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Old 10th October 2014, 13:52   #1
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Default Travelogue: 3000 kms Motorcycle ride through South India

I have been on a lot of small trips before but have never written in any forum. So, this will be my first travelogue. I havent been on any long trips recently, mainly because of the accident I had last year and ended up with a broken fibula, tibia, and because of the rupture, they had to remove my spleen. I had to have a lot of surgeries, after three months on crutches and two months in the hospital, I was back to normal. And haven't been on motorcycle since. Hopefully, it will change soon when i get some time.

This was the helmet I had on the day of accident, planning to get it framed

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This thread will be a merger of two travelogues as one is too short for a proper thread. One was a trip I did last year during the monsoons, riding solo through south India. A 3000 Km trip covering 3 states and a union territory, the other one was done a few weeks ago. I will start off with the one I did before the accident.

June, 2013

I was very lucky I got into a college like NITK, one of the best locations for a college in our country. With western ghats to one side and sea on the other and with Goa just a night away. I started off with cycling, thanks to a very good friend of mine in college who suggested me. We had a small group of cyclists and we used to go on small trips around the college, we covered a lot of places there in a 200 Km radius. One really good trip was a 250 odd Km, 4-day long one we did. Here is the map for it, I can write a separate travelogue on it if cycling related threads are also permitted.

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The one i will be writing about is a trip on my Pulsar 220, The initial plan was to go to Leh, but because of the Uttarankhad floods, I was not sure if the roads would be okay for traveling. So, I decided to plan another one in South India. Below is the map i planned out, had to take some small deviations in few places but mostly this was the route taken.

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This was a 8-day, 3000 odd Km trip. I had to do some DIY bags and some long distance travel gear, got a couple of DC chargers that run on the bikes 12-volt battery in case i should run out of battery. I also made a point to take two phones, just in case. Some waterproof cases, Waterproof gear, and a tool kit. I really did not know how long it would take.

The bike is serviced and all ready to go
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The DC charger
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Day 1: Surathkal - coorg - Mysore

Started off pretty early from home and stopped for breakfast in BC Road, and for Lunch I was already in Coorg. Once I started climbing the SH 66, the weather turned quite bad, had to get in my rain gear and continued. Its a different feeling really, riding in the rains, love it! From there I continued on the SH to reach Mysore, the plan was to stay at my friend's place there. Once i hit the plains the clouds cleared up and on the way i went into a big pot hole and the suspension became very spongy after that. Stopped to check, there was a crack in one of the fork legs and all the suspension oil leaked out. Had to goto a service station in Mysore and replace one of the legs. Unexpected expenditure. And that was a bad ending for the day. Here are the pictures from Day 1.

The setup
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The broken fork
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A view of a flooding river
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On SH 66
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Day 2: Mysore - Ooty - Coimbatore - Thrissur - Kochi

Started around 6 AM and went to Chamundi Hills in the morning and from there to ooty via Bandipur National park. Had an encounter with an Elephant that was blocking the roads for a quite some time. After a breakfast in a small canteen in the national park, I continued to Ooty. Lunch was at Coimbatore and by the time i left the city outskirts it was dark already. I was prepared for this, got my transparent visor out and the ride was tiring to say at the least. The roads are in horrible condition till Thrissur and the rains, icing on the cake. Was stopped at a border toll gate, had to let them check through my bag and continued after their approval. My hands were relived after reaching the four-lane, the rain kept battering. By around mid-night reached Kochi. Stayed in the same lodge as my friends (They were there for their Internship). Pictures from Day 2

Panoramic view from the top of chamundi hills
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Sunflower fields before Bandipur National park
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Bandipur National Park
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Nilgiri foothills
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Indisputable king of the ghats
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En route to Coimbatore from Ooty
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Day 3 and Day 4: Kochi - Kottayam - Vagamon - Idukki - Munnar

Day 3 was spent just chilling in Kochi, reached Kottayam that day and stayed there. The next day started early and destination was Madurai. Stooped just before Vagamon for breakfast, some parota and beef curry. The route from Vagamon - Idukki - Munnar - Pooppara - Madurai is a must for any biker if you are living down south. The best one I have been till now! Had to wait for a couple of hours somewhere near idukki as there was a road-widening project going on, rock blasting. Reached Munnar by night that day and was too tired to continue, got easy accommodation. The best part during monsoons is that small window during the rains when the sun peeps out and everything shines in the sunlight, fog settling, too hard to put it all in words, Let the pictures do the talking.

Somewhere near Vagamon
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It was 3 in the afternoon!
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This is the Idukki dam, i was too late to go to the view point
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Road blocks
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Some random pics of the day
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Old 21st October 2014, 23:03   #2
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Default re: Travelogue: 3000 kms Motorcycle ride through South India

Trivandrum-Kochi-Aluva-Munnar-Theni-Madurai-Trivandrum, an enchanting route.
Nice. A quick round-up of all these places, so impromptu and thats the way it is.
Did you check with the auto-ricksaw guys in Munnar for rooms? They know nooks and corners, and they help.
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Old 21st October 2014, 23:32   #3
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Buddy, that's good display of writing skills. Did the photos of the stream undergo Photoshop? In my opinion photos must be kept original and raw.

I recently about 4 months back underwent a surgery on my right ankle. I too broke by tibia and fibula plus dislocated my ankle; needed surgery to insert a titanium plate and 11 screws. I am walking with elbow crutches for now till my doctor says I am ok to walk freely. Point is - I can feel your pain and in that context, I admire your determination to take public transport for your travel.
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Old 22nd October 2014, 06:33   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ddrive View Post
Trivandrum-Kochi-Aluva-Munnar-Theni-Madurai-Trivandrum, an enchanting route.
Nice. A quick round-up of all these places, so impromptu and thats the way it is.
Did you check with the auto-ricksaw guys in Munnar for rooms? They know nooks and corners, and they help.
Yes, I did check with the taxi guys, i went around in the taxi for couple hours but in vain. The city was packed!
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Old 22nd October 2014, 06:39   #5
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Beautiful photographs!

My personal favourite is the one with the rocks and the sea. Long exposure has done magic there!
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Old 22nd October 2014, 06:41   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Accent Martin View Post
Buddy, that's good display of writing skills. Did the photos of the stream undergo Photoshop? In my opinion photos must be kept original and raw.

I recently about 4 months back underwent a surgery on my right ankle. I too broke by tibia and fibula plus dislocated my ankle; needed surgery to insert a titanium plate and 11 screws. I am walking with elbow crutches for now till my doctor says I am ok to walk freely. Point is - I can feel your pain and in that context, I admire your determination to take public transport for your travel.
Thank you Hope you get better soon. All the photographs I take are processed before i post them. When you do not edit your photographs and take them in JPEG format, your camera is 'editing' the picture for you, it is making decisions for you which is not per my liking. I take my pictures in RAW format, which has the maximum information possible and later use a post-processing software to decide what i want to retain depending on what i want to convey to the viewer. Check this out.

https://www.flickr.com/groups/vignet...7625768957695/

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
Beautiful photographs!

My personal favourite is the one with the rocks and the sea. Long exposure has done magic there!
Thank you I love long exposures, they give a completely new look to the picture.

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Old 29th October 2014, 22:14   #7
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Day 5: Munnar - Pooppara - Madurai - Kanyakumari

Scenic ride from Munnar to Pooppara, pretty much no traffic. Stooped by a lake for some good pictures and by afternoon I was at pooppara, this is the last city before i enter Tamil Nadu, again because of some road work, had to wait for few hours there. There is a small hotel which serves very good Idlies Its the only shop near the check post and i was quite hungry, did not expect blockage. I was riding down the hills and back on plains now, the view was just breathtaking. After some hours of slipping and sliding in the horrible roads I hit the smooth roads of the plains. Tamil Nadu has one of the best roads in south India, haven for riders. After climbing down the hills I was very quick in reaching Madurai. A vist to the Meenakshi temple and some snacks later i was back on road again, the days destination was kanyakumari. Night riding through the NH 7 was too good. Was stopped again for checking by the cops halfway through. By around mid night reached Kanyakumari and my plans to get up early for the sunrise next day did not look like it would happen.

Crispy Dosas in Munnar
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A lake near Munnar
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At Pooppara
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Descend from Pooppara, Crazy roads! I think they should have been fixed by now.
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Thats me!
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Back on plains
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These things cost 10 rupees each and saved my phones from being flooded
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Meenakshi temple
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Old 29th October 2014, 22:43   #8
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Day 6 Day 7 : Kanyakumari - Ramanathapuram -Rameshwaram - Dhanushkodi - Ramanathapuram

As suspected, I missed sunrise and woke up by 11 AM the next day! My body was very tired I guess. A short ride around the town later I was back on track en route to Rameshwaram. The ride to Rameshwaram was uneventful but a pleasure riding in the open roads, the crosswinds were rough though. Stayed in Ramanathapuram for the night. The next day I went to Rameshwaram and then to Dhanushkodi, a ghost town which was washed away by a cyclone in 1964. Its very interesting, read here if you want to know more http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1964_Rameswaram_cyclone. After reaching a certain point, the road ends. There is no tarmac ahead, just plain beaches and its hard for 2WD to go there. The only means of transport was either by jeeps or 4WD mini buses. The sand was quite firm and I planned to go ahead though, had to make sure i didn't lose momentum. The place is completely uninhabited, except for some shacks built by local fishermen there is nothing there really. The place had a very eerie feel to it, it was once a proper town with hospitals and railway stations, so sad to see it in this state, power of nature. There were several boats thrown onto the shore. I got stuck in muck on the way back, should have known not to test my luck with the weird looking muck. Some help from a local got it out of the thing and was back to Ramanathapuram.

Near the Vivekananda rock memorial
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Somewhere near Thirunelveli
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To Rameshwaram
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Dinner for the day at a local dabha
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Near the Pamban bridge
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Eagles looking for some food
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Dhanushkodi
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Bike for scale
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The muck I was talking about, notice that the bike is not on a stand, the tyres went deep enough to support the weight of the bike
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The old railway station which was once running
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Posing
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Me again
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Looked like it happened recently
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Couple of Wild horses and puppies
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The Pamban bridge
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Ever wondered how we get our common salt?
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This is when my bike had to stop for an oil change
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Memorial for the Tsunami victims in Vailankanni
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Old 29th October 2014, 22:52   #9
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Day 8:


Had a bad beginning that day, took the wrong road and had to cover an extra 100 Kms, after getting back on the ECR, it was a bliss to ride on one of the best roads in the country. The bike started to give trouble, it would never reach speeds above 80 and the response was bad, it just did not feel normal. Stopped on my way in a small town, luckily they had a Bajaj showroom, the oil had to be replaced and she was back to normal now. Reached Puducherry by around 9 PM. I wasn't really tired yet as the previous days weren't as hectic, decided to ride on. The nights have a very different feel again, cooler air, lesser traffic helps you stay cool and ride more calmly. The stretch from Kanchipuram to Vellore was scary, i hardly met a few cars in almost thee hours of riding. Finally caught the National highway and through KGF, reached Bangalore. it was already 5 AM, decided to take some good rest that night and by the next day I was back in Mangalore. I pushed very hard the last two days, needed two whole days for my body to feel anything. All in all was a great experience! looking forward to do it again this December, somewhere north maybe. Lets see.

This one here is one of my all-time favorite pictures
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October, 2014


One of my friends was coming down to kochi on some work and we planned to meet up. I left Trivandrum on the Thursday morning train and reached kochi by noon and we stayed over at his place that night. He was leaving the next day itself and as the weekend was free I did not want to go back to Trivandrum, I had my tripod and camera with me. So, I thought I would go to Munnar and get some good shots and just relax for two days. But this time I wanted to travel using just the public transport, just for a change, for a different experience.

Took a bus from Ernakulam to Aluva on Friday morning and then got a bus to Munnar from there. The bus was crowded and the journey took 4 hours through the twisting roads of the Western Ghats. I had been to Munnar just a couple of months back with my friends in an I20, driving to Munnar in that small car itself was quite scary, the roads were narrow and the traffic was crazy. These bus drivers do this at least twice everyday maneuvering those old buses on these roads. It's quite impressive how consistent they can be.

I was in for a shock after reaching Munnar, I had completely forgotten this was a holiday season; I was under the impression that rooms would be quite easy to get based on my previous experience, I was so wrong! I took a taxi and went to Devikulam and still no luck. The only place that had rooms was Club Mahindra and I was not in a position to pay 15000 for a single night's stay. So I had to go to the next nearest city, Theni. I took a bus from Munnar and reached Theni by 11:00 PM. Checked into a hotel there and decided I will go to Madurai the next day and go back home from there.

The next day I got up by 8 AM and had my breakfast and went around the city but couldn't find anything interesting, so I left to Madurai after my lunch. Reached Madurai by around 6:30 PM, the plan was to go to the railway station and get a ticket to Trivandrum and drop off my luggage in the cloak room and head to the temple and also have my dinner at this place my friend suggested near the Meenakshi temple. While I was waiting in line to get my ticket I saw a foreigner with a map of India in his hand trying to ask the ticket issuer some questions in English and certainly English wasn't the foreigner's first language, and they both looked confused.

I stepped in to ask the him if I could help, he told me that he wanted to go to Hampi and then to Varanasi. He had just landed in Madurai a couple of hours ago from Colombo after finishing his Sri Lanka trip. His English had very different accent. I am from Karnataka and from Bellary to be specific so giving him directions to Hampi wasn't difficult. Told him to go to Bangalore from Madurai, and then take a train to Hospet and a cab from there. He told me he would be staying in Hampi for a couple of days and then wanted to go to Varanasi. The train from Bangalore to Varanasi is a premium train and apparently has to be booked online only and the authorities there wouldn't book a ticket for him at the counter. I offered to help him by booking his ticket through my IRCTC account.

We both went to the nearest Internet café and booked his ticket and he paid me the money. The guy was Spanish and was very interesting, he was saying how India was so much better than Sri Lanka I terms of the challenges it gave him. We had a cup of chai at a local stall and parted ways. It was a great experience and I would love to take his place someday, travel to a different country and explore.

The temple is open till 9 PM so I just made it in time for darshanam. Though I’m an atheist, I find temples interesting especially for their architecture and the number of photo opportunities it provides. Cameras were not allowed inside so couldn’t take any pictures here. After visiting the temple I headed out in search of this small shop which offers really good Idlies and Dosas. I’m a major foodie and love to try out new food everywhere I go and the Dosa and Idlies (also the Sambar) in Tamil Nadu are by far the best I have had! After some help with the locals I was able to find the place, the name of the place is Murugan Idly shop and is very close to the temple. After gulping down five Idlies and two Dosas with five different varieties of chutney and Sambar I headed back to the railway station and boarded my train and was back in Trivandrum by the next Morning.

This one was taken in Theni, on my way to the bus stand
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Festival season in Madurai
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The Spanish traveler i was talking about
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I would also like to talk about a small weekend trip that I did a couple of weeks back which doesn’t really deserve a thread of its own. So, I thought I would merge it with this one. Wanted to get back on two wheels after an eleven month gap. After the accident in October last year I wasn't able to use a bike for almost half a year as I was on crutches for the first three months and then the next couple of months were spent in physiotherapy and after that I was busy in preparation for CAT. This along with me isolated in an unknown city really set a very monotonous routine. Also I was feeling bad my frequency of photo sessions had gone down so decided I'll start with a small weekend trip. I wanted good light so I had to be there either for sunset or sunrise. My old pulsar is back home so the only option I had was to take my sister's Hero Honda Pleasure. It did not sound exciting but after the 3000 Km trip I did last year I had never been on a solo trip and I really wanted to get out and get some air. Not that I don't like driving but riding is different thing altogether and I have always loved it. Left my house at 3 PM expecting to reach there by 430, stopped on the way for some Parota and beef and continued. The bike was struggling but still we were steadily climbing. Stopped by a stream on way and got few shots. Very cliché ones I know, but I just wanted to try the new ND filters I got. After another hour I reached the check post at Ponmudi but I was too late. Didn't know there was a closing time for this place. My plan was to get some good twilight shots but things didn't work that way. I stopped on my way back and took a few shots. I will soon plan a one day trip there and stay in the guest house so I don't have to risk losing good light. Here are the pictures I took. Check them out and let me know what you guys think

Please pardon my writing skills as this is the first time I’m writing anything this long online, any tips would be appreciated, Thanks.


A couple of shots of the stream on my way to Ponmudi.
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Twilight at Ponmudi.
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A couple of shots of the Kovalam beach taken the day before i went to Ponmudi.

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Old 2nd November 2014, 14:58   #10
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 3rd November 2014, 13:23   #11
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Wonderful travelogue with fantastic pictures. Glad you've been able to get back on your bike. Ride safe.
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Old 3rd November 2014, 16:55   #12
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Aasome pics and writeup! Very interesting read. Looks like it was a tough time to ride with the rains!
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Old 3rd November 2014, 17:11   #13
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Wonderful travelogue with fantastic pictures. Glad you've been able to get back on your bike. Ride safe.
Thank you.




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Originally Posted by naveenroy View Post
Aasome pics and writeup! Very interesting read. Looks like it was a tough time to ride with the rains!
Thank you. It was tough but sure was fun!
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Old 3rd November 2014, 17:16   #14
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Default Re: Travelogue: 3000 kms Motorcycle ride through South India

Superb travelogue and some fantastic pictures.

Couldnt help noticing that your composition of pics are brilliant. Looks like you have a keen interest in photography along with biking
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Old 3rd November 2014, 17:18   #15
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Default Re: Travelogue: 3000 kms Motorcycle ride through South India

Amazing pictures. Specially liked the pictures of the horses and the puppies.What was the Camera and the lens you took on your trip?
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