This was a three day ride on an Enfield from Bangalore, India.
The Royal Enfield Bullet 350cc motorcycle puts out all of 18 horsepower (on a very good day). The 500cc engine does a little better, but you won't see many of those in India. The motorcycle dates from a 1955 contract from the English Royal Enfield company to build motorcycles for the India military. The motorcycle has been made in India since then and
little was changed until 2007 when there was a significant re-design of the engine (it's all new). I'd be riding a pre-2007 model with all the quirks and character that make the Bullet so beloved by so many riders all over the world.
My plan was to do whatever it took to escape the mad traffic of Bangalore is quickly as possible. It turns out that I missed my expected turn, but that's to be expected. I would miss many more before this trip was done.
National Highway 7 is a toll road.
I realized quickly enough that National Highway 7 was no fun at all. At the first chance, I took any road that seemed to be heading west. Other than that, it didn't matter to me which road I took. Note: Frequently, I had no real idea of the name of any town I was in. As often as not, if the name was even on a sign, the sign was written in Kannada or Tamil. I'll make an attempt in this report at a name, but chances are pretty good that I'll be wrong.
Along state highway 17, this is (possibly) Sanamavu.
I would occasionally ask for directions, but in most every case, it wasn't of much practical use.
It was very nice to finally be away from the horrible congestion of Bangalore and the craziness of National Highway 7.
This would be typical of a 'very good road.'; Some patches, but overall, nothing to worry about.
This style of water tower is fairly common in all the smaller towns.
Signs. You can see what I'm up against.
I don't know that I saw any tractors in the fields. You cannot argue that this approach doesn't work quite well.
Interesting rock formations like this one are common in the area. Some had temples at the top.
By this time, I had ridden off the detail of my map. You can expect the pavement to largely end within the village limits, but to resume on the other side.
I saw several barriers such as this one. None ever stopped me.
I'm riding towards Unigam. My hope is that the road will remain paved beyond that town. See that large rock in the photograph (below)? Notice the temple at its base. That would not be an easy trek.
Climbing over the hill west of Anchetty. This particular village
doesn't show even on Google maps.
If you follow the road south of Urigam, you will come to this village.
Who wants to be in the photograph? Everybody!;
I asked it the road continued beyond here (was told it did), but I also found that the road turns into little more than a trail. I would need to turn around (not for the first time).
Back in Urigam.
Reaching Anchetty, I turned south (riding under one of the road barriers).
There would be no traffic on this road.
This road is being retaken by the forest. At times, branches were brushing my shoulders. It was only one lane wide, but it was (generally) paved.
No bridges!; Where a creek had to be crossed, the pavement ended, and I picked up a dirt track that would loop to a good crossing point, and then pick up the pavement on the other side. Sometimes, these dirt roads were quite rough and steep, but the Bullet is an ideal bike for this sort of thing.
This one had me a bit worried, but the underlying sand was firm, and there was no problem crossing the water (which wasn't all that deep in any case).
At the other end of the road was this closed gate. There was just enough room to squeeze the bike through (while bending the foot pegs just a bit). The guard didn't speak English, but I gathered enough to know that the road was closed to traffic. Oh, well.
Stopping to pay the toll on the road that would take me to Hogenakkal.
The Hotel Tamil Nadu is the best in Hogenakkal.
You have to admire the multiple ledgers and extra carbon paper needed to sign in.
The walk to the falls takes you past a number of vendors.
Goats and monkeys are everywhere.
There's a pedestrian bridge across the river for a better view of the falls. The cost isn't much, but I gather it varies.
There was an additional fee to continue to the next viewing spot. But, this path required a walk through the water, and since I wasn't wearing the practical sandals that everybody else was wearing, I didn't go any further.
No matter; the camera has a telephoto lens. This is a beautiful area.
Walking through the town of Hogenakkal.
The mist in the distance is from the falls.
At breakfast the next morning, I was joined by a curious monkey. I asked for idli (something that's available everywhere), but eggs is all they had.
Filling up in Pennagaram.
Note:; The bullet returned around 70 mpg during the trip. It really is an ideal motorcycle for these roads. 350cc is not much, but it's enough, and compared to most of the other motorbikes I saw, the bullet was a superbike. Incidentally, it had an electric start, but I never used that; I used the kick starter every time.
There are many ways to thresh your grain. Spreading it over the road and letting cars do the job is one way (and quite common). I always rode around the edge.
The checkerboard paint on the trees is very common. Often I'd see workers applying the paint.
Notice the painted horns (below). This is common.
Roadside shrines are very common.
It would have helped me if I could read these mile-markers. Alas.
Near Mettur. There are multiple power stations here as well as some impressive large factories.
I believe this may be Poolampatti.
Children are almost always very well dressed. Well, I should say the girls are. Boys? Not so much.
People walking their cattle along the roadside is expected. In many cases, the cattle didn't seem to be attended, but seemed to know where they were going, just the same.
This could be Kallippatti. These girls are all wearing their brown school uniform. I saw lots of variations and colors.
I don't know if it was my spaceman outfit (compared to what all other motorcycle riders wore) or if it was something else, but school kids almost always broke into laughter when they saw me.
I had to take at least one photograph of what was very common. It must be maddening for the utility electrician.
Climbing the mountain to Dhimbham. Some of the hairpins were very
sharp; this one, not so much.
I let the bus go by. Later when I came up behind it, the guys on top were encouraging me to pass them. I came to realize that they only wanted to see a really spectacular crash. No matter; I was able to make a pass without much trouble.
I turned to a narrow road that (like the last forest road), had no traffic at all. I begin to think that if I could only read the signs, I'd have found out that traffic was prohibited.
An ant hill? Termites?
"My name is Daniel. What is your name?"; This approach worked every time. Clearly, the kids have had English lessons, and we could have quite a good conversation as long as I stayed to the standard phrases that I new they must have been taught.
Note: I packed for this trip pretty much like all other trips. this means I'm washing every evening. You'll notice a water bottle hanging from the yellow duffle bag. I did have a light waterproof jacket packed but never needed it. Of course, I had walking shoes as well. When riding, I wore my two-piece Aerostich Darrien suit (where normally I wear the one-piece Roadcrafter suit) with boots and gloves. Outside Bangalore, I was the only person wearing a helmet, and even including Bangalore, I was the only person wearing gloves and riding
boots and any sort of protective clothing.
A small roadside shrine. Very common.
Thalavady, I believe.
I didn't even come close to ending up where I had expected to be for the night, but no matter. I stayed in this resort hotel in Chamarajanagar.
I intended only to ask when dinner would be served (answer: 7:30), but they were insistent that I have a seat even though I was quite early. That's good as I was hungry.
The food (and the beer) was quite good.
Filling up in Santhemarahalli (the buckets contain water).
I missed the turn in Kollegal, and ended here while I figured out where I was. This was a peaceful stop.
Crossing the Cauvery River.
And, crossing it again near Thoralkadanahalli.
A good day for doing the washing.
Running a farm is probably not much different no matter where you are. The technology changes, but what has to be done, doesn't.
Another short toll road before diving back into the traffic madness that is Bangalore.Note: The bullet is happy to cruise at 80 to 90 kph and that's about as fast as you'll ever want to go no matter what the highway. I found myself riding like a local and doing things that I would never, ever consider doing. But, you have to adjust yourself to ride the way of the traffic if you expect to blend in to that traffic.
I don't know if it's an auspicious number, but my final odometer reading when I shut the engine down at the hotel in Bangalore had lots of eights.