Updated: Jul 6
After the success of South Circle-1 (Blogpost Link: South Circle -1 (Beaches & Landmarks) (hilltrotters.com)) journey across coastal Southern India, it was time for HillTrotters, to travel across the mighty western ghats and witness the amazing beauty of prominent hill stations of Kerala and Tamilnadu, adjoining Karnataka's western ghat ranges.
We planned this journey only for Kodaikanal, but then we got an idea to make this a long bike ride over 4 days, and also visit Tea Estates of Theni, Kolukkumalai, Munnar, Suryanelli and Kannan Devan hills and also visit the spectacular beauty of Coonoor, Kotagiri and Ooty.
This part of South India can be called as "Kashmir of the South" due to its amazing geography of evergreen Nilgiri Mountains and bustling tea/coffee estates and wildlife sanctuary's fed by major rivers and rivulets.
I took this 4-day long bike ride along with Spouse/Travel partner back in October 2016 and stayed a day each major hill station to make it even more memorable and fulfilling.
Day 1: Bangalore -> Salem -> Dindigul -> Kodaikanal - Stay at Kodaikanal.
Day 2: Kodaikanal -> Kolukkumalai -> Suryanelli (Munnar) - Stay at Munnar/Suryanelli.
Day 3: Suryanelli (Munnar) -> Coimbatore -> Coonoor - Stay at Conoor.
Day 4: Coonoor -> Ooty -> Bandipur -> Mysore -> Bangalore.
South Circle - 2: Bike tour travel dates:
October 29th - November 1st of 2016.
1 bike, 2 riders - Royal Enfield Thunder bird 350cc
Total Ride : 1350 kms Approx over 4 days.
Bangalore -> Hosur -> Salem -> Dindigul -> Kodaikanal -> Theni -> Kolukkumalai Tea Estates -> Suryanelli -> Munnar -> Valparai -> Pollachi -> Coimbatore -> Coonoor -> Kotagiri -> Ooty -> Mysore -> Bangalore.
Places of Interest:
1. Kodaikanal -- Kodai lake, Pillar rocks, Duke's nose, Bryant Park
2. Kolukkumalai Tea Estate - World's Highest Organic Tea Garden/Estate above 8000 ft MSL
3. Suryanelli - Foothills of Kolukkumalai peak and fresh water lakes and plenty of resorts.
4. Munnar -- Kannan Devan Tea Garden's, Anamudi, Mattupetty Dam, Eravikulam National park.
5. Coonoor -- Sim's park, Dolphin's nose, Catherine falls.
Brief Itinerary of "South Circle-2" Tour:
Day 1 : Bangalore -> Salem -> Dindigul -> Kodaikanal.
Early morning by 3 am, we started our ride from Bangalore and rode via Salem (Bangalore - Salem Highway), Dindigul to reach Kodaikanal by 1 pm. The ride was good as initially we covered a lot of kms on the highway at a good speed and then, once we took the deviation at Dindigul -> Kodaikanal, we took the ride slow and immersing so that we could enjoy the uphill ride to Kodaikanal.
It was a 440 kms ride over 9 hours from Bangalore. Once we reached Kodaikanal, we checked into our Hotel room and freshened up and then started exploring the Kodaikanal hillstation. We could explore Kodaikanal Lake, city market and Pillar rock, Bryant park etc and took a long rest at the end of the day, after enjoying the food at the hotel itself.
Pillar Rock Formations - Kodaikanal
Bryant Park - Kodaikanal
Hotel Sivapriya, Convent Rd, Kodaikanal
Day 2: Kodaikanal -> Kolukkumalai -> Suryanelli (Munnar)
We head toward the Kerala - Tamilnadu border, on the way to Kolukkumalai. It was a breath taking ride witnessing the grand view of Western Ghat mountains (Nilgiri ranges) and finally reaching the Kolukkumalai amidst light drizzle. It was a 150 kms ride over 4 hours due to hilly hairpin curve roads.
We planned to take our bike all the way up to Kolukkumalai Tea estates but the shanty stone filled and muddy road made it fairly impossible for the Thunderbird. We then hopped on a 4x4 pickup truck (local sightseeing guide) and halfway down the road, the light drizzle became extremely heavy and to our bad luck, the Pickup truck tire got burst, which made us head back and end the day in our resort in Suryanelli. The resort stay and food was amazing and the weather was magical.
Kolukkumalai Jeep Safari.
Kolukkumalai Tea Estates
Lakezone Holiday Resort, Chinnakanal - Kerala
Day 3: Suryanelli (Munnar) -> Coimbatore -> Coonoor.
We again went back to Kolukkumalai, hoping for a change of luck, and we could get all the way up to Kolukkumalai peak/Tea factory this time on another pick up truck. The factory was all for ourselves, the factory guide showed us how they make the famous Green tea out of these fresh tea leaves grown in those high altitude tea estates which are grown at one of the World's highest altitudes. We explore the place pretty much by ourselves as there not much of tourists as it was very early in the morning. The views were breathtaking and it was good deal of 1200 INR for the pick up truck ride from Suryanelli to Kolukkumalai tea estates.
Organic Tea Powder making process:
After that we headed straight to Munnar and we just simply rode via the Kannan Devan tea gardens (one of the most beautiful criss-cross roads surrounded by tea gardens. These were the backyard from where lots of Bollywood and local movies are shot (specially the song sequence).
We reached Coonoor end of the day, it was very hectic day as we rode almost 290 kms for about 6 hours. We rode via Munnar - Coimbatore route and we reached Coonoor Homestay by around 8pm. It was a very tough ride specially from Coimbatore to Coonoor as there was huge traffic and extremely difficult roads. The homestay (Bella Vista) was just perfect due to the awesome food and hospitality and a camp fire in that 10 degree Celsius temperature.
Kolukkumalai Tea Estate - World's highest elevated Organic Tea Factory/Estate.
Harrison Malayalam Tea Estates, Suryanelli - Kerala
Kannan Devan Tea Estates, Munnar - Kerala
Bella Vista Homestay, Coonoor - Tamilnadu
Day 4: Coonoor -> Ooty -> Bandipur -> Mysore -> Bangalore.
This was the last day of our ride, and we took it very slow and rode via Kotagiri and Ooty back to Bangalore. We could explore Pykara waterfalls and Sims Park in Ooty and Coonoor.
It was a 300 kms approx ride which took us almost 9 hours as we were riding very slow pace just enjoying the route which we chose for the last day of the tour.
We rode via Mudhumulai and Bandipur national parks, which was a real bliss as the roads were surrounded by so much green patch and it was a perfect ride to end the 4 day Bike tour.
Best Stay of the Tour:
Bella Vista Homestay - Coonoor, Tamilnadu:
After 3 days long Bike Journey, especially the difficult last stretch from Coimbatore to Coonoor, this Homestay hospitality and relaxation was just heavenly. The owners of this Homestay were from Bengaluru and caretaker made our stay (especially the homely food) very comfortable and even helped with Camp Fire for us to enjoy as it was chilling in Coonoor (around 10 deg. Celsius).
The rooms were spacious and the interior setting of the homestay was just like a home with a large sit out and garden/lawn outside with sitting option, overlooking the town of Coonoor.
Best Time to Visit:
August - February is the best season, as weather will be very pleasant and plenty of green cover, which can make any rider fall in love with these places.
Stay in Kodaikanal, Suryanelli, Munnar and Coonoor each day will be a perfect itinerary for a 4 or 5 day long bike ride on this route.
For more detailed information or itinerary on Bike rides in India or Trekking in western ghats or other awesome places in India, please contact HillTrotters@gmail.com or visit our Facebook page "Hilltrotters" (Facebook), also subscribe to us on YouTube channel with "hilltrotters travelogues - YouTube"
Please contact HillTrotters@gmail.com for any suggestions or travel related queries.