Disclaimer: This post has been written for Mahindra XUV 500 "Incredible Stories".
The post is really long. So I do hope you give it a read, even though this might test your patience!! :P
I've written it in the form of chapters, to make it sound more interesting and in the process of writing I became an owl (Coz I stayed up the whole night to finish it off!). So for those kind readers who would leave me a feedback, I would ever be gratified by your gesture. And here's the link just in case you'd like to vote for me.:)
So, Enjoy the READ!!
Years from now, when I can’t turn back time and the still
photos of the past doesn’t narrate the scrupulous tales that lie behind each of
the picture taken at some point in time; I can always go back to the old days
by just turning a page. Or in this case, I can just click a link and find this
post on my blog!
I’m going to narrate about a particular road trip that took
place in my life on October 22, 2010. Two years ago, my school friends and I
planned an extravagant, never before
attempted road trip. Just planning this trip gave me the goose bumps and
quite an adrenaline rush because:
a) We were about to
break a few rules by lying at home and
b) We (me and the other girls that is) had never travelled
out on bikes all night long and that too to a place called Mandalpatti whose
road was a challenge to travel in the first place.
But the whole adventure and the risk it displayed was totally
worth it. Every minute of it, every second is etched on my mind like it
happened just yesterday. And in the future, if in case I lose my memory I want
to keep this in the digital format so that I can re-carve it on my erased
memory what exactly I had experienced in one of my college days.
Some of the things one needs to be prepared for and gear up
during a long bike trip:
- Keep your scarves, cotton balls and helmet
prepared coz the speed of the bike brings about crazy wind, crazy enough to
give you a head ache and almost makes you go deaf.
- If you
are going out on a bike in the middle of an October night, it will be damn
cold, so be prepared with your jackets and gloves.
- Being a back seat rider you’ll have nothing much
to do other than let a million crazy things cross your mind and also entertain
the rider with crazy songs and quips (so that they won’t fall asleep, just in
- Finally, the scenic beauty of Madikeri (whenever
the early morning mist decides for you to get a glimpse of what it’s hiding
from you that is!) will make you feel like you are sitting on a bike that is
riding through the paths of a paradise called heaven.
1. The Text
It was yet another boring day in my life. I had nothing to
look forward to and had pretty much resigned to listen to my boring lecturer drone
about a particular topic on Software Engineering, a subject so dry that it
physically makes you want to crave for a cool beverage in the middle of the
class. As I was fighting hard my natural impulse to fall asleep, I was woken up
from my stupor when a text message from my friend Apoo flashed across my cell
phone: “We are having a meeting at adda today. Be there, 5 pm sharp. You can go
back to sleep now! :P “.
Adda is what we call for our regular hang-out place. It’s
near my house, at the churmuri gaadi. This is the only place where all we
school friends hang-out and just chill out, relieving the old school days and
gossiping and teasing each other. School friends are the best to hang out with.
Especially for me since my life at my college will never be as colourful as my
life outside the college and it’s only possible because I hang out with a bunch
of super-cool idiots like my school friends. Our group consists of me, Apoo,
Anoo, Shash, Rabbit, Sach, Shanku and Yash (all nicknames used here!).
Occasionally the other 3 or 4 guys from my school hop in at the adda for a
quick hi, but we eight meet up frequently, always planning for future
But the thing is, every time we plan a trip, due to many
factors it fails predominantly. So after our Ooty trip about 8 months before
this trip, I had pretty much lost faith in any form of plan execution when it
came to a trip plan. Nonetheless when I saw Apoo’s text, the old spark started
to light up my insides and I was restless for the rest of the day while I tried
to figure out what possible discussion today’s meeting would unfold. I kept
looking at my watch and just couldn’t wait for 5 pm to arrive.
2. The Plan
After 15 minutes of listening to the plan while we all
gobbled up mango churmuri, I spoke: “So on Friday, we are going on a bike trip
to Mandalpatti, that’s near Madikeri. Not only that, but we are going for an
all night ride, not by car, but by bikes... BIKES!? And to top it off, we need
to start our journey at 10 pm in the night. Quick question: How the hell are we
supposed to leave the house at 10 pm. You do know our parents will come to know
if we step out of the house at that time, don’t you?”
Apoo shook her head and giggled at my seemingly sumptuous
question: “And I thought you were a writer. It’s a simple plan dumbo. Me and Suppi
(her college friend) came up with this” she said proudly and continued; “We
each leave our houses at 9 pm telling we are going to be staying at the other‘s
house for the night for a slumber party or whatever and we’ll all meet up at
adda and finally start our journey. We can have a nice hot cup of coffee at Hunsur
road’s CCD (cafe coffee day) too” she beamed at us and said “So, what do you
I was dumbfounded and silently kicking myself for not
thinking something this cool in the first place but we all were very impressed
at the plan. So the plan was finally in execution and for real this time. The
guys got busy servicing their bikes the next day, since healthy bikes were at most
important for our journey and we girls got busy shopping for snacks,
chocolates, scarves and other small stuffs that would come in handy for our
trip the next day.
3. Almost Caught
It was 8 pm that night and I was busy packing my backpack
with all the stuff I would need: flash light, scarf, gloves, jacket and even
managed to smuggle some homemade snacks without my mom or granny knowing what I
was up to. At 8.35 pm I came down stairs with my backpack and both my granny
and mom looked at me with raised eyebrows. “Oh I forgot to tell you, I’m going
to be staying at Apoo’s house tonight. Nobody is in her house so giving her
I said easily as I’ve told these types of lies many times before but
never for something as exciting as a night out bike ride. Both mommy and granny
nodded in unison and told me to ride slow as it was dark outside. As I was
wearing my sports shoe, my granny asked me suddenly, “Why are you wearing shoes
at this time?”
and another lie easily flowed through my mouth; “Ajji, naale
betta hattivi, adhike”
. Granny, tomorrow
we will climb betta (a 1000 steps of Chamundi hills that’s in Mysore), that’s
why the shoes.
No more question followed me as I happily took out my Dio
from the garage and rode to the Adda. I was soon joined by Anoo, Apoo, Suppi
(we were the 4 girls) and Yash. While we were waiting for the other guys to
arrive, we had an unexpected encounter with Apoo’s relatives. We had totally
forgotten that her uncle’s family lived nearby the Adda and they had come for a
casual night-walk. Seeing them, Yash stealthily disappeared because if they saw
us with a guy at this time of the night, they would obviously get very suspicious.
So it was just us four girls and when they enquired Apoo what she was doing
here, she said (while attempting to cover her panic) that they were all going
to my place just now for a sleep-over. Her Aunt and Uncle looked at me and my
get-up (I was wearing double jacket and a scarf and shoes) and at Suppi, Apoo
and Anoo who were also in the same get-up as me and slyly smiled at us. “Ok you
girls enjoy the “sleep-over” and
don’t worry we won’t tell you mother that we met you tonight”, her Uncle winked
at her. As they walked away, the four of us sighed in relief.
Yash called us just
then and told us to come to the nearby petrol bunk as that’s where all the
other guys were waiting.
4. The Night-Out Begins
After parking mine, Apoo’s, Suppi’s and Anoo’s vehicle
somewhere safe we were finally set for the bike-ride of our lives. So totally
we were a gang of 4 girls and 10 guys with 7 bikes. For me and the other girls,
this was an exciting trip as we had never done this before but the guys had already
visited Mandalpatti just a few months back. According to them, Mandalpatti was
about 15kms from Madikeri and Madikeri was about 120kms from Mysore. So all in
all, from Mysore to Mandalpatti, it would take about 4 hours at the max. Since
it was a long journey, we had plans to rest at Hunsur’s 24/7 CCD, which was a 2
hr ride from Mysore.
So I and the girls chose our riders. Let me tell you one
thing, going on a bike trip with childhood guy-friends is the best thing. Since
we were friends for a long time, there was no any awkward feelings like “Oh, I’m sitting behind this guy kinda thing”,
and the whole time I was sitting behind Rabbit, I got to know more about his
recent endeavours at his college, his recent girlfriends and we both had a good
time teasing each other openly. Apoo was riding with Yash and Anoo with Sach
and Suppi with Shash. My first choice would have been Shash since he’s my
neighbour and my best friend since we were 5 years of age but back then I had a slight quarrel with him about some silly issue and hence, as I climbed on
rabbit’s bike I showed Shash my tongue like a kid which was returned by him and
made the ever-realistic Anoo to shout “oh!
Grow up you two!”
It was 11 pm in the night before the journey finally began
with excited whooping from all of us. It was exciting to travel the empty roads
of Mysore which I usually travel at rush hour. The night air was cool as it had
recently rained a few hours back and it was soothing to my face. It wasn’t
that cold but I knew it would get worse once we got near Madikeri. Once we were
on the Mysore-Hunsur Ring road, the actual fun began. The road was flat and
smooth and at times when there were no other vehicles except ours, Rabbit would
give me a heart attack by speeding up the bike to a vicious 120kph making me
yank his jacket and yell at him to slow down. He was having a laugh by the way, since he knew I feared over-speeding. So the next time he speeded his Karizma to
120, I decided to have a laugh myself by yanking his skull cap off his head and making
it fly behind us like a feather. That made him stop speeding and by cursing me,
he turned back and headed back the empty road in search for his cap!
5. The dash and the chase
What a night we had chosen that day. It was a full moon. The
spherical moon shone directly above our heads. For ten continuous minutes, I
had my face towards the sky as I took in the beauty of the night sky in the
middle of the road. The beauty of the moon and the stars that lit the sky
filled me with a sense of mystery and awe.
It had been over an hour since we left Mysore; the traffic
was starting to get thick in these parts. The road was mostly taken by Lorries
and buses and a few cars. There were hardly any two wheelers apart from ours.
We were riding at the side, almost near the road curb and quite slowly as we
were playing Antakshari
and singing songs at the top of our voices. Shash and
Suppi were riding just beside us and suddenly it happened. A bus came speeding
up from behind us and even though we were completely at the road side, since
the road was quite curvy, the bus driver lost track of the distance and the
back of the bus hit Shash’s pulsar, making
the back of his bike, hit our bike. Although Rabbit didn't lose his
balance, Shash did. Shock engulfed me as I saw the whole thing in slow-motion.
Shash lost his balance due to the impact and both he and Suppi toppled over to the right and fell off the bike.
My heart was pounding gruesomely as I jumped off the bike and rushed to their
aid. Suppi was already on her feet and seemed to be in no danger but Shash was
still face down on the ground. Even though he had hit his head, the helmet had
protected him. My throat was constricted and I couldn’t speak a word but was
shaking him with both my hands. Thank god, nothing had happened to him except a
light sprain on his wrist (which he didn’t tell right then since he needed to
ride the bike).
As we made sure nothing had happened to him and Suppi and
then checked if the bike was okay, the other guys were already behind the bus.
That bloody driver hit us and had speeded up in an attempt to escape. Five
minutes later, we caught up with the bus that was forced to park at the side of
the road. A van that was right behind us when this incident took place saw what
happened and had chased and stopped the bus for us. A huge crowd had gathered
around the bus by the time we reached. Though I hate getting involved in a
brawl, I was out raged that the driver didn’t even had the courtesy to stop and
apologize for his mistake. All in all the guys fought with the driver with
raised voices and after checking the bike (which had some severe scratches on its
side) the driver consented to pay 500 Rs as compensation. The guys weren’t
happy with the small amount but we girls wanted to end this as it looked
like it would get ugly and because we were there, they didn’t want anything
nasty to happen and thus we resumed our journey in silence.
6. Refreshments and Alleviation
We finally reached Hunsur’s CCD around 1.30 am. We entered
the deserted place. The place was brightly lit and warm. We ordered hot coffee
for everyone and settled down on the soft couches and relaxed for some time.
Suppi had a bad bruise on her right knee and her jeans near her knee cap was
slightly bloody and worn out. She was shaking from shock and we concentrated on
cheering her up by clicking her photos and as she loves giving poses she soon
forgot about the incident and was back to her cheerful self.
But I saw Shash get up and go outside and sit. He looked far
from happy. After a while I went outside to see if he was okay. He was feeling
bad not for his bike but because of him Suppi had to endure a bruise too. I
told him to forget about it since accidents happen and it wasn't his fault anyway. “Are you sure you are okay?” I asked him again. “Uh, yeah but I think my wrist might be
sprained” he said, gingerly turning his wrist and wincing. “Hey, I don’t think you should ride the
vehicle in your condition, let one of the guys ride it”, I said in concern.
But he insisted on riding anyway. “Thank
god it was just a small mishap. Imagine if the last thing I spoke to you was by
showing you my tongue, you’d be cursing me from hell right now”, I said by
punching him. “Hey, I was born to go to
heaven, unlike you”, he guffawed.
7. Foggy path to Madikeri
By the time we left CCD, it was around 3.30 am. It would
take two more hours to reach our destination:
Mandalpatti. Rabbit knew the way to Mandalpatti and he was leading
the whole troupe. When we reached the Ghats section to Madikeri, the
surroundings had gone so misty and foggy that we could barely see the road that
was ahead of us. We could only see what was there, five feet ahead from us and after that,
it was obscured by a thick wall of foggy mist. Since there were many curves we
had to be utmost careful. We constantly blared our bike horns while turning
every bend and thankfully the other heavy vehicles that we encountered at these
nasty curves were equally careful.
After about an hour and a half we had reached Madikeri. The
middle of the circle was brightly lit and so we got down to stretch our legs.
Riding on the plain ring road was easy but riding through a curvy mountain was
really tough. All our legs were paining from the extra balance and pressure
that we had to maintain while sitting on the vehicle.
It was 5 am and it was still pretty much dark out there. Rabbit
informed us that Mandalpatti was about 20kms from here and the road would be a
horror show to ride upon. So we resumed our journey and braced ourselves for
some rough terrain ahead.
8. Wrong turn
I had no idea where we were headed. I had only heard about
Mandalpatti but I had never seen what it would be like. As the bike bumped up
and down the uneven, muddy road I just hoped over and over that the place
better be worth all of this. And I was right.
It was pitch black and we had entered the rough uninhabited
areas of Western Ghats. The path weaved through thickly segregated trees which
dispersed the fog and we would have had a better vision except it was pitch
dark. At some points the road was so horrible that the pillion riders had to
get off the bike. It was really hard to balance. And at some points the bike’s
headlight wouldn’t suffice to see further and luckily I had brought with me a
flash light which came to its full use that day.
We reached the first deviation and we took the right fork as
the left fork had a sign post that pointed to Abbi falls
, which is a beauty of
its own. After 15 more minutes of our journey on the rough terrain, we reached
the second fork. This was trickier to figure out which path we should take as
there were no signs. Rabbit thought for a while and said “I think it’s the
. The other guys had their doubts with his decision but nonetheless
consented and after half an hour of riding aimlessly we figured out that we had
taken the wrong turn.
Getting back to the fork was quite a challenge. We had taken
a lot of turns in between. By this time it was light again and we were
surrounded by beautiful green trees as we reached a road that was actually in
the middle of a valley. It’s good that we lost our way else we wouldn’t have
seen such a sight. Unfortunately I couldn’t take any pictures at that moment
because I had safely kept my camera in my backpack due to the rough ride I was
We then passed a river
which we had heard while circling aimlessly through the lost track and so now we knew that we were on the right path.
9. Tea Stall Saga
Finally after taking the left fork this time, we made our
way to Mandalpatti hills. 10kms to it, we arrived at a tea stall. By then it
had started raining heavily and we were all drenched. A nice hot tea was a
welcome down our throats. Everyone ransacked my bag for snacks and for the next
hour we talked and laughed happily while we waited for the rain to simmer down.
A couple of men in gumboots arrived at the tea stall. While
they sipped tea and smoked beedi, I observed them with interest. I had seen a
movie with similar settings where, during a rainy day a man in gumboots who would be a
would arrive at the teastall and kidnap some guy. My over active
imagination got me all excited and I relied this to Apoo about who I thought those two men could be. Apoo got a little scared and started telling everyone
that they should get going. Rabbit had heard what I was saying and he came to
me and whispered to me “Neha, I think
they might be really Naxalites and you should interview them and write
something about them”
he told me with utmost seriousness making me go, “Really? Even if they are, I don’t think
they will reveal their identity to me...”
I said taking his words
seriously. “They will speak to you. Just
have a go. I’ll be with the others near the bike to give them some privacy to
speak with you and we’ll be waiting for your return”
, saying so he went
I had eaten his words and I approached the men with caution.
Getting my authoritative voice on I spoke with them and luckily they knew Kannada
and this was the conversation that took place; “Hello, you are from here? Is this you native place?” They nodded
in agreement and told me that their whole family was from here. Since I had already
assumed they were Naxalites, I didn’t ask them what they did for a living but said, “Do you like your job?” and for that they
said they were very happy with what they were doing. Since childhood it’s the
only occupation they knew. I was shocked to hear that even children were trained
for such a job in these parts. “But don’t
you know what you are doing will bring harm to others?” I was bold enough
to ask them. The two men exchanged quizzical looks and replied “We are actually helping others. It’s very
hard to get hot water in these areas, so we cut the wood and sell them...” ”Wait a minute. You are wood cutters?” I
asked in surprise. “Why yes, what did you think?” one of the men asked.
I was about to open my mouth when Rabbit came to me by
saying “Hey, we are getting late let’s
go!” and so I left them in a confused state of mind. “They say they are wood-cutters. I told you they wouldn’t reveal their
identities” I told Rabbit in dejection. Rabbit started to laugh
uncontrollably, “Of course they are
wood-cutters. I saw their truck. I was loaded with wood. I just filled your
head with a possibility to have some fun” he said with an evil glint in his
eye. “And you are still thinking they
might be Naxalites under cover, aren’t you?” he pulled my leg even further.
I fumed in anger at getting tricked like this, “That was not a joke Rabbit. I was about to
ask them directly you know and I would have been in so much trouble for that
you moron.” By that time the others had heard what had transpired back
there and were having a good laugh. “Relax
yar, I knew what you were about to say and that’s why I rescued you from further
fooling yourself. This one is for pulling my hat off back there!” he
winked at me. “Oh, I’ll get you back for
this Rabbit”, I growled at him while he continued to laugh at my naivety.
10. Destination Mandalpatti
We had resumed our journey and it was just a half hour ride
from the tea stall to the greenish mountain ranges of Mandalpatti. I was still
fuming at him but at a particular turn, we were introduced to this beautiful,
misty landscape and I completely forgot about the incident back at the tea stall.
there is a true heaven on earth, it’s this. This place was recently discovered
to the larger audience of Karnataka ever since a shot in the Kannada Movie
Gaalipata was released. Since then, there has been an increase in the
number of tourists who are brave enough to ride to this place by facing its
rough terrain. I just cannot describe its beauty in words. The lush green grass
either side of the road that snakes its way through these mountain tops looked
mesmerizing to my eyes.
Unfortunately I couldn’t see the farther mountains as they
were obscured by the thick mist. But still, the misty effect made it look closer to
heaven. When we reached the top there was a lonely car parked atop the
mountain. Other than us, there were no inhabitants. The bikes could go only to
some extent and had to be parked since the road ahead was filled with huge
chunks of rocks and from there we had to walk for a few minutes. We reached a
cottage where the security was stationed. We asked them a few questions about
the surroundings and they said, except for the old Mantap atop that hill, there was nothing much here except the nature in her most natural self.
We reached the Mantap. It had started to drizzle
continuously and we were all drenched to extremities. Nonetheless we were so
happy to be finally at this place. It was windy, misty and raining and greenery
all around us; what more could we have wished for? We started singing and
dancing on the mantap top and our hands were as cold as ice cubes.
11. The return
It was about 12.30 pm by the time we reached our bikes.
With a heavy heart, we bid adieu to this beautiful place. I wished I had more
eyes to capture that moment. I wanted to take in the entire 360 degree view at
once. By the time we crossed that famous path that was shown in the movie
Gaalipata, another shooting crew had arrived and I learnt that the hero standing
under the umbrella, whom we passed by waving hi to him was the guy from the
Telugu movie happy days. So this
place was getting more and more popular by the day.
The mud path that was quite dry when we arrived a few hours
ago was now drenched to the core. The path was so slippery that two of the
bikes slipped through the loose wet mud and the riders fell off. Luckily for
me, Rabbit was an excellent rider and we crossed the path without enduring any
mishap. Finally bid goodbye to Madikeri and her scenic beauty and we started
our journey back to Mysore.
Before Hunsur, we stopped for a quick lunch at a restaurant
in a small town. And for the next 1 hour, heavy rain (heavier than the one we
witnessed at Mandalpatti) followed us all the way to Hunsur. The rain was tormenting
us like pin pricks. But we didn’t stop as we were already drenched to the core.
After Hunsur the rain started to ebb off.
By the time we reached Mysore, it was 5.30 in the evening
and the wild wind had blow-dried our clothes to such an extent that we couldn’t
find any traces of wet marks on our clothes. We were extremely tired
and weather beaten and so without further ado, we bid good-bye to one another,
promising to catch up at the adda the next day and made our way back to our
When I entered my home, granny was as usual watching TV
and seeing me she asked “Betta hathdya?” Did
you climb the betta? (The lie I had told her earlier if you remember!).
And smiling wryly I said “Yes,
I did and it was the best climb ever!”
P.S: That was two years ago. Last year, again I gave a visit
to Mandalpatti with my college friends (This time, we went by a rented vehicle and so I didn't have to lie this time!). The day was hot and totally a different
experience. Now if you want to travel to Mandalpatti, there is no way you can
go there by bikes or cars. Heavy vehicles like Safari, Tata Sumo or Tavera Chevrolet
can go till the Tea Stall. The once small tea stall has now expanded to accommodate
more customers. Business is booming at Mandalpatti. Due to recent landslides,
the road from the tea stall to the Mandalpatti mountain ranges looks
treacherous. Hence they have provided jeeps for rent. It costs 600 Rs per jeep
(or may be the price has gone even higher now!) and the diver will drop you off
near the Mantap and you can tell him the time you want him to come pick you up
and he will be back for you at that time without fail!