Gates of Heaven is a signature event organised by Bangalore Randonneurs. Prequalification is completion of an LRM after 2019. Having completed the chalukyas-1200 KM enabled me to register.
After every ride more than 600 km, I find some numbness In my little finger. So got a hand gripper and used it for the last 45 days to strengthen my fingers for applying brakes during the large descents.
Change of Dates
The ride was scheduled on the evening of new year day. Everyone was hopeful the event will take place but last minute lockdown imposition postponed the event to unknown dates. The event will take place as soon as the lockdown is lifted. This is the one thing we all know. Lockdown was lifted on the end of January and the event date was scheduled on 14th February.
Opening of Gates of Heaven
The event started with a grand celebration at gayathri vihar palace grounds with traditional dance and music.
Major Cities, Towns, Villages on the Route we covered in our bicycle in this one single event in 122 hours.
Bangalore – Kunigal – Channarayapatna – Arsikere – Birur – Lingdahalli – Kaimara – Mullyangiri – Baba BuddanGiri – Kaimara – Chikmangaluru – Aldur – Balehonnur – Sringere – Agumbe – Udupi – Karkala – Mudbidri – Bantwal – Belthangady – Charmadi Ghat – Kottigehara – Mudigere – Hanbal – Anemahal – Hettur – Vanagoor – Koothi – Somwarpet – Madapur – Madikere – Chetalli – Dubare – Kushalnagar – Hunsur – Bilikere – Holenarsipura – Hassan – Channarayapatna – Kunigal – Nelamangala – Bangalore
Gayathri vihar,Bangalore to Hotel Mayura, bellur cross( 107 km)
Bangalore is the silicon capital of india. The city was built by Kempegowda in 16th century. The city is also known as Garden city of india and now Brewery capital of india. Started the ride at 4:00 PM after listening to the drum beats, we covered the 107 km in sub 4 hours despite the Bengaluru traffic. However a 45 minute break at the CP for restroom and dinner ate up our time. As everyone had already done a LRM as a pre-qualifier, no single rider lagged behind. Some didn’t even wait for dinner. They just got their brevet cards stamped and sped away. We also started as best as we can and continued the ride after eating a full meal.
Hotel Mayura to Yogesh Farm (115 km)
The next CP is Yogesh farm, where a volunteer had provided space at his home. After 145 km the roads were very dark and no shops were there. At 150th km we have to take a deviation from bangalore highway ans pass through arsikere. Sri channakeshava temple is restored in the recent years. The two distinct features of this temple are the temple compound wall and the khalasa on the temple shikara. The khalasa is the largest in the state of Karnataka. The temple is a perfect example of hoysala architecture, though smaller in size when compared to other hoysala temples. An interesting feature is its navranga ceiling wherein, its central portion is carved in conch shape. Since we were going at night we could not see anything and missed all this beauty.
Occasionally when we find some shops we had some tea and snacks. We started feeling sleepy and slowed down. However we kept moving. It took 5.5 hours to ride the 115 km including breaks. A volunteer was waiting to help us locate the CP as the house is situated some 400m interior. After having sambar rice and banana, decided to have a short power nap. Naazia used this time for going to rest room and applying chamois cream. As soon as her job is over, she woke me up and then we proceeded to the next CP.
Yogesh farm to sitalaya temple (86 km)
Mullayangiri is the highest peak in Karnataka, located in the Chandra Dhrona hill ranges of the western ghats, Chikmangalur. At a height of 1925 metres, at the summit there is a temple. Seethalayyanagari is a prominent peak which is adjacent to mullayangiri. Mullayangiri peak got its name from a small temple (gadduge/tomb) dedicated to a sage ‘Mulappa swamy’ who is believed to have meditated at the caves only a couple of feet below the summit. The caves are accessible and not very deep, they have a direct entrance to the garbagudi of the temple, which is now blocked by the temple priests. Apart from multiple versions of folklore and strong siddha culture around the belt, the origins or any information about the deity remains ambiguous.[Source – Wikipedia]
We had the best coffee at early morning 5:00 AM and surprised by the price. They charged only 5 Rs for the coffee. The climb was gradual and continuous. It was pitch dark towards lingadahalli. We took selfies at Lingadahalli police sation and then proceeded towards kaimara. Reached kaimara at 8:00 AM in the morning. I had dosa for breakfast and Naazia did not have anything as she said she could not eat. This is going to cost us a lot which we do not know at that point of time. Now We have to climb Mullayangiri hill and take selfie at the top and then descend two kms to reach the next CP. The 14 km climb was tiring particularly the last two kms were too steep. Finally after climbing to the top and taking selfie, The descend was like a whiz. We reached sitalaya temple at around 10:30 AM in the morning. Having completed 308 km in 18.5 hours which included a hill climb. Mohan sir gave us rice box and I ate it like I have never seen food.
Sitalaya temple to javed house (53 km)– Baba budangiri hill climb
The Baba Budangiri shrine is named after the sufi saint Baba budan, who is revered by both muslims and hindus. Its origin appears to be a syncretization of reverence for an 11th century sufi, Dada Hayath. It is said sufi baba budan brought coffee to india at this place and Dattatreya (incarnation of hindu god shiva) is also worshipped here. [Source – Wikipedia]
After 6 km descend we have to climb another hill. This was second hill for the day and it had some rolling terrains too. Monish sir was waiting enroute and encouraged us and also provided with soft drinks. We reached Babu budangiri hill top by around 2:00 PM. After riding in the scorching sun, finally there was cold breeze at the top. We had noodles and bhel for snacks and then resumed our ride. By the time we descended and reached kaimara it was 3:30 PM. We skipped our lunch and that was another mistake.
Javed house to Hotel seetanadhi(129 km)
We reached Javed house by 4:00 in the evening covering 361 km in 24 hours. It took two hours to start from there which was another costly mistake. The first 20 km was in town traffic after which roads were butter smooth.
Chikkamagaluru is a peaceful, beautiful town with hills, valleys, streams and coffee plantations. It is believed that chikkamagaluru was given as a dowry to the younger daughter of Rukmangada, the chief of Sakrepatna kingdom. Chikkamagaluru has taken its name from Chikka(small in kannada) , Magal(daughter in kannada) uru(village in kannada) literally meaning “Younger daughters village”. Karnataka’s coffee industry is in chikkamagaluru and that makes it even more special.
It was very dark through kollur, but very good curves , rolling terrain and butter smooth roads and the occasional vehicle movement, made the ride quite enjoyable. Had dinner enroute at 8:30 PM. One other person Mr Vikram joined us.
Sringeri town is the site of the first matha (Dakshinamnaya Sringeri sharada peetham) established by Adi Shankara, Hindu theologian and exponent of the Advaitha Vedanta philosophy, in the 8th century CE.located on the banks of the river tunga. The name Sringeri is derived from Rishyashringa-giri, anearby hill that is believed to have contained the hermitage of rishi Vibhandaka and his son Rishyashringa, who brought rains to the drought stricken kingdom of Romapada. [Source – Wikipedia]
We reached Sringeri and had coffee at a road side shop and discussing about the BRM route. By pure luck the shop guy told us we were in the wrong route. We rechecked our maps and went towards the correct route leading to Agumbe.
Agumbe is a world famous sunset point. We are now riding in the night, so no scope to see sun but moon. I have been to agumbe in 2012 along with my friend in bike trip. I still remember how steep and curvy the roads were. All three of us were giving our best to reach CP on time. There were some dog chases when we reached agumbe town. After completing the agumbe descends, we finally reached Hotel Seetanadhi.
Hotel seetanadhi to hotel kateel international(79 km)
We were late in reaching hotel seetanadhi. The hotel was closed and volunteers have already left the place. Some of them were sleeping in the front area of the hotel entrance outside the gate. We decided to continue without sleeping and I was on full throttle. We went through karkalla and reached white lotus hotel at Udupi by 6:30 am in the morning. There were some refreshments arranged by BR. We grabbed coffee and bananas and resumed by 7:00 am. The next control point was at 569th Km and we were at 529th Km. We need to cover another 40 km. The roads were highly rolling and I ran out of energy. I slowed down often during climbs which is not the usual case. Naazia was riding very well in this stretch. I needed fuel without which I will slow down. We managed to reach around 9:45 am at Kateel international. After having breakfast I was fully refuelled. We also took bath and tried to have power nap in the grass outside.
I stayed and worked in mangalore for 3 years and all memories came flooding. I have been to all the nearby places by car. This is the first time I am exploring the mangalore and its surroundings by bicycle. And also since it’s a familiar territory, I was a little excited. See my mangalore memories here.
Karkala to Hotel Samraat, Anemahal – charmadi ghat climb
We started at odd time around 11:30 am and could not find a good place for meal till 3:00 pm. We stopped at a sandwich shop and had enough sandwiches and also carried parcel. We were at the bottom of the charmadi ghat climb and saw someone riding at the opposite side. He was quitting the ride and warned us to carry enough water before the climb. Soon we located a shop, had coffee, nannari sarbath , filled our water bottles and got ready mentally and physically to make the climb.
We started climbing the ghat section around 6:00 pm in evening and rode in heavy downward traffic till 8:00 pm. After that the roads were for us. It was a strenuous ride and our water bottles were empty. Luckily we found a water falls on the way to quench our thirst. We reached around 10:30 pm in the night. The organisers have earlier informed us that hotels will be available till 12:00 pm after which nothing will be available. We had fried rice and by the time body had cooled down a lot due to altitude and temperature. By now we were shivering. The visibility was also nil. We were also feeling too sleepy. It was a 23 km climb and body demanded rest. We were at 688th Km after an elapsed time of 54 hours. We need to complete another 512 km in 36 hours.
The next 300 km is going to be difficult and the last 212 km will be on the bangalore highway where we can makeup the lost time. Having come to conclusion after a brief discussion, We decided to halt there for a couple of hours sleep and then catch up during day time.
After a 4 hour good sleep, woke up and got ready to go. Neer dosa is very famous there. Had neer dosa at 5:00 am in the morning and proceeded within the dense mist covering the road. The roads became visible only after 6:30 am. It was beautiful scenery all around , pleasant hill views, gardens and coffee plantations and occasional little dog chases.
Hotel Samraat to Hotel sulokha, kushalnagar – Hotel Samudra
Reached Hotel samraat at Anemahal around 9:00. Mangalore bun is the specality and we each had one. Soon Fat bike anand sir reached and we had a discussion with Mr TK Prashant regarding the finishing of ride. He said it is going to take 48 hours from where you are to finish the ride. We were at 737th km. 470 kms to go and we only had 30 hours to go. In the last 12 hours we covered only 50 km and in the last 24 hours we had done only 167 km. This is where things started getting delayed.
Another 95 kms to the selfie point, we kept on riding. Imran tahir from Hyderabad helped us with coconut water. WE took a power nap in a cement storage area. The climbs were very steep and roads not so good. Before a steep climb one man asked do we need water and filled it up in his home. Some passers by saw us and enquired and even provided with snacks. Also had to fix a puncture for Naazia when the momentum picked up. It took 8 hours for us to finish this 95 km stretch.
After reaching Hotel Samudra, took a room and rested there for five hours. We bathed and felt refreshed and then had dinner and also takeaway food kept ready before going to sleep. After sleeping for 4 hours , resumed our journey at midnight 1:00 am. We owned the roads. There was literally no one till we reached Abhyathamangala Post office. We took selfie there and knew we are going to late finish. We only had 7 hours duration left but 368 kms to complete.
Hotel sulokha to Infinity café, Hassan – CCD billekere
We reached Hotel Sulokha at early morning 5:00 am and opened our takeaway food and devoured it. Again we stopped at a tea shop and had two teas each of us. We were close to 900th km. I guessed we will be late by atleast 18 to 20 hours by the way we were progressing. It took much longer than that.
The unexpected help
At 1000th km Naazia was literally lying in the road and asking for food. She was not ready to move an inch. Seeing a girl crying, few people gathered around us. They could not understand our situation. They were telling 20 km away there is hotel, but Naazia was too tired to even move. I got some biscuits and juices and she just could not stop crying. I asked her if she wanted to quit andeven in that situation she said no. One village man asked what was our problem and we said we are having money and no food to eat. He asked us to put our cycle there itself and took us to his home. Initially we hesistated to leave our cycles and go, but the villagers told they will ensure nobody will touch them and it will be safe there. The man told I have two daughters at home, so no need to worry about safety. After reaching their home we were taken inside and treated like guests. His wife prepared lemon rice for us and we took picture with them and thanked them from the bottom of heart and resumed our ride. So many strangers helped us that day.
Infinity café to CCD yediyur
Reached infinity café at 10:00 pm in the night. Already late by 12 hours. The café was closed. Took selfie at the café and resumed. By 1:00 am Naazia was feeling dizzy again and we had to halt for the night at Bluebird hotel. I wasn’t tired but didn’t want to leave her and go as no one is riding behind us.
We halted for the night and resumed in the morning and had idly dosa for breakfast and resumed our rides. Everyone was already following with us. At 11:00 am Naazia needed one more halt. Had to rent a room and she slept for two hours. I couldn’t sleep as I was not feeling tired. Meanwhile I got some tablets for fever, Had lunch at the hotel and resumed our ride. It was running into fifth day.
CCD yediyur to finish point
Took selfie at CCD yediyur and kept riding towards nelamangla. At about 6 km before the finish point, Naazia went into a petrol bunk with make up kit and returned with fresh face, meanwhile I was looking after the cycles and looked tired. We then proceeded to Gayathri vihar and many of them from bangalore randonneurs and Bangalore Cycling Network were present to welcome us. We had snacks with them and chatted for a while. They also dropped us at our hotel and we had dinner again and dozed off. It took 122 hours for us to finish the prestigious ride. Two more riders were also riding and they were behind us. They too successfully late finished the ride.
Link to my activity – GOH 2022
This ride has taught me lot of things and that will be in a separate post.
Have a good day