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Old 9th May 2008, 19:38   #1
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Thumbs up Chennai - Mahe (Chockly) - Wayanad: An exciting 4day 2000Kms Trip

This is one of the longest drives that I've done in my Esteem & whatta road trip it was

The reason (rather excuse) for this trip was an upcoming friends marriage in Chockly, Kerala (Near Mahe). We were to leave on the 25th Morning and return on 28th night/ 29th early morning.

The planning started atleast a week back with an enquiry on TBHP about the route that we could take, the road conditions in kerala etc., as expected the advice was spot on. I actually carried a printout of the post by hvkumar, which proved to be really helpful.

Got the car serviced a day before the trip and also renewed the insurance which to my horror was expired atleast month back LOL... A bit of running around in the last minute and a lot of help from CARS in Ambattur it was done on time and we were all set.

The evening on Thursday 24th in office... Damn!!! I can't work, the only thing on my mind is the vacation that is about to start in well... 9hrs... peek into the watch... 8hrs... 7hrs... the count down begins. I finally get out of office by 3:00, pick wifey, pick another friend and by 04:30 we are on the Ponnamalle high road. Ahhh... finally the highways!!!
We had planned the first stop at the A-One Plaza in Hosur by 08:30, but we were able to maintain speeds of 120 (I think I hit 150 on one stretch!!!) On the GQ reaching the A-1 plaza by 07:45 the average speed was around 90kms, not bad!!! Since we were ahead of our plan we decided to take a little longer break.

A1 Plaza in Hosur....

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Time to switch positions & my friend is now on the wheel. We are now very optimistic about reaching Mysore in the next 3-4hrs i.e. around 12pm in the afternoon. We quickly decide to go through the NICE road instead of the ring road as it would save sometime... I was kind of aware about the broken stretch in between, but was certainly not prepared for this...
Offroading in Bangalore (the pics are misleading, but the roads (?) were really really bad, scrapped the chassis on couple of ocassions:

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But the rest of the stretch was really beautiful. Sweeping curves, amazing roads... Lovely!!! It was worth the trouble of crossing that broken road.
Couple of snaps of the NICE roads in Bangalore...

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The Mysore-Bangalore roads were also great, uneventful but fun to drive. Reach Mysore by 12:00 per plan, not stopping here... we get straight onto the Ooty Main road.

Since we had a pretty heavy breakfast we decide to stop only in Sultan battery for lunch. The roads from here on get a lot narrower with a few really bad patches... Till we hit the Kerala border at the Muthanga Wild Life Reserve. I think these roads were laid just recently and were much much better than the ones in Karnataka.

We were in the reserve forest & doing only about 40-50 kmph. This forest is a sight to behold, I was taking a break from work after a long time & quite honestly had almost forgotten how beautiful nature truly is... The forest was thick, covered with greenery. We could probably see only 5-10 meters into the forest from the main road, which unfortunately also meant reduced chances of spotting anything. All that we could see were a few Peacock and a lone Stag.
Roads in the wild life reserve...

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We reach Sultan Battery at around 2:00 in the afternoon. Not bad and atleast 2hrs ahead of our schedule. We decide to take another longish break, we head some hotel in Sultan Battery and HOG!!!!!
The food there was amazing... Kerala Parotta & Chicken Curry with Beef fry.... YUMMY!!! All the driving had made us really hungry we ate to our hearts content, but quickly realized that it was a big mistake. With a night shift and about 600kms behind me, all that we wanted to do now was... SLEEEP lol. After quick smoke and lemon tea we are back on the road. It was now my turn to drive till we reach Chockly.

Heard so much about the infamous bus/truck drivers of Kerala and it didn't actually take us too much time to realize why! They are really fast and reckless. The roads aren't too wide anyways and they have this uncontrollable urge to stray on the right side of the roads... You have no choice but to be defensive and super alert on these winding roads. The scenery outside is so beautiful, yet I keep reminding myself... EYES ON THE ROAD... Yamadharmaraj's ride in Kerala is a BUS LOL!!!!

Our next destination is Manathavady. The roads between Sultan Battery & Manathavady is narrow, winding and pot-hole ridden. You'd be causing too much pain to your ride, if you do anything above 50-60 KMPH. We stick to 60.

We reach Manathavady around 4:00 in the evening & the fun begins here... The road between Manathavady and Kuthuparamba is ghat section through thick rain forests!!! You could hardly see anything beyond a few feet on the side of the mountains till you reach a clearing. Only to realize how high you were & "high" we all were... due to the beautiful Mother Nature surrounding us (thanks HVKumar for letting us know about this route).
There is hardly any vehicular movement on this road. The roads in Ghat section are actually much better the SH.

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We go through Kuthuparamba & reach Chockly by 8:00 in the evening after numerous stops in the ghat section.

The end of a tiring and fun filled day.

Total distance driven 750kms. (600kms took 10hours & remaining 150kms - 6.5hrs!!!!).

To be continued...
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Old 9th May 2008, 21:20   #2
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Wow, great writeup and pictures.

Looking forward to the next part.
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Old 9th May 2008, 22:20   #3
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Default Day2:

The night was spent at this beautiful house in Mahe. Again, trees... greenery all around the place!!!

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We had planned to go back to Wayanad & spend Sat/Sun over there. We had booked accommodation at Hotel Woodlands for the overnight stay on Saturday.There were 3 other friends who arrived by train till Mahe and hired an Indica for the next 2 days to accompany us.

The plan for day2 was to reach Wayanad by afternoon, have a lazy lunch there and head to Muthanga Wild Life Reserve towards the evening. The sighting is apparently better during early morning or early evenings.

The cabbie took us through a different route this time...

Mahe - Nadapuram - Taruvana - Kuttiyadi - Kalpetta.

The roads were typical Kerala roads again... narrow, winding with beautiful scenery all around. There was also this stretch of ghat section with 13 hairpin bends and amazing, super-smooth roads. It was fun driving on these roads, but one needs to be really alert of the oncoming traffic.

A few pictures of the ghat section and the hair-pin bends....

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We checked-in at The Woodlands around 2 in the afternoon, had lunch and lazed around for a while...
By 3:00pm it was time to leave to Muthanga Wild Life reserve. I was super excited about this, a wild life buff, I'd love to grab every oppurtunity to be in the forest. I prefer trekking in the forest, but was told that it is not possible in Muthanga... Only the Jeep Safari. Well nevertheless, I am happy to be in the forest. The entry into the forest and the cost of hiring the Jeep all of it came upto just Rs. 500/- for the 6 of us... that is super economical. We are in the forest by 4:30 in the evening and entire safari lasted for about 2hrs.

We spotted quite a few animals...

The ever abundant spotted deer...

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The more elusive Sambar. This one was actually admist spotted deer. It was a stag with one broken horn, we were guessing that he is probably old and driven away from the herd by younger, more powerful stag. Maybe he was taking cover with this herd for what they call as "Safety in Numbers".

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The black-faced langur monkey... They've got these huge tails, probably longer than their bodies!!!

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A herd of elephants with the calf...

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A lone tusker... We actually got a little nervous about this guy and hence didn't stop there.

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We also spotted the large malabar squirell, wild boars, but sorry couldn't take snaps of it...

We were very satisfied with the wild life safari, but the only gripe was that we never saw any of the big cats.

I also the drove the Jeep inside the forest, towards the end of the safari & at the edge of the forest... My first time ever!!! It was fun to the say the least... I tried changing the gear to 3rd and it goes kkkkkrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.... I try again kkkkkrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.... It was quite embarassing! I remind myself that it should be moving the lever further to right and then it finally slotted in.

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It was 7ish in the evening and started to pour cats and dogs... how?!!!! It was all bright and clear about 15 minutes and now there is this huge downpour... It was quite a challenge to drive back to Kalpetta, the visibility was really poor and we couldn't drive any faster than about 30-40 Kmph. Even the spirited cab driver slowed down and was driving with his blinkers on!

We reach back the hotel by 8 and there is only one thing on my mind... BOOOZZEEEEE & yes, the amazing Beef Fry... whatta combination chetta lol! cheers:

End of Day2.
Total distance driven: 200kms of pure Kerala roads lol!

To be continued...
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Old 9th May 2008, 23:08   #4
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Originally Posted by PatienceWins View Post
Wow, great writeup and pictures.

Looking forward to the next part.
Hey Thanks PatienceWins... Its up now!

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Old 10th May 2008, 00:50   #5
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Nice pics,venom_rider. Love the pic of the B'lore-Chennai highway,and the one of your car in the forest area.
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Old 10th May 2008, 04:02   #6
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Originally Posted by Nitin View Post
Nice pics,venom_rider. Love the pic of the B'lore-Chennai highway,and the one of your car in the forest area.
Hey Thanks Buddy... The picture that you are talking about is actually the BMIC corridor in Banglore, connecting to Mysore. Those roads are really great actually.
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Old 10th May 2008, 05:31   #7
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Default The last bit... Day 3 & 4!!!

Day3 was the most tiring and the places that we visited were most picturesque...

Places visted: Edakkal Caves, Tea estate (I guess owned by TATA), Soochippara Waterfall & the drive back to Mahe.

We planned to get up early in the morning (by 5 atleast) and cover as many places as possible before we head back to Mahe for the reception. But after last night's fiesta none of us were ready till about 8 in the morning. With that went the oppurtunity of any trekking around to spot a beautiful sunrise. Anyways we quickly scamper to pack the baggage check-out from the hotel as we didn't want to come back to Kalpetta but cover any other spot on the way back. We leave the hotel by around 09:30 and head straight to Edakkal Caves.

On the way to edakkal we stop by this beautiful coffee estate with few other trees in the estate... We stop the cars there, time to takes some pictures.

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After spending 10-15 minutes here we resume. Get to Edakkal by 10:30 - 11:00, we quickly drop the idea of trekking all the way to cave as it was getting pretty hot, moreover I kinda told them that travelling by Jeep till the entrance to the cave would be a great experience. They weren't dissappointed... The drivers here are crazy, they've lost their nuts man!!! It was a seriously steep uphill drive for almost a kilometer, covered in 2-3 minutes!!! I was totally impressed with the Major 4x4 doing its duty here.

The M&M Major Turbo...

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The trek to the caves will take about 20-30 minutes and is relatively tough for people like us. We were panting and puffing by the time we entered the caves. I was awestruck imagine that they were tribes living there a few thousand years ago and how the place would've looked like then. Its a eerie feeling, I was not sure if I was fortunate or unfortunate to be not there then.

Amazing place to retrospect on our presence... provided the crowd that comes there remains freaking silent and appreciate the importance of the place!!!

Trek upto Edakkal Caves:

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Wifey and I... Totally exhausted lol...

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View from top:

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You can read more about these caves <here>

We then decide to head to Soochippara waterfalls which is around 25 kms from Edakkal on the Vythri route. On the way we happen to stumble upon acres and acres of tea estate. Surprizingly, unlike most other hill stations Wayanad does not have too many tea estates so this one was a welcome surprize.

I will let the picture do the talking now...

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We all then head to Soochipara waterfalls... Nobody warned us that it going to be a difficult ~1 hr of walking through the hills to reach this waterfall. The temprature was at its peak now... around 2:00 in the afternoon. One of the guys at the car park near the waterfall tells that its an easy 10 minute walk... YA RIGHT!!!

On the way to the waterfall, we see hoards of people coming back rather dragging themselves back and we chat amongst ourselves... "naahh it can't be that far. Lets try, the stall guy told us that its not far". So we start walking and keep walking through the steep hillside not a sound / sight of the waterfall. After about 40mins of walking we see this small clearing and there it is... finally!!!!

The pathway to the waterfalls:

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Honestly it was not as breath-taking or whatever... nothing too exciting. We for a minute contemplated wheter we should enter the falls, but then we were like what the heck lets get in... we've come so far... lets try getting in atleast. The rocks leading to the falls are very slippery and one needs to be very cautious about it. We negotiate the jagged the rocks and get into the water. The water is cold!!!! Inspite of the hot sun it is really cold... but was so refreshing. We venture deeper and to the waterfall itself and its like the best massage you can ever get. Withing seconds we are completely rejuvenated... At the end the trickle turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Soochipoora waterfalls:

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There are couple of hotels around the waterfalls, however one has to order food well in advance so that it is ready by the time you return. We also drag ourselves back to the parking area and head straight into the hotel for another round of lipsmacking chicken curry and beef fry. Another must try!!!

It was 5:30 in the evening and the people around said that most of the other places will be closed by now. We didn't have a choice now but head back to Mahe. It was almost the end of our trip... We reach Mahe at 10:00 in the night, wish the groom and head back to our rooms.

An interesting incident:

My Friend and I are sitting in the balcony at 11:30 in the night chatting about the whole episode, smoking and generally winding down . It is completely dark, silent.... no neighbours no traffic.. no nothing. We suddenly see a small animal trotting happily on the road, we completely ignored it for second. All of sudden we turn back to look it at in awe and we jump... ITS A FOX!!! Can you belive it... in the middle of the town. How can there be a fox in the middle of the town... The animal looks at us shouting
like crazy and turns away to disappear into the darkness as if it cares a damn about us. When we told this to the rest of the guys had an arguement that it was just a grey colored dog and it can't be a fox yada yada yada. I can bet that it was a fox... its sharp ears, really fluffy long tail. It was a fox for sure... This place doesn't stop surprizing you... WOW!

Day 4:
The next day was our friends marriage (Monday Morning)... we attend the marriage and bid good bye by 11:30 in the morning to the other who are taking the train back to Chennai that evening. We take the route through Nadapuram to Sultan Battery, stop there for some shopping and head back to Chennai. We reach chennai by around 03:30am on Tuesday to end this wonderful journey. All of us really enjoyed it... it was fun! Would love to do it again soon...

Thanks for your patience in reading this guys... Hope you enjoyed it.

Oh yeah... the stats...
Total Distance: ~1900Kms
Total Fuel: ~110 ltrs (Average of 17kmpl)


Last edited by Venom_rider : 10th May 2008 at 05:41.
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Old 10th May 2008, 08:04   #8
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Beautiful pictures and narration. This definitely was a long trip. Thanks for sharing this with us.
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Old 12th May 2008, 16:46   #9
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venom rider- great writeup & pics. enjoyed reading..
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Old 12th May 2008, 17:30   #10
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Venom, WOnderful pics and description. Enjoyed reading it.

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Old 12th May 2008, 18:28   #11
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Nice pics and good write up.
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Old 12th May 2008, 18:32   #12
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love the pics and places, good wirteup too..
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Old 12th May 2008, 19:01   #13
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lovely pictures and those roads really tempting
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Old 12th May 2008, 20:25   #14
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@ pjbiju, ad75, akroy, snaronikar, Mr.Bangalore, rkbharat... Thanks for the compliments guys. Glad that you liked it

Anybody who is planning on travelling now... Hold on!!! Its not the best time of the year for visiting this part of Kerala. The rivers are running really low or is dry. The tempratures are also on the higher side. The best time I feel would be post the monsoons.
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Old 13th May 2008, 16:56   #15
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@Venom, a great journey and a great Write-up!
I could feel the enthusiasm through your words.
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