"Trees are Earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven." ~ Rabindranath Tagore


Biking from Kabini to Bandipur

Suresh S.V., a biking enthusiast, relates the story of his 2-day bike trip from Bangalore to Kabini, Karapura, Wayanad and Bandipur.

on the road I decided to spend the last weekend of March at my favorite Bandipur National Park. The intended plan was to visit the Kabini dam, thereafter go to Karapura Jungle Lodges and Resorts, and then go through Kerala, returning to Masinagudi for the night, and spend Sunday at Mudumalai and Bandipur, returning to Bangalore by night. But it turned out to be a different experience altogether.

Karnataka Overview

Biking from B'lore


Kabini I left Bangalore at 7.45 am; the weather was pleasant, and the ride was a sheer thrill. After breakfasting at Ramanagaram, I reached Mysore in around two and half hours. Instead of taking the usual route via HD Kote to Kabini, I decided to take the longer but familiar Ooty road upto Begur, and turn right for Kabini. The ride up to Begur was a breeze. However, the roads worsened after turning right. An hour or so later, I reached the Nugu reservoir. This small dam is built across the Nugu River, which joins the Kabini, a tributary of Cauvery. Contrary to my expectation of dense forests, the area was well-populated with villages scattering the landscape. After lunch at Sargur town, the road finally joined the Mysore - Mannanthavaadi road. This junction is called Handpost, and had a few shops and a petrol pump. Cursing the bad roads, I turned left, and continued on my way.

Kabini dam Some 25km later, I reached the dam. Kabini reservoir was impressively large. The water level was low as water was being let out to Tamil Nadu. There was a family picnicking at the park nearby. I spent a good hour atop the dam, for the wind was pleasant, and the view was great. Far away, across the waters, the jungles stretched out Bidding adieu to the watchman with whom I was chatting, I left the dam, and soon reached the fork. Took the left turn, and continued on my way towards Karapura jungles. Passing the village of Antharasanthe, the road enters the eastern part of Rajiv Gandhi National Park, more popularly known as Nagarhole. At Karapura, I visited the somewhat expensive but ideally located JLR resort. This resort is popular for sighting of large mammals. Continuing on my way, I joined the main road, and proceeded further south.

enroute Sometime later, I passed a forest check post and a few tribal huts. A couple of kilometers later, the back wheel went flat! It was a remote place, Antharasanthe being 20 km behind me, and the next village - Bavali - 16 km ahead. I decided to remove the wheel, and wait for some vehicle to pass by. Contrary to my expectations, no vehicle came by for some time.

A few monkeys settled next to me, watching. I had managed to remove the wheel after a struggle. I sat on the road, listening to the jungle sounds and keeping an eye out for elephants. Chital appeared from the thickets onto the road, and surprised by my presence, bolted away. I started wondering about having to spend the night here when the welcome sound of a vehicle greeted me. A mobile medical van approached from the opposite direction. The driver was kind enough to take me in. At the checkpost, we requested a few tribal boys to stay with the bike, while I got the puncture sealed at Antharasanthe and returned. To my horror, we realized that two of the rubber pads in the wheel hub had fallen into the van that had just dropped me off. Without these pads, the wheel cannot be fitted back! How careless I had been.

I called up the medical van's hospital number, which mercifully he had given me before leaving. The guy there connected to the van through wireless; the driver informed us that he would leave the rubber pads at a petrol pump at Handpost. I immediately boarded a jeep shuttling between Handpost and Antharasanthe, and after an hour, returned with the rubber pads. The boy had fixed the wheel by then. It was past 7, and dark. I began to wonder if the tribals would still remain with the bike, as I waited for some passing vehicle. But no vehicle went beyond Antharasanthe.

The Malayali guy at the bakery where I had purchased water earlier in the day saw me and came to my rescue. Though no vehicles went beyond the village, we found a Malayali pickup truck driver bound for Kerala. A slow and silent ride dropped me to where the tribal boys, had lit a fire and were still guarding the bike. The pick-up guy refused the money I offered. A man of limited means and few words, earning his living shuttling within the forest, he will remain in my memory. Time and again I have met a fellow-traveller who acted as a savior before disappearing. Once a lonely black dog accompanied me through a 20 km solo trek through jungles.

Wayanad I was glad the tribals hadn't abandoned the bike. In fact, weighing a good 140 kg, without a back wheel, and a locked handlebar, they had carried it some 2 kilometers to be close to their huts. After 20 minutes, the bike was set right and I proceeded on my way towards Bavali. More bad roads and another slow ride. A wild hare and some chital crossed my path. Sometime later, passing Bavali, the road entered Kerala. Mannanthavaady was a sleepy town which I reached at 11 pm.

The next day, I checked out at around 7 am. The route was through NH212, passing through Kalpetta, Sultan Bathery and Gundlupet. Riding through the countryside of Kerala was very pleasant. The roads were reasonably good, allowing a decent 60 kmph. They were also well marked. I passed Kalpetta and Bathery before passing through the Wayanad wildlife sanctuary: evergreen forests, open grasslands, bamboo thickets, that were enervating, indeed. The road then passed through Muthanga Sanctuary and entered Karnataka. The region falls under the Bandipur Park limits. Entering the park, the road worsened, and progress became slower. The traffic was also thin. This side of the park was greener than the southern parts adjoining the Mysore - Ooty highway.

Wayanad A sambar here, some chital there, a langur hurriedly crossed my path; the forest was filled with animal life. Eventually, the road came out of the woods, and went on to Gundlupet. I took a right turn towards Bandipur's main entrance. Bandipur National Park, one of the first tiger reserves of the country, established in 1974, is today home to some 85 tigers. Thankfully, the weather was extremely pleasant. After spending sometime at Bandipur, I went onto Mysore before I finally proceeded to polluted Bangalore.

The Route:
Bangalore - Mysore (140 kms)
Mysore - Begur (45 kms)
Begur - Handpost (45 kms)
Handpost - Antharasanthe (10 kms)
Antharasanthe - Mannanthavaadi(50kms)
Mannanthavaadi - Kalpetta (40 kms)
Kalpetta - Sultan Bathery (40 kms)
Sultan Bathery - Gundlupet (50 kms)
Gundlupet - Bandipur (25 kms) - Gundlupet (25 kms)
Gundlupet - Mysore (60 kms)
Mysore - Bangalore(140 kms)

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.