21 days of bike riding to explore the beauty, culture and food in South India.
“Travel is the only thing you buy to make yourself richer.”
But this journey was no less than a blessing in disguise. A gift that made me richer with experience, understanding and has given me a broader outlook towards life. This was not the first of my road trips, but certainly one of the longest and enriching ones.
It was the dawn of last week of July last year when I set out to mark the beginning of this life changing road trip across the southern peninsular roads of the country. It’s a journey of a young mind, a North Indian getting introduced with South India in the closest way possible – cruising the roads of south India.
The southern tip of the country was already drenched in the monsoon rains as opposed to the northern belt and hence there I was all set to chase the monsoons on 2 wheels across the peninsula.
The journey was sponsored by #MTV as a part of their first edition of #Chasethemonsoon. This 21 + 3 day journey was a one of its kind travel itinerary involving social media heavily.
On the first day of the journey I was supposed to catch a flight from Mumbai to Chennai. It was an #Indigo flight that I had to board starting from #Mumbai to #Chennai as the flag off for the road trip was scheduled from #Pondicherry next day. But as they say all good things come with a cost, I missed my flight to Chennai falling prey to a tiff in the #Mumbai local trains.
#MTV #Chasethemonsoon as #teamtyphoons I was thrilled to finally board the flight and fly to Chennai. Chennai looked beautiful in the evening sun. This was my first visit to a south Indian city. I knew I had to be in this part of the country for a tad longer time and I was trying to absorb the ethnicity of the place.
Taking a cab to reach Pondicherry from Chennai was the beginning of my life on the road for the coming 20 odd days. It was past midnight when I finally made it to Pondicherry. I regret not being able to visit the #Marina beach in Chennai that day but that sure is on cards for my next trip.
This journey was a first of its kind in my life. Filled with all the spices of a #Bollywood flick this can well be made into a film. Friendship, enemies, accidents, laughter, fun and those life changing moments all make a part of this journey. Come travel with me as I take you across the peninsular India and see the how the Southern part of India mesmerized a typical North Indian.
The morning of 22nd August, 2013 was different. No, the sun didn’t rise from a different direction but the day was supposed to mark the beginning of one of my most memorable journeys of all time. After missing the Indigo flight I took an #AirIndia flight to Chennai. There were no signs of rains in Mumbai that day. It was high on humidity but not cloudy. The real monsoon rains were still awaited and I was to get drenched in the rains in the southern part of the country.
Chennai is a beautiful city. Well built roads and warm people. Don’t be surprised to find a number of eateries including Punjabi Dhabas serving sumptuous meals on the Chennai – Pondicherry highway. Well so that was it! A glass full of lassi and chicken tikka to fill my ever hungry tummy. I was a bit tired in all the mess before embarking on the journey so decided to take a nap. The driver stopped a couple of times, one of those stops included taking the N.O.C to enter the union territory of Pondicherry.
I reached Pondicherry post midnight and all the city was done for the day. I reached the hotel to meet the other riders and it was no less than a pleasant experience. We ordered food and were surprised to have loads to it at 2 in the night. The food was southerenized. Kadipatta in omelette and Chinese noodles cooked in coconut oil. This was my first encounter to south Indian food that marked the beginning of the journey.
The sun rises pretty early on the Eastern coast and we were up and running at 6 in the morning. By 8 it was as hot as it is at 12 in my city. We reached the Pondy beach for the flag off where we got our #karizmas for the ride. We explored the city that day and were all set to leave early for Madurai next day.
Madurai is a 6 hour ride from Pondicherry. We stopped over at Trichy that day. Trichy is an industrial and hospitable city. On the way to Trichy, I actually got my first showers of the journey. I also visited a temple near the city and it was a mesmerizing experience. Time spent at banks of the river Kaveri was a calming experience. It was a slow flowing stream of water with clean banks and sandy bed gave me a different outlook to the usual rivers we see in North India. Trichy’s B.H.E.L factory is also a place of mention and visit if one can get the permit.
Madurai is a city of temples. The Meenakshi temple is one of its major attractions. The roads around are typically crowded. The city is one of the hottest too in Tamil Nadu. The temple architecture is breathtaking. There is something about these intricately designed temples. All the gods Hindu mythology talks about, you might end up finding in one temple. When in Madurai do try the famous JigarThanda drink to chill out from the extreme heat of the city.
The journey from #Madurai to #Munnar was an epic one. Instead of going to #Kanyakumari and following the Map I took a detour to spend 2 days in Munnar. It is truly the queen of the hills. I started riding from Madurai towards Munnar but couldn’t take the normal route falling prey to a landslide at the beginning of the ghats to Munnar. The detour was about another 100 kilometers making it hectic uet one of the most amazing rides up to Munnar. It was drizzling all the way. I stopped at one of the biggest Rabbit farms in the country too. It’s at Kerala -Tamil Nadu border about 80 kms from Munnar.
Kerala indeed is a god’s own country. It’s beautiful and mesmerizing. You know you are in Kerala just by the looks of it. It’s deep green environs, misty rains and amazing weather adds to its beauty. The hills of Munnar are covered with tea leaves and teak wood trees. Every view of this place is a spectacular beauty. While riding to and from Munnar one will find a number of picturesque waterfalls and small dams guarding them. Soak in and experience their beauty and you are sure to be awestruck by it for years to come. I also had an opportunity to try my hands on a couple of adventure sports. In the midst of beautiful clouds touching your skin it will sure be rejuvenating experience. The wildlife century and the food in Munnar is worth a mention too.
Shahrukh Khan aaizhala, Aamir Khan Aaizhala….I still remember the fun time I had at the Chinese fishing nets in Kochi. The ride to Kochi from Munnar was in itself an interesting one. All drenched in rain and pitch dark environment it was a ride I will always look back to. The next morning at the Chinese fishing nets was an epic one. It was the most thrilling experience aside of the wheels. The food in Kochi is definitely great and the stay around the port area is recommended. Visit the Chinese fishing nets and the art streets of the city in the morning or the evening hours to experience Kochi at its best.
Trivandrum is a city of bikers. The state capital is full of offices of the state and is a bustling city. The major attractions include the state offices and the beautiful beaches that skirt the city. The people are warm and hospitable.
This was an unfortunate stop on the way to Coimbatore. I met with an accident and fractured my hand. The stay here in the city though became one of the most memorable ones. The beaches and the backwaters at Allepey are a beauty. A stay in the house boat is a must for every visitor. A ride to the beaches while the sun sets might make you a witness of some spectacular street and beach dancers from the city. This place is full of talent and a must for anybody travelling to Kerala, the gods own country.
It was time to scoot back to Tamil Nadu and reach Coimbatore. This place is a great place for foodies. Do try the filter coffee and #Mysore pak in the city and you will be left craving for more.
The city is close to the hill station Ooty. The roads are amazing and the environment pretty hospitable.
Ooty is a beautiful hill station with amazing rides up and down the hills. It is a bit commercialized but the many attractions make you want to settle down in this city. The hills are green and covered with trees and tea plantation. The trees are the famous Nilgiri trees. The place is about 80 kms from #Coimbatore and give a feel of being in North India. The food is rustic and divine and the ride up and down the hill with water falls make it a must visit.
After tasting the Mysore Pak in Coimbatore, Mysore became a place of must visit. So we reached here in the evening hours and was blessed with the opportunity to view the Mysore palace lighting up for the night hours. Its just spectacularly amazing.
Consider visiting Goa in Monsoon if you prefer nature over crowd, love getting drenched in unexpected showers. And if you are a little crazy, like I am. It was my first trip to Goa and I couldn’t have picked a better season – it was lush green all around and devoid of tourists. From the scenic Mumbai-Goa journey in the Konkan railway to a eventful Goa-Mangalore road trip, I got to see a lot of local spots and scenery. The ever-smiling coconut trees, tiny huts, brightly colored houses and waterlogged paddy fields were a sight for our sore eyes.
Pune is a beautiful earthy city. It’s modern yet homely, hip yet inherently happy. They say if you come here and can never go away. Eating joints are a plenty and food is certainly better than Mumbai. Expenses are nominal and is a great place to explore with friends.
Lavasa is a man made town or a planned city in the middle of the mountains. The place is blessed with rivers and dams and the English architectural creations make this place a mut visit. Staying back might seem like a costly option but do stay back to see the place get lit up with the evening lights. And yes, try this jetty ride, it was amazing 😉
And that’s how my amazing sojourn ended. We reached Mumbai with amazing memories and share for years to come.