Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills

Tripoto
2nd Dec 2017

At an altitude of 4000 ft Mandalpatti hills offers some astounding views of the adjoining hills. Situated inside the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary and 20 kms from Coorg, I decided to test my endurance by joining a cycling ride from Madikeri along with Bangalore Trekking Club, in Nov 2017.

Before signing up I googled up about the place. Although I didn't find any article about anyone cycling to Mandalpatti, I assumed it won't be a big deal, apart from some rough patches. Big deal, I signed up. Not realizing what hardships awaits.

Day 1: When will this Uphill Climb End?

We reached Madikeri at around 5am to a pouring sky. It was drizzling throughout the night telling us we are in the Western Ghats. It just wouldn't stop! Defying the weather conditions we got ready and tested our rides that were kept ready. We were to be supported by a Dhanu who would also double up as a guide and a mechanic support in case of some fault in the bikes.

We started off at around 8 am from our homestay, wheeling off with some dazed and amused spectators on the road.

Day 1

Off we go!!

Photo of Madikeri, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

The initial 2 kms passed off in breeze. We were gliding! Then came the 1st uphill climb. Everyone gave their best, but eventually we had to give in, and started to walk with our bikes.

Photo of Madikeri, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Reached our breakfast point no sooner. Since all of us started to ride in empty stomach, the breakfast break couldn't have come earlier.

Our breakfast point

Photo of Madikeri, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

My ride, slick and shining

Photo of Madikeri, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

The breakfast was like the missing jigsaw in the puzzle. Empty plates of dosa+puliogare piled up thanks to our hunger pangs. Add to that steaming coffee. Perfect for the ongoing journey.

Easy-peasy ride, until now

Photo of Madikeri, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Our rides, sparkling under a misty rain while we devour breakfast

Photo of Madikeri, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

It just won't stop drizzling., but the journey has to continue. Pavan, after the breakfast asked us to continue on the trail, citing its going to be an easy, smooth ride till Mandalpatti, with occasional ascent. Oh, little did he know and realize that this so called smooth ride is going to be a long, sore ache in everyone's bums.

We continued off at around 10 am to Mandalpatti again. Ok, so at the point that we had breakfast there are 2 routes diverging; the one on left goes via Abby falls. We took the route on the right though. Right after the breakfast things started to get serious. After a brief downhill ride, which most of us completed with a grin on the face we started seeing the 1st uphills. And they were never-ending.

Arun pushing his limit in negotiating the uphill climb. Shot on my phone

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

Some momentary downhill joy for the riders

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

Back muscles aching, sore bums, stiff calf muscles were common among all of us by now. On top of that the muddy and dilapidated roads didn't help much. Add to that the jeeps crossing only added to our woes, to be careful and ensuring we are always riding on the extreme left. People would be cheering and waving at us, making us feel some kind of rockstars!

Some challenging ascent

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

Some treacherous riding conditions there

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

We struggled with the treacherous road conditions and the constant ascent. For me I had few minor hiccups, with my bike chain constantly dropping with every pedal.

But yes, the views of the green mountains and the rural village life was a welcome relief. There were some moments wherein the roads were flat, and we would just gaze and soak in the beauty all around.

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

We have been cycling for almost 3 hours now, and the legs were really getting tired. More so because most of us were not regular cyclists. The group was completely scattered now, with most of us deciding to pedal at our own comfortable speed.

Man vs Machine

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

Then there came a stretch through the forest wherein the only way to proceed was to walk with our bikes. And if that was not enough it started to pour now. Great! We continued our uphill 'climb' amidst all difficulties.

After some back-breaking walk up the road we reached a open spot where we decided to wait it out for the rest of the folks.

The sky opened up again, much to everyone's happiness

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

The lads waiting for the rest of the cyclists

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

Once all joined in we decided to keep rolling without any delay. For we were running late and the weather was more pleasant now.

Tired but not out

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

We reached the entry point to the Mandalpatti hills by around 1:30 pm. We all stopped for some tea and snacks, before entering the Pushpagiri Forests.

almost there...

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

All of us were mighty relieved to have reached till here. It felt we were almost there. The problem is 'almost'.

All the cyclists were refreshed. The energy was visible. Back on the saddle and everyone started to pedal with more enthusiasm. The views from here were absolutely stunning. Felt like cycling through the clouds. Most people who were here as weekend getaway were stunned to see us on cycles.

The path was full of stones and potholes. Having a good geared MTB really helps.

Glorious views all around

Photo of Mandalpatti Peak, Madikeri, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Our riders just took a momentary pause to appreciate the views thrown at them

Photo of Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Kumaralli, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

We chugged along, hoping to have reached the Mandalpatti viewpoint, but to no avail. It was getting late, and considering we have to go back the same way to Madikeri we had no other option but to speed up.

We did reach the entry point to the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, with an arc like metal structure welcoming us. We are here, FINALLY! Well, not yet, actually! Turns out there's still a bit of trail more to cover before we reach Mandalpatti hills.

The entrance to the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary

Photo of Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Kumaralli, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

The Mandalpatti hills in the distant horizon

Photo of Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Kumaralli, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Few more pedal strokes and we finally reached the base of the hill. Phew, FINALLY! Yep, no more distant hopes of not reaching our destination, and rest to the calf muscles albeit for few minutes. We parked our bikes under the shade of tree. People were already returning from the hill. We are late. It was already 2:30. We had to go up, absorb and enjoy the panoramic views and turn back in 30 mins.

In 5 minutes we could climb the hill, and the views were absolute stunner. Just look at the pics below...

The Mandalpatti peak

Photo of Mandalpatti Peak, Madikeri, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Sunset from Mandalpatti hills

Photo of Mandalpatti Peak, Madikeri, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

I guess we reached at the right time. It was sunset time and the valley bore a dusky yet a glow on the hills all around. It was fiery windy as well, so had to hold camera and helmet close. Well, all good things comes to an end, and so we decided to descend from the hill, hop on our bikes and back to Madikeri.

The beautiful Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, home to many rare, vivid flora and fauna

Photo of Mandalpatti Peak, Madikeri, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

The clouds getting stronger, the wind getting fierier

Photo of Mandalpatti Peak, Madikeri, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Mandalpatti, Hammiyala, Karnataka by Hrishikesh Baruah

But we still can't roll back to Madikeri, yet. LUNCH! We haven't had anything to eat since early morning breakfast gallop. To our luck our hosts had prepared and arranged some simple, yet delicious meals for us, all the way brought to us at the entrance of the Mandalpatti hills. All bikes aside, bags kept in the corner, we sat down on the side of the road only; we were so hungry!

The hungry pack!

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

My ride!

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

We packed up, checked our bikes, and started off at around 4:30 back to Madikeri. We all had this in mind that this ones going to be one long, painful, and tiring ride home. But ain't got no time to complain, so lets get rolling.

We picked up good speed and momentum, for the initial part was a downhill. All good, until the point the dreaded uphill climb raised its ugly head. Tired, we all ceded defeat and would walk up the uphill part before putting our bums back on the saddle.

It got dark, and we were near to Madikeri. The group had split as well. Me and Naveen were tirelessly trying to paddle as much as we could. Night had befallen and it was impossible to pedal in this unknown pitch black road. Apart from that the uphill climb only made it more strenuous. Me and Naveen must have walked along with our bikes for a good 3-4 kms, hoping to see the place where we had breakfast. But that simply wouldn't happen, and in despair we would keep walking. I just felt like throwing away everything and just lie down on the road, such was my exhaustion. But can't give up, and we keep rolling. We finally managed to reach the place where we had breakfast. My joy had no bound, considering this place was still open and that Madikeri was only 5 kms or so away.

I had 3 glasses of chilled buttermilk (I think I could have had 2 more)! I was even more relieved once I realized the rest of the troupe had caught up and reached this place. Everyone was discussing only one point; their surprise with the difficulty level of this cycling trail. Even Pavan and Arun from BTC, and Dhanu our guide were taken aback by surprise how difficult it was to cycle on this treacherous road.

Easwar cruising on his hybrid bike

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

That buttermilk sure raised our energy level. We picked up our bikes and started rolling down the hill to our homestay. We were more revitalized, and rode in confidence the remainder of the journey. We FINALLY reached our homestay at around 9. Almost 13 hours after we had started off! That's a lot of time on a cycle! Most of us took a nice, warm shower. And few of us were so tired they didn't even wait for dinner, and crashed on the bed. Snoring time!

Most of us were eagerly waiting for dinner though, all dying of hunger. A bonfire was set up around which we all had food. Sleeping time for all came soon enough, needless to say all tired.

Day 2

Day 2: A Day to Laze around in Coorg

Today was to be dedicated to relax and explore Coorg. We were too scared to ride back on a cycle to anywhere

Color bloom

Photo of Madikeri, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

The Changu-Mangu of the homestay!

Photo of Madikeri, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

We started off with a small hike up an adjacent hill. Negotiating the tall grass we reached the top of a hill that provided a birds eye view of Madikeri.

Madikeri

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

Next stop is Raja's seat, which is a popular tourist spot for people coming to Coorg. We walked leisurely to this spot. Before we enter Raja's seat there is this toy train which takes you on a 10 min round. Everyone's inner kid came alive today!

Remember that epic last scene of DDLJ? Turns out it was copied from this moment!

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

All aboard the Madikeri Express!

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

After this we went to Raja's seat, which is park offering some nice views of the valleys. A popular place for wedding photo-shoots as well.

Raja's seat

Photo of Raja's Seat, Stuart Hill, Madikeri, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Raja's Seat, Stuart Hill, Madikeri, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

After spending some quality time in Raja's seat we decided to go to Abbey Falls, our last stop before heading back to Bengaluru.

Abbey falls is yet another famous spot which attracts a lot of footfalls. Traffic and parking can be bit of an issue here, especially on weekends. The entrance to the falls is a through a nice jungle.

Way to Abbey falls

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

That was one massive spider!

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

Abbey falls, nestled inside a jungle is a beautiful cascading waterfall. Its a must visit place when in Coorg.

Abbey Falls

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

Abbey Falls

Photo of Cutting Through the Corners: My Cycling Ride from Madikeri to Mandalpatti Hills by Hrishikesh Baruah

Time to head back. Day 2 was well spent and much needed relaxation. Before heading out we thanked our host Vineetha for arranging the trip and homestay.

As expected everyone just dozed off in the bus once in. I got down at Mysuru, thanking all for the excellent camaraderie and time.

Important Pointers...

1. This Cycle ride is not for the casual folks. Its a tough one. You should have been cycling for a while before dropping in at Madikeri

2. Make sure to wear helmets, get your bike double checked, and ensure the brakes are working well.

3. Carry plenty of liquids with self (nope, not alcohol or beer)

4. A BIG shoutout to That Garage Cafe, situated in HSR Layout. They arranged our stay in Madikeri, the bikes, and the awesome food.

5. If you want to go on this cycling trip then you may contact Vineetha at +91 96867 01469, from That Garage Cafe team. She'll help to arrange your bikes, food, and stay. Pretty comfortable their home-stay was.

6. Best time to do this during monsoons I felt

7. Do not go alone. Go in a group. Just in case some emergencies happen.

8. Carry a torch light as it may get dark

9. Carry spare tubes, break pads, and toolkit

10. And that forget to carry rainwear

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