A 733 km cycling adventure in 9 days from Mangalore to Kanyakumari

The plan was primarily to hug the coastline as much as possible and stay off the national highway as much as possible.

BHPian ninjatalli recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.

– Robert Louis Stevenson


Ever since I completed the Mangalore - Goa cycling ride, the itch was always there to get the Mangalore - Kerala trip done at the earliest. Back in June itself, I zeroed down to the holidays of December (year-end break) as the time to do this trip. Passed the message around to fellow cyclists (on and off the forum), but could get only one person interested. A few others who showed interest got disinterested when they heard my travel to the starting and ending points was going to be via a train, with the cycle being loaded as luggage on the train. I was extremely comfortable with carrying the cycle on the train but others, unfortunately, weren't.

The lone friend who was interested however wanted to do a shorter version, till Kochi. And he whipped up enough interest in this trip across his cycling friends and a plan started emerging from their side, with them accompanying me till Kochi while I went the whole end till Kanyakumari. Things were looking good at this point.

Then other reasons caused me to change the dates to early December - primarily work-related, but also the fact that end of December, Kerala would be choked up with tourists, kind of helped strengthen the decision to prepone the trip by two weeks. Unfortunately, the friend and his team went on with the Dec end plans so I ended up doing this trip alone.


  • Nov 29 (Tue): Mangalore to Payyanur (100 kms)
  • Nov 30 (Wed): Payyanur to Mahe (80 kms)
  • Dec 1 (Thu): Mahé to Kozhikode (85 kms)
  • Dec 2 (Fri): Kozhikode to Guruvayur (80 kms)
  • Dec 3 (Sat): Guruvayur to Kochi (85 kms)
  • Dec 4 (Sun): Halt at Kochi
  • Dec 5 (Mon): Kochi to Kollam (120 kms)
  • Dec 6 (Tue): Kollam to Trivandrum (90 kms)
  • Dec 7 (Wed): Tvm to Kanyakumari (90 kms)

The plan was primarily to hug the coastline as much as possible and stay off the national highway as much as possible. Primarily due to the fact that most of the highway was undergoing extension from the current 2-lane without divider highway to a 4 / 6 lane (expressway) highway. Some portions I couldn't avoid the NH (e.g. Kannur - Calicut) as alternate parallel roads would be too much of a detour. Ironically, the section of NH that were still untouched (with no work) turned out to be much more pleasant than the sections of NH that already had work underway. Thankfully once I passed Calicut, I could largely avoid the national highway for most of the trip, or at least I only had to do the highway section in the wee hours of the day (primarily before 9 am).

Key stats:

  • Total distance: 720+ kms
  • Avg (daily) distance: ~90 kms
  • No. of days on the road: 8 (+ 1 rest day)
  • Hours spent on the road: 52 (Generally 6:00am to 12:30pm per day)

Gear / Accessories:

I decided to travel light given the weather (heat) and managed without the need of any panniers. My luggage consisted of::

  • 1 x TrekNRide saddle bag (to carry luggage)
  • 1 x cycle portable pump
  • 1 x extra tube
  • 1 x multi-tool kit
  • 1 x cycle lock
  • 1 x mobile (front) holder bag
  • 1 x tire repair kit
  • 2 x pairs of riding top + pants
  • 2 x pairs of light material homewear + other knick-knacks
  • Basic cycling gear (helmet, bottles, glasses, gloves, etc.)


What a wonderful state Kerala is with the rich diversity of flora (and some) fauna. I really envy folks from this state - any city in this state has the mountains and the seas and numerous rivers all max a few hours away. For someone like me who comes from the dry states of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu (read: primarily Chennai), this rich land is literally heaven on earth. It's god's own country - no doubt about it. Having done the whole state now, I'd like to go back and spend a few days at some of the cities/areas that I passed by; top of my mind picks would be Alleppey (probably spend it on a houseboat rather than travel by road), Varkala and Trivandrum (city). And of course, I haven't even touched the mountain sections so that's something I'd reserve to go around on my motorbike instead.

Trip summary: Within Mangalore.

Kms: <20


The Bangalore to Mangalore trip was an overnight affair with the cycle packed and loaded as luggage on the train we were taking. By now, having done this multiple times, I was well comfortable with the process of taking the cycle on the train as parcel luggage and the whole process was completed without any sweat. Thankfully the train had minimal luggage with only two other bikes accompanying my cycle on the train. Past trips to Mangalore would give rise to humid mornings by the time we reach the city outskirts. However this time, the weather early morning was absolutely fantastic with light drizzles and loads of mist all around.

The weekend was planned as a rest day/weekend to spend with the family and relatives, and going around to temples around Mangalore. I still was able to get the cycle out to go around the city for a short ride and basically get the body ready for the upcoming week of riding. Mangalore kind of gave me what to expect in terms of weather - nice chilly weather with lots of mist early morning till 8 or 9 am and then a blast of instant heat with cool winds (at times) spread over the rest of the day; with the temps cooling off after 2 pm in the afternoon. Ah well, no surprises there as my plan of riding was to complete it by noon every day.

The Official 90 Rs charge for the parcel service, the unofficial 200 Rs for packaging and ensuring the cycle is loaded safely.

Always a pleasure when one is able to see the vehicle loaded in front of you.

Light showers and a lot of mist greet us in the morning.

All unpacked and ready for the adventure.

Trip summary: Mangalore to Payyanur.

Kms: 102


I was up and ready to kick-off by 5 am however the weather gods had different plans for me. Heavy rains all during the night continued till the wee hours and I had to wait an hour before I could start at 6. An hour later, I again had to stop at a roadside shop just before the state border as the rains picked up again. A short while later, I decided to continue ahead with light drizzles accompanying me till the outskirts of Kasaragod when I finally decide to stop and have breakfast.

The highway route from Kasaragod to Bekal was blissful with light cloudy weather and no road expansion work yet started; that meant both sides had wide shoulders for me to ride on with the traffic mostly heading in the opposite direction. A short halt at Bekal fort gave me the break I needed as I got off the highway just before Payannur to head through the backwaters for the halt planned for the day. Overall it turned out to be a good start to the week with the 3-digit figure breached.

A brief halt while I wait for the rain to stop.

Several parts of the highway had the new sections almost done and all empty - for me to ride on it, while the vehicles had to use the existing highway lanes.

One of the innumerable backwater bridges that I crossed.

The imposing Bekal fort.

One of the perks of starting early - Hardly any tourists at the fort.

Although there were no dearth of lovers "etching" their names at the fort.

A sight that became extremely common across the length & breadth of Kerala - huge cutouts and posters of football stars/teams.

Off the highway and into the rural routes.

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