It all started on a Monday morning a few months back. Here I was, on my way to my boring day job, commuting through one of the most crowded roads in Bangalore. While stuck at an unusually big jam near Marathahalli, I felt the need to just get away from the Bangalore traffic and the madness that comes with it. The desire gathered steam as the morning heat started beating down on me. The traffic was inching towards the Marathahalli junction signal and ahead of me lay the dreaded bridge crossing. This on a normal day would take less than 2 minutes, but today it looked like I was to be in it for nothing less than an hour.
the Mother of All Jams
The scene was pure madness, with BMTC buses erratically occupying various lanes, policemen issuing traffic fines to motorcyclists trying to sneak ahead by riding on the footpaths, and of course the heat that was getting compounded due to all the air-conditioned vehicles around me. 15 minutes later, I had somehow managed to reach the junction, and suddenly it hit me! Why can’t I call it a day, and ride all the way to Nandi Hills? At first, I myself thought of it as a crazy idea, given the fact that I had three meetings lined up for the day. But, as I stared at the unrelenting traffic ahead, the trip from Bangalore to Nandi Hills, and the open left lane started to look more and more tempting.
I looked at the fuel gauge, and it was showing 4 healthy bars. I just requested the motorcyclist next to me, to move just a little ahead, and there I was, free as a bird to embark on an unplanned road trip to Nandi Hills. While taking the left turn and going towards the Krishnarajapuram flyover, I could see the endless line of cars and buses stuck in the opposite lane. For a moment, I felt sorry for all of them, but the gloominess was soon overcome by the prospects of seeing Nandi Hills for the very first time. Travelling till Hebbal was a bit slow, due to the usual Bangalore traffic on the outer Ring Road, but things got pretty awesome after Hebbal. The roads opened up, the traffic lessened and all that met the eye were open roads waiting to take me to my destination. I had no maps, no GPS, and I didn’t even bother asking someone the way.
A friend of mine had told me that it was in the direction of the airport, but you had to cross the toll and keep going straight. There were road signs big enough to tell you that you were on the right track. That was pretty much everything I knew about where Nandi Hills was. Well, unless your tank is full, this might sound like a bad idea, especially since petrol pumps are few and far between on the highway. 20 minutes after crossing the toll booth, I saw the first sign which read Nandi Hills. That was reassuring, because now I knew that I was on the right track.
Hello Mr. Party-pooper
The road towards Nandi Hills starts from a sharp left turn on NH44 at Nandi Cross, Kurubarakunte. It has lush green vineyards on both sides and passes through many a rustic village located less than an hour from the city. As I started riding on the winding roads that would eventually take me to my destination, I realized that the view was just priceless, and the heat of the day tended to just disappear as I went further up the mountain. For the record, the best time to visit Nandi Hills is before sunrise, so that you can watch the sun rise from among the clouds. For me, the entire trip was unplanned, so I had to compromise on the sunrise bit.
Finally, I reached the top of the mountain, where there is ample parking space available for 2-wheelers as well as 4-wheelers. After parking my bike, I proceeded towards the gate, where I met Mr. Party-pooper aka the gatekeeper. The moment I said that I needed an entry ticket, he asked me if I was with anyone? I said ‘No, I am alone, why?’, ‘Well, sir, we don’t allow single people to enter the premises’ was his calm response. To which I couldn’t help blurting out ‘Are you serious?’, the only reply that I got was a head nod.
I felt dejected to say the least, and stood there for a full 5 minutes before deciding what to do. Then I remembered one of the curves while on my way up, which offered a great view and would be empty because everyone else was queuing up for their tickets at the top of the hill. I took my bike and rode my way downhill to curve No.34. Almost the same view as from the top of the mountain was now available to me for free. I parked my bike there and for the next few hours soaked in the silence and the nice weather. The silence even inspired me to jot down the first few pages of a graphic novel I intend to write in the near future.
All in all, the trip was a mix of good and bad. Good, because it was completely unplanned, bad because I hadn’t done my research about my destination and minor details go a long way in making every trip a memorable one.