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Old 27th August 2013, 20:08   #1
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Cool When Offroaders Chill at Kodachadri

When I took my baby steps into offroading back in 2007, it was to experience auto-related adventure. I had considered rallying, but the cost of participation, the competition, and the forced pace of the sport deterred me. I wanted an adventure sport that involved vehicles, but can be done in a relaxed pace with family and friends. But the idea was still hazy. However, the Choma Kunda (Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg) climb clarified my thoughts, and I finally knew what I wanted from offroading.

For me offroading is about visiting exotic places that only a 4WD can take you, in the company of like minded friends, and taking lots of interesting photographs. It is not about competition, DJ parties, stickers, media coverage, big crowd or audience. I prefer to have none of that.

Here is another such OTR that happened a year back. A trip to an exotic nowhere and back.

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Initially we were supposed to be 13-14 people, but eventually it was only 8. Just a bunch of Bangalore and Udupi Jeepers staying close to nature during the monsoon.

The destination was Kodachadri hills, near Kollur (Mugambica as Mallus say it). The initial arrangement through a resort didnít work out, so Sreeni (M.P.) asked me to book some decent accommodation. I found exactly such a place, it is called Simha Farms. From Udupi, there were 3 of us. That is Sachin in his AC MM550 and Hariprasad (my relative) and I in my doorless CJ340. Hariprasad is a professional adventure guide who is now in his 50s, and he has done every adventure sport available in India, and is a certified instructor in many of them.

As locals, we reached Simha Farms just in time and started waiting for the Bangalore team to arrive.

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It was dark by the time the Bangalore team arrived and with a much smaller contingent. We had Sreeni, his wife Poornima, Suresh Stephan, Dwarak and Andy. We still had to pay for 10 people, but the price was so reasonable for the dorm, we didnít mind.

After a long conversation watching the rain, followed by dinner while watching the rain, we hit the bed listening to rain. Next morning, after a nice breakfast, we checked out and headed towards the hills.

Kodachadri is not a deserted hill like choma kunda. It is a tourist spot popular with pilgrims to Kollur. Adi Shankaracharya, the second most famous cross-country traveller in ancient Indian history had been here and established a tiny temple on the top of the hill somewhere.

So how do these pilgrims reach the top? Using the Jeeps of course. But here is the catch. None of these Jeeps are 4WD. The Jeep Taxi fleet of Kodachadri is entirely made of aging commander 650 & 750 Jeeps, that can hold 9-10 people. They fill the Jeep to the brim and then rip it at high speed in 2WD all the way to the top. They come down the same way. It is a tortuous journey for the passengers, who are churned like butter all the way thanks to the highspeed ride over the bumpy mud trail. Generally, they donít like outsiders coming in their own vehicles. But our seriously equipped Jeeps drew lots of attention and admiration from the Jeep Taxi community.

At this point you might wonder what is the big deal about taking a trail that is doable in 2WD Jeeps. It is about technical offroading. The local Jeepers drive fast because they donít have a prayer at slower speed. And when trail gets too bad, even they fail to climb. We 4WD Jeepers could take the trail slowly while stopping wherever, unlike the Jeep Taxis. A fully restored commander Jeep has a life of 2 years, after which it has to be re-restored. However, in a 4WD you can travel without any strain or damage. Anyway, letís start looking at the photos.

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As we climbed beyond a certain height, we must have entered the clouds. So it got very foggy.

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To Be Continued...
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Old 27th August 2013, 20:22   #2
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Default Re: When Offroaders Chill at Kodachadri

Then we reached a point beyond which vehicles were not allowed.

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Here onwards we had to trek up to the hill.

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Since Hariprasad has done too many of these trips (even to Kodachadri), he decided to stay back here. Rest of us moved on. I am not a strong trekker thanks to heavier body and low stamina. So I always need more time to climb. I was also taking photographs, so I got separated pretty soon.

Andy catches up with me, or was it the other way?

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The trail going up was quite treacherous, I wonder how those old pilgrims were managing it.

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But the changing scenes were breathtakingÖ

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And the trail continued to be mindbogglingÖ

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Then we reached on small temple.

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The trail continued beyond that, we decided to turn back.

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Forest cover here is very different.

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There was also a cave with a small idol, with a priest in attendance.

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It was time to get back the Jeeps.

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To Be Continued...
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Old 27th August 2013, 20:42   #3
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Default Re: When Offroaders Chill at Kodachadri

And we started driving back.

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There was a point where I encountered a climbing Jeep, and I reversed uphill easily to let him through. The teenage driver of that Jeep looked at me like I was from Mars. That maneuver is unthinkable in his Jeep.

Finally we were back in the sunlight. Time for photoshoot.

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See those two old men walking in the last photo? Those two are regulars at Kodachadri. They were walking because of a bet they made with their family members who took the Jeep Taxi. Partly because they felt it was more comfortable to walk up than suffer the torture in the Jeep taxi. But they are senior citizens and were feeling the strain of the climb. When they saw our Jeeps were empty, they requested us for a lift. So they climbed most of the hill in our Jeeps. They were stunned at the ride comfort of a crawling 4WD vs ripping 2WD. They were very grateful for the experience.

Now for human photoshoot.

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Finally time to say goodbye to the hills.

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As we descended, the hotel at the bottom of the hill was no more serving lunch. They had nothing useful except tea. After tea we said our goodbyes and started back to Udupi. On the way we found a Shetty Lunch Home in a small village which served amazing fish fries for a ridiculous price. The fish was so fresh, we kept eating them, until we finished them all. I guess we were really hungry after all that hill driving and trekking.

During the onwards journey, we had taken the scenic route from Udupi. While returning Sachin suggested NH-17, so that we can return fast. So we did that. NH-17 was dusty as expected. While I eating dust in my doorless CJ340, my passenger Hariprasad was enjoying his ride in Sachinís AC MM550. Thus, at the end of the trip, I decided to start looking for a MM550.

Concluded
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Old 27th August 2013, 22:33   #4
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Default Re: When Offroaders Chill at Kodachadri

Thanks for the write up, Samurai.

On one of my trips to Mookambikai, had thought of driving up to Kodachadri (in the Safari, of course), but was told by the taxi drivers that it is next to impossible. And honestly thought that they had 4x4's with them, so respect for the local knowledge, which now seems false.

What do you think: do-able in an SUV?
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Old 27th August 2013, 22:39   #5
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Default Re: When Offroaders Chill at Kodachadri

And people want to visit Europe.

One of my favorite feeling about team-bhp is that it shows me the beauty of my beloved country.

Thanks a lot for sharing Samurai.
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Old 27th August 2013, 23:22   #6
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Default Re: When Offroaders Chill at Kodachadri

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyWheels View Post
What do you think: do-able in an SUV?
First of all, we SUV owners won't drive like the Jeep Taxis. That means we will need a 4WD SUV with low ratio. I feel it is possible with such a SUV, but I won't go alone, not without a backup vehicle that can tow me out of trouble. Don't underestimate this trail just because local 2WD Jeeps do it. It has lots of crazy angled curves. The locals drivers know the racing lines, so they manage.

Second, the locals Jeepers may block you from entering the trail if they are not convinced you are capable of making it. A blocked path can affect their business. We didn't have to convince them at all. We had 3 winches among 4 Jeeps, not to forget other recovery equipment. Before entering the trail, we gave them the tour of the vehicles, explaining various offroad functions. They just dropped their collective jaws and let us through.
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Old 28th August 2013, 08:57   #7
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Default Re: When Offroaders Chill at Kodachadri

Samurai saab,

You live in your own world, enjoying and staying cool. I like it.

Amazing roads, as narrow as they can get.

As usual simple and engaging way of writing.

Quote:
They just dropped their collective jaws and let us through.
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Old 28th August 2013, 09:07   #8
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Default Re: When Offroaders Chill at Kodachadri

The trail at Kodachadri is a lot better in terms of the road condition (if it can be called that). There used to be small water crossing earlier during 2006-07 times and lot more slippery with foot deep slush to give company.

Nevertheless a must visit location for nature lovers. 3 rides done on this trail.

Samurai, thanks for sharing.
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Old 28th August 2013, 09:20   #9
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Default Re: When Offroaders Chill at Kodachadri

Thanks Samurai for sharing! Beautiful location!
I always feel Karnataka and Kerala side has more offroading or say jeepable trails than here in Maharashtra. Or is it that MH is still unexplored? I don't see much offroading logs other than Lonavla and Rajmachi side.
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Old 28th August 2013, 09:33   #10
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Default Re: When Offroaders Chill at Kodachadri

Quote:
Originally Posted by nkrishnap View Post
The trail at Kodachadri is a lot better in terms of the road condition (if it can be called that).
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyWheels View Post
What do you think: do-able in an SUV?
Oh, I should have qualified my statement, I was so focused on monsoon conditions. During dry season it is much better, like any regular mud road. However, after couple months of heavy rains, the character of the trail changes drastically. It can change week to week, sometimes becoming impossible even for the local Jeeps. We offroaders prefer to do Kodachadri only in August or September, when the trail is sufficiently damaged and yet to be repaired.

Last edited by Samurai : 28th August 2013 at 09:54.
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Old 28th August 2013, 09:40   #11
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Default Re: When Offroaders Chill at Kodachadri

Fantastic samurai, the western ghats never seem to loose its charm. Reminds me of our trip long back to vagamon. The trails are pretty similar and we were taken around the 300 + acre estate in a 4WD jeep. The trail was pretty harsh, rocking the jeep every now and then. The saving grace was that maggie was in the jeep with us .

I envy you, staying in Manipal you have easy access to such lovely places.
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Old 28th August 2013, 10:40   #12
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Default Re: When Offroaders Chill at Kodachadri

Nice report Samurai! Its articles like these, that encourage Jeeper friends to take more frequent private outings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
For me offroading is about visiting exotic places that only a 4WD can take you, in the company of like minded friends, and taking lots of interesting photographs. It is not about competition, DJ parties, stickers, media coverage, big crowd or audience. I prefer to have none of that.
+10!

When big events help you meet Jeeper friends and you learn lots of new things, private OTR's are the most FUN! As for me I'd prefer private OTR's any-day, because: You can take your time exploring your vehicles potential, test the mods you've done to your Jeep, have a great time with friends and family, conquer places where no one would've dreamt of taking their vehicles, take time and enjoy the nature.. and.. have some quality alone time with your closed group.
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Old 28th August 2013, 14:52   #13
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Default Re: When Offroaders Chill at Kodachadri

Lovely narration and the pictures are fantastic as always. I wanted to visit Kodachadri but never got a opportunity. Thanks Samurai I finally got to see what I missed :(

This trail looks quite challenging; its nature at its best.

Last edited by Hurrycane12 : 28th August 2013 at 14:54. Reason: added
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Old 1st September 2013, 11:36   #14
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Default Re: When Offroaders Chill at Kodachadri

Amazing photos and one hell of a adventure on wheels you guys have experienced. This is one of my favorite trekking trails via Hidlumane falls.
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Old 2nd September 2013, 15:10   #15
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Default Re: When Offroaders Chill at Kodachadri

Ah, Karnataka, the beautiful! Europe anyone? Thank you for undertaking such an arduous, but rewarding journey. I may never do this, but feels like I have already done it. Awesome photos.
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