Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Breakfast Ride !!

"If you don't understand what it means to ride a Royal Enfield Bullet, then whatever written here may be felt as insane ramblings."
The effects of not following ones passion is something which makes life very boring. A long lull in group riding is something which no riding enthusiast can sustain. Ever since the cracker of a ride to the Ooty for the Rider Mania almost 1 year back, nothing was happening in the riding department. The group - Silver Bullets was showing its presence only through the occassional mails. Our group moderator's shift of his work location and an unfortunate accident to one of the most active member only prolonged the lull.

But we know something is gonna come up, but everytime something was planned, due to one reason or another everything got shifted. But against the run of events we found out a reason to ride, we wanna take some snaps of Raghu's bullet which had gone through a complete make over and we wanted to have a breakfast far away from our dwelling place, so a ride idea was born, "THE BREAKFAST RIDE"

The planning happened on one evening and next day as early as 5.00 pm Raghu and myself were thumping hard through the Thiruvananthapuram town with the meaty thumps being audible atleast a kilometer away, thanks to the city which was yet to wake up dressed up with all the bare essentials for a safe riding.

It is very hard to shoot pics during a ride, coz I get too much absorbed in the ride that I hate to stop. My camera started the days action when Raghu stopped for a petrol gulp.

We reached our designated start up point - Vellayamabalam for Anil and Sankar to join. Since Anil's bullet was not with him, he decided to join us along with Sankar, just to get a feel of the ride. It is painful for a hardcore rider to watch others ride, but something is better than nothing.

The bulls parked underneath the bright yellow coloured neon street lamps was a sight to watch.

Raghu's bull was looking really mean and I enjoyed drooling over it, the way each of the newly laid components are put in place, the level of perfection it had, it sure is a masterpiece.

The white A star with those beautiful white lights were soon near us and we were meeting our rider pals Anil and Shankar after a long gap. Exchanging pleasantaries were delayed as we decided to proceed with the ride. The plan was to ride upto Kulathupuzha, a distance of about 60kms, explore Oil Palm India Ltd if possible, have breakfast and then ride back.
The city was still sleeping but our hearts was thumping to the tune of the meaty acoustic effect produced by the bullets enhanced by the free flow exhaust, Goldie. Road development works along the Vellayambalam Peerorkada stretch had ensured that the roads provided ample oppurtunity for the rider to feel like an offroading session. Once we passed Peeroorkada, roads opened up and the small winding roads began. The moment winding roads appear, bullets began to show its character, the rock like stability in taking turns and the confidence inspiring - completely planted on road - feeling makes the rider sway the machine with absolutely effortless ease.

Raghu was leading, and I was enjoying the way his mean machine was presenting itself amidst the beautiful roads alongside the freshness imparted by the real cool morning breeze.
When everything seems so exciting, something happens which overturns expectations. Occassionally I was getting the smell of petrol and initially, thought it as a case of petrol escaping from the full filled tank. But soon I saw Raghu pulling out to a side of the road, his carb was leaking !!!

Within no time Anil swung into action, guided by tech guru Sankar's advice. The carb was opened, and found out that the leak happens when throttle was released after accelarating too much, the petrol inlet was not getting completely closed by the float during the release process, due to which more petrol was getting into the carb eventually coming out of it. The float was taken out, twisted a little, put it back, carb closed and checked for leak, still leak was not completely done away with, but since the nature of leak was understood, Raghu was confident that he could give the throttle in such a way that he can ensure that it does not happen.

After about 30 minutes of this session, we hit the roads again, with Raghu in the lead again, trying to give a continuous throttle rather than open - close method. City roads gave way to beautiful country sides and the effect of thumping through winding roads through rich dense green vegetation in the early mornings is something to be felt rather than explained.

A little after Palode a sign board pointing westward indicated the direction of Oil Palm india limited and the direction of our travel followed suite. The roads were perfect for a ride, narrow village roads, zero traffic, thick forest like ambience

It was a cloudy morning and sun was reluctant to come out and the chillness was still present.
All the while we were moving through the side road of Oil Palm India Ltd. We wanted to have a peek inside the vast property of this corporation which was known to have many beautiful spots. Finally we got to see a small road towards a hill which was just in motorable condition. The bullets were soon put into offroad mode and the fun started. Watch the roads in this place

The lack of roads made the ride more thrilling. Some stretches were good, but all along the scenery was just mind blowing.

The most interesting and exciting part of the ride was happening and we enjoyed every moment of it. Since our friends were waiting down in the main road and since Raghu had to return by 9am we decided to go back after a quick break uphill. Watch Raghu after an exhilarating ride.

Raghu's steed was subjected to a shooting spree, but the dull climate ensured that the output was not upto my expectations. Still got to learn a lot on photographing in such dull light

My pride possession and work horse was also enjoying his day out in these rough roads

Turned back and another good ride through these beautiful hill side continued. At some points the place resembled other famous hill stations like Munnar (click here to view more of Munnar)

God's own country Kerala is really amazing, coz we are just 50 kms away from Trivandrum and the place looks like an exotic hill station. After riding through for som 10 kms more through the side of Oil Palm India Ltd. we decided to turn back and proceed to Kulathupuzha, but since it was already 7.30am we decided to stop at a place before Kulathupuzha, have our breakfast and then do the return ride.

The ride back through the narrow roads towards Palode was equally interesting. The roads were lovely with those beautiful woods around

This place is truely exciting and I have to come back here again for exploring further. We did not get to see any of the oil palms except a few on the road sides.

The ride from palode to Madathara was a quickie with foot peg srapping the ground on every turns. By the time we reached Madathara, Anil's steed was waiting steered by his friend Biju. Soon Anil and Shankar to joined us and it was breakfast time. 

The road side hotel at Madathara proved to be more than good, and the taste of the hot puttu & kadala, appom and egg curry surely left a lasting impression on the taste buds. Even the tea served was very tasty that almost all of had atleast 2 cups. The regular Silver Bullet meeting happened at this hotel and discussions ranging from the low end cars to the high end SUVs were being done in full swing.

By the time we came out of the hotel, it was already nearing 9am. The return ride has to be quick and soon we started our journey, through Kadakkal. The ride till MC road at Nilamel was through some tough terrain, but once we got into MC road (Main Central road) the average speeds shot up and a leisurely cruise ensured. The new bypass after Venjarammood towards kazhakoottam has made the travel to Thiruvananthapuram a lot more comfortable as it is easy on traffic. By the time I entered my home, my thirst for rides has been given a boost and such short and sweet rides is going to quench it at least a little.

SMSes were soon sent across to ensure that everyone reached back safely and it was wonderful to see that all who joined were sharing the same feelings. It was a short, it was sweet, it was energizing, it was pulverzing and above all WE GOT TO RIDE & WE THUMPED HARD, REAL HARD

Other ride stories

Please do check the new page on this blog - "DAMS"

 Thank you for visiting my blog. Hope to see you again here !!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thottipalam - Asia's Numero Uno Aqueduct !!!

Hope you all enjoyed the trail to Padmanabhapuram Palace when we explored each nook and corner of the palace and was amazed by the excellent craftsmanship of yester years. For those who want to relive the experience, click here.

Time is now 10 minutes past 3 pm. So we have ample time to explore around before culminating our journey at Kanyakumari. But, Where to go? The options are Thripparappu, a water fall 10km from here or Thottipalam about which unfortunately I don't have much idea, except that it is Asia's largest aqueduct.
I have been to Thripparappu earlier and being a holiday I could imagine how crowded the place will be. So the only option is to pay a visit to Thottipalam.

The locals here are more than happy to help us in finding the direction and seems like it is not far away. We have to proceed in the direction of Thripparappu from Padmanabhapuram palace and then turn left after 10kms meaning which we will be on the village roads till we reach our destination. Let us see what is in store for us. The excitement of exploring the places unknown to us is something really special and the anxiety part is slowly setting in.

As expected we are now travelling along side a beautiful river and I cannot resist from stopping here.

It is the same mountain which we saw from the Indravilasom (click here to see more of Indravilasom) of Padmanabhapuram palace. The sound of gushing river, the flowing wind and occasional chirp of birds made all of us silently gaze. It seems like we can spend the whole evening here, but let us proceed to our intended destination. The roads are maintained well, with rubber plantations on both sides signifying the presence of water and fertilized soil around.

The road conditions are changing now and pothholes are slowly making its presence felt and alas now there are absolutely no roads at all. Seems like it is time for another stop as now on one side I could see some beautiful rock formations.

This shot reminded me of the "Parapally beach" near Quilandy in Kozhikkode which also had some beautiful rock formation overlooking the timelessly lashing tides. (Click here to experience Parappally)

Have a look at the roads too, how the tarred section terminated to this stretch.

Anyway we can move on. We have now travelled around 9 kms and a small T junction is in sight. We can take the left route as adviced. Roads are becoming narrower and the thick density of rubber trees restricting the passage of daylight is giving a haunted experience.

Are we on the right track. No one to ask. The route is good. No vehicles, steep and narrow roads. I am rolling down the windows. Just enjoy the sound of nature. Listen carefully and you too can hear the sound of water gushing down at a distance and the sound of insects occasionally rising their decibel levels. Still no signs of the aqueduct, but watch closely between those dense trees, a huge rock in the shape of an animal is happily resting.

Sights like this is making me feel like, we are on a trail akin to the "Evil dead" movie. Alas here there are some people. They are telling that we are in Thottipalam now, just move down through the right road. Oh did we make a bad decision, for we could see only a small canal here. In any case let us just proceed through the steep decline in a road which has the same width as that of the car we are travelling.

Oh!! we just passed a small children's park. Why a children's park amidst the village side. We can take a look after parking the vehicle.

Two giraffe models are happily inviting us to the park, kids are happy that they have a kids park at their disposal. Watch the place closely, what are those big pillars behind the Giraffe, it is huge, it is tall and there seems to be a bridge on top of it. Are we watching the aqueduct, if yes it seems interesting, let us walk ahead and see if we can get a more detailed view of it. Wow, we are nearing an open space and there seems to be a small bridge. Oh yeah we are on top of the bridge and now the Asia's largest aqueduct is right in front of us.

Standing tall amongst the woods, its contrastingly colored pillars making it look distinct from the greenery around, this has got a brilliant presence. We cannot quite make out from where it is starting and where it is ending.

Watch this frame closely and yes there is a way to get on top!! Wah that will be brilliant experience. This place is slowly getting into our heads as it is opening up more and more possibilities. We have already started a brisk walk towards those steps with my little one leading the way. He too seems completely excited at the prospect of getting up at such a height.

It seems to be a long way up.

But that is not going to deter us from going up. Let us start the climb up with the excitment giving us all the energy needed to reach the top. So just get ready to get another perspective of this place, a place not quite known as a popular tourist destination, but holds exciting promise.

We are half way up. Just look back

Watch how those pillars blend with nature, it is as if this bridge is dissolving itself to the greenery. The perspectives are changing faster as we move up. Again look back, it is just getting better and better, more and more things are coming to our frame of vision.

We are almost on top now and the adrenalin rush is getting to our heads too. But, as the psycologists points out, life is not simple, there are a lot of things which makes life not an easy proposition. Six or Seven neatly dressed up gentlemen are stationed on top. They seem to be the only visitors around. Most of them are in there teens or just above that. As we are getting closer to them, the smell of alcohol is all around and now we could very well hear bad comments being passed, directed at the ladies. All my excitement of getting to the top for enjoying the nature in a different perspective seemed to die down immediately and another kind of adrenalin rush seems to take a life. 

What am I upto. What should I do now? Start a brawl with them. Afterall what am I going to gain by giving them a mouthful, will they change because of that? The end result will be that my mood will be spoilt. My young one is still climbing up happily and so is my wife. Good sense prevailed soon and my mind is quickly gaining composure and I am beginning to think that these guys are talking in a language which I don't understand. Watch the guys who thinks drinking in public place and showing off is the best thing to do in this world.

It wouldn't have bothered me, had they minded their own business enjoying the company and the drink they are having. It really goes out of hand when they cross the border of our privacy. Wonder when these fellows will get a lesson or two on respecting the privacy of others.

Let us move ahead and thank God, now I am feeling better, I can feel the wind, I can feel the fresh air, I can hear the sound of gushing water and my eyes are energised by the lush greenery around.

We are now on top of the steps, but before we proceed any further, let us just get some technicalities of this wonderful aqueduct and this sign board gives an insight to the specifications.

The height of the pillar is an awesome 100 feet (approx 30 meters). Length of this bridge carrying water is a whopping 1200 ft or around 400 meters. There is a duct for carrying the water from this mountain to the next mountain. The duct has a height of around 7 feet. Apart from the duct there is a walk way too, through which we will be walking in a short time from now. Before walking on top of the bridge, let us walk a little back wards and see from where water is being fed here.

A neatly built canal ferries water upto this point, from where the aqueduct carries over, taking up the responsibility of guiding the water to the next mountain, so that people living in the mainland on the other side gets enough water for agricultural as well as daily needs. Whoever has thought of this concept in the 1960s deserves a pat in the back, for we could see lot of farming projects on the other side of the duct, a sure result of the availability of water.

Let us start our stroll through the walkway along side the duct. Have a look at the waterway and the walk way.

It is a long walk, but will any one complain. I am still not ready as I want to take some more snaps from the starting point itself. Is this a never ending walkway.

My little boy cannot wait anymore as he is not finding it quite logical to stay put at the starting point. He started his stroll immediately and we have to follow suit. The view is nothing short of awesome and I am sure I will find myself short of words to describe the moments ahead of us.

This stroll is surely going to take a lot of time as the view which we get from this height and the wind blowing across is simply a great experience.

Let us get a detailed view of what is there on both the sides. Towards one side it is plain lands with loads of coconut trees and a strem gushing in through its middle.

The other side gives a completely different outlook because of the presence of undulating terrain culminating at a big mountain.

The height at which we are walking is making everything look miniscule. Our car is presenting itself as a contrastingly colored toy amidst the greenery.

My son, unfazed by the height was feeling it really interested to walk briskly at this height and he wants to be the first one to finish this mighty long trail.

My wife had other plans, she was enjoying the coolness of the water running down through the duct.

It has been a long time since we started this stroll, but both me and wife has till now completed only a quarter of the total length.

Let us walk further and see how the ambience changes, how the frame changes, how the scope of vision changes.

The width of the stream in the middle of the plain lands towards the right of our strolling path seems to be increasing.

Watch closely the rock formations visible from here.

The path of the stream on the other side is more and more visible now.

The steps through which we climbed up also is presenting itself as a beautiful figure.

Now we are in the middle of the aqueduct. Let us see the scenery on both sides now.

Picture perfect and the enthusiast in me is simply refusing to proceed ahead. By this time my son has already reached the other end, with my wife's sister giving him company.

The stroll is yielding more and more new findings. Towards the other end there is a watch tower kind of a thing. Steps at the other end of the duct passes through the watch tower.

Slowly but steadily this is turning out to be an experience which we never really thought of when we embarked on this trip and sure this will stay in our minds for a long time to come. By this time only we two were on top of this beautiful bridge and needless to say the ambience is perfect to reliven all those romantic moments, making the stroll a great experience.

We are now right on top of the watch tower and it is interesting to see a watch tower from top, something we might not have seen unless in an aeroplane.

To make matters more interesting and more colorful, a beautiful kingfisher was in sight and the photographer in me is quickly aiming for a shoot which will surely do no harm to this beautiful little creature.

We are now at the end of this really long and marevellous aqueduct and it is not bad to have a look back through the path we tread.

Also featured in the above frame is the walkway down. Hey what is that wooden box which is found aplenty on the plain lands around.

One guy is around trying to ask something to us. He is asking if we want natural honey. He is telling that the honey bees are brewed in those wooden boxes. Aha so there lies the answer. But we are in no mood to buy honey. It is 5pm now, a good one hour since we started the stroll. Even the climb down is exciting. Watch these pillars standing in unison with the approaching watch tower too in the frame.

The steps through which we climbed up is also visible at a distance.

We are nearing the watch tower.

My little one is yelling to us from the park underneath. He wants us to make it little more quicker, since he is waiting there for the last 20 minutes or so. Let me just quickly climb down the steps from the watch tower and join the little one.

The sight of the magnificient pillars which holds the aqueduct is awesome.

Slowly but steadily we are walking back towards the vehicle, but with tremendous sense of excitement of having experienced the NUMERO UNO Aqueduct of Asia, the duct locally known as Thottipalam and has another official name as Mathur Aqueduct, this one too like the Padmanabhapuram palace is also built to stand the test of time serving one of the basic necessities of the homo sapiens.

Time for us to move ahead to the final destination of the day where we will be spending the night today. Please do join me for the next leg of this journey tooo.(Click here to view the next part of this story)

Hope you also enjoyed the stroll through the magnificient aqueduct, the height of which is sure to impress upon anyone and it is a place to be felt than be read and seen in pictures.

Quick Facts

Name of the Place:
Mathur Aqueduct (Thottipalam)

How to Reach:
From Thiruvananthapuram take Nagercoil Route, Turn left at Marthandam/Azhagiya Mandapam ask for directions

From Nagercoil take Thiruvananthapuram route, Turn right just before Thuckalay, pass through Padamanabhapuram Palace and then ask for directions

Other nearby attractions (click on links to explore the places)

Padmanabhapuram Palace

Udayagiri Fort
Thripparappu falls

Time to spend at this location
2 hours more than enough, Chose a season just after the rains

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