Ride along the Hills to the Coast of Tamil Nadu
Tamilnadu lies in the Southernmost part of the Indian subcontinent. Parts of this region are surrounded by the eastern ghats, the Nilgiri mountains and the Meghamalai hills. On the south lies the vast Indian ocean while the Bay of Bengal resides by the east. Known for its trading ports, and amalgamation of many cultures, Tamilnadu is the epicentre for India’s classical texts, heritage and arts.
The temples of Tamilnadu are amongst India’s most elegant, and popular for unique stonework on the exterior and intricate bronze and metal art in the forms of sculptures thatÂ date back to 6th Century AD. Across the state, the landscape changes from pristine seaside views in Pondicherry to dense hills in Coonoor and Valparai. The cuisine also transitions from mild french influenced seafood to spice rich and intensely flavoured meats and vegetarian dishes. The beautiful ancient palaces and French colonial homes are now turned to boutique resorts and homestays to host discerning travellers with unique stay options throughout the journey.
Fly in with your road bikes and trail along introducing yourself to the rich history and heritage of Tamilnadu, along with climbing the cool, forest-clad hills and cruising through rolling flat terrains and savouring the scrumptious cuisine that every part of Tamilnadu has to offer.
Who can do this tour
High Intensity: This is a road bike tour, specially curated for the active endurance cyclist who has clocked in a good number of miles on the saddle.
You will be riding an average of 80+ KMs every day gaining a maximum elevation of 2000 m on some days. The ride is a mix of rolling terrain, intense climbs and some exciting downhill riding. Your days will start early and you will be riding for about 6+ hours on most days. The ride through the day will be through small villages, countryside backroads and on some days on the highway for very short distances, for most part of the ride we’ve mapped routes away from the highway for ease of riders. Evenings are at leisure, you can choose to rest or alternatively step out to explore the region.
Physically, this is an active and intensive tour
We start from the bylanes of Pondicherry, a quaint French colonial town by the Bay of Bengal and make our way through the temple towns of Thiruvannamalai, onward to the coffee and tea paradise of Yercaud and Coonoor. We embark on climbs along one of the longest hills on the Western Ghats and ride back into the flat terrain by the beach. On this 11 days journey, we’ll take to unique and interesting experiences like heritage walks along ancient temples, lip smacking food trails, and stay in palatial heritage homes and cozy tea estate resorts.
“Vanakkam” and welcome to Chennai. After arriving at the Chennai International Airport (MAA) meet your Unventured tour host who will get your adventure going with a tour orientation. On the first day of the tour, we will drive to Pondicherry, a 160 Kms drive which will take about 3+ hours. En route we will stop at the DakshinaChitra, a cross-cultural living museum of art, architecture, lifestyles, crafts and performing arts of South India. We will also relish some scrumptious South Indian dishes which range from a variety of “Thali meals” to crisp “Dosas” (Rice & Lentil Crepes). We will be reaching Pondicherry, a quaint French colonial town known for its chic boutiques and tree lined, colonial French Quarters by early evening. After unpacking our bikes we take a short ride along the sea facing promenade. Accommodation is at a beautiful Heritage Villa. Dinner and overnight in Pondicherry.
Drive Distance: 160 Kms (Airport to Pondicherry)
Accommodation Type: Boutique/Heritage Hotel
● Meet and greet fellow travellers and tour host
● Tour Briefing
● to the various cultures and traditions of Southern India at
● Try different Southern Indian Dishes
● Un-pack your bike & an easy ride along the Promenade
This morning we get going post an early breakfast and begin with a loop ride around Auroville, a good day to get your legs warmed up and acclimatize to the weather and the terrain. A new-age spiritual commune, Auroville was founded in 1968 by ‘The Mother’ and named after her Guru, Sri Aurobindo. It offers a more balanced and sustainable way of living. Revitalized by some earthly fruit juices and exploring the town, we ride to a beautiful farm to savour a farm to table lunch. Post lunch, we ride back into town, along the way we will see some fishing communities and cycle along the promenade, which still retains some of its Gallic charm. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore Pondicherry at a leisurely pace. Dinner and overnight in Pondicherry.
Ride Distance: 30 KM
Accommodation Type: Boutique/Heritage Hotel
● Visit to Auroville a global community village
● Savour a farm to table lunch
After breakfast, hop on the bike and join the throngs of scooters and bicycles until we get across a short distance from the city. Your tour host will offer ample support and good humor to make this an adventure rather than an intimidating obstacle. After getting past the traffic, the pace will calm down and the road till Thiruvannamalai is a mix of riding through state highways which are on tarmac roads, low on traffic, and through the backroads studded with small temples and “guardian” gods of the village. En – route we will stop by at “Gingee” which is a little more than midway at 66KMs. This town is known for its fort, which is also called the “Troy of the East”. Enjoy a scrumptious meal in the town and continue riding to Tiruvannamalai. Tiruvannamalai is a beautiful pilgrimage town at the foot of the sacred Arunachala Hills. This town is also home to the intricately architectured Arunachaleshwara temple that dates back to 1328 AD. On reaching Tiruvannamalai we will check into our accommodation, freshen up and head out for a guided tour of the temple. The accommodation is a beautiful Ayurvedic resort. Dinner and overnight in Tiruvannamalai.
Ride Distance: 110 KMs
Accommodation Type: Ayurvedic Resort
• Ride along the backroads acquainting with the local culture and way of life
• Visit and guided tour of the Arunachaleshwara Temple
We’ll start the day with a session in meditation and gentle yoga; we do want to save our energies for the ride to come. After breakfast we head toward Yercaud. It’s an intense day of riding up the hill and hopefully the meditative yoga session will help us keep up. Yercaud, is a beautiful hill station known for its orange and coffee plantations. The British settlers in Salem found Yercaud much cooler and introduced fruits of Apples and fig to the region. The small town is studded with colonial buildings and lush green natural cliffs. The ride up is surreal with canopies of green ferns and spice plantations. On reaching Yercaud, check into the accommodation. We will step out in the evening to try some local dishes like “Kuttu Parota” and “Chukku Coffee”, delicacies that are best tasted than explained. Dinner and overnight in Yercaud.
Ride Distance: 145 KMs
Accommodation Type: Hill Resort
● A gentle meditation and Yoga session in the morning
● A day of intense climb along the beautiful Shevaroy hills.
● Try unique local dishes
We start early and ride out to a local joint for a delicious breakfast, and it’s one of the popular spots with the locals to get their early morning fix of coffee and Southern Indian breakfast treats. Post breakfast we ride out on the loop road of Yercaud, covering coffee plantations, we will visit a coffee museum in a 150 yr old estate that was set up by the British in 1867 to produce Indian Arabica coffee. To date, it is one of the best Indian Arabica coffee in the country. Take a tour of the museum and try some local coffee, post which we continue our ride to cover the loop and take the downhill ride to Salem town. We drive a distance of 160+ KMs to Coimbatore to reach our accommodation for the night. Overnight in Coimbatore.
Ride Distance: 61 KMs
Accommodation Type: Hotel
Drive Distance: 167 KMs
● A scenic ride along the hills
● Visit to the Coffee museum
This morning we embark on one of the tough climbs in Southern India along the Nilgiri Hills. Known as the Blue Mountains, for their towering range to the sky, the Nilgiri Hills are one of the larger mountain chains along the Western Ghats. The first half of the ride is a rolling terrain, however, the final 22+ KMs is an uphill climb to Coonoor town, gaining an elevation of 1850 metres. The ride is through scenic tea plantations, small villages and lightly trafficked roads. Coonoor is located at an elevation of 1850 meters above sea level and boasts of beautiful waterfalls, and viewpoints offering a panoramic view of the Western Ghats that can’t be seen anywhere else. The region is known for locally grown pomegranates, apricots and strawberries that offer a great ride snack as we get closer to the town. Lunch is en route. We are expected to reach our heritage accommodation by late afternoon. Spend the evening at leisure to explore Coonoor town. Dinner at a quaint café known to make the best local fish and serve interesting Indo-European fusion cuisine. Overnight in Coonoor.
Ride Distance: 68 KMs
Accommodation Type: Heritage Hotel
● Scenic ride along the hills
● Spectacular view of the Western Ghats
Today we shuttle down on a heritage train toy train. Since 1908 this exclusive train and rail track was built by the British to escape the tedious heat of Chennai (Madras, back in the time). This 1000 mm meter gauge rail slowly descends the Nilgiri hills moving through tunnels and curves offering passengers views of the glorious western ghats. Our day however starts with a ride around Coonoor town exploring many waterfalls and viewpoints. Post lunch we embark on an epic train ride followed by a drive along the short distance from Mettupalayam to Coimbatore. Dinner is a scrumptious affair tasting “Kongu – nadu” cuisine, which has its cuisine history dating back to 2nd Century AD The spices, meat and flavours come together in a perfect amalgamation. Overnight in Coimbatore.
Ride Distance: 35 KMs
Drive Distance – 30 KMs
Accommodation Type: Hotel
● Scenic route around Coonoor
● Heritage Toy Train ride through Nilgiri mountains
This morning we embark on another day of intense climbing from the flats to up another hill. Post breakfast we start our 111 KMs ride to Valparai. This is perhaps the longest day through the stretch of the tour. The up-hill ride will be on the final leg of the trail with a 42 KMs ride up to Valparai, covering an elevation of 1368 m. This ride however has the most scenic vistas of the Anamalai hills in the western ghats surrounded by tea estates and spice plantations. Valparai is at the foothills of the Anamalai hills that is home to wildlife like tigers, Indian elephants, and panthers. Set your worries aside, the only wildlife we will be encountering will be the magnificent bird life and some macaques. We are expected to reach our destination by evening. Our accommodation is at a beautiful tea estate. Dinner and overnight stay in Valparai.
Drive Distance: 111 KMs
Accommodation Type: Hotel
● Intense uphill ride to Valparai
● Ride along the forest borders
● Scenic views and possibility to spot some endemic birdlife.
Post breakfast, hop on the bike and get ready to take the long downhill ride to the temple town of Palani. We will be riding down from an elevation of 1460 m to 300 m down to flat ground. The first 40+ KMs will be a thrilling downhill ride and onward to a rolling terrain till Palani town. This beautiful temple town is most sacred to the locals. Let us walk you through the many myths and legends of Gods known to have “settled in” this town to find their peace. Enjoy a delicious vegetarian lunch at a local joint, post which we drive to another temple town of Madurai. Evening at leisure to explore the Madurai Meenakshi temple which dates back to the 6th century AD. Post a guided temple tour, we step into the street to explore the culinary delights this town is known for. From succulent, soft steamed rice idli’s (rice cakes) to “Jigarthanda” (an interesting milk based drink), Madurai is one of Southern India’s hotspots for food. Overnight in Madurai.
Ride Distance – 114 KMs
Drive Distance: 120 KMs
Accommodation Type: Hotel
● Fun downhill ride
● A guided tour of the 6th Century Meenakshi Temple
● A food trail in Madurai
Today we fly into Chennai, the capital city of Tamilnadu. Depending on our flight schedule we will explore the city of Chennai through its rich heritage. You can choose to explore the various museums, attend a classical dance session or simply walk by the beach side. A free day to shop for souvenirs and prepare yourself for the onward journey. Overnight in Chennai.
Flight from Madurai to Chennai
Accommodation Type: Hotel
● Free day to explore Chennai town
Post breakfast, depending on your flight schedule we check out and head toward the Chennai International Airport for your onward flights. Some of you may be planning some further travel adventures in this beautiful land. Speak to us at Unventured about what other travels in South India could await you!
Drive Distance: Hotel to Airport
Accommodation Type: NA
Our Tamilnadu Road Bike adventure is a blend of some intense cycling and some leisurely explorations. Being a high intensity ride, this tour is supported by a team that consists of mechanical support, a support vehicle at short distances and of course a NOLS certified Unventured tour host to ascertain everything is planned to your comfort and all you have to do is rest and ride!
PREPAREDNESS – PHYSICAL & MENTAL
The tour is a good blend of adventure, riding, food, nature, wildlife, culture, and real-world experiences of Kerala, giving you a unique insight into the local way of life via off the beaten path experiences. Information with regard to people, culture, currency and introducing the region’s political, historical and cultural structures will be via detailed emails well before the tour begins. This tour is graded as high intensity in terms of physical activities, and riders MUST have prior experience in long distance climbs in their own hometown or be willing to set aside dedicated training time prior to the tour. A training regime will be emailed to you to make sure you enjoy rather than endure this adventure.
Accommodation: Accommodation will be in Heritage Hotels, Plantation Bungalows, Homestays and Eco Hotels with good hygienic attached bathrooms offered on a twin-sharing basis.
Transport: We will have a dedicated AC private vehicle at your service through the entire term of the tour. There will also be a carrier vehicle for the cycles. All transfers from the Airport to the hotel will be in comfortable cars or vans.