Route: Valparai – Attakatti – Aliyar – Pollachi – Palladam – Tiruppur – Gobichettipalayam – Anthiyur –
Karkegandi (TN-KA Border) – Hanur – Kollegal – Malavalli – Kanakapura – Bangalore
Distance Covered: ~455 km
Google Maps: Valparai to Hanur
Google Maps: Hanur to Bangalore
Finally, we’d accomplished what we’d come for. The Athirappilly-Valparai stretch was one of the most wonderful forest routes I’ve ridden through, and it was still vivid in our memories after a good night’s sleep.
The first thing I did in the morning as soon as I woke up was to see whether our motorcycles were still present where we’d parked them overnight. In fact, I woke up a couple of times during the night to check on them. Thankfully, the hotel owner’s words turned out to be true.
I wonder what we’d have done if our steeds were in fact stolen. What indeed? I hope we don’t ever come across such a situation.
From Valparai to Bangalore, it was a long journey ahead of us, but we didn’t want to miss out on all that the roads have to offer. Martin had charted the return plan in such a way that we’d avoid all the major highways and towns (except one, which you’ll come across later).
As expected, there were a few surprises along the way.
I woke up at around 6:30 PM and got ready quickly. I’d taken a bath the previous night, so there wasn’t much to prepare. The others took their own time.
Martin briefed us again about animal crossings and sightings. Poor Pramod must still be dreaming about coming across a real wild animal. Bala and I had got used to Martin’s informative-yet-disappointing talks by now. Still, we did have fun listening to him talk, and Pramod bicker about it later.
We checked out from Treat Hotel at around 7 AM. By the time we were completely ready and really got going it was around 7:30 PM (it takes time to gear up, fix the luggage, and make sure that everything is in its proper place).
The weather in Valparai was quite cool; just perfect I’d say. This hill station was almost deserted. Apart from the locals I could only see a few tourists. Even its main bus stand didn’t have much traffic to witness.
There are a lot of places to visit around Valparai. We didn’t have the time to visit any of them this time around; maybe some other time. Our main goal was to reach Bangalore by night, before sunset preferably, and we were determined to do so.
The first few kilometers of the ride towards Attakatti were bliss. With lush green landscapes surrounding us, and smooth curvy roads for our wheels, it was enjoyable to ride here.
After a few kilometers more, the ride started to get a bit more interesting. We entered the “mist spreading zone.” This is the first time I’ve seen such boards put up on the roadside, and I understood (and experienced) what it meant just a few seconds later.
Nothing except mist was visible a few feet away from us. We’d to drive very carefully in this zone. Our average speed was around 30 km/hr here I guess. There were also people walking by the side of the road; locals getting started with their daily routine. They had a huge plastic wrap wound around them to protect themselves from the wetting mist. We’d to be careful not to bump into them too.
Though it is a ghat section, the route until Attakatti isn’t that hectic. We had fun riding in the mist. The mist started to clear once we started our descent.
We stopped at a tea estate called Waterfall (the area is named the same too) to have our morning tea. It was just a few km before Attakatti. As usual, the tea was great; I had two. We even bought a few packs of tea to take back with us.
Martin spent his time talking with the local bus drivers. I and Arun were busy taking snaps. I don’t know what Bala and Pramod were doing though.
After our small photo session here, we resumed our ride. The road started to descent rapidly after crossing Attakatti.
There were a lot of hairpin bends to cover on the way to Aliyar; 40 of them in total. It was amazing to witness the beauty of Valparai above us, whilst the scenic Aliyar reservoir lay below us. And we were riding through deep hairpin bends at the same time; that feeling was unmatched.
Meandering through beautiful landscapes with nothing else on our minds but the road ahead is what drives us bikers. At least that’s the case for me. For a few precious moments you forget everything; who you are; why you’re here; where you’re going. Everything. You’re lost in transition. It’s a meditation of a different kind.
And then you come back to life, but that feeling lingers. It keeps repeating in succession, like a piston ploughing through the engine’s cylinder after every power stroke. The feeling stops only when the engine does the same. Memories are the only things that remain.
Anyway, let’s get back to the travelogue, shall we?
There are a lot of wild animals traversing in this area, but we were yet to come across any. Still, Martin had our hopes up. He’d told us all there is to know about bears, elephants, leopards, lion-tailed monkeys, and the Nilgiri tahrs in this area.
As Martin mentioned later, the thrill of riding through a forest expecting a wild animal is much more exciting than actually coming across a wild animal. I’m not sure perfectly about that, but it makes sense in a way.
There’s a spot called Loam’s View Point in the Valparai ghat section. It’s at one of the largest hairpin bends there. The view point is named after Mr. Loam, a British general officer who was appointed to lay this road way back in the early 1900s. Apparently, there was a signboard here which mentioned that this spot is Loam’s View, but due to frequent traffic violations from tourists blocking the road, that signboard has now been removed. In fact, there’s a new signboard put up here which states that stopping here is strictly not allowed. Thankfully, our two-wheelers take up only a little space on the road and are not at all a hindrance to other vehicles passing by here.
There is another signboard here (pic above) which details the history of this road. Martin has provided a Tamil-English translation for all of us who’re illiterate in Tamil.
survey for laying roads from Aliyar to Sirukundra via Paralai. Approval received in 1901 to lay metal
roads from Aliyar to Paralai. Mr. Michael Mcansy took the contract and appointed Mr. Garver Marsh to
carry out the work. In 1903, the Governor of Chennai Mr. Lord Ambil opened the road to the public.
Length of the ghat roads: 40 kilometers
No. of hairpin bends: 40
Highest point on the road: 1286 + MSL
So, it’s been more than 110 years since this road was inaugurated. Cool history.
After a couple more hairpin bends, we finally did spot a few Nilgiri tahrs. They were grazing along the side of the road. Not surprisingly, we’re amazed to see these rare creatures in their “natural” setting.
Martin stopped suddenly after seeing them. I was following him, but at that moment, my eyes were glued to the wonderful Nilgiri tahrs. I noticed Martin’s halt a tad too late and had to brake hard to avoid a collision. The roads here were slightly wet. My motorcycle did what every other bike does when the brakes are applied hard and fast; it skidded, and then fishtailed. I managed to bring it to a halt somehow without falling or colliding with anyone else. Martin turned around and gave me a glance, though he only knew half of what had happened.
My eyes went back to the Nilgiri tahrs. We didn’t bother these endangered animals much. After taking a few pictures we resumed our way down to Aliyar.
The roads after Aliyar are pretty straightforward. Smooth tarmac surrounded by trees and farms. By the time we reached Pollachi it was almost noon. We searched for a place to have breakfast, but most of the hotels were closed by now. Finally, we found a mess where the owners agreed to prepare Dosa and Chutney for us.
After our breakfast we bid farewell to Arun, who wanted to go to his hometown Mangalore through Wayanad. We on the other hand had a different kind of adventure awaiting us.
We’d filled our tummies, but our bikes were still thirsty, and there was a long way to go before we reached Bangalore. We fueled up at a nearby gas station and headed towards Tiruppur via Palladam.
This has got to be one of the most boring stretches we rode through in this entire ride. The roads were well laid out and fine, but extremely mundane and monotonous.
And it was hot as hell. We stopped twice along the way to quench our thirst with some coconut water. Even that wasn’t enough, but we endured the slight discomfort.
Martin made us go through Tiruppur city; it was a bad idea. We spent almost an hour making our way through the hectic traffic there. Bala and Pramod got lost somewhere near the railway station there. We’d to wait for them and regroup. The heat and pollution was getting to our heads now.
Once we exited Tiruppur, I’m sure we were all highly relieved; at least I was. That’s the same feeling you get once you cross the Silk Board junction in Bangalore during peak hours. We then rode quickly towards Gobichettipalayam. It was a short ride from here to Anthiyur. With no traffic, the 2-lane roads were a breeze to ride on.
Usually, I take the Sathyamangalam ghat route when we’re passing through this area, but Martin had other plans. The Anthiyur forest route lies right next to the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, and it is pretty much unexplored. We had no idea how the roads there would be, nor had we any idea about anything else, except for the fact that it ends at Hanur, the point where we take a diversion towards Male Mahadeshwarabetta (M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary) if we’re coming from Bangalore.
Our risk paid off. Though it was single lane road, it was a beautiful route. And it was also deserted. We didn’t come across even a single vehicle here for many kilometers; not even the locals. We were shrouded by hills on both sides. This was the last forest area of our ride and I’m glad we gambled with this route.
Yet another incident occurred involving Martin and me. I was following Martin, as I was throughout the ride, and we were going at a decent 80 kmph speed through the curvy roads of Anthiyur forest. Out of nowhere, a big fat stone was in our path. Having noticed it from quite a distance, Martin dodged the stone by a whisker, but I barely could. It hit the Classic’s side stand and dislodged its spring after the impact. With no spring to hold it up, the side stand was dragging along the road. I had to stop my bike and search for a rope to secure the side stand to my bike; the only other option was removing it altogether. As always, Martin came to the rescue. He had a plastic thread which came in handy. Once I’d tied the stand we resumed our ride.
It was almost 4 PM now, but the heat was still on. We took a small break to relax our sore asses, and while we were at it, take a few pics of the surroundings too. Bala sat on the side of the road to soothe his rear nerves. We tried to use GPS on our mobiles to know how far away from Bangalore we were, but sadly there’s no mobile coverage in this area.
Our stomachs were grumbling. After crossing the TN-KA border at Karkegandi, we reached a place called Naalroad (translates to 4 roads, since this area is supposed to be an intersection of four roads). We had lunch at a small hotel here. I think that was the only place to have food there. It was a simple vegetarian affair, plus omelettes; one of the most satisfying lunches I’ve ever had.
Our energy bars were full now. It was almost 5 PM. We moved swiftly towards Hanur. The roads were decent throughout, with little rough patches here and there.
Not surprisingly enough, there was another incident involving Martin and me. Tired with the heat, Martin had tied his sweatshirt to his rear luggage. With the rough road we’d been through, the sweatshirt had slipped from the clutches of the bungee cords a few kilometers back. I’d noticed a piece of clean cloth lying right in the middle of the road, and even avoided running my tyres over it, but it never occurred to me then that it was actually Martin’s sweatshirt.
We stopped at the Hanur-Mahadeshwaranmala Road intersection to regroup, where I asked Martin about his sweatshirt. He was aghast. I told him about seeing something in the middle of the road around 5 km back. Bala had seen that something too. So, Martin went back in search of it while we waited patiently at the intersection. It took him 20 minutes or so to get back to us. And yes, he did find his sweatshirt right where we told him it was.
It was around 5:30 PM now. We were losing light fast, and there was still a lot of ground to cover. We crossed Kollegal and headed towards Malavalli. The roads after crossing the Shivanasamudra bridge (there was quite a bit of traffic here) were amazing; smooth 2-lane tarmac surrounded by trees on either side of the road. We reached Malavalli in a matter of minutes.
We had tea at the same place where we had it on Day 1. It was almost dark now; ~6:15 PM I presume. We had a small debate whether to take the Maddur-Mysore Road route or the Kanakapura Road route. After a lot of discussion, we decided to take the Kanakapura Road route.
It was tough riding on this road in dark. The glaring beams from the oncoming vehicles were too tiring for our already tired eyes. Martin struggled a lot, and we were all following him. After catching sight of a white Scorpio car, Martin kept following it without overtaking (he just wanted to protect his eyes by staying behind the car). We were moving slow as a snail.
Nevertheless, we followed Martin, but Pramod was frustrated after a while. He overtook us all and sped forward. Bala followed him. And soon, I did the same. We’d all dispersed in the confusion. I overtook everyone and reached the signal just before Outer Ring Road and waited for others to arrive.
Bala and Pramod joined me soon. We waited for Martin. He didn’t arrive for quite some time, and when he did, he sped past us without noticing we were waiting for him. We got back on our bikes and followed him to the Outer Ring Road signal. This is where we all dispersed to our respective places. It was 9:30 PM now.
Our 4-day ride ended on a good note. I was too tired then to think about the various adventures we’d had over the last 4 days. Once I’d rested myself, all the memories came back to me like a splash; they still do even after almost a year.
The ride had concluded, but our journey still continues.