It was still dark when I woke up. I had left the balcony door open overnight to be able to hear the waves crash the shore. That provided a good lullaby and I had slept well, ready for the ride home.
Dawn was just break when I mounted the gear on the bike and rode down to the guest house office. After waking up the person on duty to collect my advance, I headed out of Murudeshwar. I still wasn’t sure where to cross the ghats. The options on the plate were: Agumbe, Shiradi, Charmadi ghats. Someone at the homestay had recommended that the roads on the Shiradi ghats were the best.
Problem was that to get to Shiradi ghat, I had to traverse the pot holes of NH17.
Now I have been on NH17 twice in the last few years and I absolutely hate it. As the name says, it is a National Highway and it brings shame to the name. What’s there to hate: heavy traffic (both local, long distance & trucks), undivided and snakes through numerous towns and villages. To add to the agony of the rider, it also does the duty of local city/town/village road. Which means cows, dogs, carts, pedestrians and road side carts throng the highway.
However, this was early in the morning on a Sunday. So I had to content only with trucks and long distance traffic. Unfortunately to compensate there were potholes, some as deep as a feet or two.
Within an hour I was fed up and decided to take the first road that would take me east and over the ghats.
Stopping at a petrol pump, I enquired about the options. Fortunately there was a local road leading to Halady from where I could take the Agumbe highway. Bingo! That’s how I would get home.
The local road was surprisingly good and traversed through a mix of forests and fields.
Halady was a small junction with a few shops. Food was top of my mind as I hadn’t eaten anything since morning. I stopped by a small place and had a fill of Kerala Parontha with 3 cups of coffee. The hunger now satiated, I looked forward to climbing the Agumbe ghats.
As I started off, the rain started off. Starting with a drizzle, it soon began to pour.
With no sign of rain letting down, it was time to dig in, head down and ride. And that’s what I did. The altitude rose and the visibility reduced. Before long Agumbe was gone.
As I descended to Sringeri, the rain dwindled down. The forest was dense, the road slick. Riding was fun again.
Past Sringeri the coffee plantations started. Yet I was surprised to see some tea estates too.
The most welcoming part of Chikmangalur was the absence of rain. Two days ago the rain started from here. Now it stopped here too.
Past Chikmangalur, it was quite warm. Riding all morning through the rain had exhausted me. I searched for a grass knoll and found one a little before Yagachi Dam. A half an hour power nap and I was ready for the home stretch.
A quick break at Belur for coffee and puffs.
I wasn’t prepared for the traffic at Nelmangala. The jam at the junction of Hassan Road & Tumkur Road stretched a Km. Fortunately a two-wheeler can find small gaps to squeeze through. The remaining traffic is nothing to write about. I was home by 2000.
Km – 1085
Accomodation – Rs1350/- (500 + 850)
Fuel – Rs2200/-
Food & Others -Rs 725/-