Riding a bike is adventurous; all the more so, if it’s a long ride. And there we were, planning a trip that would take us across several thousand kilometers and through five different states that spoke different languages. We were thrilled – and then a bit apprehensive – mainly because prime minister Narendra Modi had announced the demonetization drive. But, my husband and I decided to answer the call of the road and embark upon our trip to Hyderabad on our new Royal Enfield Himalayan.
Yes, it’s a long ride from Kottayam, Kerala to Hyderabad, Telangana. There were concerns – but the call of the road and unseen destinations on our way left us sleepless. So, we packed, repacked, applied for leaves and finally the day came when we rode off.
We started from Angamaly and the plan was to halt at Bengaluru. We hit the road at around 4am. We knew that the Palakkad-Coimbatore road to Bengaluru was the easiest. But we wanted some adventure and take in the beautiful scenery en route to Nilambur and Gudalur.
Around 7am, we reached Nilambur, where we had our breakfast. By 8am, we were on the road again through the Ghat road and reached Gudalur. We passed through Mudumalai (Tamil Nadu) and Bandipur (Karnataka) National Parks. We took out our cameras and waited for the animals to come out but to no avail. And we got irritated when we saw the notice boards, which said wild animals may cross the roads. Even though we kept a look out, we did not get lucky.
Bandipur, however, was a different deal. We heaved a sigh of relief when we saw herds of deer at every bed. It was an amazing experience.
We reached Bengaluru by evening. But the traffic in this IT hub is horrible. I felt that the people did not care about the traffic rules. Traffic awareness among people is much better in Kerala, I think. We stayed back at Bengaluru for a day and hit the road by 6am the next day. Our destination was Hyderabad, 590kms away. Other than the windmills, mountains, and the marigold farms, this 590km stretch did not offer any interesting sights.
There was a fuel station at around every 10km point on this stretch and most of them accepted credit/debit cards. The fuel stations also had decent toilet facility. The Himalayan's petrol tank capacity is 15liters, which we felt was a little bit less for the long drives. The highway does not pass through the towns so traffic was restricted to trucks and other long distance travelers. If you are traveling alone and your bike develops a problem, you could be in a fix. So it is important that you keep your helpline numbers handy.
So, what was the toughest part, you may ask. The hunger – you don't find many good restaurants on the way. There are dhabhas on the way, but since it is a long ride, you have to be careful about the food you eat. And, while you are riding, you cannot unhook all your bags at every stop. So, we needed a place where we could see our bike. We had packed chocolates and kept us revving. We reached Hyderabad by 6pm.
We spent three days and four nights at Hyderabad. We visited the tourist destinations in and around Hyderabad. Golconda Fort, Charminar, Chowmahalla Palace, Ramoji film city etc. I am not venturing into the details.
But trust me when I say this: you have to eat your way through Andhra and Telangana. The food is spicy, but it tickles our taste buds. People love food and the portions each person gobbled up had us staring in awe. The sweets will make you salivate and the taste will linger in your mind for years to come.
And then, it was the time to head back home. We packed up again and started our journey back. By 6am, we rolled out of Hyderabad. We packed a bunch of apples along with us recalling our bitter experience in the highway. By seven, we halted for breakfast. Then throughout the journey, we relied much on the apples. When we reached back Bengaluru, it was peak time of traffic. We reached the destination by 8 pm. We stayed back at Bengaluru for a day and then headed home the next day. We decided to take the Coimbatore-Palakkad route and hit the road by 5 in the morning and reached Kottayam by 5pm in the evening.
We took this trip in November and the weather was good for the trip. There was a nip in the air and the sun was not too harsh. But once we reached Palakkad, the cool breeze vanished and it tired us out. But still, when the road calls, it’s the spirit that moves us. Yes, it not about the destination, but about the ride.
While a ride up the squiggly Ghat sections can be interesting, people who are nauseous should take precautions.
Do not stop for a long time in and around National Park areas. It is not safe. Do not wait for police patrols to tell you this.
Halt often. It is ideal to take short or long breaks as your body demands. It is mandatory to rest after every one hour. Do not push it.
While on the road, be sure to stay hydrated. Keep snacks/fruits handy.
Keep your friends updated about your whereabouts
Ensure that you reach your destination within the stipulated time – if you do not, stay at the town you reach by sundown.