Panchapalli & Rayakottai: Rural Biking

En Route

En Route

This past weekend, Mansi & I decided to take our new bike out for a spin, and not the usual home-office-home route we do all week. We wanted to go on a long ride, beating the traffic and the chaos of the city. After a lot of research online, we settled on two places that were close to Bangalore – Panchapalli and Rayakottai – both of which are in Tamil Nadu, and within 100 kilometers from the city. If we left early in the morning, we could easily do this and be back home by 3.00 PM at the latest.

Considering the time we usually wake up, 7.00 AM was like a twilit dawn for us. Groggy and still half-asleep, we dressed, took two bottles of water and our camera and headed out of the house like zombies. The early morning chill woke us up and pretty soon, as we flew along the almost deserted Inner Ring Road towards Koramangala, we were wide awake and patting ourselves on the backs for such a good idea.

We reached Hosur Road in no time, and I was looking forward to testing my new Avenger 220 cc cruiser on the elevated expressway. We touched speeds of 120 kmph and the bike hardly broke a sweat, and I could feel the beast urging me to go faster. I resisted the temptation, and we covered the entire expressway in less than 2.5 minutes, and I could my heart spewing out adrenaline, making me shiver with excitement. I glanced back to see Mansi, hair all over the place, looking as excited as I was.

We went along at a decent pace, and reached the Attibele flyover by about 8.30 AM. We took a right turn into the Attibele main road and continued along little back roads, passing over into Tamil Nadu near the huge TVS factory. Once we passed TVS, the road widened out and the potholes became few and far between. We had entered on to State Highway 17A, which goes all the way to Salem, through Denkanikottai, where we were headed for breakfast. We passed through a lot of small villages and towns on the way, and the roads were absolutely stunning!

At 9.45 AM, we reached Denkanikottai, a small town that’s famous for pretty farmhouses that people from Bangalore have bought as investments. We had breakfast at Ganesh Bhavan – a very satisfying meal of pongal and masala dosa. We highly recommend this place for breakfast – it’s cheap, the food is great and the portions are very generous. From Denkanikottai, we left the state highway and turned into a small rural road that leads to Panchapalli and Rayakottai. Panchapalli is about 28 kms from Denkanikottai and all through this distance, we saw some absolutely breathtaking scenes of rural India, punctuated by fields of gold and green, mountains and hills in the distance, and some stunningly well-maintained roads.

Panchapalli Reservoir

Panchapalli Reservoir

The air noticeably changes the closer you get to Panchapalli. It’s lighter, cooler, and very clean. There was a slight chill in the air as we approached the Panchapalli reservoir, and without warning, the treeline on our left opened up to show us the majestic sight of the Panchapalli reservoir, surrounded by hills and lush green marshes all around. We were blown away by the scene. It was such a fantastic experience. We rode slowly and parked by the gates of the dam. We freshened up at a guest house nearby and walked up the length of the dam, taking pictures, talking about trivial things and just losing ourselves to the quiet and the solitude. There was not one person in sight, and we had the whole place to ourselves. We loved it!

The road to Panchapalli continues on for another 60 kilometers to reach the Hosur-Bangalore highway, and on the way, about 16 kilometers from the dam, is the town of Rayakottai. This isn’t a special town by any stretch of imagination, except for the ruins of Tipu Sultan’s palace on top of the hill. The name – Rayakottai – literally means “the king’s house”. Strangely, this fort isn’t mentioned in any official literature, there are no signs, no boards proclaiming its existence and the only way to find it is to ask the locals. In a bastardized tongue consisting of Tamil, Hindi and Kannada, we asked around and found the the narrow break in the shrubbery that leads to the hill, after getting lost a couple of times. We parked the bike halfway up the hill and trekked for about 30 minutes before reaching the summit. And it was worth every drop of sweat.

Rayakottai Ruins

Rayakottai Ruins

The ruins of the palace are absolutely magnificent, and we were struck by how closely it resembles Hampi. The place is tranquil, serene and a feeling of smallness comes over us as we passed under the natural arch of the biggest boulder we’d seen, and stood on the edge of a ruined parapet, looking out over the vast, majestic expanse of land before us. There was no limit to how far we could see from this vantage point. It felt like we were on a cloud, in heaven, looking down on humanity.

We spent some time exploring the fort, and started descending. It was around 1.30 PM when we started the ride back to Bangalore.We decided to stop for lunch at Hosur, and the 40 kilometer ride to Hosur took longer than expected as we stopped for fresh coconut water on the way.

After a lovely lunch at Hotel Tamil Nadu, we continued our journey on NH7, passing the Karnataka border a little after 3 PM. And as expected, we were back home by 4.15 PM, feeling tired (in a good way) and happy. It was a great road trip, and its ideal for anyone who wants to get away from the city for a day.

How to Reach:

By Bike/Car: Take Hosur Road (NH7), past the elevated expressway, and turn right under the Attibele Flyover. Continue straight for a couple of kilometers and the road branches into two. Go left, and continue past the TVS factory and on and on and on, until you come across a junction of 4 roads. There’s a yellow road sign on the left, indicating that Denkanikottai is about 18 kms to your right. Turn right, which gets you on to State Highway 17A, and ride up to Denkanikottai. Ask locals for directions to Panchapalli.

By Bus/Train/Flight/Walk/Apparation: Don’t know. Don’t care.

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