“To make a mark in the eyes of public, something different is to be done, so that they could be shaken out of their comfort zone and involved in listening to us.”
This is not just a travel blog, but each word will denote the happiness in fulfilling a long cherished dream. Travelling has always been a passion for me. But the real stint of ‘life on two wheels’ actually began to thrill when I saw the mind blowing weather of Coimbatore. I started cycling solo by riding to small distance places like Palamalai (which was 50 kms from my place) and I used to borrow bicycles from others as I didn’t have one. I used to dream of cycling to long distances spot a lot and to achieve this, I enrolled myself for a solo 455 km cycling expedition and bought a non geared Hercules AXN DX bicycle. This was a 6 day cycling expedition which I amalgamated with Camping, trekking Paragliding and water sports. The wait was finally over and I could see my dream coming alive. My adventure trip was happening!
My trip started & ended at Coimbatore, the foothills of the Nilgiri’s. So that I don’t feel lonely during my solo trips, my MP3 player always contains audio books instead of songs and during these 23 days, I completed several books like, 11 minutes, Alchemist, etc. My tour covered mainly the areas of Kerala, Hampi, Pune, and Kamshet.
Day 1: Get, Set, Go!- Coimbatore to Marayoor:
After days of planning, discussions, route planning, I packed my bags and started with the Cycling expedition at 0400 hrs. The first destination was Marayoor (123 kms from my place) for which I needed to cross Anamalai Tiger Reserve. During the entry, I was briefed not to stop on the way and continue till I exit. The sanctuary is one of the most attractive preserves of nature in Tamil Nadu, also known as the Indira Gandhi National Park and is located in Western Ghats. The route included smooth roads and I could also spot a parade of elephants. While experiencing the natural beauty, I reached my first camping night halt at Marayoor. With my stomach yearning for food, I had to stop for a while to find something to eat. So, I camped near the only petrol pump there and availed toilet services and food from a small hotel. After setting the alarm for the next day, I soon dozed off.
Day 2: Munnar, Here I come!!!- Marayoor to Munnar (40 kms ride)
Sharp at 0400 hrs the alarms went off; I ditched it to enjoy another hour’s sleep. After grabbing a bite, I was back on track by 0600 hrs. After experiencing a breathtaking view of sunrise and having an awesome avocado milkshake (for the first time), I bid goodbye to this beautiful place and slowly turned my wheels to the road that leads to Munnar.
This was an exhausting day as the gradient was very steep for a non-geared cycle. So, I walked for some part of the trip rolling the cycle. This extended the day and I reached Munnar by evening. However, the planned motel was around 08 Kms down slope. This was the most dangerous and exciting part as I kept rolling down, in the dark, hearing the splashes of a nearby river, bumping on the half broken roads, with a mobile torch in my mouth. At this point, I decided to buy a cycle mounted torch ASAP after this safely completing risky ordeal. My tired heart and cycle, both wished for a night full of sleep. Stomach full of food, I retired for the day.
Day 3: Amazing Landscape Till Now Lead to Odyssey: Munnar to Kothamangalam (74 kms) -
A good night sleep refreshed the riding spirit in me and I was again ready for the solo ride. Early morning started with a beautiful layout of golden clouds. This day was most of a down slope making it an easy day. The route included unending stretch of carpeted tea gardens, picturesque tiny villages, waterfalls and fast pacing smooth roads. Kothamangalam is situated in the foothills of the Western Ghats. It is known as the trading centre for spices and forest products and is famous for its ancient Christian churches. The free wheel of my cycle got jammed during the rolling action so I got it changed at this place. After visiting St. George’s Cathedral Church and having Traditional Kerala food and juice, I lodged in a small hotel to stay.
Day 4: Rolling to one of the Largest Cities in Kerala- Kothamangalam to Thrissur (82 kms)
I started my day at 0700 hrs and it was a 9 hour ride to Thrissur. Thrissur is the cultural hotspot of Kerala. It is one of the largest cities in Kerala. The city has so much to see and experience. Each and every street has something to stand and stare or pop in for a great experience of Malayalam culture and traditions. To enhance my expedition, I enjoyed the traditional tastes around the city. I also spotted pineapple bushes and canals here. After encountering the natural beauty of the general ambience of the city and its surrounding, I pitched my tent nearby fort area and dozed off.
Day 5: Heading to Glorious Musical Tradition Place- Thrissur to Palakkad (69 kms):
After waking up at 0430 hrs, and grabbing a bite, I headed to Palakkad (towards the end of the expedition). This day also included bad roads but still this didn’t demean my spirit.
Palakkad has a glorious cultural tradition. The musical tradition here is unchallenged. After reaching Palakkad, I visited the fort & saw that it has the connection with the history of Palakkad. Commonly known as Tipu’s Fort, the gigantic fort is located in the heart of the city. This serene fort is filled with art and offers the spectacular view of the surrounding area. Followed by this, I enjoyed sumptuous traditional Kerala dinner and checked in a motel.
Day 6: End Of My Cycling Expedition- Palakkad to Coimbatore via Malampuzha (58 kms):
I started my final day at 0700 hrs. On the way back to Coimbatore, I visited Malampuzha Dam. It is the largest reservoir in Kerala. Standing 355 ft tall, the dam is built on Malampuzha River, a tributary of Bharatpuzha, Kerala’s second longest river. It is a holistic place consisting of a Dam, ropeway, garden, Snake Park, boating and road side eateries like boiled corn, unripe mango, etc.
The entire expedition was mesmerizing and that is why I never wanted to come back. But I had to. I reached Coimbatore at around 1800 hrs. The next day, I had a reservation for Jhansi, my hometown.
Day 7: Being Crazy makes me one of a kinds‼
To board Kerala Express at 2000 hrs, I left my hostel and reached the Coimbatore railway station at around 1730 hrs. While I was waiting, I saw the Cape Mumbai Express train arriving in the platform infront of me. Suddenly, I recalled that I have all the camping gear along with me that means I can execute my Pune trekking plan. That’s it; without giving a second thought, I boarded the Cape Mumbai Express train and that too with an unreserved general ticket.
On the way, I was discussing my trekking plan with someone and told him how I boarded this train. That person was like, “How could you do this?” “You are crazy man‼”. After seeing my craziness, he suggested me to go to Hampi, the Vijay Nagra Ruins. And this is how my camping plan was made.
Day 8: Trip to a Multipurpose Dam- Tungabhadra Dam & Night Camp:
I reached and got off at Guntakal Jn at 1000 hrs and from there I took a local train to Hospet Jn. From there, I trekked (carrying a 20 kilos rucksack) to Tungabhadra Dam. It is a multipurpose dam which is used for both irrigation and generating electricity as well. Then, I took an auto ride till the base of the dam and then trekked to reach the top end of the dam, where there is a view point and small seating area as lawns. After roaming all around the garden & having food; in a shared auto I headed to Hampi for camping. There, nearby the river bank, I pitched my igloo tent. I moved the tent about 10 feet higher, just in case the river level rises at night.
Day 9: Magical tour to Hampi:
I woke up to the sounds of camera clicks, just to move out and see at least 15 guys gawking the tent. After stepping out, I realised that it was all about the river, which was just 2-3 feet away from me. I was laughing at the river imagining where I would have been if the tent was not shifted. I got freshened up in the open, bathed along with an elephant and continued for a full day trek.
There is something magical about Hampi that I just can’t describe, there’s a good reason why this place is very much on the backpacker trail in India. Perhaps it is the surreal boulder strewn landscape, interspersed by bright emerald paddy fields. It is the amazing ruins of temples, or the magical stories Hampi ruins showed the glamour it faulted when it was a live rein.
During lunch, a local boy offered to show me some waterfall and I did not want to miss it. So I paid Rs. 50 and started to follow him. He took me through marshes and water logged grasslands to reach an astonishing place. Actually, it was not at a waterfall but the area rocks were cut by water to make smooth crevices and the escapade seemed like a churned ice cream bowl. The view was flabbergasting and can be explained only in a photo. I also crossed the river to climb Anjani Parvat to reach the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. The climb had about 700 Steps. At the end of the day, I jumped to get onto a train to Pune (my sudden plan made when I boarded Cape Mumbai express earlier). Since, I had general ticket with me, so I got into general compartment of Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Express from Guntakal Jn. The general bogie was filled like a gunny bag with vegetables. After a lot of adjustment and fight, I finally got a place to sit and sleep and that too in the toilet.
Day 10: My Unplanned Adventure Tour to Pune
I reached Pune at around 1100 hrs and two great things happened on the way- first, that I contacted my beloved friend to join me for a trek at Sinhagad Fort and last but not the least a 3 day paragliding course was planned at Kamshet, which I was eyeing for a while. The day was good, filled with light trek to Sinhagad Fort, yummy local besan cuisines and also a cup full of Cad M chocolate milk shake. We kept roaming till about midnight after which I took the Mahalakshmi Express (general compartment) to reach Lonavala.
Day 11: Lonavala and Para Glider’s Paradise in India
After reaching Lonavala at 0430 hrs, I had a lot to wait; so I took out my yoga mat, which I use as mattress during trekking and started Yoga. Seeing all these, some early birds curiously assembled around me. I joked around that I was coming from Himalayas which few of them even believed true. LOLz.
Anyways, after reaching Kamshet, I reported at Temple Pilots School for my basic paragliding course. The first day was more of running rather than actual gliding. I practiced it at a 150 ft hillock where I also saw the famous Inspector Pradyuman of CID shooting a scene. The night stay was on sharing basis in a service apartment.
Day 12: Australian Enthusiast
After breakfast, I went for the course again to the same spot along with other students. The day included paragliding from the 150 ft hillock. In the evening I met a 65 year old travel enthusiast who stayed at his hometown in Australia for about four months, took visas for several countries and would roam the world. He was quite an inspiration. This day ended on a good note with full of motivation and enthusiasm.
Day 13: Final day of my unplanned Paragliding trip
Today, we did a single jump from an 850 ft hill. The only way to experience the same is to just do it once. As I was a trained paraglider, I had the controls with me rather than being in tandem. It’s really awesome feeling the breeze, viewing the beautiful landscapes and swirling in a bucket seat. Today night I reached Mumbai and stayed at YMCA hostel. I had to stay in Mumbai as I had reserved a ticket to my hometown.
Just Remember: For travellers, backpackers, history buffs and worshippers, whether you’re going solo or in a group; if you want to do cycling, trekking, swimming, or rock climbing or if you want to just sit and chill- India has many things in store for everyone. So pack your bags and go for adventure activities.
Other trips, which I have done, and yet to share are:-
- North Bengal and Sikkim Backpacking
- West Coast Backpacking
- Andamans Backpacking
- Mauritius Backpacking
- Kumaon, Uttrakhand road trip
- East Coast Backpacking
- Terai Tiger Trail, UP/Uttrakhand
- Jammu & Kashmir Tour
Adventure Activities I have done are:-
- Snow Skiing
- Scuba Diving
- Chimney Climbing