Sunday, February 28, 2010

Road trip to Yercaud

Road trip no. 2 on my bike after the legen...wait for it...dary...legendary Wayanad trip. One fine day 4 biking enthusiasts viz. Myself, Pruthviraj, Amol, Shobhit, swiveling their office chairs, were looking forward to have some adventure on the coming weekend, it being an extended 3 day weekend for the most of us. Amol suggested Yercaud (Poor man's Ooty) and the rest three of us blindly agreed, none of us willing to trudge through the planning phase. We decided to gather at the Silk board junction on Saturday morning 6:30am. All four of us had bikes and nobody being keen on being a pillion, all of us took our respective bikes and gathered near the Silk board flyover. I was especially excited to cruise on the newly built electronic city flyover. A small piece of info: As most of the techies were facing the traffic snarls while commuting to their offices in electronic city, NHAI sanctioned a 10km flyover stretching from Silk board directly to the offices in electronic city. The toll booths still being under construction, the flyover was open to all for free of cost. Zooming on this flyover was really an exhilarating experience. Within 10 mins, we had already crossed electronic city and we were on our way to Hosur. There are a few toll-booths on the way, but two wheelers need not pay the toll. After crossing Hosur, we decided to take a halt for breakfast as all of us were starving. I had heard that one gets world's one of the best dosas and pongal in Tamilnadu. It came as a shocker to us when a hotel walah told us that he didn’t have any dosas but had chapathis (yes, with “h”). We had a yummy breakfast and continued our journey.

Now, there are two simple ways of getting to know when one crosses the Karnataka-Tamilnadu border. One, you suddenly feel the rise in temperature as you enter Tamilnadu. Two, you get to see yellow color everywhere...yellow auto rickshaws, yellow trucks...We reached Krishnagiri and then Dhramapuri, the whole stretch being NH7. After crossing Dharmapuri, we reached a village called Deevattipatti. From thereon, if one takes a left turn, there's a short cut to Yercaud. We took a short break at this junction as I couldn't resist the temptation to grab a few juicy watermelon slices with a vendor on the roadside. Now, I can mumble something in Kannada and a very few words of Telugu, but I don't know a single word of Tamil, neither does anyone from the rest of the gang. After struggling for a good 10 minutes, we finally figured out the price of watermelon the vendor was quoting. Being true Indians, we tried to bargain there too; what if language was a barrier. As we were relishing the juicy watermelons on the scorching afternoon, with the help of a few hand waving gestures and a few english words, we got to know that the short cut road was not in a good condition to ride on. So, we were advised to go via Salem. A part of my heart gave a high-five getting to know that I'd get to ride on NH7 for some more time. We cruised to Salem and entered the city. Salem is famous for steel, is all I could recollect from my limited geography knowledge. As we were approaching Salem, we could see a lot of trucks carrying huge steel parts. I thought those were the parts of aeroplanes, but Amol corrected me saying that those were the parts of windmills. Inside the city, we spotted a sign board which asked to take a left turn for Yercaud. From thereon we got confused at a few junctions, but with the help of a few passers-by, we finally hit on a 32km winding and picturesque ghat road. The road had 20 hair pin bend curves which needed extra care while maneuvering.

We entered the hill town at about 12:30 pm, to a welcoming view of the big lake right in the middle of the town. After some searching about, we found our way to the GR resorts. The resort was totally worth the tariff. After freshening up, we decided to take food at the same place as Pruthviraj about to die of starvation. As we were a bit late (2pm), to my great astonishment one more time, the restaurant guy told us in broken english that he only had chapathi-curry and no RICE. Would you believe it, given that you were in the heart of south India. The restaurant guy was a funny and a mysterious chap. After a good half-hour wait, when we finally got some food, we once again asked if we could get some rice as we had managed to sneak into the kitchen and had seen a pot of boiled rice. He said he could get us fried rice but not the white rice. I still wonder why in the first place he had denied us rice and although we had seen boiled rice in the kitchen, why he was bent upon serving only fried rice. Nevertheless, the food was really yummy. Only in Tamilnadu can one taste the real Sambar-rice. The food was too tasty for the four of us to stop ordering more and more. Finally, when almost all the grocery in the kitchen was about to finish, seeing the guy's astonished face (how can one eat so much!); we decided to call it quits. The first place we visited after lunch was Pagoda point. On the way we passed the Big Lake where a few people were boating around. As the lake wasn't really BIG and the water didn’t seem to be clean, we decided to give it a miss. We spotted different versions of the name “pagoda” on the signboards on its way...Pakoda, pagota, paghoda...Pagoda Point lies on the eastern and South-eastern part of Yercaud hill and provides a great view of the hills around and the Salem city. The place has a small temple and several small 'pagoda' shaped structures, made by stacking stones, which give it the name. We spent a good half an hour there photographing around. Our next destination was Lady's seat. On the way back from Pagoda point, we spotted a place where a couple of guys were riding mud racing bikes. The tariff was 100, 300 and 500 depending upon the distance. Shobhit and I decided to give it a try. It was quite a different experience riding those four-wheeler bikes. Shobhit did a good job riding that bike pretty smoothly, while on the other hand, I didn’t do justice to it, is what I'd say. I had a hell of a time turning that bike around. It was getting late as we had to catch sunset at lady's seat. We came back to the town square, and took another road to the West, to the Lady's seat point. This is another cliff edge, which provides a great view of the Yercaud ghat, a part of Salem city and the sunset. The heavy fog fizzled out the splendid beauty of the sunset towards the end, but otherwise, it was a beautiful spot. There is a telescope house at this point, which helps you get a telescopic view of the landscape below, but unfortunately for us, it was closed :-( There are a couple of other spots - the Gent's seat and the Children's seat somewhere around there, but we did not visit them. It was 7pm then and we could hear loud bollywood music coming from Sterling Resorts. Sounded like a party going on there. The party animal inside me arose and we all went there. Sterling resorts is one heck of a place with awesome scenic views from the rooms. People had yet to turn up at the amphitheater and we were pretty hungry. We decided to have dinner at the same place where we had lunch as the taste was still lingering around in our mouths. After having a yummy and monstrous dinner, we decided to trek up towards the Hotel Grand Palace. It was a great atmosphere, nice breeze, and a little misty environment. We went into the hotel, checked the tariff and visited the other side of the hill which opens up on the valley. We came back to our rooms after having an eventful and tiring day. After watching news about the German Bakery blast in Pune on the tv and giving a mouthful to the bloody terrorists, we fell asleep.

Amol and I had decided to go the sunrise next morning, while Shobhit and Pruthviraj had decided to rest in peace. I was lucky to force myself to wake up at 5:45 am the next day morning, to go watch the sunrise. As we were approaching Pagoda point, where we had decided to watch the sunrise at, the sky was already filled up with wonderful colors. We were the only people there to enjoy the sunrise, and the serenity added to the tranquil morning experience. Having seen the sunrise, which wasn’t grand but pretty good, we headed back to the hotel. The news channels were still telecasting about the Pune blast. Cursing those bloody terrorists, we headed for the breakfast again at the same place. Once again, we ate the yummy food items monstrously and when we decided to call it quits, the restaurant guy sarcastically asked if we wanted some more stuff. Having a good laugh, we came back to rooms and got ready. We headed towards Kiliyur Falls. After riding a couple of kilometers on a road next to the lake, we had to trek down a steep path for just over half a km, to reach the foot of the falls. Although short, the steepness of the trek made it quite arduous - the way down was slippery, and the way up, very taxing. The falls were a namesake at this part of the year, but would surely be very beautiful during and after the monsoons. We spent some time there and came back. I really liked the restaurant up there. It was a simple 1 bhk with windows opening to a scenic view of the valley. I wished I could own such a beautiful place. We headed towards Rajarajeshwari temple and thereon towards Shevaroyan temple, named after the hills that Yercaud is situated on. It is 6 km from the town square on the north east side and is apparently the highest motor able point in Yercaud. The temple is in a very small cave around which a small concrete structure is built, which gives it the look - more of a small shed or shop, than a temple. Also, there were police wireless towers and a place which once would have been a children's park. We came back to the center of the city, had a few (actually, a lot) chilly-bhajis and some fruits. Then we started towards lady's seat to visit the Rose garden and Carmel Ashram. Rose garden is a pretty huge garden with a variety of rose plants. But since we were too tired to walk in the sun, we only visited Children's seat and came back. On our return way to the hotel, we also checked into Bhavani Singh's perfumery. We reached the hotel by 12:45PM, packed our stuffs and had a nice bath. After 24 hours of great fun there, we said goodbye to the place and headed on our way back at 1:30 pm. The ride down the ghat was fun again. We reached Salem and headed towards Dharmapuri. It was extremely hot uncomfortable for another hour of ride. I had an emergency situation and had to take a break at one of the petrol pumps to relieve myself. Pruthviraj also decided to pounce on the opportunity to relieve himself. Just after Krishnagiri, we decided to have lunch at a restaurant at around 4 pm. At the restaurant, we spotted a lot of techies with their families coming back from some weekend getaway or the other. Our destination was still a good 100km away. To minimize riding in the dark, we rode continuously till we reached the electronic city flyover. It was 7:30pm. After saying our final good-byes and discussing the strategy to share photographs, we zoomed on the flyover (probably our last "free" ride on it) towards our respective destinations. It was a nice memorable road trip. Kudos to the gang! Many more such trips to come in future...

Facts sheet:
• Distance from Bangalore: 234 km; total trip meter reading: 490 km
• Best time to visit: Feb - May, June
• Means of transport - Better take your own car / bike, would be useful to roam around in the town too, and you can enjoy the good drive/ride to and fro.
• Cost of accommodation at GR resorts: Rs 500 for a double bedroom (One may also checkout Hotel Tamilnadu - the TTDC lodge which is economical but difficult to get a room unless reserved in advance)


  1. Good work. U cud hav mentioned tht contribution of Pruthviraj to start this trip was immense ;)

  2. This dirt biking would make a killing business.. where else you make Rs. 100/- per 2 minutes?

  3. But this dude enjoyed every penny invested in it, with a new world-record of maximum time taken to complete that 100 meters track. check this out

  4. @Pruthvi: Thanks and better luck next time ;)
    @Shobhit: Show me the proof of u riding the bike better than me
    @Santosh: Thanks :)