At the end of my journey and taking a long pause at home and rested, I realized travel is all about the journey and exploration, not of destination. It is more so when you are on a bike, motored or non-motored. So here is one when my son and I traveled on two motorcycles, me mostly on my newly acquired Royal Enfield Continental GT with my son, Sreemukh on my beloved antique piece Royal Enfield Bullet (1962).
So when I realized my carefully planned vacation of 9 days with only three days of leave will go wasted with my better half being busy bee with other things, I decided I would go on a long ride on my newly acquired CGT (Continental GT motorcycle). I just bought it two weeks back, and felt a long ride would help me get acclimatized to it as well. With the city rides it was getting hard to get used to. After a long research on places I could travel on the bike, it being not too long nor too short, I pictured Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary to be the perfect place at about 120+ kilometers from my home. But since I couldn’t get confirmed accommodation in the said Inspection Bungalow/Guest House of the Forest Department, I added Singur Dam on my way where Tengana Tourism confirmed accommodation. My elder son Sreemukh coming to know of this, expressed desire to join me with the Bullet that he nowadays uses to commute to college. So here we are, exploring remote places, aka traveling. That is after weaving through the thick traffic of Kukatpally/Chandanagar 😦
Late started by two hours, we reached up the Singur dam, off by Mumbai Highway and traveling through a grueling of nothing but potholed 10 km road. The CGT handled it very well both by maneuverability and the fantastic Paoli rear shocks. But my son had a tough time with the 52 years aged shocks of my Bullet not budging an inch to absorb shocks of the rubble called road. Only to be told at the end of the ride on a hot day that there was no AC thanks to power cuts. But the staff was kind enough to switch on the Generator just for us. There was no other occupancy in the Haritha Resort! What a pity, Tourism Department doesn’t do much publicity to some deserving places.
But the resort overall, was a pleasure. It did not matter if they did not have water to quench our thirst after a hot and humid ride, or could not make tea/coffee since they have to fetch milk from a nearby village in the evening. This resort was adjacent to the dam but in a god forsaken place with no human habitation. Exhausted, Sreemukh and I dropped on to a bed under the cool AC.
After resting and a long nice walk to the dam, we spent the night over there, woke up early, to be invited by early morning fog over distant trees and beautiful landscaping in the resort campus.
After a breakfast in the nearby Singur village, and some bird watching at the dam, we were off to Nagpur Highway, meeting my wife’s cousin Kiran at his village near Sangareddy.
There were some kingfishers, an owl, and other interesting birds. But this was the best I could gather, of a crane, not being at the best of bird photography with my 35mm Fujifilm mirrorless X100S camera. I did not carry my 400mm zoom camera worried of being over weight on motorcycle. I was also not successful at shooting of what could have been a crocodile in the reservoir (an expected species if I recollect right from my reading on this Manjira reservoir that supplies water to Hyderabad).
As we hit the roads, it was a good ride all the way, having come out of the potholed ones, although these were narrow roads. Before we hit the main highway Nagpur NH7, we exchanged our motorbikes. My backpack combined with the aggressive posture on CGT where I need to bend down was killing my shoulders already. Initially I was hesitant to shift over to the Bullet where everything is opposite, from riding posture to levers being right to left, and gear shifting from up to down. But once on it I realized how much relaxing the Bullet was compared to the CGT. The upright posture was just right for the national highway riding, the heavy vehicle that it is, the slow braking and acceleration and all made it LOT more comfortable than the CGT. I said to myself, I had no issues riding on it all day if I were on a long trip. Yes, it did not provide me the fun that I could get on the CGT, of being on a two wheeler and one that was powered high. Nor could it assure me the confidence of safety the way CGT did. You are in total control when you are on the café racer CGT. But you couldn’t go on it for very long without getting tired or not taking a break. Bullet was one, which was akin to the comfort that my petrol car Skoda RS provides compared to my other cars. Here is one, where one could go on and on, feel like sitting on a couch, and not get tired a bit. And this is how I could sum it up making my own quote:
‘YOU DRIVE A CONTINENTAL GT, AND YOU RIDE A BULLET’
The former drives exactly as you ask it. Just as a BMW car, not necessarily the most comfortable, but keeps the man in total control, confidence inspiring, and offering tons and tons of fun! The latter bike makes you feel like a king on an elephant. High atop, comfortable, very subtle movements in any direction; you rarely take control as its rider as it takes care of itself in a very stable way, and you just enjoy the ride. Have all the time during the ride watching things around you, as a true wanderer. I like both. Both have their own places and roads you can take them on.
All our delays, and stops including lunch at a small restaurant in Narsapur, saw us clock ticking 3 pm when we were towards the last leg on Nagpur Highway. I realized it was too late to go to Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary for we would barely have enough time to see the forest. But here we made a strategic mistake. Rather than go back a few kilometers and stay up overnight at the nearby Medak town, listening to the two options offered by a construction supervisor, we rode up further to Kamareddy wanting to go backwards to Pocharam rather than go back now and move further up to Pocharam from Medak. We stayed up at the hopelessly bad AC room of International Hotel at Kamareddy overnight. The AC would make so much noise that I could barely switch on, despite being hot. The room was filled with cockroaches and other insects. The bathroom had mushrooms on the door. At best, the room was pathetic! What a contrast to the beautiful government managed Haritha resort at Singur!
Next day morning, after breakfast, I looked up the maps in the phone (both Nokia and Google), and although I assuredly not believed it could be true, wanting to try out, headed out tracking route per maps to Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary. Due to narrow roads and me often having to get down and check the maps in the phone, the so called 12 km distance took much longer than it should have. And wandering through the ultra narrow 6 feet or so stone paned roads amidst bunch of village houses and huts, we ended up at a place where there was only a small mud off road probably ending up in a forest. It is possible that the 160 acre Pocharam forest starts at Pocharam but at its farthest end, ends here. Notwithstanding, I cannot believe, directions on a map will point you to a boundary and not the entrance 😦
I just wish in retrospect, that I had taken some pictures of what we went through those network of narrow lanes. For the villagers, it was an amusement to watch two men with helmets, backpacks, and on motorcycles – Yellow and Red (and with a never seen shape) wandering through their village. Kids and women came out of their houses to amuse themselves! Were we embarrassed (blush)?
But. Here is the best part. Taking cue from fellow villagers back on the Nizam Sagar road, we were in for a treat. We passed through some of the deepest interiors of Telangana. Along way we watched people who are poor but happy, women celebrating the Batkamma festival, Batkamma flower decorations dropped in water streams, even a village panchayat of over 50 people under a banyan tree, children enjoying the morning and happy, shy to get photographed by me rushing into their homes (huts), the cattle and sheep that block our way, long winding narrow yet beautiful roads. God! We did have lot of fun. And stopped only by manufacturer recommendation not to exceed 60 kmph, I had lots of fun going through the winding roads accelerating and dropping to catch up my son.
Now here comes the ultimate disappointment; the reason for my title for this blog. At the Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary, to our utter shock, the watchmen tell us, we were not allowed in! They told us it is a safari, not a walking trail (unlike of what I read on the Internet), and we were allowed only if we had an SUV/Jeep. Neither were cars allowed, nor our motorbikes. I couldn’t believe and tried to argue it out without much success. They did point us to the nearby Pocharam dam on a mud road. So we do that, and we were in for some interesting pictures nevertheless. It was hot and humid but did not cut down our enthusiasm. Sreemukh was all flabbergasted with the 1918 built forest home of Nizam where he would stay during forest hunts. Needless to say, the Tourism department does not maintain these. Pictures will do the talking for me as each is worth thousand words.
The Pocharam dam (it is barely a dam with just about 10 feet height and non-operational) was well worth going through the mud road though.
We hit the road again. This time not wanting to depend on the maps again, we would check with fellow bikers for directions. Bad choice! It took us through a much longer route to Hyderabad on the Nagpur Hwy than I would if I had chosen to see the map anyway. I would’ve gotten to Nagpur Hwy at a place that would have cut down overall distance. But then again, travel is about the journey, not destination. So we got to explore more on the inner roads and some beautiful scenery. Some semi-ghat roads, some paths through thick green forests, some patches with cool air. It was fun! On our way home we stopped by an authentic Punjabi Dhaba on NH7 and had sumptuous well deserved heavy lunch with tandoori roti and dal!