Reasons to drive through Valparai and a belated Happy New Year!

Hello All, 

Happy New Year 2017 (belated)! I hope this year fills up your life with colors of joy and peace.

-From a dying blog 


Last new year day was also well spent with a trip, this year as well. Next year, let’s see. Moving on…

A bit of retrospect…

10 years ago, my family (minus me) staying in Tirupur decided to visit Kerala. I joined them, my brother dropped out and after a lot of chaos we decided to go to Kerala. My brother took a train and we (‘me’ included) were left with his car. I was strictly banned from driving, we all know how our parents trusted us back in those days, so we had someone driving us.

Kerala, as we all know, celebrates hartal/strike/bandh every other day. Things were worse then than it is now. Palghat (Palakkad) which is the passage from TN to Kerala was celebrating bandh that day. Long story short, my family that evening took Valparai route to enter Trichur (Trissur) and then continue on the NH47 to our place.

If it were today, we would have never been allowed. But then, there was not much emphasis on safety and we were allowed to pass an unpaved forest road with wildlife and more than 60 kms to cross, after 7 pm. We saw porcupine, wild boar and so on in our lonely drive, no vehicles to keep up with and no vehicles to overtake.

Will that place be any different now? This question would always pop up. 10 years down the line, I drive to find out…

A little about Valparai (my humble opinion)

‘Drive is the reason, destination is just an excuse’ sums up Valparai.

I stayed a night at Valparai in a small hotel, the place is nothing more than a small junction where three roads meet. One of them takes you to Sirukundra, the opposite of which takes you to Aliyar dam and subsequently to Pollachi in TN, the third route which intersects them in the centre takes you to Sholayar, a high range forest road and Kerala. Valparai is smaller than the main junction in my village and there is nothing fascinating about spending a night.

Sirukundra road leads to Nirar dam. The road by itself is very gorgeous with twisties, tea plantations and well-paved tarmac as a cherry on the top. The Sirukundra bungalow is a famous romantic getaway, with tents/wood houses and bungalows to choose from. But good luck finding a sign board which points you towards this bungalow. I found it though, hence such a sign board exist.

tn_enroute-nirar-dam-panorama-1
Panorama of the tea plantations enroute Nirar Dam

And you may avoid Nirar dam, unless you want to drive those well-paved roads because the roads after forest check post (towards the dam) is damn. 4 kms (one way) of hell for

tn_d5200valparainew-year-17060117_78
Nirar Dam

Aliyar Dam has 43 tight hairpin bends from Valparai. Due to time constraints, I could not explore this region but I pretty much remember the long snake like roads. Lot about these roads have been shared in other blogs.

The final mention is the sholayar- forest roads-Kerala. Let me expand this further.

Exit Valparai towards sholayar and you will find forest check-posts of both TN and Kerala. This is after 18-20 kms. Once you are done with the formalities, you are treated with 60 kms of forest roads out of which 10-15 kms are good (not great), rest of it is wonderfully paved. The roads are narrow which makes it highly risky as it is two way traffic. (pic attached)

tn_d5200valparai320170109
Malakkapara to Vazhachal

In Kerala, you can either choose to visit Vazhachal waterfalls, Athirapally waterfalls and few others. For me the best part of this trip were those roads, I drove to and fro. Mission accomplished!

Travel tips through the forest road: (Red shows the start of forest roads)

My route : Cochin-Angamaly-Mukanoor-Athirapally-Vazhachal-Forest road-Malakkapara-Sholayar-Valparai
My route : Cochin-Angamaly-Mukanoor(Ezhattumughom road)-Athirapally-Vazhachal-Forest road-Malakkapara-Sholayar-Valparai
  1. The allowed passage time is between 6 am- 6 pm. The officials wont allow you passage to either side after 4 pm (Kerala check post). For people who want to enjoy these roads all by yourselves, go early. 7 am in the morning must be a good time (especially on a weekday).
  2. Carry your car docs, license and make sure you have enough supplies of you are travelling with a toddler. ‘Good’ shops or hotels just doesn’t exist there.
  3. As you can see from the pictures, the roads are narrow. Imagine confronting an SUV on a blind corner. Drive within your and the vehicles limit. Trust me, this is quite hard. Especially with a lot of bikers and some coming at you. Also there are old KSRTC buses on this route. Hence beware.
  4. Plastic is strictly banned. Please do not carry plastics and do not litter the area. Also you will not be allowed to carry inflammable materials (fuel in small bottles included) into the forest. This is to prevent forest fire.
  5. Finally, have fun…take loads of pics, make sure you take plenty of stops and enjoy the nature. Also a few view points enroute, those will make your trip worth.
Vazhachal waterfalls
Vazhachal waterfalls
tn_d5200valparai420170109
The roads be like this every mornings, perfect for a drive through the mountains!
tn_d5200valparai520170110
Athirapally waterfalls (a sneak peak)

tn_d5200valparainew-year-17060117_91

So the answer to my question: Will that place be any different now?, is simply yes. It has underwent a lot of changes, much to my liking. The Kerala side of changes (aka roads) look better than the TN side. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s true for once. For once Kerala proved me wrong. *slow claps*

I hope you all enjoyed the pictures like I did clicking them. Let’s see where the wind takes me next 😉

Again wishing everyone a wonderful year ahead filled with lot of road trips, adventures and fun.

Cheers!


 

Chapter 6 – Baden Baden aka Black Forest

tn_DSC_0392

I was trying to get the best picture of the lot but I can’t make up my mind as to which one would be the best suited as a cover for Baden Baden.

tn_DSC_0460

My friend had left, so it was a trip just between me and the generator powered BMW. For the first time, I felt lost and a bit lonely. I think I got more comfortable with having someone to cover my back and that day was different. That was the last day before I bid adieu to Stuttgart.

Since the BMW had GPS, I was in less trouble…sort of…though not having Internet in my phone was a major drawback. I set off…majority of the drive being on Autobahn, I happened to see areas with no speed limits. That means sport mode, paddle shifts and almost 240 kmph speeds. Once you shift to sport mode, the exhaust note changes and so does the eagerness of the car to leap forward. The drive was comfortable despite having stiffer suspension. I’m sure it will make for a good car to many of us, who love diesel. The car is around 190 hp but it’s pretty heavy in terms of weight for a coupe. I could feel the weight while doing high speeds.

I reached Baden Baden (Black forest) in around 1 hour and 15 minutes (or a bit more). Then it was all blank. I had no clue as to where to go. Shops were closed due to a public holiday on that day. The ones that were open had irritated shop keepers because they had to open their shops on a public holiday and it’s not a great idea to mess with pissed off Germans. So I went back and sat in my generator powered car browsing through the places and then I found Lichtentaler Allee, which is a walk (or kind of a beautiful garden). So I walked. The first pic is from Lichtentaler Allee.

tn_DSC_0408

 

tn_DSC_0412

This is the car in question…

tn_DSC_0429

 

With beautiful eyes…

tn_DSC_0388

And a not so bad looking nose with well detailed body

tn_DSC_0387

 

After this I drove around and reached a wine yard. This was somewhere inside and I had no clue how I reached there, all I remember was closing my eyes and selecting a place from the drop down list in GPS.

tn_DSC_0435

I was eating my lunch; a Pretzel and thinking about what next! By then I had fallen in love with Pretzels. Then after Pretzel lunch, I started fiddling with the GPS and found Merkur. Yes, I had seen Merkur in trip advisor when I was reading up about Black forest. So Merkur mountains was my next and final destination in Baden Baden, after which I planned to return to Stuttgart and give away my rental car ahead of time.

Right before Merkur, my lunch break

tn_DSC_0440

Base of the mountains, absolutely mind blowing. It keeps getting better.

tn_DSC_0446

Winch to the top. I was in no mood to walk 4 kms to the top.

tn_DSC_0448

 

tn_DSC_0451

tn_DSC_0452

 

tn_DSC_0453

 

tn_DSC_0454

The mountains, the city and a parachute man.

tn_DSC_0478

Finally I started my journey down. Though I had a ticket to go back in the winch, I decided to walk. A good decision.

tn_DSC_0479

On my way down, I met a retired German Engineer and his wife. We spoke a bit about life and work. He retired 5 years ago and now he was in love with Photography, mainly in portrait pictures of his wife. He spoke about his son and lot of things. It was a wonderful experience. They stopped in the way to click some pictures, I carried on.

I aimed to get back to Stuttgart but then an idea occurred. Tubingen which is on the way to Stuttgart is a place I didn’t visit, so I planned to pass by Tubingen.

The outskirts of Tubingen

tn_DSC_0482

Tubingen is one of the most beautiful places near Stuttgart. I’m glad I stopped at Tubingen.

tn_DSC_0484

The river that ran towards the university. People enjoying their day in rafts.

tn_DSC_0488

tn_DSC_0489

The beautiful tunnel in Tubingen. Lovely piece of art.

tn_DSC_0486

A house with a rooster at the top.

tn_DSC_0491

Finally, a parting picture of the little 2 series coupe.

tn_DSC_0494

 

I went back and returned the car. Picked up my luggage and checked in a hostel nearby and the next day morning, I was on my way back.

Before ending this post, I would like to mention a few more things.

  1. Sixt rentals were pretty good. Excellent customer service at the 24 hour centre which is opposite to the central station. The one is railway station was a joke. A not so friendly young lady. I would go back to Sixt but only at the 24 hr centre. Check their website here.
  2. Driving in Germany can be tricky. Especially for Indians. There are lot of rules and even if you follow them, you most probably might end up pissing off a few Germans. That’s unavoidable.
  3. Use GPS while travelling on a rental vehicle. It really helpful
  4. Finally, stay safe 🙂

This post marks the end of my German journey. Indeed, I would to go back and stay there if I get a chance in the future. It’s such a wonderful place. I envy those who stay in Stuttgart and nearby, it’s a wonderful city. Perfect mix of a city within a country side.


 

Jazirat Al Hamra – A ghost town…. really?

If there is a ghost town or a haunted place nearby, I got to visit that place.

I heard about this place in the local news site, which happens to post the crappiest of news. I never imagined that they would post something I would be a bit interested in and they did, silver lining.

There were quite a few blogs that has taken up the challenge and covered this place. I have read a number of them before going to this place. Couple of them are here and here. They are pretty informative if you guys want to go through it.

Reaching here : 25.709837, 55.795394 . These are the direct coordinates to the place.

It was some odd hundred kilometers from this place and decided why not pay a visit? It was evening. I raided the place with my camera. The place being haunted, all the pics have been forcefully converted to B&W …

We start and end with the Golf as usual,

tn_DSC_0405

tn_DSC_0408

tn_DSC_0409

tn_DSC_0410

tn_DSC_0411

tn_DSC_0412

tn_DSC_0415

tn_DSC_0416

tn_DSC_0419

tn_DSC_0420

 

tn_DSC_0421

tn_DSC_0426

Even ghosts watch TV shows these day (pun intended)

tn_DSC_0427

tn_DSC_0428

tn_DSC_0429

 

tn_DSC_0430

tn_DSC_0433

Did I see any ghosts?

Well, I saw a guy who was drunk and carrying his bottle of booze and coming out of one of the abandoned building. He saw me and he hid the booze quickly. Then he started following me. I let him follow me for a bit, before I asked him

‘Why you following me?’ (in urdu since the guy was clearly from either Pak, Bangladesh or India)

He replied me saying that he was just enjoying himself walking with me and seeing me click pictures.

Some enjoyment that is … hehe

That was my experience there.

Would I recommend this place to anyone?

NO. It’s some broken buildings with nothing much to do. If you are coming early in the morning, this place might make up for a good location for practicing early hour photography.

On that bombshell, good night!


 

Jebel Al Jais _ The mountains revisited – 2

Read the first part here


 

As I was looking around I saw another road which led to a tower like structure. On asking the guard he said there is a road to this place. I move on to explore like a Ford Explorer, but not much joy with that. They had locked the way to go uphill. So I am going to do what I do the best (Hitman: Agent 47)

 

Warships… lot of them. Feels like watching Greece attack Troy.

 

tn_DSC_0130

 

Then I see another spot, which sparked interest. Half of it was under shadow. Thanks to the mountains.

 

tn_DSC_0132

Back to warships…

tn_DSC_0133

 

Then in a while, our friend from old gang comes to visit. Sorry for the shake, I wasn’t prepared for him.

tn_DSC_0135

 

Many people came in with their utensils to cook food. I don’t understand the obsession, maybe it’s fun.

 

tn_DSC_0140

 

Again the roads….

tn_DSC_0141

 

 

Here we are nearing the end. So should I post the ending now and later post the Golf section? Yeah, that will work I guess.

So on the descend I took some more pics of mountains, good roads, places nearby and stuff like that.

 

tn_DSC_0145

 

 

And then the B&W I saved from before…

tn_DSC_0131

 

And then the beautiful scenic place downhill.

tn_DSC_0161

 

tn_DSC_0163

 

tn_DSC_0166

 

tn_DSC_0165

tn_DSC_0164

 

tn_DSC_0169

 

Isn’t the place very beautiful?

Now some Golfey time, anyone who wishes to skip this can do so. This is madness and obsession.

Golfey time

A fun fact : I took all the winding roads in 5th gear with occasional shifting to 4th gear to deal with hairpin bends. Apart from that 5th gear and moving steadily, not a slightest of feel that you are out of power. Amazing torque. This car never ceases to amaze me. Anything that doesn’t fail to astonish you may it be a car or a person, you will want to hold on to it forever. I am in the same situation. Everyday is different with this car. Amazing Engineering!!!

That’s why people are ready to pay hefty amounts for German cars even though their reliability and customer service is arguably the worst. The German cars are well Engineered. Especially my car belongs to an era when there were only limited essential electronics and the rest was to be taken care by the driver. It’s a drivers car… No doubt!!!

tn_DSC_0147

 

tn_DSC_0146

 

tn_DSC_0136

 

tn_DSC_0170

tn_DSC_0149

 

tn_DSC_0148

 

tn_DSC_0160

 

 

 

tn_DSC_0153

 

Now this I wanted to try and make my wallpaper… Focus on the ground, for a change 😛 

tn_DSC_0151

 

 

So highlights of this trip,

Start from home : 04:45 AM
Reach Jebel Al Jais 06:30 AM
Start the car for return leg 09:00 AM
Reach home 11:45 AM

Total kms : 250 kms approx

Total fuel : 20-25 liters approx

REVIEW :

5 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pros :

A silent getaway, amazing winding roads, availability of public washrooms and barbecue places, Cost effective, Scenic, Challenging roads, Close to the city limits, Good to take along friends, family, parents or loved ones, Quiet place.

Cons :

Bad stretches of road; not matching UAE standards, Frequent cyclists, Lot of blind spot, Narrow roads at some places, People may find the troubles taken unworthy for what awaits is just a view, Camping area/off road is accessible only with permission, Unavailability of Petrol pumps, shops after leaving the city limits.

Best time to visit :

October to December and March to May.

Things to be careful about:

Narrow roads, blind spots and harsh potholes. Food, water and fuel should be taken care of before you leave city limits.

My opinion :

Definitely worth a shot for all the beautiful roads till the place and if you love silence and tranquility, think no more. A good place for weekend retreat provided you are not travelling in the rush hour. Auto-enthusiasts can enjoy the winding roads. Recommended. 

Finally a parting shot…

tn_DSC_0144

 

Cheers!!!


 

Jebel Al Jais _ The Mountains revisited – 1

With everyone’s permission let’s revisit this post and the place again, this time I will post a proper review of the place. Now click that link and read it, will you? 😛 


 Recap :

A few months back, I was on the way to Jebel Al Jais ( Jebel – Mountain, Al- The, Jais – name of the mountain) and I shared my story of racing with an FJ cruiser. I couldn’t complete that journey due to high traffic jam from the half way point. I returned back, and said I’ll try and not go there. Well I went there for a quick visit and that was a very wise decision.

10 reasons why you could possibly consider visiting this place:

1. An amazing place to visit with your partner, family or as couples/wanna be couples. This place is going to elate both of your mood.

2. Beautiful views of winding roads from almost everywhere as you ascend.

3. A treat for any Motorcycle/Car enthusiast. Such are the roads. Narrow winding roads… means high adrenaline.

4. During the ‘not so hot and not so cold’ climate in UAE, the breeze at the top is something that needs to be experienced.

5. Compared to Jebel Hafeet, the roads are a bit more challenging. The roads from the bottom to the top are around 35 kms and feels like never ending once you start ascend. That can be good and bad, depending on how you view it.

6. Camping, barbecue and all those facilities available. (mentioned later on)

7. Availability of Public washrooms at every 5 kms for men and women. Fairly in good condition.

8. It’s not very far from the nearest city/Emirate (Ras Al Khaimah). Only 25 kms or so till the base of the mountains.

9. This can be a biking/cycling track. There are a lot of Cyclists climbing up and you may possibly bump into a bunch of them.

10. Last but not the least, it’s a beautiful place (see the attached pics)

Info :

As opposed to some people thinking, Jebel Al Jais is not the most highest mountain range in UAE. Jebel Yibir is with a 1,500 + meters above sea level.  Jebel Al Jais is one of the highest places, not the highest point.

How to find this place :

Ask Google… he knows, is the most worthwhile answer. It’s close to the Emirate called Ras-Al-Khaimah, to which there are two express ways (namely E311 and E611 which later on merges to become E311) and one highway (E11) joining RAK to other Emirates. The speed limit of E11 is 100 kmph with 80 kmph at some places near RAK, while the express ways obviously is 120 kmph with tolerance of +20 kmph making it 140 kmph.

Attaching the maps as I took both the route. The to journey was via E311, starts from Emirates market near my home and merges on to E311 and joining E11 later. The E611 is far wider than E311 and joins E311 at the centre as you can see.

To jais

 

The return leg is usually slow paced, as I am coming alone and not in a hurry.

Back home

 

Around 125 kms one way is the mention here, and I think it’s a bit more than that. Around a 150 kms (sorry no odometer readings to back my statement).

Planning :

I was supposed to go to Jebel Al Jais only this weekend, but then thought to myself what is preventing me from going there that weekend. Who can guarantee that next weekend would not see me doing something urgent! So just decided a day before that I am going. Tanked up, checked the tire pressure and set it to the standard 35 psi and checked the coolant/water levels in radiator and that’s it.

My take on the trip :

I went with my lady love as well. She is made of steel and looks Indigo blue.

The never ending 35 kms, the climb… the ascend is a nightmare if you go in traffic and a pleasure to climb if empty. The last time was a good lesson and I corrected myself this time, went early morning on a weekend. When the world was asleep after partying, I woke up at 4:00 am in the morning and managed to leave by 4:45 am. The plan was leave by 4:15 am.

On the way I stopped by a petrol station and got something to eat for the morning and I drove away to RAK. I knew most of the place from before. But towards the end I got lost and drove around for a bit before I reached the place. That ate up some time but nonetheless, it was only around half past 6. I had to climb the 35 km twisties and I was down there.

The roads are not that great, and your heart breaks with each bad pothole your small car hits. My suspensions aren’t that great either. It’s stiff by default and that’s where the Golf gets it’s precise handling. The potholes would be hard to tackle sometimes, and in a blind spot some other times. Few kms were testing, but the remaining were amazing.

Driving on narrow winding roads is really an amazing feeling, dangerous but then the best thrills come with their own dangers. More danger, more thrill. So the safest bet is to stay in your limits and have as much as fun you can. May it be car, may it be life. Never forget the limits…. Gladly I know exactly the limits of my car. I know it’s brakes, I know it’s acceleration and I know it inside out, except it’s ABS malfunctioned once (or did I panic more than usual) and I hit a smooth speed breaker a bit hard. Arghhh!!!

As usual my Photography revolved around Golfey.

Let’s move on to that then

(Please don’t mind the Vignetting in some of the pics. My screwed in filters have screwed up. My mistake again that I kept them screwed in together for a long time.)

First look at the mountains, the sun’s showing up

tn_DSC_0094

 

Playing with the focus I land with something that looks like the below

tn_DSC_0095

 

And finally … I own a VW GOLF GTI MK4. lol

tn_DSC_0096

 

 

Sooner than later, I stop again.

 

tn_DSC_0097

Again…

tn_DSC_0098

 

And again… ufff!

tn_DSC_0099

 

The sun has shown up now… and it’s becoming visible.

tn_DSC_0100

 

Point 7. Public washroom.

tn_DSC_0101

Point 6. Barbecue

tn_DSC_0102

 

Now some pictures of ravines. You will now notice why it is not a good idea to jump from a ravine.

tn_DSC_0103

 

You see in the next picture, there is a minute thing on the road.

tn_DSC_0104

Then I zoom completely, at a 105 mm

tn_DSC_0106

How do people even jump from suicide points?

Then my rally car,

If I stand up to click it then it looks tiny like a scale model… awww

tn_DSC_0109

Then I kneel down to make him feel better

tn_DSC_0107

 

 

Then I start driving up again. Suddenly after a turn I see some mutton dressed in the shape of lamb crossing the road. (pun intended)

I park my car, and go after them.

One of them is thinking of committing suicide

tn_DSC_0110

 

He apparently is troubled that his gf is seeing someone else, and then I tell him my story and that my passenger side seat belts have become stiff and crispy. He is moved by my story and …..

tn_DSC_0111

You don’t swear at someone who saved your life… dude? Where is the god damn manners.

tn_DSC_0112

 

Then I turn back and take a couple of pics, from the edge. I live on the Adgeeee, lol 😛

 

tn_DSC_0116

 

tn_DSC_0114

 

tn_DSC_0115

 

I turn my head to see something that reminded me of India. Why this kolaveri di?

tn_DSC_0117

A closer look

tn_DSC_0118

 

The herd is not happy with my intrusion… I might have to leave soon.

tn_DSC_0119

 

I drive drive and drive… I reach the end of the road

tn_DSC_0121

 

tn_DSC_0120

 

 

So that was the end of my uphill journey. The roads after that point were doable on a 4×4 strictly. You can see the rules written on the board. I saw a couple of cars passing the gate, and on enquiry the guard mentioned that they were from the company and had permission.

tn_DSC_0122

Then some random shots

tn_DSC_0124

 

tn_DSC_0123

 

Then I saw a braveheart

tn_DSC_0126

 

Leave the braveheart, check out the place

tn_DSC_0127

 

 


To be contd… 

With rest of the story, my quick review of this place and some more snaps

A day in AD corniche!!!

All pics are taken in my mobile camera with slight color adjustments. 


 

A dialogue between Teacher and a Student…

Teacher : ‘Class, Where is Gelf? Can anyone tell me?’

Student : ‘Teacher Teacher…. I don’t know. Can you?’

Teacher : ‘Class, Where is India? Can anyone tell me?

Student : ‘Teacher Teacher… In Gelf!’

Teacher : ‘Good Boy!!!’

 

tn_IMAG0207

 

tn_IMAG0229

 

tn_IMAG0230

 

I went for an interview last week in AD (Abu Dhabi, UAE). You can see the queue for the interview, it was 1 km outside the venue and the whole venue which by itself was a well reputed hotel in Abu Dhabi was filled with people. I would blame it on the company for lack of proper planning. There were like 20-25 disciplines that the company had called for and an unacceptable number of people standing here, there and everywhere. Well done by ruining everyone’s weekend.

But then, I had a good time. I was informed by my room mate that there was an interview next day. Yeah, on the day before at say 8:00 pm. He obviously had to take a bus to reach AD, so what’s easy for him is to go with me and if I happen to go, tag alongside 😛 No…no, he is not mean. He is just a friend. So I am in a half mind whether to go or not, and as anyone would think… I also thought if I don’t go I will not be able to move on from my current job (no, I am not typing it at my workplace … only editing and posting) and if I go attend the interview, I actually have a chance.

I and my room mate set off at 6:15 am for a 200 km drive to this hotel at AD Corniche. Corniche means a road cut into the edge of a cliff, especially one running along a coast as per Google. I say it’s simply the road along seaside. You will understand it better as we progress.

We reach by 8:15 am, even after 2 short breaks. That means it took only 1 hour and 40 mins or less than that to cover the distance, which is OK. There is a small crowd in the hall, I register after standing for an hr in the queue. They check my CV and mention that the experience is less than what they are looking for, they take the CV along with them and tell me they will get back to me. I expect it to be in their trash bin by now. The other guy who came with me had adequate experience, hence his CV got selected and he moved on with other process. It’s going to be long, for him. The hall was packed, the veranda packed and reception is also packed. The queue is 3 times the one I see in Kerala beverages (liquor shop). I realize that job is much more important than alcohol.

I had to leave, the parking lot was full. It was becoming hard for the candidates to park their car. I curse our population, I cannot believe my eyes. I am saddened to see the state of our people, all over the place. But this job and interview can’t make me sad. It was never what I wanted to do for a job anyways. It’s kkpp for me (kkpp is a KL shortform for : Get it then good, didn’t then fine).

I am not going before I explore the AD Corniche, which actually made my day. What a beautiful place! I realize at that very moment, what I was missing in life!!! I loved the place, it was a bit sunny but I still loved what the place had to offer.

tn_IMAG0208

Dubai is congested, but then I haven’t got a chance to explore Dubai as well. But I loved AD for what I saw there, of course the rents are sky high. Even more than Dubai, but it’s the capital and financial power house of UAE. How would you blame them? Look at the quality. Mesmerized.

 

I couldn't get the WB right in this shot.
I couldn’t get the WB right in this shot.

 

tn_IMAG0212
‘Jogging / cycling / skating or whatever you want to do’ track

 

tn_IMAG0209
Monochrome, looks good!!!

 

The fancy lights
The fancy lights

 

You can sit here with your loved one and no moral police would come and disturb

tn_IMAG0217
You can sit here with your loved one and no moral police would come and disturb you. The privacy and freedom is amazing!!!

 

A duck (or something) swimming!!! Nice water.
A duck (or something) swimming!!! Nice water.

 

Some young lady enjoying her walk
Some young lady enjoying her walk

 

Some guy on his roller skates
Some guy on his roller skates

 

Again it's some young lady with her dog!
Again it’s some young lady with her dog!

 

The last time I saw all this was in Mumbai. I knew then,at Mumbai, that I was living. After all these years of existence, I still long to pet a dog 😥 AD reminded me of that. It was a sad realization.

Now the scenes around,

 

tn_IMAG0219
A fancy waiting area. Should go and sit there someday and wait for someone!!! 😀

 

Another waiting shed, this time it's a bus stop!
Another waiting shed, this time it’s a bus stop! (or at least I think so) 

 

Half in shade and half exposed. Doesn't do justice to me anyways!
Half in shade and half exposed. Doesn’t do justice to me anyways!

 

The buildings around. Would cost a bomb to live there!
The buildings around. Would cost a bomb to live there! Still under construction but you know where I am coming from.

I had to cross the road and that was made easy by underpass, with a warning though

Warning at a pedestrian underpass
Warning at a pedestrian underpass

And they are right about their warning (I hope this is not illegal)

tn_IMAG0226

 

There was another camera looking at me at the other end. After a few days if I don’t come online, you know where I am. 😛

Just showing you a pic of the traffic at the parking lot

 

 

 

 

Did you see our swifty standing there?
Did you see our swifty standing there? 😛 

Then I walk back to my beautiful lady, my child, my everything; to whom I go to every single day. She accepts me with her arms and heart wide open. Her warmth has actually moved me. Who would bother waiting for me under the hot sun for hours when I am fooling around taking pics…. Yeah yeah! My car, who is waiting for me as always.

 

tn_IMAG0227

 

 

With that sad bombshell…. let me say a good bye to you all for now!!!

 


 

Ellaveezhapoonchira – An offbeat place raided solo :)

Sad that I left this trip incomplete as well. Fate is what I can blame grrr!!!


Today I have too many salutations to start with, but let me quote down what I think is the most funny here.

I and my colleague were going for lunch, in my car. We enter I pull my seat belts and he pulls the passenger side seat belt

Ufff! Your passenger side seat belt has become stiff. That pretty much explains your life.

I couldn’t laugh more at that comment. Pretty true about what he said. That explains my life.

I have do so many solo trips by now that I might be labelled a ‘Loner’ by my family and friends. I have got the hang of solo travels. NO. My IQ and planning has not improved, but I have gotten used to travelling alone without getting too bored. I can now look at my peers and laugh at them, when they are like ‘Travelling alone is so boring.’

I say waiting for someone to travel along is the utmost boring thing. Just use the time in hand and go for it. Alone or in a group. Don’t bother.

Now that today’s gyaan is dealt with, let me move on.

That was a good trip to Athirapally with bhpians. And then again I had good 5-6 days left to go. I had done all that I had intended to during these past days. What next?

Another trip. Where to? I had quite a few places in my mind. But I had to be cost efficient this time, so lot of options got voted out. Including Meghamalai, which was a priority for me.

Then again the place should be less crowded, I can’t deal with traffic and I am in mood for that. I am a tired man. It should be bit of an off-beat place, the one not so touristy.

I remembered long time back I and another friend had planned a trip to Ellaveezhapoonchira (also Illaveezhapoonchira for some others). It never happened cos I never had a ride. Even today that still remains to be my number one problem. I don’t have a ride, since I come to India for no more than 10-20 days in a year. May be it’s the other way around, the reason I don’t come to India for more than that 10-20 day period. I hate it without a motorcycle (read Bullet). Even if the motorcycle was to be parked simply at home, I would still love to see it there and I would pay up to come and see it more than anything.

Before I go any further, let me introduce you to this weird named place ‘Ellaveezhapoonchira’. Let me be a proper malayali and explain this big name to you all. Illa/Ella, is not illa which means no/not. Ila/Ela means leaves (from trees here) veezha means not falling or doesn’t fall, poo means flower and poonchira means flowery pond or pond filled with flowers. So summing it all up ‘a pond of flowers where leaves don’t fall’. Quite a beautiful name and that was one of the reason I wanted to go there. To see that pond. Did I succeed? Read on.

Read about this place here.

So once that was clear that not many options available for me, I mean my ride. I had to check out what to drive to Ellaveezhapoonchira. So I had two options, a Splendor plus which my father uses or a Honda Activa that my father’s younger brother has.

Obviously my uncle had kept the Activa in good condition. It was maintained, rear tire replaced and service done. Good.

I hate motorcycles without gears. Oh I just hate it. I avoid driving scooters as much as I can. It has been a long time I haven’t got a chance to drive scooters. So I just mentally prepared myself to do this Herculean task on a boring scooter. It will be boring but then I felt like experiencing it. I avoided the Splendor altogether, for which I pay with my sweat and blood later on.

So on a Wednesday morning at sharp 8…9…10…10:30 am I leave. My plan vs actual curve doesn’t match at all. But then the idea was to reach a bit before evening. Enjoy till evening and cover most of the distance before sunset. How hard can it be to drive a 100 kms? Then again, plan vs actual.

The thing that I didn’t realize was that this is an Activa. A thing that goes no more than 70 kmph and max 80 kmph if you don’t value your life. I should have left before 10:30 am.

That thing activa requires me to plan my emergency braking 20 meters before and if I am using my foot as well then 10 meters. No less than that.

Untitled
That’s not my home people. I am a smart ass, but I took that route.

How rude am I? It does all that is expected of it. It’s just not a good tourer. It’s a simple scooter for normal daily use. The 102 cc 7 hp scooter is probably 10 years old.

So this was the route map. 113 kms to be precise as per Google.

tn_IMAG0183

The initial reading looked like this…

tn_DSC_0057

The vehicle looked like this

I start and in 10 mins I am lost. But I get back to the proper road and fill up for 200 rs. The tank was full and it’s a pleasant feeling in India. I rode away to Mavelikara and I got lost there. I got back to Chennganur and then Thiruvalla. The roads are bad, I am not even half the way and I have a sore back already. I drive slow at say 40-50 kmph and the engine feels good at that kind of speed.

Once I crossed Thiruvalla, I asked for Manarcaud which is a part of Kottayam district. Now I don’t have GPS in my mobile so I resort to the oldest way of getting the directions, known as asking people. Once I was on the way to Thengana, the roads started getting better and towards Manarcaud it was heaven.

I would say Kottayam dist has some of the best roads to offer in the whole of Kerala. Amazing roads.

I stop at one place to rest my sore back. By back I mean the entire back. My ass was grass 😛

Then this happened…

tn_DSC_0058

Not one pothole on that rubberized track, oh I was so in love with those beautiful asphalts with amazing and scary twisties.

some greens

tn_DSC_0059

And then lot of greens

tn_DSC_0060

tn_DSC_0061

tn_DSC_0062

tn_DSC_0063

These sort of greenery is everywhere in Kerala. It’s not a big deal finding out some good place to take a couple of pics except in the city limits, which is in a state of despair. I was trying not to get down from the ride and making excuses for not clicking. It would be hard to cover distance if I do it often.

Will save the next pic for last…

So I drive again and there is no sense of urgency in my driving. 40-50 kms is what I did, the roads were good and I need to make sure that I don’t go wrong. I reach Kidangoor and then from there Pala. Marvellous roads except for some patches in the city.

I don’t stop until I reach Melukavu which is around 25 kms from Pala. Then I cannot control my urge to click. I stop more than 3 times at various places for a break.

I didn’t get the exposure right the first time, but later on I get better with it. I have done minimal editing in these road pics, cos they by themselves looked so good.

tn_DSC_0066

Had someone gifted me a super wide angle lens, this scenery would have looked fab. 😥

tn_DSC_0068

tn_DSC_0069

This deserves full size…

tn_DSC_0070

tn_DSC_0072

I drive again just to stop in another 5 kms. Melukavu is such a beautiful place. There is no way I can forget this place.

tn_DSC_0073

tn_DSC_0075

In a bit I stop again, what beautiful roads. Completely fell in love with the road.

tn_DSC_0076

tn_DSC_0078

After this I see the board to Ellaveezhapoonchira (written as Illaveezhapoonchira). It’s 9 kms to the place, and I try to cover it, and I realize it’s much more than 9 kms. I had to leave the Activa half the way because I smell oil and I smoke the scooter all over. That’s the first time I smoked a motorcycle and I felt like a cool guy. The pics of that I’ll add in the next post.

After the first 5 kms there is no roads. Simply none. There is just steep climb on a 4×4 territory. The Activa could have managed it at the expense of 1 liter petrol extra and some smoke but then I don’t like that. Petrol is gold in India. I park it there and leave my helmet on the it and start walking.

Here is where I wished I had taken a motorcycle with gear. There were motorcycle with gear doing this feat easily. I was walking that steep climb with 0 hp left in me.

I somehow put my camera in sketch mode, and I didn’t realize. The end result was this

tn_DSC_0079

Then I walk and click

tn_DSC_0084

tn_DSC_0082

tn_DSC_0083

It started getting dark…

tn_DSC_0089

tn_DSC_0086

tn_DSC_0088

I walk walk and finally reach a point where I have to climb another 10 kms to see the view point. This is the point where I decide, I will come back with torquey Bullet and raid the hell out this place but for now it’s already 5:15 and I have to cover more than half of my way before the light goes out.

Somehow on the way back I find this small temple. I click a couple of pics there before I put my camera to rest and walk back.

tn_DSC_0092

tn_DSC_0090

tn_DSC_0091

I walk back to see my Activa and helmet safe and sound, waiting for me like an obedient school kid.

Now let me draw your attention to the small little drawbacks of this place…

Non existent road (all captured on my mobile phone)

tn_IMAG0184

This is the route in which I tried to unleash the hidden powers of Activa… failed miserably.

tn_IMAG0186

tn_IMAG0185

The top view point where I couldn’t make it.

tn_IMAG0189

Sun setting 🙂

tn_IMAG0188

On the return, I gave a good run for the money. At 70-80 kmph, I had couple of places where I had panics but then experience (read luck) helped me handle those situation. I was on the way to Manarcad when I lost the light and not one street light was working as expected.

I reached Thengana and I had a pillion half way towards my route, who helped me figure out another route. The distance might have been the same but helped to gun the Activa to glory.

tn_IMAG0191

The final reading as it read.

So highlights of this trip,

Start from home : 10:30 AM
Food from KTDC 7 kms away from Pala at 2:30 PM
Reach Ilaveezhapoonchira 4:15 PM
Trek up and return back 5:30 PM
Start the scooter for return leg 5:35PM
Reach home 9:05 PM

Total kms : 249 kms

Total fuel : 350 rs (with half a tank remaining)

So that was scary and unpredictable journey, successfully completed with some incomplete portions. I am satisfied as I didn’t spend much manhours planning the trip. The trip could have been much better and so must I get better in planning a trip well.

Now I’m introducing something new in my blog…. something I wanted but haven’t till now (thanks to Teny and his blog… taking inspiration from there)

REVIEW :

Img

Pros :

A silent getaway, Good trekking spot, Helpful natives, Amazing nature, Solitude, Beautiful roads to the place till you reach last 10 kms, Melukavu, very cost effective, Do-able even on a 100cc motorcycle provided you know how to tackle the bad roads, at the top if the climate is good you can see view of places in Allepey dist and Malankara reservoir, good place to visit with friends or even family no signs of any anti-socials or such threats, Challenging. 

Cons : 

Non existent roads for last 5-6 kms, Only one small shop on the way to the top, for hiring a jeep you might have to spend up to 1000 rs unless you bargain hard to get it a bit down, Very risky doing the bad trails on motorcycle, People might find the troubles taken unworthy for what awaits is just a view, 4×4 will be the best possible option to climb up hassle free, place looks a bit deserted and undeveloped.

Best time to visit :

Somewhere between Dec-Mar would be the best time to visit as I see it (based on my experience). Slight monsoon drizzles would leave the nature more beautiful but then it comes with it’s own risks. Especially the roads or lack of thereof. Hence I would suggest Dec-Mar to make it hassle free.

Things to be careful about:

When it starts to rain or if there is thunder / lightning, immediately start walking back. Don’t stay at the top as chances are high that the lightning might strike. Hence to avoid risk, if you even see drizzles, leave the place immediately.

My opinion :

Definitely worth a shot for all the beautiful roads till the place and if you love silence and tranquility, think no more. Recommended. 


 So when is Meghamalai? 😥