Monday, July 23, 2007

Ride to Hampi

When I decided to buy an Avenger last November, I was hoping to go for a ride at least once a month. December 11th, ride to Bilikallu Rangaswami Betta and Chunchi Falls and January 1st New Year ride to Mysore and I thought I was on my way.
Then, the inevitable happened - my company decided to send me to US for 3 months on project work. So, no rides. I came back in May, but there was so much work - in office and at home - that I could not go out for a ride at all. The itch was getting worse.
On Friday, 20th July, I suddenly realised that there was no major plan for the weekend and I could sneak in a ride. Too late to inform fellow riders, so it would have to be solo...The idea formed late in the evening and I was feverish with anticipation when I reached home that night. I proceeded to put all things together for the ride, then called up my friend who lives in Munirabad - 10 kms from Hospet - and told him that I would be there on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday morning, I was up at 4.30 am. After last minute recheck of things to take, a quick shower and a hot cup of tea, I took off at 5.30 am. I wanted to get out of Bangalore before the traffic starts to snarl. As expected, there was not much traffic on the roads and soon enough, I was on NH4 heading towards Tumkur. Four laned highway, smooth roads, fresh air and a super responsive bike - boy this is bliss.
7.10 I reached Tumkur and stopped for breakfast. After hot idlis and coffee, it was time to hit the road again. 7.30, I hit the road, found my way out of Tumkur, 7.40 - approaching NH4 again, 7.41 - flat tyre...... ouch. Mr. Rajanna's puncture repair shop was just 50 meters away. So lugged the bike to the shop and was told that the shop opens at 8.00 AM. Mr. Rajanna came in at 8.10, set up shop, fixed my puncture and I was ready to go at 9.00 AM (Note to self - carry puncture repair kit, stupid)
Back on NH4, the road in amazingly superb condition and very less traffic, I was able to make up for some lost time. Covered the next 130 kms to Chitradurga in 100 mins. After a brief Tea/Smoke/Butt break in Chitradurga, took the right - NH13- leading to Hospet. 4 laning ends here, but the road was reasonably good.
After 80 kms, stopped for another break and photo session. A police jeep was parked a few meters away and stopping and checking trucks randomly. They were very curious about what I was doing and called out to me. The sub-inspector thought I was mad - and told me so - when I told him I was riding from Bangalore and going to Hospet. He asked me why I cannot take the bus like all normal human beings. When I proceeded to explain to him the biking culture and the thrills we guys get out of riding, he shook his head unbelievingly and asked me to proceed to Hospet. He also wished me a safe ride. Thank you Mr. Sub-Inspector.
After one more break enroute and an uneventful ride, I was at Tungabadra Dam Circle, the rendezvous I had fixed with my friend and there he was waiting for me. After a quick lunch in Hospet, we proceeded to Hampi and spent the next 4 hours going around the ruins and getting pictures. Got back home to Munirabad at about 7 PM. After a much needed bath and couple of glasses of Scotch, hot dinner was served. As I was meeting my friend after about 6 months, we spent some time chatting and catching up. When I looked at my watch later, I was stunned to see it was 1 AM. How time flies, when you are in the company of friends...
Sunday morning, we decided to go for a short ride to Tungabadra Dam and the Japanese garden in Munirabad, for some pictures. The dam was full and they had 3 gates open. After my friend managed to pull some strings, we were allowed to ride on the dam, but strictly no Photographs...damn..
Later, we rode to a small bridge, with a nice view of the dam and took some pictures. Then we went to the Japanese garden. The garden was huge, very peaceful and amazingly well maintained. I would recommend all fellow riders should visit this garden, if you do go to Hampi. It is just by the foot of the TB Dam, on the Munirabad bank of the river. Went back to my friend's house and after a nice brunch, it was time to leave. Left Munirabad at 12.30 PM on Sunday and was headed back to Bangalore.
On NH 13, it started raining. Wow, I had not planned on riding in the rain, so this was a bonus. It rained for the next 20 kms or so and then when my jeans were just about dried it rained again for the next 20 kms.Double treat.
When I rode out the second bout of rain, I stopped for a smoke/butt break only to realise that my lighter had run out of gas. (Another note to self????). I stopped again at a little wayside shop, about 10 kms ahead to buy a box of matches. I was pleasantly amused when the little lady in the shop expressed her desire to try my gloves on. It was about 4 sizes too big for her and came all the way to her elbows. When I told her that it cost about Rs. 2500, she was shocked and asked me three times to ensure I was telling her the price of just one pair of gloves. After 2 cups of tea from the shop, it was time to move again. The ride was good and uneventful from there on and I was at Tumkur by 5.30 PM. Mr.Rajanna, the puncture shop guy was elated when I stopped by to say hello. Another break for some snacks and coffee, I left Tumkur by 6.00 PM and was in the outskirts of Bangalore by 6.40 PM....Nice ride of 340 kms in 6 hours... and then I spent the next 2 hours crawling in traffic to cover the last 15 kms to home...Bangalore traffic sucks...even on Sunday evenings....
8.30 pm, I was home. The trip meter read 762 kms. Now I am looking forward to the next one, hoping it will be soon enough.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

KFC in Kentucky

Since the day I arrived in the US, I have had this childish desire to eat KFC in Kentucky. I know it sounds a bit silly and KFC is still going to taste the same, but I just wanted to do it. Not being able to drive in the US posed a severe restriction. I will have to hire a cab and go find a KFC outlet in Kentucky.

This is when I ran into Ed and Tanya at the local pub, Madonna’s, which I frequented to have dinner and play pool. Ed was an excellent pool player. We got to know each other better over numerous bottles of beer and equally numerous games of pool. Then one Friday, Ed offered to drive me around the country side out of Cincinnati. I gleefully jumped at the offer and we fixed to mee up the next day afternoon outside the hotel I was staying at.

Saturday afternoon, Ed was there and called me saying he was waiting downstairs. So, I picked up my camera and went there. I was pleasantly surprised to see Ed waiting there with Tanya driving a Hummer.

Boy, little did I expect my other silly wish to be granted, riding in a Hummer, that is.

So, off we went across the bridge on Ohio River to a nice little place called Batavia, to pick up Ed's sister Sandy.

Sandy lived in one of the most picturesque places I have seen There was a neat little pond by her house and the place was so serene and peaceful.

The three of them burst out laughing when I expressed my desire to eat KFC in Kentucky. They thought it was cute. So, off we went to KFC in Kentucky. The chicken tasted exactly the same as any KFC and service was pathetic. But hey, I went to KFC in Kentucky....

From there we proceeded to a local pub for a few beers and of course some pool. On the whole, it was one of the best days I have had in my two month stay in the US.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

An appointment with Almighty

Before I went to Australia, I had promised to accompany my friend, Ganapathy, on his yearly trip to Sabarimala, whenever I return. Now that I am back in India, it was time to keep up my promise.

I left Bangalore on the night of 9th January to arrive at Munirabad, the small town where my friend works for the Indian Railways on the morning of 10th. It was a nostalgic feeling, getting back into a train. Reminded me of my days working with the Indian Railways. But it sure felt good to be a paying passenger. Sadly, there was no noticeable improvement in the services.

The next day was spent preparing for the journey, involving a lot of prayer and rituals. The main attraction was the preparation of the Irumudi. Irumudi is the only travelling kit which a pilgrim carries on his head during the pilgrimage. Only those who observe fasting for 41 days are allowed to carry it. Without the Irumudi one is not allowed to step onto the holy 18 steps at the Sannidhanam.This bag is in two compartments - the Munmudi (the front part) and the Pinmudi (the back part) & the opening at centre. The front portion is reserved for keeping all the puja articles and offerings to
the deity while the rear part is meant to hold the pilgrims personal requirements for the journey.

Front portion contains Mudra bags, consisting of 2 - 3 in numbers - one for the GheeCoconut and the other two for the remaining offerings. Items for Vazhipadu (offering) at the Sannidhanam that is kept in the front compartment of the Irumudi are as under:

Coconut filled with ghee for Abhishekam (bathing the idol of the Lord)
Coconut (vidalai thengai) 2 to 4 nos.
Betel leaves, Betel Nut, coins for offering
Jaggery (achuvellam), Cashew, Raisins, Dry ginger, Poha (thin & thick variety), Cardamoms, Dates, Honey, Avil ( beaten rice), Kadhi Chakkar
Dried turmeric tubers, Turmeric powder, Blouse piece, Kumkum, Vibhooti, Sandal paste, Sambarani, Camphor, Agarbathi (Incense stick), Rosewater, Lemon, Rice and Dal for offering.

Coconut for ghee Abhishekam : Well before the Kettunira time, select a medium size coconut. Clean and polish the outer shell using a polishing paper. With a pointed instrument, open one eye of the coconut and empty the coconut water. Close it with a cork of correct size. The coconut is now in readiness for the Kettunira.

Coconut (Vidalai Thengai) one each to be broken at Erumeli, Sharam Kutti and two for Padinettampadi (the sacred 18 steps - once while climbing up for Shasta Darshan with the Irumudi and 2nd while returning after the worship

Part of the jaggery, cashew, raisin, cardamom, honey and dates can be used to make Panchamrutam for the Neivedya; part of the jaggery, dry ginger and cardamom can be used for preparing 'Panagam' as Neivedya

Items for use of the pilgrim from the day of commencement of the journey after Kettunira till the return is kept in the back compartment or the Pin Mudi, which are as under :

Some snacks which one may require now and then during the trip and other raw materials for food items to be prepared during the journey.Pulses and rice needed for cooking can be included in Pinmudi.

It was interesting to hear the legend of Ayyappa, from my friend who was visiting the shrine for the 28th time in 44 years ( that's how old he is!!). Here is a gist:

The descendants of Pandya dynasty discarded by Thirumala Naicker Diwan of Raja Vijayanagar, who was then ruling the Pandya Kingdom, comprising of Madurai,Tirunelveli, Ramananthapuram, were living scattered in places like Valliyur, Tenkasi, Shengottah, Achankovil and Sivagiri. At that time, Pandyas were ruling in many parts of Travancore. The descendants of Pandya dynasty belonging to Chempazhanattu Kovil, living in Sivagiri were given the right to rule the country of Pandalam, by the King of Travancore eight hundreds years ago. King Rajasekara was the direct descendant of this dynasty.

King Rajasekara was very talented, courageous and just in his deeds. People were living happily and prosperously during his regime. However, the king was very unhappy that he had no children and his subjects were also worried that he had no heir to inherit his kingdom. As per the wish of the queen, both of them prayed Lord Shiva for blessing them with a child.

Mahishasuran, Son of Ramban, undertook a severe penance (Thavam). Lord Brahma tried to distract his concentration, but having failed in his attempts, he appeared before the Asura and blessed him with a boon. Mahishasuran asked Lord Brahma
to give him a boon by which no man in the earth would be able to kill him, and Lord Brahma conferred the boon on him. Mahishasuran, armed with his boon, began to commit atrocities and murders on the earth and terrorised people. Fearing his wrath, people ran away to far away places.

The Devas seeing the atrocities committed by Mahishasuran came to the conclusion that only a divine power could kill him and approached Chandikadevi (Mahishasuramardhini) pleading to put an end to Mahishasura who was misusing the boon given by Lord Brahma. Chandikadevi set out on her mission and killed Mahishasura in a duel, on earth.

Mahishi daughter of Karamba, brother of Ramban undertook a severe penance in order to take revenge on the Devas, who were responsible for the death of her brother. Lord Brahma appeared and offered to confer on Mahishi any boon except that of immortality. Mahishi asked Lord Brahma to bless her with a boon by which nobody , except the son created out of the union of Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Haran), would be able to kill her. Lord Brahma gave the boon and Mahishi went to Devaloka and started harassing the Devas.

The Devas incurred the wrath of Durvasa Muni who cursed them. On the advice of Lord Mahavishnu that this curse could be removed only by administering Amrutham taken from Palazhi, the devas took it from the Palazhi, but the Asuras snatched it from them.Lord Mahavishnu in the disguise of Mohini, went to the Asuras and got back the Amrutham and restored it to the Devas. When Lord Shiva, went to see Lord Mahavishnu who was in the guise of a Mohini succumbed to her beauty and out of their union, was born a child, who was name Dharmasastha. Dharmasastha grew at Kailasham. Lord Shiva, answered Rajasekara's prayer and ordered Dharmasastha to take the avathar of Ayyappan . On the day King Rajasekara went for hunting in the forest, Ayyappan took the form of a baby with a golden chain and bell around his neck and placed himself near the Pamba river.

King Rajasekara went for hunting in the forest adjoining the banks of River Pampa, along with his men. He started hunting courageously in the dense forest which was a sanctuary for many wild animals. After that hunting was over, King Rajasekara advised his men to take rest and sat there entertaining himself with the sight of the natural greenish beauty and the waterfalls, of the forest.

At that time, he heard a child crying from somewhere in the forest. Surprised, he went round and reached the banks of River Pampa. There he saw a beautiful and divine child (i.e. Ayyappa) kicking its legs and crying out, and was in a dilemma whether to take the child to the Palace or leave it there itself.

While the King was engrossed in his thoughts, a Sanyasi appeared before him and told the King that he need not be afraid of the child and take him to the Palace and that the child belonged to Kshatriya dynasty and was capable of mitigating all sufferings.The Sanyasi further stated that since the Child had a gold bell around his neck, his name be called "MANIKANDAN" (Mani = Bell, Kandam = Neck) and when the child completed twelve years, the King would know his divine history. After uttering these words, the Sanyasi disappeared.

The King of Pandalam was very joyous, he took the child to his Palace and briefed the Queen about the incident. The King and the Queen, having prayed to Lord Shiva, for a child, were very happy that they had been blessed with a child. The people also felt happy that a heir to inherit the Kingdom after the King, has been found. However, the Diwan of the Kingdom who was thinking that he would be the next crown after Rajasekara was worried.

When the child, named Manikandan, began to grow in the Palace, everything began to prosper in kingdom. He was taught all martial arts and sastras and the Guru was surprised at his brilliance and agility and the extraordinary talents. The Guru came to the conclusion that he was not an ordinary child, but a divine power. After completing his education under the Guru, Manikandan approached the Guru to offer his Guru Dakshina.

When Manikandan went to his Guru for his blessings, the Guru told him that he already knew that he was a divine power and he was blessed for having been given an opportunity to have Manikandan as a student. The Guru further told Manikandan that he had one request to make and that was that his only son who was dumb should be given speech. Manikandan called the Guru's son and put his hands on his head and immediately Guru's son had his speech. Manikandan requested the Guru not to reveal this to anyone and went to the Palace.

In the meanwhile, the Queen gave birth to a male child and the child was named RajaRajan. King Rajasekara, impressed with the talents of Manikandan, decided to crown him, treating him as his eldest son. He ordered the Diwan to make arrangements for the same. The Diwan hated this and started devising plans to prevent Manikandan from being crowned to the throne and to annihilate him. He tried various methods including poisoning of food, but failed in all these. However, Manikandan's body bore an injury due to these and ordinary physicians could not cure it. Lastly, Lord Shiva disguising himself as a physician, treated Manikandan's injury and cured him.

Having failed in all his attempts to kill Manikandan, the Diwan approached the Queen and told her that she had her own son, it was not correct to crown a person who came from the forest. He further told the Queen since Arthasastra itself has justified any misdeed if it was done to extract a good thing, he would suggest that the Queen should pretend as if suffering from severe headache and stomach pain and he would make the physician tell that only a tigress' milk should be brought to cure the Queen and since Manikandan would only go to the forest to bring the milk, he would be in danger from the wild animals and even if Manikandan returned without bringing the tigress' milk, the King's love for him would not be as before. The Queen, became a prey to the Diwan's plot and agreed to do what he told, so that her son could succeed the King to the throne.

The Queen, as told by the Diwan, cried out loudly that she was suffering from severe headache and stomach pain and the King, believing this, called the Diwan to bring in the best physicians to treat her. The Physician, brought by the Diwan examined the Queen and told the King that the Queen had been suffering from a dangerous disease and it could be cured only by applying Tigress' milk. The King sent several of his men to the forest for bringing this milk. The King understood that it was an impossible task and wanted his dear Queen to be cured at any cost and offered half of his Kingdom to anybody who brought the Milk.

When the King was thinking about this, Manikandan asked him to let him go to the forest promising to bring the milk. However, the King told him that he was awaiting to be crowned to the throne that he was also not of age and hence refused to let him go. Manikandan told the King, in spite of his refusal, he had to go lest he would be cursed for not curing the Queen. Since the King persisted in his refusal Manikandan wanted the King to promise to do something he wanted. The King gave the promise and asked him what he wanted and immediately Manikandan asked the King to permit to go to the Forest. The King felt disappointed that he had been tricked and with no other alternative permitted Manikandan to go to the forest

King Rajasekara made arrangements to send a group of his loyal men along with Manikandan, which however was refused by Manikandan on the ground that the tigress might run away seeing the crowd of soldiers. King Rajasekara sent along with Manikandan necessary foodstuffs and coconuts with three-eyes, in remembrance of Lord Shiva. The Panchabuthas, sent by Lord Shiva, accompanied Manikandan to Forest. However, on his way Manikandan, came to know the atrocities of Mahishi in the Devaloka, he went there and fought a battle with Mahishi. During the conflict, Manikandan threw Mahishi down to earth from devaloka and she fell on the banks of Azhutha River. Manikandan clashed with her at Azhutha river again.

At the end, of the battle between Mahishi and Manikandan at Azhutha River banks, Manikandan climbed up on her chest and danced violently. The impact of his dance was felt on the Earth and Devloka and the Devas were afraid. Mahishi knowing that the divine power dancing on her body was none other than the son of Hari and Haran, prostrated before Manikandan and died. This dance was witnessed by Lord Shiva and Mahavishnu from a place called Kalakatti. (It is said that Leela, daughter of Kavalan, a Maharishi, due to her husband's curse,was born as daughter of Karamban, with a face of Mahishi and freed herself from the curse and obtained Moksha by the grace of Shri Dharma Sastha, which is described in Sabarimala Temple as Malikapurathu Amma, by which name she has a temple there)

After killing Mahishi, Manikandan went to the forest for the tigress milk, when Lord Shiva appeared before him and told him that though he had done good for the Devas, still there was one main task and that was to give comfort to the King Rajasekara who was very concerned about him. Lord Shiva further told him that he could go to the Palace with Lord Devendran in the form of a tiger. With Manikandan on the tiger, all female devas in the disguise of a tigress and male Devas, as tigers started their journey to the Palace.

When Manikandan, with the tigers, approached the Palace, the people who ridiculed him when the started his journey to forest whether he wanted a toy tigresses, really got panicky seeing the violent bunch of animals and started running helter shelter.

Just then, the same Sanyasi who appeared before King Rajasekara when he picked up Manikandan at the forest as a baby, appeared again at the palace and told King Rajasekara the real identity of Manikandan. Hearing this, the King stood in great surprise and silence. He saw Manikandan riding a tiger and people running away. Seeing the King, Manikandan descended from the Tiger and told him that since the tigresses were there, he could get the Queen cured with their milk. King Rajasekara, fell at his feet and asked to forgive him for whatever happened without his knowledge, and asked him to send back the tigers as the Queens ailment had been cured the moment Manikandan went to the forest. On that day Manikandan reached the age of twelve.

King Rajasekara told Manikandan that the Diwan was responsible for all these things and hence he should be punished. However, Manikandan told the king that he need not punish the Diwan and all had happened only through the will of God, and he told further that time had come for him to go to Devaloka since the task for which he took avatar himself on the Earth is completed and asked the King what boon he wanted from him and he was ready to give it as he was much pleased by his devotion. Immediately, King Rajasekara told him that they wanted to raise a temple in his memory and suggest a suitable place for the temple. Manikandan aimed an arrow which fell at a place called Sabari, where in Sri Rama's era a Sanyasini called Sabari observed Dhavam. Lord Manikandan told the King to build the temple in that place and then he disappeared.

As per Saint Agasthya's advise, King Rajasekara laid the foundation stone for the building the Sabarimala Shrine. Bhagwan Manikandan, had made it clear that he would grace only those devotees who offer Dharshan after performing Vritha for forty one days keeping themselves isolated from family desires and tastes and leading a life like Brahmacharya, thinking of good things always, and that while coming for his darshan, they shall carry the holy irumudi on their heads, as the Bhagwan did when he went to the forest to fetch tigress milk, and bathed in River Pampa raising slogans of Saranam and climb the eighteen stairs.

As graced by the Bhagwan King Rajasekara completed building of the temple with eighteen steps to reach it. When the King was thinking how to put Dharmasastha's figure in the temple for darshan to devotees, he recalled the words of the Bhagwan, the River Pampa was a holy river as River Ganga, Sabarimala was a holy place as Kasi. Dharmasastha sent Parasuraman to Sabarimala who carved the figure of Lord Ayyappa and installed it on the day of Makarasankranthi, the day on which the Makara Jyothi appears. Every year lakhs and lakhs of people throng to Sabarimala irrespective of caste or creed and adorn themselves with garlands and irumudis, chants slogans on Lord Ayyappa, bathe in holy river Pampa, climb up the eighteen steps and get the grace of Lord Ayyappa, the Dharmasastha.


The Jewel Casket is carried on head from the ancestral residence of the royal family of Panthalam to the Shrine on the day. A Garuda, the Brahaman kite, follows this ornaments carrying procession, hovering about in the sky. After these ornaments are worn on the Lord the bird circles the temple in the sky three times and disappears. Excited by this sight the devotees begin to chant "Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa". A Star never seen before in the sky appears on the day of Makara Jyothi day before the sighting of the Jyoti. A Jyoti is seen for a little time on the hilltop showing the presence of Swamy Ayyappan gracing his devotees.

Whew, that is a long story. But I was witness to the Jyothi.

We left Munirabad on the 10th night to arrive at Guntakal 4 hours later. We had to wait there for our next train, which was at 7.30 AM on the 11th. 24 hours later, we alighted at Chengannur. The last time we went to Sabarimala, we chose to go on the long route, called Periaya Padham, which involves a trek of around 60 kms in thick forest, culminating with a climb down a steep hill. This time though, we decided to hire a taxi from Chengannur to Pambha and then trek the last 10kms or so.
The taxi ride through to Pambha was very enjoyable. Nice roads, very scenic and pleasant weather (Next time, sure on my bike). Enroute, we stopped off at a place to have a refreshing bath in the Pambha river. I exactly understood why Kerala is known as "God's Own country".

We then proceeded to a place called Erumeli, where the devotees perform a frenzied dance called "Petta Thullal". Then they proceed to Nainar mosque of Vavar, who was a close friend of Ayyappan, to pay their respects there. Religious harmony on display. Wonder why we do not show the same acceptance elsewhere????

From there it was again a memorable ride to Pambha.We arrived at Pambha, which is the base of Sabarimala at around noon and started our trek uphill. The last time, it was a 2 hour trek and a 30 minute wait for Dharsan. This time, though, things were different. The 8 km trek uphill took all of 20 hours, with a 4 hour stopover enroute. The crowd was so much.

After darshan the following day, it was time to do the downhill trek. Generally, the devotees prefer to stay on the hilltop and witness the Makara Jyothi, which appears the following day. But this time the sea of humanity on the hilltop was too much. So we decided to go downhill to a place called Nilakal and witness the Jyothi from a small hillock there. Arrangements for pilgrims' stay at Nilakal was pathetic. So, we requested our taxi driver Mr. Kumar to take us to someplace where we can bathe in the river. He took us off to a place called Seethathodu for another amazing experience. The route was filled with rubber plantations. The river was stunning.

We then returned to Nilakal for the sighting of the Jyothi. Here we climbed a small hillock and perched ourselves near the top, with an unhindered view of the spot where the Jyothi would appear. 6.48 pm and there appeared the Jyothi.
I was planning to record a video of the event, but as luck would have it, I ran out of batteries in my camera and I was not carrying spare ones either :((......

Trekked back downhill, took the taxi back to Chengannur and booked ourselves into a hotel. We then visited the Narashimaswamy temple the next day morning to be treated with the sight of 2 decorated elephants in a procession around the temple.
After a nondescript lunch, it was time to take the train back home.
Overall a great experince, being close to nature, great sights and a brief visit by the Almighty, in the form of the Makara Jyothi. The sad part was the unruly behaviour of the pilgrims,shocking prices for commodities from water to a cup of tea to food and lack of adequate facilities.

Very satisfying experience, nevertheless.... Looking forward to going back there on my bike this time.....

More pics.......

Monday, December 11, 2006

Trip to Bilikallu Rangaswami Betta and Chunchi Falls

Eight guys and a girl.....
Eight bikes.....
200 kms....

Yep, that was what we did today. My first ride with Bike Nomads, was very exciting.

6.00 AM, Metro on Kanakpura road was the rendezvous. I was the first to reach there, at 5.50 AM. Was not sure about the location and did not want to hold up the others. Everybody was there by 6.15 AM. One Eliminator, two Avengers, two Karizmas, three Pulsar 150s. That was the line up.

After a quick photo session, we hit the road. The ride to Kanakpura was pretty smooth, except for a few patches of road work happening. Glad they are ensuring a better ride next time we pass by. 

The group reached Kanakpura at 7.30 AM. After parking the bikes at Kanakpura Bus Station, we headed off to Vasu Hotel for breakfast. After masala dosas and coffee, we left there at 8.00 AM.

When we asked for directions to Bilikallu Rangaswami Betta, the local junataa told us that there was a road leading all the way up to the hill top. Little did we realize what we were headed for. Renu kumar who had been there before, did not let the cat out the bag either. After about 15 kms of partially black topped and partially rough road, we reached the base of the hill and took the road leading up the hill and the fun started. It was serious off-roading. Sand patches and loose stones added to the fun. And for extra effect we came across a few elephant droppings. This was turning into serious fun. The bikes were fishtailing all over the place.

Soon enough, we were at the top. There is just one huge rock, looking as if someone placed it on top of the little temple and a small living quarters for the caretaker. Not that there was much to take care of…..

The view from the hill top was spectacular. It was a really soothing experience to see the earth covered in a green carpet in all directions. Makes one wonder how much we have screwed up the environs in the name of development. After soaking in the scenery and another photo session, it was time to head back to Kanakpura. The downhill ride was not any less exciting. I had a first hand experience of the low end torque of Avenger. I am sure the Pulsar 150s would have had a better low end torque, but cannot say the same for the ZMAs. But the return to Kanakpura was much faster and before long we were back having another cup of coffee in Kanakpura.

Over coffee we decided that the next place would be Chunchi Falls. Thirty mins and 22 kms later, we were at the falls. Here we were in for some serious off-roading, not for the bikes this time though. We had to trek down the water polished stones to reach the actual falls. These stones apparently get covered in water when the river is in full spate. But we were only treated to moderate water flow, which was spectacular, nevertheless. The water falls into a hollow, creating a natural dam cum swimming pool and then proceeds to overflow in to different waterfalls, about 50 feet in height. No man made water decoration could have been prettier.

After about an hour there, sadly, it was time to leave. The trek back to the bikes was breathtaking – literally. Arriving back to a much welcome treat of tender coconut, it was time to kick the bikes back into action and off we went.

Back in Kanakpura after a quick lunch, we set off to Bangalore, bringing a very enjoyable ride to an end. 6.30 PM, we were back to the concrete jungle and exhaust fumes that we call home.

Looking forward to the next ride…..

Bilikallu Rangaswami Betta and Chunchi Falls - revisited

Guess I was quite tired last night when I posted my blog. Here are some more pictures:

Click on photo to open album.

While we were riding with headlights on for better visiblity to each other, it was funny to see so many people point out to us, that we had our headlights on during the day..... Guess they think we will get a hefty electricity bill next month!!!!!