Three bikers take a week-long trip through Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala where they enjoy stunning views and interesting conversations
How do two friends — one a journalist from Coimbatore, and another a doctor from Mumbai — celebrate when they meet after more than a decade? They set off on a commemorative expedition — an expansive week-long road trip.
After a lot of ‘Googling,’ the good doctor came up with a 1,400-km route that traversed three States filled with Tibetan monasteries, beautiful views, coffee plantations and hill-top resorts, besides elephant camps and waterfalls.
The itinerary was Madikeri (Coorg) in Karnataka followed by a visit to Wayanad in Kerala. The doctor also decided to let her younger brother, Kunj Shah, a college final year commerce student and a boxer, tag on.
And so our journey began out of Coimbatore, on two vehicles — a Royal Enfield Classic 350 CC and a Bajaj Pulsar. The three of us began our long journey in the early hours as we wanted to cover as much ground as possible before the sun started breathing down our necks.
Day one saw us cover nearly 400 km as we headed out from Coimbatore to Coorg through Sathyamangalam, Chamarajanagar and Gundalpet before finally reaching Madikeri.
Despite Google Earth, we still managed to lose our way and ended up taking a longer route with terrible roads, but the serene beauty of the Karnataka forests and villages were well worth it. After a few hours at Madikeri, we reached Honey Valley, a resort perched atop a hill that was so steep that only four-wheel drive jeeps can make the arduous trip to the place. It is located deep inside a forest and completely removed from civilisation, just a perfect getaway from the urban jungles we live in. There, we met a retired American doctor, an NRI who had come on a three month break to India from Australia, students from an international school, besides a hydraulics engineer from Quebec.
On a hike towards a waterfall atop a hill, we struck up a conversation with Yael Cohen, a history major, and Einam Wiener, a psychologist, both from Tel Aviv, Israel. Soon, we were discussing our activities and mandatory military service in Israel, three years for men and two for women and besides how they liked the local culture and food bedsides Krav Maga, a self-defence system developed for the military in Israel that consists of a wide combination of techniques sourced from boxing, Muay Thai, Judo, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, grappling and other forms.
When asked what she did in the military, Einam Wiener recollected her experience in launching missiles and other stuff, which in her words “were not as exciting as it sounds” and we three were thinking like “yeah, we used to do the same, on Playstation3!”
Engrossed in our conversation, we got lost, once again. Even the dog that gave us company seemed as lost as the rest of us.
However, we came across the waterfall and after taking enough photographs and selfies, we returned to the inn.
Our next stop was Bylakuppe, a town filled with Tibetan settlements.
We were lucky to find affordable boarding at a Tibetan Guest house that was located right across the Namdroling Monastery (Golden Temple) at Kushalnagar.
Waking up in the morning to the splendid sight of the golden towers energised us, as did the momos we wolfed down at the ethnic Tibetan restaurants.
The first big disappointment of our trip came when we were denied the pleasures of seeing elephants bathing their calves as the Dubare elephant camp was closed down due to a local strike. So we headed to the Abbey Falls and then to a spot so scenic that it took our breath away. Mandalpetti, located about 30 km from Madikeri town, provided an astounding view of the hills and rivers. And it was devoid of any human presence, save us.
Soon, we set out for Wayanad, where a few miles within the forest, we encountered a lone tusker standing right on the road. It gave us a scare, but happily it allowed us to pass through. We reached Wayanad without any more incident and found accommodation at Aashwas holiday homes, located right in the midst of lush green fields and rubber plantations.
The following day we went to Pookode Lake, a scenic freshwater lake but once again a strike by the locals left us unable to appreciate its beauty much.
We went to Ambawayal flower show and other local spots before heading back to the resort. The next day, weary but happy, we packed our bags one last time before heading back from Wayanad to Coimbatore through the Sathyamangalam forest reserve after a bike ride of our lives.