We started during the wee hours of a Monday at around 4AM. Lalith and I synced up close to the Kathipara Junction and proceeded to meet with the rest of the gang at Urapakkam. We met up with Allen, Rajesh and Sriram, making us the pack of five set for the trip.
Our destination for the day was Madurai. We expected a rainy ride throughout but to our surprise, we didn’t have a drop pour down that day. We managed to touch Madurai as early as11:30 AM, and so we decided to move on to Tenkasi.
Unfortunately during the ride, I missed my rain gear somewhere. I’d tied it to the back, on my saddle, but I guess it wasn’t tight enough to keep up with the Ninja’s speed. I split with the rest of the pack to head into Madurai to source one. I was terribly disappointed to know that they don’t sell the kind I lost, which was a top class extra large Duckback rain coat I could wear over my riding gear. I had to settle for something of much cheaper quality and smaller in size. The setback this caused was that I had to wear my rain gear inside the riding gear. So every time it rained, I would need to remove my riding gear, wear the rain gear and then put back the riding gear, which was such a pain. Nevertheless it was a solution that would still work. So I settled for it and made my way towards Tenkasi.
En route, I realised that the guys decided to push further and halt at Ambasamudram, which was supposed to be the base for the next day. We crashed at a small lodge in a family room that could accommodate all of us together. The place we stayed was called Papanasam, a small town very close to Ambasamudram. The place has a few spots with flowing water where one can enjoy a refreshing dip. It also has lush green fields that’s enchanting to take a stroll. We spent a day exploring the adjacent areas that has a dam with a boat ride to some massive water falls. Rainbows where such a common sight in this zone. I even spotted a double rainbow once, but it was gone before I could stop the bike and take the camera out.
We spent a day exploring this area and moved on to some of the deeper locations. Bikes were not permitted in these zones, so we had to rent out a car to get in. We spent some time figuring out the forest department’s permission as well.
The next couple of days, we experienced the beauty of misty mountains and some dense forests. Most of these places remained covered in mist. We couldn’t see much beyond the road. It took some amount of patience to hang around until the wind would clear out the mist for a little while. Every spot was a surprise. Some turned out to be deep cliffs, some water bodies and some beautiful grasslands.
Leeches were such a common thing in this place given it was so moist and cold. Everywhere we parked the bikes, we could spot one or two crawling over the machines. I guess they get excited by the heat. I turned out to be the one that took the maximum number of bites, with especially one big one on my neck. It took several hours for the blood to clot, sometimes even overnight. Locals said that the best medicine for this is the tobacco power people inhale.
Finding food in these locations were tricky. Most people were workers in the local area and never ate out. The only place were we could source food was a very small tea shop that would serve a meal if ordered well in advance. Since we couldn’t access them so much in advance, we had to resort to the local people network to pass on the information to them, so that they would cook something for us when we got there.
Back to base at Papanasam, we sketched out the next leg towards Ponmudi, for which we had to cross the border and get into Kerala. We were stopped at the check post, but fortunately no harassment by the cops this time.
Ponmudi turned out to be a small peak one can ascend in less than an hour. There wasn’t much up there except for a viewpoint. We found a place to stay at the Government’s own resort. It was the only place out there. The view point at the top was a bit touristy, although there was enough opportunity for us to find a lonely spot.
We enjoyed a day out there and decided to move on, considering the very few things we could do out there. Our next spot was Megamalai, which was quite far from where we were. We chose to break the ride by halting at Rajapayalam for a night.
From Rajapalayam, we inquired the route to Megamalai. Most of the locals advised us to ride via Chinnamanur. We found a shorter route via Google Maps and chose to follow it. It took us through rough really small roads and landed us at the base of what was marked as Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary. Little did we know that the actual Megamalai was in a different location and what the locals has mentioned was the right route. Frustrated a little, we hopped on back to the right route and made our way up to the top.
The evening we reached there, we trekked up to a small place that opened up to the view of the Manalar Dam. The next day we explored the entire range till the point that the road would take us.
It had been over ten days since we’d started the trip. I had to head back home in a couple of days, but the rest of the gang had a bit more time to get around. We considered riding to Kolli Hills but we had to descend the very next day. That didn’t seem like a good option, so the rest of the guys headed towards Erode while came back to Chennai. Their plan was to eat at the Amman Mess in Kumarapalayam, which serves one of the best non vegetarian South Indian meals.
Overall, this trip turned out to be a great opportunity for us to explore the most virgin locations in South India, at its very best time of the year.