Trails of a Biker: A ride to Kemmangundi & Hebbe Falls
The beauty of a 2 wheeler ride is that it gives a different perspective than a 4-wheeler drive; which is neither better nor the worse. I have done multiple trips to (and via) Coorg and Chikmagalur in a car, but doing the same route on a bike brings out a refreshing and a completely different experience. Put up the question to a good friend, and they were up for it on the instant! And so the plan was hatched! :)
In principle, not considering the detours
RE Interceptor, Triumph Tiger
Tarun, Anisha & yours' truly
The utter gorgeous Hebbe Falls
A (home)stay in the coffee estates of Chikmagalur
1. Driving Stats
To: 277 kms / 7 hours (~ 1.5 hours halt)
Return: 290 kms / 7.5 hours (~1.5 hours halt)
Speeds: 70-80 kmph (2 lane highways), 100-120 kmph (4/6 lane highways)
2. Road Condition
A mix of 4/6 lane highways for the initial 150 kms (ex-Bangalore), 2 lane highways for the next 100 kms and beautiful hill climbs for the last ~20 kms. 90% of roads were in pristine conditions
Royal Enfield Interceptor: ~28 kmph (full tank to tank method)
Triumph Tiger: ~23 kmph
4. Food & Boardings
Homestay: ~2k INR
Food: ~3.5k INR
Govt Pass: 3.2k INR
Tolls: ~150 INR
Part 1 : Bangalore - Magadi - Channarayapattana - Arsikere - Kadur - Athigiri
So a plan was hatched to Madikeri with the destination being a gorgeous coffee estate that was owned by a family friend. The idea was simple; we drive there; stay at the estate for 2 days and travel around Coorg to local tourist points. However, that had to be shelved as the estate was under repairs.
So with suggestions from a friend, we went ahead and opted to head to Kemmangundi. Hebbe falls is considered to be one of the lesser traveled but yet a worthy contender to most falls in the Coorg district. The reason for this is simple; the falls lie in the Bhadra wildlife sanctuary and there's a government paid access/pass to get entry; which possibly puts off a lot of the visitors.
Meanwhile, the group of riders shrank from 4 bikes to only 2 due to other commitments, one of them being a professional photographer! However, we had Anisha who made up with some really good pics :) (most of the ones on this thread are hers) while riding pillion! Also Tarun (member @tarunactivity) and Anisha having done past trips with @CrAzY DrIvEr and other bhpians had a ready travel-list to be able to gear up for the ride on a short notice.
But India's match with Australia made sure we couldn't leave early enough, so a moderately late start at ~8:00 am had to do while navigating through the early Bangalore office going traffic. Somehow instead of a route via Nice highway - Nelamangla - Kunigal, Google Maps instead gave us a route via 2 lane roads passing through Magadi and reconnecting NH75 midway to Kunigal (note to myself: always explore the car route in addition to the bike route on GMaps)
We weren't complaining - it was a slow(er) start, but the route was a pleasant one!
At the junction from Magadi to NH75 and our first breakfast point
After an hour+ of moderate driving through inner roads and a short breakfast halt, we soon caught up to 3-digit riding speeds on the nearly empty 4/6 lane NH75 till Channarayapattana where we took another small halt for a coconut break. The dark rain clouds were all along just passing by, and we faced no rains, and the weather turned out to be perfect!
After CNPatnam, the next 50 kms to Arsikere was on a beautiful 2 lane highway with nice straight routes with minimal traffic. This was the best part of the trip; and a blast to drive on. We soon passed Arsikere and headed on to Kadur for a late lunch halt.
From Kodur, we called up our homestay and reconfirmed our approx arrival time. The roads soon turned into a short climb as we crossed from the plains to the beautiful Chikmagalur hills.
Our stay for the night
Athigiri - Kemmangundi - Hebbe falls - Athigiri
The original plan was to reach by early noon and head to the falls immediately. However basis our late start and leisurely riding, we decided to take it easy and spend the evening around the coffee estates all around us. A few walks through the plantations followed by a long coffee + snacks break at a nearby cafe made it for a pleasant evening. The rain gods decided to play hide and seek with us through the day; starting with a few drizzles at times and then disappearing completely. The cafe owner informed us that we had got a lucky break; it had rained hard a few days back and similar rains were expected soon by Wednesday!
Ironically none of us spoke Kannada, but the locals in Chikmagalur were quite fluent in Tamil due to a large number of Tamilian workers in the plantations so I became the un-official translator :)
We crashed for the night early; no ACs were required; we had to use blankets to just manage the fan (lol). Woke up early for another walk/run around the estates; before we headed out to Kemmangundi. The ride up the mountain to the falls is even better; with cemented roads and amazing sights while weaving through coffee estates.
One can reach the falls via three means; hiking a route of ~10 kms with a paid guide; take the government jeep, or take your own 4x4 vehicle. The route is completely offroad route through the Bhadra wildlife reserve.
Charges are nominal
- 250 inr per hour (not 100% sure) for the guide
- 400 inr per person or 3200 inr per jeep
- a nominal amount for your own vehicle (I didn't enquire on this)
Since we were the first to arrive, we waited for a while to see if anyone else joined us, but being a weekday, the traffic was minimal. After a short wait, we decided to go ahead and paid the full jeep fee.
The ride is a very bumpy one for ~40 minutes before we are dropped off about a km away from the falls. The walk is adjacent to the flowing water before the falls are revealed to us.
Monkeys are omnipresent throughout the area and one can hear several bird calls all around the place. Even without any rains over the last 36 hours, the falls had a decent amount of water flow. There is a nice pool at the base to relax into; while the adventurous ones can choose to climb up under the falls on the right side. We did that exactly :)
We had the falls completely to us for a while before a group of middle-aged (40+) guys joined us. While they were happy to just lounge in the pool, unfortunately, these guys also came with food (chicken) and liquor (scotch) and were happily drinking and eating right next to the waterfall. That's when we decided to call it a day and decided to head back.
We mentioned this to the driver/government fella but he just nodded his head and said nothing. Unfortunately, it seemed like this was the norm as I also noticed several empty plates and a few plastics lying in a pile a little away from the falls. Having come from similar sized waterfalls with strict rules enforced in Laos and Thailand, it was a real pity that we don't enforce such rules in our country.
About 2 hours later we reached back to our homestay, packed up and had a short brunch at the nearby cafe before heading back to Bangalore. The filter coffee was so good that I bought half a kilo of his coffee right there :D
A final pic before we head out
Athigiri - Arsikere - Channarayapattana - Nelamangla - Bangalore
The return route was more or less to be the same but we decided to take a slightly shorter albeit 'kacha' route to Arsikere bypassing Kadur completely. The initial 50 kms were through some rough but manageable roads before we hit proper 2 lane highways again.
The sun was out with the remaining clouds making up for some amazing formations in the sky. If we had thought yesterday was a great day to ride, today turned out even better with nice cool winds and temps of under 30 degrees throughout the afternoon.
Since we had no intention of hitting Bangalore during the office exit hours, we decided to take it easy with a few coffee and photoshoot stops on the way.
We halted for an early supper about 100 kms away from Bangalore and heading out just the sunset. We passed Nelamangala around 8+ and hit the Nice road with relatively moderate traffic; and reached home just a shy before 10.
Overall, a nice leisurely trip with good memories and a nice way for me to get through the run-in period of the Interceptor 650 (currently at 1850km mark).
re: Trails of a Biker: A ride to Kemmangundi & Hebbe Falls
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