My most recent ride was from Bangalore to Masinagudi with a bunch of road crazy rubber burners from the Ad fraternity. There were six of us in total and 3 bikes. 2 Thunderbirds and 1 all time favourite Yamaha RX100. We decided to start out early and swore to meet up at town hall at 6.00 am for kick off. But, as is in most cases, we had a black goat in our midst who partied away the night before and landed up at the kick off point 3 hours late. So, in actuality, we hit the road to Masinagudi at 9.00 am on Saturday morning.
The road leading to Mysore is very well laid. Though, at the starting point we had a lot of problems with traffic. Being a weekend every motorist in the city seemed to be heading out. You can imagine how our frustration would have heightened and how much we would have cursed the black goat for delaying our departure. Anyway, by the time we got on to Mysore road, all traffic had cleared out and the only thing between us and Masinagudi was a long stretch of smooth 6 lane highway. The road is absolutely well laid and is a pleasure for biking. The only problems on this heavenly stretch were cabbies. They drive like maniacs, breaking every road rule.
We made a lot of pit-stops on the way and hence our journey was longer than estimated. Nevertheless, we were in it for the pleasure of the ride and enjoyed it thoroughly. Our first halt was Café Coffee Day on Mysore road were we had a leisurely brunch. Next stop was for beer and refreshments on a roadside dabha before hitting Gundalpet. From thereon we only made minor stops to empty our bladders and to smoke. From Gundalpet we entered the Bandipur wildlife sanctuary. This part of the ride I thouroughly enjoyed. The road leading to Bandipur was the worst stretch we had to deal with. There are more potholes than road. But once you reach Bandipur the roads become tamer. The highlight of riding through Bandipur is that you are actually riding through pristine forest. To the right and left of the road you will see thick forest. I was lucky to come upon wild elephants while riding through. I also caught fleeting glimpses of deer and monkeys. The ride through Bandipur took us to Mudhumallai.
Mudhumallai falls into Tamil Nadu limits, hence we had actually done a cross border ride. The ride through Mudhumalai brought us face to face with more tourists. The place was brimming with people. It looked like the forest housed more people than animals. We stopped here for supplies (read booze), then proceeded on to our camping site.
We stayed in tents in a small, well maintained resort called Jungle hut – one of the oldest and most well maintained resorts in Masinagudi. It’s owned by the Mathias family. Jungle Hut is set up on a small clearing in the forest at the foothills of the Nilgiris. The place even has a nice little swimming pool to cool off in during the daytime. The food is absolutely delicious. For more details on Jungle Hut click the link.
We arrived at Jungle Hut at about 5.20 pm, exhausted and famished. We quickly ransacked what was left of the yummy lunch buffet and headed off to check the tents. Once in the tents we unpacked our gear and headed off to wade in the pool. The water was too inviting for us to avoid. As the day grew darker, we settled around one of the tents for a yakaroo session and a couple of drinks. It was loads of fun sitting there in a clearing in the forest just talking and drinking. We occasionally spotted a few wild hare’s bobbing around from bush to bush. It was quite a mesmerizing experience. Beneath our feet there was wild grass and above us a clear star studded night. I even spotted a shooting star. After joking and lazing about there for a while we headed to the bar and then eventually to the buffet hall. Dinner was even more scrumptious than our late lunch. Done with dinner we headed back to out tents, sat around for a while and then headed off to our designated tents to kill the remaining hours of the night.
One little incident that happened before we settled down put some of us in the group at unrest. While we had been at the tents, talking and drinking, we had noticed this security guy come around the camp every 15 minutes, whipping the darkness with his bright torch beam. Out of curiosity we approached him and enquired about his strange ritual. To which he answered “Nothing to fear sir, it’s just a routine watch that we keep. Animals don’t come through the fence, except once in a while a few black bears do cross over to feast on leftovers.” That was very reassuring to hear.
The night was pleasantly cool. We slept like babies. But we couldn’t stretch our slumber hours beyond 8.00 am the next morning. Reluctantly each of us crawled out of our tents which by now had become little boiling pots. We came crawling out like ants running out of a flooding anthill. After we’d done our toilet routines we headed to the pool to chill off a little. A brief beer session and breakfast followed.
It was time to leave this Shangri-La and head back to the concrete jungle. We made better time on the road on our return. The ride through Bandipur fascinated me again. On the whole, the ride back was quite pleasant and leisurely. We stopped outside Mysore at a place called ‘Fishland’ for late lunch. The food was mouthwatering. We devoured some ‘Neer Dosas’, ‘Crab Fry’ and ‘Prawn Curry’. After that it was an almost not stop ride to Bangalore. We reached around 10.30 pm and headed our own ways.
It was an awesome experience for me, riding into the jungle with fellow biking enthusiasts, experiencing the thrills of the road and coming face to face with the wild. Masinagudi is a wonderful weekend getaway about 240Kms from Bangalore. I’d love to do the trip again. But this time around I’d like to do a road trip till Bandipur and then a trek from there to Ooty, which I heard is an awesome experience. I hope at least this time we’ll have a couple of women in the group.