Motorbiking to Munnar

Decided sometime last week that it was time for a long ride - this time on a motorcycle. I reckoned that my Pulsar 180 had gathered dust for too long and that it was time to lose control!

Monday was a holiday on account of May day. The traveller in me imagined that three days would be too small for a motorbike ride. So I took a day off on tuesday. With four days under my belt (Apr 29,30 and May 1,2), a long journey beckoned.

My brother was also keen on a ride - and he was keen to ride solo too. So we decided that he will ride solo and I'd try and get a partner. That didn't work out. We both set out solo - a Pulsar and a Fiero. The men and their machines.

Initially, I had planned to visit Kemmannagundi on Day 1, reach a place near Munnar on Day 2, Munnar on Day 3 and return journey on Day 4. I had estimated the journey to be around 1500 kms. Good enough, for 4 days.

A look at Outlook's "52 Weekend Getaways" told me that the best route to Kemmannagundi was over Hassan and Chickmagalur. We planned to finish the day at an aunt's place near Manjeshwar (Kerala). This place is quite near to the Karnataka-Kerala border. So we started early on Saturday (29th April). At 5:15 AM our engines were already roaring.

Warning : this is a long post. If you are here for just the pics, then scroll to the end of this post.

We stopped for tea at Nelamangala and had breakfast at Bellur cross. Of course, the Bangalore-Mangalore road is very good and so we were moved at a nice pace. The first incident(accident!) of the day happened after Hassan. We came across a herd of sheep crossing the road. The next moment I saw my brother sliding on the road with the bike - and a sheep almost struck between its tyres. Apparently a sheep had crossed the road and darted back again. A good part of skin on the brother's right arm had got scraped - but it wasn't too bad. He had to discard his torn shirt. We stopped at the next village to wash the wounds and drink some chai.

We finally reached Chikmagalur at 11:10 AM, having covered around 240 kms. On entry to Chikmagalur town, there is a district map which shows the major tourist destinations. We figured that Kemmannagundi was 48 kms towards north and that we had to return back on the same road to continue back towards Mangalore. Santosh didn't seem too enthusiastic. He compared Kemmannagundi to Madikeri and we both agreed that it was no fun riding back on the same road. We agreed that our best bet would be to descend the Charmadi ghat. A cousin of mine, Shreekrishna, would be joining us at B. C. Road and he was interested in the trip to Munnar.

The road quality was quite bad after Mudigere and really bad for the last few kilometers to the start point of the Charmadi ghat descent. Jenukal marks the start of the real descent. There is a temple here which is patronised, of course, by all the passing god-fearing (or should I say, accident-fearing) drivers. This was my first ride in the Charmadi ghat. My feel is that it is many of the curves are quite technical. Chances for overtaking are rare in the narrow, twisting road. Many of the curves are deceptive - and speeds as low as 40 kmph can be disastrous in some places. We didn't encounter much traffic. The open views of the surrounding hills during the first few kilometers is breathtaking. Charmadi is much more scenic than Shiradi and Agumbe ghats and more challenging than both of them. At 2:00 PM, we had reached Charmadi, having taken half an hour for the descent.

We stopped for lunch at Ujire. I called up my cousin so that he could start off towards B.C. Road on the bus. At 3:40, we had reached B.C. Road and ended up waiting fourty minutes for my cousin. In a hotel, I dozed off at the table while my brother kept himself busy with Sudoku.

After B.C.Road, we didn't have much travel left for the day. We took the Mangalore University road at Melkar and reached Mudipu in quick time. Half an hour later (5:30 PM), we reached my aunt's place.

The rest of the day was spent chatting with my cousins, my uncle and aunt. And eating and sleeping. Neither my brother nor me had had much of sleep the previous night and we slept for a few hours before dinner. Of course, we continued post dinner, but not before we had resolved to start off the next day at 7:30...

It was 8:30 by the time we had started off on Sunday. We had originally thought of visiting the Bekal Fort near Kasargod. We quickly dropped the plan as all of us had seen it. We had estimated Munnar to be more than 500 kms away, and none of us was keen to ride that far. We decided to stop about 100 kms short of Munnar.

Things went according to plan and we cruised along the heartline highway of Kerala. The roads were largely good. Some parts of the highway were under construction. Many of the flyovers were incomplete. On reaching Mahe, my cousin had a brainwave - he reminded us of the low petrol rates in Union Territories. We paid just 41.80 per litre of petrol - that's about 9 rupees less than 50.6 that we pay in Bangalore! Naturally, we chose to fill our tanks. We had lunch at Kozhikode (Calicut) and took the opportunity to call up Deepak Malani (of NITK) and say hi. Turned out that their exams were just over and many students had left to enjoy their holidays. After lunch, we kept driving.

For evening tea, we stopped at Edapal at my insistence. In 2002, I had cycled in this same road from Mysore till Kanyakumari. And on Day 2, I had stopped at Miraj's (then colleague at ProcSys) home near Edapal. I relived the old times by calling him up. Nice! We continued and soon found ourselves at Thrissur (7 PM). A few policemen (seeing the KA board) stopped us. We chatted with them and showed them our DLs before they asked. So they didn't proceed further ! They suggested that we could stop at Perumbavur for the night (15 kms after Angamali - which itself was about 50kms away). We reached Perumbavur at 9 PM. I was eager to get closer to Munnar. On enquiry, we got to know that we could continue till Kothamangalam, where we would get rooms. As ill luck would have it, no room was free in Kothamangalam. Apparently two films were being shot and all the rooms were booked. Except one delux suite costing 750 a day. We didn't want to blow away that kind of money. So we had two choices : 1. continue on to Angamali - 50 kms away where we'd surely get rooms OR 2. travel to Muvattupuzha - 14 kms away where we'd get rooms. The only hitch was that Muvattupuzha was not on the road to Munnar. We had to return back on the same road and continue. However, we didn't want to travel 50 more kms, so we settled for option #2. Since it was late, we had meals and then travelled to Muvattupuzha. The first lodge we checked had a decent room with 3 beds for 200 rupees -- good enough for us. All of us were tired by now and we just slept...

My cousin had been good enough to keep an alarm for 6 O'clock. We woke up quickly and started off after breakfast. It was 7:150 by the time we started off. Krishna rode till Adimali. The road was pretty good. There was a slight drizzle in the beginning and hint of rain at places. The grass was green and so were the hills and mountains. I soaked in the greenery and enjoyed every bit of the drive. We stopped for a few snaps at a bridge just before the uphill climb towards Adimali.

On the way to Angamali, we saw two waterfalls : Cheeyapara and Valara. Cheeyapara falls is just by the side of the road. There was not much water there - but that didn't dampen the spirits of the tourists who had stopped by the dozen to enjoy the falls. We continued after a few snaps. The Valara falls is quite a distance from the road and we only watched it from afar.

Adimali is about 600m above sea level but quite a place! We continued towards Munnar, with me in the driver seat. The beauty of the surroundings kept improving as our altitude increased.

Munnar is a very very scenic place. Imagine tea estates all around you and nothing else. That's Munnar in a nutshell. Riding in the winding roads is for the traveller. What sights! One could keep riding on and on and on and not feel tired. If you haven't gone there yet, please do!

We had lunch as soon as we reached Munnar and also checked into a lodge immediately. At 450 bucks a day, it was quite cheap - considering that this is the "season".

Munnar, like any other hill station, has its share of the viewpoints, the falls, the dams and the so called "attractions". We watched a few waterfalls, a few dams, and visited Top Station. While coming back from Top Station, I was keen for a photograph on one of the corners. I entrusted Krishna to the job, having taught him some basics of taking the photograph. I then zoomed into the corner and intended to stop near him. Unfortunately, there was quite a bit of sand on the side of the road and I was at some speed. I ended up having a good fall. I ended up with torn pants, a wound on my palm. My motorcycle ended up with a bent crash guard and the back break mysteriously stopped working. So, from then on, I drove with just the front brake. On the way back, we did a pedal boat ride and then hurried back to Munnar to get the back brake repaired.

It was dark by the time we reached Munnar. We quickly found a mechanic near our lodge. He suggested that we change the back brake lining and quickly repaired it. He did a turn-around-in-place stunt in a jiffy after repairing the bike. Good show!

For supper my brother suggested a particular hotel that he had seen. We settled for "Regular Meals" at Patel Hotel, each 50 bucks. That was quite a steal. Not for us, but for the owner. With 4 phulkas, two limited subji , unlimited daal (actually some variant of water) and a small bowl of rice. It wouldn't even have qualified as breakfast. We were forced to eat idly-vada elsewhere to fill our tummies. I was yearning for a cup of masala tea. Our search for Tea at 10 PM didn't yield any results - all hotels (big and small) had closed their tea counters. Finally it was time to signal an end to the hectic day by sleeping.

Next day we woke up early at 4. And hot water was available! All of us had a quick bath and started off in an hour or so.

This was the last day of the trip. We had to take the road to Udumalaipettai, and return to Bangalore over Satyamangalam. On the way to Udumalaipettai, we saw two waterfalls. We also passed near the Anemudi peak. This is supposed to be the ighest peak in South India at 2663 meters or so. Few snaps. We also passed near the Eravikulam national park - supposed to be the place to view the Nilgiri Tahr. But we had reached there too early, and so a visit will have to wait for the next trip to Munnar. And the ghat views were amazing as always. And how can I forget the mayflower trees by the roadside ? But the road wasn't so good. After length, we reached Marayoor at 8:30 and had a good breakfast. It took some time to resolve the confusion of the waiter regarding the number of idlis and dosas we had eaten ! We continued riding inside the Chinnar Reserve Forest. One falls inside the Chinnar forest didn't have any water - but it sure would look amazing in the rainy season. The ride was also pretty good. A checkpost signalled the end of Chinnar forest . We had to make an entry in the register of the forest department before we were allowed to proceed.

We reached Udumalaipettai at 10:30 and Krishna left us. He had to return to Mangalore to work the next day morning. So he had take a bus to Palakkad, and from there on travel in a train to Mangalore.

With just the two of us on our bikes and more than 350 kms of riding to go - there was just one way to go. And that was fast. The road was also free of potholes and we moved at a good clip. We quickly crossed Avinashi, Cheyur, Puliyampet, Satymangalam and Dimbam. The ghat with 23 hairpin curves didn't seem that spectacular. We took a tea and bun break at 2:00 PM at Hassanur and decided to have lunch at Chamrajnagar, which was 42 kms away. On the Karnataka side, the road quality was bad - but the worst was yet to come...

Post lunch, we had two options to come to Bangalore : either take the Mysore route (200 kms) or Kollegal-Malavalli-Maddur-Bangalore (170kms?). We opted for the latter - without really estimating road quality. That cost us dear and for the 5 hours we fought bad roads in foul weather. We took a tea break at Kollegal. As we were just leaving Kollegal, it started raining. We beat a hasty retreat and entered a hotel to bide some time. Soon, the rain stopped and we were back on the road. But it started raining again, and we dropped our pace to 40 kmph. Once it was dark, the going became miserable. Really bad roads and some amount of traffic. We were keenly waiting the arrival of Maddur. At length we reached Malavalli, and my brother had almost started to take the deviation toward Bangalore (over Kanakapura). I stopped him - I didn't want to get a taste of Kanakapura road (which is in really bad shape!) again.

Slowly, we reached Maddur and heaved a sigh of relief. The rain had also worsened - forcing us to stop for some time. After Maddur, the going became smooth. Soon, the rain abated and after Shivapura, it wasn't raining at all. With the 4 lane road and no rain, travel was a breeze. Stopped as usual at Kamat Lokaruchi for dinner and reached back home in an hour.

For the stats crazy people:

Days : 4
Total Distance covered : 1462 km
Moving Time : 35 hrs, 56 mins
Stopped Time : 17 hrs, 5 mins

Moving Average : 40.7 km/hr
Overall Average : 27.6 km/hr

Hope these stats help you plan your trip as well !

Finally, some pictures :

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Comments (23) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Hey Shree,

    I really missed this trip, when you asked me to join the trip i had much work with me for the weekend. But now i feeling if would have manage to handle those things. I also been in this trip. Anyways i enjoyed like i had there with you n the trip by reading your post.

    Raghava Kotekar

  2. hey Shree,

    very well done 1462 Km in 4 days !
    we a small group of crazy bikers also want to go to munnar from bangalore
    i found ur page by just googling…
    i need a help…can u tell me the exact(shortest) route to munnar from Blr
    like eg. Kollegal-Malavalli-Maddur-Bangalore

    happy biking

  3. hi shree,

    Nice to your trip…and the same way, we planned to go by car. Could you please suggest us the road map (I unable to find it in Google.) and famous places in between… we would like to go by Calicut…………Pleaseeeee

    aticipating for your reply,

  4. Sekhar,

    I’d suggest you buy a good road map. I’d recommend the Lonely Planet Road Atlas. It does have a few small errors, but on the overall is pretty good.

    If you read the post closely, you’ll find that we did go through calicut – but you are surely not going through Mangalore like us…

    Happy Journey!
    — Shree

  5. Please give me a call (9880868334)when you plan your next travel

  6. Hey Buddy that was an awsome trip, the only differrence between you and me would be …..You roar and soar the road with a four stroke engine but i do it with my smoking yamaha rx135…But ride is a ride, since india has excellent and rich landscapes to see and admire. All that we all need is time , money and most of all passion to trip. Wish you a good luck for your future biking adventures and keep going , Have a safe and sound ride. Take care.

    Mallik Wassim
    Bangalore – 29

  7. hiii sree i just saw link .it is really ossam 2 see nd hear ur rididng story .even our team had a journey 2 madkeri ,dharmastala,kemangundi nd of course charmadi ghat which was the ossam of all.well we have planned to move on a trip 2 sringeri ,hornad,agumbe ,nd jog falls,if u r intrested plsssss feel free 2 contact us TEAM RACERS any one can join us our next trip is on jan 5 2007 .

  8. our contact no is 9342020385 (shashank),

  9. Great man we are also planning for the same, we are about 20 people or say RIDER’S.
    Thank’s it provided a great Motivation!!!!!!!!

  10. Hi Guys,

    It was awsme trip,any plans for next couple month do please call me 9886334401, we are around 10 guys……

  11. hiii sree,how r u doing ,well v r back with a new trip plans n moving in the next week end (9,10,11)to sringeri,kukke,agumbe,n jog falls ,if intrested plsss feel free 2 contact us 9886524650

  12. hiiii sree ,how r u doing ,v had a good experince this time as our plans went wrong like instead of moving on 9,10.11,v moved on 16.17,18 i swear we had the best trip so far this time,the first day we left around 9 in the morning ,i was solo bcaz at the very last movement 1 of our member did not come to the trip,so we were omly 3 people this time ,2 bikes 3 people Sundeep,sanjay n me(venu) ,destiny was hassan,kukke,dhrmastala,hornad,sringeri,agumbe and jog ,but at the very last movement we cancelled jog and headed towards udupi,first day we went to hassan(by 12)and took rest for 45 min in one of my aunt’s place and left hassan by 1.30,we reached kukke by 3.30,the most imp thing is ‘THE ROADS R VERY GOOD’but unfortunately from gundya,the road was bloked ,but thank god only 2 wheelers can enter (the road is been in construction frm past few days)finally we reached kukke,we had nice darshan of sree subramanya swamy and left to dharmastala ,v reached dharmastala by 8.45,i really dont know if it was our luck or gods mercy towards us we had the darshan at 9 as soon as we went to the temple ,we were allowed to go thru the main entrance and v fineshed the darshanam in less than 5 min ,i think this season is the best season to go for these holy places,aft6 darshanam we had a nice dinner of mutt and left in search of lodge,v slept around 11 and next day morning we headed towards hornad via charmadi ghat by 7 am(my favourite),and then to bale honnur ,and a left divertion which takes us to hornad(48 Km)frm bale honnur,we reached hornad by 11 and again the road is really good ,it is newly constructed roads,hats of to the govt,even here we didnt take much time for darshanm it hardly took around 15 min ,v had plans to make it for agumbe by 6 ,so v didnt wait for prasadam in hornad and v left for sringeri via kudremukh reserve forestnd reached sringeri by 2,but unfortunately the temple was closed ,v decided to go to my aunt’s place which was nearby ,there v told our further plans,like agumbe(28 km) and frm there to jog falls(128 km),my aunt told that there was no water in jog instead she told us to drive for udupi,v left that place by 4 and v reached agumbe by 5 ,v waited till 6.30 for the sun set ,then v headed to udupi(68 km),via agumbe ghat (which is 1 more beauty)finally v reached udupi around 9 and we went for darshanam as the temple was about to close,suddenly sundeep got a call frm his office that he must be there by any chance in bglre by 3 pm the next day I.e,on 18th sunday ,so we decided to leave udupi by 3 am in mrng ,but until then v decided to get a room as quick as posible and sleep till 2 am,but in udupi the worst sceneria is if u book a room ,there is no chance that we can go out until 5 am,as the gates will be locked ,fuinally we managed to get a lodge were v payed 550rs for a room,finally v got up at 3 and headed towards bglre by 4 am,v reached bglre by 12 in the aft,once again v had the best trip of our life.I hope that i have not bored u guys by telling all this ,

  13. Such a beautiful Place in Karnataka

    i love this place Nature and Claimate

    its very very good

  14. Howsit Bru,

    Sounds like you had a good trip, nice pictures too. Found your posting looking for pictures of hill stations in Kerala. I’ll be going there in December. Dont lose the adventurous spirit my friend. If you ever come to South Africa you’ll enjoy some of our biking/adventure activities for sure!

    Cheers for now,


  15. Hi Doron,

    Thanks — and welcome to India in December !

    I’ve heard quite a bit about South Africa and look forward to being there sometime…

    — Shree

  16. HI,
    this gururaj from J P nagar i m on going to munner i want to now a days i missed that place after this also i missed it means there is a no meaning for enjoyment

  17. hi Shree,

    good trip ! belive you people enjoyed a lot .
    same way we are planing to go to kerala can you sugest the shortest way to kerala from bangalore. i tried to find in google but vain !
    looking forward for you mail


  18. Hi Guys,

    Could you please tell me the best route from bangalore to munnar??


  19. Hey Ajit,

    Please lookup Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/). I’m sure you can find the shortest route (if not the best) there.

    — Shree

  20. Visit kolli hills- a hidden hill station in South India

  21. Hey tell me the route from Bangalore to Munnar shorter distance to reach early and beater route

  22. Goutham — please check with somebody else OR Google maps for this. The info on this blog may be dated — since I rode on this route long back !

  23. Please can you tell route from kasaragod to munnar

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