Before you know it, it was 2am we were on motorcycles (11 to be exact) pointing to Perumbavoor hearts pumping, tachos maxing out and cool air from suburbs of Alwaye against our face, destination – Painavu, Idukki. As we all know Idukki district in Kerala famous for its hill stations (munnar) , mountains, forest, wildlife and breathtaking views is one of the most awesome ride destinations in Kerala. Before we hit the twisties of the Idukki hills we stopped by at Thodupuzha for a cup of tea.
Me riding my buddy’s Twister got straight to it after that tea break to do what we love, hitting the twisties. And for a small motorcycle like Twister it was pretty hard taking the beating with a small 4 speed gear box and a small 125cc engine meant no surprises up the hill, that too with a pillion. Although, this one had this K&N filter that added some kinda panache to the power response.
We were a band of 22 on mostly 150cc and 200cc motorcycles and a Honda Activa I know its wicked. But much fun was the scooter, and gruesome effort pulling it through the twisties.
It was 3:30 am when we started the ascend and leading the pack was the scooter taking a short cut through some roads I don’t know. The ascend was pleasant and cool with the after rain climate making it awesome. Enroute we made a couple of pit stops for the so called tea breaks (). Finally as the sun rose we were hitting a clearing in the thick tree canopies covering the road sides(Yeah Kerala is beautiful that way with tons of greenery along the road). We caught a bit of the red Sun and kept twisting the throttle pushing our way to Kulamavu.
Riding with a group 22 strong something is bound to go wrong some where and it happened in front of Kulamavu Police Station when 4 of the bikes were given tickets (Helmets and Mirrors).
After some tiring education by the officer we were free again, now the Sun was up and it was nearly 7 am. Now it was one of my buddies leading the pack to all the shooting spots for the famous movie ‘Idukki gold’ and sights to see on our way to Painav. These places that we went were incredible with rivers of clouds flowing between the blue hills of Nilgiri and narrow passages between the mountains. Making pitstops and clicking snaps on the way, we reached Painav by 9:30 am .
After getting some sleep and a bite to eat at a friend’s place we started towards Kalveri Mount at around 2 pm.
Kalveri Mount is a one of a kind magical place. It’s hard to get to due to some really and I quote ‘really’ steep climb up the hill to the entrance. Some how managed to get our motorcycles up to the entrance were they charge you some money for entry and parking, it was when the sun calmed that we started the trek up the Kalveri.
As the trek began we saw crosses painted in white and yellow marking the distance we covered. And finally the crosses disappeared into this thick layer of fog as we walked up to the next hill. I looked in to my watch and it was past six and the Sun had already disappeared behind those Misty Nilgiri Hills. Now it was our 15% phones and their flashes that led the way. Finally when the visibility became so poor as the person next to you would disappear, we started our walk back through those scary foggy and dark path back down.
Worth the Effort
Some of our friends who had went in earlier were waiting for us at the last (highest cross) cross marking the start of our trek down. It was here that we realized the intense chill of the Nilgiri. Waiting for the rest of the team to return we camped up their with whatever extra piece of blanket we had. ( it was unbelievably cold and the person standing next to you would be literally invisible – damn!!! it was the best moments). It was here we saw those bokeh of lights from Idukki town through the foggy night and the partially visible moon and the incredible feeling of this freedom, peace and happiness.
That’s when the travel bug bit me and everything from the blog you’re reading now to my love for travel and travel photography began.
Time flew past and the wakeup call came when my phone rang (charge – 7% range – 1bar – rest of the phones were dead by the time). It was the forest guard from the entrance and he wasn’t happy – let me say it was something about us being late and time being 9:30 pm (permitted time being 6:30pm) and yeah something about wild animals (Nilgiri thar, Elephants and some others if I heard right). Before he could blabber anymore the phone died on us making it peaceful again. And so we trekked down to meet some of our friends who didn’t climb up in the first place and had already pushed our motorcycles out before the gate closed were waiting for us outside the gate (yeah the same ones who gave my number to the guard). Tip toeing our way and sneaking out through the gap under the gate all 22 of us were out and hit the road as fast as we could.
First things first – we stopped for a tea before ripping the tarmac enroute kochi via Thodupuzha, that’s when we were advised by the Chai wala to take a different route as the time was late and the one we were on was notorious for elephant crossing – so it was decided we were staying on this route (I know poor decision but that’s how it is with us).
By the time we hit the twisties the Duke and the higher power segment bikes were no where to be seen and all men for themselves through the foggy dark roads. The cold winds and intense fog made it hard to see but we kept pushing and that’s when it started raining cats and dogs. But luck was on our side, we saw a transport bus going in the front and decided to tail behind it since it’s tail lights provided some sort of comfort in the never ending darkness.
Finally we regrouped after the twisties in a tea stall. The Ride went on into the whee ours of 2am when one of the motorcycles gave in. The battered Yamaha Sz had a leak in the fuel delivery tube and it ended up on the road side. So it was nap time till the problem got resolved.Everybody slept on the road side when one of the guys went out for help (Have you slept under the stars – hell yeah and it was incredible) . It was a star filled night somewhere along the road to Kochi from Thodupuzha, we had a power nap and it was back on.
We reached Kalamasseri by 7 am. It was Onam celebrations and we were back in college after a weekend getaway content, happy, sleepless and our thirst for wanderlust quenched – for now.
People say that destination are mere excuses to ride. But for those had witnessed the true beauty of nature, Experiencing it stands parallel to the ride and capturing it on canvas remains PRICELESS