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About the Destination:
Famous for its beautiful sceneries, tea plantations, fields and estates, Gudalur makes a glorious biking expedition. It derives its name from the Tamil words 'koodal oooru', which mean adjoining village. Indeed, Gudalur adjoins Ooty, Gundalpet and Nilambur and is equidistant from Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Apart from great visual beauty, the place is rich in wildlife and both high-altitude and low-altitude flora and crops. The village traces the origins of its tea plantation back to the British occupation. Being situated close to other states, its demographic is an interesting amalgamation of cultures, especially after the 1970s, when the Tamil Nadu government agreed to give shelter to refugees from Sri Lanka.
The fundraising cycling tour to Gudalur begins at Bangalore, where you will cover 350 kms all the way to Gudalur. On the way, stop and visit many places and people from different professions and cultures, including silkworm rearers in a sericulture farm, jaggery sellers, potters, the Mudumalai tiger reserve and a group of villagers in Kokkarebellur who have formed an animal conservation group.
You will also get to interact with the adivasi community in Gudalur, a group of indigenous and original inhabitants of the land, and will learn about their art, community and culture. Currently, the NGO works with four tribes Kattunayakans (traditional honey gatherers), Paniyas, Bettakurumbas (Elephant mahaouts) and Mullukurumbas.
About the Activity:
Get ready to wear spontaneity on your sleeve as you set out on an exciting and adventurous fundraising rally from Bangalore to Gudalur in Nilgiris. Prior to the trip, you will have to be able to raise a fundraising amount of INR 20,000. The Go! Make a Difference' cycling tour is a novel, self-contained bicycle ride that is not a competition or a sport but an experience that will take you through all the changing landscapes and the urban-rural shifts of a bicycle trip from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu. Pack up your life and pedal away on an epic ride that will see you cycling 350 kms from Bangalore all the way to Gudalur, which is situated in Tamil Nadu and is equidistant from both Kerala and Karnataka.
The Adivasi Munnetra Sangam (AMS) is a movement that works with the adivasis or the indigenous people of a land, who are its original inhabitants. AMS works with them to preserve their culture and securing their livelihood, at the same time maintaining their human rights issues in the context of land grabbing, low wages and other forms of exploitation.
Fireflies Ashram, Sericulture Farm, Watching Pottery-makers and Jaggery producers at work.
Start your journey on a note of relaxation at the Fireflies ashram in Kanakpura road, where you can recharge and get ready to head out to the hills and the fields. Cycle all the way up to Kokkarebelur Village and enjoy a varied journey with stops at interesting sites and tons of exciting activities. You will get to experience rural Karnataka and its people, their work, unique art and skills and how they make their livelihood, be it the potters or the jaggery makers. Enjoy breakfast and lunch at visually stunning outdoor spots, on the way to Kokkarebelur, where you will spend the night.
Kokkarebellur is fascinating primarily for the very unique ecosystem that its villagers have cultivated with the local spot-billed pelicans in the village. This ecosystem is remarkable and a great example of a community working together to protect and conserve its fauna. The people in the village, who consider the pelicans to be good omens and symbols of good luck and prosperity, have adopted these birds as part of their heritage and culture. The best time to visit this village is in March, which is nesting time for the storks and the pelicans.
Temples, Heritage Sites, Kaveri River, Bird Watching
On the second day, you will start bright and early from Kokkarebellur, in anticipation of some great activities that lie ahead. You are encouraged to stop anywhere along the way, instinctively or out of curiosity and discover places, watch out for birds, drink tender coconut water or take photographs. A previous tour had people counting hundreds of painted storks.
Visit many old and beautiful temples, heritage sites, traditional houses and scenic spots on your way to Yellandur, with a 10-km ascent on top of BR Hills, navigating your way through a forest and even crossing the famous Kaveri River, the treasure of Karnataka. Weather permitting; you will get a chance to take a dip in the water.
End your day at BR Hills, where you can relax and rejuvenate after an exhilarating 97-km ride, soaking in the lovely views around you and enjoying the company of nature.
Nilgiri Mountains View, Forest, Elephants, Soliga Adivasis. Wildlife safari in Bandipur Tiger Reserve
Start your third and final day by going downhill from BR Hills and on to the plains of Chamrajnagar. The steep descent is something to be careful about. After the descent, the road is fantastic and smooth for a bicycle ride and the view is spectacular all around. You may get a chance to view wayward elephants on the way and this could be something to be wary of but still marvel at -- the thrills of the journey!
The last few stretches of your 95-km ride will see you detour into bumpy, crooked roads that lead into the village interiors. It is not every day that you get to pedal through the winding trail of a thick forest that has elephants in its midst, even as the Nilgiri mountains towers into view, providing a wonderful background to your journey, alleviating all signs of tiredness from the exercise.
Spend your night at Chikaylchetti village in Bandipur, where you will meet an organisation called Junglescapes, who do something remarkable in the area. They work with adivasis in the region, particularly the soliga tribe and its people. Adivasis are the original inhabitants of a land, and this makes them intimately familiar with the terrain, the geography, the climate and the cultivation. They also possess unique skills and talent. Junglescapes works with this community with the aim of conservation of their heritage and identity, as well as retrofitting their skills to secure their future, without compromising on their culture.
At the end of the day, pitch your tent under a large peepal tree, a popular camping spot. This spot is both outrageous and exhilarating - outrageous because it sends thrills down your spine and exhilarating because of the remarkable view and the perfect magical camp setting. If you are not tired enough and are up for more adventure, then you can join the others on a wildlife safari to the Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
Bandipur and Mudumalai Tiger Reserves, Thepakadu Elephant Camp
Brace yourself for the last day of the experience. Begin early to soak up the many splendours of the lovely roads that stretch to 40km and wind through Bandipur and Mudumalai Tiger Reserves. Do not be surprised if you come across some adorable elephants.
Along the way, take a short halt at the elephant camp in Thepakadu where around 25 elephants reside. Get charged with some refreshments and make your way to Gudalur.
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