Agenda : Invade the entire Nh66 (2000+km) in 6 days
|Akshay Tapkir a.k.a Maverik||Royal Enfield Continental GT a.k.a Fire Bolt|
|Aniket Kolpe a.k.a Sergeant Cross||Royal Enfield Classic 350 a.k.a Dhaka|
|Nikitesh Kolpe a.k.a Sunray||Bajaj Avenger 220 a.k.a Little Beast|
|Rohit Sutar a.k.a Optimus|
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
|Day 4||Day 5||Day 6|
After spending almost an entire week on shopping, everything was set and 0500 hours was the decided time to start the invasion, but alas, like every time it started late, this time Maverick (Akshay) arrived late and then tying luggage took another hour. Finally, we left at 0700 hours with Maverick on the Fire Bolt leading the way, Optimus (Rohit) on the Little Beast with all the luggage in the middle and me and Sgt. Cross (Aniket) on Dhaka at the rear.
First halt was on the highway for petrol (it’s cheaper than the city) and after filling the bikes belly, it was time for ours.
Shiv Krupa near Shirval is an awesome place for breakfast. We left for Kolhapur at 0830 hrs. As we were late by 2hrs it was time to cover the time by increasing the throttle. So we shifted the riders. Maverick continued to lead, I took the Little Beast and Sgt. Cross took Dhaka. The road was in awesome condition so we let throttles loose and reached Kolhapur at an average speed of 70. (Max speed: 140, Min speed 80). We covered the time gap as well as tested our bikes for the rest of the journey.
Dehati, one of the most popular restaurants in Kolhapur served us Mutton Lonche, Mutton Masala, Chicken Fry and Chicken Masala with Solkadhi was fabulous and lived up-to its fame.
We were all pumped up by the high speed ride up-to Kolhapur, hence we decided to go with the flow for the rest of the distance. Next on the road was Amboli mountain pass, one of the most scenic mountain passes in Maharashtra. Tilting the bikes on the curves gave us an adrenaline rush. After taking a break at a spot and witnessing the sun set, all of us informed our parents that we reached Goa. (We were still closer to our home than our destination and a night ride on the very first day of the trip would have had serious consequences on the trip, as our parents were against riding at night) We reached Goa by 2130 hours, then began the search for the room we had booked. The hotel we had booked was in Calangute, after 3-4 calls to the owner and asking almost everyone on the road we were finally able to locate the hotel after 2 hrs.
We got freshened up and left to check out Goa at night and have dinner. We dined at Aqua-Shell restaurant near Calangute beach. Crab soup was crappy, but the fried prawns and butter, garlic prawns made up for the soup. Old Goa was some 30+ km from our place, and we were in no mood to drive another 60 km so we roamed a bit in Goa and slept.
The next day we were supposed to leave by 0900 hours, but the Goan air makes you lazy. We got up at 0900 hours, then breakfast and tying the bags on bike ate another 2 hours. When we left Goa, we were 5 hours off from the schedule. Hence, we decided to switch riders, I with Optimus in the front, Sgt. Cross in the middle with luggage and Maverick at the last. The next halt was Karwar, 130 km from Calangute. After crossing another scenic mountain pass, Optimus (Rohit) selected the spot for the pic of the trip depicting tilted bike on a hairpin curve. Though the pictures came out really good (only mine and Rohit’s pic were clear) we wasted another couple of hours in the process. When we reached Karwar we were still 6 hours behind the schedule. We reached Karwar at 1800 hours. Maverick had set the coordinates for Karwar instead of the Naval museum, which we were supposed to visit. I was a bit skeptical when we turned from the national highway, as we had seen the location of the museum quite near from the road. The size of the road started to shrink as we proceeded ahead, then there came a point where the we met a procession which blocked the entire road, but the damn google map said proceed straight for 1 km and refused to show any alternate route. Locals took pity on us and asked us where the fuck are we headed, they must have had a nice laugh as we were 15 km away from the destination. The guys tried to explain us the route in broken Hindi, after crossing the procession, Optimus had the eureka moment and then set the destination as Naval museum, instead of Karwar. Maverick was not given his phone back for the entire trip to set any location. We were expecting huge boats and heavy naval equipment at the museum, but the museum was more of a kid’s place. Disappointed with the museum, we decided to skip it and have lunch/dinner, it was 1800 hours so too late to term it as a lunch and too early to be termed as a dinner. To add to our misery, the food was tasteless and the waiters took ages to take the order.
Our ideas of a national highway were shattered after Karwar where the NH was just a 2 lane road, filled with heavy duty trucks on both sides of the road. Driving at high speed was next to impossible with such heavy traffic. The next halt was Murudeshwara temple. We reached there by 10:30, but the temple and the Shiva idol both were closed. The guard told us to come back in the morning, dejected we still decided to pursue the guards to let us in. One of the Marathi guards helped us to convince the head of security. Finally, after checking our religious authenticity (we sport long beards, so it was okay on his part) he allowed us 5 minutes to take pictures.
Delighted, we took some pictures and came out, where Optimus was arguing with us to change the halt from Malpe to Murudeshwara. We weren’t sleepy, but Optimus had his safety reasons and the argument went on for next one and half hour. I tried to argue with him for some time then when I felt I was about to lose the argument, I turned to the lawyer and Maverick showed us how he earns his bread and butter. After convincing (read forcing) Optimus we took off again for Malpe at 0030, we had cold drinks near Murudeshwara and chatted with a lovely 5-year-old girl from Kolhapur. She initiated the conversation, when most of the kids we met were scared of us.
Road from Karwar to Malpe is under construction for past 5 years and from the condition it looks like it will take another decade to complete. We reached Malpe at 0230 hours and started searching for a place to set up a tent for a few hours. After some initial search we found a school nearby and raised our tent on the volleyball ground, surrounded by our bikes. The shadows of bikes on the tent walls were mesmerizing. Sadly, we were too tired to take pictures and the few we tried didn’t come out that great.
We decided to get up at 0600 hours. But Optimus was not able to sleep due to 2 snoring giants (I wasn’t one of them), so he decided to return the favor by waking up Maverick and Sgt. Cross at 0500 hours. I enjoyed my 3 hours of sleep as Sgt. Cross knew waking me up early would have meant a hell lot of trouble for him. (Being a brother, he knows!) Finally, we packed our tent and arrived at the beach as locals had started lurking around the area with suspicious eyes. The plan was to leave Malpe by 0800 hours, but again that was not in our destiny. The ferry ride started at 0900 instead of 0600 hours, in the meantime, we took some photographs at the beach and had local breakfast consisting of Dosa, Parota and yellow sambhar.
The ferry to St. Mary’s island took 20mins, the island has one of the cleanest water I have ever seen. The island is known for its shell beach and breathtaking views. We got the best out of the tour since we were on the very first ferry and it was comparatively empty. Loud music was played on the ferry and people were dancing on the songs, for the first time we were feeling what foreigners must be feeling watching us dance on Bollywood tracks. We left Malpe at 1230 hours headed towards Kannur, 280+ kms, the second largest ride of the trip. We drove continuously for next 2 hours, stopped only once to fill petrol and switch riders. By the time we reached Panambur we were almost starved to death, learning from yesterday’s experience, we decided to google some decent restaurants. After googling for some time I found a restaurant named Giri Manja in Mangaluru with 4.7-star rating from almost 150+ people. It was a bit away from our route, but no one complained about it.
We reached Giri Manja at 1500 hours. There are two restaurants with the same name facing each other. We were a bit anxious about which was the one from the reviews. Finally, the security guard cleared the air by stating both the restaurants belonged to the same owner and have the same kitchen. Disappointment followed us here too, we inquired about their signature dish and learnt that it was over as we were late. Cursing our luck, we asked the owner for the next best dish they had. He suggested us to try the Tawa fry along with the Thali. By the time the food was served we were already salivated.
The Angal(kingfish) tawa fry and white Pomfret tawa fry made in the traditional Mangalorean style were heavenly. Kingfish is never our first choice, but the Angal fry was so tasty that we ordered two more plates of it, rather than Pomfret. The owner was very keen to know about our bike trip and was also very informative about the further route
I was driving the Little Beast and I found the rear brake a bit troublesome on the way to Mangaluru, but satisfying the wildfire of hunger was the first priority. The mechanic did some minute adjustments to the brake and we were ready to roll out. We drove for a few hours, then Maverick suddenly flickered his headlights and asked us to take a break. We thought he had to pee or something, but he gave us a shock when he announced that he was feeling sleepy. Optimus had announced on the previous day only that he won’t be driving in the night. And now here we were in the middle of nowhere with Optimus still sticking to his decision. We went a bit ahead and found a tea stall. It’s quite rare to find one serving tea/coffee in South India. Sgt. Cross asked the waiter to get the coffee powder to make the coffee strong, especially for sleepy Maverick. He was all charged up after the caffeine boost, we switched riders with Maverick taking the Little Beast and staying in the middle while I stayed in my position. Sgt. Cross was on the Fire Bolt at the end. We encountered a heavy traffic jam somewhere near Payyanur. There was a huge procession of some goddess with a perfect south Indian flavor. It was divided into many small segments, each performing its own act. I wish we could spend a little more time there, but the queue of trucks was getting excruciatingly long each second and the road ahead was too narrow for us to overtake those trucks again, hence we took the advantage of the traffic and sped ahead.
As expected we lost track of each other in the traffic, since I was leading I halted as soon as we were clear of the traffic and couldn’t see Maverick in my rear view. Maverick was just behind a truck and he too halted, seeing me on the road side. Sgt. Cross on the Fire Bolt was having speed rush and sped past us. Maverick was on call so we couldn’t catch up with him immediately. After his call was over we started the hunt for Sgt. Cross. He was all panicky when we finally found him. As his useless Iphone was not working and he thought we were still way ahead of him. By the time I saw his bike I had missed the parking spot, so I went a bit ahead to park the bike. I had my back towards Sgt. Cross and Maverick, who were sitting on their respective bikes, as I parked my bike and turned around to walk towards them. I saw Fire Bolt lying flat on the road and Sgt. Cross rolling on the ground; as if that was not enough, I saw Maverick was about to hit the floor too. I and Optimus ran towards them. Optimus helped Maverick with his bike, while I lifted the Little Beast. There was another group of bikers headed towards Goa who were passing by us. They also rushed to help us. Sgt. Cross revealed that the uneven road caused the bike to slip from his hand and he lost his footing as well, that explained the rolling as well. Maverick on the other hand was driving Little Beast for the first time since we started our journey and was used to parking the bike on the side stand saw Sgt. Cross roll and in a hurry, he parked the bike on the side stand, the bike was unstable on the side stand due to heavy luggage and then Maverick was struggling to balance it. Finally everything was set and we left for Kannur after having a chat with the other group and giving them the heads up about the condition of the road ahead. We reached Kannur by 2300 hours, and passed some good hotels. Maverick lost his cool when we passed ahead of all the open restaurants. We went a few kilometers behind and found a decent looking restaurant named Kairali. As it was late in the night the restaurant was almost empty and the waiters were cleaning up. The owner was very friendly and helpful. We had garlic butter chicken and a few other dishes whose names were difficult to pronounce. We were done with the dinner and were chatting with the owners, inquiring about the places that we can visit nearby and the chef inside Sgt. Cross was awakened, he was all curious about the desserts they serve. The owner was happy to answer his questions and gave us some desserts to taste. When the bill arrived, we found the deserts were not mentioned on it. Upon inquiring about it the owner simple said the deserts are on the house. After paying the bill we had to cover another 10 kms to reach our hotel. On the way we were stopped by cops, who were quite bugged of their duty, so were chatting with us for some time. They just asked us where are we headed to and then directed us in the right direction. Our stay in Peralassery was booked at Broad Beans, it was a three-star property and the rooms were lavish. We dropped dead on the beds within few minutes.
Optimus informed us in the morning that the breakfast was complimentary and we were supreme hungry. Free unlimited breakfast! I guess we emptied half of the kitchen pantry ordering seconds, thirds….and on we went.
We went to the Peralassery Temple; it has an awesome pond with a hell lot of steps. We took lots of photos and left for Kochi. After driving for almost 3 hours we reached Kozhikode and decided to have lunch in hotel Opal. The road was narrow for our bikes to be parked with the luggage, so we sent scouts in all directions to check for parking space. Maverick returned with a parking space for lodge that was empty and I returned with a street that was empty but was risky to park with all the luggage. So we went with Maverick’s suggestion to park inside the lodge. We had Roi (fish eggs), chicken and Biryani. I and Sgt. Cross stayed behind in a bakery beneath the hotel and Maverick and Optimus went ahead to shop for a trouser for Optimus. I did not pay attention to my phone and was walking towards our bike when I saw Optimus outside a shop, he said there was some issue with the owner and Maverick went ahead to resolve that. So I and Sgt. Cross went ahead to check on Maverick, as we entered the parking area we were informed by the people that Maverick was called in the nearby police station. I asked the Sgt. Cross to look after the luggage and the bikes. Mostly for bikes because flat tyres would mean wasting another hour and a hell lot of exercise pull almost 200 kgs. As I started to take my bike and go to the police station one of the guys closed the gates on me, well, I told him I was not walking to the police station and forced the gate to open. Well, back in the police station we were still clueless why the fuck police were involved in a parking issue. Apparently the owner knew the police inspector at the police station and planned to extort money from us. Maverick being a lawyer by profession gave in his credentials to the inspector and we all said sorry to the owner. The police officer knew he wouldn’t be able to extort us, let us go but the owner was a cheap son of a bitch, he still asked us ₹150 as parking charges. We gave him the money, but then we spent a good time wearing our gears and giving him looks.
We were near the coastal road around 2200 hours and Optimus informed us that this was the last Dhaba where we can eat after this it was only sea near the road. We had an okayish food for just 150 (Only Me and Maverick ate the gravy and fish, Sgt. Cross ate the Parota with the gravy and Optimus had the Parota with tomato ketchup). At one of the hairpin turns Maverick had a near death experience as he was on a course of a head on collision with a bus which was trying to overtake a truck, he was saved the narrow gap. In his own words, “Those few seconds felt like ages and I could recollect all my life’s decisions, the thoughts continued for a few more kilometers.” But the lady luck was not in his favor that day. One of the floodlights of Fire Bolt broke and he had to tie it to the speedometer. We reached Kochi at 2300 hours, after some initial confusion about the hotel address we finally found the hotel after a half hour of search.
We just had 80 kms to cover in the day, hence we started late. We had lunch at hotel North Pride and set on the first destination, St. George Syro-Malabar Catholic Forane Church in Edappally. The church has a truly mesmerizing infrastructure. We took some photos, it was very cloudy atmosphere and a downpour was expected any minute. So, we hurried to the Paradesi Synagogue, a Jewish town 20 kms away from Edappally. It was a beautiful town with Jewish style houses. We did some shopping and left for Kochi fort, where the carnival was happening. We were skeptical about the carnival as no one knew anything about it. The area near Kochi fort was lit up by lights and street art flooded the roads. It felt finally felt like Christmas. We roamed until evening and had dinner near the fort. The dinner consisted of red snapper, Squid, prawns, Kingfish and homemade chocolate coconut cake. The owner was from New Zealand who had settled in India. We left for Alappuzha and reached there in time. For the first time after Goa we reached on time at some spot. Maverick and Sgt. Cross were hungry again, so we asked the owner about decent food places nearby, he told us about a food truck which served awesome food. He helped us to set up the coordinates on google map, well the google map led us to an under construction road. Damn the maps! We knew it was somewhere on the highway so we first went on the main road and then found the truck. It was a crowded place even at midnight. Maverick who claimed, he was shit hungry was done after 4 Parotas, whereas Sgt. Cross and me, who were less hungry as compared to him gobbled 30 neer dosas and 4 Parotas, we also had four cornettos and four Mysore Pak (Indian sweet).We sat on the porch of the dormitory for some time and then went off to sleep on bunkers.
Backwater ride was the main agenda of the day. We got up by 8 and decided to skip bath due to lack of time. Optimus was the only one who bathed. (He had the bath twice that day!) We went downstairs where English breakfast was waiting for us. The omelet was awesome, but the coffee was not that strong. We asked the owner’s wife to get us the coffee so that we would make it strong as per our standards. She got a jar of Bru Gold and I was like, female you just made my day!
We took the backwater ride for two hours, but after 1 hour of the travel in the water and taking photographs in all the possible ways, the ride was a bit boring. We went to the local market and purchased a few spices (Our moms would have barred us from entering the house without these spices) Sgt. Cross and Maverick were tasked at selecting the spices, whereas Optimus and I went ahead to buy lungis. After buying the lungis I requested the worker there to tie the lungi in southern style. Walking in the market in Lungi was fun, everyone was staring at us as if we were aliens. We decided to cover the last patch of 300 km on lungi. (It was my idea and Optimus was the only one who preferred track pants instead of lungis, as he was the navigator.)
Optimus wanted to drive the last patch, but then again we were late and driving at the speed Optimus desired was not possible, hence we decided to switch the riders. Maverick would lead on Dhaka with Optimus, I would be in the middle on the Little Beast while Sgt. Cross would be at the end on Fire Bolt. We drove till 1600 hours, then had lunch at Ramees. The food was tad expensive and was a bit bland. We played Foosball for some time and then we switched the bikes as Maverick was not able to unleash the Dakha at its full potential. So I was in the lead with Optimus on Dhaka, Maverick in the middle on Little Beast and Sgt. Cross continued on Fire Bolt. We decided to cover the maximum distance before the dusk. I and Optimus had a near death experience when on a hairpin turn in the mountain, a bus was trying to overtake a truck and was in the opposite lane covering the entire road. It was a valley with the mountain on my left and valley on the other end. I found a small pothole and jammed my bike in the pothole millimeters away from the bus. The jerk was so sudden that it caused Optimus to jump in the air and land on his balls. He was jumping for next 5 minutes. We rode continuously till Thiruvananthapuram, when Maverick suddenly signaled us to stop. He told us Sgt. Cross was lost and he didn’t see him in vicinity for past 15-20 minutes. We were shit scared as Sgt. Cross is the youngest driver and he had the most powerful bike with him. (Read his driving skills can’t be trusted.) We waited for almost 20 minutes, but still there was no sign of Sgt. Cross and his phone was on Flight mode as usual. So Maverick and I decided to go back and check on him, while Optimus would wait with one bike. As we were about to leave, Sgt. Cross called us to inform that the bike was down. We found him just half km apart from our site. Now the things got serious as it was almost 2100 hours and the bike was not starting. First we thought the engine might have shut off due to overheating. The bike had electronic fuel injection, which makes a sound when you turn on the bike. Well, there was no sound when we switched on the bike so we thought the battery was drained out and we were in the middle of nowhere. I had taken an insurance which provided 24×7 roadside assistance, but yeah, those assholes never received my call, after being sent to the answering machine for 5-6 times we decided to call other garage friends for help, finally one of them answered. After hearing the condition, he asked us to check all the fuses of the bike, when Maverick opened the battery compartment a fuse popped in his hand, we were relieved to see the fallen fuse. We fixed the fuse and started the return journey. We reached Kanyakumari at 2300 hours and decided to check -in our bikes. We were shocked to hear from the parcel authority that the parcel acceptance was only until 1700 hours. We had previously inquired at Pune Railway station about the parcel and luggage procedure. It was a 24×7 service, after a bit of arguing and pleading he agreed to check-in our bikes. Then the drama started, he decided to play the role of I’m doing a great favor on you guys kind of guy. After running back and forth with him we finally checked-in our bikes at 0400 hours in the morning. The parcel authority guy asked the guys who were packing the bikes to take all the petrol we had in our bikes. They have a huge scheme running where they try to rob the needy by overcharging them and stealing in all possible ways from them. Had it been in Pune, I’m sure, few bones from his body would have been broken that day. We managed to keep 3 liters for 3 bikes.
Day 7 and 8:
The journey in the train was not that eventful, we slept till the afternoon and then were woken up by noisy kids on the side berth. Those were a noisy bunch of people who kept us up for the remainder of the journey. I finally had to shout for silence when we were busy doing the calculations for the trip and there was a mismatch of almost eight thousand. We reached Pune at 1630 hours and had to take down our bikes. Train halting for only 10 minutes and it had a parcel bogie at either ends of the train. Maverick and I were tasked with getting the bikes down. Optimus and Sgt. Cross were tasked with taking all the luggage. When we got down from the train, I noticed the bag of mirrors was missing. I and Maverick raced back in our bogie and started the search for the mirrors. It took few more precious minutes to locate the mirrors, we got them and raced out where Sgt. Cross informed us that the bikes were on the other end of the train. I started running towards the other end of the train after sometime I glanced back to find Maverick was not behind me. I continued to run towards the other end and Sgt. Cross was trying to catch up with me. By the time I reached the other end of the train the parcel bogie was sealed and it would be opened only in Mumbai now. I ran back to where our luggage was kept. Maverick had already unloaded the bikes, when he reached the parcel bogie they were already sealing it, he somehow managed to get down the other bikes in time. We finally got our bikes and the saga thus ended.