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Early Winter Cycle Ride to Kerala – 2014

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Cycling Group:  Treksack

Event Date: 2nd to 5th October 2014 (4 days)

Team size: 8 Members

  1. Sriharsha DV
  2. Sreeharsha Aithal M
  3. Anshul Bansal
  4. Ashutosh Singh
  5. Vinayak Hegde
  6. Venkataraghavan Hegde
  7. Siddarth HS
  8. Gautham Baliga

Total Cycling distance covered during the trip: Around 185 Kms.

Difficulty Level:  Moderate/Difficult

Cycling Journey in Brief:

It was my dream route and first 4 day event too. Never thought i will do cycling on route which offers such beautiful views of God’s own country “Kerala”. I was very much aware this event was scheduled for extended weekend of October 1st week but i was not to go due to other commitments. I took tent for rent from Sriharsha Dv (Harsha) few days back so i was to return and called him on 30th September 2014 morning. He informed me about vacant 2 seats. Will u join? He asked me I told YES because it was in my must do cycling routes. It was last moment plan for me and i am very excited to do cycling on terrain which will test your stamina and offers beautiful views of Tea Estates of God’s own country “Kerala”.

It was extended 4 day weekend so one can expect heavy rush of people and traffic jam everywhere in Bangalore on Wednesday evening. Harsha organizer of this cycling event told us to assemble (2nd Pick up point) at Silk board by 9:15 PM. I started from my home around 8:45 PM, rode cycle with heavy backpack from Domlur to Silk board with slow moving traffic in the corner. Somehow i was able to reach assembling point around 9:45 PM with heavy traffic jam all over Hosur road.

I know only 2 people in the group: Sriharsha Dv(Harsha) and Sree Harsha Aithal (Aithal), rest of them strangers for me. I also not aware whether group will have 8 or 9 members. Venkat was cycling at Madivala with his luggage and i came to know he belongs to our group. Had snacks with him at small bakery near Silk board. Meanwhile, Anshul joined us at Silk board. 3 of us waiting others to join us at Silk board gate.

Winger came late at Silk board around 10:30 – 10:45 PM. Thanks to traffic Jam :P. All of us removed front tires of cycle and mounted cycle on cycling stand which is already existing in top of the winger. We got news of protest going on at Parappana Agrahar on Hosur road due to Amma’s (Former Tamilnadu CM) arrest so we thought changing our route to Kerala will help us to save time. We decided to go through Kanakapura road and started our cycling journey to beautiful Kerala around 11:00 PM from Bangalore.

Cycling distance covered from Domlur (my home) to Silk board: 10 Kms.

Day 1: Marayoor to Munnar – 2nd October 2014

Day in Brief:

Sometimes nothing goes according to our plan that is what happened to us during this cycling event. Organizers plan was to reach either Udumalpet or Marayoor early and do cycling till Devilkulam via Kundala Lake, Mattupetty Dam and Echo Point with covering distance of around 60 Kms. Since we started late from Bangalore we reached Marayoor (Tamilnadu – Kerala Border)around 12:30 PM in the noon. We met Velusamy at Marayoor and he helped us throughout this cycling tour.He arranged good hotel for us  at Marayoor. All of us freshen up at Variath hotel and had lunch. After lunch, we all assembled our cycles, did required tuning for gears and oiling to chain.

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Hotel at Marayoor where we freshen up

Since we were too late, decided to ride till Munnar instead of Devikulam and camp at Munnar. At 3:00 PM, started cycling towards Munnar.

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A stunning click from me on the way :)

BGBTD Winter Kerala Bicycle ride 3It was 40 Kms. of distance and altitude gaining also involved. We had tea around 4:00 PM and continued pedaling.

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Small tea break enroute Munnar
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Breathtaking views thats all i can say! – Enroute Munnar

Wow!!! What a ride it was through beautiful Kannana Devan Tea estates of Munnar. Initially, it was rolling terrain as we proceeded towards Munnar terrain was getting tougher with back to back uphill’s. Took lot of photos while riding though these scenic tea valleys of Kerala.

BGBTD Winter Kerala Bicycle ride 6Feeling can’t be expressed, it is really awesome!!!. By the time I finished 24 Kms. of ride, I was getting pain in right wrist and right knee because I was not cycling for past 3 weeks before this event. Sudden of such rides will end up in tiredness and injury. It was already dark and 6:45 PM so handed over my cycle to Aithal. Aithal cycle had gear problem so he already gave up ride at middle and he rode on my cycle for rest of the 16kms. till Munnar.

All of us reached Munnar around 8:00 PM. Had dinner at Saravana Bhavan.

Organizers already took 3 tents and 8 sleeping bags for the trip so we camped at Kerala state sports council ground and told Good bye for the day.

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Our campsite at Munnar – Kerala state sports council ground :P

Cycling Distance: Around 40 Kms.

Cycling route map: Marayoor to Munnar

Terrain: Moderate to Difficult (Rolling terrain with continuous uphill for most of the ride and last 10 Kms of downhill towards Munnar).

Day 2: Devikulam to Kattappana – 3rd October 2014

Day in Brief:

All of us got up at 6:00 AM. Removed tents and packed our belongings. Our plan for the day to ride from Devikulam to Elappara with covering distance around 106 Kms. and camp either in Elappara or in Vagamon.

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Vehicle parked at Kerala state sports council ground – Munnar

As we camped at Munnar, we have to go till Devikulam which is 6 Kms. from our camping site and start ride from there. After some search, we were able to find small hotel for freshen up near camp site. We all did our morning formalities and started towards Devikulam at 9:00 AM. Reached Devikulam around 9:45 AM due to traffic jam at Munnar.

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Hotel at Devikulam where we did breakfast…

Had breakfast at Devikulam and started cycling towards Elappara at 11:00 AM.

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Tuning of gears in full swing – All set for 2nd days ride :)

It was one of the best day of cycling trip with enchanting views of Tea estates on both sides of road throughout the day.

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Siddu with his bicycle at Munnar tea estates :)

We faced traffic jam on narrow roads of Munnar – Nedumkandam road 2 times. It was views, views, views… throughout initial phase of our ride.

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Cycling through these Beautiful Tea Estates made my dream come true.Truly mesmerizing!!!

Really mesmerizing to our eyes!!! Two eyes are not enough to see beauty of mother nature. Truly breathtaking!!! Since we faced traffic jam 2 to 3 times in the day we couldn’t cover till Elappara and ended up our ride till Kattappana.

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Myslef posing for camera with my bicycle – KHS Alite 500
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Selfie master Anshul with superselfie of the trip :)

BGBTD Winter Kerala Bicycle ride 15It took us 9 hours to reach Kattappana and reached Kattappana around 7:30 PM in the night. All of us removed front tires of cycle and mounted cycle on cycling stand. Had dinner at one hotel at Kattappana and did overnight stay at Green valley hotel.

Cycling Distance: Around 88 Kms.

Cycling route map: Devikulam to Kattappana

Terrain: Moderate to Difficult(It was one of the best days of cycling trip with enchanting views of Tea estates at first half of the day and Rolling terrain with uphill for most of the ride).

Day 3: Elappara to Vagamon – 4th October 2014

Day in Brief:

Actual plan for the day is to ride till Moolamattom and camp there but plan was changed. “Less ride, more exploration” that is what finally decided for the 3rd days ride. Vagamon meadows, Pine Forest Valley and Thangal para view point were in the list for the day.

Places to visit in Vagamon:

  1. Kurishumala: Kurishumala means ‘Mountain of the holy cross’. Kurisumala monastery situated on the Kurisumala hill (Kottayam district), is a famous pilgrimage center for the Nazrani Catholics where cross put-up in each sub hill stations. The nearby Kurishumala Ashram is an abode of calm and spiritual delight. This hill area includes 12 sub mounds where pilgrims visit. Travelers can enjoy trekking and climbing this high hill. The area is fully surrounded with Tea estates and lakes.
  2. Indo-Swiss Project Dairy Farms: Indo-Swiss Project dairy farms is situated on the Kurishumala hill. The dairy farm is managed by the Kurishumala monks.
  3. Vagamon Meadows: The rolling green meadows of Vagamon has a lake amidst them. It has for long been a favorite location for shooting movie songs.
  4. Pine Forests: A valley having huge lofty pine trees lined in rows.
  5. Thangal Hill: This is a center of Muslim pilgrimage. There is an ancient cave though which one can walk for kilometers. A suicide point is also situated here.
  6. Mooppanpara: It is a v-shaped canyon, one of the admired view points as well acknowledged as a suicide point. The outlook from the summit of the strenuous climb is amazing.
  7. Murugan Hill: It is situated near to Thangal Para. A Murugan temple is situated which is devoted to Lord Muruga with gorgeous stone age carving.
  8. Paragliding and Paragliding Festival.

Source: Wikipedia( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vagamon)

All of us freshen up at Kattappana and started towards Elappara around 8:00 AM which is 30 Kms. Reached Elappara around 9:00 AM and had breakfast at Abhilash Hotel.

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At Elappara – Our vehicle parked near Abhilash Hotel

Moved another 2 Kms. towards tea estates so we can start ride from there for the day. By the time 11:00 AM, all of us geared up for 3rd days ride.

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All of us gearing up for 3rd days ride at Elappara

Started ride towards Vagamon via beautiful tea estates. Clicked plenty of pics on the way and finally reached Vagamon Meadows around 12:00 PM which is just 6 Kms. behind Vagamon.

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Explored place for nearly 2 hours and clicked some stunning pics. Wow!!! what a place. No words enough to describe the beauty of Vagamon Meadows :).

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Greenery everywhere with mist is playing Hide n Seek throughout the valley.

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Feeling can’t be expressed – Pic says all :)

One could do small stretch of Paragliding at these Meadows.

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Paragliding at Vagamon Meadows

Pedaled throughout the valley and did around 7 Kms. of off road cycling at Vagamon Meadows.

BGBTD Winter Kerala Bicycle ride 22Around 2:00 PM started towards Vagamon. On the way visited Pine Forest valley which is just 2 Kms. from meadows.

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Pine forest valley – Vagamon

Spent 1 hour at Pine Forest valley than moved towards Vagamon. We had lunch at Al safa hotel on the way and decided to have overnight stay in same hotel. Shifted our luggage’s to hotel and started towards Thangal par view point around 5:00 PM. 1 Km. of cycle ride to Thangal par view point is worth one.

Note: Not captured any pics of Thangal para view point. I didn’t carry camera here.

As time goes, cloud started to cover the valley and it started drizzling. It was another lovely evening at Vagamon and all of us returned to hotel by 7:00 PM. Aithal prepared Shevapuri for us. Dinner also prepared for that night.

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Pic of the day – At Vagamon Meadows

Soup and Puliyogare was prepared by Harsha for dinner. Rest of the guys had dinner but my stomach is full so I adjusted with Shevapuri and soup. Told good bye for the day.

Meanwhile front tire of my cycle was punctured during 3rd day ride so I fixed it with help of Renuka (Winger driver) after reaching the hotel in the evening. Aithal and Siddu were awake till mid night, they were doing repair activity for their cycle issues.

Cycling Distance: Around 22 Kms.

Cycling route map: Elappara to Vagamon

Terrain: Easy to Moderate(One of the easiest days of trip. Initial phase of the ride is rolling terrain with uphill, Exploration of Vagamon Meadows for most of the day, Around 7 Kms. of off road cycling, Spending more time in photography and enjoying beauty of mother nature made day easiest one).

Day 4: Vagamon to Moolamattom – 5th October 2014

Day in Brief:

It was last day of the trip and organizers have planned to finish ride by 3:00 PM then start towards Bangalore by visiting Kulamavu and breathtaking Idukki Dam. All of us freshen up, started our ride at 7:45 AM and moved towards AVE Meadows Vagamon. Explored place for 45 minutes and visited Meadows Vagamon lake too.

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JJ(Vinayak Hegde) playing with stone at Meadows Vagamon Lake.

Started pedaling towards Kurishumala Church enroute Moolamattom via Vagamon. We took left just before 1 Km. to Vagamon and moved towards Kurishumala church. It was downhill ride of 1 Km. followed by deadly uphill towards Kurishumala church.

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At Kurishumala base

We rode half way on the hill and had snacks at bakery on top of the hill. Took half an hour rest and started downhill ride.

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Selfie master Anshul with one more selfie at hotel in Vagamon

Reached Vagamon by 10:15 AM in the morning. Already we have killed 2 hours of valuable time by attempting ride to Kurishumala church. Had breakfast at Vagamon and  started towards Kulamavu by keeping target of reaching the place by 3:00 PM. Since we have eaten lot of time in the morning by doing unnecessary attempt to Kurishumala church we couldn’t complete the ride till Kulamavu.

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A view of the valley enroute Moolamattom

Rode till Moolamattom which is nearly 30 Kms. from Vagamon. Time was 1:30 PM and we know that we can’t finish ride to Kulamavu by 3:00 PM, since lot of uphill riding and 12 hair pin bends in offer for us till Kulamavu.

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My bicycle at Moolamattom downhill

 

 

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Lovely capture at Moolamattom downhill by Anshul

Moolamattom is where we finished our beautiful cycling journey in Kerala and packed our luggage’s. Moved towards Kulamavu in Winger at 2:30 PM.

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All set for return journey to Bangalore :(

Visited Kulamavu dam and moved towards Idukki dam. Explored Idukki dam for 2 hours and started towards Bangalore around 6:00 PM.

Note: No photography allowed at Kulamavu and Idukki dam.

On the way had dinner at Theni (Tamilnadu) and reached Bangalore on Monday early morning at 7:00 AM.

Cycling Distance: Around 33 Kms.

Cycling route map:  Vagamon to Moolamattom

Terrain: Easy to Moderate (Initially lot of up hill pedaling and later on downhill towards Moolamattom (One of the deadliest downhill rides i made till date)).

Thanksgiving:

Early winter Bicycle ride to Kerala was one of best cycle tours I have done so far with cycling through beautiful tea estates of Munnar, Cycling on deadly uphill at Kurishumala, A visit to Thangal para view point at Vagamon, Exploration of mesmerizing Vagamon Meadows, Visit to Kulamavu and Breathtaking Idukki Dam, Lot of uphill riding (Testing of our Stamina), etc… all made our trip memorable and unforgettable one.

Finally, I want to Thank Sriharsha Dv (Harsha) for giving me an opportunity to become part of this event and also want to thank other members of the cycling team for making this event unforgettable one for all of us.

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