Escapade ( noun )
an act or incident involving excitement, daring, or adventure.
Camping, naturally, is an escapade for the urban dwellers like us – a chance to breathe in the fresh air, away from the malls and the multitude of people that is inherent to life in any metro. Once in a while, it feels good to disconnect from the grid, to forsake the daily creature comforts that we take for granted, and to revel in the wilderness – or so we thought!
So when Royal Enfield’s post about the next version of RE Escapade ( at Jungle Mount Adventures, near Coorg ) flashed across my FB feed – the only natural course of action was to register for it. And better still, there was a BYOT option – which meant that you could pitch your own tent at the venue! Though neither of us owned tents, I had come across the services offered by XDog Trekking from a previous trip. Booking a tent there was a breeze, I just had to Whatsapp them with my requirements, and that is all there was to it . A couple of days later, I personally went to their store near Silk Board and picked up a 2-person Quechua tent, a couple of sleeping bags and a tent light for the weekend. Do keep in mind that they need a Govt. issued ID card as surety – they keep that as a deposit till the camping equipment is returned.
Now that the camping requirements had been taken care of, we had to decide on the route. Both of us had been to Coorg individually before – and both of us had found the Tibetan monastery at Kushalnagar to be especially interesting. We decided that if we had enough time on our hands, maybe deviating a little bit towards Kushalnagar would not be such a bad idea!
It is always a good idea to start really early if you are riding on the Mysore Road – apart from the advantage of a pleasant weather, you can also avoid the traffic that inevitably builds up later in the day. Apart from a few patchy areas, and the parts where the roads intersect the towns, Mysore Road was a pretty smooth ride for us. A short stop at A2B near Maddur, where we hogged on our favourite road-tripping breakfast – idli-vada, pongal, dosa and filter coffee. Now, I am not sure if it’s something that has developed due to lack of other options – but both of us find this combination to be the perfectly balanced one while on the saddle!
Courtesy an early morning start, we had crossed Mysore earlier than expected, so we could afford to take the deviation towards Kushalnagar. We ended up spending almost an hour at the Namdroling monastery, just silently observing the monks as they hurried about with their daily chores. From what I had read about the Tibetan settlement, there were a couple of other monasteries in the region, which were also worth visiting. Something to look forward to while planning the next trip to Madikeri, maybe..
Bylakupe does not fall on the Mysore-Hunsur-Virajpet route – which is supposed to be the shortest route to our destination. But when we reached the point where tbe roads to Virajpet and Kushalnagar diverged, it was barely 10 in the morning. So we decided to take the road towards Kushalnagar, to take a peek inside the popular Namdroling Monastery. This area is an official Tibetan settlement and houses a few more monasteries also – but Namdroling is the most popular one by a huge margin.. Anyway, just sitting quietly in the main hall and soaking in the peaceful ambience makes a visit to this place worthwhile! The next time I get a chance to visit, I'd love to be there when the prayer chants are ongoing! #weekendtrips #travelgram #tibetan #monastery #wanderlust #motorcyclediaries #saddleserenity #incredibleindia #buddhist #statue #namdroling
Our list of planned en-route stops was already exhausted with Namdroling, but somehow the feeling of wanderlust refused to subside. We were simply not ready to ‘end’ the ride and settle down; I guess both of us were thinking -“Isn’t there somewhere else we can visit?”
Madikeri has a host of tourist spots, but visiting a place that is bound to be crowded with people din’t really excite us that much. About 15-20 minutes of fiddling on Google and TripAdvisor on the phone, in the spotty network coverage, proved to be mostly unsuccessful. It was by sheer luck that somehow Google Maps automatically started directing us towards what it called the “Harangi Reservoir”. Around a few kilometres of riding on badly laid roads through negligibly inhabited regions, and we reached a place which could only be described as a small piece of heaven. A huge stretch of fresh, green grass slowly giving way to a vast expanse of calm, deep water. The walls of the Harangi dam were visible in the distance. The best thing was that apart from us, there was no other human presence in the near vicinity. It was the perfect place to sit and do nothing, so that’s what we did.
The true reward of travelling is finding that place – a small piece of nature still unblemished, untouched. Places where humans have not yet started their attempts at 'development'. This was not our intended destination, yet somehow we reached there. Maybe,we will never hit the exact combination of wrong turns which led to this place, again. Maybe, that is a good thing. #travelgram #naturegram #beautifulnature #saddleserenity #incredibleindia #traveldiary #calm #peaceful
Getting Serenity down from the road to the river bank was a little bit difficult – I had to ride her down a steep slope of loose gravel, but it turned out to be easier than it looked. The outcome – I get a kick-ass picture like this :
After spending another hour on this impromptu stop, we finally started off towards our intended destination. There was a distinct change in the climate as we neared Madikeri – the air got cooler and the clouds started crowding the horizon. As the roads slowly transitioned from broad, straight sections to narrower, twisting ones, the clouds and mist added another layer of adventure to the trip!
There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind. #roadtrip #Royalenfield #Escapade #thunderbird #saddleserenity #madikeri #karnatakatourism #nature #beautiful #fog #windingroads #greenery #jungleroads #constantrain #wanderlust #motorcyclediaries #motorcyclesofinstagram #ridergram #ridersofinstagram #ridinggear #tbg #thebreedgear #viaterra #viaterragear #bikelove P.C. – @i2oshni
Within a few kilometres, the clouds opened up and it started raining heavily! Fortunately, both of us were carrying our rain gear, and quickly deployed them. Our speed came down considerably as the combined might of the rain and the mist reduced visibility and made riding a bit difficult.
Another problem which turned out to be a persistent one – was that of leeches. It was while negotiating one of the corners when R made me stop – she was positive that there was something wrong with her boots. Opening them revealed a couple of leeches happily feasting on her feet. We got rid of them and started off again, but within a few kilometres had to stop again because of the same problem – another leech had managed to find its way to her feet again. She inferred that her boots were infested with leech and could not be used anymore until we could get rid of the leeches. She changed into a pair of slippers and we stopped at the next store we could find to get some salt to ward off future attacks. Given our excellent command over Kannada, it was pretty difficult making the old store owner understand what we exactly needed. But the moment he understood our predicament, not only did he give us salt, but he also handed us some crushed leaf pieces, and motioned to us that massaging them over the affected area would help stop the bleeding! It was probably some local medicine to counter the rampant leaf problem there. One of the many moments that you actually realize that humanity does indeed trump petty differences like language!
Once we had sprinkled enough salt to kill a few generations of leeches, both on her feet and inside the boot, we started off towards the venue.
The venue for the Escapade event, Jungle Mount Adventures, was around 30 kms after Madikeri. Perhaps they had taken the responsibility of arranging an appropriate venue far too seriously – mobile connectivity was precarious, my GPS started spinning around in circles before long, making it very difficult to pinpoint the actual venue. Fortunately, all we had to do was follow a straightforward road till we reached a signboard directing us off the road, into a narrow path of slush, that led to Jungle Mount Adventure Camp!
Slipping and sliding on the slush, somehow we reached the parking without any major embarrassments. A lot of riders had already reached – their mud-splashed rides standing proudly against the backdrop of the green field and the mist covered hills.
When the organizers take the name of the event way too seriously 😁😁😁 This was the only approach road to #RE #Escapade organized by @royalenfield at Coorg earlier this year! #motorcycletouring #motorcyclediaries #ridergram #bikersofinstagram #Royalenfield #Escapade #coorg #adventure #mudpack #offroading #campingtrip #camping #weekendtrips #adventurebiking #travelgram #travelmemories #wanderlust #saddleserenity #throwback #throwbackthursday #mobilephotography
We lined up at the registration tent and collected our goodies – a pair of really cool stickers and a special edition T-shirt!
We were part of the BYOT crowd, so we made our way towards the camping grounds. There were a few rows of neatly pitched tents ( the ones which were arranged by the organizers ), and a few yards away, a couple of haphazardly pitched ones.
A big shout to the @royalenfield team for choosing a kickass place to host the #RoyalEnfield #escapade at Coorg! The ever-drizzling climate, the lush greenery, the misty mountains, the campfire and the ambience – everything was perfect! And the food was out of the world – I must have finished half of the pandi served during the BBQ #sorrynotsorry #bikergram #traveldiary #motorcyclediaries #bikersofinstagram #saddleserenity #camping #closetonature #campingtrip #quechua #wanderlust #nature #mistymountains #green #beautifuldestinations #coorg
After scouting around a bit for a little piece of flat ground, we finally found our ‘spot’ – which was reasonably flat, free from ants and termites and the like, and safe for pitching a tent. It took us a couple of attempts to get the orientation correct, but finally we got the perfect angle! We were lucky to be among the first ones who got to choose their spot – we got the one with the grand view of the mountains!
Jungle Mount Adventure Camp comprises a few small, double storied structures set in the middle of literally nowhere. There was no human settlement around, as far as we could see – only lush green fields and mountains around us. The best part about the place was the small stream which ran aside the camp, you could sit for hours on end and listen to the ripple of water.
There were a couple of sessions planned in the afternoon and the evening, where veteran riders shared their experiences on the road, and interacted with the rest of the people. It was fun listening to stories of passionate riders – bikers usually do have the most interesting stories about the people they meet and the circumstances they face on the road. We had a pretty late lunch of fried rice, which was the only thing available so late in the afternoon. The intensity of rainfall had reduced from a downpour to a slight drizzle, but it refused to die down. Both of us were resigned to the fact that it was going to be a very wet camping trip, so the rain did not bother us much anymore.
The planned evening activities included a giant bonfire, good music, and most importantly, good food! Beer flowed like water and starters were devoured as soon as they were presented. I had heard that a trip to Coorg was incomplete without having the famous pandi curry – this was the time to finally realize why. Halfway through the evening, both of us were totally stuffed, almost to the point of suffocating ourselves. Spent a couple of hours on the green grass, beside the stream, listening to the soothing sound of water, while the party continued raged on. Old friendships toasted, new associations made – the spirit of brotherhood and the camaraderie was unmistakable!
Dinner was another delicious affair, and both of us managed to find enough space to stuff in some more pandi at this opportunity. By the time the party had finally started to ebb, the giant bonfire had already died out and the chilly breeze had started biting even through the multiple layers of clothing. We said our goodnights and retired after what had truly been an exciting day!
Next morning, after breakfast, most of the riders, including us started off on their return journey. There was a short off-roading trail organized by RE, but we decided to give it a miss and search for our own trails!
Had a pretty uneventful ride back to Bangalore; the only thing I remember about the trip back to Bangalore is stopping for ice cream at Meraki on Mysore Road. The pan nawabi flavored ice cream is definitely something to die for!
As a bonus, here are my riding boots after 2 days of continuous abuse :