Ever since India-Rides started, renting a bike became very easy for students in Manipal. So multiple trips were just waiting for us. This is just one of the many.
With Thunderbird already booked out, we were almost equally happy to hire an Avenger 220 Cruise for our day and a half journey. The journey was initally uneventful, started at 8 in Manipal and we reached Maravante in almost exactly an hour where we had a short break. With coconut water and a few bananas for breakfast, crossing Ottineni, which is notably known as the secret beach, we exit NH 66 and ride onto State Highway 50. Heading right towards the hills in the distant background, the road that curves way too much, bright green fields on both sides glittering in the pleasant sunlight, light stream flowing alongside the road, it kept us yearning for it to last forever. The road just got better as the hills came closer and closer. Stopping for tea-break as we ask for directions in my broken Kannada, the only language spoken by the locals, we head right into dense forest. The canopy that covered most of the road, englufing the sun almost but completely, with a snake that casually crosses the road as we ride by, which, by the way, looked suspiciously like cobra: dense forest indeed!
With thick rainforest on both sides, the lush green bushes, cheerful sounds of birds and almost no vehicles on the road, it kept me thinking the road couldn’t possibly get better than it already is. Oh, was I wrong. Once the climb started, the glimpses of the valley view we got through the thick trees, were incredible. Lamentably, Jog falls was almost dry and very crowded. Although watching the water fall from such great height and become mere mist before it reaches ground, bright colours of multiple rainbows as it made through the fall was worth going there.
After some sparse food for mere survival we head to kodachadri, again banking on locals for directions as hardly any signs are in English. The preeminent flaw in this plan is that it involved people for the most part and there were none most of the way. This led to us taking a wrong direction and conitnuing for 10 kms. By the time we came to the right path we were inevitably late. The journey involved taking a ferry across the river and we just missed one at 4 pm. We had to wait till 5 for the next one. One good part about this plan was we got to see sunset on the ferry. As we reached kodachadri, at around 6, the gate was closed before we could attempt the notorious climb. We arranged to camp in a farm and even arranged for firewood. We set up the tent before it gets dark and have food very early and light the fire once it gets dark. With sparkling fire in front of us, sitting on a tree log, under a perfect cloudless sky with the millions and millions of sparkling stars, with the only light visible anywhere being the firelight, it instantly became the best night I’ve had all my life.
It was very cold morning, with a very pleasant mist that has flooded the entire farm, a unidentified bird singing its wonderful tune in the background. We start the climb early at 6. Started as not so hard, the climb goes on to be the most challenging road I have ever ridden on. With a pillion it was near impossible, so my friend had to walk all the way up. The entire road was just rocks and the climb was too steep, and avenger wasn’t suited for this. The entire ride up kept me longing for it to end, the strain on the body was too much. There were so many points where I amost gave up. After what felt like days worth of torturous climb, it finally appeared to end with lushful grasslands and hills all around, the view was literally breathtaking. The road, though went on with grasslands on both side. We take a very long break before heading on though, which was very efficient, as the climb did not finish. The climb once and for all finished at a point where I could not have possibly ridden any longer. It is at this point a very steep trek begins. This trek leads us to the highest point(1200m above sea level). Exhausted from the climb, drained of energy, the view was much needed refreshment. I was exhilarated that we didn’t quit anywhere on the way. True to the saying, “best view comes after the hardest climb”. If the climb was hard, the decent was worse. Constant fear where I would slip and fall off a cliff, carefully steering at the hairpin turns, we reach down safely. Almost not wanting to return, we had to go back, normal life seeming too dull. All the way back, I couldn’t help but wish my life is filled with trips like this.