Friday, April 21, 2006

Kokkre Bellur, Masina Gudi, Jungle Retreat, Ooty

Places visited: Kokkre Bellur, Masina Gudi, Jungle Retreat, Ooty
Distance covered: 650kms
Date: 15-16th April

Highlights: In a lot of ways this ride was an overdose of nature for me.
First, at Kokkre Bellur you have pelicans and storks that fly 1000s of miles, all the way from Russia, Siberia to spend these few months at this one small village, year-after-year.
Second, the forest of Bandipur, Madumalai Hills – thick foliage in the valleys, the hills standing tall and bald, deer, monkeys, peacocks and good possibility of a leopard, python, bison or a tusker crossing your path.
Third, Nature’s way of saying, “hey, can I join you for the ride?” “How about I send some rain with you on your way back?” The downpour all the way down to Bangalore.

Flagging off: It was a combo ride time at Rolling Thunder Motorcycles Club – RTMC. There were two groups on this ride – both leaving together to Kokkre Bellur in Mandya. The first group riding back to Bangalore and a second group continuing to Masanagudi for an overnighter. In all about 20 guys on 14 bullets, the smallest RTMC participation I’ve seen. We left at around 8am almost an hour after the scheduled departure. Breakfast was at Kaadu Mane before Bidadi, one plain and one masala for me. It helped having a good breakfast, considering lunch happened only at 3 or so.

Kokkre Bellur is a village that is painted white with the pelicans and storks (literally with their droppings) that migrate here. Huge birds, wide wingspan, and in many hues come here during the mating season, hatch their eggs and nurture young ones till they fly back with them.
The birds seemed so much at home there. Even the blaring loud speakers (some festival celebration was on) and all the latest Kannada songs that were playing didn’t seem to disturb them. I can understand if it was Radio City, but latest kannada songs. Maybe it helps coming from a phoren country and not knowing the local language. Or maybe it was to do with the breeding season; you cannot disturb no one during the breedings.

Good write up on Kokkre Bellur here - http://www.nationalgeographic.co.in/explore/otbt/kokkare_bellur.asp.

There is a rivulet that runs outside the village. We did a bit of off-roading, riding along the rivulet till our bullets could go no more. ‘Tiger’ struck a good deal for some nectar-like tender coconuts, 100 bucks for 20. It was tiger’s birthday, the ‘Happy birthday’ song and bums followed. It was 2ish by the time we left the group to head for Masinagudi, 8 of us on seven bullets.

The Sweep: It was decided that I sweep the line (the guy who rides last, ensuring everyone’s ahead). Girish was running in his bike and was doing a max of 70-80kmph. Initially, I didn’t know this guy was running-in, I thought he was a compulsive slow coach. It’s so damn frustrating – you have a sooper bike, nice empty roads, fellow bikers ripping, but you can’t open throttle. I tried a few things to pep this guy to turn that accelerator, ride right up his ass, wroom-wroom there, overtake him then let him pass, etc. But Girish did not give in. I even felt tempted to ride alongside and do the turning accelerator for him myself.
I don’t know if that is the case sometimes in life with a few of us. There are people around you who want to do everything to push you on the fast track. But, somehow, maybe we don’t see it at all. Now, put on the ‘sweep-hat’ for a moment, and imagine how frustrated your mentor/guardian angel would feel. But then, its also important if you are the mentor, to see behind the facade and find the real reason. In this case, he was actually sacrificing short term urge to rip, for something more enduring.
Lunch: After all that food-for-thought my body went off balance and I had to soon provide some food-for-tummy. We were hungry like mad by the time we reached the outer out-skirts of Mysore. We stopped at some small udipi restaurant and polished off some tasty parotas, meals and chapattis.
The forests: More wildlife from there on. We crossed Bandipur, Teppakadu and Madumalai. There were lots of monkeys and deer. I enjoyed this stretch most, going real slow, taking in as much as I could. We reached Masinagudi at 6:30.

Jungle resort: Jungle retreat is a superb resort. Almost from any point in the resort the view of the hills is breathtaking. When nature has done her bit of art, Rohan Mathais and team have matched it with a good resort, making max use of the view – with cottages, tree house, pool (both kinds – the swimming kind and the kind that features in most porn movies) tasty food and beverages. The long weekend had drawn quite a crowd, at times I felt as if we were dining at some restaurant at koramangala.

PP had booked a 10-bed dorm for us. After the sumptuous dinner and a few rounds on the pool table, hit the bed at mid-night. Ads and Grease joined us in the morning having left Bangalore at midnight.
There are a few things you can do, apart from chilling out at Jungle Retreat. You could trek into the forest, do a safari ride to say hi to a few tuskers. You got to do this early in the morning, though, for some reason. Maybe the tuskers are not courteous later in the day. So we ruled that out. Instead we decided to ride up to ooty on the Kalhatti ghats. The view is supposed to make up for the difficult to ride and the very steep hair pins. The view must have been good, didn’t have too mucha time to look around.

Heavens Open: There were dark clouds brewing up and we were riding straight into it. And from there on it was simply a rainy tale. The rain that started as we reached the top of the ghats never let go till Bangalore. Huge droplets (I figured that was because at 2000mts above sea level you are far more closer to the clouds) and hail stones. When we left downhill, there was gushing muddy water and stones on the road and it looked like all of ooty was rushing downhill. Somewhere near Bandipur and Gundelpet, the rain actually stopped and we were dry briefly. But it caught up with us again. I had to get back to Bangalore early to attend two wedding receptions – Deepak’s ann Akshay’s. I left the group at Nanjangud, continued without lunch, caught up with Trishul and tiger after Mysore. I was at Kengeri by 6:15 and home by 7. My leather jacket weighed some 10kilos by the time I got out of it. One helluva ride it was!

4 comments:

raghu said...

we should sometime do only Masinagudi man !! that place has a lot to offer .. spend two nights there and u will come back as calm as a saint ... wonderful place.. and teh trek two .. the two times I have been there have been on two diff treks and its heaven to be one with nature ...

cool !!! but forget to call your mom the next time ....

Rishi said...

nice snaps man...is masinagudi he one in the last snap?..seems like a place to visit..

praks said...

Hey, my aunt lives in Masinagudi. Remember the ajji is Hassan, her daugher lives there. I have been to their farm . it is an awesome place.

And a very nice write up. A little too long for me , though :d

manoj said...

>>spend two nights there and u will come back as calm as a saint ... wonderful place.. and teh trek two
ya Raghu, got to rock the tree house sometime ;)
>>is masinagudi he one in the last snap?..
Risky, if you meant the snap in the rain... that was ooty.
If you were refering to the snap of the dorm, then that was Jungle retreat, Masinagudi

>>Remember the ajji is Hassan
Praks, i did boast of this friend of mine whose dad was posted in MM hills
>>A little too long for me , though
I did take a long time to type it too... i guess, u took a lot less time to read it!