Bengaluru to Nandi Hills


It has become a tradition for cyclists in Bangalore to go to Nandi Hills at least once. The 7 km climb looks quite daunting, but doable even in first attempt. But there were moments during the climb when my legs could not peddle any more. The ride is definitely more challenging than Thally. It took little less than two hours for us to complete the climb. We met few cyclists, who were climbing up and down multiple times. We came across one cyclist who was riding up the hill for the seventh time that morning. It was bit of a shock for us. But with practice I believe everyone could it. The view from the top is worth all the pain. The road to the top is flaunted with wild yellow flowers, which adds to the beauty. And riding down is always a delight. Just be careful of the oncoming traffic.

Starting early in the morning is important because by the time we were back to Bangalore it was already evening. Riding in the afternoon sun is tiring. We had carried packets of curd and little salt. We mixed it with water and drunk whenever we took a break. This was way more refreshing than any other processed drinks.

There are many ways to reach Nandi hills.  We avoided the one via new international airport road. We took a deviation from Old Madras road near Budigere cross. Traffic was less, roads are good and it was relaxing. I have shared some photos from the ride below.

Bangalore to Thally (65 km)

Map data© 2015 Google

Thally is a small town in Tamil Nadu. There is not much to see there but, as they say, cycling is all about the journey. Thally ride has some really steep climbs which will test your strength. The road is overall good with a few exceptions where you have to bear with ‘off-roading’ experience. But you get a fair share of pure cycling experience i.e., quiet roads, no traffic and no pollution.

Thally is about 65 km from Bangalore. There are many ways to reach there. We went via Thattekere. A little further from Thattekere, we took a deviation from the main road. Then we rode on a village road which was peaceful and good for cycling . Only thing you see is small houses, with low roofs and walls made of mud. There were a lot of rectangular frames made of twigs and dried leaves, beside the roads. I think it has to do something with producing silk, but I am not so sure.As we passed them, their lifestyle made us feel, for a moment, like riding through a past time, of a different age. People stopped their work and came out of their houses, to watch us passing by.

There were many climbs which left us gasping for breath. But occasionally there were these long stretches of steady descent on which we happily glided through. We had started from Bangalore early morning and reached Thally in the afternoon. We had lunch and returned via Anekal and Electronic city road. Some pics from the ride are below.

Cycling through the Western Ghats: Chickmagalur-Sringeri-Agumbe-Kundapura

Cycling through the Western Ghats has always been in our thoughts. I personally wanted to do it since long time. I guess everyone who loves cycling has the same dream. With this ride, spanning about 250 km and three days, we achieved that goal. This has been our second big ride after Rameswaram.

The planning started about a month before the start of the ride. We initially decided to start the ride from Chikmagalur. We had decided to transport the cycles by train. But since Chikmagalur has no train connectivity, we decided to start the ride from Kadur, the nearest train station. Kadur is 40 km from Chikmagalur. So we rode from Kadur to Chikmagalur on the first day, to Sringeri on the second and to Kundapura on the third and the last day. And then back to Bangalore by train.

Day 0: To Kadur

We had to kick off the journey with an unintended night ride from Birur to Kadur. What happened was this- The train doesn’t stop for a long time in Kadur, it is a small station. So they can’t unload the cycles there. So we had to unload the cycles at the next station that is Birur. Birur is 7.2 km from Kadur. We caught the train to Kadur from Bangalore on the evening of 19 Dec 2013. It is about 3 hours journey. We reached Kadur around 9 p.m. Then we traveled to Birur. The cycles arrived at around 10 p.m. Then we had a little moonlight ride back to Kadur. It was a good start.

Lesson learnt: Always enquire with the railway officials about the transportations, beforehand. Nonetheless, the moonlight ride was fun!

Most of the times, the best things are not planned 🙂

Day 1: Kadur to Chikmagalur

We started from Kadur around 8.00 a.m. There was no hurry since we had to ride just 40 km that day. We had breakfast in a small hotel. They had these perfectly tasting vadas. It was the best vadas I ever had in my life. The good thing about these rides is that you get to eat at various places. If you love food, then you will love traveling. On this ride of ours, the food particularly was mind blowing. Fish curries in and around Kundapura is just plain delicious.

We took many breaks on the way to Chikmagalur. The road was good. No big towns on the way, just one or two. The roads were flanked mostly by agricultural lands. Buses are frequent between Kadur and Chikmagalur.

It is a slow climb all along, except when nearing Chikmagalur, it is bit steep there, but totally manageable. We reached Chikmagalur at about 12.30 p.m. Found rooms for staying, had a heavy lunch and took rest for the rest of the day.

At night, we asked around for some tips for the next day. The locals informed us about the route to Chikmagalur. They advised us not to travel at night as the region is known for some incidents caused by Naxalites.

Day 2: Chikmagalur to Sringeri

The best day of the journey!

We started early today. We parcelled our breakfast to eat on the way. It was cold in the morning. And it was cool all along the ride except for Kundapura. The roads were good. Occasionally some vehicles keep passing by. It was perfect for cycling. And the best part was the sheer beauty of the place. It was amazing. Tall tress. Early morning sunlight seeping through the leaves and a bunch of cyclists moving quietly through them – it was heavenly!

There was this small cafe kind of place, in the midst of coffee plantations beside the road. We stopped there for a long time. We had bread omelette and coffee. It was truly nice.

We crossed the Bhadra river on the way. Had a little photo shoot, with different poses – got a small local kid to do some of those!

We also met some school kids on the way. Had a little chat with those guys too.

Nearing Sringeri, we faced some steep climbs.

One of the cycle’s chain broke . We did not have any tools to fix it. That was another lesson learnt – Always carry the important tools. Luckily it broke just when the climb ended. From then on it is mostly downhill till Sringeri. So we continued. Whenever there were plain roads, we rode like this.

At Sringeri we fixed chain. It was about 6.00 p.m. It was the end of the day’s journey. We freshened up and went to the Sringeri temple and had a satisfying dinner there. We had done 96 km that day.

Day 3: Sringeri to Kundapura

We were leaving behind the cool, lush green Western Ghats and moving towards the hot and humid coastal region.We started around 7.00 a.m.

On the way we passed Agumbe. We stopped near the Agumbe sunset point. Of course we could not see the sunset. But the view was stunning.

Immediately after Agumbe, we had a steep descent with quite a few hair pin bends. We were lucky to see this fellow.

As Kundapura was nearing we were feeling the heat. Pedaling was becoming difficult. We took breaks more frequently. We reached Kundapura around 5.30 p.m. And the journey came to an end.

The next day evening we had the train back to Bangalore. In the morning we went to Maravante beach. The beach was not crowded and it was clean.

We faced another problem while transporting the cycles back. The Kundapur station, too, was a small one. They told they cannot take the cycles there. So we had to transport them in bus.

 Overall this was the best cycling experience ever. Everybody enjoyed a lot. Western Ghats is challenging with all its climbs. The climate is perfect. And every inch of it, is a treat for your eyes.

Cycling: HSR-Whitefield-Malur-Bagalur-HSR

Maps data © 2014 Google
Maps data © 2014 Google

This ride is close to a hundred kilometres. In terms of scenic beauty, it is one of the best routes you can find near Bangalore. Within a few minutes ride from the city you find yourselves cycling on roads where the only sound is of the the cycle tyres on the tarmac. And occasionally you hear birds on the tress which flaunt either sides of the road. It is serene. Riding early morning on these roads is exactly what we like about cycling.

21072013750 21072013751 It’s good if you start early. We usually start at the break of dawn, when it not that dark. We group at Marathahalli. Continue on the Varthur road. Take turn towards Kadugodi. But we deviate from the main road at Hope Farm Junction. After that it is less of city, more of fun!

This part of road from Hope Farm to Malur, is perfect for cycling. This is the highlight of the route. We reached Malur within an hour and half. We had breakfast at the town. Then we rode to Bagalur. From Malur the road is good, but since it is connecting major towns the traffic is more. From Bagalur to HSR it is mostly city roads.

21072013759 21072013757

Bangalore to Rameshwaram

There are some things, which seem just impossible the first time you hear it. But once you give it a thought, spend some time with it and let it sink, you will understand the sanity in it. I went through the same thought process the first time I heard about this ‘mission’.

This was our first big trip. Until now, we have been doing only weekend rides and we never rode two consecutive days. There was going to be a lot of preparation for this trip. We have probably done five months of planning. Setting up meeting rooms at office, deciding on different strategies, it was pure fun! But trust me; the joy of completing the journey is hundredfold. I’ll come to that later!

The first task was to decide the route. There were a lot of options. We were planning to go to Dhanushkodi too, which will involve cycling on the sand for 7 km. After a lot of discussion we decided on the below route. We decided to have stops at Palacode, Salem, Kulithalai and Pudukottai the first four days. Then depending on the performance on fifth day we planned to stay in Ramanathapuram or Rameshwaram, the next day. Except for few changes, we followed the plan accordingly.

Initial plan

Preparation is also a big part of the trip. We made many lists- things to buy, things to carry, emergency numbers, places to ride for practice and so on. We bought a Garmin GPS device, which helped a lot in the ride. We attached carriers to the cycles. It would be lot easier the carry bags on them, than carrying it on our shoulders all the time. We rode to Thattekere on consecutive days, to get some practice. We called the ride Mission 555, since the total distance was about 555 km.

Day 1: Bangalore to Palacode (99 km)

Day 1

We started from Bangalore at around 6.40 a.m. We were six of them. The plan, initially, was to start early. But we got delayed due to rearranging of luggage on carriers. We fastened our bags to the carriers using elastic chords, which was very convenient. We visited the nearby temple for blessings and safety. We put on our T-shirts which we had designed for this ride. By the time we started, the sun was out. As we moved along, we were enquired by many people, about our trip. And every time we tell them, they were amazed. It happened all along the ride. We were inspiring people!

Initial part of the ride was little dry. But as we crossed the Bangalore city limits, we got see some scenic landscapes and beautiful roads. As we neared Palacode, we were riding through the sugarcane fields. We stopped near a place where jaggery was being made. We drank sugarcane juice fresh from the fields. We reached Palacode around 3.00 p.m.

Day 2: Palacode to Salem (89 km)

Day 2

Highways, all along.

The day consisted riding mostly on highways. We had a good breakfast. It was tasty and cheap. It is hard to get such food in cities. The day was hot. We were taking breaks every half an hour. We had to be extra cautious while riding, since other vehicles were travelling at high speeds. We reached Salem at 2.50 p.m. Took some rest and roamed around the city in the evening.

Day 3: Salem to Kulithalai (106 km)

Day 3

Towards Cauvery.

It was getting hotter day by day, since we were nearing the coast. Intake of water was more. Frequency of breaks also increased. Thankfully, we were travelling mostly on city roads and not on highways. So there were lots of trees on the roadside which provided shade and cooled us a little bit. Local food like Kamban Koozh or Millet porridge helped in beating the heat and performing better. At the end of the ride we crossed the Cauvery River. We stopped on the bridge and took some photos. The water was less but still the view was impressive.

Day 4: Kulithalai to Karaikudi (140 km)

Day 4

140 km! I think that speaks for itself.

It was the most tiring and the most challenging phase of the ride. It was not planned. Initially the plan was to stay in Pudukottai. But from Kulithalai we took a shortcut to Pudukottai. On the way we saw the possibility of going all the way to Karaikudi. If we did it, then it would decrease the distance to be travelled in the following days. So we decided to go for it.

On the way, we had stopped in a town called Kazhkur. We were then surrounded by curious onlookers who were amazed by our cycles. More and more people started to pour in. We explained them about or journey, cycles and the cause – ‘Ride more, Drive Less’. Similarly, a businessman in Manaparai, was impressed by our story and gave us free water and bought us some Manaparai murukku (the town was famous for this snack).

We had lunch in Namasamudram at 3.30 p.m. We then started off to Karaikudi. It was dark by the time we were nearing our destination. Driving in the night on a highway was not ideal but it was thrilling. With nothing but road reflectors and our blinking headlights to guide us, we reached the outskirts of Karaikudi. Unfortunately it started raining heavily. We took shelter in a nearby bus stop, but we were drenched nonetheless. We were stuck there for about an hour and half, may be more. By the time we reached the city and searched for someplace to stay, it was already 9.20 p.m. We had dinner and slept off.

Day 5: Karaikudi to Devipattanam (75 km)

Day 5

Day of punctured tyres.

Due to the last night’s rain, we got three flat tyres. Two punctures in a hybrid bike and another one in a mountain bike. The locals helped us a lot while repairing the punctures. We were supposed to stay in Ramanathapuram or Rameshwaram that day. But due to these punctures we were forced to stay in a nearby town, Devipattanam. We stayed in a lodge cum marriage hall. It was a small town, a pleasant stay.

Day 6: Devipattanam to Rameshwaram (66 km)

Day 6

Sea at last!

We were overwhelmed just by the idea of completing this ride. We tried to avoid the main roads and rode along the village routes flanked by the Palmyra palm (toddy palm) trees. Our pace was good even on the last day. Around midday, we saw the sea for the first time. Like a thirsty traveller seeing water after a long time in desert, we rejoiced! We shouted, danced and celebrated. After 5.5 days and more than 555 kilometres, we could now say that Mission 555 was accomplished!

We stayed for a little while on the Pamban Bridge. Took lot of photos and continued our celebration. We moved on and reached Rameshwaram at 2.00 p.m.

Day 7: Rameshwaram to Dhanushkodi (or Sangamam) (19 km)

Day 7

Riding on beach…The most fun we ever had!

It was 15th August, the Independence day. Waving the tricolor and blasting patriotic songs from the speakers, we reached Dhanuskodi. Road to Dhanushkodi is the one to remember. We could see the sea on both sides of the road. The sea itself was crystal clear and looked fantastic. When tar road ended we cycled on the sand for about 7 km to reach Sangamam, where the seas on both sides meet. On the way, we saw the ‘Ghost town’ Dhanushkodi. The remnants of the Railway station and the Church, which got destroyed by the 1964 cyclone, looked like it had a story to tell.

We reached Sangamam a little later. The view was breathtaking. The sheer volume of water surrounding you, it makes you feel small and speechless.

The journey had officially come to an end. We met many strangers along the way, who made a deep impact on us. The images of those waving children, the smiles on their faces, their admiration – one cannot erase it from our memories. You connect with the people around you when you travel in cycle. You look at them in close quarters, with a new perspective. With heavy hearts, but with a sense of fulfilment, we returned back. Now we have a story to tell.

Bangalore to Kelavarapalli Dam

This is yet another cycling destination around Bangalore for the weekend rides. It is situated about 37 km from Bangalore. The road does not contains steep climbs like Thattekere. You enter the Tamil Nadu border pretty early!

Normally we start from the Iblur junction. Go towards Sarjapur, then Bagalur. It is a delight to ride through the Sarjapur – Bagalur strech. The roads are in excellent condition. You can have the breakfast in Bagalur or nearby.

Little further from Bagalur you have to deviate from the main road. The roads are narrower and it is fun to zip through them, with the locals watching us in amazement.

We stopped under a big Banyan tree. It is a good place to relax. But the leftover garbage like paper plates, plastic covers indicate other visitors too come here. It is sad. We always try not to throw away the plastic wrappers/covers, rather carry them with us till we can dispose them appropriately.

You can stroll on the dam and the park nearby for a small fee, but we gave it a pass. Instead we wandered around for a while. People were selling fish nearby, fresh from the water. We plucked gooseberries, bagful of them!

But remember to keep carry sufficient liquids because it gets pretty hot in the afternoons. Coming back to the city, on the same road, is not that great a feeling. But it comes with the package! Overall this is a fun ride.

Bangalore to Thattekere

Thatterkere has been one of our favourite and frequent destinations around Bangalore. And there is a reason for that. The road is good, the view is beautiful and it is challenging. You get out of the city traffic, early. Going towards Thattekere is an absolute delight. You get to race through steep descents. And enjoy this while you can, because, as you can imagine, coming back is going to be equally difficult. The total distance is around 35 km, one way.

Route Map to Thattekere

We start from the Central Silk board junction. Normally around 6 am, to avoid the traffic. We go along the main road, till we take a detour in the Hosa road junction. We normally have our first stop at the bridge over the Nice road. We drink some water, take few snaps, watch the vehicles passing below us and then we are off again. There is minimal traffic, which is great. The first time we went, we accidentally took one wrong turn, and we found out an amazing stretch of road. Since then we keep going in that route.

The actual fun starts when you enter the Bannergatta forest reserve area. You are riding on hills, with beautiful view on both sides. There is not a sound except for the wind rushing and your bicycle tires rolling on the tar road. You keep going till you reach a point where you can see no road further. You close in to discover the road spiralling down the hill. You pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and zip through the slope shouting with ecstasy (also dreading the moment when you have climb it back again).

In Thattekere you can visit the Mahadeshwara lake. You get to ride off road then. You take a detour again from the main road. More descent ahead! And at the foot of the hill, there is the lake. Not much to do there. But you can just sit and relax till you return again. One time, there was a gathering in the nearby temple. The kids there were attracted by our bicycles and we obliged. Soon they were riding our bikes all over the place. Then we had a little stone skipping competition beside the lake. It was pure fun.

Returning back is an adventure on its own. The first time, we were exhausted and were pushing our cycles up the slope. Suddenly a local guy, casually passed us riding his gearless Atlas cycle. Oh boy! But on the later rides we were able to climb all the way. But don’t worry. At the end of the climb, there is a small shop. We had curd, omlette, bananas and sometimes a small nap there.

Thattekere ride has everything what a good cycle ride should have. It is the best cycling destination, at the moment, till we discover a new one.

Bangalore to Chikka Tirupathi

You have worked very hard, all week long. And the weekend is here. Your cycle is giving you loving looks! But you are a bit lazy today. You don’t want any tiring long distance rides. Then Chikka tirupathi is an ideal place for you.

It is located about 35 km from Bangalore. The ride is refreshing and rejuvenating. There are no steep climbs or descents. Just plain roads! If you have started cycling recently then this is a ride made just for you. Try to start early, to avoid the traffic. There is not much traffic on these roads, but it is always a good feeling to ride on empty roads. You can enjoy view, rather than keeping an eye on the vehicles passing or coming towards you.

You can reach Chikka tirupathi many ways. Either you can go on the main roads, or you can take any other route which goes through villages and small towns (which is better). You can always search for new routes in google maps. It is more satisfying when you go on an unknown route which have found out!

It took us about 2 hours to reach the destination, including the time taken for occasional drinks breaks. We ate breakfast in a hotel nearby. Took rest under a big tree. There is nothing much to see in the town, but hey, it is the journey that matters not the destination!