Female biker & KTM 200 Duke: A 2,000 km trip through Karnataka

I am one of the rare female cyclists in India. Most girls stay away from motorcycles thinking it is for men/women. I want to encourage women to ride motorbikes responsibly. From a 100cc scooter to a 200cc motorcycle, the journey for me is exhilarating. My first geared motorcycle was our KTM Duke 200 (which I now affectionately call Kiki). I am madly in love with the bike and the machine. Pure ride comfort, low torque, manageable weight, great braking and above all a resolutely feminine look!

In the end, we had to buy another bike so we wouldn’t compete for a ride. This is how we welcome the FZ-150 into our home! It was a ten day trip through the different landscapes of Karnataka on two bikes.

One State, Many Worlds – Karnataka Tourism’s slogan is true to the word. The flat landscape around Hubli gives way to lush forests and the Kali River heads towards Dandeli and Anshi National Parks. Winding through the Kali Tiger Reserve, to the Karwar Coast, greets you with azure waters. Drive south and (southwest) to enjoy Gokarna’s unique beaches – with small forests along the coast. Travel another 50 kilometers towards the woods and hills to be mesmerized by the magical Yana Caves. Satisfy your appetite with some of the best vegetarian recipes from Udupi. Finally, enjoy fresh coffee from a plantation near Chikmagalur before heading home, and all in all, a 10-day road trip.

With the bikes ready for the 2000 km journey through the northern and western regions of Karnataka – our beloved Duke 200 and Yamaha FZ-150 – we set off on a Saturday morning beautiful sky. Bumpy ride on the monotonous PB road with kind and encouraging elderly men admiring a woman riding a motorbike. Bharati Lodge – an old building with on-site parking – located right next to the central bus station and offers clean rooms and options to suit every budget. Traffic on Hubli-Dharwad kept us up most of the night. Hubli comes to life on Saturday nights when a crowd of young people (mostly students) from nearby Dharwad are having fun at fancy restaurants and updating their Instagram. 

After an early breakfast from the locals’ favorite Ayodhya restaurant opposite the bus station, we headed to Dandeli via Dharwad. The road from Hubli to Dharwad is amazing except for the traffic lights every 200 meters. On the other hand, the Dandeli road is in good condition and winds through wooded roads. Nature First Eco Village is a great place to stop for a day if you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of a tourist destination. The hearty breakfast is Rs.100/- includes a cup of tea. Moving on, we passed through Haliyal and arrived at our Airbnb location in Dandeli at lunchtime.

Dandeli is part of the Western Ghats region with an elevation of 472 meters and a tropical highland climate. Its name came from a legend locally, a deity named Dandelappa. Located along the Kali River, Dandeli is famous for rafting and other adventure activities like kayaking, zorbing, jungle safari, boating, river crossing, etc. Anshi National Park, declared a tiger reserve in 2007, is part of Dandeli. In the past, the area was known for its paper mills, sawmills, and more.

Wild and Dark Kali Tiger Reserve

With a day to spare in Dandeli, a trip to Castle Rock sounds interesting. Unfortunately, crossing the border to visit Dudhsagar is arduous due to limitations (the inevitable RTPCR testing). These forests belong to the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as the Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve. The area is famous for its birds and wildlife. It was very rewarding to ride to the border on the Karnataka side, as we were on the other side of our trip in Goa.

It is thrilling to cross the narrow and winding roads to Ramnagar, the capital on the Panjim-Belagavi highway. It’s a good stop to refuel for the trip ahead, through the woods with little sun. A diversion takes you to the famous Old Magazine House – a hotspot for furry friends. The road in the ghat section is under construction in many places. The journey is made at a snail’s pace though the scenery makes up for the bad roads. It was fun walking around the deserted Castle Rock station. A small shop nearby serves very hot local food.

Spanning a vast area of ​​1,300 square kilometers, Anshi National Park, recently renamed the Kali Tiger Reserve (KTR), tops the list of equestrian routes. Road SH34, Ramnagar-Karwar connects Karwar with Dandeli via Joida. This is the usual route, but a detour from Sangave, inland roads with twists and turns will bring you to Ulavi via Syntheri Rocks. A little ahead of Ulavi, this road connects to SH146 and finally at Anshi connects to SH34. KTR Jungle has a very different vibe from the adjacent national parks Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa. Some routes pass through dense forest with narrow winding roads, streams on one side. Several small roads lead to villages in the interior, with many options for exploring the area.

The most popular attractions are the Syntheri rock and the temple of Ulavi. From Ulavi there are other beautiful places to visit. To name a few: the Shivapura suspension bridge, the Panchalinga cave and an observation point. There are 4WD jeeps, which will take you to these places for Rs 1,000/- per Jeep. The locals say that motorbikes can go off-road, so you can give it a try if you like riding your ADV motorbike on those 4×4 routes. It is said that crossing the Shivapura suspension bridge to get to Yellapura cuts the distance by more than half, although only two-wheelers are allowed. There are many resorts and homestays in the national park area. Stay in one and explore the national park and hinterland.

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