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Monday, April 5, 2010

Ride to Rishikesh and Mussourie

        From the day I stepped back in North, the hills have been playing on my mind. The urge to ride out and among the hills had been increasing steadily, gnawing at the back of my mind. So, when my flatmates asked if I would like to go to Lansdowne, for me it was a no brainer !! We (Aditya, Tapas, Kamlesh, Kunal and me) decided to use the long weekend of 2nd April. After contacting a few hotels, we realized Lansdowne would have to be done some other day, as all hotels were booked. So, a split second decision was made to go to Rishikesh and then move on to Mussourie.

       The ride started around 5:30 am on 2nd April. We wanted to cross Meerut before the traffic nightmare began, but alas we had to endure it. Though, after this we were rewarded with nice, empty, inviting tarmac.... which we did full justice to :-) The outskirts of Haridwar was reached around 11:30 am, and we were also greeted with a traffic jam which stretched for as far as we could see. This was courtesy Kumbh Mela !!
So, for the whole length of Haridwar, we crawled along.... sometimes eating the fumes from various cars and sometimes dust. We emerged from this mela after an hour and then headed straight for Rishikesh.

       We went to one of the numerous rafting agencies there and got ourselves a slot for 1 pm. This slot actually started around 2:00 pm, but was worth the wait !!!

 Waiting for the rafts...

      This was my first try at rafting... and it was simply mind-blowing !!! The rush you get when entering the rapids is superb!! Our raft had 9 people in it, 4 on each side and one in the center forward. We crossed 4 major rapids and 2 minor ones. The raft entering the rapid, foaming water splashing over our heads, we paddling with all our might to move ahead.... adrenaline pumping stuff !!  It was after the third rapid that we were told by our guide to jump off the raft !! Most, including myself were a bit skeptical at first... but after the first jump... nobody wanted to get back on the raft !!!
      After this adventure, we took our steeds to Dehradun for the night halt. And while munching on some delicious chicken, it was decided to start for Mussourie at 4:00 am next day. This time we followed the timelines (almost...) and by 4:15 am were on the road.

        Riding those twisties at night is addictive... and I am highly addicted to that now :-) While going up to Mussourie, I missed a turn and went straight ahead. Having realized this, the sane thing would have been to turn back and take the right path. But, I had this sudden urge to reach the top of the hill ..... and I continued on the same path.

      Riding on that path at night, realizing that maybe I am the only person on this side of the hill right now brings out a mixture of feelings.... from confidence that I can do this .... to a bit of fear of the unknown ... to full concentration on riding and a heightened awareness of the surroundings. That hour spent riding alone is something I will cherish forever.  I finally reached the top of that hill and surrounded  with dense trees, the wind blowing through and the various sounds of nature, I stayed there for sometime.

      While going up, I had seen a board announcing a restaurant up there. When I finally reached the place, I found that it had closed down quite sometime ago !!! At that moment, just one thought came to my mind... "Not good, time to head back!!". Quite a creepy feeling it was... all alone on a hill, following a marker to a restaurant, only to realize its closed down and nobody's there !!!  

     After this went back down, took the correct route and reached the meeting point in Mussourie. Then went on to Lal Tibba, the highest point in Mussourie and clicked away for sometime :-)

Dawn breaking through...

                                            The amazing roads...

The highest point

          After spending quite sometime here, we went down and headed towards Sahasra Dhara. This is 14 kms from Dehradun, known for its aromatic clear water which is said to cure skin ailments. One look at the crowd there, and I was wondering if people would cure their ailments or exchange it with each other in the flowing waters !!!

          This concluded our sojourn in the hills and we rode back, each rider with thoughts of going back to the hills... again and again :-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trip to Mysore

We were supposed to start sharp at 5:00 am for Mysore. (waking up in the morning is an art... I am yet to learn). So, finally started around 6:05 am.

By 6:30 we hit the Mysore road and then gradually came up to our cruising speed. Felt good to ride in the morning air with a cool nip in it. While on the road we also got to play some dodge-ball !!! Right infront of us was an engineering college bus. Apparently the occupants of the bus had just finished breakfast and decided that the road was a big dustbin. They started throwing empty packets and bottles out of the bus straight onto the traffic behind them (in this case, me and Shobhit being the nearest ones !!!) So, at nearly speeds of 90+ we were dodging the packets !!! Managed to overtake this one, only to be faced with another bus with the same antics repeated. Talk about synchronization !!!
Stopped at Mc'D near Maddur for breakfast at around 7:40 am. Left around 8:20.

Our Bikes at Mc'D

Our first stop was Srirangapatna. We went staright to Daria Daulat Bagh and were the first ones there, even before the gate had opened. It opened after sometime and we went in. By the time we had our riding gears off, lots of buses and cars had arrived and we went in with a group (some excited, some chattering, some plain bored and few with the "What am I doing here? look" )

Some Wikipedia Gyan :

Daria Daulat Bagh : Built in 1784, this Summer Palace was one of Tipu's favourite retreats. It stands on a raised platform at a height of 1.5 metres. The Bagh is situated on the banks of Cauvery river has treasured the paintings, engraving, arms that depict the Valant victories and Struggles of Tipu Sultan. The structure made of teak, this Indo-Saracenic structure has ornate and beautiful frescoes. The corridors showcase murals which describe Tipu’s ordeals in the battlefield against the British.

Our opinion: Shoddy maintenance has let the place down. Most of the murals are damaged and the place seems to be going down...

Daria Daulat Bagh

Summer Palace

Then we visited Sangam (rivers meet). Going to Sangam requires one to pay a small toll fee. Then retraced our path back to Gumbaz.

Some more Wikipedia Gyan :

Mausoleum of Tippu Sultan, and his father Hyder Ali and mother Fathima Begam. Built by Tippu Sultan between 1782-84, the Gumbaz, an imposing structure in the midst of the Lalbagh garden, stands on a high and wide platform with an open verandah of polished pillars all round.

The importance of Gumbaz lies in its well-shaped large dome, ivory inlaid doors, carved stone windows of fine workmanship and inscriptions. Tipu's favourite Tiger stripes cover the walls.Inside are the tombs of Haidar in the center, his wife and his son Tippu on either side. In the verandah and on the platform are the other tombs of Haidar’s family members.

Strictly my opinion : If you are not immensely interested in tombs and badly maintained museums and paying meaningless tolls , you may skip Srirangapatna.


Our next stop was Mysore. We decided to straight away visit Chamundi hills and Nandi temple. The ride up was was really good with nice, gentle, rolling curves.

Some more Gyan :

The Chamundi Hills is about 3km from the city. It is at a height of 1065 meters above sea leave and about 800 feet above Mysore city. On the top of the hill is the Chamundeshwari temple that dates back to the 11th century. Goddess Chamundeshwari is an incarnation of Goddess Parvathi who took this form to destroy the demon king Mahishasura.


Mysore city from the Hills

Then we came down to the Mysore Palace. One look at the palace and the architectural beauty takes your breath away. Once inside the palace premises, we were greeted with well laid out gardens and a huge cemented courtyard, guarded on the four corners by fierce leopards (forever immortalised in bronze !!!)

We entered the palace and were surprised by the coolness of the air inside. Such a huge place and the architecture such that it always remains cool and lighted up. We saw the royal marraige hall (Kalyana Mantapa). It is a grand octagonal-shaped pavilion with a multi-hued stained glass ceiling with peacock motifs arranged in geometrical patterns.The floor of the Mantapa continues the peacock theme with a peacock mosaic. Moving on, we saw entered Diwan e Khas. This was used by the king for private audience and is one of the most spectacular rooms. Entry to this opulent hall is through an elegantly carved rosewood doorway inlaid with ivory that opens into a shrine to Ganesha. The central nave of the hall has ornately gilded columns, stained glass ceilings, decorative steel grills, and chandeliers with fine floral motifs, mirrored in the pietra dura mosaic floor embellished with semi-precious stones. Next, we went on the Public Durbar Hall and after that some photography sessions on the courtyard. The ceiling if the hall is adorned with the Zodiac signs, constellations and gods n goddesses. Simply beautiful !!!

The Mysore Palace

One of the leopards

The Public Durbar

Final Wikipedia Gyan :

The Kingdom of Mysore was ruled by the Wodeyar dynasty from 1399 until the independence of India in 1947.The Wodeyar kings built a palace in Mysore in the 14th century, But the Raja Wodeyar shifted his Capital to the island fort town of Sriranagapatna in 1610 and Mysore lost its importance as a seat of power. But this palace was partially damaged by a lightning strike in 1638. It was repaired and expanded by Ranadhira Kanteerava Narasa Raja Wodeyar. With the usurpation of the Kingdom by the Hyder in 1762 Mysore Palace further lost its importance. But Hyder son , Tipu Sultan demolished the entire fort town including the Palace in 1787 and used the fort material to build a new town near by known as Nazarabad (now part of the mysore City). Fourth Mysore war in 1799 brought an end to the reign of Tipu sultan and then Governor General of India, Lord Mornington ( later Marquis Wellesley and elder brother of Arthur Wellesley - who rose to become Duke of Wellington and is famously known as Iron Duke) decided to restore part of the conquest to the ancient Hindu Royal family and shifted the capital of the newly defined territory of Mysore Kingdom to Mysore. Thus the scion of the Wodeyar, then five year old, Krishna Raja Wodeyar III was crowned as the new King in 1799 in a make shift premises within the destroyed fort. In due course the Nazrabad fort was dismantled an the materiel made its way back in building the Mysore fort once again. A new palace was built in its place by 1803. This palace was destroyed in a fire in 1897 during the wedding of Princess Jayalakshmanni.

The regent of Mysore, Maharani Vani Vilas Sannidhna, commissioned a British architect, Henry Irwin, to build yet another palace in its place. The construction was completed in year 1912. But slowly the beautification of the fort was also taken up and the inhabitants of the fort were slowly shifted out to newer Extension built outside. The present Public Durbar Hall wing was also added much later around 1940.

Started back for Bangalore around 4:30 pm. Reached the outskirts of Bangalore by 6:00 pm. Though after entering the city, we took the same time to reach our house !!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Coffee machine's 100 kms away !!!

Saturday started as usual... 12:00 AM to 5:00 AM online gaming [CS(counter strike)] .... and then plonked off to sleep ;-) .... Got up a few hours later and the first thing that HIT me was "Its been too long and I haven't taken my steed out !!! ( last time being 2 days ago!!!)

Logged on to the omnipresent Google and searched for some nearby place to go... zeroed in on Maddur, some 92 kms away. I had heard there was a ccd there... so, Why not !!! I am just going out for coffee ;-)

Pinged Shobhit and told him the tentative day's plan... Reply came : "We leave in an Hour" .... That was fast !!! ( and I thought the guy would think about it !!! )

So... we started. Fed our noble steeds their nutritious lunch and were off ( our own lunch.... still not decided )

Time: 3:30 pm
Trip meter: 22 kms

Somewhere on a straight road which was to connect to Mysore road.

Road attribute: narrow, potholed, pitted, dusty
Traffic: simply mind blowing !!! We were going at a breakneck speed of 10 km/h !!! every Tom,Dick n Harry on that road considered himself as the sole owner and user of the road, and hence we were witness to some amazing 2 n 4 wheeler chaos !!! I vaguely remember there were some traffic rules..... ;-)

Finally got on Mysore road and we were all smiles... grinning rather :D

Black tarmac and black rubber... swweeeet !!! the best combination around !!!

Started opening the throttle and our steeds were just too happy to comply :-) Shobhit was leading the way and we were doing around 80km/h . Crossed innumerable trucks, some loaded in a manner that raised doubts about their successful completion of journey !!!

Suddenly I felt Shobhit was far ahead of me... my speed was constant.... hey !!! this guy is zooming away !!! What followed next for some time was the novice following the master ;-)

The road is superb... Got a lot of rolling turns , gentle ... but fun to take on at 80+ speeds. Its smooth, and also has its share of gradually increasing and decreasing terrain. The fields on both sides are filled with coconut tress and on a cloudy and windy day... riding was pure bliss :-)

We were also witness to some drag racing between 2 trucks !!! ( they were dragging their bodies along and also racing in the classic format of "U go first... NO!!! U go First !!!" ) The end result was that a few of us had the opportunity to taste smoke, grime n pebble hits....

Trip meter: 87 kms

We realized we had forgotten to visit the lovely ATM on our way out and so now though hungry, were in search for an atm. Saw a Mc'Downalds ahead and went in to ask for a possible atm location.
I will say this Mc'Downalds has the best people around... very friendly, very helpful. We were told were to find the atm and that we should have something to eat first and pay later when we would come back on the route !!! just amazing !!!

The wonderful people at Mc'Downalds !!!

Our noble steeds at Mc'D !!!

The Mc'D

After having stuffed ourselves, we moved on, a bit lazily now. On the way we saw the ccd. Went in.... but when the time came to get off our bikes... we had an unanimous decision... Naaaah !!! its much fun to keep riding !!! Sorry ccd.... some other day maybe ;-)

Now it was just riding ahead with no destination... it was just the journey. We went on for some 30 more kms.... on the way stopped at the atm... and finally started back.

Stopped at the Mc'Downalds and handed over the amount due :-) Also had some photo sessions!!!

Coming back was good. Steady speeds of 80...85.... bit of 90 thrown in for some change ;-)

This time I did a bit of lead riding :-) And then entered city limits and was engulfed by the traffic !!! like an army of ants ??? nops, they are much more organized and disciplined !!!

Finally reached home around 9:00 pm...

Total distance covered: 230 kms

When we started back, we were just 40 kms from Mysore.... Our odo's will soon be rolling that way :-)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

1000 kms - the Beast awakens

Throughout the day had just one thought revving in my mind.... have to cross the 1000 km mark on my Apache. Till now had reached 957 kms. Around 9:00pm me and Shobhit went out with the machine. First, re-fueled ourselves. Then at around 9:30pm we hit the tarmac.

Destination: A quick trip to the Airport and back
Cross the 1000 mark

Got on NH7 and went along cruising at 50kmph. Time and again felt the itch to push up the rpm beyond 4000... patience won :-)

987 kms... destination in sight, goal not yet realized.

Entered the airport check post and the question from men in uniform: "where are you going?". Couldn't tell him that I am trying to reach 1000 !!! . Just mumbled "taking a round and we will be out...." Got a hard stare and we proceeded ahead.. Phew !!!

995 kms... These few kms seemed the longest !!! the odo just ticked along at a leisurely pace... Shobhit and me started counting down each km ;-)

Finally came 999 kms !!! This moment had to be captured, that was decided... rolled along for some more time and then jammed on both brakes !!! moment reached...

999.9 kms

Did a bit of clicking sessions and moved the bike forward... 1000 kms reached !!!


Finally my biking begins... we went to a nearby CCD and had a small celebration. Then it was time to unleash the power. Cruised along at 50, till Shobhit urged "Come on !!! move it atleast to 70". That was all I needed !!! Slowly opened the throttle to feel a new sensation. 60...65...70... the power surging through the bike is awesome !!! Superb grip and control... kept going on 75 for some time and then hit 80 !!! Wind rushing by and we on a smooth ride... I am Addicted !!!

Maintained a steady speed of around 70kmph and entered the city limits... had to slow down.

This is not the end... as Shobhit says... "Biking Begins NOW !!!"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Nandi Hills

Got up in a very lazy state of mind... Sunday, n nothing to do. Then... the riding bug bit .... again :-) . It was time to take my beast out for a run !!!

The Nandi Hills had been on my mind for quite sometime, today was execution day !!!

After having lunch, and doing a basic checkup of my beast, I started around 1:45 pm. Went on to NH7 towards the new airport. And was surprised to see quite some traffic !!! The night time scene is totally different !!!

The feeling of riding on the highway is totally awesome !!! Took about 50 mins to reach the junction for Nandi Hills and took a left turn from there.

Entered a single lane road, trees on both sides,
cool breeze and me breezing along :-) This bliss was short lived... suddenly the road became riddled with potholes !!! Took me some time to adjust to this. After going for about 12 Kms on this road, came to the Ghat's section.

The real fun began here !!!

The road winded up the hill with some pretty steep curves. My Apache stood up to it, rather roared over it !!!

This winding fun continued for about 10 mins. Finally reached the top, parked my ride and went up the steps to Nandi Hill.

The view from up there is simply amazing!!! You can see the road snaking down and the vehicles like toys on a set ;) Went to the temple there, and then just walked about a bit.... taking in the greenery, sights and sounds.

Was there for an hour and then came down. And back on the snake drive down !!! Going down was a good challenge, learnt quite a few things about my Apache.

Reached home by about 6:00 pm. This has been one of my best weekends.... looking forward for a lot more......