Once again it was the time to taste freedom of being solo rider.
Day 1 ( 13th July 20120- Bangalore –Krishnagiri-Thiruvanamalai-Gingee-Pondicherry.
The plan was made and as usual due to the excitement was not able to sleep well, Not being superstitious Friday the 13th did not deter me from taking this solo trip, managed to take a wink at 12 midnight and got up at 4.00 in the morning, after saying the normal good bye to family headed towards Hosur road with the machine which was going to be my partner for the next two days. It was 7.00 by the time I cleared the early morning traffic and reached Krishnagiri. The pleasant weather suddenly turned into a heavy downpour and made me realize it was the monsoon, riding when you are completely wet is bit irritating specially when your shoes are dripping and your feet gets cold, getting completely drenched headed towards the first pit stop Thiruvanamalai. This was not in my plan, but who goes as planned while driving solo.
Reached Thiruvanamalai at 9.30, being Friday expected a crowd in the temple but there were hardly a few handful of devotees, strolled around the temple and visited the place where Shri Ramanamaharishi performed tapasya , its advised to visit all the other shiv lingas that dot the hill, I did that on my bike and it was around 14 kms round about.
It was 10.30 and the heat of Tamilnadu had picked up, getting directions to Pondy, me and bike headed towards NH66, Nearing Gingee( pronounced syngee) two magnificent forts on either side of the highway welcomed me, could not resist visiting the forts and headed towards one on the right which is the Ratnagiri Fort, Initially I thought it would be a short climb up to the fort, but experienced the heat which completely drains you out, a hike which I expected to take an hour and a half almost took 3 hours to complete. I realized I can ride on a bike for a while day but I am not the kind of person to trek. After a short break headed towards Tinidivanam which will take me to Pondicherry. Took lots of break in between and slept for a while to refresh, the hike up the fort had drained me out complexly. 5 kms yet to pondy the rains showered but still had no respite from the heat, the sun was still burning me up at the same time the rain was cooling me down, strange are the ways of nature.
It was around 5 in the evening when I reached the much acclaimed Beach Road of Pondy, looked around for a place to rest for the night and after visiting a few places decided L’Ocean was to be my home for the night. After a quick freshup and rest went out for a stroll on the beach, though I missed the sunset but got to watch some beautiful clouds and some failed attempts to click pictures of a lightning. Returned to L ’Ocean promising to come back for the sunrise.
Day 2- Pondicherry
Had planned to see Pondy Sunrise and was expecting a show, but the clouds played truant and in spite of being at the beach by 5.30 it was of no use, back at home getting up at 5.30 on a normal day is unthinkable. Even though, the sun did not show up, the sky had a good blue tint which was a consolation for missing the sunrise.
Spending a while at the beach, moved towards the aurobindo ashram and visited the Samadhi , the place is quite clean and peaceful, visitors are allowed to visit the ashram only after 8 in the morning, next I checked out the much acclaimed French architecture and pondy bylanes post which I checked out directions to paradise beach, this beach is accessible only by a boat.
The boat house is at a distance of 9 kms from Pondicherry and I had to keep a look out for a board which says Chunambaram boat house, else you will miss it. For 100.Rs, they will take you across the backwaters of pondy to paradise beach and back, this is a pleasant beach with not much crowd, can spend some peaceful time , After a short stay and ride in the boat back to the mainland, I decided it’s the right time to visit auroville, where you find the Golden Globe, auroville is around 15 kms from pondy towards mahabalipuram, from the state highway you need to take a right and travel around 9 kms, auroville can be termed as remote but serene and peaceful location. To enter the golden globe permission must be taken a day earlier. I just managed to walk upto the globe and enjoy the view from outside.
From Auroville headed towards auro beach, to reach auro beach you need to trace back your route till the statehighway and then move a little further on ECR road and take right turn , a few hundred meters further is the auro beach, expectation of this being a clean beach went for a toss, walked around the beach and watched the rowdy crowd who were loitering around maybe locals or tourists , did not bother much and not much interested in the beach headed back to pondy.
It was late evening when I returned to Pondy, there was a magnificent fireworks display by the beach organized by the French consulate, the fireworks against the rocky beach in the backdrop was a sight worth seeing, next went through the heart of pondy which was far more crowded then Bangalore, filled up fuel which is 10 rupees less the price in Bangalore, price of petrol - this was one of the good things I liked in, by this time I was done for the day and headed towards the guest house to rest.
It’s surprising how you manage to wake up early while you are on the bike trip, it was 5 by the time I checked out of L’Ocean , before saying adieu to Pondy visited the Rock beach for one last time hoping for a catching a sunrise, but the drizzle and the clouds made sure that I would not get to see a good sunrise.
Next place to check out was mahabalipuram which is around 100 kms from Pondy via the East Coast road . The ECR is termed to run along the beach, but you hardly get to see the beach once you leave Pondy and reach Mahabalipuram.
The ECR is well maintained and riding on this was a breeze, couldn’t find anything interesting that made me stop expect a place where there was a salt farm, reached Mahabalipuram at around 8, As you enter Mahablaipuram you will be welcomed with lots of shops where you find lots of sculptures in various stages of completions .
the First place to see once you get down from the highway is the Panch rath or Five chariots, the rains made sure that I was the only visitor and enjoyed the place sans the crowd, checked out the wonderful architecture of the chariots , there are few other places that can be visited, the old light house, Krishna’ Butter ball and few other granite carvings and temples. It was around afternoon when I started moving towards the Shore temple , by this time the rain had stopped and along came the tourists and the scorching sun.
The shore temple once might have been a good example of architecture, but has lost its charm due to sea erosion adding to it the attempts by the archeological dept to protect the temple by covering it with paper pulp.
Just behind the temple the sea was opening its arms and welcoming me to get and in take a dip, which I could not resist. It was around 2 in the afternoon and not much to do or other places to see I changed my plans to stay in mahabalipuram and decided to head back home.
The route plan was Mahabalipuram-kanchipiuram-Vellore-krishagiri and Bangalore, the road from mahabalipuram were quite bad until Kanchipuram and Iwas so tired by the time I reached Kanchipuram that I had decided to park my bike and take a nap under a treeJ but pushed myself a further looking for a tree to sleep under until I reached the Highway which was double laned, the road made me turn the throttle and I don’t recall slowing down and the tiredness was gone with the gushing wind,Vellore wizzed past in no time , also saw Yelagiri hills beckoning from a distance wishing I would come back some other time I moved ahead, I did not stop until I reached Krishagiri, it was 2 hours since I left Kanchipuram and had covered around 190 kms in 2 hours.
The road towards Bangalore gave way to signs of the trip coming to an end, stopped by at Shoolagiri to get refreshed at Coffee Day , A cold coffee surely freshens you up, after filling up petrol at a lower price for a last time headed towards Hosur and then Home, as usual the traffic on Hosur highway was best not talked about, apart from that without any events reached home by 9 in the evening and started dreaming of the next trip.