Thursday, September 6, 2012

Monsoons of Karnataka - Photos of a Ride in the Rain

Since I bought the cycle last year, maybe even much before that, I had a dream. To ride in the rains. But never got around to doing so. When the opportunity came this year I wasn't about to let go of the chance to fulfill my dream and how!

Words will fall short to explain the joy of riding in the rain. Only those who have experienced it will know. I was adamant this time, not to take the easy way out, to shoot even when it rains and so I did. And that my  friends, is why I present to you a photo-essay on the awesome monsoon experience in 20 images.

Route followed -

Madikeri - Mandalpatti - Madikeri - Basavanahalli - Kushalnagar


Highway in Madikeri
Morning in Madikeri. Before breakfast, I wandered onto the highway to capture some scenery. The road looked lovely, since it was a Saturday, there was a lot of activity of school going kids. I just watched people pass by, sometimes I took a shot.

Cycling along greenery, Madikeri
Then we started the ride after a heavy breakfast at East End Hotel. But two of us managed to get lost in the town while the rest proceeded towards the destination. With great difficulty both of us got rid of the traffic and the town to reach this beautiful road. From now the ride was nothing but awesome. Oh btw, it was raining already. :)

Back country trails in Madikeri
Biking through the back country roads was so much fun! The roads had no traffic, winding through estates, villages and unending greenery. I kept singing to myself "This is the Life!".

Green fields, Madikeri
Riding along the green fields, it was THE DREAM!
By now, we caught with Girish. So now it was me, him and Nitin on the lovely trail.

Raging river during Monsoons, Madikeri
With views like this, I couldn't care less about the long ride ahead to the Mandalpatti Peak. We stopped and took photos, in the Rain!

Cycling to Mandalpatti Peak
We climbed to reach half way to the peak. CAM guys were also riding along the same route that day. They finished the ride and we had just started, we were about to have an adventure as I knew it.

Lone cyclist in the Mist, Mandalpatti
From the previous point, the road took a turn for worse according to most but it was awesome according to us. For it was in such bad shape, the MTB was used to its full potential. After the dense misty forest, came the open misty mountain tops. Riding here too was the Dream! Actually most of the ride was dreamlike. :)

Pushpagiri Widlife Reserve
It rained like crazy while we were cycling up. The winds were throwing me off balance and the visibility was as low as 2-3 meters. I could hear voices as I cycled up. Only much later I could make out the faint silhouette of the other riders in the distance. Mandalpatti was a kilometer more from here.

Ghostly tree and the cyclists in the mist, Mandalpatti Peak
I was walking alone in the mist. I didn't know if my friends had gone ahead on cycles or if they were even headed this way. I just kept walking in the drizzle. I could see a faint figure of giant branches through the mist. As I got closer it was this magnificent tree that took my breath away. I met my friends there too. We took lots of photos as you can see.

Posing at Mandalpatti Peak
As the rain increased, the drama didn't stop still. It was 4.30pm and we had a long ride down an back to Madikeri. But we kept taking more photos. :)
Off-roading in the rain on our way back was surely one of the highlights of the ride. The rain was lashing and the gradient was crazy. I kept using my front brake instead of the back brake but my guardian angels were looking over me and nothing happened. Only next day I came to know of my great folly! Once we reached the base of the mountain at around 6.30pm we had more to cycle to reach Madikeri. In the night, with no torches, few of us scrambled our way up through the uphills and downhills to reach Madikeri. The day was well spent.

Royal Tombs at Madikeri
The next morning three of us visited the Royal Tombs at Madikeri and started the ride towards Kushalnagar via Arangi Backwaters.

Now this one's a thinker. Is it a T- junction or a Y-junction or a Y-junction? Go figure!

Soon after Madikeri, we joined the highway to Kushalnagar and the roads were so awesome I can't tell you! It was a comfortable gradient, enough for you not to pedal and also enough for you not to worry about going too fast. The smooth ride lasted for more than an hour. Somewhere along the way we realized we took the wrong route and that we missed the backwaters. Knowing that the rest of the team would've visited backwaters, we thought "aaj kuch toofani karte hain!". We pestered the shopkeeper en route until he gave us a viable alternative to the backwaters. 

The shopkeeper told us about a village called Basavahalli, 6 kms into the deviation from the highway that would lead us to backwaters. 5 kms before Kushalnagar we took left to find the most beautiful route. Not knowing what lay ahead added to the excitement. We took a random trail to reach this small pond.

Again back in the country trails, the monsoon greenery was strikingly beautiful. Small roads, no traffic and pretty sights was what we saw for the next few hours.

So who wants to camp here?

We entered a Wildlife Reserve too. The wet bark of the trees and the fresh color of the leaves was extremely picturesque. We stopped to take more photos but still didn't know if there was a lake or backwaters at all around. We kept cycling anyway.

Have Camera! Will Shoot! That's me btw. :)

And then out of nowhere, we spotted this huge expanse of backwaters far from the road. We couldn't contain our excitement as we got closer. The monsoons had the water level rising. If you see, the telephone wires are half under water! The mountains were in the far distance and the lake seemed to be everywhere. The joy of following the unknown is that you will be ecstatic anyway, since you didn't you know what to expect to begin with.

Riding towards Kushalnagar
The ride back was nothing short of legendary either. It started pouring heavily as we rode towards Kushalnagar. Riding in heavy rains, in the forest, water splashing all over, brilliant downhills, I mean that is the dream! Drenched in the rains to the core, bones were shaken to the core,( thanks to the offroading) I had the most awesomest ride yet!

43 comments:

  1. OMG, is this really near Coorg? How badly I want to visit this place!

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    Replies
    1. Visit any part of western ghats in monsoon, it is always this awesome! :)

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  2. How do you manage to protect the camera while its raining ?

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    1. Most DSLRs ate not as delicate as we believe them to be. They can take some rain, some heat, some dust and so on. Next thing is a good camera bag. Lowepro bags are weather proof. I used one of those on this trip. Also had an oversized rain jacket to cover the camera bag and myself when it rained.

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  3. So who wants to camp here?
    ////////

    Camp ??? I would like to 'live' there... Looks so beautiful...

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    Replies
    1. Ha ha, I know! Almost was in half mind to stay there for the night. ;)

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  4. awesome post and the place looks amazing. A must see in my next trip to India. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Yes, definitely visit this place, even better if in monsoons. :)

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  5. Awesome photo essay Neelima!
    I say, "phir se kuch toofani karte hain" :)

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    1. Ha ha, definitely, kuch aur toofani karna to banta hi hai!! ;)

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  6. wow!!!! what an experience it must have been!!!! and I have the same question as Anusha. how did you protect your camera in the rain? we had been to mahabaleshwar a few weeks back, and it was pouring there...the mist and fog was just too wonderful and i had a great time clicking away.. till i realised that in spite of all my efforts, the lens seemed to have fogged up, and then all of a sudden, my camera decided to shut down...any tips on how i can avoid that next time?

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    Replies
    1. While DSLRs can take a decent beating, unfortunately it is not the case with point and shoots. Besides I didn't exactly shoot in pouring rain. :)
      The best thing to do is to keep the camera dry and handy, as soon as it stops raining, take a shot. I can imagine how beautiful mahabalehwar must have been. Here's to more monsoon trips!

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  7. Wonderful photos..the lush green in the monsoon just keeps calling..super..the reserve forest road is the pick of the photo..and the second best..the cycle's image in the muddy pot hole..

    Your narrations is awesome..felt like am drenching in the rain..

    Yes Mandhalapatti in the rain is jaw dropping..i had experienced it.

    Nice write up, and amazing photos.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Srikanth! Glad you enjoyed this post. It was a beautiful ride and I totally loved the ghostly tree on of Mandalpatti peak! :)

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  8. Brilliant post with awesome photos. I suppose you had an awesome rain ride.

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

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  9. Brilliant Write up. Lived the moment through your photo blog. Thank you for writing such a nice blog. Keep it coming!

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  10. Awesome! :) I want to cycle in the rain too! :P

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  11. hi, me and my friend looking for buying a MTB for off-roading. which brand u can suggest? our budget is 20k to 25k (we have to think about to stretch it untill 30k) with disc breaks. we did test ride on trek 3700, KHS 150, Bergamount 6.1 in BOTS showroom and we would like to check gaint,scott,gt also. which one you recommend from your experience?

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    Replies
    1. I haven't ridden many bikes to suggest you on the models. But I have friends who have all of the bikes mentioned by you and none have any major complains about those bikes.
      Yes, I think you might need to stretch till 30k to get a mechanical disc. Off the top of my head I think Trek 3700 or Gaint Revel series might be a good option. I would suggest you check with Venki from WheelsSports and Nilesh from ProCycle to get better idea on which bike to buy for offroading.

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  12. Awesome pics Neelima. Just loved it,,,I wish I was there :(

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, these rides keep happening. You can join next time. :)

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  13. Hi Neel,

    My personal view on this blog is your narration was really superb!! Actually.... even if you wouldn't added these pics also, everyone could feel the impressions of this trek with your wordly expression.:-) But thanks for these pics as it made to feel the chill of rain while reading this blog. I am sure you would have added these pics for that reason lol....

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  14. Love your photos again. So beautiful. Not sure about cycling in the rain though. I prefer dry weather any day. Thanks for sharing your stories.

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    1. Thanks Swati, in general even I do not prefer getting wet but every time I got drenched, I enjoyed the most. :)

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  15. Loved it. Fascinated about the cycling in monsoons bit! :)

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    Replies
    1. You should try it too sometime, it is awesome! :)

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    2. Someday when am back in India! :)

      Or maybe I should think about getting a bike here?!

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  16. Wonderful write up and beautiful photos.
    "Only those who have experienced it will know" rightly said Neelima. Two months ago I also enjoyed monsoon of Karnataka. I traveled 1500 kms in monsoon but on bike.

    Pics of your ride enlighten my memories of western ghats.

    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Western Ghats are a pleasure to ride in, especially in monsoons. Thanks!

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  17. Hi!!
    I randomly came across this page and I must say, it makes me want to revisit Coorg, "The Wandering Soul Style". Great shots!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, you should visit Coorg soon then! :)

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  18. May I invite you to Kolli Hills - A hidden hill station of Tamilnadu?

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    Replies
    1. Sure you can. Have been meaning to visit Kolli hills for a while now. :)

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  19. What better way to hydrate yourself than the monsoon in India. Lovely pics of a mesmerizing land.

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  20. Neelima, got a question for you.. How do u click pics even in such moisture and rain.. ?? i mean, whenever i have tried, i have found that by the end, there's moisture in my point and shoot digicam and the lens are foggy...I am sure it is a very basic question and may sound silly, but i am really looking for a solution for this.. So please do lemme know what to do about it.:)
    BTW, huge fan..of u and the pics. U got me into travelling!! :D. So i owe you big time.

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    Replies
    1. wow, that's huge! I am so glad I played a part in your travel adventures. :)
      Coming to the camera, well I always carry a dry cloth to wipe the moisture out of the lens in monsoons. If it's foggy in the viewfinder, it's okay. Just keep the lens dry. Has been a really long time since I used a point and shoot, so I'm afraid I don't have a better solution than this.

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