Bike Ride: Germalam Monastery and Dhimbam Ghats

This used to be and maybe is still my favorite route. While the Kanakpura stretch is slowly being turned into a boring stretch and the Mallavalli-Shivasamudram stretch is already widened and rendered monotonous.

Yet this route is still one of the best day rides around Bangalore. It has ample sunrise opportunities on the lakes adjoining the Kanakpura Road, there is early morning breakfast at Vasu’s, there are fields around Kollegal and Chamrajanagar, then there are hills of Dhimbam ghats and finally when you are tired at the end of the day, there is a straight stretch of road home. Nothing beats the all-in-one nature of this route.

So early Oct, in my quest to get to 5K Km on the D250 off I went on a morning ride.

First stop, double idli and double coffee at Vasu’s.

Then the sunrise on the highway.

A little down the road, I veered off the highway to watch the sun rise over the fields and take some pictures.

The little red house on the Malavalli-Shivasamudram stretch. I discovered this on one of the previous ride on this route. Fortunately it is a little inside from the road of the road widening would have ruined the view.

Weeds glowing in the sun.

Cauvery river from the Satthegala Bridge

At Kollegal I turned left and then right towards Germalam. This may be my last ride to the Dhondenling Monastery. The road ahead through the forest seems to be closed to two wheelers on weekend. Thanks to the youth who comes and drinks around in the jungle creating ruckus.

Drogchen Monastery

Posing in the corn fields around the monastery.

View of the Tibetan settlement.

After roaming around the settlement a bit, I moved on towards Dhimbam ghats.

Forest check post where I was stopped. The guard required a bit of persuasion to let me through. Makes me wary of coming down this road again, since its a long way to go back and go via the alternate route.

A poser.

View from the top of Dhimbam ghat.

And the Bannari temple at the bottom.

Crossing the Cauvery river.

At Salem, I stopped for lunch at the Selvi Mess and then the sprint back home.

Ride Month : Oct 2020
Distance : ~560Km

Bike Ride: Shetahalli Church

Ride to Shetahalli Church outside Hassan.

I always wanted to ride to Shetahalli Church near Hassan. However the ride on NH75 always dissuaded me. I find riding on the new National Highways extremely boring, not to mention that it lulls me to sleep. The wide new highways with their chopped down trees and village bypasses are devoid of any character.

One day I was looking at the map, and realized that I can actually go towards Mysore and then turn North-West to reach Hassan, an idea of a ride was born. And of course the desire to get to 5K Km on my D250 was another motivation.

Decided to avoid the Mysore highway and take my once favorite Kanakpura Highway. Nowadays the task of widening this highway is well underway. This means bad traffic and death knell to many of the trees.

Yet a side lane with inspiring view of some monoliths, a few Km from Kanakpura, still exists. My old Avenger has seen many photo shoots on that stretch. So took a break for the same.

One of the monoliths in the background.

At Bannur, I turned towards Srirangapatna and then towards KRS reservoir.

The stretch along the reservoir with green field and inundated trees was the highlight of the day. The water and the greenery presented with ample photo opportunities.

Coracles parked on water’s edge.

Break on edge of a field.

Having crossed the KRS reservoir, I headed towards the Hemavathi Reservoir. The Shetahalli Church is submerged by this reservoir.

Picture of Gorur Dam from the road. Took me a while and a few stops to look at Google Maps to get to the Church.

Being the season after the monsoons, the church was completely submerged. They had dug up the road leading to the banks. The reasonable number of tourists who were there were content to walk the short distance down to the water.

I decided to head on ahead towards a bridge a little way ahead. There is a good view of the church from the bridge. I stopped at the bridge. Few others were stopped there. Hung around a while and got a picture taken from another helpful tourist.

9 year old picture of the same church in July when the water levels were down and hardly anyone visited the place.

After I while I traced my route back to the main road and then NH75 to back home. On the way stopped at Murali Military Hotel for a well deserved mutton lunch.

Ride Month: Oct 2020
Distance:
~510Km

Bangalore Streets with a bodycap

Decided to walk through the city market with a body cap lens. Not the best lens but very inconspicuous and a beauty with Pen-F. Also decided to use the ART monochrome mode. A lot of fun.

Rides of 2020

For local riding, 2020 was a great year. COVID meant, no long rides and pretty much no other group entertainment activities.

Having wanting to replace the Avenger for quite a while, the puncture on a ride in May, made me pull the trigger on buying the Dominar 250. In the hindsight I should have waited for RE Meteor. The Dominar isn’t as relaxed as I would have liked. Still enjoying the rides.

Lots of days rides. Almost 5k Km outside the city. Much more than those in 2019.

Also did a 2 day 1400Km ride to Kanyakumari. The pace was not to my style, yet in your middle age one tends to see how much can they push themselves.

Gallery

Bike Ride: Kanyakumari Sprint

The thought that it was almost a year since I did an overnight bike trip was weighing somewhat heavy on my mind. That plus the itch to push my limits on the Dominar, and I decided to do a quick overnight trip. One day going 600-700Km and next day coming back.

Looking at the map, either some place beyond Hyderabad or Kanyakumari seemed the two best options. With the lure of watching the sunset and sunrise, decided to head for Kanyakumari.

Left early in the morning around five. It was still dark and there was a spatter of rain on the elevated highway. Kept the speed slow. I am not really fond of riding in the dark.

Beyond Shoolagiri, the clouds started dissipating. A beautiful morning started unfolding.

After Krishnagiri toll, took a quick break to stretch my legs and then again stopped at a small pond to take some pictures.

After Salem, I started itching for a break. Found a small place, where the main attraction was a copper boiler. I do have a nostalgic attachment to tea made with this.

Tea + snacks + bottle of water and 15 min later I was on my way. So far I had averaged about 60-65Km/hr, even though the bike speed was easily 90+Km/hr.

Soon I picked up speed and made good time. Without any breaks I soon crossed Madurai. Was getting a little tired. So stopped for another break. Found an empty field and stopped under a tree. Has some water and snacks which I had picked up a the last stop.

By now I was hopeful of reaching Kanyakumari by 1500/1530.

Soon the windmills started showing up indicating I was close to Kanyakumari. Stopped again to take the pictures.

The windmills with mountains in the backdrop looked beautiful.

At 1500 & 701Km later I was in Kanyakumari. The hotel was nice with a beautiful view out in front.

The front desk person was nice to upgrade me to a sea facing room. The place was quite empty though.

Unfortunately there was no room service at that time. So after dumping my gear, I stepped out to get some food and check out the streets.

COVID surely had taken its toll. The city was quite empty. The last two times I visited Kanyakumari, the place was jam packed.

First I went down to the coast. Rode north along the shore to the fishermen colony. Then drove to the Sunset point. Sat there for a while and then went up to Our Lady of Ransom Church.

Took a few pictures from outside the church. Then looked for a place to eat lunch. Most street side places were closed. Found a place selling Chowmein.

Returned to hotel after lunch. It was almost 1630.

Rested for a while and then walked down to the Southern most tip. Decided to watch the sunset from there rather than going to the sunset point.

There were very little crowd. Felt sorry for the numerous vendors. This lack of tourism has impacted their lively hood to a large extent.

Tried my hand at a few long exposure. In general hung around there watching sunset in the west and the lit up Vivekananda Memorial & Thiruvalluvar Statue in the east.

The sunset surely did not disappoint. It was a little chilly and had a coffee. Surprisingly after a little while the person came back to collect the empty cup. Good that they are trying to keep the place clean.

As it became dark, tried my hand at monochrome street photography. I had brought the 14/2.5 pancake specifically for that.

After walking around a while, I went into a bar for drink. Couple of drinks later I stepped out to search for dinner.

I was looking for something local and non-veg. After searching for a while, I decided to use google maps for any place with a good review.

Landed at Zam Zam Restaurant. Pretty good Shawarma and icecream shake.

Walked back to the hotel. In the room, TV was not working. Called front desk and they fixed it with a lot of effort. Watched the news and then tried to go to sleep.

Didn’t sleep very well. That ended up bothering me most of the next day.

Next day work up at 0530. Sunrise was around 0625. Bathed and got ready. Also packed my bags so that I can leave immediately after sunrise. Stepped out around 0535.

At a corner found a tea seller and a few people down the street waiting to catch a boat. Over the cup of tea realized that I had left my phone in the hotel. Went back to pick the phone and then went towards the fishing area.

The sunrise was nice, though not as fiery as the sunset. Weather was quite pleasant and I sat for a while on the parapet enjoying the rising sun and the breeze.

Then I walked up and down the road bordering the shore, sometimes taking pictures of the boats and at other times of the Vivekananda Memorial & Thiruvalluvar Statue.

Returned to the room at 0640. Changed into riding gear and was on my way before 0700.

Immediately after leaving Kanyakumari, stopped once for pictures of wind mills.

After that it was just a slog home. The fact that I hadn’t slept well on the previous night was showing its effect. I was felling quite tired and stopped several times to ward off the sleep. What I should have done is taken a longer break and a short nap by road side. But I was in a hurry to reach Salem for lunch.

Stopped for light breakfast after Tirunelveli. Just coffee and vada.

Just as I was crossing Karur the right side ring for connecting the strap broke (red circle in pic below), making the bag swing on the left. This happened at the speed of 90km/hr and completely dis-balanced the bike. This probably happened due to the elastic bungees pulling the bags to the left.

Had I not been tired and sleepy I would have noticed that it was giving away and taken corrective action. I managed to slow down but still crashed on the footpath on the left. Fortunately no vehicle was coming from the left. The impact broke the leg guard and bent the gear lever.

Few guys nearby helped pick the bike and I dusted myself up. None the worse from the fall. Asking around, there was a mechanic few Km back. Fortunately the gear was stuck in 3rd gear. Took a U turn and started looking for the mechanic. Found a KTM showroom and service center. They were nice to fix the gear lever at no cost and removed the leg guard.

Next was to figure out how to tie the bag. Brought some coir rope at a shop and tied it around the bag and then to the right foot peg.

After little more than an hour of delay, I was then ready to go. One good thing was that my sleep as all gone. Given the delay, first thought was to skip the lunch.

Decided against it and stopped at Selvi mess at Salem for lunch. Had an awesome meal of rice, mutton and keema. That lifted my spirits which were somewhat melancholy after the incident.

After that it was just a straight run home. 705Km and I was home by 1830.

Ride Month: Dec 2020
Distance: ~1420Km