A Solo Escapade through the Escape Route

The Plan
Ever since I got familiar with the pain and pleasure of cycling, I had this thought of taking it to my own world...
Riding the forest trail from Kodikanal to Munnar through the escape route was something I had in the wishlist.
Doing it on motorcycle seemed impractical due to permission issues and condition on the road (cant call it a road).

Motorcycling on mountain roads have always been fun.
Doing it on cycle too must have some thrill and doing it solo must be a "thriller".
That is how I land up in Kodai bus stand last weekend with my cycle and a very light backpack only with few essential stuff.

Initially, I wanted to do this trail totally through the little known Escape route via Berijam. But then, I don't have time to go behind permissions and checking possibilities of taking a cycle in there. So the route through Poondi - Kilavari, bypassing Berijam side seemed more practical.

The Ride 
There is no time to curse KSRTC for making it late to Kodai. I thank them for running a Volvo to the hill station.
Had two energy rolls (masala dosa) and energy drink (tea) from a road side tuck shop and I'm on road.
Managed to do fastest timings on downhills and slowest ever on climbs on the way to Kilavarai where the real offroad begins.
Now I know the use of that slow slow slow moving 1st gear.

When I'm too much thrilled, tendency to forget/ ignore some very essential things are more. This time it was lunch and extra bottle of water. I could have avoided a muscle cramp due to dehydration and tiredness of empty stomach and could have saved some precious time. I wouldn't have made it without water from a forest stream and from a small village on the way.

Had to pedal in crawling speeds, carry cycle on shoulder and push through nonridable terrains and by the time I reached Koviloor it was 4:30pm. That's where I got something to eat.

From Koviloor, 9km to Top Station and then another 35 to Munnar town was cake walk. Got good speeds at the downhills.
When I called it a day, odo read 117km of hard ride and trek (7h:47m riding/walking time)
Another 80km km the next day morning took me home in KL (03h:13m riding time)

The route I took is like this
Kodaikanal - Mannavanoor -  Poondi - Kilavarai - Koviloor - Top Station - Munnar (Total 110km)
The extended ride : Munnar - Adimali - Neriyamangalam - Thodupuzha (90km)

The Escape Route
Made in the British era and renovated at the time of World war 2, destroyed by ignorance and political reasons by us, this route has always fascinated me ever since I came to know about it. History says that the trail was renovated as a road at the time of world war II as an escape route if Japan attacked south India. It's in a real bad shape now, literally nonexistent as a road. A 4x4 could make it with difficulty. But is not ridable with a motorcycle now. Especially now when the rains have made the terrain really bad with slush and trenches like waterways.
Locals do transport goods between two states on mule back through this route. That is the only use this trail has now.

It's sad to learn that...
- The road is no more in existence officially. It is closed. Befijam side even has trenches made by forest dept.
- No vehicle traffic allowed too.

1 comment:

R Niranjan Das said...

Thats a wonderful ride. Dint know about this road. Got to explore it sometime. Thanks for the lovely info about this route.