Bangalore - Sakleshpur - Gundya - Subramanya - Somwarpet - Madikeri - Kushalnagar - Bangalore.
24th of December 2014 (Day 0).
I geared up to match the color of my bike. Wait, what ??. Yeah, you read that right, while others match their t-shirts with their denims, we (The Royal Enfield fanatics) match ours with the color of our beasts. Took Zroya out, cranked up the engine, then, all I heard was the sweet sound of perfectly timed "Signature RE Thump". I knew she was running perfect, filled up the gas tank completely with HP fuel (I trust HP any day) and checked the odometer. The last 4 digits of the meter read 7012. I was ready to get out there and fill myself with full of positivity of life by visiting those splendid waterfalls, magical forests and over worldly picturesqueness. One last ride!!! I said to myself and rode to meet up with my notorious cousin.
I met Sam on the way (Sam is the one who taught me every god damn thing about photography). So, if my photography is good, Sam gets credit. If my photography sucks, Sam gets the blame. Anyway, that cheeky little bugger bid me adieu right after we met my cousin and before I knew it, we (we = referred to as me and my cousin here onwards) were cruising on the outskirts of Bangalore. We made a quick stop on the Hassan highway because our bladders were working overtime (*wink*) and again rode for a solid hour and a half until we stopped at a toll gate to indulge ourselves with India's favorite drink (The Almighty CHAI).
Disclaimer 2 : If u think traveling is boring and is such a waste of time, then my friend, this blog is not for you. According to travelers perspective, you have a rotting dead soul. So please get the sarcasm and go back to your candy crush. Who knows ??? You might even find some extra powers there or even make some fond memories playing candy crush.
It doesn't really matter what you do or how old you are, everyone deserves a little fresh air from time to time. We can all use a road trip to shed our old skin and live a little, de-stress and forget our troubles.
Anyway, we continued our journey after listening to our inspirational song (raises our adrenaline levels each and every time we listen to it). A few more miles and we reached Hassan. The trees do a canopy along the route (treat for the tired city eyes) which makes you feel special while riding. Sakleshpur, not far from Hassan was a mere half an hour ride and we reached that part of the highway which divides Donigal and Hongadahalla road at 0015 hours on 25th of December. Took Hongadahalla route and rode a few miles before we called it a day.
Caution note : There are 3 stretches on this highway which has to be particularly considered if you are driving by night.
1. Where the highway parts Chennarayapatna and Hassan.
2. Approximately 13 kms to Hassan.
3. Where highway divides Hassan and Sakleshpur road.
These stretches are either 2 lanes roads or are really bad. Stay ALERT and stop doing rocket speeds unless you want to end up as someone just like Dillinger.
25th of December 2014 (Day 1).
Having slept for 2 hours, we were to reach Hongadahalla (hongralla as called by the locals). Hongadahalla is a sleepy little village (some 50 kms from Sakleshpur) with literally no roads. Its more like off roading for 50 kms to reach the place.
Why Hongadahalla ?
Remember the time when I told, taking my cousin with me proved to be one of the best decisions I've made in a while ?. Well, my cousin turned out to be one hell of a brilliant chap. He was the one who was responsible for us to trek on those illegal tracks (The Green Route Trek). He rented a guide (residing at Hongadahalla) who knew all the nooks and corners of those unforgiving forests of the western ghats. Well, the guide also knew those places and some railway employees where we were not to get caught by trekking along the rail road.
Important Note : "Sakleshpur Railway Trek" A.K.A "The Green Route Trek" is completely illegal and a case will be registered against you if you get caught.
Mr. Nayan (our guide) is a simple man who is very welcoming and treats you well. We parked Zroya in his house and took his jeep for a spin on those off roading tracks. By the way, there are no fancy hotels or restaurants here. If the famous "Akki Roti" doesn't interest you, then the only thing you can have is just water.
We started our trek from kaginahare by 8 am and had to reach gundya by 5 pm (Some 28 ultimate kms of trekking inside the jungle and the tracks). The tracks were half way through the trek and some parts of the forest were so thick, we had to use the guide's machete to get access. Trekking here without a guide is impossible. Getting lost is inevitable.
Thirst is as basic as breathing here and in our search for water; we ended up finding some which was purer than the purest of Hema Malini endorsed KENT water. Blood sucking leaches are common, so shedding some blood in the forest is mandatory.
A few miles in, there it was, the illegal railway track. We were like kids in a candy store. Trekking here was among the top 10 treks on our list and being there was just pure excitement. What made it more exciting ?. It being illegal and the fear of getting caught by the officials.
We did a total of 19 bridges, 12 tunnels, 3 water spots, 1 abandoned railway station and 2 heavy land slides. 2 trains passed us, 1 being a railway wagon which carries work material (don't know the technical name) and other was a passenger. Met with a few railway workers and clicked pictures with them.
Started trekking again, then all of a sudden, we heard whistles and a trolley was speeding towards us. 2 railway engineers were on the trolley and my heart started skipping beats. I thought we were caught and a case would be filed against us. The trolley sped past us and the employees gave us a stink eye, but were not in any mood to get us convicted. I think they were whistling to get us off of the god damn tracks so that we wouldn't end up as a track kill.
The moment they disappeared, we literally had to empty our bladders. A few miles away stood a magnificent tunnel. The tunnel number 25. This must have been the holy mother of tunnels. 553 meters long (more than half a kilometer), entering it was spooky and the chill breeze inside made it worse. The tunnel was pitch dark that even Batman would have goosebumps entering it. You can't see a thing without a torch and carrying one was handy.
Walking past miles and miles of eye candy we finally bid adieu to "The Green Route" and entered the forest again. The sight of the river kempuhole inspired us to keep moving.This route was more treacherous and dangerous. With a few slips, falls, tumbles and slides we finally reached civilization. Kempuhole greeted us and take my word for it, No chlorinated Olympic size swimming pool gives you the pleasure of mother nature's Jacuzzi. The water is so splendid, swimming here makes you feel like a maharaja.
We finally reached gundya, took a government bus to reach Subramanya (22 kms from gundya), after the dharshan of the holy deity of Sri Subramanya, we called it a day.
Caution note : Stay away from Donigal and Yedukumeri stations.
THE WESTERN GHATS RIDE PART 1: The awe-freaking-some ride of Zroya to the tracts of serene beauty. "Intro - Teaser". - http://ridesntreks1.blogspot.in/2014/12/the-awe-freaking-some-ride-of-zroya-to_26.html?m=1
Next up Day 2 and 3 - kumara parvatha , madikeri and Kushalnagar. Until then, ride hard ride safe!!!!!. Peace.