With Love From Valparai

Tripoto
28th Dec 2016
Photo of With Love From Valparai by Anusha Nakshathra
Day 1

As part of the winter ride that I went on last December on my Classic 350, we stopped at several scenic places and cols spots to enjoy the experience. As we left Athirapally, we headed towards Valparai, a beautiful tea plantation covered hill in Kerala.

The route we were going on was going to be the most interesting ones so far. While the distance between the two places is less than 100 km, it would take us a lot of time to reach. The route was the most diverse: we needed to ride downhill, through a city, past the Kerala - Tamil Nadu checkpoint, through the forest bordering Kerala and Tamil Nadu, ride uphill through tea estates, and finally reach Valparai. All in less than 90 km. Phew!

Our route from Athirapally was mostly downhill until we reached the main road and highway to go past a small town. After roughly 10 km through the town, we had to stop since one of the riders' bike was giving him a problem. We halted next to the Sholayar Reservoir, three of our riders took the troublesome bike to a mechanic. We walked down, took of our shoes, rolled up our pants and sat by the side of the reservoir, dipping our feet into the cool waters. We spent nearly an hour talking about random stuff as we waited for the problematic bike to come back.

Finally, we packed our stuff, got back on the bike and continued our ride after a short halt to eat Kerala style biryani. Our first major checkpoint was going to be the first Kerala - Tamil Nadu border checkpost. We had to stop here and wait as the police there insisted that we pay them some amount to let us go across. We tried convincing them but they refused to let us pass. They decided to check our bags by opening every bag and see if we had any alcohol or banned substances. Kerala is a relatively dry state considering no alcohol can be sold outside of government stores. We obviously had nothing to get us into trouble. I happily chatted away with the cops since I speak Tamil and they agreed to let us through if we paid them Rs 200. We quickly paid 'em, and they gave us a few instructions.

The road ahead was a single lane road. We were not allowed to honk, rev, or race on the roads. We could bump into anything from elephants and bisons to leopards. We were going through a dense forest, and it was a no tolerance zone.

We rode through as quietly as possible ... or as quietly as a Classic 350 could take us. They also told us that we could not stop at any given point and dismount our bikes: which instantly made taking photos impossible.

We rode quietly for nearly 40 minutes until we reached another checkpost. They checked our bags again and let us through. This time we were past the main forest area and we had finally reached another checkpost. This time, we were going from Kerala to Tamil Nadu again. We had to stop here and wait as one of the riders had to pick up someone from a nearby town.

As we waited, the sun began to set and we wanted to take some epic photos such as the cover image for this post!\

At a small tea shop in the middle of the forest.

Photo of Athirappilly, Vettilappara, Pariyaram, Kerala, India by Anusha Nakshathra

At the border checkpost!

Photo of Athirappilly, Vettilappara, Pariyaram, Kerala, India by Anusha Nakshathra
Photo of Athirappilly, Vettilappara, Pariyaram, Kerala, India by Anusha Nakshathra
Photo of Athirappilly, Vettilappara, Pariyaram, Kerala, India by Anusha Nakshathra
Photo of Athirappilly, Vettilappara, Pariyaram, Kerala, India by Anusha Nakshathra

As darkness set on us, we continued the journey stopping only to refill our bikes. We reached our stay at Valparai a good hour later with darkness surrounding us. However, the old fashioned houses that lined the road were lit up and provided enough light to park our bikes. It was biting cold and I wanted to warm my hands as soon as possible. We went inside, changed into warm clothes, and came out to see that someone had started a bonfire with scrap wood.

All of us huddled in the cold next to the warm flames and sang Malayalam songs into night. Soon, we were tired, and headed back to bed. The next day was going to be a long ride and we had to be well-rested to make it.

Photo of With Love From Valparai by Anusha Nakshathra
Day 2

Waking up early the day, I lazily turned on the TV in the room and began playing my favourite Tamil songs. It always helps me jump-start my day. After ten minutes, I was hungry. A few friends and I got dressed, headed out to the kitchen area, and asked what was on the menu: egg-dosa! If you're ever in Tamil Nadu and you haven't tried this, it's a must try!

After eating our fill of egg-dosas and idlis, we packed our stuff and tied to our bikes. The surrounding valley of tea plantations were incredible and the lush green provided the perfect backdrop to our photos!

The entire gang just before leaving!

Photo of Valparai, Tamil Nadu, India by Anusha Nakshathra
Photo of Valparai, Tamil Nadu, India by Anusha Nakshathra

We then mounted our bikes, and rode out towards our next stop. It had been a varied ride the previous day and we wanted to make it in time for our next destination to enjoy the local sights.

As much as I couldn't capture any photographs of our forest ride and the feeling of riding with anxiety through every curve that the road offered, it had been the most nerve wracking ride. At a few points, we even rode past fresh elephant dung and we were forced to slow down so as to not accidentally bump into any wild elephants.

With the thoughts of our recent forest ride experience, we set to our next destination, leaving the lovely, green tea plantations of Valparai behind us.

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