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!\