Hi from Khajuraho! We reached here yesterday evening.
I am writing this to let you, my dear readers, know that I am having trouble updating this blog. The reason is not a lack of bandwidth, but a lack of time. The way I write my blog is as follows : I first write the days story in my diary, then I type it out into the WordPress app. Then I publish online. As you can see, this is a time consuming activity. Even more if you add in time to select photos, upload them, etc.
Now, the problem is that I am unable to set aside this much time everyday. I had thought this was possible, but I find the hard way that it is not. I have just about found enough time to write everyday experiences in my diary - and that too, just. I have tried for the last two days, hoping that updates are possible. But to no avail.
Due to these reasons, I have to defer updates to the blog till I return. After that, I plan to publish all stories, one day at a time. Thanks for reading and hope you will check back soon after the new year celebrations !
Just a quick update. We started off from Jhansi yesterday morning. We visited the fort at the Jhansi, and then rode to Orchha. Orchha is home to a historic fort and palaces, and the massive Chaturbhuj mandir. The buildings exhibit interesting architecture , combining the dome with Hindu architectural elements.
Right now, we are staying overnight at a town called "Mau Ranipur". We are on our way to Khajuraho. I am writing the full story in my notebook. Will push it online when I get time and internet connectivity, and yes photos too !
Hello again ! I am off on another journey. KP(remember the tour of North-East?) and me will be touring parts of Madhya Pradesh starting TOMORROW. Reason for the : capitals, can't contain my excitement.
We will be on tour from 16th to 30th - 14 days. I am writing this sitting inside the Sampark Kranti express; we are on our way to Jhansi. Our cycles are in the luggage compartment. Starting from Jhansi, we will pedal our way to Orccha, and then to Khajuraho. Post Khajuraho, our plans are somewhat fluid. We will most likely take a bus to Indore from there. The second leg of the journey will take us to Mandy, Maheshwar, Omkareshwar, Pachmarhi, and Bhimbetka. Our return train leaves Bhopal on the 30th. We expect to ride somewhere in the range of a thousand kilometers during the tour.
No tents this time. We are carrying sleeping bags, though. So expect to stay overnight in lodges, and the odd home, and anywhere else.
So, what's different in this trip ?
I had hoped it wouldn't come to this - but well, that's life. For the first time ever (i.e. in about 10 years), I have no choice but to cancel a cycling tour. The tour of Rajasthan has to wait; there are more important things to tackle. Need to say a big thank you for all the wishes from the readers of this blog. Hopefully, I'll carry them over for my next trip (when that happens!)
I had scheduled this trip to align carefully with several things : work at office, preparations for my sister's wedding, property purchase (and loan processing), and pleasant weather in Rajasthan. Clearly I had taken on too many things. The saying in Kannada goes, "ಮನೆ ಕಟ್ಟಿ ನೋಡು, ಮಾಡುವೆ ಮಾಡಿ ನೋಡು" (meaning: try constructing a house & arranging a marriage). It was no doubt coined well before the days of contractors & builders of all hues. But yet, they pose significant challenges. My simplistic mind had failed to appreciate the complexities of taking on both of them together, and then doing a juggling act with complexities of leading a software project and the rising heat of Rajasthan (as summer starts). As it turns out, the weather of Rajasthan was the deciding factor.
I am content to cancel this tour rather than be baked in the desert heat. I find that this decision has freed up my mind. I was trying to hard to meet all requirements. My mind was a mess. No longer.
The wanderer in me is not satisfied with this decision, of course. I haven't been to Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab & Haryana, Himachal, UP & Uttarakhand. All these are looking fair game now. Who knows where I'll end up after May. In any case, better late than never...
Obviously, the stars weren't right when I titled my last post "A fortnight in Rajasthan". The tour was in trouble the moment I booked the flight tickets. Work at office requires me to travel to Taiwan for a week. To be on the safer side, I am postponing my trip by two weeks. I will now be in Rajasthan from Feb 29 to March 15.
I had earlier planned to ride from Jaipur to Jaisalmer, and then take a train back to Jaipur. Due to the change in dates, I now have to account for changes in weather as well. I am told that it would be best to start from Jaisalmer now - apparently Jaisalmer can get pretty hot by mid March. So, I am not going to fly to Jaipur, and then catch a train to Jaisalmer. After that, I ride back to Jaipur.
Have I gained anything due to this schedule change ? I sneaked in a couple of extra days. Also important, I can now attend my friend Santosh Kamath's wedding and put on the much needed extra calories to burn in the desert !
Very few of my friends have heard of it. In a genealogical sense, 3-4 generations separate me and my relatives living there! Never mind those facts; Kanjarpane(ಕಂಜರ್ಪಣೆ) remains my native place.
I had a desire to visit Kanjarpane during the christmas vacation. On the fourth of January, I reached Subrahmanya at 5:30 PM. I had to stop riding somewhere, and what better place than Kanjarpane. This was my second visit to the place overall. The first one was thirteen years ago, but surprisingly my memories of the place were green. Kanjarpane is three kilometers away from Kukkujadka, which in turn is close to Sullia in Dakshina Kannada district.
Stopping by Doddathota, I peered around. I had been advised to take a shortcut from there to Kanjarpane. The only open shop in Doddathota didn't seem to be selling anything. Three people were discussing local affairs. My head light and tail light provided the much needed distraction. Their enquiries started soon after. It didn't take them long to start asking who I would be. I pondered over the question for a couple of seconds. Hoping for a faint glimpse of recognition from them, I replied, with some hesitation, "son of Abasama". Their reaction was a complete surprise. "ಓಹೋ ಅವರಾ ? ನಾವು ಅವರನ್ನು Englishman ಅಂತ ಕರಿತಾ ಇದ್ವಿ. ದಿನಾ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆಗೆ ಬರ್ತಾ ಇದ್ದರು. ಮನಗೆ ಬಂದ ಮೇಲೆ ಐದು ನಿಮಿಷ ಬೆವರು ಒರಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತಿದ್ದರು !". (him? we used to call him an Englishman. He was an everyday visitor to our house. After coming inside the house, he would spend the first five minutes wiping off his sweat!) Dad had a way of leaving an impression on people. He used to be very particular about dressing up. Out of the house, he was always seen wearing a suit and Bata Ambassador shoes. In those surroundings, he would look out of place in these times. Can you imagine the situation thirty years ago ?
Sometimes I get phone calls from complete strangers. Typically, the callers get the phone numbers from my "About" page. And yes, that's the reason I keep them there.
Yesterday, at 8 PM, I was riding back from Madikeri towards Mysore. My phone rang. I had to excuse myself & asked the caller to call me again in half an hour or so. Next call at 10 PM. Guy calling was Praveen, obviously a kannadiga, and sitting in Shillong. Between jobs, and travelling his motorbike. He is using the Eicher map. He has been blogging extensively about his experiences on his blog page. He's ridden quite some distance already. Bangalore - Kolkata - Gangtok - Bhutan (yes!) and now sits pretty at Shillong.
Praveen wanted to get some road directions. Most maps show a short route from Agartala to Aizwal. My tour of the North-East had taught me that it didn't exist (or if it did wasn't motorable). I told him as much. And confirmed it today morning by calling Inspector S K Das - who's currently posted in Agartala (remember him from my Tour of North East ? He was posted in Teliamura then).
Praveen is probably busy getting permits now. Good luck to him for the rest of his journeys! Finally, turns out he's not that much of a stranger after all. He knows one of my close friends from engineering days. Is it a small world, or are the junkies somehow connected ? 🙂
The biggest waterfall in Kodagu (Coorg) District. That's Mallalli Abbi Falls for you. 22kms away from Somwarpet, this falls is the waterfall you need to see in Coorg. Neither the Irpu falls near Ponnampete nor the Abbi Falls near Madikeri come close to the majesty of this water fall. I'll let the pictures do the talking !
Trekking enthusiasts : this is a good place to visit on the way to Hegdemane, and before you start climbing Pushpagiri.
Recently, I got a chance to visit Boston. The reason : My work (the Parallel Compositing Library) was selected to be presented at HP TechCon 08. This is an annual company internal technical conference. The acceptance rate is about 10%, so acceptance is a matter of some prestige 🙂 It's definitely one of the highlights of my employment in HP.
Boston seems to be a favourite among bikers. Everybody whom I spoke to regarding my visit to Boston strongly recommended I take some time to ride around.
Rough altitude profile (inaccurate):
Final Update for now: Six of us finally finished the tour - Avinash, Gourish, Goutham, KP, Prasad and Me. Abhinandan did days 1 & 4 of the tour. All of us are back in Bangalore and probably reliving the adventure 🙂 I will post the photographs, the route we took, maybe a detailed story and statistics in a few days (hopefully).
Update: 5:20pm We reached Kushalnagar half an hour ago after visiting the Tibetan monastery. Afternoon was the hottest in terms of temperature. We all enjoyed the last leg of our journey and hooray we are done! 360kms and 5 days of fun. We are waiting at the bus stand now to come back to Bangalore.
Update: 12:50pm Another very relaxed day this is turning out to be. We reached Dubare elephant camp quickly. The elephant ride was supposed to start at 9:30, and none of us were really interested. So we proceeded towards the Harangi reservoir. The chief minister was coming visiting, so a huge crowd had gathered - but no water was released to show him. fortunately there were no security hassles as the CM came on a helicopter. But the public wasn't allowed inside - and that includes us. So back we came. A short distance from the junction and we reached Nisarga Dhama - an island on the river cauvery and a popular picnic spot. And we are just lazing around after lunch here. We have ridden a relaxed 40km till now. We intend to roam around it a bit and then visit the Tibetan colony at Bailkuppe. And then we will stop at Kushalnagar and catch buses back to Bangalore. Did I forget to mention that the overall weather till now was fantastic?
Update: 6:10am We are starting off towards Kushalnagar; our last day of riding. Many interesting places to see on the way...
Update: 6:20pm We reached Siddapura an hour ago. Not too many choices for lodging. We might probably settle for Diamond lodge. Forgot to tell you, we didnt make it to the falls. We reached a point three km away from the falls and found that going to the falls needed us to walk for a few hours since the falls is deep inside the forest. It needs forest department permission too. Overall we figured we couldn't spare the time for it. So we decided to go to Siddapura and stop there for today. We used some interior roads on the way. We enjoyed excellent weather most of the day - including some showers. Some breathtaking vistas too. And an excellent (but sparse) meal at a place called Hatur. Overall an eminently relaxed and enjoyable ride of 60km - and that brings up the 300km of the tour.
Update: 9:40am finally we are starting after repairs ! 18km to the falls.
Update: 8:50am Abhi is pumping air to his front tyre using our small hand pump.
Update: 8:30am We are starting off from Virajpet towards Barpole Falls. We slept so late yesterday that we didnt get up till 6am. Now Abhi has joined us. Surprise - his front tyre has no air. I am pissed with him for this. This means we are getting delayed all the time 🙁