The land of God
Kerala has always been referred to as "God's own country." I've never bothered to even think why, but this time, I was in for a real experience. We left the room by 5 in the morning. Parking the bikes by a small tea shop, we refreshed ourselves and waited for the slightest sign of the sun breaking in. The road we were to take has certain time restrictions as its in the forest and connects two states. We didn't want to be in an unknown land in complete darkness. Upon the right sign, we started the engines and slowly rolled in.
We were being surrounded by trees and were provided with pretty normal roads. As we kept going in, surprise, surprise. The trees were getting lush by the mile and the roads were at their best. The best example for a comparison would be the Chennai - Bangalore GQ. I couldn't believe my eyes, but it was true. Amidst the dense forest, there was thick and smooth tar laid with perfection. We could've touched the three digits with ease, but sticked on to extremely slow speeds to spot animals and to reduce engine noise. Just as usual, it was the deer that we saw first. A little further into the forest, I wanted a couple of pictures in the style I had in mind. Allen helped to shoot them and I moved on. I spotted an interesting accident in front and was gaping at it. I remember the last trip when Steve found one such and started clicking pictures of the accident with his bike in front. A few minutes passed, but Allen was missing. As I turned over to find out, he slowly came out of the curve and told me about the Bison he'd spotted.
It was only around fifty kays from Gundulpet to our first destination, Sultan Bathery. We took a whole three hours for the ride enjoying every single mile. We found elephant prone areas and some water holes the elephants had used. With caution, we took our bikes into the beautiful locations and spent time enjoying the beauty and clicking pictures. The three hour ride was the best of our trip.
On reaching Sultan Bathery, we were into proper Kerala. We checked into a hotel and dropped off the bags. We wrapped up a quick breakfast and inquired the hotel guys for places to visit. With the information Ashwin (xBhp member: Rockyyy) had given us earlier, we were now able to understand the type of each location and how to plan on visiting them.
We targeted Edakkal Caves first. The roads were excellent and the ghats where better than Tirupathi, except for the nearly zero oncoming traffic. On reaching the place, we were told we had to trek for about 40 minutes to reach the caves. Running short of time, we decided not to do this. Yet, we were glad we had a chance to ride the roads to this place.
Next stop, Soochipara falls. The falls was slightly more than an hour away from where we were. We came across mixed types of terrain to reach the place. We saw small shops at the entrance to the falls. We had to take a right to go to the falls from there, but we went into a small passage nearby mistaking it to be the falls. It was a complete downhill off road passage and I was doubtful if we would make it to the top again. Tempted, we didn't bother about it, and reached the end of the road in ten minutes. It required complete concentration as the slightest mistake of applying the front brake would help us with skydiving with the bike in the cliff ahead. The place had a small deserted building with a cute table and a chair, but nobody around. This was obviously not the falls, but we were in search of a place like this. Peaceful, deserted and completely connected with nature.
From where we stood, the cliff was a comfortable 10 meters away, and was lower by 2 meters. There was a steep slope where we could walk down and sit by the cliff. Allen was already there, resting on a tree, meditating. I was thinking of ways to get my bike there. With all the guts from where I don't know, I slowly got the bike down. I brought the chair near the building and shot a couple of pictures. Then came the guy, who started shouting at us, telling this was private property. We convinced him telling we were unaware and would leave soon. He didn't seem to bother much and went away. After a satisfied stay at the 'x' location, Allen climbed up the slope and started his uphill off road ride.
Here is was, trying to get my bike up the slope. There were a couple of meters between the edge of the cliff and the bottom of the slope. I went until the edge and tried to climb up with a decent speed. But the bike never moved beyond a point. The first thought was as if the bike lacked power. But when I looked down, it was grass. Damn. I didn't have enough traction. The bike was absolutely still on the slope, but the throttle was almost full. The wheels where comfortable spinning at a high speed without the bike moving an inch. There was another slope nearby but was steeper. My only other option was that, with Allen nowhere in sight.
I took it to the bottom of that and tried the same technique. This time I had traction, but the inclination was not something the bike could handle. Worse, I was in the middle of the slope, when the bike refused to climb and was slipping back. At the end was the cliff. I had to climb off the bike immediately and hold the bike up with everything I had. I was sweating and when I turned back, I could see the deep cliff. I thought I must give one last try with me pushing the bike and not on it. To my luck, I made it finally. Phew, I'd almost given up. The rest of the ten minute up hill ride was nothing when I compared it to when I'd undergone so far. I met Allen at the entrance of the passage and we took the other route to the falls.
We saw a barricade that stopped vehicles from crossing the point. The road was good, but it was expected to be traveled by foot. We took the bikes in through the small entry and as long as we could. The path ended in about half a kilometer, after which it was steps getting us down into the forest. We parked our bikes at the point and climbed down. We heard the noise of water and soon we were at the falls. It was a great sight. The falls was as tall as a six storey building. The rocks in the water were completely slippery and it took us some time to get used to it. We spent about half an hour in the water and dressed back for the ride. It was then that we knew it was a bandh that day and that was why there were very less people on the roads.
We wanted to head to Banasura Dam next. The Chembra Peak was on the way, but didn't have much time for it and neither did we hear anything exotic about it. The ride was pretty long. We had to inquire a lot of people about the route. The peculiar thing was whenever we asked someone about the route, they wanted a lift to some point on our way. We'd done good public service that day. The Banasura Dam wasn't so crowded. The entrance didn't have too many vehicles and the guy at the ticket counter was courteous in helping us.
The dam is slightly more than a kilometer from the entrance and we used the jeep service to reach the place. We noticed that the water level was below the minimum level of the dam where in they could open it. Yet, the place looked beautiful. I'm sure it would be at its best in the monsoon. The speed boat ride was available and we had to wait for about half an hour for our turn. On the way from the dam, we spotted a nice location to rest and enjoy nature. It was the other side of the dam, where water would flow if opened. We loved the place.
It was evening by the time we finished off with the dam, but we still had time for one more place. We had a choice between Kuruwa Island and Pookot Lake. The former was a comfortable forty kays from where we were making it impossible due to time constraints. So we started riding to the Pookot lake which was within half an hour from our current spot. This was the first location where we spotted lots of people, yet the lake was excellently maintained. We didn't want to walk around or do boating. We chose to sit by the lake and enjoy the beauty of things around. Near to closing time, we heard the whistle from the security guard calling all the visitors in the boat back to the shore. We knew it was time and left the place.
On the way back, we stopped for a tank up, where I noticed a small nail in my read tyre. It had two small slits beside it; the three spots looked like the edges of a triangle. It was clear somebody had planned for the worst, but thanks to the tubeless tyres. We exchanged the rides for the last thirty kays and enjoyed the pleasant ride back to the room. There were a few visitors at the hotel stuck to the place as they couldn't go out due to the bandh. We were the lucky brats with private vehicles who enjoyed the day in privacy.