U turns of Kodai hills

Mr Jaggu missed his sister and nieces. They too missed a cranky-chatterbox like Jaggu. Jaggu should catch the first bus at 4am to go to her house, which was far away from his home. But he decided to take his Gladiator bike – his new toy! He thought he could start by 4am early in the morning and reach there around 7 or 7-30. Else during the peak summer, Tamil Nadu will roast him like the peeled potato of finger chips. He kept an alarm at 3am, safely getting up around 04:45. He has a strange habit. He will never blame himself for his own faults. He blamed his phone first as his mummy was just watching him. Then he blamed the low volume of the alarm. Finally, he blamed his mummy for switching off his alarm.

Furious mummy looked like Kannagi who argued with Pandya King. She started shouting to reveal the root cause

“You , donkey, sleeping like lazy buffalo. You snoozed the alarm twice and slept like an arrogant donkey. For every snoozed alarm, your dad and I used to wake up. But you never did, Kumbhakarna. Finally you blame me ah. I’ll kick you out of this house, irritating donkey.”

He was wondering, how many types of buffaloes and donkeys she knew. She was still shouting at him like Vishnu sahasranamam chanting, while spraying water mixed with cow dung at the entrance. In their custom, no one should leave the house before spraying. Buffaloes and donkeys seem to be the national animal of his house. Jaggu was wondering, what’s wrong with other animals like dinosaurs, elephants and horses? WTH she call him buffallo and donkey always. She should change her partiality attitude among those poor animals.

Hearing the ‘laksharchana’, Jaggu took a lovely shower and got ready in 30 minutes. He tried to take his bike outside. Mummy came there with another round of shouting.

“How many times I told you, donkey? Not to go out with empty stomach.”

“maa too early ma. I’ll take later.”

“Drink this neeraharam (rice-water, usually kept overnight) at least! When you go out of house, your stomach should be cool. As long as I am here, I’ll give it to you, foolish donkey. If you get married, your wife will not force you…”

“Ok Ok. do not shout ma. Your hubby may shout at me as well. Instead of shouting at me, search for a good girl for me to marry. righto?”

He put his bike on morning warm-up mode while drinking what she gave. He switched on the headlights, clicked the gear shaft to first position by 5-15. On the way he got some money from an ATM. The poor security man was still sleeping inside the A/C ATM room. Jaggu was wondering if he could insert a piece of straw into his nostrils.

The route was very simple. Pudukkottai to Manapparai (state highway) – enjoy NH 45 till Dindigul – then take NH 210 till Oddanchatram and come back!

Pudukkottai – Manapparai – Dindigul – Batlagundu
Batlagundu to Pannaikadu
Pannaikadu – Thandikudi – Pachalur – Oddanchatram

It rained the previous night, so the journey was very chill. The road was good and bad, like the human rights policy of western countries. Construction of bridges was in progress. He enjoyed a spectacular sunrise. Peacocks and snakes crossed his way.

He reached Manapparai at 7-00 (58 KMs @ 1 hr and 30 mins). Manapparai was famous for Murukku. But the quality of the Murukku sold at the bus stand was not so good now a days. It lost its taste. It’s too oily as well. He stopped there for nature’s call followed by a phone call.

Manapparai Murukku. Image (c) The Hindu

After Manapparai, he joined NH-45. He needed to ride for the next 60 KMs. Four lane work was in progress. So there were many take-diversion plates. He kept on riding on his left for some time, then on the right side for some time. This patter was repeated multiple times. So keep-the-right is not a fault, when the road is under construction. Does it mean, we can break the rules if we have valid justification? His face was smiling inside his helmet.

The completed road was as smooth as Aavin butter. He could go up to 80kmph (his limit always!! ). There was no sun. The road was smooth. He was enjoying his ride while he opened his wind-shield now and then to get fresh air.

He reached Dindigul bypass – Palani junction at 08-15 AM. (Manapparai – Dindigul 69 KMs @ 1 hr and 15 mins). He should turn to the right on NH 210 to reach his destination. There was a twist in screenplay. The cool weather and the lovely wind made him so crazy. He wanted to ride for some more distance. He doesn’t want to end that chilled journey in another 20 KMs.

He called his sis.

“ka, I won’t join you for breakfast. But I’ll be there for lunch. Do not wait for me.”

“What da? Where are you now?”

“You too? do not start your ‘archanai‘ (blasting). I had enough from your mummy already. I want to ride in the hills. I’ll come soon.”

“Whattt? It is dangerous da, you know. I’ll complain to mummy.”

“Such an obedient daughter, you postpone your responsibility for few hours. I’ll be there soon hee hee.”

Dindigul – Batlagundu

He did not turn to the right as planned. He resumed straight on Dindigul – Madurai road all the way until Kodaikanal Road junction. He took the right to continue his lovely journey on NH 45 Extn. The road was not as smooth as that of earlier. The sun was raising slowly to become more and more horrible. He didn’t have enough petrol to ride on Kodai hills. He stopped at Sempatti to top up the fuel. The petrol staff was so funny, he was asking why Jaggu placed the number plate above the head lamp (Yamaha’s foolish (a) stylish design!)

Batlagundu – Pannaikadu

He continued exploring. Before he crossed Batlagundu, he was about to slip as he was following a mini-lorry. It is the rule. A bike rider should not follow a heavy vehicle at a close distance. They will leave pits and dents between their wheels. Bike riders won’t have time to react. Sometimes, they may apply sudden break as well. The rider may lose balance. After Batlagundu he reached the Ghat road junction. He took the right to go to Kodaikanal. Yes, he did not have a second thought.

After riding for some more distance in the plains, (The road looked like an avenue covered with shadows of tamarind trees on both sides), he touched the ghat road. His up-hilling started there in 4th gear. (Dindigul to Ghat road – 43 KMs @ 1 hr / 09:15am).

Batlagundu – Pannaikadu

The road was smooth. He saw very less numbers vehicles moving slowly, since the summer vacation was over already. He stopped here and there to take a few photographs. The sun was hot enough, but the mountain wind and the shadow beneath the trees subsided the temperature.

There are few other routes lead to Kodaikanal. But Batlagundu – Kodaikanal route is the safer one. In addition, it was the older one built by British. The hair pin pends are less.

Batlagundu – Pannaikadu
Batlagundu – Pannaikadu
Batlagundu – Pannaikadu
Batlagundu – Pannaikadu

He was driving between 30 to 40 KMPH since he felt it was comfortable. He continued at 60kmph on the plains. There was a place called ‘Dam Dam Paarai’ (paarai – hill in Tamil!), where he got a charming view of the valley and an Eli-vaal (rat tail) falls. The water was gushing out slowly. He throttled again. He was very much eager to enter into ‘the road not taken’ – Pannaikaadu – Thaandikudi – Paachaloor – Oddanchatram

He reached the Pannaikadu tri-junction. Kodaikanal is just 20 KMs if you go straight. The ‘road not taken‘ was there on his right. He turned right on the deviated route. That road was hardly taken. Mostly it is used by public transports which connects the villages to different cities like Kodaikanal, Dindigul, and Oddanchatram. He stopped at Pannaikadu for a short break!

Pannaikadu to Thandikudi

You can see, the road was damaged considerably. Even the concrete at the end of the road was also worn out.

Pannaikadu to Thandikudi

Being hardly used, the greeneries were not spoiled there. The greenish bushes and trees decorated both sides of the road. Some of the places on the road seemed to never see sunlight due to those densely covered trees! The bushes with blooms on the side of the road formed a lively-flower-compound-wall. No body should miss it. But the road was bad. Sometimes he brought down the throttle below 20 kmph.

Pannaikadu to Thandikudi

After Pannaikadu, the next destination is Thandikudi. That stretch of the road was much better. He was all alone on that single road. He was the only rider exploring that hill. The horses, horse boys and other jeeps stopped at Pannaikadu. He liked that ekantham (loneliness)! But he didn’t know, the same ekantham would worry him at the later point of the trip!

He saw a view of the green and cloudy valley and dam on the way. (10-25 AM)

Pannaikadu to Thandikudi
Pannaikadu to Thandikudi
Pannaikadu to Thandikudi
Pannaikadu to Thandikudi
Pannaikadu to Thandikudi

He reached Thandikudi soon. He was very cautious about the roads and its branches. So he stopped when ever he got confused, to enquire the route correctly. He took a right turn there.

Thandikudi – Thadiyan Kudisai
Thandikudi – Thadiyan Kudisai

Next target was Thadiyan Kudisai via Mangalam Kombu. Another 10 KMs! The names of the villages were funny. There were lot of uphilling and downhilling with dozens and dozens of many U-turns. Some times he switched to second gear for steep uphilling. Wah.. It was enough in two places, he switched to 1st gear!! In the deep forest, the road divided itself into two. Nobody was there except a teashop, and its owner. The owner-lady looked like God Jakkamma to him.

“Akka, How to go to Pachalur?”

“You should continue to go straight. It will take you to Kuppamma-patti, KC Patti and Pachalur”

He got confused since what she told was different from his earlier enquiries.

“Thats ok akka, But people suggested me to go through Thadiyan Kudisai”

“This is Thadiyan Kudisai”

Then he realized that he had reached Thadiyan Kudisai already. So his next target was Pachalur. Thanking her, his leg started clicking the gear shaft. The downhill and uphill started again. The road was very bad due to rains. The way was dark due to shadows and very hiiiiiiighly grown trees.

On the way He understood from few locals that 1 liter of petrol was 70 rupees there..! (It was 52 in Delhi in 2010). He was interested to see the Churches in those villages. Interesting!

There was a twist at ‘Kuppamma patti’. The locals suggested to take a short cut which can skip KC Patti and lead straight to Pachalur, which may save around 5 KMs. The option to save 5 KMs in hills is simply superb. It is equivalent to 10 or 15 kilometers on the plains. But the shortcut was even steeper. His Glady was vrroooming much while downhilling at 2nd gear. Then again uphilling.. downhilling.. uphilling… oofff.. Finally, he reached Pachalur on time (12-00 noon).

His final target – Oddanchatram – was at 30 KMs from here. The road becomes smoother now, as that road is widely used by Transports. Mostly he was in downhill mode, which indicated that he was reaching the plains. A lot of U-turns reduced the elevation. Bamboo forests decorated the way!

Pachalur – Oddanchatram
Pachalur – Oddanchatram
Pachalur – Oddanchatram

He was flying like a bee as he reached the plains! Alas, he felt like the chicken inside the grill due to the hot sun.. Yes, elevation came down to 500 meters from 1600 and 1200! With a non stop ride surpassing Vadakadu village, he reached the destination with utmost pleasure at 01-00 Noon! (30 kms @ 1 hr)

His sister was scolding him non-stop like an RJ. After her turn was over, his mummy called him to take over.

“What do you think, donkey? Such an irresponsible buffalo. If something happened somewhere, what to do?”

6th Day of June 2010


I’m participating in #BlogchatterA2Z 2022 with theme Yātum ūrē!

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