Southern Odyssey

It was that time of the year again. The time to ride, to explore new places and cultures and to attend the biggest motorcycle festival called BOBMC Rider Mania 2017 an exclusive event for Royal Enfield owners. This time it was organized by RTMC, Bangalore and was conducted at Kundapur near the Goa-Karnataka Border.


The Preparation

After considering many options, we had decided to explore the coastal route starting from Chennai till Goa. This way we could spend more time exploring the coastal route. Kuldeep, Sai and I were to fly from Delhi to Chennai and Hitesh would come from Mumbai and meet us in Chennai. We used the services of Aggarwal Packers and movers to get our motorcycles shipped to Chennai. We took the motorcycles to their warehouse to ensure that they were packed to our satisfaction and we were really pleased with their work.

Their commitment was to deliver the motorcycles in 10 days and they reached Chennai in just 7 days well before our expectations and our arrival in Chennai.


Day 1 - 20 Jan 2017 - Delhi to Chennai via Bangalore

We gathered at IGI Airport Delhi in the morning for our flight to Chennai. All three of us reached on time and got our boarding passes but still managed to miss the flight.

Sai Krishna Bhai was hungry and we stopped for 2 Samosa and we missed the final call to board the flight. Unfortunately there wasn’t any other direct flight to Chennai so we had to fly to our destination via Bangalore. The 3 of us would never forget those 2 Samosas not only did they cost us Rs. 32,000 in flight tickets but we also lost one day out of itinerary because of the delay. The drama didn’t end there though. We managed to reach Chennai at 4 pm but found another surprise waiting for us at the Chennai Airport. My bags were lost by the Airline company so I there I was at Chennai Airport without money, clothes or my motorcycle helmet. We had an eventful first day of our journey but still we were smiling and enjoying ourselves a Ture Rider’s spirit.


Day 2 - 21 Jan 2017 – Chennai to Pondicherry

We had another surprise waiting for us on day to as Chennai was closed due to Jallikattu protest this meant we couldn’t get anything done today. Somehow we managed to file a complaint for my lost luggage without much hope. Hitesh had come from Mumbai and was able to reach Chennai on time and was able to find out about Our Motorcycles and other things. Thanks to his efforts we managed to collect our bikes. I started my bike without keys by hot-wiring the ignition lock. We also found out that Sai Bhai’s motorcycle needed a few minor repairs so we visited the nearest Royal Enfield service center to get that sorted out. In the meanwhile I bought a new helmet and arranged for a new set of keys for my motorcycle. We realized that how small the riding world is when we found out that the owner of the RE service station was a founder member of Madras Bull Group which happens to be one of the oldest Indian Royal Enfield Motorcycle Clubs in Delhi. We had a great time with him and then geared up to start the ride post afternoon.

Our target was to reach Pondicherry by the end of the day to cover up the loss of time but since we had our bikes shipped in Trucks by the transport company they were low on fuel. Somehow we reached a petrol pump on the outskirts of Chennai by siphoning fuel from each other’s fuel tanks to get there. I’m very thankful to our Chennai friend Bhagwant Sandhu. Not only did he help us every step of the way during the issues we faced while in Chennai but he also rode with us till the ECR and we had a good meal at Delhi Dhaba. A Delhi City theme based restaurant in ECR.


After lunch we bid farewell to our friend from Chennai and continued our coastal journey. It was a different experience for us to ride along the sea and we really enjoyed it.

It was really an awesome experience riding along the ECR. Around 5 we were able to reach Pondicherry and were greeted by very friendly people there who offered us complimentary coffee and their company. Such small gesture by the people makes you realize how beautiful India is and how beautiful the hearts of the people are.

We rode around 332 km more the same day and reached Trichypally at around 10. It had started Raining and we had to find a hotel to spend the night. Not many people there speak English and the rain only made things more difficult. As time passed we started to worry that we may not get dinner if we don’t find a hotel on time. Our savior in this situation was the Oyo app. We managed to find a hotel and the GPS helped us get there in time. With a nice and clean room and finally some food we had a sweet end for the day.


Day 3 - 22 Jan 2017 – Pondicherry to Rameshwaram

Our plan for day 3 was to reach Rameshwaram about 234 km away. We had an authentic and lovely breakfast at the hotel and then visited the very famous Sri Ranganathan Swami Temple at Trichy. It is beautifully built and a gem amongst our historical temples. One must visit and feel the divine warmth at this temple.

We started around 9 am towards Rameshwaram and after crossing the city traffic we found ourselves on open state roads with a great view. Such clean and open roads are rare in North India and after traveling approximately 100 km in the first 1.5 hours we halted for a much needed tea break and were treated with familiar questions and customary queries.

Another 169 km later we merged with the East Coast Road at Devipattinam the road after that was very rough. We were all anxious to see the famous Pamban Bridge and turn our dream of riding on that bridge into a reality.

After another hour of riding and a couple of coconuts drinks along the way, we reached the Famous Pamban Bridge at around 2 PM.

You cannot get to walk on this historic railway bridge every day and this may be the first pic on social media of this walk, one can easily see how the sea water affects the tracks. There is a famous story of a single family who looks after this particular track and how they oil the track every day to keep it alive and functioning, witnessing the train journey on this track is a feeling to be experienced at least once.


After spending some time at Pamban Bridge we finally crossed over and enter the Rameshwaram. One can feel the religious atmosphere and mixed Indian tourists who comes to pay visit at one of the 4 Hindu Dhams of the country and sights like this are very common there

One can easily find the accommodation here in all budgets, one can even stay near the Temple as the managing Board has all the arrangements from staying to special Puja on their official website - http://www.rameswaramtemple.tnhrce.in/


We got a decent hotel in our budget for our stay at Rameshwaram and rested for a couple of hours then changed and visited the Temple with the holy Ganga Water from Gaumukh Glacier, we hired a priest there who helped us to do our Puja there with their tradition and bathe in 22 Holy wells inside the temple it was a peaceful and divine experience for all of us. Later that day the priest even came over and as a kind gesture, gave us the holy water from the 22 wells and Prasad for our home.


Day 4 – 23 Jan 2017 – Rameshwaram to Dhanushkodi

This was an important day for us as we wanted to witness the sunrise at Dhanushkodi. We know that the last point of it is under construction and is not open for public but as Indians we are always ready with Jugad. We decided to leave very early in dark and it worked for us, we started at 4:30 AM for the ride and in 30 minutes we reached Dhanushkodi beach point before the police put up the barricades. This 23 km experience was on our 3 bullets and 1 Himalayan, the engines were roaring in the dark and we had to switch on our LED lights to be able to see the road, strong winds from both the sides of the narrow road were forcing us and we felt like one that if we weren’t careful it could easily push us off the road. At around 5 AM we reached the last point of India. Sri Lanka was just a few km away across the ocean. I even received a notification from Airtel Srilanka on my Airtel Prepaid Mobile. The noise from our motorcycles had disturbed the sleep of some forest rangers and they greeted us in a friendly manner and told us about the local lifestyles and gave us some interesting information about this unique beach, they also showed us some of the pictures they had taken of tortoises breeding, this particular beach is reserved for them. Just before 6 am we witnessed the most beautiful sunrise ever at Dhanushkodhi beach. It was so peaceful and soulful. There were just the 4 of us there.

After a while we decided to Journey back to Rameshwaram and reached the tourist point around 7:30 am. Tourists are not allowed beyond this point. One can find some shops here for local food , gifts and souvenirs.

Around 8 AM we started from there and reached back to Rameshwaram Temple are and visited the Museum of Honorable Former President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam, I highly recommend visiting. We had an authentic Tamil breakfast served on Banana leaves and then around 10 AM we started our 312 km journey towards Kanyakumari. It was again a coastal ride till Tirunelveli for about 200 km and along the way we witnessed the lifestyle of the locals and saw how they Fish and run salt farms.

Later we were on the beautiful Madurai-Kanyakumari Highway. Along the way we stopped for Tea and some delicious vadas and had a funny incident with Kuldeep Sharmaji which I can’t share here (lol).

We covered the 120 km stretch in 1.5 hours and witnessed the beautiful highway with very little traffic. We saw big countless windmills along the road.

At about 3:30pm we touched the last T-Point of India and were welcomed by this board.

After finding a hotel and dropping our luggage we rushed to witness the very famous sunset of Kanyakumari beach we were also able to get some awesome clicks.

Mr Hitesh Mohan Aggarwal has a profound love of photography and wasn’t ready to leave the place but we finally had to drag him from there. Later that night we moved ourselves to the Roof of the Hotel. We were lucky that our hotel had the highest roof top which offered an amazing view. But we had to hold our drinking glasses and chairs very tight due to the explosive wind there. It was a memorable time for the four of us.


Day 5 – 24 Jan 2017 – Kanyakumari to Alappuzha

Today we got up a little later than usual. We woke up around 8 am and moved to a nearby beach and visited some tourist spots like Vivekananda memorial and some temples.

Kanyakumari being a tourist place doesn’t have a market where you can get all the essentials so we had breakfast in the Hotel and then moved towards the nearest city Nagercoil approximately 22 km away for some shopping. I casually inquired about my lost luggage and surprising I found that it had reached Thiruvananthapuram safely courtesy Indigo airlines. Words can’t express how relieved I was when I was reunited with my lost luggage. We later visited the famous Kovalam beach and had a leisure lunch after riding for about 85 km.

After having lunch we tackled the infamous traffic and narrow roads of Kerala and saw more of the coastal route and backwater views along the way. We noticed how the people there gave space to speeding ambulance despite the crowded roads of kerela.

After a tiring ride of another 165 km in Kerala traffic we reached Alleppey (Alappuzha) at 5:30 PM and we used the Oyo app to find another hotel within our budget.


Day 6 – 25 Jan 2017 – Rest day at Alleppey

Today was a rest day for us as we were waiting for some friends who would join us at Alleppey. They had been riding from Delhi to Kanyakumari on an endurance ride towards Rider Mania 2017.

We used this day to explore and see the beauty of Alleppey. We went for the world famous back water ride of Alleppey, they have different tariffs for different routes. It takes you deep in the beautiful backwaters which have some breath-taking views in very comfortable boats. It’s a paradise if you come with your significant other. One can stay overnight in these luxury houseboats. It’s a heaven for photography enthusiasts as well. Here are a few glimpses of the beautiful boat ride.


During the boat ride they took us to a local’s house and we tasted the best local homemade fish with fresh coconut water.

After a delightful boat ride we got our motorcycles checked and got a few minor repairs. A biker can’t see his bike complaining.

As sunset approached we moved towards the beautiful Alleppey beach where we witnessed 3 dolphins from the beach itself. I highly recommend spending time at this beautiful beach.

This was one of the lazy beautiful days during this ride and finally our 4 friends who had been riding their motorcycles all the way from Delhi to Kanyakumari joined us. We swapped stories of our journeys until very late that night.


Day 7 – 26 Jan 2017 - Alappuzha to Kundapur

Today's’ target was to cover 572 km. We knew it’ll be very tiring, it took us around 20 hours and only we know how difficult it was to navigate through narrow roads of Kerala for 400 km until Kasaragod. We finally reached Kundapur at 2 am on 27 Jan 2017. We rode in the dark and had bread omelettes for dinner at tea stall. It was a wonderful experience full of riding tales. But we couldn’t take any pictures of this day’s ride.


Day 8 & 9 Rider Mania 2017, Kundapur

The next couple of days were spent at the Rider Mania Venue, there were about 1800 riders from all corners of India, Nepal and Bhutan.

On 29 Jan 2017 we moved towards Gokarna a small temple town in Karnataka border. It’s full of beaches and we decided to stay at Om Beach the night, this particular beach is very famous in amongst foreigners and very difficult to find stay options for Indians. Luckily we found one and relaxed with some quality time at the beach and moved towards Goa next morning.


Day 10- 30th January Om Beach to Goa- Colva Beach

We moved towards the end of our ride and the distance to be covered on the last day was only 140 kms, so we took it easy and spent some time at the beach in the morning and visited kundle beach on the way. Unfortunately Sai Krishna’s motorcycle had a punctured tyre but when you have brothers around it doesn’t matter much.

It cost us some time but we managed to nearly eat up all the snacks in a nearby shop while we waited.

It was another coastal ride and we couldn’t resist taking our bikes on the beach when we found the way at Tagore beach at Karwar after riding 65 km.

After having some much needed juice and food, we reached Colva beach, Goa at around 4 PM after 80 kms more of the amazing ride. We choose this particular beach to spend the night as it was close to the place where we had to hand over our motorcycles the next morning. Since this was our last day for us northern people to enjoy the beach for the last time in this ride, we spent the whole night at Colva beach.


Day 11 – 31 Jan 2017

It was a wonderful morning but sadly the end of an amazing ride that will stay in our memory and will always lift our spirits. Once again we trusted Aggarwal Packers and movers to take our motorcycles safely to Delhi. Their office was 10 km away from our Hotel at Candolim, Goa.

We got our motorcycles packed in front of us and then took a cab. We made sure not to miss the flight this time around and safely reached back home in Delhi. In another 7 days our motorcycles were delivered at our home safely.

It was a long ride and we deliberately stretched the duration so as to do justice to the places we visited. I couldn’t share my pics here and can’t find the right words to express the beauty of what we saw. I highly recommend that everyone should visit the coastal beauty of our India. It was a cultural mix and yet everyone is unique in their own way.

I personally thank my fellow riders Hitesh Mohan Aggarwal, Sai Krishna Khanna & Kuldeep Sharma for the wonderful company and the brotherhood they shown while I lost my bag and will look forward to their company soon on future adventures in such wonderful locations.

#trailtales

#bawalkahaniya

#badassstories

#saatsaalfullbawal

#FSRMC

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