We wondered how we would do that with a bootstrapped budget and no travel gear. In smaller cities, renting out self-drive cars is not as easy or inexpensive as in big cities. So, we decided we will be biking across Karnataka. Bikes were luckily available due to the presence of a big student crowd at Manipal University nearby. It turned out to be a very good decision. We checked out the ‘Bikes for Rent’ shops near Manipal University and found a few viable options. Our Ride of Choice – The KTM Duke 390.(₹1200+fuel)
The next morning, we stopped by the bike shop to pick up our bikes at 10 am. It took us 25 minutes to get the documentation and some good HELMETS(never ride without one). And began our journey. The Sun was shining bright on our visors this mid-october morning and we started out riding slow, getting out of Manipal.
Out in the rural landscape, we picked up some speed. The roads were small and winding and we never got a straight patch of tarmac for more than a few minutes. I fidgeted with my phone and tried fitting it on the Duke to no success(Note to self – get a GoPro Camera soon). The GPS also started failing soon and the road signs and other travelers became our primary source of information. By 12.30, we reached the town of Hebri. The trip had been pretty uneventful till then. We stopped outside the Hebri Bus-stop wondering if we should go back. We luckily decided against it.
Another hour of riding and we started seeing the first signs of beauty and adventure. The Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary was now near. The greens started getting greener and the roads started getting leaner. The whoosh of other vehicles almost died down. After a few poser photographs, we crossed the Security Check Gate of the Sanctuary and started riding uphill. A good thing about Karnataka is that the roads there never let you down, unlike Bombay, or Maharashtra in general. It was almost 3 pm but the tree cover and surrounding hills gave us a late evening feeling. The jungle got thicker and thicker as we rode in. A lot of photos later, we reached the summit where the view was mesmerizing. I so wished I had come prepared for this trip from Mumbai. A few animal and snake sightings later, we started moving a little faster being cautious of snakes crossing the road :P . After a final halt at Agumbe, a very beautiful and densely forest-covered village, we picked up speed and crossed the towns of Begar and Jayanagara fast. We had to reach Chikmangalur before dark. Coffee houses soon started appearing everywhere and we knew we were now close.