Cycling in India, The Hill Stations and Tiger Reserves !!

As I said in my last blog, a 7.00am start heading towards Ooty, one of India’s famous Hill Stations !!
We knew that Ooty was to far to reach in one day and we also knew that the last 30k or for us still in old money 18 miles, was all up hill and for that matter the last 12 miles or 20k was very steep and included 36 hairpin bends !!
We decided that we’d try and cycle 80 or so miles and leave the climb for the following day, we headed out and stopped briefly to get our last photo of the palace…

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Still think its an amazing place πŸ˜‰
After that the road was good but the scenery not so great for a while…

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But after about 15 or 20 miles we found a coffee stop…

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And after coffee and cake we were soon back in the grove and the scenery started to improve, mainly because we’d entered the Bandipur Tiger Reserve…..

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I have to admit that we felt a little nervous entering a Tiger Reserve on bikes but we figured that they’d have stopped at the barrier if there was any real danger !!!!!
They do have some great signs in the reserve and it made me wonder if anyone had sent memos to the animals to let them know, here are a couple, you’ll see what I mean…..

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I mean, do the animals know that there supposed to cross here, I had an image of a tiger just crossing where it liked and a ranger trying to tell it off, made me chuckle πŸ˜‰
Pretty soon we crossed from Karnataka to Tamilnadu and another reserve….

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The road was good and we weren’t hanging about and pretty soon we came to the perfect village, almost 30k exactly from Ooty, leaving just the climb for the following day, perfect !!
The village was called Masinagudi and our hotel for the night was another basic but clean and friendly place called….

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Our driver was a bit of a local legend as he’s done loads to educate people on nature, wildlife etc, he was also a real joker….

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That’s him in the middle, the other guys ran the local tea hut we’d just stopped at, good tea I have to admit but very different from Rajasthan, it almost looked orange !!
The next morning saw another early start and as we left the village we took note of this…

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We looked at it and thought we’d be there by lunchtime, how foolish, the next 6 miles or 10k were fairly easy going, up hill but by no means hard and there were animals and scenery to relieve the pain…

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And then it happened, with almost 12 miles or 20k left we started the real uphill, 36 hairpin bends up a very steep hill in hot, clammy weather with bikes and kit weighing 40 kilo !! We both struggled, we stopped often, the excuse was to take photos but we were both hurting, the scenery was spectacular as was the road….

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We just kept going, counting of the bends one by one, some of the signs did make us smile though…

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When we finally reached Ooty we were very cold, tired and hungry, we found the first hotel and checked in, we showered and climbed into bed to get warm, bloody hotel had no heating and frankly, very little hot water either. We were not happy and therefore decided to go out and eat, we found a great place opposite and stuffed our faces on chicken kebabs, they were bloody delicious πŸ˜‰
Ooty itself wasn’t what we expected, it was very dirty, busy, tourist orientated, over crowded and very expensive, we didn’t like it but the surroundings were quite beautiful…

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With no desire to hang around Ooty we left early the next morning, heading for another Hill Station called Kotagiri, the ride was fabulous, as we were already on top of the hill the road just meandered around the valleys throwing up gorgeous views around every corner….

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I could have put at least 20 photos in here but I’ve restricted myself to three, the views were incredible, the best we’ve seen in India so far !!
We made good time to Kotagiri but again found the actual town disappointing so we had a quick cup of tea and headed to Coonoor, more fantastic scenery on the way..
more good quick roads and we arrived still quite early

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The Hotel Vivek….

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Again, clean, friendly and fairly basic accommodation, it suited our needs and after a reasonable lunch we took a taxi to some of the local tourist sites, we were running out of time so this was the easiest way…

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A bit misty but still, none to shabby !!
Leaving Coonoor the next morning meant we were heading to Pollachi, about 65 miles away, the first 15 to 20 miles were downhill and provided some fantastic scenery, we stopped so often to take photos that we barely made 10 miles an hour πŸ˜‰ ……

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It might have been a slow decent but I think the photos were worth it !!
As the road levelled out the landscape changed again and we were soon into towns and villages, we stopped briefly for tea and snacks and were soon back on the road and on the outskirts of Pollachi, we found a hotel right on the main road, checked in, showered and ate, no Wi Fi was a bit of a pain but we walked for a while and hit the sack early.
The following morning we waved goodbye to the hotel…

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And headed out towards Munnar, we didn’t have a great map but we thought we’d be ok, wrong, wrong, wrong !!!
Things started ok, the road was flat and agricultural to start and we made good progress, we stopped to drink coffee at one of India’s fastest growing franchises….

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Seems wrong in a country that grow so much tea but these are really popular now !!
Again after coffee we made good progress and passed through a large town where we were originally going to stop but we decided to keep going. This proved to be a bad idea, very soon we were here…

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Yep, another Tiger reserve, only this time, we were running out of water, it was bloody hot and as we got to the guard hut at the Keralan border the guard informed us that we still had nearly 40 miles to go to Munnar and at least 30 miles were up hill, also he told us there was nothing between where we were and where we wanted to be, we had two choices, turn round and go back or get a but to Munnar !! I’ve always hated having to go back so we waited for a bus and when one finally arrived we got on ! The next 40 miles on that bus was like being on a roller coaster, I don’t think the driver knew where the brakes were let alone know how to use them !!
We sat at the back are knuckles getting whiter as our grip on the rail was put to the test, our minds fortunately were on the incredible scenery that we were missing out on, and even more annoying we found that the guard had been wrong. There were some shops and a few hotels and after about 17k there was even a small town !! It would have been a tough climb but if we’d known what was up the road we probably would have cycled it !!
Still we didn’t know and we did what we thought was best at the time and soon enough we arrived in Munnar. We instantly liked the place, much better that Ooty or Coonoor, cleaner, less crowded and it seemed less ” in your face ” !
We found a quiet hotel near the bus station and quickly settled in before walking up the road for something to eat, we then realised that we’d left something on the bus so we went to the bus station, they contacted the conductor and he put it somewhere safe, they said the bus would be making another trip up the hill later and therefore we could collect our property in the morning !
So bright and early the next morning we arrived at the bus station and sure enough our kit was there, here’s the conductor who saved the day….

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He’s the one wearing glasses, good man, save our bacon πŸ˜‰
Well that wraps up this blog, that’s the Hill Stations of India, next time we’ll be heading for the coast πŸ˜‰
Take care
JC

About John Chevis

I'm a forty something single guy who spent far to long depressed, but luckily for me I found an answer in the form of exercise !! I started running and cycling on a regular basis and now two and a half years later I'm cycling the world !!
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4 Responses to Cycling in India, The Hill Stations and Tiger Reserves !!

  1. Sarah Fountain says:

    Love this one, i can feel your emotions! You were very brave to go through the reserves, i would have pooped my pants. Still your travels can do nothing but build your confidence! Amazing you got your stuff back, you wouldn’t hear would you?! Great pictures! No fan clubs in this one for Naomi…?!You must be looking forward to some home comforts soon on your return, just enough to set you up again for the next chapter! Take care guys, see you soon xxx

  2. Chris Fitzsimons says:

    Good cycling love the photos, you take good care of yourselves and be safe, look forward to seeing you on your return in a few weeks, have some blogs to catch up on. See you soon XXX

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