Dodda sampige mara, BR Hills – May 2019

The annual trip to K-Gudi and BR Hills happened as usual. The lead up left me worried, with skin rashes and illness lurking around the house. But the morning of the 5th saw the saddle bags packed and mounted on the bike and we were off to K Gudi.

The first evening it rained. And rained and rained. Inside the jeep we got drenched and the top cover had to be pulled down. It was interesting to note the temperature come down drastically and what started as a ride in sweltering heat and humidity suddenly left us needing jackets. Even the waterholes started showing mists like in winter.
Mist on a summer afternoon, after the rains The morning safari went great, with the usual birding. The fun was with the massive Bull Gaur with buffalo shaped horns who blocked our path, walking towards us, sniffing and grunting before walking away. Angry bull gaur

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Day trip – Basaralu

It’s been a while since I went to Nuggehalli. The main issue is the distances between the different Hoysala temples. I usually prefer to combine Nuggehalli with other temples, but that becomes a bit hard when you have to be zigzagging across the highway. Now, I tend to hit those around a spot. And sometimes, not stress myself and just spend time in one place. The best solution seems to be to do more rides more frequently. Just need to remember to do that.

This time the destination was the Mallikarjuna temple, Basaralu. This was at a sweet location, near Nagamangala, and on the curve back towards Bangalore. So the plan was to leave early, have breakfast at Swathi, hit Nagamangala, get to Basaralu and then back home for lunch via Huliyurdurga and Magadi. The plan kept getting postponed from early March due to one reason or the other. And I finally zeroed in on the 18th March. Only to have other errands intrude on it. I don’t particularly enjoy weekend rides, but there didn’t seem to be any other option. So the 17th it was.

I left at 7:15 AM, and the ride was a bit more stressful than I would have liked. Hassan highway is no Mysore Road, but on weekends the traffic can get a bit rowdy. Vehicles that like to pass you close by, zipping two-wheelers, the whole charade of bad driving notorious on our streets shows up. But I reached Swathi at 8:40 AM without issues. After breakfast I was off by 9:00 AM.

Basaralu

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Day ride – Turuvekere and Aralaguppe

The Hoysala hunt continued with two new places added to the list, thanks to Twitter. Technically, there was just one – Aralaguppe, but the place was close to Turuvekere, and a bit of digging showed me two other places there.

This time S joined me for the ride, and we left at aroud 7:45 AM from my place, me on the Bull 500, and S on his Electra. For the second half of October it wasn’t too cold. We did the usual route of Tumkur road -> Hassan Road and the usual breakfast stop at Swati Delicacy before Yadiyur. After Yadiyur, there was a right to be taken towards Turuvekere. Right after the turn we were greeted by a pristine B road. Two lanes width, just about wider than that, and going all the way in that condition to Mayasandra where we had to take a right and then a left to avoid going towards Gubbi. Turuvekere was reached at around 10:15 AM.

The first temple on the list was a Chennakesava temple, from around 1260 AD. Unlike other Kesava temples, this wasn’t too ornate. It didn’t have much carvings outside, and the ASI or PWD had also done a shoddy job with some concrete support at the top. img_5283 Continue reading “Day ride – Turuvekere and Aralaguppe”

Day ride: T Narasipura and Gaganachukki

Aug 22nd was a holiday on account of Bakrid, and I had been itching to do a ride for a while. I woke up early, got ready to leave by 7, and was out on the road by 7:15 AM. I didn’t have a clear plan in mind. I knew I wanted to check out 3 places if possible – Gaganachukki, Sathegala bridge and T. Narasipura. Barachukki was also on the radar, but I wasn’t sure how crowded it would be. There’s a dargah there and the road could also be closed during Bakrid.

Anyway, the order is for later. I took the ORR to reach Mysore Road, and even that early it was a bad decision. Too many humps and buses make it a stressful ride, and the Metro construction on Mysore Road had also screwed up the roads. The route through Vishweshwaraiah Layout and Kempegowda Layout reaching Mysore Road near Decathlon is the better route now, the only issue being the railway crossing.

There weren’t too many clouds, there wasn’t much of a chance of rain that day, but the weather was chilly for August. I made good speed after crossing NICE road and reached Bidadi well before 8. I finished a quick thatte idli-vada breakfast there and was off by 8 AM. The advantage the bike has is that bad traffic is a lot less stressful and I was turning left after Maddur well before 9 AM. Malavalli was reached in 20 minutes and I turned right after Malavalli’s junction, but just before reaching the junction where the road from Kanakapura reaches Malavalli. I stopped after a few kilometres near a huge lake for a break of 5-10 minutes. This was the Marehalli Kere. The road after this was peaceful with hardly any traffic. There was the odd pothole or patchwork, but bikes register them a lot less than cars, the effort needed to avoid them is much lighter.

Purigali was reached and I took a right onto the Belakavadi-T. Narasipura road towards T Narasipura. This road was pristine with hardly any traffic. I was at Narasipura before 10, which felt like a good deal, and I hadn’t rushed either. I went down to the Agastheshwara Temple, which looked really old, but was closed. There was a path leading behind it which took me to some steps and down those steps was the river. In fact, there were two rivers – the Kaveri and the Kabini – merging into one. The name T Narasipura expands to Thirumakudalu Narasipura. The Thirumakudalu is from Sanskrit – Trimakuta. There are apparently three rivers having a confluence here – the Kaveri, the Kabini and a third, a lake called Spatika, which is considered mythical or might have existed in earlier times.

Some of the lower steps were slushy suggesting that the water level was much higher the past few days. They had apparently reduced the flow a tad from that day. There were a couple of men bathing, and I had to wait for them to finish before trying to do videos. Keeping the blog family friendly.

Kabini coming in from my right, then I pan to the joined rivers and pan to my left where the Kaveri is flowing from.

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Day trip: Kambadahalli and Hosaholalu

Despite having done a bike ride to and from BR Hills a few days back, having the whole week off meant that another was always on the cards. This time S signed up. I had come across the Jain Basadi of Kambadahalli from @drvivekm‘s instafeed. Googling revealed that this was one of the oldest structures standing in that area, having been built around 900-1000 AD. Most of the Hoysala temples tend to be a few centuries younger. The oldest would be the ones on top of Chandragiri in Shravanabelagola. It’s also been a while since I went there!

Anyway, the start was later than my preferred pre-7:30 AM. Winter and S having to ride all the way from beyond Indiranagar meant that an early start wouldn’t be feasible. We left from my place at 8:25 AM and rode down to Swati Delicacy near Yediyur for the breakfast stop. Despite being heavily crowded we managed to find a table, and I didn’t  have to fight for an own table as is the case when am on solo rides.

Post breakfast we rode down towards Hirisave and took a left where it said Bindiganavile. There was also another board saying “Kambadahalli 19KM.” These days when roads get widened and people end up losing the old sign boards and milestones, it was a welcome sight! The road alternated between awesome, ok, okayish, to watch-out for potholes without ever degenerating to a bone rattler. We reached the road from Belagola to Nagamangala and took a right there. A road went to the right which announced Kambadahalli at 1 KM, but we did not take that. The next right had an arch with Jain insignia and icons all over it. This was our turn. Within a Km of this turn, the Jain structure loomed on our right.

The first structure you see is the pillar. There were inscriptions on it, but we could not date it. This might have been a later addition too. Later meaning from the Hoysala period.
The Pillar seen at the entrance
Inscriptions on the pillar
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The end of an era and the start of another

Bull

After putting it on sale for close to a month, I finally sold my old bike today. I was barely using it as I had switched to the new one. Yes, it was only an upgrade from one to another, and they are lifeless machines. But I couldn’t help going back and looking at how so many things changed once I got the Bullet. I had never done ‘rides’ as such. Two wheelers weren’t meant to leave the city!

I discovered the joy of open roads, and more importantly I discovered the joy of hidden roads – two-laners that are away from the Highway and used mainly by those who live in those places.

I discovered the joy of solo rides. To be by myself, on some unknown road between Devalapura and Huliyurdurga. What would happen if the bike broke down, or if there was a puncture? Oddly, I never had any such issues. Punctures need specific inputs, in the form of nails. Unless someone stands to gain by it, the chances are really low.

I discovered the joy of the ‘thump’. The short bottle silencer was the chief partner in crime, with a purring sound that never really got too loud for me to worry about noise pollution. It was ideal, and more importantly legal. Too bad that people now prefer loudspeakers like the Goldie and the Indore!

I could never go fast on the Electra. It was a bike that loved being around the 70-80 kmph mark on highways. You stay on 70, but you move to 80 to overtake. That’s about it. It wasn’t fast. Not even close. You don’t ride it to race. You ride it to experience.

It surprisingly gave me a lot fewer problems than what people who own Royal Enfields crib about. There were some issues with the odometer cable conking out, some issues with the battery initially when the service guys screwed it up. But it shed them off, and kept getting better and better.

After waiting one whole hour, I gave it to a guy from Kerala. He seemed excited on the prize. I wished him luck, that my luck with the bike would continue with him! There was someone else who was supposed to visit me. His brother was supposed to come down this weekend and he had planned on getting the bike. He dropped out at the last minute as the brother’s travel plans got changed. I guess it was destiny that the guy who bought it ended up with it.

Now, onwards to the era of the Bullet 500. Why did I buy it? I asked myself this multiple times. It wasn’t the speed. But I had had my eye on it ever since it got released. The time of its release coincided with that of my getting the electra. Would I have bought the old bike otherwise? I don’t know. Guess this is destiny too.

Looking forward to more rides, and more joys to discover!

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Day Ride – Lepakshi

After much “being on the radar”, the Lepakshi ride was finally agreed on. Anand had already been there some months back and knew the way. There really isn’t much knowing the way required, though. You head straight North on the Airport Road from Bangalore, avoid getting into the Airport, and keep going North. Cross the border into Andhra, and take left where a board with an arrow left says “Lepakshi”. Go on for 16 km on that road, and you see the Nandi on the right. Go on a bit further, turn left where everyone else does, and you have the Veerabhadraswamy Temple.

Well, this is pretty much what we did. We left from my place at 7:45 AM, me on my Bullet Electra, and A on his Classic 500. I expected an arrival at Lepakshi at 10:30 AM with a half hour for breakfast. The Goraguntepalya railway overbridge is now ready, so timings should be predictable. The breakfast stop was at the fancily named “The Indian Paratha Company”, which was reached at around 8:45 AM. The place was crowded, and seating was in the morning sun. The Paratha came on time, but we spent 20 minutes waiting for tea. What was expected to be a 30 minute stop, took 1 hour. Really good food, but service needs to go a long way!

The ride along NH7 is plain boring. There is no other term for it. You get your speedometer to 80-90 Kmph, and stay there on the four lane road and keep watching the odometer ticking. There are neither trees nor curves to keep you interested. We reached the turn-off from NH7 by 10:40 and the Nandi before 11 AM.

The Nandi is carved out of a monolith and thankfully we got a few shots before the crowds streamed in. I figured it might be smaller than the one at Bull Temple road or the one at Chamundi hill. Turned out, I was wrong on all counts. This is the second largest Nandi in India, after one in Aimury, Kerala.(Not completely verified accounts I believe. Some claim it’s the largest.)

Monolithic Nandi - Second largest in India!

Nandi from the back

Apart from size, the carvings showed a garland of bells, and what looked like two ghosts on the body.

Bhoothas...

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Day ride: Bhoga Nandeeshwara

Being a long weekend and all, a ride was always on the cards. I had had my eyes on Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple for a while now, thanks to ZenRainman‘s pics on Twitter. I pinged S who had only recently got his RE and was keen on doing a ride. A was a doubtful starter, and pulled out in the morning. I started out from home at 8:30 AM, and S left from his place at the same time. The plan was to meet up near Hebbal opposite the notorious Esteem Mall. I reached there at 9 as there was hardly any traffic on the way. S reached there in a few minutes too! Talk about timing!

We hit the Hyderabad highway and after passing the turnoff for the airport, we reached a Sri Krishna Garden at 9:30 AM. The breakfast was just about decent, and we back on  the road by 10 AM. The route was to avoid the Nandi hills turnout, take left on a service road somewhere further up, and then take left onto the road leading to Nandi town. As expected with such turns when on bikes, we missed it and came upon the Chikkaballapur turnoff. We doubled back and got on to the road. Very soon we came across our first sign that we were on the right track. (:P)

Glorious Promised Land

Not sure what this place is. The board said it’s a religious place. But a Google search did not reveal anything interesting about it. Either way, we rode along and reached the temple pretty soon.

The very first structure is the main temple complex itself. The rest of the structures are on its left (on your right as you enter). We were greeted by a pillared hall with pillars that looked like they had been plucked out from Hampi. The temple itself is very old, built around 800 AD. Various dynasties and Kings have added their own structures, and you can see a temple evolving across different architectures from different periods.

Pillars

If this reminds you of Hampi, not too surprising. Those pillars inside with 3 sculptures are also similar.

Pillars

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Day ride: Nuggehalli. Once more.

I realised all of a sudden that it’s been a long time since my last ride. Considering that we are into the last quarter of 2016 I hadn’t done even a single one in 2016! The last one was late December 2015, and to Nuggehalli. This time I decided to do the same route again. I like the temple with its carvings and the road is just awesome to ride on. There will be a time to explore other regions, but a comeback ride after 8 months is probably not the time for that.

The plan was to do it last week, but the weather looked dodgy with a good chance of rain. Just as it was clearing, a bandh happened and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find stuff to eat. I postponed it to the day after Ganesha. Except that this became a Mandya Bandh, and considering that I was planning to pass through large parts of the district, if not the city itself, I decided to play it safe and shifted it to the next day, September 7th. The weather promised a partially cloudy day with no chance of rain. Just the thing to expect on a September day. It was expected to be cool, though not as cold as winter. In short, perfect conditions for riding.

I set off at 7:45 AM. Fuel was done along the way, and so was air for the tyres. The weather was absolutely splendid. Clear blue skies with puffy clouds left over from the Monsoons, mild temperature, not biting cold, the kind of weather expected and the kind that makes you love riding.

On the way...clear blue skies

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Cars and bikes…

I have been driving in Bangalore for the past 5 years now. When I moved back from the US I took a 6 month break from all driving, to rinse out any nice ways of driving, took off on two-wheelers all that while and then bought a used car to drive. The plan was to use it for 5 years and then look for a new car.

5 years have come, and I don’t intend to sell my car. The usage is so minimal that I don’t really need to change it. There is a temptation to go for an electric one, but again it’s costlier than a petrol car given the cost of battery and my usage. The more you use it the better it works out. In the current market, a petrol car works best if you don’t drive to work everyday.

But my plan is to hopefully sell my car and not own a car after that. Every time I drive, I come back home nerves frayed, after enduring what can only be called traumatic experiences. People constantly cutting in, slow moving vehicles suddenly speeding up without indication just because you might be thinking that since they’re slow you might take a right some 60ft in front of them. How can anyone allow that!

Two-wheelers doing blind turns, or blind lane switches, or just plain scared in some cases and taking over a whole 10 ft side of the road by plonking themselves in the middle and not responding to anything.

And then the signals. Each one at least 2-3 minutes and not guaranteeing a move ahead on green even if you’re 2 rows behind the front. Possible that one car couldn’t get started, usually private and you have to wait it out. And after all this, you fervently hope you don’t have to deal with a traffic jam.

I have tried everything – being stoic, being Zen, playing music and closing windows and trying not to care. Except that the experience of constantly jerking slow for near misses does get to your nerves. It’s like having your reflexes on every moment for an hour or two. We are just not designed for this kind of stress. The only thing that works is to give enough time to get to your destination, but it is mostly the constant reflexive nature of driving that gets to you.

The sad part is it feels so much better to be on the Bullet. I don’t cut people off like other idiots, follow lane discipline, and try to ride the way I want others to when am driving. And it is so much more stress free. Am not sure if it is just the bike experience or the thump of the Bull that helps here, but it is overall a much better experience than driving. Of course, the kind of experiences you usually hate are life threatening when on the bike. A goods vehicle that decides it has had enough waiting and suddenly hurries across the road, or BMTC buses deciding to jump signals, those are always there. Defensive riding helps, and if you’re the one at front your side of the road, you can expect to be cut off by crossing vehicles. The main reflex intensive nature of driving is not there. On the highways though, you have to deal with farmers on Hero Splendours spitting around them, or bikes with rowdies throwing out cigarette butts (not even stubbed), but on bigger highways safe distances can be kept. A lot of temper management is called for here.

I really wish one day I can sell my car off and just manage with the bike. When it rains there are always taxis or autos. Probably manageable. I don’t know. Worth trying some time, but given my usage am already doing it more often!

Can’t say where we are headed this way, every time things get worse we get used to it and move on to the next level of worse. Seems to be our fate.

Oh well, a pointless post, I know. But hey, didn’t want my blog to open with the last one for too long. 🙂