After office hours, at a bakery near Kanteerava Stadium, my brother Akshay and I planned to have a crazy monsoon ride. We finalized the places; Sringeri, Kudremukha, and Horanadu. We were always enticed by the beauty of nature of the Western Ghats of Karnataka and hence these places.
Day 01: 12th Oct 2019, Saturday
Our actual plan was to start by 3.30 am from Parle Toll, but because of my office workload that stretched late Friday night, I reached my room around 2.30 am and dropped a message to Akshay; “Bhai, I will sleep till 4 am”. I wanted a power nap so I could ride peacefully.
Akshay woke me at 4.15 am, I packed my bag, freshened up and was ready to hit the road. We met at Parle Toll at around 5.15 am; a cup of tea, paired our intercoms and started riding towards Hassan Road.
We stopped for breakfast at Hotel Dhruvataare. I kept my intercom for charging at the hotel’s billing counter until we finished breakfast and filled my hydration bag.
Both of us kept on switching our intercoms from music mode to speaking over the intercom. The pleasant cloudy and foggy weather on the highway made our ride more pleasant. We managed good speeds till a toll Naka; few kilometers before Hassan and stopped for refueling at an IOC petrol pump followed by a long pitstop for tea. Akshay wanted to meet a few of his friends who were driving to Chikamagalur, hence the long pitstop, but apparently, they were very far; so, we continued towards Hassan.
We deviated towards Hassan City and then towards Belur. After Hassan, the roads are single lane twisties passing through the lush greenery on both sides of the road.
Passing through the town of Belur, we deviated towards Sringeri. The brisk single lanes with broken patches passed through coffee estates and some tea estates. It was humid, we stopped at a roadside sugar cane juice shop and had multiple glasses of juice to quench our thirst.
We took a wrong route after Balehonnur forest ghats and kept on riding until we realized, the distance to Sringeri on Google map started to increase. It was 30 odd km from Balehonnur and showed 55 km to Sringeri, this was realized only after riding some 25 km on the wrong route. Taking a U-turn and few locals guided us to the correct route to Sringeri. It was around 3 pm when we reached Sringeri.
Amshit Bhai waited for us near Sringeri Temple for the past couple of hours. All 3 of us went to a local hotel in Sringeri town for lunch. I had no proper sleep the previous night and had nausea and vomited outside the hotel and relaxed for a while on the table in the hotel.
For lunch, we had some delicious fish curry, fish fry and white rice for lunch. The bangda fish fry was very tasty.
We had booked an Oyo Room near Kudremukh. But, Amshit bhai convinced us to stay at his home near Kigga (a small village near Sringeri) and we canceled the hotel booking. So, we first planned to visit Sirimane falls near Kigga. The road from Kigga to the falls is an off-road stretch and it had rained cats and dogs. We parked our bikes at the parking lot, took the entrance tickets, dumped our helmets and riding jackets in a small shop there and walked to the base of the waterfall. There are around 100 steps to the base.
Amshith bhai told us that the money collected from the entrance fees are used to support the tiny hydraulic power station in the falls that supplies electricity to the village of Kigga.
Sirimane falls, a small waterfall looked like a mere white curtain on the big rock and surrounded by greenery all over and a viewpoint at the top. The burbling sound of the water as it hit the base and traveled between rocks felt was enchanting.
Well, it was a weekend and the good monsoon that lashed Karnataka from the past few months attracted more tourists to this place.
I stood somewhere in the middle of the steps from where I could directly see this mystic beauty, while Akshay and Amshit bhai walked further down.
From here, we rode straight to Amshit Bhai’s house that is deep inside a forest and coffee estates with yet another off-roading stretch. As we reached Amshit Bhai’s house, his Mom welcomed us with some hot and tasty coffee. Their house was nestled in between acres of coffee estates and some big trees behind their house, a lush green paddy fields in the front and mountains behind the paddy field. The view was blissful!
We dumped our luggage in the room, took a hot water shower and rode the off-roads in pitch dark till Sringeri temple. This was crazier.
It was festive season; just a couple of days after Dussehra, hence the temple sanctum was illuminated with decorative lights all over and colored focus lights hitting the stoned walls of the very famous Vidyashankara Temple that was built many centuries ago and all the decorative and illumination added to the beauty of this Temple.
We first walked to the riverbank to feed plain puffed rice (churmuri in Hindi) to the fishes in the river. But the river was flowing in full zest and no fishes seen at the river bank. Amshit bhai told, most of the time there will be lots of fishes at the river banks.
First, we walked into the newly constructed Sharada Temple to offer our prayers. We patiently sat near a pillar until the pooja was over. Next, we explore the historical Vidyashankara temple. This temple has some finest stone carvings of the Vijayanagara architecture.
Then, we visited the Adi Shankara Math which is on the other side of the river connected by a walk-over bridge. The World’s biggest Veena (an Indian Classical musical instrument) is at display here inside the Adi Shankara Math.
Note: Photography and videography are not permitted inside the main temple (both the new and the historical) or the Adi Shankara Math. The entire temple campus is cleanly maintained by the authorities and I request all the tourists not to trash their travel.
As we headed back, it started drizzling and we rushed soon. We didn’t want the off-road ride back home to turn into a slush fest, that too under pitch dark.
Upon returning to Amshit Bhai’s home, all 3 of us sat in the balcony, chit-chatting and sharing each other’s travel experiences, relishing our memories from the trip to Jog Falls in September last year and off-course partying!!
After spending a couple of hours on the balcony, we came downstairs for dinner. Amshit Bhai’s Mom had prepared some yummy food; chicken biryani and gravy served on the traditional banana leaf was a grandeur.
It was 2’o clock in the night and we crashed into bed. We did plan to ride to Kundadri Hills for sunrise but woke up late the next day.
Day 02: 13th Oct 2019, Sunday
Akshay and I woke up at around 9 am, the view from the balcony was stunning. We went for a small walk into the Paddy fields and came back, freshened up, came downstairs for breakfast. The Idly and chutney were too good. We saddled up and set towards Kundadri hills.
Thanks to Amshit Bhai’s family who hosted us for the night and special thanks to his Mom for cooking and serving some delicious Malenadu style food. Thanks a lot for your magnificent hospitality.
We bid good-bye to Amshit Bhai’s parents and then the 3 of us lead by Amshit Bhai, rode to Kundadri Hills. The road to Kundadri hills was proper single lane tarmac, twisties until the base of the hills.
A small pitstop for water and we rode that very few hairpins till the hilltop. There are very few steps from the parking lot to the main viewpoint.
The view from the top was fantastic. It was greenery all over, not a sight of dry land. Thanks to the very abundant monsoons in Karnataka this season.
We regretted not making here for Sun-rise. Hopefully next time, we will ride again with the main agenda of visiting this place would be to view the stunning sun-rise.
We descended back to the base, stopped at a shop to have some biscuits and cold-drinks. We planned to ride via the forest of Kudremukha and then hit to Horanadu. Upon reaching Sringeri, Amshith Bhai guided us with the route to go-ahead. Thanks a lot, bhai for all the wonderful hospitality.
As we crossed Sringeri town, I noticed my Intercom was loosened and came off my helmet, I just made a temporary fix and continued riding. Somewhere a few kilometers after exiting the town, we noticed a hanging bridge and made a quick stop to take some pics.
We soon reached the Kudremukha forest check-post, made our entry details and continued. The roads were good barring for the few broken patches here and there. This stretch of the ride was the most beautiful; dense forests on either side of the road, the dark clouds above us, cool breeze and the slight drizzle that made the ride mesmerizing. We wanted to ride to the Kudremukha viewpoint but skipped it because of the time crunch.
We stopped for some photography en route; at a small roadside waterfall somewhere in the middle.
Fuel on Akshay’s bike signaled low and we enquired about the next nearest fuel pump with few of the oncoming drivers. One guy told there could be a petrol pump 5 km ahead, but when we reached, the fuel pump was closed and rusted. I don’t know when was the pump operated last.
We reached the KIOCL (Kudremukha Iron Ore Company Limited) check-post and enquired with the security personnel for petrol.
The security guy said; “There is a small shop down the lane, he stocks petrol at his home and probably he can help you with fuel which can help you to ride out of this forest”
We were hungry too, so we got some biscuits and cream doughnuts to snack and I started playing with the stray dogs there.
Akshay was afraid I would get bitten by the stray dogs, I was already vaccinated with Anti-Rabies post the dog bite in May, so I told; Bhai, chillax, I ain’t scared and gave a big smile to him 😊
Meanwhile, the shopkeeper told us to directly visit the house for petrol and guided us the way to the home.
The price per liter was a shocker, Akshay paid Rs 200 for a liter of petrol and I couldn’t control my laughter. I said; “Bhai, in Ladakh, I paid Rs 130 a liter, and you are paying Rs 200 for a liter here”
We reached the forest exit check-post and I was surprised to meet Veeren there. He was driving along with his parents to Horanadu.
Reaching a small town; Kalasa, we stopped at the Hotel Prince of Kalasa for coffee. Stopped at another small river for some pictures and fuel stop at the HP Petrol pump in Kalasa and continued towards Horanadu.
Suddenly Akshay on the intercom; “Bhai, there is an old Horanadu – Sringeri route that goes to the peak of a small hill and the view is superb”, I said let’s go. Amidst reaching half-way, he said this is not the one which I was referring to, we came the wrong route. But as we descended back, we saw an off-road trail that goes somewhere and we said, let’s do some more off-roading. This off-roader was a crazy one filled only with loose gravel which was thrown for construction.
We reached some point and stopped. It was dusk and dark clouds seemed like it would rain cats and dogs. As usual, I got busy playing with a few puppies.
We slowly descended down and headed straight to Horanadu Annapoorneshwari Temple, dumped all our things in the temple’s luggage room and walked inside the temple. It was evening and the temple had very fewer pilgrims which helped us to quickly seek blessings and come out of the main temple sanctum.
At a hotel inside the temple campus, we ate Masala Dosa and Dry Poha.
Then, the wrath of the rain Gods started, it rained very heavily. Somehow, we ran till the luggage room, geared up and stood in the anticipation that the rain would stop. But it didn’t and we decided to ride in the rain. The attendant at the luggage room gave us a few plastic bags so we could keep our mobiles safe from the rainwater.
The people who saw us riding in that heavy downpour might have assumed us to be Physcos.
Within no time we were fully drenched and stopped at a roadside shop for some hot coffee. It was 7’o’clock in the evening and the distance back to Bangalore was approx. 300 km and the rain showing no signs of stopping, we continued. The small single lanes were full of water on the road and flowing at the sides of the road. We knew the sides of the roads are broken and waterlogged, we ensure we were very careful while on the corners of the ghats. Every heavy vehicle on the way splashed all the muddy water on us.
My bike’s tire pressure was very low while riding in the rain, it dropped my speed and our intercoms weren’t working too.
After riding non-stop for 4.5 hours, covering only 100 km, we reached Belur at 11.30 pm and searched for a hotel for dinner. Luckily, we found a hotel in the town and stopped over.
Few customers who sat on the table beside us were suggesting us to have some alcohol. We denied as we don’t drink and ride.
We convinced the attendant at the HP Petrol Pump to switch on the air-filling machine and get our tire pressures checked.
A big thanks to Google Map that kept rerouting and we did rounds within and around Belur. One auto driver guided us with the correct route towards Hassan.
We were fatigued and sleepy, stopped over for a quick coffee at Hotel Pathanjali after Hassan city. Somewhere near Jodighatta on the Bangalore – Hassan Highway, I heard some screeching sounds from my bike. I was hitting speeds of 100 km/h and the power suddenly dropped with white smoke was pouring out of my Warrior’s engine and my bike came to standstill.
I instantly understood that the engine had seized! Luckily, I was at the extreme left lane and no vehicles behind me. I switched on the hazard blinkers and towed it to a roadside building and dialed Akshay to inform the same and he reached back soon.
It was 2 ‘o’clock in the night and no mechanical support expected. I bent down to check the engine oil level, it seemed that the engine oil was dried up, the kick wouldn’t operate. This confirmed my horror i.e. engine seizure.
Akshay called Zoheb bhai from Art of Motorcycles and informed about the breakdown. He suggested to visit any nearby petrol pump and fill engine oil and try starting. I hopped on to Akshay’s bike and we went to an IOC Petrol Pump nearby but it was closed.
I kept calling Arun Sir and Sajith Sir and none picked the call initially. I knew it was a late-night and everybody would be in deep sleep.
Then called up Naveen Bhai from Gixxer Club Bengaluru and informed him, he somehow managed to call Arun Sir and inform him. Arun Sir dialed back told, there is Suzuki Showroom and service center at Hassan, and suggested to take the bike there somehow. This is the only way out and I will ensure full repair at Hassan Suzuki.
Meanwhile, I had also called Rajesh Bhai from Highway Delite. Rajesh Bhai said he will arrange a tow vehicle and he also suggested to get back to Hassan as it was nearby from Jodighatta. He spoke to the tow vehicle owner, informed about the breakdown and passed on his contact number to me. I spoke to the driver and shared the location with him. Both Akshay and I sat at the roadside under heavy rain clouds. We were tired, cold and completely drenched.
After waiting for an hour, a Tata Ace arrived at the place and good that he had a plank, so it was easy to load the bike on the pickup truck.
The driver tied my bike with ropes and ensured it wouldn’t shake or fall on humps. Once my bike was loaded, I asked Akshay to leave as he had some urgent office work and told him I will get my bike repaired and ride back the next day.
I sat in the cabin beside the driver and told him about the trip and the breakdown on the go. A chai at the toll Naka and we reached Hassan town. The driver drove till Hotel Krishna, spoke to the hotel receptionist and said you can stay here for the night, this hotel is a decent one. The driver accepted only cash, and he drove me till the nearby ATM so I could withdraw and pay him and dropped me back to the hotel and unloaded my bike.
Thanks a lot, Rajesh Bhai from Highway Delite for all the help and support at that point in time. Special thanks to the driver too. I checked into the hotel and crashed into bed.
In case any of you are stuck nearby Hassan and looking for rescue or tow vehicles, please contact Munsur Bhai +91 7022932702 or Prashant Bhai +91 7899536344 who run the tow services jointly.
Day 03: 14th Oct 2019, Sunday
By 8 am in the morning, Sajith Sir called me, I informed him about the breakdown. He said a mechanic from Hassan Suzuki will be there within half an hour to pick your bike. Soon, Irfan Bhai (mechanic at Hassan Suzuki) called and took the hotel details and reached there quickly.
He towed my bike till Hassan Suzuki. As my bike’s engine was opened, it was confirmed about the engine seize and had to replace the full bore kit. Apparently, they didn’t have them in stock. Sajith sir and Arun Sir said they can send it from their Mysore or Bangalore showrooms respectively and both being approx. equidistance from Hassan and would take a minimum of 3 to 4 hours in bus transit. Sajith and Arun sir spoke to a lot of Suzuki showrooms which can help to deliver the bore kit at the earliest and later, he confirmed that one of their sub-dealer in Arsikere has it in stock and arranged to send it soon.
Meanwhile, I asked the mechanic to get the valve setting done, so as soon the bore kit arrives, we can quickly fix the engine.
The bore kit arrived at around 3.30 pm and the mechanic started working on the engine. Meanwhile, I dozed off in the customer lounge but kept checking the status every half an hour.
By 7.00 pm, the mechanic said, Bhai your bike is ready and said you can ride back to Bangalore now, but maintain the speeds of 50 to 60 Kmph and an rpm less than 4500.
Quickly, I rode back to the hotel and checked out and by 8.00 pm started towards Bangalore. Luckily, the skies looked clear with no signs of rain.
Riding at the speeds less than 50 to 60 Kmph on the empty four-lane highway was frustrating. My intercom wasn’t working either, so there was no music to hear and couldn’t control my sleep. Every 50 km I rode, I kept on taking pitstops for chai and splashed water to my face.
Kept humming some songs, nursery rhymes and tried all the multiplication table, square root, cube root, n numbers, Algebra, Pythagoras Theorem, and what not to only keep me awake on the highway.
Stopped at Hotel Empire at Kunigal to have my favorite fruit punch and then rode straight to my room. It was late night 2.30 when I reached home.
It was a 946 km riding pleasure exploring the Malenadu region of Karnataka and that made it a proper Monsoon ride.
Thanks a lot, to everyone who stood by me when I needed help the most.
Until next time…
Also visit: Exploring Chikamagaluru, Belur, Halebeedu
Click Here to read more about Sringeri Temple on the internet