Cycling

Coast 2 coast cycling

It’s been long now since I have left Bangalore, along with it I have left the comforts of home. Now, I am on road covering the coastline of India from Mumbai, Maharashtra to Digha, West Bengal. Almost at the verge of completing the journey. I have seen many things from pilgrims with their journey visiting to Sabarimala to election festivities in Odisha. I can still feel like its yesterday only, when I started this trip from Mumbai. But in addition to this I also have covered the entire distance by cycle from Bangalore in the wake of reaching Mumbai to commence this Journey. By now already covered around 5582 kms since I have started from Bangalore, the longest distance covered by me till date. Many feats achieved, made new friends, seen new places, in fact other than Mumbai, Mangalore and Kochi all the places I visited was for the first time. Let me take you through the entire journey and share experience I have been through.

 

Maharashtra- the land of Marathas

I stayed with my friend in Mumbai for almost 4 days since fellow rider of mine who was cycling across India at that time was supposed to join me for this Coast to Coast trip. That was the time spent with cooking different dishes at Anupam's home which I like to do as I am a foodie. So, once Izhaar reached I told him to rest for a day and to carry on with the ride. I think he would have loved to stay for few more days if I wouldn't have forced him. So, all prepared he went to visit a friend's uncle in Mumbai assuring me to meet in Alibaug since I was not interested to travel in the overcrowded local trains. Finally the day came when I started from Anupam's house after bidding him farewell. Alibaug was some 90 km from his place. So, I was relaxed and covered the initial 40-45 km pretty easily. But after that the condition of road started dettiorating and since it was a day before Christmas all the traffic was going towards Alibaug. In fact at a place I spent almost 30mins just to cross a 2 km traffic jam. Found a juice stall on the side of the road. Given that I had no foods since morning and it was quite hot I gulped down 3 glasses of juice and carried on. By the time I reached Alibaug it was already 3.00 pm and Izhaar had already reached there since he took a ferry from Gateway of India. He had booked a room and we took rest for few hours before visiting the beach in the evening.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Coast 2 coast cycling

Amazing sand formation at Alibaug

I was pretty hungry by than and decided to eat some Sevpuri and all hell broke loose. I had a stomach ache and it was pretty bad and I knew it was not going to go away for next few days.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Beautiful Sunset from Alibaug beach

The next day we started for Harihareshwar from Alibaug which was not at far given that I had already covered more kms in a day than today

Coast 2 coast cycling

Coast 2 coast cycling

Coast 2 coast cycling

Backside remains of Revdanda Fort

But this time it was an entirely different geographical landscape with ghat roads kept in very poor conditions. We passed by the famous Murud Janjira fort,

Coast 2 coast cycling

Destination is always right

Izhaar wanted to visit the fort. I didn't since in order to visit the fort you have to leave your cycle and luggage somewhere and I was not ready for it. I told Izhaar that I will wait near the next ferry point and carried on. Nevertheless I was getting a spectacular view of the fort along the coastline till the jetty. 

Coast 2 coast cycling

Famous Murud Janjira Fort at the backdrop

Later came to know Izhaar also couldn’t visit it due to Christmas rush.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Coast 2 coast cycling

 While crossing the river on a ferry

Now, after finishing the ride I still have the marks left on my seat post which left since it went inside due to heavy jerking on those roads

Coast 2 coast cycling

Didn't know what exactly it was, but it was beautiful

Visiting each and every beach on the way to Harihareshwar also was an add-on and by the end of the day we only could pedal till Divegar which was some 34km before Harihareshwar. I told Izhaar to carry on since it was only 6.30 in the evening and I was having the lights to ride in the night, he denied due to frequent occurrence of ghats and we had to search a place to stay in the middle of nowhere. There was only a restaurant there who allowed us to camp inside there premises. It was pretty cold at night there and I had not expected such bitter cold near the coast.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Camping in the midst of nowhere

"Are you riding to visit all the beaches or are you riding just to cover this coastline?"  Asked Izhaar at the camp during conversation at night which made me think what I really want to do. Next day, as we reached Srivardan Izhaar was waiting at the intersection to go towards the beach.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Me & Izhaar

But I wasn't in a mood to visit each and every beach anymore. So, I told him that I will wait for him at the next ferry point and carried on there. That was the first and last day of the trip we rode together. Later in the day, Izhaar informed me that he stayed back at some place. I somehow crossed 6 Ghats, reached Dapoli and stayed there.

Coast 2 coast cycling

One of many ghats climbed

The next day morning as I was about to leave Dapoli I found out my rear tube got a flat. Fixing it and was able to start only by 9.00 am. But now I was ready to give a small fight to the Western Ghats and my next target was to reach Veleneshwar.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Bad Roads with steep climb

Once I reached there I gave a call to Izhaar to know his whereabouts. He told me he reached Dapoli in the morning and was facing some problem with his cycle and have to repair it. I carried on from Veleneshwar and through some amazing landscape reached Ganapatipule in the evening

Coast 2 coast cycling

Coast 2 coast cycling

Coast 2 coast cycling

Another beautiful sunset over the Arabian Sea

That was the only time Western Ghats were gracious enough to provide some downhill to Ganapatipule from Jaigad.

I found accommodation is quite costly in the entire western coast as compare to east coast. I started the next day and reached Ratnagiri in no time. I wanted to change my front tire which worn out on these roads but got no success.(

Coast 2 coast cycling

Coast 2 coast cycling

Beautiful view of Aarey beach

So I carried on for my next destination which was Devgad but midway took a detour towards Rajapur since my feet were hurting due to pedal spikes poking it through the shoes. It was almost the same distance as Devgad was but from there I was going to get a connection to national highway. Reached Rajapur late night and against my plan it turned out to be a pretty small town. Since my feet were hurting pretty badly this was the place from where I can catch a bus to Panjim. As they say every day is a new beginning, dropped the plan of boarding a bus and pedaled on towards Kudal. Riding on national highway I was back with my lost energy and was riding at a decent speed. Once reached Kudal found a nice motel and stayed there for the night. Next day I will be entering in to Goa.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Its Goa time

My week long stay in Maharashtra and its fortified coastal region was coming to an end..... Few things I can still recall were the spectacular views of the Arabian Sea from the Western Ghats, the beating taken from the bad roads

Coast 2 coast cycling

Pathetic road condition

and the silence in the forest roads........Ohh and the crowd at these popular locations.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Loss of words after seeing such scenery

 

Goa & Karnataka

Most people's holiday destination with its beautiful beaches and guess what , I reached there on 30th Dec, It would have been very difficult to find accommodation there but my friend Ajit had already asked me to stay there at his place, so it has been taken care of. I reached Panjim from Kudal in late afternoon and Ajit had come to receive me and guide till his place. Once freshen up I had to buy new shoes so we were off for shopping. Than we decided to go for a movie which was doing well in the market at that time. I will leave the guessing part of the movie's name up to you people. Once we came to our room I hit the bed. Next morning I was quite excited to be in Goa to witness the New Year extravaganza. In the afternoon we had a nice Konkani meal and set off for the beach. Witnessed a beautiful sunset on the horizon of Arabian Sea. We strolled on the roads of Panjim till night before returning to our room.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Last sunset of 2016 in Goa)

It was the first day of the New Year and I was on the road just like last year. I had bid farewell to my friend and was on the road to Karwar.

Coast 2 coast cycling

A beautiful sunrise

My short stint in Goa came to an end and I was entering into Karnataka which I can refer home away from home. The road became wider for a short distance but after that it was all dusty and graveled due to road widening. By evening I reached Karwar and took a lodge to spend the night. Next day planned to go to Murudeshwar directly since I was thinking to cover the lost distance during my ride in Maharashtra. Murudeshwar famous for its large statue of lord Shiva by the coastline is a very small town mostly thronged by pilgrims in buses and since it was Sabarimala time, hoard of buses were coming packed with pilgrims visiting to Sabarimala. It was kind of some festive rush and beach was packed with tourists. I took a lodge just on the entry point of the town and walked down to the temple and the beach which was nearby.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Gopuram of Murudeshwar temple

Came back soon to the hotel since it was too crowdie. It was time to relax at the hotel. Earlier in the day I had met two Spanish girls who were riding from Chennai to Goa. After a brief conversation we were on our way but it gives me immense pleasure to meet a person who wants to explore India on their human powered machine.

Coast 2 coast cycling

With cyclists from Spain

Coast 2 coast cycling

Trasi Beach

Most of you people will be familiar with Udupi hotels. Yes, I was riding towards the city from which these hotels have got their names. On the way I was passed by every kind of vehicles which were going towards Sabarimala. Out of which the small buses in particular were like open air boom boxes with music systems mounted on top of it playing bhajans with very loud volumes. My friend and fellow rider Sunil was waiting for me at the city entrance. He accompanied me to the hotel. Afterwards gave my cycle for small adjustment in my front brakes at one of Sunil's friend who owns a cycle store. Later we had planned to visit the beach but instead went to the famous Sri Krishna Mutt of Udupi.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Famous Sri Krishna Mutt, Udupi

There Sunil guided me to have some dosas and goli bhajji. Once finished we went to on a city tour with Sunil describing each and everything about the city's famous places. From there we went to his home and I must say Sunil got an amazing cutting skill of Coconut which he offered me grown in their backyard. We also decided to ride till Mangalore together the next day. Early morning he came to my hotel room to pick me up since I had left cycle at his home. We started for Mangalore quite early and by afternoon we were there in the city.

Coast 2 coast cycling

With Sunil on Udupi-Mangalore Highway

I had been to the city before during my job and also had rode from Bangalore, so decided not to spend much time there since another friend of mine was waiting for me at his place which was in God's own country- Kerala. After having few kulfis with Sunil I bid farewell to him and carried on towards Kerala......

Kerala- God's Own Country

 

It was getting hotter in the day, the coldness of kulfi was long gone and as suggested by Pramod I was going towards BC road on Mangalore-Bangalore highway, where I was supposed to meet Pramod and had to take a detour to enter into Kerala. But till the time I reached the junction where Pramod was supposed to meet me, I was only thinking about Bangalore which was some 250 kms away and was within reach. The road was well maintained and in no time I was there waiting for Pramod. His village was still some 50 km away and he had warned me of ghat roads. I handed over him my camera since he was on a bike and started riding towards his village. The road was nice for a small distance but after that condition detoriated. By 4.00pm I could make it into the border between Karnataka and Kerala. Another one hour and I was on the outskirt of this small town which was Pramod's home. But still it was some 5 kms inside we had to go inside. It was entirely dark by the time we went towards Pramod's home, so we decided to walk since it was a mountain road and is best suited for an MTB.

Let me describe his home for your imagination. It’s a village amidst mountains with very less option of transportation and in his village there are approx 30 families are there. The houses are in a distance to each other which provides a silence kind of environment. His house was a two storey nicely built with a clean barandah and was surrounded by their arceanut's farms.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Pramod's House

Till the time we reached there home it was almost 8.30pm in the night so, once I got freshen up we had our dinner and went straight to bed. The next day he gave me a short tour of his house and frankly speaking I was not in a mood to leave that day. I bid farewell to his family and walked down to the main road.

Coast 2 coast cycling

With Pramod's family

It was almost 10.30am by the time I started riding towards Kannur which was 120kms away. For initial 40-50 km it was ghat road and I was looking at an option of staying at some place if I can't reach Kannur that day. It was pretty hot and I remembered spending half an hour just sitting inside a bus stop. I started riding at a decent pace once I reached the highway. Well, it was not a highway I had imagined of with only two lanes with no dividers and vehicles were moving pretty fast. I reached at Kannur by 8.30 in the night and straightaway took one room outside the city. The next day I was riding towards Kozhikode. I was going slowly since my pedal had broken and it was difficult to ride with them. Finally, decided to change it at a local shop. I reached the city by evening and started searching for a place to stay. This is where I also told to get out from a local lodge. The story goes this way- Generally wherever I stay I request the manager to keep my cycle inside or at least somewhere where I can feel it is safe. At one such lodge, I also made the same request to one old gentleman who was the owner but he denied asking me to keep my cycle in the parking lot which was in open. When I asked him whether I can at least keep it tied to the staircase he suddenly got angry and asked me to leave his premises.

Coast 2 coast cycling

At Kappad beach

Nevertheless I got a place to stay and also to keep my cycle safe. I went to Guruvayoor the next day which is famous for its temple where a festival happens every year. Initially I thought of going to the temple but after knowing that they only allow in traditional attire I dropped the plan. It was time to have some food and relax.

Next destination will be in every traveler’s list. Kochi and Alleppey. Since I have been to Kochi on official trip I had seen most of the places so I decided to go directly towards Alleppey. I had come in contact with Prakash Ji who had agreed to host me at his house in Trivandrum. He suggested me to give a call to Ullas who is also a rider from Kochi and provided his contacts. But since it was a Sunday I didn’t had to call him, in fact I met him on the road just before entering Kochi. He suggested me a coastal road which was with less traffic and I happily joined him. After a small ride we bid farewell and I continued my journey towards the city

Coast 2 coast cycling

With Ullas before entering into Kochi

I met Jassil after riding a short distance from where Ullas left me. He was riding from Kozhikode to Kochi. We rode together till a jetty where there was a large crowd waiting for the ferry to take them to Fort Kochi. Seeing the crowd I decided to take the road and started riding towards city whereas Jassil waited there for the ferry.

Coast 2 coast cycling

With Jassil, Rode along till Kochi

Coast 2 coast cycling

)My destination was Alleppey, but I knew this small joint where they provide nice food. So before riding any further I went there and had some light food. For a short distance from Kochi the highway got bigger with four lane traffic. I was enjoying my ride with scenic views alongside the road. Once I reached Alleppey I took a nice home stay as guided by Ullas.

was riding to Trivandrum the next day; I was riding fast and had already covered some distance before I met a group of cyclists. A quick exchange of greetings and some words I was again riding on the road

Coast 2 coast cycling

With Cyclists in Allepy

Once I reached the city my host Prakash ji who is a retired railway official and who promotes cycling reached to receive me. We went to his home where Rajani aunty (his wife) was preparing dinner for us. I had a nice conversation with them and he had informed Archana about my trip who came over in the night to take an interview about the journey for their newspaper. Manu ji also came to meet me in the night as he had been informed by Prakash ji.

Coast 2 coast cycling

With Prakash Ji & Rajani Aunty

The next day while I was about to ride towards Kanyakumari, cyclists from Indus Cycling Embassy had come to see me off for a distance. So, I bid farewell to Rajani aunty and started my journey along with the members of ICE towards my next state Tamilnadu. They were also curious after seeing my solar powered bag, so I explained the usage of it in brief before riding forward.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Indus Cycling Embassy riders at Trivandrum

Prakash ji and Francis rode with me for another few kilometers before saying goodbyes and I rode on towards my next destination. My short stay in Kerala was about to complete and I enjoyed the sceneries which nature has to offer on these roads. I was only cautious about other vehicles which travel very roughly on this two lane highway.

Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry- One State, another Union Territory

Coast 2 coast cycling

Entering into Tamilnadu

People visiting Sabarimala had taken diversion for their annual pilgrimage and the traffic on road was coming to normalcy now. I was hoping that the highway will be widening once I will enter into Tamilnadu. Soon, was at the border of both the states and once entered in to Tamilnadu, I can get the feeling of a different culture and region. But there was another problem waiting for me.

No proper milestone to guide and language difference. I was on this road which connects to the highway which will lead me to Kanyakumari but there was some work going on so they had put once diversion sign showing towards Kanyakumari. I took that diversion but after riding for few kilometers there were no more milestones. Upon asking about the direction towards Kanyakumari people were getting confused or were not being able to guide me. So, I was lost. I didn’t know where I was since my phone’s network was not there. Fortunately, near a bridge I got some signal and upon checking my location, I found out that I have come some 15km inside and have to ride around 20km to reach to the highway.

Spiritual city, Kanyakumari

Finally, somehow asking the locals I reached the highway, but I was not going to reach Kanyakumari as I had expected before in fact I was another 55kms behind Kanyakumari at ETA. I reached there just before sunset.

Coast 2 coast cycling

So, without searching for room went straight away towards the land’s end

Coast 2 coast cycling

Coast 2 coast cycling

Time for some pose with the famous rock memorial at  the backdrop

After spending some time watching the breathtaking sunset came back in search for a room. I had heard from Prakash Ji about Vivekananda Kendra in Kanyakumari where I can get budget rooms. So I went straight away there but to my bad luck all the rooms were booked since some programme was going on. So I had no choice than to find out a lodge and there were plenty of them. I lost no time in finding one but it was very late and I had also a flat, so after having my dinner and fixing the flat, it was bed time. There was some kind of charm and peace was there in Kanyakumari where despite of being crowded I wanted to return to the place again and again. Next day I had planned to go to Tuticorin which was some 130 kms away from Kanyakumari.

Coast 2 coast cycling

At Kanyakumari

I knew the Western Ghats are now part of history in this ride and it will be entirely plain road. So I hit the NH 44 which connects Srinagar in the north to Kanyakumari in the South and is the most preferred route for peoples who do road trip from Kashmir to Kanyakumari or vice versa. The road was up to its fame with four lane highway and not much traffic. I was also quite happy to be on a nice isolated road after a long time. But the temperature was soaring with sun shining in its full blaze. Adding to those woes I was getting strong headwind blowing from North/Northeast. Still I was at a decent speed and on the way met few people who were keen in knowing about my journey. In fact being astonished by my journey one guy bought me tender coconuts to drink and also packed few more for my trip. I had to get rid of those since it was adding weight to my handlebar, so after 2-3kms I drank all of them at once. I had to take a diversion from the highway towards the coast in order to reach Tuticorin.

Strong headwind blowing in the evening had decreased my speed and I was going at snail pace. By the time I reached there it was entirely dark and I had to switch on my head lights in order to reach some 30kms. It was very difficult to find a room to stay there and after some time of search got a lodge to stay. Next day it was towards one of the 4 pilgrimages of Hindus- Rameshwaram. I was on a tarred black state highway, going past many salt pans on both side of the road.

Coast 2 coast cycling

When noone on the road and you are the lone rider

It was pretty hot and my plan got a beating due to that. I could only reach Ramnathapuram which was 55kms before Rameshwaram. Next day I started early and covered the distance within few hours. Spent some time near Pamban bridge and you have to be there to witness the force of the wind.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Famous Pamban bridge

Coast 2 coast cycling

By noon, I had also booked one lodge so planned to visit Dhanushkodi. Let me tell you people that it’s not easy to find a stay in Rameshwaram for a single person as most of the lodges don’t accept single person which is what they say due to police restrictions.

But since luck was by my side that day I ditched my luggage in the room and rode towards Dhanushkodi. It is some 19km from Rameshwaram and the view was spellbounding. One side was the Bay of Bengal and on the other side it was Arabian Sea. Most of the vehicles were allowed till the entry point of Dhanushkodi and generally they give the tour in local vehicles till Old Dhanushkodi which was destroyed in 1964 cyclone.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Old Railway station of Dhanushkodi which got destroyed in 1964 cyclone

I had dreamt of being here one day. Though the restrictions were not applied on cycles so I went on towards the tip or the end of it. It was every cyclists desire to be on a such nice and deserted road where you wont find vehicles zooming past you.

Coast 2 coast cycling

On the way to Land's End, Dhanuskodi

I was really thrilled to know that 29kms away was Srilanka from there.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Coast 2 coast cycling

Coast 2 coast cycling

I came back to Rameshwaram from there and decided to visit the temple in the evening. I had read somewhere that this is the world’s second most corrosive environment, and it was up to its description, Sweat has turned into salt marks on my jersey and I was in need of taking bath very badly. In the evening visited the temple and had my dinner. The next day before leaving Rameshwaram I had planned to visit its beach so early morning I went straight there before going further on my Journey.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Fishing Boats

I got to know it will be little difficult finding accommodation on the coastal road and decided to go towards Karaikudi. This was the most celebrated day for the Tamils, it was Pongal and I was witnessing beautiful rangoli drawn outside every house and people were in a festive mood. But that means most of the shop and hotels were closed and I had to spend the day on a packet of biscuit which I had kept with me. I reached Karaikudi in the evening and after searching for a short time found out a budget place to stay. Karaikudi is believed to be the origin of Chettinad cuisine. But since it was pongal day most of the hotels were closed. I was riding towards Thanjavur next day which his famous for its temple and its architecture. On highway it was not much of hard work riding the cycle. Reached Thanjavur by evening and planned to visit the temple the next day. I went early to the temple but even than it was little crowdie so, dropped the plan of going inside and carried on towards Cuddalore.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Famous Brihadeeswarar Temple of Thanjavur

It was going to be a long distance of some 176km, the longest till than. Being a long weekend every atm was running dry in Cuddalore. I had little cash left with me and had to keep something for emergency. So when I found a hotel I paid by card. Since my next stop i.e. Pondicherry was some 22 kms from Cuddalore next morning I went straight to silver beach before starting for Pondicherry.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Entering into Puducherry

About Pondicherry, in our school days they used to take every batch of class 9th to Pondicherry during Christmas vacation, which I had missed during my time. I was pretty excited to be there since it gives a sense of closeness to your own place far away from home. I got to know about the accommodation where generally students & teachers from our school stays, whenever they visit to Pondicherry, All thanks to my sister in law. Once I reached there I came to know that, my schoolteachers and students were there few days back. After paying the rent and food expense I was left with some 80 bucks. Without anything in mind I went straight towards the beach road and than towards Auroville. After coming back from there went searching for an atm. After a long search found out only one atm in front of which there was a long queue. But, it was only dispensing Rs.2000 currency. I had no choice than to withdraw it. But in practical I had only Rs.80 which I can spend on my breakfast or foods since no one was ready to give a change for higher denomination. So, dropped the plan of staying at Pondicherry for another day. Went to Sri Aurobindo ashram that night itself and was ready for Chennai.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Having little amount in my wallet started next day journey to Chennai. I was very cautious about how I am spending that amount. All these days I was not getting time for lunch but that day knowingly I had to avoid lunch. With only a plate of idly, biscuit in my bag went on the Mahabalipuram Chennai coast road.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Random pic on the way to Chennai

Reached Chennai in the evening where almost all the office goers were protesting for Jallikatu. Going past them I went straight to Probikers store and gave my cycle for a service. Next few days it was going to be rest day in my brother’s home.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Catching Sunset on the outskirt of Chennai

Spent few days relishing on home made food. After spending 4 days at Chennai finally I planned to start for my rest of the journey which was near its end. After speaking to the store people I decided to get my cycle back on a Monday, since I had planned to start my journey on Tuesday. That was the day; I went with my brother but after few kilometers got stuck on road due to heavy protest. We spent 5-6 hrs only waiting when the roadblock will be lifted. Finally somehow we came back to home. So my plan of starting on Tuesday had gone for a toss.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Stranded on road during Jallikattu Protest

26th January was few days from now and I decided to start my journey after that since I usually spend all my day at home during these celebrations. It’s generally a matter of pride for me. So, next day I was all set to start my journey further in to Andhra and Odisha.

Andhra Pradesh, Odisha & West Bengal- The Final Frontier

After spending almost a week in Chennai, I was all set to start my last phase of the journey. So into Andhra my first stop was going to be Nellore which was 170km away from Chennai. With ample amount of rest and fresh pair of legs I was confident to cover the distance without any problems. I started early in the morning and soon enough I was at the outskirt of the city. I was still nostalgic about leaving once again the comfort of home. I reached Tada by 9.30am where it was raining. For next 10 km it was like stop and go and stop due to frequent rain. After that the sky was entirely cloudy and the weather remained pleasant most part of the day. Some 80kms before Nellore I met this hitchhiker who was waving at me from the roadside. He was curious enough to know where I was travelling. Upon asking his story he told me that he has hitch hiked all the way from Hyderabad and is travelling like that for almost 21 days and covering southern part. We both shared our experience on lunch. I was quite amazed to see such a traveler. We spent quite some time before departing our way. I started pedaling and he waited to get a lift from vehicle. After some 20km I saw him going in a truck waiving at me with a smile.

Coast 2 coast cycling

With Bhanu, the Hitchhiker

Last year I had covered the same route when I cycled to my native so finding accommodation was not a big task and also the roads were quite good. Once reached Nellore I went straight away to a lodge near to the highway where I had stayed last time. Next day I was riding towards Ongole. Now I was riding at a decent speed and 100+ km was like nothing for me. But my rear tire has worn out resulting in frequent flats. Anyways I reached Ongole and took an accommodation. Other than fixing a flat at the lodge the day was without much of action.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Next day I was in diellama whether to go to Vijayawada or to go to Guntur. Since last time I had stayed in Vijayawada this time I opted for Guntur which was some 50km before Vijayawada. Next day I was riding towards Elluru. I had seen one place away from Elluru to stay but once I reached inside the city I got another flat. I was in no mood to fix the flat inside the city and went to a cycle shop to get it repaired. Later that evening I got a call from my college friend Kalyan who told me that it’s his hometown and he will be come to see me. It was after almost 8 years we are seeing each other, we had a short but memorable meeting and before leaving he gave me some Prasad which he had brought.

Coast 2 coast cycling

With my college friend Geetha at Elluru

I was determined to start early the next day and to cover till Kakinada but couldn’t wake up early enough and by the time I started it was late. I was deciding whether to go to Kakinada or to stay in Rajahmundry. Finally decided to stop at Rajahmundry since I had reached early there and was planning to go to Vizag directly from there which was 200km away, which as a matter of fact I hadn’t been able to do it in my last ride. I required all the energy and fresh legs to cover this distance.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Skin tanning effect

So I once I found a place to stay I saw a flat in my rear tire. I decided to put a liner using one of my old tubes. Once finished repairing that I took rest as much as possible. This time I was very much determined to go to Vizag. I rode at an unbelievable speed for entire distance.

Coast 2 coast cycling

On the way to Vizag from Rajahmundry

Just to give some figures last time I had rode from Rajahmundry to Anakapalle, a total distance of 170km in more than 15 hrs. This time I had crossed Anakapalle within 10 hrs. I was quite sure I was going to reach Vizag in time. But before entering the city I got a flat which was the second flat of the day which again added to the reaching time. I was searching for accommodation when I found this newly built lodge run by people from Odisha. They happily gave me a room to stay. It was after I had taken the room I realized that there were quite a few Odia lodges were there in that vicinity. I was super hungry and ordered some Odia delicacies from the hotel below the lodge which happens to be an Odia hotel.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Longest distance covered in a day, 211km, from Rajahmundry to Vizag

I had planned to start my journey towards Srikakulam the next day but with yesterday’s heavy dinner I was not being able move. So decided to stay for the day at Vizag and to explore the city. I went to Kailashgiri in the evening to see an amazing view of the city of Vizag from the top. One side it was the Bay of Bengal and the other side it was the Eastern Ghats. I can’t express it in word the view of Eastern Ghats from there while sun going down. It was like an isolated, untouched beautiful place far away from human habitat.

Coast 2 coast cycling

View from Kailashgiri, Vizag

After spending my entire evening on the top I decided to walk back to my lodge which was some 16kms away. While coming back visited the famous RK beach but now my legs were giving up and I had to reach my room ASAP. Once I reached my room I just jumped on my bed and slept. Next day started for Srikakulam on the famous beach road which has gone alongside the sea for almost 33kms.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Near Bheemunipatnam

Srikakulam was my last city inside Andhra and the next day I was all set to pedal into Odisha. In Srikakulam I booked one room in a hotel which was looking quite decent. But later in the night I realized it was infested with bed bugs. Without much of complain took out the blanket from there, put it on the floor and slept on.

Coast 2 coast cycling

One of the many giant statue of Lord Hanuman in Andhra Pradesh

Coast 2 coast cycling

Another Giant Statue of Lord Hanuman

Next day woke up very late and by the time I started for Berhampur it was already 10 o’clock and I had to cover some 170kms. By that time I knew its going to be very late by the time I will reach Berhampur. Adding to the woes was the frequent punctures which I was getting on the way. It was already 5.30 in the evening and I was still another 55km away from Berhampur. In Berhampur I was going to stay with my sister and brother in law. They were much worried about my delay in arriving in the city. I hadn’t eaten all day and it was almost dark. I mounted my lights and carried on. By 8.30 I was near Icchapuram. I had left with no water and was riding like that for almost 10-15km in pitch darkness. The only light were from my head light and lights from passing by vehicles. I saw one toll gate and went inside its office to get some water. People inside the office surrounded me to know about my journey. After a short chitchat I continued towards Berhampur. The chillness in the air was increasing and I was shivering while riding.  At last near the border check post stopped and had two cups of tea and some bread. Usually I don’t drink tea. But at that situation I had no other choice. By the time I reached the outskirt of Berhampur city it was already 9.30pm at night. Once reached my sister’s place took bath in warm water which reenergized me and again it was going to be homemade food in the night.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Entering into Odisha at 9.30pm at night

I stayed in Berhampur for 3 days, visiting its beaches, experimenting with some new dishes at home. Here I met another cyclist and adventurer and we spent few time discussing about the journey. I left for Puri from Berhampur next day.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Met this guy on road who is travelling entire India on his Rickshaw

After I rode for almost 80kms, I took a detour into state highway which was connecting Berhampur to Puri. This was the first time I came in contact with the panchayat election festivities since I was going through villages. There were speakers mounted on trucks, jeeps and autos playing modified music with asking for vote for its candidates. Some was so much hilarious I couldn’t keep myself from laughing while riding on road. In the evening I reached Puri which is one of the most famous places in Odisha.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Catching Sunset on the way to Puri

I straight away went to the guest house which my uncle had booked for me and was waiting for me there.  Once reached there I went to have dinner and had planned to stay there for 2 days. Next day I went to Shri Jagannath temple to seek blessings.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Famous Shri Jagannath Temple , Puri

Near to the temple there are small by-lanes are there where one can have sweets made from milk. Being a foodie how could I have left that? Went on an eating spree before visiting the beach nearby. From there I walked back till my room on the sand. Next day early morning I rode to Konark on a well built marine drive road which is famous for its Sun temple and 36km from Puri.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Beautiful Puri-Konark Marine Drive road

On the way visited Ramachandi, Chandrabhaga beach

Coast 2 coast cycling

 At Chandrabhaga beach  

before riding towards Konark. After spending sometime there admiring its beauty decided to ride back to Puri since it was getting crowded with tourists.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Coast 2 coast cycling

Famous Sun temple of Konark

Coast 2 coast cycling

Wheel of the Chariot

After coming back to Puri in the evening again went to the temple and while coming back how can I leave those sweet stores without having something from there. Came back to the room after a nice and small eating session and started packing for my next day ride. I was riding to the port town of Paradeep, stories about which I had heard from my mom during my childhood days, who had spent her childhood there. While riding there decided not to take the marine drive road and will go through Gop. That was going to prove to be a bad decision soon. Once I take detour from the highway the road condition detoriated and my speed got decreased. The road was small village road, with lots of election promotion. Once I reached Jagatsinghpur, only than the condition of road improved and I increased my riding speed. It was almost evening when I reached there and took a room. Later that night while speaking to home my mom had mentioned to visit the light house. The next day morning I woke up early to visit to the light house but it was entirely foggy that morning and it was very dense. I dropped the plan of visiting there and went to bed to sleep for some more time. By 8.30am I was all set to leave the city and to go towards Bhadrak. Even than it was foggy and small coal particles mixed in the fog it had turned into thick smog.

 

 

Coast 2 coast cycling

On misty morning at Paradeep 

 In this entire journey I had different food in different region for example in Maharashtra my staple breakfast was Poha, in  Karnataka it was Idly and Dosa, Kerala it was Idly and Appam, Tamilnadu and Andhra was back to Idly and Dosa up to Berhampur. In this part of Odisha there will be small dhaba kind hotels on the roadside which offers Puri, Samosa and Wadas as morning breakfast.. While riding towards Bhadrak I had my breakfast in such a hotel which afterwards resulted in a bad stomach pain. This was the second time I was going to suffer by this pain after Alibaug. Anyhow with it I reached Bhadrak and took one room on the highway itself. Next day I was riding towards Balashore when I heard someone calling me from inside a police station. I went inside it and there were these two police personnel who were curious enough to know about my journey. After giving them a brief about my journey I kept on riding towards Balashore which was going to be the last city before Digha which was my destination. I went straight away to Chandipur which was 19kms away from Balashore. The uniqueness about this place was during low tides water level recedes up to 5kms and one can walk on the hard soil of the sea bed. I had read about it. I got a room inside a farmhouse at a very cheap rate. Backside of it was the sea and I can get a very good view of it from my room. Without wasting much time I straight away went inside through the rear exit of the farm house which was opening on the beach. Since the water had receded that time I walked on the sea bed for quite some time before coming to the beach.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Inside the seabed at Chandipur

Coast 2 coast cycling

Nice scenic view at Chandipur

 

In the evening I came back to my room and had my dinner. At night by 9.00pm I realized that the water has come back to the shore with high tide and I could hear the sound of the waves from inside my room. Due to the stomach pain couldn’t slept the whole night and had also vomited 4 times. The next morning I was feeling very week but decided to ride along to my destination i.e. Digha. It was 120kms away from Chandipur. After I reached Jaleshwar I took detour from the highway towards Digha. On the way I met another cyclist who was riding towards his home on his bike and his cycle was mounted on it. He stopped me on the way for a small talk. After that brief conversation I was again on the road. I reached in the evening at Digha. Went on to search for a room. But to my surprise no lodge owners were ready to give room to a single person citing police restriction. Finally got a hotel where the manager was ready to give me a room. My entire plan of visiting the beach that evening was foiled with this hotel searching stunt. I decided to visit the beach next day morning before leaving to Balashore. That night also it was the pain which took over me and I couldn’t sleep.

Coast 2 coast cycling

Final Destination Digha

Coast 2 coast cycling

Coast 2 coast cycling

By this time  I had covered 4610kms of coastal road , 977kms from Bangalore to Mumbai, I had crossed 8 states, 1 Union Territory, 69 days outside, 52 riding days before reaching to Digha which was the last stop of this journey. Next day after visiting the beach I rode towards Balashore and with a heavy tail wind reached there by. 3.00pm. I met another cyclist and adventurer who was there at the bus stop and had seen me waiting there for my bus. We had a conversation before he catches his bus. I went straight on to an ice-cream parlor to celebrate my successful completion of another journey which took me through entire coastline of India. That evening I boarded a bus to my hometown where I am going to spend some days gaining those lost weight.

 

DEEPAK CHANDRA BOHIDAR

Cyclist, Traveller, Adventurer Read more

Add a Comment

* Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.