Long roads to Kodaikanal.

13th Aug 2015
Photo of Long roads to Kodaikanal. 1/2 by James Paul
Photo of Long roads to Kodaikanal. 2/2 by James Paul

14 wheels.. 11 souls..and never ending plans… that's how it all startedThis is not simply a travel diary… but each word denotes the happiness in fulfilling a long cherished dream.. Travelling.. Going places were always a passion.. But the life on two wheels began to thrill when the epic malayalam movie NPCB was released. When every rider started to get his wheels on the road, I used to stand by the road, dream of being one among them,envy them and simply wave hands at them. The child grew and the dreams too grew with him. He waited and finally this is the day where the dream is set to become true.


After days of planning, discussions, route redirections, people coming in and going out of the group, reasons big and small, 11 men went to sleep on 13th August with the dream of kissing the roads,the following morning. Travelling thousands of kms wasn't what mattered, waking up at 4 n the morning and getting ready was what troubled them. With sleep yet to retrieve and the sun yet to wake up, they packed their bags..tightened their jackets.. And the 3 enfields 3 ktms and a honda were on the roads. Engines roared, gears shifted and the trip was on…The bikes sped past the college gates on to the bypass  and fixed their wheels on the straight highway to thrissur. The first destination was athirapally waterfalls. With the morning cold troubling getting over 70 kmphs was tough. The sun yet to wake, the bikes crossed calicut borders and into malappuram, 2 hours continuous ride from there and we reached the cultural capital,THRISSURWith our stomachs yearning, we had to stop for a while to find something to eat. Hotel bharat served us hot dosas and vadas and the sip of hot tea swept away the sleep that was still lingering in our eyes. Fresh, we set the wheels on road again. Thrissur-ernakulam highway was so tempting that the speed limit that we set was soon forgotten. The speedometer raced past the hundred mark with ease. Once the highway was over and we entered the lone road to the falls, the speed returned to its limits.With the trees and overgrown grasses on both sides and less traffic, the road was beautiful and Slowly we reached the falls. The view of the falls from the roads was enough to make us get beneath it in minutes.

An hour was spend under the falls, amazed by its beauty.. Experiencing its power and enjoying the pleasure of water drops tickling the skin.By noon, after a small lunch near the falls , we set out again for our next destination VALPARAIIt was 2'o clock by then and 95 kms had to be covered before the day falls. The forest road to valparai, mostly lonely, beautiful and the number of hairpins added to the thrill of the ride.. The rain so impatient to stay a while longer In the sky began to downpour on us on the way. We were so helpless and there was no place to halt, we let the rain wash us all the way. With the roads so narrow and the rain reluctant to retreat, we reached the the hilltop much later than we expected. A small tea break provided us the information that munnar was having repeated showers. already irritated by the rain,the first trimming of our plans came and munnar was left out. We crossed the checkposts and moved to the town from the outskirts. A visit to the sholayar dam gave some time to enjoy some photography. As the sun began to bid goodbye to the sky we decided to stop the ride for the day and find a place to rest. A small dormitory,comfortable enough for eleven of us was found. the cold was so intense that we didn't risk taking a bath. with nothing else available we ate the food that never appealed to our taste buds. The day ride was exciting as well as tiring, the sleep captured us even before we settled on our beds. Alarms kept, to set off again at 6 a.m. we went to sleep with the thrill of the ride still warm.


The alarms were on time but the cold outside forced us to stay on bed for another hour or more. Slowly one by one we woke from our sleep. The food we had last night gave us an unpleasant experience in the bathrooms. The food and the cold together delayed our ride for more than two hours. By 8.30 the bikes were on the roads again. We bid goodbye to the  beautiful valparai hills and slowly turned our wheels towards the 41 hair pin road that will directly take us down to the road to pazhani.The way down the hills were beautiful with plantations on its sides,tall trees all around, the mist that was still lingering in the air and the shining polished road with its Never ending turns . The bikes,  just like the ants on a rope, started descending the hill ,one following the other,  twisting, turning, gears shifted all together one behind the other. Tea from a small shop somewhere on the road, photographic sessions on the way,after all this we reached the bottom after two hours of ride. Forgot to mention, the view of the dam beneath from somewhere near the thirtieth hair pin was so amazing tat we spend some time enjoying its beauty.

The bottom of the hill presented us with a small yet beautiful waterfalls, monkey falls. The time we reached the wasn't the perfect one, the place was crowded with public and we soon left the place after having some rest. Udumalpett was our next destination and we had to be there soon so that our Muslim friends will be on time for their Friday prayers. Once we were out of the hills, the roads lost its beauty.. Dry barren land all around, Scattered trees and the sun with all its might shining straight above our heads. This spoiled the mood of the ride for a while though. The road to udumalpett were full of Bullock and horse carts returning after some festival. We were careful but they were reckless and one of our riders had a bad knock on his leg from a speeding horse cart. The gaurd saved the day, the footrest was broken.. Luckily nothing bad happened. The trip was delayed a bit but we reached udumalpett by 1'o clock.. We had our lunch, our friends did their prayers and after an hour of rest and tanks filled, we moved towards pazhani. The ride was short and we soon reached pazhani. The view of the pazhani hills and the temple from the roads were quite tempting, but the hot sun and the 100 steps to the hill top was more than enough to drop the plan of going up.

We turned our wheels to our next destination- kodaikanal. We passed the boards showing, kodaikanal-70 kms but soon had to stop due to the hot sun. We took rest under the trees on the road side and stayed there until the sun began its ride towards the west. We slowly started climbing the hills. The roads were not smooth like the ones we have already passed. The narrow roads with pits here and there and deep valley on its side gave us a risky ride up the hill. One the way , we halted at a place which appeared like a small market with few shops, we all had a cup of coffee. The fruit shops near had so many varieties of fruits, much of which were unknown. The rates were high, but the taste tempted us to have a bite of each one of them. The green apple however stood out to be the favourite. Once our purses were empty we continued our trip to the queen of hillstations, which was just 15 kms away now. The sun has already began its sleep, light has fallen and we crossed the check posts and moved towards the town. We rode past the hotel where we stayed during our college trip a year ago. We found a nice cottage at a short distance from the lake.  The day's ride was at its close. The tired hearts and engines, both wished for a night full of sleep... Stomach full of food, and an hour or more of useless talks, we let ourselves into the hands of sleep. The memories of two days and the hopes of coming two gave us a peaceful slip to a pleasant sleep.


Two days.. 500 kms.. The ride has slowed downA good nights sleep in the cold mist filled hills of kodaikanal refreshed the riding spirits in all of us. We were all again ready for the freedom ride and the day was perfect for the same. When the whole country enjoyed its hard fought earned freedom 68 years ago, we were doing the same in our way somewhere in the hills on two wheels. Maybe because it was independence day, there was an extra amount of freedom and happiness within us.We visited the kodaikanal lake, guna caves and the fairy falls. Our stomachs ached, tea and snacks from a small shop and we soon left the beautiful hills as we had to reach ooty before the day ends. We followed the same road that we took to climb up the hills, till pazhani. On our way down, we could see a number of riders coming up on their beautiful KTM's and bullets. Though unknown, the smiles we shared gave a feeling of brotherhood. After an hour or so, we were down the hills. We travelled some distance more towards pazhani and then we observed that one of our bullets had a flat tyre. There was no shops in the vicinity. We settled down in the roadside, some went in search of a mechanic.. Others layed down in the tree shades. 2 mechanics came, both had no big idea how to repair a Thunderbird. At last the one who layed the nails, one f which struck our tyre came. I have laughed at such scenes when it appeared in films, never thought the same would happen to us. Almost two and half hours on the roadside, we again set our wheels on the road. Our plans altered, and we thought of finishing the day at coimbatore.We moved towards the coimbatore road and in the busy streets of pazhani , one of the bikes  lost its way and this delayed the trip a while more. Once on the coimbatore highway, for the first time after the first day the bikes forgot the  speed limits. The roads were smooth, straight and had almost no traffic. What more should the riders need!. Kilometers ran past us in matter of moments. The feeling of being carried away when the bikes accelerated above 130kmphs is something to be experienced. We reached coimbatore by 6 p.m. An hour of rest,refreshment and food from the fun mall coimbatore we continued our journey towards ooty. The sun already departed from the sky, people and traffic,both left the roads and we were left all alone on the roads to enjoy the glistening of the moon. We travelled slowly and together, the night ride was beautiful. By 10 we reached mettupalayam. We were all so tired we couldn't move another inch. It took us some time to find a place to stay, once we reached the rooms we were all fast asleep.


5'o clock the alarm bells but none of us woke up. Maybe because its the final day, we were all lazy to wake up and return. By 8' o clock we started our journey towards ooty. The road to ooty was full of fellow riders and at the sight of a wild yak on the road, we thanked God that we  didn't try to ride upto ooty past night.we were in ooty by 11.00 am. The coonor to ooty train, garden and lake all gave a nice experience in ooty. The ride was giving us so much of freedom, we were so reluctant to return and we choose the longest way possible to return. Instead of the ooty- gudalur road, we decided to go to bandipur and return through gundalpet. The ride through the bandipur forests was exciting. The fear of wild animals crossing our path made it more exciting. One of our riders was foish enough to sound the horn at the sight of an elephant group on the road side. The elephants came running towards us , for a second we thought  we were all dead. Somehow we escaped and we dared not to stop again in the forest. Once we were out of the forests, the bikes slowed down and at the same time 60-70 bullets raced past us, everybody was enjoying their freedom. We tried but couldn't match the speed of those experiences riders. We soon reached the Kerala borders. A cup of coffee and we started our journey back to hostels from wayanad. On the way few of our seniors joined us after their trip. We travelled down the thamarassey churam and the rain began pouring down. We were all silent, the ride was at its end… we never wished for that. 

Another hour and we were all back in the vicinity of our college. One last acceleration, gears shifted...we were all back in our hostels11 FRIENDS... Abhijith,Shamil,Shereef,sajid,James,Hemanth, Anupam,Aebel,Nizwin ,Razack and Razik went to sleep with heads still wandering on the roads, heart full of memories and dreams full of rides yet to come.Till THE WINDS KISS OUR EYES AGAIN…Our hearts held… engines stopped....:)