Monday, January 25, 2010

Bandipur-Masinagudi - Road Trip

Chennai – Bandipur – Masinagudi – Ooty - Chennai

Total Distance: 1200km

No. of Days: 3 days


  1. Rajith
  2. Dev D
  3. Sridhar
  4. Sripathi & Rashmi.

The Plan:

We’ve wanted to go for an adventure trip for a very long time. The Pondys, the Bangalores became very mundane and we wanted to do something different. After much discussion we decided to go to Bandipur. The next questions were how and were to stay. The “how” was easily solved…. Road trip. The stay was a very big confusion. We had to make a choice between staying in Bandipur or Masinagudi. Finally we decided to go for Zest Casa Deepwoods Resort, Masinagudi. We got a decent deal of 16000/- for 5 people including breakfast for 2 nights.

The Route:

There were three options:-

  1. Chennai – Villupuram – Bhavani – Chithode – Gobi – Mettupalayam – Kothagiri – Ooty - Masinagudi
  2. Chennai – Vellore – Krishnagiri – Bhavani – Chithode – Gobi – Mettupalayam – Kothagiri – Ooty - Masinagudi
  3. Chennai – Vellore – Krishnagiri – Hosur – Chamarajnagar – Gundulpet - Bandipur – Masinagudi

After much discussion and debate we decided to go with the third option.

The Preparation:

The main task was to get the car checked. So I changed the engine oil with Castrol GTX Magnatec and checked all other necessary things. Others were in-charge with picking up supplies for the trip such as snacks, water and other refreshments. We were bunch of amateur photographers and we wanted to test our skills. Sridhar was carrying a Nikon D3000, Sripathi a Canon and me an Olympus.


Now that all things were planned and chartered out, the only thing left to do was to follow them. We decided to start really early, at least by 2am. I got up by 1.30am and buzzed all of them. All the others lived pretty close to each other so I decided to pick Sridhar, Dev and Pathi & Rashmi. Finally we started at 3am. In no time we hit the Bangalore highway and were going at full tilt. We had two tea breaks and we reached Hosur by 6.15am for breakfast. We averaged more than 90kmph thanks to the beautiful roads. We started again at 7.30am and we had to travel on local roads till we hit NH209.

The roads were predominantly bad and good at patches. I handed over the wheel to Sripathi and the deal was that I will take over at NH209. After about what looked like an eternity in the bad roads we entered NH209. The roads were decent to begin with but it was wavy. After a while the roads started disappearing. This was by far the worst roads I have ever travelled. We thought the Tanks and Hummers could do their testing here. But to our surprise Pathi and Rashmi managed to sleep through all the bad roads. Only God knows how they did it. The only think that’s good about Karnataka is that you get good liquor. We stopped at Chamarajnagar and picked up few beers. The beers so damn refreshing and I felt like I got the second wind. We somehow huffed and puffed to Gundulpet on the bad roads.

The forests roads were very decent except they have unmarked speed breakers.

We reached Bandipur by 2.00pm. We inquired about the Jungle Safari at forest office, Cicada Resort and at Tusker Trails. Finally we met a guy JP (Jai Prakash) who arranges these things. We got his number and decided to go for it the next day evening. We finally reached Zest Casa Deepwoods, Masinagudi at 3pm. We were welcomed ever so nicely with a drink and cold wet towels for our faces. We checked our cottage and boy we were excited. The resort has everything we needed. We finally had a sumptuous lunch and decided to rest our asses. But he rest didn’t last long. We got into playing Table Tennis and Volleyball. We played till about 5.00pm and then headed back to the cottage to clean ourselves up.

By this time we confirmed our Safari with JP for 3500/- the next day evening. By 7.00pm we went to Masinagudi hamlet top get dinner and snacks. We found a decent hotel called Malabar Hotel opposite to Indian Bank. We got back to the cottage by 9pm and opened our special supplies which Sridhar carried from US. We had a nice time chatting and crashed by 11pm.

Day 2:

We woke up at 5.00am after a peaceful but a short sleep. We wanted to go for the morning van ride into the forest. We reached Bandipur forest office by 6.15am. The van ride costs about Rs.95/- per head. They take you through the forest roads but wont got very deep. The weather was very pleasant and the fresh green smell in the forest was amazing. It was damn clean. The ride lasted about 45 minutes and we saw Samba Deer, heard of Spotted Deer, Grey Langurs etc. We got back to the resort by 8.00am and had our breakfast. Everyone was damn tired because of the lack of sleep. We slept peacefully till noon and we had to get ready for the Jeep Safari by 4.00pm. We got ready and had a sumptuous vegetarian lunch from Hotel Malabar.

We met Vini, the Safari guide/driver and started the ride by 4.30pm. We went deep into the forest and we were surprised to see a temple bang in the middle of the forest. We saw some fresh pug marks of a Leopard. We drove past many watering holes and we could not find what we came for. The Tiger. Little did we know during solar eclipse wild animals would hardly venture out. Nevertheless we saw a big Black Bear, a lone Tusker and the other usual suspects. The ride lasted for about 2hours and it was fun. We got back to the resort by 8pm. A bonfire was arranged by the resort and we had some good time singing and dancing with DJ Som. We got back to room by 10.00pm and started our own party till midnight.

Day 3:

We decided to start by 9.00am after breakfast and have a stop over at Ooty for lunch. We started by 9.30 and reached Ooty by 11.00am. The climb was very steep with 36 hair-pin bends. We did a small shopping there for chocolates and spices and had lunch in a North Indian restaurant. By the time we finished our lunch and started from Ooty, it was 1.00pm and we were more than an hour behind schedule. I knew I had to make time and put the pedal to the metal. We literally screeched and smoked our way down the hill.

The tires and brakes became so hot it started smoking. We had to halt for 10 mins and pour some water on it to cool it down. We took SH15 from Mettupalayam to Chithode and the rode was silky smooth. Sripathi took care of this section. At Chithode we joined NH47 which took as till Salem and the roads were just superb. Then the nightmare began. Salem to Ulundurpet was horrible. Bumpy roads, head light glare etc and somehow managed to reach Ulundurpet for a well deserved dinner break. After dinner we rejoined NH45. It was already 9.30pm and we were 270km from home. This in it self gave the necessary boost. Again full tilt through the excellent 4 laned road, while the others enjoyed their nap Sridhar was navigating. Kilometers flew by and before we knew it we reached Sripathi’s home by 12.30am. 270km in 3 hrs… That was a very decent average. Dropped the rest of the gang and I reached home.

Booked my Classic 500!!! 3-4 months waiting period though :-(

Booked my Classic 500 green today. The test ride was awesome. I could thump along at 40kmph in 5th gear without any engine knocking. It was fun. i gunned the bike and the sppedo showed 100kmph in no time.. Oops no road... I dropped the anchor and bike was steady. The bike is very nibble for a 180+kg beast. The acceleration both in-gear and from stand still is awesome. I will get my bike after 3-4 months and thats sad. But for this bike Im ready to wait....

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Road Trip to Land Fort …

Distance : 405 km Bangalore - Dindigul - Land Fort ( Nilakottai )

Duration : 6 hrs 30 min

Start time: 5.45 am Reached : 1.30 pm

LandFort , don’t think it is someplace in United states. It is the place near to Kodaikanal.It is known as Nilakottai (Nilam + kottai ) .This place is famous for flower market ,Gold jewels and Bronze vessels. Nilakottai can be translated in English into Land Fort :P. Kodaikanal is just 65 km from land fort.

I have recently shifted to Bangalore. It was really difficult to live in Bangalore with out a bike.

Last month, I got one too, though it was not a high end model(Bajaj wind 125 cc, 5Gear), but sufficient for office goers.I did not expect great mileage from my bike becoz of my riding style :P.

Need to test my bike’s max speed, riding comfort. I got 15 days vacation, so planned to go hometown by bike.

Long trips required good conditioned bike and good planning. Let me say some thing about how I prepared for the trip.

Started preparations before a week, my room mate asked me about the week before preparation and laughed at me, but it was really helped for better preparation.

Check List:

=> Ensured that I have all the necessary documents with me ( RC book , Insurance and emission certificate).

=> Checked the validity period of the insurance

=> Checked the First aid box and tool kit.

=> Took some ID card with me for safety purpose incase somebody questions it might help.

Preparing Bike –

- Check engine oil and change if required ( bought Castrol Power 1 and changed )

- Ask the mechanic to check Clutch, Accelerator, and brake cables. Change those if required

- Adjust the brake according to your comfort level.

- Head lamp, take one extra one bulb with you.

- Ask mechanic to adjust the chain tension and apply grease.

Checking the cable was very important. If you did not changed it recently better I advice you to change. Otherwise remember race seen in actor vijay movie “kuruvi” :P

Bike was ready well in advance.

The last working day was (18 Dec 2009) as usual not able to do much work. Don’t want travel in night time, so planned to start the trip at 5 am in the morning the next day.

On Friday evening filled up the tank and air.

Always I tank up at shell petrol bulk because of assurance of quality, quantity and service. My bike gives 50 kmpl but don’t expect the same in NH, since the speed will vary greatly: P. Filled up petrol for 450 rupees.

Fill the air according on your preference [Mileage / Comfort]. Correct level gives more mileage. A bit less air gives more comfort.

Did not sleep well in Friday night, I was dreaming about tomorrow’s road trip. Woke up early and got ready. Carefully choose the dress. I chose 2 in 1 loose pant and casual t-shirt. Even chosen the inner garments carefully J.Don’t forget to take the sun screen lotion.

Loose pant gives you comfort while driving. You can make it as shorts if you have 2 in 1 pant. Sun screen lotion protects your skin from direct sun light otherwise there is a possibility that your skin will get damaged.

Thanks to Rajith who always said “long rides should not have pillion”. If you are going with group of friends one bike may have pillion in case if somebody not well/ tired the pillion can help him. We can rotate the persons in round robin fashion too.

Getting ready with map:

Since this was my first trip from Bangalore to Land fort, I was not sure about the road directions. I decided to ask our good friends Bing and Google.

Do you know who is giving better results? Let us find out.

Bing gave route which has distance of 376 km. NH 7 route from Bangalore to Dindigul.

Bing directions link:

Google gave route which has the distance of 364 km. Wow that is cool. They have some intelligence which tells shortest route. It gave the route which is not straight forward. It is a mixture of NH 7 and SH 17, SH 74 etc …

Google directions link:

But this is my first trip from Bangalore by bike , so decided to follow the route which Bing gave. Very straight forward – follow NH 7.

Took the print out of the map and kept it in my jacket for easy access.

Split the distance into multiple milestones.

Having long term goal is good but don’t forget to split it into short milestones which always gives you the joy and satisfaction :p.
I don’t remember who said, but one of my mentors.

Planned to start around 5 am in the morning but my friend advised me to start bit late to avoid rash lorry drivers. In fact most accidents happen in the early morning because of sleepy drivers. I started at 5.45 am on 19th December from my friend home at electronic city.

Don’t forget to reset the trip meter before start. I took the first break after 50 km and then after another 50 km. Next goal is to travel 100 km non stop.

The morning ride was awesome. It is the golden hours (5.45 am – 8.30 am). The weather is perfect for ridding. I could enjoy the rising sun from the farm field; some times between the hills.

Near Karavur mist came down suddenly and swallowed the road completely.I was looking for some beautiful girl who might appear from it but no luck.

After doing 200 km, reached Salem around 9 am (3 hrs 15 min from Bangalore).

Stopped at a small hotel by the highway. Food was really good and hygienic. It is not always true that small hotels won’t be hygienic.

Most of the trucks were going at snail’s pace since it was fully loaded. It was reminding me the pregnant ladies walk. Anyhow it was good that they were driving slowly, so we are safe.

After taking break, Every time before I start, I was focusing on the objective (safe driving)

There are some good points to learn about over taking, that we will see in my next post.

About NH 7:

After completing the Golden quadrilateral project travel time reduced dramatically. The road was looking very good. Safe to drive at good speed but beware of straying dogs which might come from any directions, any time. It is good that SOS telephones are placed at every ~2 km distance.

Tested the max speed of my bike. I was doing about 113 - 115 kmph. Maintained the speed for 15 min continuously then decided not to cross the 100 due to safety reasons.

Since I tied my bag with back seat, felt very comfortable while driving. Make sure you covered the bag with some plastic cover so that bag won’t get dirty.

I reached Dindigul around 12.30 pm and have to travel 25 km in State Highway towards kodaikanal. After reaching sempatty need to deviate from kodaikanal road to reach Land fort. I was reached home around 1.30 pm. It was a wonder full experience.

Hope you too enjoyed reading this and also got some useful information.

Stay tuned for next ROAD TRIP !

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