the remaining journey. I freshen up and relax for a few minutes. An SMS update to Vinod and I proceed towards my next landmark Hosur.
What a pain it was to reach Hosur- terrible traffic, all dug up roads, N number of diversions. If I remember correctly it was not more than 60 kms and it took me 2 hours to cover. Its 7.15 p.m and am sitting blank at Hosur thinking what next. Salem was another 120+ and Dindigul more 150+, then Kodaikanal another 100+. There was no way I could make it to Kodai. The traffic had its fatigue effect and I eased myself for half an hour with passerby staring at my registration number. I decide that Salem it will be for an overnight halt, wrap myself and on my bike rolling again.
NH7 got rid of all the fatigue and frustrations- wide 4 laner with proper reflective mountings and the best part, it was simply descending- just a small twist of the throttle and the bike used to gather speed due to gravity. I was having a blast over 100kph with the different colours of the reflectors providing a visual treat. Stopped over in between for tea before finally hitting Salem. Not to mention took a wrong diversion in between- maybe which would have landed me at Chennai or Kanyakumari.
I was desperately hungry, but finding a good halt was on the list first. Spend another 1 hour looking out for a cheaper option. No way I could shell out more than a grand for just a few hours of sleep. Hunger got to the extreme and I crashed into a restaurant and had good fried rice variety. The owner suggested me a cheap lodge just a few shops away from his restaurant. "That ABT one- its a hospital right?" I asked. He grinned and said its a lodge and its cheap. With the good news, I hurry through with the dinner and head straight into the lodge.
200 bucks for the night halt, plus he gave my bike a nice secured place to park. Luggage dumped in one corner, I freshen up and on the bed. Switched on the TV and with the remote and buttons on the TV missing, I had no option but to watch some freaky southie numbers for recreation. A few mosquitos singing near my ears- but with the blanket over my head- it was the end of their music concert. Was past midnight and with memories of the days running around, eyes start getting heavy and in a few moments, am cut off from this world.
A 05.30 set alarm rings and as requested a bucket of hot water arrives. Fresh with a hot bath, luggage all packed up again- am out of the hotel at 6.30. 
Hit NH7 again- the sun was rising and it was start of a fresh morning love affair with the roads. Now here comes the villain in the form of an overcrowded bus moving like a road train. I get right behind it and as soon as I am about to overtake it- a big BOOM..... harsh noise of metal scrapping fills the air. For a initial few seconds even I couldnt realise as to what went wrong and the bus now tilted to the right was still carrying on with the same speed. In my senses and realised that was a high speed tyre burst- both the tyres on the right had gone opened up and slid to the inside and the bus was running only on rims.Took a few hits of the chipped rubber pieces, but thanks to my riding gear didnt feel an inch of it. Stopped over for a few moments and scampered off.

Took a halt at Paramabathivellu having the best breakfast of my life. 4 Parothas with the tastiest veg kurma in this world alongwith fresh coconut and tomato chutney- all on a banana leaf. Hot refreshing masala tea to finish things off, and all this at 16 bucks...WOW!
Passing through lovely scenery comprising of fields and hordes of coconut trees on both sides of the road. Taking stops- sometimes for clicks and sometimes for the awesome nariyal paani.
Touch the foothills of Kodaikanal and its a start of the 46 kms climb.

Made numerous stops to dissolve into the calm surroundings and for a few clicks of the scenery along the way.
Reach Kodai and found a nice cosy hotel i.e. Hotel Muruggan Inn- but on a more expensive side for 700 bucks, which initially the manager was not at all willing to give coz I was single. I asked him "Does Kodaikanal welcome only honeymoon couples?" Showed him my driving licence and even pointed my finger toward the registration number plate and said that I've come so far just to see this place. He laughed and agreed. Later he became a very good friend- just carried on talking to him for long. About the room, everything was big about it- the room itself, so was the bed, windows, even the bathroom was big as the room itself and a biiiiiiig bath-tub. Didnt venture into it or else I would have been a frozen chicken- the water was freezing cold.

The climate was cold, really cold.... my stupid antics- thought to experience the chilly surroundings and went out with any warm clothing- just cargos and a tee. The more I started moving away from the central area, the more I started shivering. Clicked a few pics of the lake and the surrounding valleys.
Didnt click much as the cam couldnt get a clear shot as my eye could. The temperatures started falling and it was getting difficult for me to ride, the grips were hurting my palms and I was warming them up touching the engine case every now and then.
That was enough of site seeing, came back to the hotel shivering, jumped onto the bed- damn even that was so cold. Rolled myself in the blanket and lay dead till 9.30 pm.
Got up, got out to find the whole town absconding. Dark roads with only stray dogs in large numbers- had thought to take a nice walk and have dinner at a good restaurant- but with the entire place in a blackout, returned half way and had food at a small restaurant nearby. Am back at the hotel and that concluded my stay at Kodai. Set up the alarm for next morning to bid adieu to this wonderful place.
Plans to leave at 5 didnt work out though I was up early. It was very dark and temperatures so cold (i.e. 6 to 7 degrees) I couldn't dare venture out. Waited for light to scatter- and at 6.30 again am out on the road. 
Gliding on the twisty roads carved on the edges of the wonderful hills- all alone with just a couple of vehicles passing at length of time. 

Going around hair pins- 14 of them, grasping up some of the most soothing sceneries I've ever seen.

Stop over at Palani for a usual southie type breakfast.

Finally enter into Gods own country- the sight of the calm backwaters was the only saving grace of riding through the State- as for the rest it was a nightmare- narrow broken roads, traffic jams, horrendous bus drivers pushing me off the road twice while overtaking.

Stopped over at Calicut and found a restaurant with great difficulty- but it was worth the effort.

A light house to pep up the spirit and a clean vacant beach to make me feel like a king for a few moments.

All plans of reaching Karwar that day ended in vain- couldnt cover much distance so decided to ride through the night again.
Reached Mangalore at 9.30 p.m.- updated Glen of having reached his native place. Got through with dinner and carried on with the journey stopping over at tea stalls and dhabas to kill the sleep getting into my eyes. Ride on with great regret of having missed Uduppi, Murudeshwar and the Kundapur ocean stretch. Soon I was passing bridges every now and then- with even more regret in mind that I'm missing some beautiful scenery and decided to stop on one of them just to look around with my HID support. I dont remember what this place was- it was more than half an hour when a vehicle had last crossed me. It was pitch dark and with the moon missing, couldnt see anything except where your headlight beam goes. I stopped and by instinct switched off the engine- and the sight I saw was something I would remember for the rest of my life. I could feel something moving over my head and as I looked up a few hundred metres away- I could see a two lines of lights rotating. Didnt take time to realise that it was a lighthouse on its duty. A completely dark sky- studded with millions of stars visible so clearly and this light beaming across in all directions. I cannot describe the sight and experience in words- it was so dramatic. I stood there for half an hour just looking at it. I tried to capture that in still and video both, but bloody the camera couldnt catch the light. The following pic isnt the one- its basically my Pulsar's pilot lamps, just to show how dark it was :)

Thereon I was stopping every now and then, whenever I felt like. Being all alone by myself at night in middle of nowhere with only pitch darkness for company- sometimes listening to music and sometimes just staring at the stars- talking to myself- it was kind of a self-realisation.
Was getting close to morning and I realised I didnt have enough concentration in me to move any further-, stopped over at a Dhaba near Gokarna, had 2 cutting chai with Parle-G, charged my mobile on the bike's adaptor and went to sleep for an hour or maybe just half. Got up and rode to Gokarna beach which was just 10 kms away.
Home was almost 800 kms away- but I was so relaxed as if I was somewhere near Pune. Enquired with a truckie about the road conditions and he advised me to take a diversion from Ankola to Hubli for Mumbai- roads were in bad shape ahead. I already had a fair share of a jerky ride through half of Kerala and Karnataka- wanted to reach home quick now. Reached Ankola and the right from the start the roads were in top condition.
Had breakfast in between halt after Ankola.
Touched Hubli at 11.50 am, updated Sanket, refueled and topped up the engine oil. Pune reads 436 kms on the distance board and though it seemed difficult, planned to touch Pune in 5 hours. Covered 94 kms between Hubli and Belgaum in just over an hour. This was fast becoming a race against time- by 2.30 pm, I was past Kolhapur and made it to Pune with just over 15 minutes of the decided time and a halt for water. The sun started setting and and so did my eyes- but that desperation of reaching home kept pushing me.
My back had gone pretty stiff and felt like stopping- but I didnt, just carried on and reached home at 9.15 p.m. SMSed the rest of the gang of having reached- had home-made food after 4 days- though I dont remember what I ate, was dog tired. Lay flat and eyes finally shut off - it was the end of a memorable trip.
Look back at the trip and cherished of having rolled some good numbers on the odo in pretty good time, the amazing feeling of being free and lonely for 4 days, at some places felt like am the only creature alive on this planet doing whatever I wished to at any given point of place and time with no compulsions whatsoever, the fearless company of the darkness and the majestic lighthouse I saw on the way. It was the best trip of my life.
Thanks to all my friends- specially Sanket (love that word "Godspeed" from him), Vinod, Glen, Parimal, Revel, Prasad (thanks for the tee- wore if for full 3 days), Ishtibhai, Alkesh, Vaibhav, Salil and others for all the good wishes and concern. And a bigger share of thanks to Navendu who guided me out of the maze at Chitradurga and directed me on a proper route to my destination. And last but not the least, my trusty steed, my 5 year old reliable Pulsar- which didnt show any signs of fatique or wear despite me pushing it to the limit. It has given me the confidence of doing something which I always wanted to- might well do it soon....a SS1600 :)
Following are the figures from the ride. 

Mumbai-Pune-Satara-Kolhapur-Belgaum-Hubli-Davangere-Tumkur-Bangalore-Hossur-Krishnanagari-Dharmapuri-Salem-Karur-Dindigul-Kodaikanal: 1583 kms
Kodaikanal-Palani-Udumalaipetta-Pollachi-Pallakad-Mallapuram-Calicut-Mahe-Kannur-Payyannur-Hosdurg-Kasaragod-Mangalore-Udupi-Kundapur-Bhatkal-Honavar-Gokarna-Ankola-Yellapur-Hubli-Belgaum-Kolhapur-Satara-Pune-Mumbai: 1654 kms
Total distance: 3237 kms.
Anyways enjoy the larger sized memories HERE


  1. Ishtiaque says:

    Nice ride , and quick one too , communication is always problem ridin in south, but parothas r awsome, and so is fish curry,keep on ridin,cheers to the spirit

  1. 2 thumps up for the trip...awesome experience..and absolutely fabulous always fun to know all about your trips..its very informative as well..ever thought of becoming a travel guide ;-)...carry on riding!!

  1. Pulsurge says:

    Thanks Ishtibhai. Well cannot say missed you on the ride. Damn sure you never would want to be part of this kind of a ride ;)

    @Eternal Sunshine: Thanks so much for the kind words. Am kind of really obliged that someone actually reads my blogs :)

  1. Deepak bhai, is that same old P150 of yours.
    i guess it must be 1.5L kms on the odo.

    wonderful ride.
    will need long time to absorb the log fully.

  1. Pulsurge says:

    Yes Sandeepbhai. Not 1.5 lacs, but would be touching 1,37,000 soon officially. Unofficially its past the 1.40L mark.

  1. Amit Ved says:

    Aaiyo What a ride I say. Nice Log too...The incident with the overcrowded bus was creepy tho...

  1. Shriya says:

    Nice drivce and post

    You shopuld spend more time at Kodai

    you can see some of my kodaikanal pictures at
    Best regards

  1. Pulsurge says:

    @Amit: Thanks man. I guess am destined to be behind vehicles who's tyres are about to burst. Its the third time.

    @Bala: Will make a longer stay next time. I hope am not single by then ;)

  1. parimal says:

    Envious ride I must say. I can read this log of yours 50 times and I wont get tired of it very very nicely compiled and articulated it actually brings pictures in front of my eyes about what must have happened at that moment. I really admire you my friend for your skill and courage for riding under tough circumstances and pretending as if nothing is difficult cheers to your spirit hope we will do tht with real spirit soon :-)

  1. Shriya says:

    I would suggest these shrot cuts on the trip

    In bangalore, take the outer ring road, at marathahalli, divert towards varathur - sarjapur road - attibele - hosur. Saves the monstrous bangalore traffic and 2 hours plus lots of kms

    You should have stayed overnite at Mangalore, then rode early morning on the beach facing national highway from mangalore to karwar, from karwar, proceed towards anshi forest, londa, belgaum. Saves time and nothing like a ride through the forest filled with lots of birds and Gaurs (Commonly called Bison)
    And if you are not single, I am sure such rides wont be possible.
    you can see some of my bandipur mudumalai wildlife / bird pictures and karwar fishing pictures at
    Best regards

  1. Pulsurge says:

    Thanks so much Bala for all the pointers. Will keep them handy in case I ride again in the future.

    Staying overnight at Mangalore wasnt possible since I took NH4- it would have been a long cut to come from NH4 to Mangalore and then am sure it would have taken another one day to ride to Kodai from Mangalore.

  1. Pulsurge says:

    Thanks Parimal. Well dude you have your own contribution in my rides through your wishes and concern and precautions :)

  1. Shriya says:

    what i meant was on your return trip, you should have stayed overnite at mangalore or udipi.

    Change over to yamaha YZF as the ride comfort is better than a pulsar on it

  1. Pulsurge says:

    Hahaha Bala- the YZF. Well I already had the money to buy a new Karizma, which I feel has to be the best bike for touring (Bulleteers might disagree)- its my kind of bike. Relaxed and can go fast when it wants to. Unfortunately the funds got transferred to another purpose :(

    Don't know how long will my Pulsar serve- but till the time the new comes- it will be my means of going places. Yeah a bit uncomfort is there, but I've seen people getting sore backs and butts on more comfortable bikes within 100-200 kms of riding. That reminds me- I've to get the seat worked out. So much water had seeped in during rains- got to get the refoaming done :)

    And yeah Bala...thanks again for all your suggestions. Next time round any ride to the south- you will be the first person I'll be getting in touch.

  1. Shriya says:

    pulsar or yamaha R15 are bikes which go fast but you have to crouch while riding which I feel is not good for long drives like what you do.
    I saw my friend doing a test drive of Yamaha YZF and he has a pulsar now and had a Yamaha RX 100 earlier
    He says The new yamaha is more comfortable to ride as we are all on the heavier side.
    BTW I prefer the safety of a four wheeler than a two wheeler. The last I rode a two wheeler on long drive (15KM) was 2 years before
    Having traveled for my granite business and wildlife trips helped in knowing these routes.
    You can also mail me on stay @ wildlifesanctuaryindia dot com

  1. Pulsurge says:

    Na I dont crouch on my bike :) I sit upright- the P150 has got a sort of sporty commuter position- neither too forward nor too laid back. The ZMA is the bike that suits me best- a proper sports tourer position and good suspension at both ends to soak in the bumps. Though I havent ridden the new Yammies yet- but then am sure abt the suspension set up- they're going to be stiff, its basically a track bike and on broken roads I dont think it will come anywhere close to the ZMA in comfort.

    Well your email id is quite interesting. Will be in touch there.

    Thanks for everything.

  1. Shriya says:

    As i said i dont know much about bikes. The yamaha dealer had his YZF shocks adjusted to suit our heavy weights. Maybe check out with the dealers / mechanics first
    Best regards

  1. Prabul says:

    Lovely...inspirational....gotta dump my cage and take out the bike from garage :)

  1. vinayak says:

    hi brother..really adventurous trips n though m a stranger to u; i must appriciate the cosistancy...cheers!! keep rollin

  1. Harsh says:

    Hi ,,

    Really adevntures trip you had, Like the blog and your travel experience,

    Honeymoon in Kodaikanal

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Buddy i read bout ur trip..
    its prety intresting...i jus wanna talk with u. by d way, i'm praveen from kerala- calicut. i jus hav a plan to come mumbai on my bike.
    for that i need some communication from u.
    pls ring me on 09895012943
    or email me on :
    its urgent plz..

  1. ofabyindia says:

    Hi Buddy i read bout ur trip..
    its prety intresting...i jus wanna talk with u. by d way, i'm praveen from kerala- calicut. i jus hav a plan to come mumbai on my bike.
    for that i need some communication from u.
    pls ring me on 09895012943
    or email me on :
    its urgent plz..

  1. Praveen K says:

    Hi Buddy..i'm praveen frm kerala. working with cipla as a business manager. next month i am having a review meet at mumbai. i'm having a plan to come over thr by my bike susuki 150r.
    i jus wanna to talk with u.
    can u plz call me..u didn giv ur no: anywhr..tats d reson.

  1. Hemraj says:

    Hi, Some one from facebook refereed your link i have book marked it nice blogs you write see Free Adwords Voucher here

  1. hats off man .... this is the ultimate biking i ever heard ..... You rock man