Approx Distance covered: 3850 Kms
Motor-bike: Hero Karizma ZMR
Friend (s) in the trip: No one, I had solo trip.
Trip Route: Pune (Maharashtra) > Kolhapur > Hubali (Karnataka) > Bangalore > Hosur (Tamilnadu) > Madurai > Rameshwaram > Chidambaram > Puducherry (Pondicherry) > Mahabalipuram (Tamilnadu) > Kanchipuram > Chennai > Banglore (Karnataka) > Kolhapur (Maharashtra ) > Pune
That’s how it started!
It’s been almost 3 years; I haven’t gone out Maharashtra on my bike. Last 3 years were the best and worst in my life. I couldn’t give much time to myself and a mad little boy inside.
I just returned from Chennai business tour on 4th May, 2013. I have been to Chennai through airways, stayed in nice guest house, communed in a/c cars.. all so relaxed and comfortable! Job requirement – I again had to be in Chennai on 14th May. Ohh.. again that comfort, relax (boring) journey etc. Come on – Santosh is not made for comfort.. at least when it comes to journey :-)I throw a surprise to my boss, colleagues and all who were aware of my Chennai visit. “I am going to Chennai on my motor-bike!”. You can imagine the first response from everyone – “That’s a Bull_ _ _t!” Somehow I convinced all (was easy as they know my madness) and cancelled all my flight bookings.
9th May 2013: I was all set for new thrill with my bike, bags, helmet, jacket and earphones with my cell phone. A bag with couple of formal dress for office, couple of casuals for the journey and camera. Lalit Sanap came to say ‘Happy Journey’ at Swargate (I took his sunglasses 🙂 as token of wish!). After having our typical tea-break at our regular adda, I said – “Bachenge toh phir milenge” (if I survive, will meet again!”) and started my run.
Filled up petrol tank before leaving the city and rushed out on highways through Sinhgad Road bypass. Wonderful new Bangalore bypass and a bike which I never driven.. was a good start! As the target was last south point of India, I was focused on highway and bike speed. Till I reached Satara, I was just experimenting with the bike of one of my friend. Karizma ZMR – perfect power bike with proper control for Indian roads & traffic. I got used to it’s speed, power, break controls and most importantly the engine noise (that’s always pretty important for any biker to understand his bike’s voice as bike’s engine talks about it’s health and how good it’s doing).
Once you cross Kolhapur, you will see highways the way they should be. Appreciated Karnataka for the way they maintain highways. Having breaks after 70-80 kms, stopping by at any nice temple..the journey so far was speedy but relaxed.. I started feeling the summer-heat, hence drinking more liquids. Special attractions on the highways are various Karnataka government buildings. Well structures with cultural touches, they look beautiful and mighty at time.
Belgaum / Belgaon city welcomes you to real Karnataka. “Suvarna Vidhana Soudha of Belgaum will compel you to stop and admire it’s beauty and mightiness. It’s a replica of ‘Vidhana Soudha’ situated at Bangalore. I neglected the dark side of conflict between Maharashtra and Karnataka over Belgaum possession, I enjoyed the scene.Believe me – the scene was unbelievable in the slowing lights of evening.
Though I targeted for Bangaluru, our dear monsoon compelled me to take halt at Hubli. Refreshed the bike with fresh engine oil, I rested in a nice hotel at main circle near main bus-stand. I have been to this place more than twice.
10th May 2013: Woke up around 5.30 am. Just checked-out in an hour after completing all morning do’s. Ohh..it was a refreshing cloudy morning. Hubli had all rain all night. After having south-Indian style Chai, I roamed a bit around the main circle with statue of Chinamma (I believe). I spent around an hour in Hubli and had couple cups of tea as well 🙂 I have been to fort of Hubli. I took route from Dharwad to catch highway. Actually, twin cities of Hubli-Dharwad are almost mixed up in each other. Just like Pune & Pimpari-Chinchwad cities.
“Tobe ekala chalo..ekala chalo…” Amitabh was singing in my ear a Bangali song. All was perfect for a perfect speed, perfect mood!!
I kept meeting and talking to people. That’s something which make me feel alive during such solo trips. Specially people living in remote villages, who don’t know much about modern world, who are very humble towards life. My halts were giving me new friends. Though I can not add to my friends list on Facebook / Google+ and so on, they are always with me in those very moments and my snaps.
All was well until bad (in fact worst) happened!
Around 35kms before Sira town on highway, bike’s rear Tyre blasted when I was at the speed around 90 – 95 km/hr.. I realized the voice tyre blast before the bike shown any dance..I put both the breaks harshly but managing the speed.. even I thought I was in control, bike proved me false and got badly jumped off the road. Everything was blank for the moment.. I thrown away my life saving helmet..My bike was lying 10 feet away from me. Before rushing toward the bike, I checked my legs, hands almost all body..Thank god I was still in a single piece and my bones too. Then I gave priority to my cell-phone which was scattered in three parts – front, back cover and a battery. SIM card, memory card..all were present. Bike was still roaring. While reaching to the bike, I realized that I got my left leg and shoulder injured. I owe you guys..who helped me in gathering my stuff, getting up..who gave me water to drink and to wash my face and wounds.
Can you imagine those moments? High speed highway..
One of the guys, who stopped his TATA-407 to check me, offered his help. All those 5-6 guys lifted my bike & me and put me in that vehicle. Though I was smiling, in the back of the mind, that noise and scene was repeating like a flash memories. After a while, I was in pretty much control of myself and started chatting with the driver. He dropped me and my bike near a tyre shop at Sira town. What a shame ! I couldn’t even ask his name, cell phone number etc..oh..I was more worried about the bike! Thank you so much my friends 🙂
Sira – not a big town but has all means of modern living, I mean ATM, restaurants etc. I had a hard time in finding replacement for “GREAT TUBE-LESS Tyre of MRF” which may blast during long run!! I hate !! Somehow I got tube-tyre and replaced tube-less setting with traditional one. I decided to move ahead at earliest. I wanted to be at Tumkur city which was not away from Sira.
My decision was correct. I got a Hero company’s authorized service center. I hats off to you Hero guys who understood the problem and recovered my bike even after their working hours.
The day was not over!! Monsoon welcomed me on Bangluru-Hosur bypass. After loosing almost more than half day, I was too late for the target stop. Heavy rain asked me stop and rest at Hosur. Hotel was not so good but was the best under those circumstances 🙂 Injured and tired Santosh went to dreamland in hardly few minutes at 12.30 am.. The Day was over now !!
11th May 2013: Wonderful and refreshing cold morning! Injuries – I got used to them so never bothered me that much. I had to reach ‘Rameshwaram’ today to be on time to my office on 15th. As you go more and more towards south, traffic becomes lighter on highway. On a junction where one road goes to my final destination “Chennai” and one to the end of the India, I relaxed. A boy, with a dimple on chicks, was watching all my activities. Cute! I gave him a chocolate and he was happily smiling 🙂
The road ahead was beautiful, clean and enchanting. Coconut trees, tiny hills, windy air..typical South-India!! Town by town, village by village..I was approaching my destination. Fun was on on the way 🙂 I preferred to take bypass of Madurai. I have been to Madurai and knew that I didn’t had enough time for darshana. The route was now more lonely and road condition was not even ok. Narrow dark road was getting alive when it was crossing any village on the way.
Finally, I reached Rameshwaram at 1.30 am. Oh god.. no hotel owner was ready to let me a room. I heard that Police Commissioner had circulated a notification about single occupancy and hotel owners were happy to loose a customer to avoid any issues. I had to go to police station to get assistance, they gave it. Nice. Cell phone connectivity was poor so nothing was there which disturbed me. Climate was humid and hot. I didn’t had a nice sleep though!!
12th May 2013: Eyes opened with some chanting and temple bells. Just had a bath and rushed for temple. Cool..my hotel was hardly few meters away from main temple.
Rameshwaram: One of the 12 Jyotirlingas! The temple and the island of Rameshwaram have acquired this name because Lord Rama worshipped Lord Shiva, the God of Gods here on return from Shri Lanka. According to the legend, after killing Ravaana, Lord Rama returned with his consort Goddess Seetha to India first stepping on the shores of Rameshwaram. To expiate the ‘dosha’ of killing a brahmin, Lord Rama wanted to offer worship to Lord Shiva. Since there was no shrine in the island, had despatched Shri Hanuman to Kailash to bring an idol of Lord Shiva. The Ramanaathaswamy temple is renowned for its magnificent corridors and massive sculptured pillars. The third corridor of the temple is the longest one in the world!
Pamban Rail Scissors Bridge: Connecting the island of Rameshwaram to the mainland, this 2.06 km long rail bridge was built in 1913 with stones brought from a distance of 320 kms and sand from 160 kms. The bridge was constructed on 145 stone pillars. A portion of the bridge opens up like a pair of scissors to let the ship pass under it. On December 22, 1964, a devastating cyclone destroyed part of this bridge. The Indian engineers rebuilt it in exactly 45 days and made operational again. Nice to know..huh 🙂
Next target was Thanjavur! Ohh..It was a fun when you take wrong route. I got confused between ‘Pudukottai’ and ‘Putthukottai” and reached west coasts! Never look back.. I kept going on, kept meeting and talking to people. The route was more narrow and crowded with local towns. This region was good mixture of all the religions. You can see church, temple and masjid together at many towns. Around Puducherry, Christen religion is predominantly felt.
Around 7 pm I reached ‘Chidambaram’ which welcomed me with light showers. I always choose stay nearest to main temple. A fun happened : I bought two bottles of water for night. But when I opened them, I realized that I bought soda bottles by mistake 🙂 whole night I was thirsty and some how drinking that hot soda to satisfy myself.
Chidambaram & Puducherry Chapter
13th May 2013: Thirsty Santosh woke up very early in the morning and rushed out to get some real water!
Chidambaram: Chidambaram, also known as ‘Thillai’, is one of the five holiest Shiva temples, each representing one of the five natural elements; Chidambaram represents akasha (aether). The other four temples in this category are: Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara,Trichy (water), Kanchi Ekambareswara (earth)Kanchipuram, Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara (fire),Thiruvanna malai and Kalahasti Nathar (wind),Kalahasti.
As always, I took all those offerings which are dedicated to the god as a token of prayer. Temple was mighty but calm. I could see lot of Bharatnatyam dancers who were offering their worship through the dance. ‘Bharatnatyam’ always been close to my heart. Tillana, Aalaripu..I know a bit of it. I know ‘Swati Daithankar’ – famous Bharatnatyam artist and guru and always attain their unique programs. ‘Nupurnad’ – their dance institution presents variety of dance experiments and made me follow Bharatnatyam. It’s divine, dance of god!!
I was lucky enough to be there at morning aarati. Temple music, Pujari’s activities..everything was just wordless. All male’s has to remove their cloths on upper body to get in to main part of the temple. What a beautiful idol! Nataraja was looking like an living dancer. With closed eyes, I lost in unknown world of peace!!
Thillai temple is one of the best of example of South-Indian culture, ancient sculptures and rituals. Gopuram was mighty enough to amaze you along with the art it carries.
The day was just perfect but humid. Coastal region was hot and humid but windy enough. Tamil culture reflects perfectly in rural area. Typical style of homes, food smells, people dress all give you real essence of Tamilnadu. I never saw those many ducks at a time, I never saw those many coconut trees at once, I never saw those many Idali-Doase at once.. But now – I saw all such wonderful scenes 🙂 That’s the real magic of bike trips. You can have halts, take snaps and do whatever, whenever. You decide your own stops, you decide your own route.. I love the freedom guys!
Soon, I reached one of it’s kind of state – ‘Puducherry’ or ‘Pondichery’. It welcomed me with beautiful gateway.
Puducherry: Puducherry was previously known as Pondicherry. It was renamed in September 2006 to the Tamil vernacular original which means “New Village”. This Union Territory of India was a French settlement that comprised Pondy, Yanam, Karaikal (I have been to this city on my way ), and Mahe.
Any trip to Puducherry would be incomplete without a visit to its beaches. Though it’s hot and muggy through most of the year, Puducherry has four main beaches which are fairly popular with tourists and locals alike. As opposed to the rest of India, the beaches here are relatively clean and not as crowded. Aurobindo Ashram since its establishment almost a century back has played a significant role in the socio-economic-spiritual fabric of puducherry.
I, me and myself was running along with my mind, body, soul , heart and my bike on those wonderful silent roads. Various backwaters were compelling me to slow down and rest a while. Enjoy them! Towns were tiny, just like dholakpur of Chhota Bheem and roads were clean like Ben 10’s city 🙂
As the afternoon crossed I reached ‘Mhabalipuram’. Finally, I was here.
Mahabalipuram: Stone-Age! Mahabharata still alive here! I took right turn for the ancient town of Mamallapuram (one of the another name of the place). Mahabalipuram was the earlier name of Mamallapuram because the demon king Mahabali was killed by Lord Vishnu. The name was changed later by the king of Pallava Narashima Varman who has got the title of Mamalla; the great wrestler. UNESCO World Heritage site now fighting badly to sustain! Shore temple & Five rathas – I had read lot about them and those myths about pandavas.
The oldest structure in the area, build c. 700 AD, this temple has been here for more than 1400 years. However, unlike Mamallapuram’s other monuments, the Shore Temple is a building (not carved from rock) and the bulk of the current structure is a reconstruction after it was struck by a cyclone. It’s not particularly large, and the carvings have been badly eroded by the wind and the sea, but this adds to the sense of antiquity. The area around the temple is now a landscaped park, with guards keeping the hordes of souvenir hawkers at bay. A Shiva lingam is enshrined in the central building and the site can get very crowded on weekends.
Shore temple is accompanied with a beach! Looking at the crowd, I decided to stay better among the stones 🙂 After spending more than an hour, I moved to further spot. Weather was too humid to enjoy it. Had at least 5 bottles of water and soft drink to sustain. Shore temple was just awesome. Come on guys – retain it, protect it.
Five Rathas (Pancha Pandava Rathas)
This site contains five rathas, literally chariots, dating from the 7th century. The sculptures are complemented (Guarded by – I say) by some enormous stone animals, including a large elephant. The best place with a unique combination of different styles which you will find in all five rathas. Mighty Elephant, Nandi and Lion attracts you! Well managed and clean surrounding will give you delightful experience!! Five Rathas are well carved and placed systematically. Area is full with sea sand and allows you feel natural feel! Aren’t these sculptures amazing? I was touching them, feeling them and reading them to understand.
The next big attraction was ‘Arjuna’s Penance’:
This magnificent relief, carved in the mid-seventh century, measures approximately 30m (100ft) long by 15m (45ft) high. The subject is either Arjuna’s Penance or the Descent of the Ganges, or possibly both. In additive cultures like India’s, logical alternatives are often conceptualized as “both-and” rather than “either-or.”
Arjuna’s Penance is a story from the Mahabharata of how Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers, performed severe austerities in order to obtain Shiva’s weapon. The idea, which pervades Hindu philosophy, is that one could obtain, by self-mortification, enough power even to overcome the gods. In order to protect themselves, the gods would grant the petition of any ascetic who threatened their supremacy in this way – a kind of spiritual blackmail, or “give to get.” (This meaning of the word “penance,” by the way, is specific to Hinduism. Unlike the Catholic rite of penance, it is performed to gain power, not to expiate sin.)
The Ganges story is of the same kind, in which the sage Bhagiratha performs austerities in order to bring the Ganges down to earth. Shiva had to consent to break her fall in his hair, because otherwise its force would be too great for the earth to contain. The symbolism of the relief supports either story. Furthermore, both stories were interpreted in a manner flattering to the Pallavas; the heroic Arjuna as a symbol of the rulers, and the Ganges as a symbol of their purifying power. (For Arjuna’s Penance info thanks – http://www.art-and-archaeology.com/india/mamallapuram/ap01.html)
I got on highway and a place attracted me like anything – “Tiger Caves”. Oh..! I never heard about the place.
It is a rock-cut Hindu temple complex located in the hamlet of Saluvankuppam near Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, India. It gets its name from the carvings of tiger heads on the mouth of a cave which forms a part of the complex. The Tiger Cave is considered to be one of the Mahabalipuram rock-cut temples constructed by the Pallavas in the 8th century AD. The site is located on the Bay of Bengal coast and is a popular picnic spot and tourist destination. The temple is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The discovery of an inscription on a rocky outcrop in the Tiger Cave complex in 2005 led to the excavation of a Sangam period Subrahmanya Temple close by. (Wikipedia)
Images below – Left: Watch Tower / Right: Subrahmanya Temple
Sun started rushing to his bed in the sea and I started rushing toward next destination. Road from Mahabalipuram to Kanchipuram is ill but surviving. Trust me – I got tired like hell in those couple of hours journey. I reached Kanchipuram around 10 pm. It’s a big city! I took hotel near Kamakshi temple and roamed for an hour around the city in the night.
The day was busy but relaxed. I enjoyed lot and was happy!
Kanchipuram & Chennai Chapter
14th May 2013: Again a morning in the arms of gods! I spent lot of time in the Kamakshi temple after offering my worship. Had prasadam!
Kanchipuram: City of temples. In Hindu theology, Kanchipuram is one of the seven Indian cities to reach final attainment. The city houses Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Ekambareswarar Temple, Kamakshi Amman Temple, and Kumara Kottam – , which are some of major Hindu temples in the state. The city is a holy pilgrimage site for both Saivites and Vaishnavites. Of the 108 holy temples of the Hindu god Vishnu, 14 are located in Kanchipuram. The city is well known for its hand woven silk sarees and most of the city’s workforce is involved in the weaving industry.
Wow! It was almost a routine for last 3 days. Waking up early in the morning, having darshana at best temples, roaming around the town, marching further for next destination etc!! It was a last day of the routine.
I was all set for Chennai. Kanchipuram to Chennai didn’t took much time! Unwillingly, I had to enter the City – lot of people, traffic, concrete..! Thanks to the map (Jodhpur Map Service), it guided me to my guest house at Alwar Peth. I dropped my luggage, had bath at least for an hour and got out of the facility. Just like me, my bike needs some refreshment. After inquiring, I got to know about Hero Service Center which was almost 6 kms away. I dropped the bike. Bike was smiling at me saying “Thanks for taking care of me 🙂 “. Can you believe? I had walk of 6kms back. I do it quite frequently – I believe any new place can be explored best either on Bike or on foots 🙂 I chosen to be in the bed post evening, enjoying (??) local channels, specially music one!!
I can say that ‘Real tour was over”! It was all about completing my duties in Chennai office and getting back home!! 15th May to 17th May 2013: I was in office at DLF IT park. Even after such a long, tough journey and with wonderful injuries, I was enthusiastic at work and delivered my duties. Soon, story of my travel made a story in the office. Kept receiving lot of compliments and bad words too 🙂
Meanwhile, I wondered around Mylapore. I heard about the place for it’s shopping area for traditional and dance ornaments, temple and Ramakrishna Math. Mylapore is a cultural hub and neighborhood in the southern part of the city of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, India.
Mylapore is also called Thirumayilai. It is known for its tree-lined avenues, the seventh-century Kapaleeshwarar Temple, San Thome Basilica, katcheri season and Ramakrishna Math. Mylapore is regarded as the birthplace of Tamil poet and saint Thiruvalluvar, one of the icons of Tamil literature.
18th May 2013: I checked out early and wanted to say goodbye to Chennai city at earliest! Though I had plan of visiting ‘Tirumalla Tirupati’. But the saying is true – “One can visit Tirupati only when Balaji calls”. I dropped plan and marched towards Pune.
I think it was my best and fastest ride till date.
Near Chitradurga in Karnataka, heavy rain just stopped everything. I had to took shelter in a small old Shiva temple almost for 6 hours in the night. That was awesome though! Rainy night..on lonely highway..no lights at all…nothing to drink & eat..wet cloths..aahh! Trust me – It was the most peaceful sleep I had in all these days. Closed to Shiva Linga, I slept like a baby in mother’s hug 🙂
19th May 2013: When rain gave some break, I started at full pace but in control. Started at 10.30 am on 18th from Chennai bye pass, I reached Pune at 4.45 pm on 19th!! Isn’t that practically madness? Not sure if that can be counted as any record excluding 6 hour’s halt.. I enjoyed the thrill, the speed. One thing to mention – I paid Toll for bike.. Yes. I paid Toll for bike for the first time in my life. Come on Karnataka Govt..! That’s too much!!
Lot to say, lot to share.. but I tried to cover in short words! Thanks for reading my experience!!
Life is beautiful! Enjoy 🙂