Monday, December 31, 2007

Le Tour de Coorg - [ Day Four ]

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Day four was supposed to be Jujubi - a walk in the park. A little downhill towards the Titimati, followed by a leisurely drive through the national forest, and zip through the highway to reach Mysore or Srirangapattana. Jump on a bus to Bengaluru We would be home by evening. Well, it could not have started better. A beautiful young lady walks up to me and inquires about our trip... listens patiently and wishes luck for future tour. As ever, I choked - kept the conversation to the topic and never asked for her number. Well, 3 days of drudgery on the saddle was worth every cent.

Gonikoppa to Titimati is just 9 Kms. Mostly flat or mild inclines. The digging disease of Bangalore had spread here also. Apparently they were laying OFC for Reliance. Gonikoppa will now be connected to the largest Optical Network of the country. Hurrah!! I do not mean to generalize. But people in this part of Coorg are not as friendly as in other parts. Most of smiles were returned back with cold stares. I was uncertain how to react. Perhaps this area is slightly backward than the rest of the Coorg - and hence saw us as out-siders' showing off. At Titimati, we had breakfast and proceeded towards the jungle. The road ahead is well paved, but very narrow. We had to move to the edge of the road whenever a bus had to pass in either direction. This being a popular road, there were many of them. I must mention that KSRTC drivers were very courteous towards us on road. Or perhaps the jazzy helmet did the trick. Once we entered the Rajiv Gandhi National Park the official forest zone starts. I kept my eyes open hoping to find an odd deer. But I was disappointed to see ample evidence of human habitation. More painful was to see the evidence of tourism - water bottles, snack covers, even playing cards all found on road side. It's surprising how much one can observe while on a bicycle. Over the last three days, it was the various hues of green, bright flowers, butterflies or an odd animal crap. But now, we were heading back to civilization... and I was not liking it.

Towards the end of the National park is the elephant zone. Here the forest officers take care of tamed elephants. There are about twenty of them... all of them are tuskers. Apparently they are used to move timber (as told by a police man). But isn't National Park an area where you can not cut trees? Where does the question of moving timber come from? Any way, we were lucky to hear them trumpet when were in the vicinity. Beyond that part the forest area was mostly filled with bamboo. I kept my eyes open now for an charging bull elephant and imagined myself running for life... just kidding. The end of the National Park, is also the end of Coorg. Le Tour de Coorg would enter Mysore now. 27 Kms from there we would reach Hunasoor.

Five Kms before Hunasoor, this road joins the highway from Kushalanagara - Periyapatna. I was delighted to be on a flat highway and quicly upped my speed to >25Kmph. But Highway gets boring too. I had some sigle speeders giving company till the Hunasoor by pass. The gentleman told me about the only big hotel and recommended to have lunch there. After lunch, the first doubts started entering our minds. Was it really worth it to drive another 50Kms on this monotonous road in this scorching heat? Could we not just stop a Bangalore bound bus and load the cycles on to them? Amidst all doubts, we started pedaling towards Mysore. The road was recently widened. This meant that all the trees on both side of the road had to fall leaving walkers and cyclists without any shade at all. I was hitting the wall many many times. But could not stop since there was no shade at all. At last, I found a bus stop by the side of a school. We slept for about half an hour. The more rest we took, the more we wanted. Our morale was weakening. A strong head wind added to our woes. We decided to pedal as much as possible and take the next decision then. Heat, wind and a battered morale meant that we made slow progress. An alternate plan emerged. Why not go to Srirangapattana and take a refreshing dip in Kaveri? All buses from Mysore had to pass through Srirangapattana any way.

Amidst all these, within 10 Kms to Ilivala, H's rear tire went flat. We were lucky to catch a tempo to transport the bike to Ilivala to get the puncture fixed. M and me rided strongly towards Ilivala. This time, the anxiety of home coming over powered all thoughts of giving up. The Sun had started to descend and a warm breeze blew across us. M pointed out Chamundi Hills and Lalitha Mahal on our right. The final stretch to Ilivala is a kilometer long downhill. Boy it felt wonderful to feel the wind. H welcomed us to Ilivala and treated us with ice-cream and soda. The tour was officially over. We would then get another tempo and transport the bikes to Srirangapattana and pay a visit to Sri Ranganatha - Lord Vishnu sleeping on Vasuki. But as plans are made... they promptly fail. Transport was only a distant dream. Plan B was to re-start the tour and pedal to Mysore - 15 Kms away. Thats what we did. H knew the back roads of Mysore as good as Bengaluru. We reached Mysore KSTRC bus-stand by 8:00 PM. And now, the tour was over again. We managed 3 seats in a Volvo bus and next thing I remember is getting off at Bengaluru.

Harsha's Photos on flickr:

For the Cyclists:
Route: Gonikoppa - Titimati - Ane Honchoor - Hunasoor - Elivala - Mysore
Distance: 104 Kms
Max Speed: 44 Kmph
Start Time: 06:30 AM
End Time: 07:30 PM (approx)

Food: Morning coffee right in front of the lodge. The last coffee that we would have in Coorg - almost the best.

Breakfast at Hotel Swagat - Titimati. Dosa was served only with previous day's tomato curry. Nicely roasted dosa in coconut oil. We split one big puttu into three and devoured them with ample sugar. Puttu is basically a malayali dish. It is rice dough baked with layers of grated coconut. By itself, it's dry and tasteless. But with sugar, it very very tasty.

Tender Coconut at the Mysore Road Junction.

Lunch at Hotel Devi Prasad, Hunasoor. Devi Prasad is the only big veggie hotel in the entire Hunasoor. It is world famous there. Plate meals is served on plantain leaf. Only one chapati - extra chapati, extra mulah. Raddish sambar, spicy rasam and curd rice makes it a full 3 course meal. Wheat payasa for dessert. There are other sabjis. None of them made any mark either on the tongue or the mind. Extra hot weather made us long for an extra dessert - Ice Creams.

Some 10 Kms before Ilivala - grapes, bananas and Tea.

Snacks are Ilivala included Cornetto, coffee, sprite - multiples of each of them ;-) Mysore ring road is thronged with Iyengar's Bakeries. How can one go past without having a veg puff or two.

Travel: There are lot of Volvo buses that ply between Mysore and Bangalore. Buses from Madikeri, Virajpet or else where have to pass through Mysore to reach Bangalore. There would be some people getting off at Mysore. Hence there would be some seats available in each one of them. However, there is absolutely no order at the station. The Volvo booking center has no idea how many seats would be free in the arriving buses. So, they can not issue tickets. Given that each bus is a new attempt, people never form any queue. Volvo fare per person : Rs 190/- Cycle : Rs 15/- Shamelessness Tax: Rs50/-


Shubha said...

awesome... good things dont last forever... so back to civilization...

PS: if harsha/manohar is reading this.. next time please help this guy out... get her number for him...

Gauthaman said...

hmmmm. You fairytale came to an end. God bless you with more holidays on Fridays and Mondays in 2008, for more cycling tours.

SreeHarsha H S said...

Nicely written.

Thanks to you too pkota,for encouraging us to reach ilavala. I might have cursed you umpteen times on the highway, when my bike was shaking because of headwind.

@Shubha, I still feel he got her number, he is afraid that he might have to give it to Manohar.

@G-man, Next is Mullayanagiri for us :). Even though its a two day trip.

Aishu said...

Awesome posts Prashanth!

Took time to read all , but relished every bit.

Thank you for taking me on the trip..( arey, I felt like a part of the the whole thing while going through all the detailed descriptions.Almost smelt the kodagu air!)

I am seriously amazed by the way you can remember every little detail of every day.I usually end up registering the summary of any trip I at the end of it.But, all the info with meticulous bits ( the chirping of the birds and insect noises included )..that IS something dude. Kudos!

The description of the food : Idli sambhar to Puttus,Ice creams to bananas..Yummm..all made for a tastier reading.


life.andre.heege said...

Wonderful description man..
even I would love to do a tour de coorg.. If anyones planning for the same pls do invite me :) I have a lot of relatives in virajpet.. and it feels like heaven to those who live in blore

Wishing u many more lovely experiences :)

keep riding !

Srikanth said...

pkota -

Your memoirs are so very detailed and well written. How do you document them so well? Do you carry a notebook or some other digital device and keep key-ing them in as events unfold; Or, is your memory and rentention about 'little-nothings' so good , that you get back home and pen them to glory?

btw, did you get 'her' number?

Cyclically yours,
Srikanth V