The Exotic South : Day 2

Good-morning peeps . The most awaited time had come ! I was super excited to visit the land of Nilgiris. The fragrance,the beauty and the thrill to ride through a Tiger Reserve and leaning at every bend as you get butterflies in your tummy while riding on those famous hairpin bends.BUT ,before all this, let me take a …….(no , not that) …..gift for my hungry stomach. The previous night I had gone to this place called “Cafe’ Biryani”. The name itself is enough to give you a craving .What do you do when there is a dry day ? The biryani does the job 😉 . So I went to this cafe’ only to find 2 polio struck chicken leg pieces hidden somewhere in the Sahara desert of rice. After having this “Kauwa Biryani” I decided to have a nice meal the next day that can compensate my lost appetite .

Getting back to the morning scene. Raghu and I had decided to meet over a breakfast before I proceeded for Ooty. He took me to this really nice place where I could hog on Idlis and wada sambaar. What a treat ! I owe you one Raghu dada. We had a nice chat for an hour and then it was time for the Ooty escapade ,but first , let me take a :

I started my ride towards Ooty at 9:30 am . The road from Mysore till Bandipur Tiger Reserve is a mixture of both, good and bad tarmac because of the road broadening work under progress. The moment I saw the huge gateway before the Bandipur Tiger Reserve , it gave me goosebumps. I could see the huge hills covered with fog . It looked as if they were wearing a green sweater in winters. As soon as I entered the gate, I was welcomed by the herd of Spotted Deers. The roads were so beautifully lit up by the shadows of trees. The Langurs were lazying around , and few were busy having their Tick breakfast . I was expecting some sightings , there is nothing bad to keep high hopes 😛 . I soon entered the exit gate of Bandipur and found myself in another tiger reserve, The Madhumalai Tiger Reserve. Its the same stretch of Bandipur forest but extending into Tamil Nadu.

As I approached further, I saw a checkpost with few cars lined up for checking. I tried to sneak through them and reached the barrier. I think seeing so much luggage on my bike the authorities at the checkpost got suspicious . They started checking my bags for any alcohol bottles. I got reminded of the Goa borders 😛 . Felt as if I was going to board a flight or something .The officer gave a nice smile when I told him that I rode all the way from Pune .After a causal chat I entered Madhumalai Tiger Reserve.

At this point ,you get to see two roads. The one on the left will have a sign board of Ooty : 36 Kms and the right one doesn’t have a board. The left one will take you through Masinagudi with the famous 36 Hairpin Bends and the right one is a longer route taking you through Gudalur which has some exceptional landscapes . I would suggest you to take 36 Hairpin bend road while going to Ooty and come via Gudalur on the way back.As I entered Masinagudi, I met a group of people in the car who requested me to pull over. It was a bit surprising. They pulled me over to take a picture with me ! Its a nice feeling when you are treated uniquely in the crowd 🙂 . These guys were on a weekend getaway and were amazed by my SJCAM on the helmet and all the saddle bag stuff. We had a nice chat,clicked some pics . Its always refreshing to meet new people on the way and share your stories with them.

Within few kms I reached the patch of tarmac I have been waiting for a long time ! The 36 Hairpin Bends. It was beautifully constructed ,though the tarmac wasn’t so good. The view is beautiful ! Saw lots of fellow riders on my way. You get that precious smile when a fellow rider waves at you while passing by.So many stories travelling on the same road with unknown destinations .

I reached Ooty by 1 pm and was damn hungry as the Idlis got digested real fast on those bends. I stopped in Ooty to have a nice lunch . By the time that guy brought me noodles, I started searching for places to visit around. I wanted to stay in Ooty for the night but the time didn’t allow me as I only had one more day left. Most of the tourist places in Ooty require you to park your vehicle and walk for sometime to reach the spot , but I couldn’t do that with my heavy riding gear and my luggage . So, I decided to just ride around Ooty.It was 3 pm . I had to get back to Bangalore on the same day. I bid a farewell to Ooty and decided to go back. Fortunately , the police had closed the Hairpin Bend road and made it a one way , leaving me with just one option, to go via Gudalur. “Fortunately” because I would have never got to witness such heavenly landscapes if I had taken the same route again.

It was freaking cold ! The road was so damn scenic that words won’t do justice to what I witnessed. A black tarmac running through the green clouds of Tea Estate. Fuck ! I got a deja-vu of Darjeeling . As I was about to reach Gudalur , my nose picked up some nice and familiar fragrance. And I knew what exactly it was . THE NILGIRIS ! Finally I was there ! in the magical forests of Nilgiris. The trees were so high (as in tall ;)) and dense that you could barely see 30 percent of light reaching the ground through the canopy . The mist in the forest was a cherry on top ! Felt like what Kung Fu Panda felt when he found inner peace. I parked my bike there and sat for a while besides the road. Only Rover and I in the middle of a dense Nilgiri jungle. All alone ! What else do you need ? I was like “This is it, this is what I wanted in this ride”. But little I knew that something else was waiting for me after the jungle.

After spending some peaceful half an hour, I crossed the Nilgiris and entered the Western Ghats ! The love that I have for Western Ghats is unmeasurable .I was riding above the clouds and beneath was the Madhumalai Tiger Reserve. WOW ! A bit higher and I would have foundMarco Simoncelli lapping in the ghats . After riding through the ghats I reached Madhumalai Tiger Reserve again. But this time from Tamil Nadu’s side.

I had sipped a lot water on the way from my hydration bag and because of the chilled weather it was time to let go the caged hydration. I stopped by the road in the forest and as I was taking a leak I saw movement in the shrubs . I thought it must be a Spotted dear or something but when I saw it closely I was like WHAT THE FUCK ! It was a pack of Indian Wild Dogs few feet away from me. I didn’t know whether to get scared or be happy. I couldn’t move as I was still peeing. Somehow I stood there without any movement and zipped up my chain. I went to my bike , turned the ignition ON and waited there for 15 mins just to see if they come out of the bush. After waiting for 15 mins they went deep into the forest. I guess they noticed my presence . I started riding further with an adrenalin rush. Just when I was reaching the exit gate of Madhumalai , I found a camera coming out of a pulled over car . I saw on my left and there were these 4 badass TUSKERS grazing few feet from me. Unbelievable ! I photographed them in a hurry before the forest guards came and shooed us off .

I crossed Madhumalai and Bandipur before it got dark . Stopped by the road to give my sore bum some rest. It was getting pretty dark by now. It was 7 pm and I was still some 220 kms away from Bengaluru. The moment I started my bike I met this few people who stopped by my side on seeing my bike’s number plate. “Tumhi Punyache ka ?” (Are you from Pune ?) Felt so good on listening to Marathi. Came to know that these guys were working in Mysore and were out on a vacation. After this I just ripped my throttle till I reached Bengaluru by 10:30 pm.

I dropped by at Balaji’s house ,a very dear friend of mine . I was meeting him after a long time. Last time we had met months ago while leaving Kolkata.He is one of those very close friends who I can always count on. The night was spent talking about our days in Kolkata and all the fun we had.After few hours it was time to call the day off. Taking the pillow of all the amazing things I witnessed today , it was time for another 800 kms of butt pain the next morning !

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