The last time I rode a bicycle was during my training days at Infosys Mysore campus. I had come across an advertisement on Facebook but had ignored it. When one of my friends liked the page I got curious and checked out more. After a lot of curiosity and thought I decided to give it a shot. Since it was on a weekend, I persuaded my buddy Praveen who later convinced Sonal to join. Praveen agreed to enquire more and all three of us registered.
We gathered at Hard Rock Café on St. Marks Road and waited for everyone to assemble and start the journey. We briefly introduced ourselves and drove out of Bangalore in a support vehicle directly to the breakfast spot on the Airport road on Mar 28th, Saturday.
We were all excited when we saw the lineup of cycles on the car. I can remember Praveen talking incessantly on the way and me being struck in between Sonal and Praveen’s chit-chat and not being able to listen to Guru and the others who were busy breaking the ice. Once we reached the farmhouse, we all listened to Badri conversing about cycling, BOTS, his experience with cycling, cyclists in general etc, enjoying the view of the Skandagiri hill and the tasty breakfast. Being introduced to the nitty gritties of the gears, the numbers, the how and when to shift gears, wearing helmets, adjusting saddle heights etc. made me a little anxious. Nevertheless we all got on the saddle and started riding.
Out first pit stop was the silk making workshop, which unfortunately was closed. Though we couldn’t witness the silk weaving, we found out how silk is made, silkworm lifecycle and the different types of silk. Then we cycled all the way to the Nandi railway station. It is a British styled building and we were all astonished when we saw the cheaply priced tickets on the rate board.
We visited the ancient 9th century Bhoganandeeshwara temple, learnt about the different representations of Shiva during childhood (Arunachaleshwara), youth (Bhoganandeeshwara) and enlightenment (Yoganandeeshwara) and explored the temple. The Uma Maheshwara Kalyanamantapa (marriage altar) where Shiva’s marriage to Parvathi supposedly took place has beautiful, intricate carvings on black soapstone. It is a remarkable structure and I was completely mesmerized! The temple as a whole conjures up visions and memories of the resplendent glory of the various dynasties that ruled the place. We got back on the saddle and rode further. Sometimes riding ahead and sometimes riding at the back and at times riding in a group and subsequently spreading out, we slowly got acquainted with each other. With the hot summer, farmlands, grape vineyards and cycling at my own pace, it felt fantastic to discover the beauty of the countryside.
I can never forget the uphill stretch of the ride when all of us were panting and puffing to pedal. The long downhill ride immediately after was so relaxing with the gentle breeze blowing into my face. It opened up my heart! A thousand happy thoughts ran through my mind. I went back in time to my childhood days when I first had learnt how to cycle, had cycled together with my kid sister to the music classes, when the days stretched endlessly, when I went to sleep with a smile on my face and a head full of dreams! I travelled back to a time and place that I had long forgotten with the excursions to the historical places organized by my school and the interesting stories narrated by the travel guide and the nonsensical chatter and giggles of me and my friends.
We stopped by at a farmland where a group of villagers were offering every passerby Panaka (a sweet drink made out of wood apple) and Kosambari (moong dal salad) prasada (devotional offering of food to God which is later distributed for consumption) as part of the Ram Navami festivities. Ah! These natural body coolants were such a blessing in disguise for enduring the scorching sun!
Before having lunch at the farmhouse and heading back to Bangalore, I was particularly excited at the opportunity of experiencing pottery making for the first time. We saw the stages involved in it. Kneading the clay, centering it on the wheel; the potter showed us a demonstration of taking the base clay, raising it high and making a hole in the center and creating the desired shape by using fingers to stretch higher or thinner as the wheel span around. As expected, he manipulated the clay so effortlessly. When it was time to get my hands dirty, I wet my hands and used my fingers, cupped my hands and created whatever I could with the potter’s guidance. The pressure applied had to be perfect to mould it but not too much to make it crooked and break it. After the desired shape was created, using the small fingers to slowly cut off my masterpiece from the base clay made me so nervous! I was so absorbed in all this that I never knew such beautiful pictures had taken my work and me away from. One of them made a small vase, another an ash tray and so on
I remember going gaga about this fantastic trip with my parents, sister, friends and colleagues. This lovely, unforgettable experience had created a sense of wonder and put me in a great mood for weeks!
This is such a well-researched route with sightseeing on a bicycle, learning history, absorbing the culture of the Nandi village – all so perfectly intertwined together by Unventured. Not to forget the delicious and sumptuous organic food that we got to relish in a nearby farmhouse for breakfast and lunch. You will realize that this place has so much more to offer than just the Nandi hills. Nandi Hill trail is mostly a flat road route, except for one good half a km climb and the thrilling rollercoaster descent thereafter; a great option for anyone who hasn’t ridden a bike in years and for anyone who wants to have fun on a cycle.
So just GO AHEAD, EXPLORE.