South India Expedition: Part 1

South India Expedition: Part 1

Prologue

The ride plan first popped up in mid 2018 as a 4 day coastal Konkan ride. However, because of horrible roads we experienced in a short trip to Murud-Janjira in November 2018, we dropped the coastal ride plan. Then we decided to go to Goa via Pune-Kolhapur and then till Mangalore. Then we thought if we are going till Mangalore, why not go till Kozhikode(kerala)?

This blew out of proportion and it was decided to go till Kanyakumari. Then we dropped Kozhikode and some of the original plan and decided to do a full 2 week South India ride with many of the popular tourist locations.

Ultimately by August 2019, after a lot of research and planning, the final route was decided as follows:

DateFromDestinationDistanceTotal Distance
22 December 2019HomeDevanagari717717
23 December 2019DevanagariMadurai7121429
24 December 2019Maduraikanyakumari2451674
25 December 2019kanyakumariRameshwaram3302004
26 December 2019RameshwaramMadurai2002204
27 December 2019Maduraikodaikanal1202324
28 December 2019kodaikanalMunnar1652489
29 December 2019MunnarMunnar02489
30 December 2019MunnarOoty2872776
31 December 2019OotyOoty1702946
1 January 2020OotyCoorg 02946
2 January 2020Coorg Coorg 3803326
3 January 2020Coorg Gokarna3183644
4 January 2020Gokarnakolhapur03644
5 January 2020kolhapurHome3754019

This plan was very ambitious since it did not take any unfavorable situations in account. Distances were longer and time was less. We knew that and still decided to go with it hoping that we can pull it off.

Packing and Preparation

Soon, preparations started. Initially we had decided to not book hotels before the trip because of a bad experience with OYO booking, but then after looking at rising hotel prices, hotels were booked a month before the trip. We avoided taking many required leaves throughout the year to save them for this trip. Other preparations included buying of goggles, some clothes, riding gears(gloves and riding pant for me) etc.

The packing was most difficult part. We had a saddle bag of 48 liters capacity and a tank bag. We also decided to carry another bagpack which was to be carried on back by Supriya. I was against it, however Supriya’s love for clothing won at the end. The 2 part saddle bag contained only our clothes(1.5 part for Supriya, rest 0.5 for me).

The bagpack contained warm clothes, rain covers, a small 20litre bagpack, toiletry etc. The tank bag consisted of many small items such as chargers, phones, some food, documents, wallet etc.

Packing Situation.

So the setting was: Tank Bag on tank, backpack on Supriya’s back, saddle bag on back seat of bike(i.e. on both sides of Supriya). We used small locks for saddle bags which let us keep the bags on bike while we go to eat snacks/lunch/dinner or to visit places while being on road with full luggage. We used the 20 Litre backpack when we were roaming at the locations we were visiting. It used to contain water bottle, goggles, wallet, phone, powerbank, selfie stick etc.

Bike servicing was an important part of preparation which was mostly taken care by Shubham(my brother) as usual. Although our bike Bajaj Dominar 400 did not have any major issues but we still wanted to change its slightly rusty chain sprocket to avoid issue while travelling. A new one was ordered online. Instead of going to official service center, we chose to go to private garage nearby, which proved to be the best decision. The service center experience has been bad for so long that we do not trust them anymore. This servicing guy did exactly as we required and actually serviced the bike unlike service centers which charge for imaginary servicing performed on bike. A indicator flasher was also installed which also proved useful in smog and tunnels and night time. The bike was finally ready. We were already ready.

Day 1: Dombivli to Davanagere (735 KM)

It was decided to leave at 4AM, so on previous day, we slept at 10.30PM and woke up at 2.30AM. This sleep was not only short but also incomplete due to all the excitement. Bike was already cleaned on the previous day. We got ready and were down by 3.30AM. The bags were tied, initial checks were done. Shubham and Mom had come to see us off. We finally left at 4.15AM. The weather was cold and we were wearing ur riding jackets with their inner thermal linings. First short target was Panvel, 35km from house. Before that, took a stop to fill petrol. We had decided that if a petrol pump accepts credit/debit cards, we will fill maximum petrol to avoid frequent breaks.

Till Panvel, the ride was slow due to bad road and no light. The roads were full of trucks. From Panvel we took the old Mumbai Pune highway which is my one of the most favorite patches of road. The weather was cool and it was dark. There were hardly any vehicles on the road due to expressway. Lonavala came and went during dark hours at 6.15am. After Khopoli, the old highway merges with Mumbai Pune expressway for 3-4 kilometers. To our surprise, there was a traffic jam on this patch of expressway. It took a lot if time to clear this jam. The purpose of leaving early was defeated.

Immediately after Lonavala toll at around 6.30am, we decided to take out our selfie stick. Unfortunately the selfie stick remote fell off while taking it out of the bagpack.we again had to waste 15-20 minutes finding the remote. We had We reached Pune at around 8 am and were saved from early morning Pune traffic. After Pune, before Mahabaleshwar turn at around 10AM we had breakfast at a Vitthal Kamat restaurant. A random guy and his wife walked to us and was surprised to see us riding from Mumbai. When we told him that we are going to Kanyakumari, his mind was blown. He wished us luck and we moved on. For some reason, there were not many bikers we were used to see on this route.

It usually did not happen, but we got bored by the time we reached Satara. The road after Satara is much better and the traffic was a little less. It also switched from a 6 lane to 4 lane road. After Kolhapur Kognoli toll plaza, we took another halt after riding for around 400km from home. We drank sugarcane juice and I mistakenly dropped Supriya’s helmet, scratching its visor with 3 scratched similar to monster energy drink logo. Bad luck continued.

Just after this toll, we passed turn for Goa at Nipani and we entered Karnataka. The roads improved dramatically. It again became a 6 lane, extremely smooth tarmac road and traffic was so less that I could easily ride above 110kmph speeds. After riding through 8 hours of bad roads and heavy highway traffic, we finally started enjoying the ride. Even though it was 1pm, the air was still cool and weather was enjoyable. We took a stop at a lake before Belgaon (Hidkal Reservoir, just found out via Google) and took a few pics. Again took a stop after Belgaon when we spotted an mesmerizing architectural structure. It was second legislative assembly of Karnataka state which looks like a palace. After taking some pics, we continued the journey.

It was 2pm. We did not take any lunch break most of our traveling days. Taking lunch break breaks the rhythm as well as invites sleepiness which is very dangerous. Instead, we always had heavy breakfasts and carried dry fruits and other snacks to eat whenever we felt hungry. This worked very well and we rarely felt need to specifically eat anything until evening.

The journey from here to Dharwad was speedy but lacklustre. From Dharwad to Hubli, the 6 lane highway suddenly turned into a 2 lane road for 30km. We did not have a destination for day 1 and 2. We had decided that we will try to reach Bangalore on Day 1 and will stay at our cousins Lucky’s home, but because of delays in the morning and traffic, it seemed unlikely. Specifically after Hubli, the road was very bad. There were frequent speedbreakers, the road quality deteriorated, and diversion like every 5kms. The speed decreased significantly. Davangere was already on my mind as a possible stop, but now it was almost fixed that we will take a stop there. The bad, speedbreaker ridden roads after Hubli broke our backs and stamina was low. We reached Davangere at around 5.30 and booked a hotel for 1000rs. The hotel was also not on highway but we had to go 7km inside the city. As soon as we reached hotel and checked in at 6.30pm, we ordered food, ate it by 7.30pm and went to sleep. Although I was not tired much, Situation was not good as Supriya had a lot of pain in the back. We hoped that we will feel better the next day. The total distance we covered was 735km. It was our longest distance covered in a day albeit a painful one.

  • Distance Covered Today: 735KM
  • Distance Covered so far: 735KM
  • Total Time Taken: 4.15AM to 5.30PM 13 Hours 15 Minutes

Day 2: Davangere to Kanyakumari (955KM)

We woke up at 5am with the alarm and a voice of stranger in the room! Thankfully it was only Mr. Modi giving a speech on TV about CAA. Apparently the TV was on at night but cable was not working. Sometime at night cable started working and TV was on. We were in such a deep sleep that we didn’t even notice it until we woke up. We woke up, prepared ourselves, packed the bags and went down. The underground parking was locked, so woke up one of the hotel guys. Brought the bike out, cleaned the bike, lubed the chain, and left at 6.15AM. The morale was not very high. We kept a target of Madurai for today and hoped to get a better road today.

The weather was cold. Mumbai’s minimum temperature when we left was at around 23° whereas here it was 18°. From here, we started seeing palm trees on both sides of road. Also there were windmills on hills. The views were amazing. We felt a bit better.

However the real surprise was after riding for a few kilometers till Chitradurga city. The road again switched from bad quality to amazing, 6 lane, no disturbance, extremely good tarmac road. A view of 3-4 kilometers was in sight from any point, and there were hardly any vehicles on the road! We hit the highest speed(can’t be disclosed here 😅) of our ride on this road. There were many villages on the way but they had proper entry and exit ramps. This continued almost till Bangalore.

Around 20-30 km before Bangalore, traffic started increasing. We were in proper Mumbai style traffic by the time we reached Bangalore. We almost wrongly entered the city instead of taking the bypass, but thankfully only overshot by 1km. After the 35km bypass was over, we took a breakfast halt at 11AM. Since we were hungry we leapt at food at this small joint and ate a lot of tasty authentic south Indian food. Food and coffee afterwards only costed Rs. 130 to our surprise. We filled the petrol and left for our journey.

By this time, we had established a proper system to be followed. Ride for 250km which exhausted almost full bike tank, stop at a petrol pump, fill petrol, stretch, take a washroom break and leave. Many of the pump attendants used to be amazed seeing a bike from different state and moreover a couple riding. Along with the pump attendants, people were also shocked. Many asked us about our journey and wished us good luck.

By afternoon we knew that we were going to reach very early to the Madurai, our decided destination. Supriya was feeling better today. We passed Kodaikanal turn which was our destination at around 2pm. We decided that if we felt better by the time we reached Madurai, we will go further till dark. Thankfully, the great road also followed in Tamilnadu and we were able to maintain our speed. We reached Madurai at 5pm which was 735km from we started today and passed the turn and went ahead. We thought initially that we will go 50km, but the willpower was with us today. Riding in the dark is not very new for me(night shift employee, 6 years now. 2 years of night time bike commute) but riding on a new road is bit difficult. There were no lights except for few car headlights coming from back. The speed was reduced significantly as I didn’t want to get lost in the infinite tunnel vision because of night. We decided to push ourselves to reach Kanyakumari. Took a break at 8PM to book the hotel, but the hotel we had booked for day 3 was asking for much higher price and it was completely unjustifiable. We decided that we will book the hotel only when we reach Kanyakumari.

Finally, entered Kanyakumari at around 9PM. It was a proud moment as this was a longtime dream that we had finally achieved. Finding hotel was difficult since many of them were full. Still managed to find an average hotel and costed 1200rs. Surprisingly we were not tired. We actually we went out to have dinner and celebrated breaking of our last day’s record of 735km. We had done 955km today! Went back to hotel after the satisfying dinner and retired to sleep a sense of achievement and excitement for the next day.

  • Distance Covered Today: 955KMs
  • Total Distance of Trip: 1690KMs
  • Total Time taken – 6.15AM to 9PM: 14 Hrs 45 Mins.

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