The beginning of this story can be found in the annals of TAPMI batch '15-'17. TAPMI is the institute where I went for my MBA. The institute was constructed on the top of a mountain! In the middle of a jungle. The whole area was very beautiful and full of potential for exploration.
It was the final year of our course, and Anirudh Vasudevan suddenly interrupted my afternoon nap to announce, 'Macha! We will make a group & go out on rides to explore Udupi and Manipal'. He was excited, I was sleepy, but slightly aroused at the thought of a group getting formed. Group mentality is always comforting. Humans live off of stuff like this. Not that I had any option in front of Vasu's (Let's refer to Anirudh Vasudevan as Vasu now) sales skills - any resistance to Vasu's ideas generally met with further resistance from his end - so I agreed. And this moment led to the formation of tapmiTHUMPERS
After that, majority of my second year was either getting rejected by companies during placement, or going out on rides and exploring Manipal and other areas. And then it ended. All of us got placed, got convocated and moved to different cities. It had been 2 years, and we barely got to meet. I moved on to doing solo rides here & there, and Vasu moved on to working. So much work that he sold his motorcycle and got a car to travel around. tapmiThumpers had come to an end - to be referred to only when we met over beers. Just memories of adventures that we had during our relatively carefree days!
And then one fine day, Anvish (Not a part of tapmiTHUMPERS, but an amazing friend to most of us) calls me. 'Bro, I'm getting married!', he says. This was in Somwarpet - about 250 kms from Bangalore. Perfect for a nice little ride. Convincing Vasu was not a big deal. Even he had been itching to get a break from work - to get back on the saddle. Uppi (Upendra, another bro from TAPMI) also joined us on his Dominar. Vasu rented a Jawa for 3 days.
We met at 6am on the weekend the marriage was scheduled on, and were on the road by 6:15. We took the NICE road out of Bangalore and managed to maintain good speeds. The idea was to reach the hotel as soon as possible & secure the best room for ourselves. There were a lot of people coming, and we were not sure if we would get a decent area to sleep in. So we made only two small stops - for breakfast near Kengeri, and then in Mysore for some tea and snacks.
'Twas during one of these stops that Vasu mentioned that the seat on the Jawa was very uncomfortable. He was not able to sit properly. Ride height, posture, engine, breaking - was great, the only issue was, his seat was hard and uncomfortable. I tried riding it for some time, and yes, the seat on the new Jawa is extremely uncomfortable. I don't think its made for touring at all. The dominar, on the other hand, was a revelation. That machine takes onto tarmac naturally. Seating is extremely comfortable, you just sink into the sofa like seat with comfortable posture and relaxed ABS braking. Very nice!
After crossing Mysore, it was a straight highway all the way to Somwarpet. There were few water falls on the way some nice back waters and the roads were generally well maintained.
The weather in Somwarpet changed for the better. There was a nice chill that crept into our bodies, which was accompanied by the slightest hint of fog in the air. The fog increased as the evening progressed. By night, it had turned into a full fledged hill station.
Stay - Aloka Homestay
Anvish had booked this nice cosy home stay for his batch mates. There were just TAPMI people here, and we were the first ones to check in as planned. And we did end up getting one of the nicest rooms in the stay. There were french windows and a balcony with a view. We ordered butter chicken and some rice and rotis along with kebab, and the butter chicken was amazing! They had mixed coconut pieces with the chicken, and it tasted so good.
We were so tired after waking up early at an ungodly hour and then riding without any stops that we dozed off post lunch.
By the time we woke up, it was almost time for the other set of TAPMI people to reach. About 15 or so people were traveling to Somwarpet in a bus. It was just like a college trip for all of them, minus the supervision of authorities. They were enjoying their weekend and celebrating Anvish's wedding in the bus with generous servings of alcohol. When they reached the stay and met us, they were barely able to walk straight - Just like old TAPMI times!
Our meeting was heartwarming and wholesome. We talked for a bit, got dressed and left for the venue of the wedding.
Anvish's Somwarpet Engagement
This was the night before Anvish's wedding - his engagement. And there was good food and loads of drinks, and we used all of this to our advantage. All of us got very drunk (again, just like old times), and came back to the homestay late in the night. The festivities, however, did not stop here. Oh, far from it. The party and drinking continued throughout the night. I crashed the moment I got back to our room, but Vasu and Uppi kept drinking till late in the night.
I woke up with a start at 7 in the morning. Vasu was sleeping. Uppi was not. His motorcycle was nowhere to be found. I sat for a bit in the balcony, enjoying the views, and tried calling him but his phone was out of reach. Other friends had not slept all night, they just dressed up and went to Anvish's wedding in the morning
I chose not to go. Just felt tired, maybe hungover. So I woke Vasu up somehow, and we started planning the day. And while we were figuring out the places to ride around the area, we saw Uppi come back. He had been to Harangi reservoir in the morning. The first place we had planned to go to early in the morning. We couldn't wake up because we slept. Uppi didn't sleep, and did a ride first thing in the morning - and then he slept. All day, while we went out to ride around.
Breakfast - Hotel Kalyan Bhavan (Veg.)
Authentic South Indian food - How many times do we see this in cities like Bangalore & Chennai, but it doesn't feel authentic when we try it. This one didn't even make such tall claims, and yet I certify - this is as authentic as South Indian food can get. Between the two of us (me & Vasu), we tried idlis, vada, 2 different types of dosa (Masala & Benne), and loads of Sambhar, and it was all great. Freshly prepared and very tasty.
Guys! I was extremely impressed by Uppi's Dominar and the way it rides. So, I borrowed it from his for the day, and gave him my CBR, in case he felt like going out for something (The fact that he had not slept the whole night, made the chances of this happening very slim).
So I ended up enjoying the Dominar on these roads. Harangi is a small reservoir on the river Harangi (Duh!) and there are mostly village tracks that will take you here from the homestay. Dominar was gliding on those off-road patches. It felt pretty good and liberating when we got off the motorcycles in front of the reservoir and posed for clicks!
Dubare Elephant Camp
Next up, was the elephant camp. As is evident by the name, this is a nice looking place where you can witness elephants bathing in the water. The water flows at a very high speed, so they have big kayaks, which are maneuvered by experienced divers, and they take you across the river - this is the spot where elephants take bath, and humans witness them.
We did not go to the other side of the river, because we had to explore the other sites also. This is the thing with riding - you explore everything, but don't really explore one single place. Jack of all trades of sorts. In our heads, exploring, being on the road is more enjoyable than seeing elephants bathe. To each his own, I guess.
So me and Vasu, we just sat on the side of the river, and observed people getting on kayaks and crossing the stream. We also discussed worldly matter like how our jobs are the worst jobs in the world and what needs to be done to escape, yet have resources that are important to live.
Finally, after half an hour or so, we got on to our motorcycles - He on the Dominar, and I, on the uncomfortable Java - and we rode off.
One very important thing that needs special mention here, guys. Right before the camp, you will come across some wine stores on the side of the road. We obviously stopped, attracted by the charm of home made local wines. And we brought a bottle. According to the bottle, the wine comes with 0% alcohol content, but the owner claimed that they had 30-40% 'naturally occuring' alcohol content. We got fooled. No alcohol content. Just a bottle of juice disguised as wine. Be vigilant, y'all!
There were off roads on the way to this one. And I was on the extremely uncomfortable seat of Jawa. But it is a very small motorcycle. And the engine revs hard. Basically, it is perfect for places without roads. I just felt this, and ripped the bike open. I was zooming over these slippery trails at very high speeds. Vasu was worried looking at me go so fast, but I was confident (Over, maybe). And I thoroughly enjoyed these trails. Jawa was a revelation and made the trails so enjoyable! I had slipped all the way back to the seat and kept the throttle wide open.
Finally, we reached this beautiful place -
Makkalagudi Betta Peak
The day was coming to an end now, and we wanted to reach the peak before sunset. It had started raining in some places. Not that it was an issue - I love it when it starts raining during a ride. The only issue is visibility through the visor, everything else, becomes beautiful. I just drop my speed, get to one side of the road, and enjoy riding during rains. Vasu, not so much. So we made a stop at one of the coffee shops during heavy rains and enjoyed a cup of coffee. Finally, when we did reach the peak after some time, this was beautiful as well. Reminded me of the Vallapurnadu peak near Kolli Hills.
Once again, we clicked a few nice photos here, stayed for some time, introspected, discussed our pre mid life crisis stories, and were on our way back to the homestay.
Vasu enjoying the views from Makkalagudi Betta
It is really crazy how beautiful scenes, locations, or moments give us a completely different, positive perspective on depressing happenings in our life. You can get stuck in a rut trying to figure out a solution to your problems while staying in the same situation. But we keep forgetting this small, seemingly unimportant fact and keep getting stuck in ruts.
Anyway, we reached the stay, woke Uppi up, had dinner, which was insanely tasty this time as well, and made plans to wake up at 4 in the morning and leave the place by 5. Vasu had to be at work by 1pm. It was very important for him.
We woke up at 6am.
All of us were so tired that no alarm could wake us up. We turned those 4am alarms off, and slept peacefully till Uppi got up and exclaimed that it was 6am! Packing was done in the night, so just had to get up and get on the motorcycles. It took us half an hour or so, and we were back on the roads. The roads that Vasu picked this time around saved up about half an hour's time, and were very scenic. We basically crossed through clouds - it was that good. The mix of fog, chill and green trees along with twisty roads at 8ish in the morning was a very potent combo, and we rode hard all the way to Bangalore
A tapmiTHUMPERS adventure!