Thursday, 29 January 2015



Travelling is my passion and being a biker is always additive that helps me to reach far and unseen places. The same way was this ride to the places where my friends or people known to me have not been to. The planning for this ride took us quite a long time almost 10 weeks+, as I suggested to my fellow bikers about these places which I had seen some time back on the net. Some think going on bike ride is easy and it is just hopping on the bike and throttling. Lot of work and time goes into planning rides and equally more in its execution.

This ride was planned to cover belum caves (underground caves) and gandikota aka great canayon of india, and finally the plan was formulated to cover horseley hills, lepakshi , yahanti caves & temple , belum caves and gandikota. We decided to take only people with previous experience in CTC with bike rides as this was a trip to explore new destinations. What we all know about this place and common to all of them is these places are abodes of rocks !! we expected a ride though rough roads and barren lands as all we had heard about andra Pradesh is it is a hot land . but end of the ride we were totally surprised to find good roads 70% throughout our rides and nice looking lush green agricultural lands upto the end of the horizon.

The team considered of fantastic (funtastic) five. Myself , Ram PS ( enagal kamalhassan), sabanayagam ( our DON) , manohar rajasekaran (cool fellaw) and SELFIE – bharatyee.
We had amazing ride through various levels of dipping roads and long straight roads. Road along the dusty village roads with paddy fields, cotton cultivation, chilly cultivation and the special road on both sides with sunflowers in full bloom. The ride started on Friday (28/11) at 9 pm  and finished the ride on Monday midnight. All through the ride we slept outdoors , a petrol bunk was our home on day Friday night , an abandoned small shelter on NH44 on Saturday night and a panchayat office veranda with its special  mosquito army  on Sunday night. Thanks to saba and mano for getting odomos or else we wud have fought a never ending war with the mosquitoes till morning until they call it a day.

All through the ride the exiting part was food . we had breakfasts under 150 rs on all days for all the 5 of us . food was really good and a point to appreciate in these small shops is that they never used plastic cups or plastc papers in serving foods which we generally see in the those kind od shops in tamilnadu. One thing which worried (selfie) bharatyee was the spiciness of the foods.

Day 1 – we covered horseley hills – which is a small hill station and it is named Andhra ooty.  We spent few hours taking pics and relaxing over the rocky cliff of the hill. And then by noon we started to lepakshi and reached there by 4 pm. Lepakshi is known for its ancient temples built by the vijayangara kings.

Day 2 – we rode from our camp site on NH44 to yehanti via gooty. While riding near gooty we got to see a huge fort in gooty hills and we stopped to take few pics and decided not to visit it this time as we may fall short of time. Then we proceeded towards yahanti caves and temples  and after finishing from yahanti caves we left to belum caves. Belum caves are caves formed underground and we had to go down the steps and explored those caves for almost two hours. We we mesmerized to see the various formations and the wat the rocks were down there. Saba and ram flung into action to capture as much they can with their cams. After that we rode 50+ km and rested our machines.

Day 3 – we started early morning and went to gandikota . gandikota is a mesmerizing place , it has a fort built around the whoel place by the side of a gorge and the gorge resembles the great canayon found in US. It took us 6 hours to explore roam around take pics and yet we were able to cover only 30-35% of the whole place. Then after a good lunch at jamalmadugu (nearby town) we started our ride back towards  Chennai and we reached Chennai by 12 midnight.

Three days all through the ride we had a great time with Loads of pics and fun & especially to mention the numerous selfies by bhrathyee, but still we made sure all of us rode safe and enjoyed  the ride as one team. Shoud thank saba for coming with us even in his busy schedule and ram & mano for helping me in planning this trip and bringing out just a wish 4 months ago to reality, bharathyee for coming a long way to join us for the ride and taking multiple selfies. ( hope soon he can organize a session – HOW TO TAKE SELFIE !! )
SIGNING OFF – and waiting to ride again !!!

Photo links:

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Tuesday, 4 June 2013

vvaegam vvaegam poogum poogum - MAGIC JOURNEY

hi friends,

this one is about a travel tale which will ever be the best one i had in my life (not for words really i mean it).

you all might be knowing the movie ANJALI by Manirathnam in 1990- which has a song - vegam vegam pogum pogum MAGIC JOURNEY in which kids will be shown riding cycles in the air ,in between clouds and so on like in a fantasy world and this journey which i went to was such a kind of magic journey which i was longing for since i had seen that movie in my childhood. (for non tamil or people who dont know about this song check this link

Always i wished to travel a lot since my childhood, and words of  two great teachers whom i have met along my journey in this world,who inspired, kindled and enlightened the traveler within me and since then every opportunity i got to travel i did make use of it. But always i wanted to be a different traveler than being the regular one. In that search for like minded people (team work is always the best than doing things alone), i was introduced to CTC (chennai trekking club - by one of my friend and when i started browsing their site i felt as if it was tailor made the way i wanted to travel - treks, bike rides, social activities and what not , you say they do it and have did it.

So inspired and very enthusiastic i was searching for the events in the upcoming months and the one which was open and and attracted me was - Emperors Summer Cycle Trip - Three Days Cycle Trip to Ooty - Easy, Medium, Difficult - Dates: 24,25,26th May-13. I immediately filled the forms and registered and i got my confirmation mail after a week and from then i was excited and looking forward to this journey. (i wondered what Emperors stand for !!! )

Since then after all the participants confirmed their place for the trip all of us communicated through mails and phone calls and each one of us are not aware of the person at the other end yet still all conversations were as if we were talking to a close buddy. Calls and mails regarding what to bring and what not to bring ,especially in getting the helmets for the cycling. (i felt a good bond between all even when most of us haven't met). All was set and tickets were booked in different buses and we had to travel as four teams.

All teams started from Chennai on 23rd may night , and i was in team 3 and since am from Pondicherry I joined the team en route at thindivanam along with another team mate Punitha (i thank her for the car ride from pondy to thindivanam ). I was so excited and over that more cautious to catch the bus so i was calling again and again Santhosh (trip organizing committee) to know about the whereabouts of the bus. Finally the bus came at 11pm and i met the Santhosh who introduced him and then i boarded the bus and when i reached the seat few more mates greeted me and soon after a round of intro i got settled in the seat and went to sleep.Around 1 am our bus stopped at a motel and many of us got down and those who didn't have their dinner had a very late dinner at the motel and then again the bus started and our ride towards the queen of the hills continued.

DAY 1 (24th may)

There was some jerk and i woke up but never wished to open my eyes, so i stayed with my eyes closed still and then felt the gentle breeze it was chill and an orange tinge over my closed eyes then i woke up and i realized we are  nearing ooty and when i fully opened my eyes and tried to figure out where we are , the bus was crossing the very old yet strong iron bridge at Mettupalayam at 6 am. As the bus started to ascend the chillness in the air increased and the ears started getting blocked but the scenic view through our windows kept us more occupied resisting the chills and blocks. 

Then around 7.45am the bus reached Ooty and we all grouped ourselves and once again after session of intro with each other we decided to refresh and have the breakfast in the mean time when other 3 teams reach. While every thing was going well there was a call and we informed that the truck which was bringing our cycles from chennai had stuck with some problem near salem and friends from Coimbatore have went there to sort it out and so till evening until the cycles come we need to occupied with other activities (there were few faces that went dull on hearing this - incuding me). Then after searching for a hotel all of us refreshed and their breakfast and we were joined by another team member Sampath from Bangalore.

Until our cycles reach us we planned to regroup with other teams and go to the Ooty botanical garden and then decide  the further plans. We all met friends from other teams in front of botanical garden and all fell in one group and we dumped all our bags in the car which was fully packed with bags except leaving space for the driver. Then all of us went into the garden and found a huge tree and all rested under its shade. Then we were informed that cycles would reach only by evening 4.30pm and so it was decided to spend some time in the park and all went for their stroll in small groups and few soon all the photographers and heros inside each one of us came out, shooting pic and giving poses.

 After more than 2 hours at the garden then next it was decided that our team will go to the artificial off roading cycling track at Ooty lake gardens (madan's idea) and we took the bus to reach there, by now all got introduced to one another and all were as one big bunch of buddies (like each one had know them for years - this is the specialty of CTC)

After rounds and rounds of driving there then every body felt some discomfort in their abdomen and soon the remedy for it was found ,, LUNCH-TIME !!!! So next we headed for lunch and we went to a hotel opposite to Ooty railway station and all had lunch .( unlimited meals were served - the happiest man was Amar ) when everybody was having lunch ,we got the call from vegat sir and barani that cycles have been tranfered to a new truck and they are already on the way. it was like adding good spice to our meals and all were happy to hear that 

Next our target was to go to Dotabetta and we took bus to reach the base of the road that lead to the top and the next we had to walk that 6 km up to reach the top. most of us dosed off to a deep sleep in that short bus trip to Dotabetta and when we got down many refeshed with a cup of hot tea from a small shop . But the item that attracted the most was raw mangoes sold out and everybody had their share of it.( it is irresistible and you can't avoid that) .3 pm we started walking up and then all along the way we were chatting on matters ranging from useless to social topics and everywhere possible we posed for the shutters all along the way (history is very important - by vengat sir). It was a tiresome but refreshing walk to the top and we all gathered there and spent there sometime with ice creams.


After a good time out there on top of Dotabetta we came down walking enthusiastically to the junction from where we started . The reason was our cycles have arrived safely to Ooty and soon we are gonna start cycling on the hill roads. The excitement was at its high .Soon when we reached the junction there  stood a truck fully loaded with hybrid cycles and the men behind the safe journey of the cycles vengat sir, bharani and senthil were there greeting each other and giving us the necessary instructions to start the  cycling as early as possible as it was getting dark.

All were gearing  up and after a through check of thr cycles for air,brakes each one of us got our cycles for the ride.The magic journey was about to start and i was so excited and the route was from dotabetta to kothagiri bus stand. we were given a ministerial ride - we had vengat sir in front leading us in his car-vento , biker bharani in his bike too leading us and we had our versa-van behind us and at last our truck to follow. i felt as if i am in the middle of a convoy of vehicles it felt very great.

It all started, we started to pedal our cycles following our lead car and the feel was awesome (sorry no words to describe it). It was dim light and soon the light went away after 20 min of cycling. I was worried but there was this beautiful full moon over us lighting our path continuously and as most of the ride was down hill it was good we gained a lot of speed overtook buses and cars. Suddenly i was deserted as young and energetic friends pedaled fast i was lagging  behind but when i turned around and saw the hill slopes lit with lights and the bright moon above it reminded me of the song which i had described earlier. It was as if my childhood dream came true, i was driving among the hills and clouds. All along the way we were greeted by kids of the villages.

We stopped in the middle for regrouping and again started towards our destination kotagiri busstand.
it was a great ride in the night time and we all reached there at around 8 pm.During the ride we had one of our friend got injured and he was taken care and i had to go along with him down hill to metupalayam for his treatment along with bunty(naraen) and fast and furious senthil (wat a drive!!! )

After regrouping at kothagiri bus-stop all had dinner and reached our accomodation which was arranged at a guest house at bison estates. there was camp fire (i wasn't able to attend) and all friends had a good time and retired to sleep.We three returned back at around 1 am to our accommodation and we too retired for the day.

 DAY 2 (25th may)

It was 6 am when i woke up , a very few members have already woke up and they where attending natures call. Then i came out my sleeping bag and was taking a stroll around the accommodation as i didn't have time the previous night as me came there very late. It was like a palace to me as it was very good than what i had expected.(thanks to vengat sir for finding such a good place). it was a big store house cum rest house of a tea estate converted into a dorm type of accommodation the hospitality was at its best there (esp. hot water ). It was on a hill slope away from crowded residential areas of kothagiri. When i walked out all around the place it was scenic and nice green cover of various shades . It had a good terrace and open area and few young and strong people dared the cold and slept under the open sky (The CTC way)

Soon many were awake and getting ready for the day's ride, vengat sir waking the kumbakarnas and few dedicated people checking all the cycles again and arranging them. what all i could see and feel was a one family of people helping each other . Then suddenly i saw our truck driver and bharani on top of the building and catching signals to talk to their loved ones (secret isn't revealed yet )!!!

Almost most of them got ready and vengat sir along with santosh & senthil went to get our breakfast and almost all were ready and now it was shoot time everybody started to pose for the cameras many including me were specific whether the pic shot will fit in for a profile pic or cover pic and many dozen pics were clicked and soon the food arrived and everybody pounded on the idlis, vadas and dosas and ate well (all were busy so no pics were taken of us having food)

Now it is time to start the days ride and our group photo with the cycles were clicked and it was a lot of fun with our little Don kaushik's one line comments (engal santhanam) all throught out the trip.then we were briefed about the route and our next regrouping points ans our convoy started with out pilot leading us. The route was from kothagiri - bandishola - hallakara - aravenu - Catherine falls - aravenu - kothagiri.

From kothagiri initially it was down hill ride soon after 15 min roads started climbing and now have to pedal uphill then after half an hour we regrouped at bandishola. All along the way the ride was uphill and down hill rides so shifting the gears  and pedaling to the maximum best we can we reached. the ride from bandishola to aravenu was the best one it was mostly down hill with steep slopes and sharp turns which tested the skill of each of us. All through the way at points were we were not able to pedal we walked a few meters gained our energy and pedaled again.

The ride was a great and magical one. Where ever we see it was green full of plantations and trees , how many shades of green u know ??? i saw almost more than a 100 shades i think green and green everywhere and it was a nice ride.before reaching aravenu suddenly there was a huge hush of air leaking and my bad luck my back tyre got flat and when i felt bad it was a blessing in disguise because the place where it happened had a stream flowing and it was nice to spend sometime there.soon friends stopped and helped me out and soon our truck came and the cycle was loaded in it and i got on the bike along with our biker bharani.

After regrouping at aravenu all proceeded to catherine falls and the road leading to it too was very steep. myself along with our biker were directing others to the road leading to catherine falls and after that having some lunch out at aravenu we both started to catherine falls and on the way we took the wrong road and and again we had to ride back the steep road uphill and then reach catherine falls view point where all friends have reached and were relaxing.

then after visiting the catherine falls from a huge distance and water was very thin and seemed like it was trickling .then after relaxation for sometime all started back to aravenu in their cycles and those who cudnt were instructed to put their cycles in the truck but were asked to walk all along till aravenu. in the mean time senthil and bharani was talking to a local small boy. we thought what this small boy would know but soon it was him who took 3 of us to the upstream of the falls after a trek of 15 minutes and he was giving many details reading the landscape and animals out there.(clever chap) 

after spending time out there at the upsteam of catherine falls we 3 walked back to the junction and all of us have started senthil now took the pillion as he wanted to be dropped at metupalayam as the day next was his birthday and someone special one at home was awaiting his return. then all of us walked upto aravenu and then from there cycled to kothagiri junction, then we all relaxed having tea and snacks and mean while all cycles were loaded on the truck and all of us proceeded to our dorm.

myself and bunty again had work in the evening like the  day before we had one more of our team mate jacob injured and we took him to a nearby hospital and he was treated we returned back and as soon we returned it was drizziling and aftersome time there was heavy rain and our dinner had already come and we all had our dinner. rain spoiled the camp fire idea so we all had to sit down in our room to have the grand intro of each one of us and it was a very great time we had till late night (a seperate 30 page write up can be done on this intro session- fellow mates do that in the comments) and after that we all retired to bed. 

Few slept immediately , and few haven't .One such soul was shiv who ventured out into the dark with the cam. Mean while i could hear many motors started to run ( snorring) . me too came out not to take pics just to text a friend if i get some signal ( airtel signal varala pa anaga :( !). i found the moon shining bright and shiv romancing with the moon from various angles in the process he woke up the guardians(dogs) of that place. After few lines came in my mobile in the signal area i sent my texts (mission accomplished) and went to sleep. i dont know when did shiv finish his romance !!

second day was a very tiring one and it was fully spent cycling since morning and that after effect was noticed the next day morning!!!! (many were sleeping well and vengat sir had to wake up a lot many people on third day)

DAY 3 (26th may) 

As usual we woke up and all started to get ready for the days ride and also all were  instructed to pack their bags as we are leaving.cycles were checked and arranged. today the still session was an extended one as we were leaving that place.many nice pics were clicked and mean while breakfast was brought and we were served hot pooris, idlis and vadas which disappeared in no time.then we were briefed about our route and it was said that the ride is gonna be awesome. our route was kotagiri - nerkombai - kodanad view point

So again another day of cycling in the nilgris, today i decided not to pedal fast but enjoy the ride to the maximum as this is our last day of the trip. So we started towards nerkombai from kothagiri. the ride was mixed one equal uphills and downhills so frequent shifting gears and the cycles moved at snail's speed but there was never tiredness as the whole route was very scenic and enjoyable kept us refreshing throughout.Few pics were clicked on the way while cycling as a proof for our cycling and then pedaling through many villages to the greetings of young kids with smiling faces who were very eager to know about the cycles and encouraging us! (one fellow sarcastically told -- annae neenga than first-u) and pedaling at snails pace we reached the main road leading to kodanad .most of us took a short break at that spot and clicked few pics too.  

 Then after a short break we all proceeded towards the kodanad view point which was 10 km still and most of it was uphill. it was a daunting task to pedal uphill, most of us in between got down and walked few meters or rested for few  minutes and then after regaining their energy pedalled again.the daunting talk of of pedaling uphill was worth it. after 2 km of riding where ever eyes fell were full of scenic beauty of mother nature so well laid estates, roads, and what not, i wondered whether i was in some foreign land. after some total of 5 km of uphill ride then it was most of plain or down hill to ride and as the roads raced to the kodanad view point the view of the valley was breath taking one and finally we reached the view point which over looked the moyar river and moyar valley. we all spent some time there at the view point and we had snacks their which vengat sir had brought already and after clicking some good pics we loaded our cycles to the truck and proceeded to kothagiri for lunch.

Me rode pillion with bharani till kotharigi. the ride was awesome that i still cherish those moments , and after reaching kothagiri lakshmi hotel we all had lunch - a sumptuous one. then we all prepared to ride totally downhill upto metupallayam. we all took our cycles and were instructed to group at kothagiri junction and then we all started riding down hill to metupallayam.the ride down was great, nice roads, picturesque landscapes, greeting small kids all along the way and chill air . we rode fast such that we even over took buses and cars, the  feel was good and there was a high adrenaline rush !!
But soon i could feel the chillness come down, increasing traffic and the evening sun heat was felt (which so far wasn't). then the reality struck - our magic journey is nearing its end and we had already left our wonderland which stands tall and high from the plains and we all started to miss the wonderland in which we have been these three days.

we stopped at the metupalayam view point on our way back and we had ice creams to cool us down(one whole shop of ice cream was emptied) and had group pics taken . Then after spending sometime chatting and then we started towards our final destination metupalayam. after 15 min of ride around 5.30 we reached metupalayam and we all grouped and took our group pics and then was the big session were everybody wanted to be in kaushik's cam!!! all were smiling and happy of finishing such a good ride for 3 days but i felt a bit heavy of going to miss all and the fun has come to an end.everybody started asking when is the next cycling trip !!

All good has come to an end and so was our cycling !! but the fun didn't stop !(soon u will get to know why). all were transported to metupallayam and then all too bus to coimbatore and were instructed to regroup near bus stand. Few came in the car and van . I again took pillion with bharani and reached coimbatore. the place for regrouping was hotel anapoorna !!!

We all regrouped at the hotel for dinner and we all sat at places where ever it was available.but soon the hotel manger made a big mistake by adjusting  and getting us all in a single side to be seated by joining the tables (he realized it latter). Soon orders were placed, placed and placed!! no one got what they ordered before the dish reaches from the other end to the other it got empty so again orders would be that we had to plunder and eat the food. it was great fun eating that way! all had tasted and ate all the dishes ordered. All eyes in the hotel were on us -- we finally fulfilled vengat sir wish of eating the EMPERORS way ! and we got a huge bill which was more than a meter long !
bill was payed ((chinna kounder style !)) and then we all bid adieu to the people from coimbatore and started towards the bus stop.

and finally by 10.30 our bus came and and we boarded the bus and went to sleep to wake up at chennai bus stand and then we all dispersed and i took bus to pondicherry to reach home at afternoon ! 

This trip has taught me many valuable lessons (which i dont want to write and make this like a moral science class)  and got many friends (no adjectives can be added as friend denotes all)

P.S - thanx to all fellow friends for making this trip a wonderfull one !! 

MAGIC JOURNEY#awesome#oneness#


photo courtesy : sanket , shiv , madhan .