Agumbe Adventures-I

Written By- Aditya Bajaj

It was December’15 end and as everyone I was too looking forward to the 25th Christmas weekend (Fri-Sat-Sun) to move out somewhere. A trek in Mumbai is what I wanted to do. So I quickly booked tickets Delhi to Mumbai and return but then as usual the office played a spoiled sport and I had to cancel my trip...Why... because I had to come to office on Saturday...yeah people work on Saturdays too. To compensate I again asked for fresh leaves from work for 6 days starting a week later.  After long one to one negotiation with my boss, got 5 days approved. So with 5 days + 1 Sunday I called up Sud (Sudhakar) in Mumbai to plan for stay in Gir Forest National Park at some camp. To my disappointment all the camps at Gir were fully booked.

Then Sud asked me to check out for place called Agumbe in Karnataka. He always wanted to ride to Agumbe, since long. I looked up online; beautiful greenery with many falls and Sunrise/Sunset points, the place looked nice. The major attraction was the stay at Kasturi akka’s house at Doddamane - the Swamy’s house of Malgudi days fame. With tickets booked to Mumbai and leaves approved, there was not much of an option left so I said yes.

Next was the bike, we both asked our different sources to arrange for a bike for in Mumbai for me. Sud as usual will be taking his KTM 390 and I was thinking how I will fair with his 390 on the Mumbai -Kolhapur- Bangalore highway (NH4). I have ridden on that highway (NH4) quite a few times and all I remember is the long straight road where people complete the saddle sore. So I knew I wanted a KTM there also so that we move quickly. I even called up people who rent KTM in Mumbai but all bikes were booked for the New Years’ time.

In the end with no KTM’s available, I decided to send my bike (Duke 200) by train from Delhi to Mumbai for this trip. Next was the painful task of going to New Delhi station and loading the bike. Let me explain the agony:

Sending bike by train.
So it was 25th December Friday being Christmas holiday, I went early  to New Delhi railway station Ajmeri gate side.As soon I parked my bike in the parking area, many people(agents) came up to me asking if i wanted to send bike by train. I said no to them and went ahead to try my luck with the Rail Parcel OfficeThe rail parcel office is outside the New Delhi Railway Station, opposite Metro station gate. I went to counter No 7 and asked the officer for the process for sending bike to Mumbai. The officer asked me my  rail ticket and I said I don't have one as I’m not travelling by train only sending my bike by parcel. The officer said as per rules it’s not possible as you need to have a confirmed rail ticket and then simply asked me to go back.

A little disheartened I turned up to the agents outside. The agents said off course it's possible to send the bike by train as they have privately leased space from rail authority. Then he said cost would be 4 - 4.5 K (Insurance, packing etc.) and I was stunned. I knew Sud sent his 390 some two months back from Delhi to Mumbai for much less... rather half the price but the agent was not ready to listen. So I went to another agent and then to another, all were saying same thing last they said 4k not below that. I called up Sud and asked for his agent details from whom he had sent his bike. Then I called up his agent and I met him there. I tried to explain to him that he only has sent one KTM 390 to Mumbai at lesser price but he was also not ready to agree. So after long discussion I negotiated to Rest 3700 including packing (150-200 bucks). I gave him my bike he took out the petrol and packed it there itself. He gave me a receipt and asks me to send a picture of receipt via Whatsapp to the person who will come to collect my bike in Mumbai. He mentioned that his people at the Mumbai station will facilitate in getting the bike out but other states vehicle applies Octroi tax to pay in Mumbai i.e. 10 % of the cost of bike. I was surprised! But he mentioned that his guy in Mumbai will try to reduce the tax by 400-500 bucks. I had no choice but to believe him.

They had two trains options in which my bike could be shipped; delivery at Bandra or Mumbai Central. I choose the train whose last station was Bandra but at the time of loading there was not much space left in the train so they sent through BCT Duronto express for unloading at Mumbai central. Thanks to Shekhar as he collected my bike and paid Rs 600 for the octroi but on asking for receipt the agent did not give anything!

I took a late night flight on Monday 28th to Mumbai and went to Munish’s house at Borivalli for stay to start early morning next day. Sud had given his 390 to his brother who was to hand over the bike to him at Satara (some 300 KM from Mumbai).So next morning Tuesday 29 th Dec, I started from Borivalli making my way out of Mumbai traffic. The V6 Bluetooth attached to helmet was synced to Phone’s Google Maps which helped a lot in navigating through the busy lanes of Mumbai. It took me 1 hr to reach Panvel, towards the start of open roads. Sud meanwhile had taken Bus to Satara and was about to reach while I was still at Panvel, I knew I had to cover distance. So I was riding quickly with few breaks including one for famous Vada Pav at Khapoli and clicking pictures of places where I was feeling nostalgic. It’s been quite a while since my last visit Mumbai Pune old highway. I reached Satara at around 2 PM riding continuously with average speed of 97Km/hr showing in meter but still meeting Sud he was annoyed as he was waiting for quite some time there.

 I met his second brother Bunty also there and then we went ahead to stop for lunch. The lunch  breaks on our rides have always been splendid with so much time we spent. Sud was actually miffed with me getting late and then as a change of plan we(he) decided we go to his native village some 100 km from Kohlapur to stay for night.

I have been to his village “Mendholi”(near Ajara) thrice but this time it was the other village “Maligre”where his uncle stays. This was a big village with school, hospital, post office and big wholesale market for vegetables and fruits. We reached in dark and everyone was out of their home to see. The children were more curious in asking  various questions , not every day they see two jokers riding in full riding gear. The village was amazing big houses, cars and bikes, smartphones with 3G internet connection, set top box attached to big LCD TV’s, and not to forget attached bathrooms...seeing all this I was thinking who would call it a village. The people were as usual were very warm in welcoming us. They did everything for our comfort.    
With clear sky and all stars to galore, the day ended covering some 500 km from Mumbai. Route taken Borivalli- Panvel-Khapoli- Pune- Satara-Kholapur-Maligre

Ride to Agumbe,  Wednesday 30th
We started early and moved towards Belgaum- Hubli on NH4. The roads in Karnataka are amazing, one can see the difference when you leave Maharashtra and enter Karnataka on NH4. We called up Kasturi akka to tell her that we would be coming today. She was speaking in Marathi with Sud and I was thinking what all languages she knows. She mentioned that do try to reach before 8:30 Pm (dinner time). We reached Agumbe at 6 PM and  her big house was not difficult to find in a small place like that. We parked our bikes and went inside and met her along with his son. Since it’s been quite a day at riding I asked her if I could get tea desperately. She  said she will make one ayurvedic drink for me and I will not ask for tea after having it. She boiled some liquid and added milk. It tasted nice with all herbs and masala. I told her that its the best possible alternative to tea I ever had.
We had some chat. She told that TV serial Malgudi Days was shot here in 1986 for two months and after its success many people were asking her to rent her house but she said no because of discomfort. I even asked her which languages she spoke. She said Kannada,Konkani,Tamil, Telegu, Butler English and little bit of Marathi and Hindi. Sud said she was speaking fluent Marathi. To which she replied that she just stayed at Kolhapur for 15 days and learned there.

Agumbe was a small place with only BSNL network connection. We then went on bikes to a 10 min ride to Sunset point where we could receive network to make calls with our phones. Back in the house we were  put up on the first floor. The house was called Doddamane meaning big and indeed it was. There were rooms up and down and big open space in between. There were other two families and one RE fellow Ashish Koushik  from Bangalore.
We all sat on table for dinner and on Banana leaves they served some 10 items and I was done quickly. Later in the night with Ashish along we went out for walk to open field to check out stars. It was a very different  with so many stars in the sky and no mobile or internet to disturb..

Day concluded with some 450 km of amazing ride and we were looking forward to rise early tomorrow to check out sunrise from the viewpoint.
Route taken- Maligre- Belgaun- Hubli- Ranebennur- Thirthalli- Agumbe

Next morning we did check out the Sunrise; although from our rooms… while everyone except us went to the viewpoint. Nevertheless  we also went later to check out the view point. It was amazing. The valley was  green and quiet with some waterfall at the far background. We later went to Jogi Gundi falls and as expected there was very less water this time of season.
On return to town Sud said it's been ages he had tea. I told him it was just yesterday when he had 5 cups of tea in the morning itslef. We then went to have tea at the Mayura restaurant near bus stand where we met  local guy who was travelling from pune in his car. He asked us to go to Sri Sharadamba Temple in Sringeri  just 25 km away which has a hanging bridge. We instantly decided to check out the place. The road was smooth with quite appreciable hair pin bends and Sud was again complaining why he has Michelin why not  Metz. I told him it’s okay Michelin is doing well just some usual slipping in the corners, that’s all.
We reached the temple and were awestruck to see the entry gate called Gopura which was visible from far away. I have seen this earlier on TV only.

We explored the place quickly, tried both Go Pro and Moto G3 to capture fishes under water but all in vain as fishes didn’t like any of the camera. We returned to the house by lunch time and again 10 items were offered on banana leaves. One thing to note is they only eat rice. So I ate less and went to pack our bags for moving towards Marvante beach. We bid goodbye to Kasturi Akka, clicked some pictures and gave her some money for her kind gesture which without looking or counting she kept. We knew she would accept anything so 1500 bucks we gave.

Ride to Marvante
Fror Agumbe we were riding towards Marvante Beach. We heard that the Sunset is amazing at the beach. So we rode towards Someshwar-Halady-Kundapur-Hemmadi-Malvante covering some 80 Km.The ride was good with less traffic until we reached Edapally Panvel highway. We reached the Malvante beach and we took a spot for sitting and waiting to see the Sunset. I was asking again and again to Sud for finding accommodation first but he was not ready to leave the spot. We spend some 2 hrs. to  the view of Sunset which he called as last Sunset of 2015 and it was spectacular.

 Later we started to look for accommodation near the beach but there were not many just two lodges which were offered at ridiculous price to take on the New Year’s night. After a lot of finding we checked into one lodge  back in the town but not near the beach which we earlier wanted. In the night we rode again to the beach and there was Police patrolling everywhere trying to maintain law and order. Later Sud also shook a leg with the local crowd gathered outside the hotel. There people were in high spirits and that night they were moshing like no one's watching.

Ride into the New Year
Next morning we started early to move towards Murdeshwar some 50 km but first we went to wash our bikes. The shop was close by and guy asked 100 bucks each for the Diesel Spray Washing. I haven't seen diesel being sprayed through compressor for washing before; have you?

After washing Sud wanted to eat breakfast so he sat in nearby shop and as usual ordered Idlis. He has been regular in eating idlis throughout the trip, that too two plates at the time as he has to compensate for me also.
We started noon time to Murdeshwar on Edapally Panvel highway. The road too was single and bad in shape.
Murdeshwar was 2.5 km inside left from the highway. It’s famous for the Second tallest statue of Lord Shiva(while the first is in Nepal) on the coast of Arabian Sea. You must check out this place. It was amazing, the statue with sea in the background and the view from the top. We spend some time in the complex and then some time finding place to eat. The heat outside was now starting to affect me.

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  1. Very informative, keep posting such good articles, it really helps to know about things.