It is well known that God’s Own Country, Kerala, is a favoured holiday destination for many from abroad and within India, especially for those from the neighbouring southern states.
People fly in to do the usual: A trip to Munnar-Thekkady to experience the tea- and spices-laden hills, the quaint Fort Kochi area and its Jew town and synagogue, the many pristine beaches, and the backwaters of Kumarakom and Alappuzha.
Given the spectacular, winding mountain roads, the quiet, almost sleepy roads meandering through the rural areas, as well as roads practically hugging the sea, we at South First wondered why no one ever opts to go biking in Kerala.
We have put together four great bike rides you can embark on from Kochi. None of them is more than six hours one way, and we believe this is the best way to explore the countryside and take in the many shades of green the state has on offer.
There are many places in Kochi that rent out bikes of all makes and models — by the hour, day, or even week. At very reasonable rates. A quick search on the net will give you several options.
So here are the four bike rides you can embark on from Kochi that will give you a flavour of Kerala.
1. Kochi to Munnar
This route promises you the best of both worlds. From the busy, colourful streets of Kochi to nature’s glories in Munnar, your ride will be full of exciting landscapes.
“You can start by riding through the famous Fort Kochi, Jew Street, Marine Drive, and Kadamakkudy — and then begins the real ride into the lap of nature. The best route for this ride, in my opinion, is via NH85 as it has less traffic and hardly any road closures,” 32-year-old businessman Avinash Shankar from Kochi, who loves quick getaway trips on his prized Royal Enfield Meteor 350, tells South First.
“Once you get onto the NH85, you will leave the city behind and continue on a local two-way one and make your way through little villages surrounded by eye-popping green paddy fields. Even though I left pretty early in the morning, I still found several trucks and lorries crowding the roads as that is the main route to the Central Ghats and Tamil Nadu beyond that,” Shankar adds.
Your ride will start getting steeper approximately three hours from Kochi as the landscape starts turning hilly and in case it gets overwhelming, not to worry, the route has lots of little towns you can stop and take a breather.
About five hours into your ride from Kochi, you will enter Munnar and you can simply ride around the little hill station, soaking in all the tea plantations rising on both sides of the road and tumbling down the mountains beyond.
Distance: Approximately 130 km
Duration of ride: Approximately 4 to 5 hours.
This route is a scenic one from the start right till the end. From the tea plantations of Munnar to the wildlife awesomeness of Thekkady, bikers are in for a picturesque treat.
This route is perfect for those who don’t mind detours and are cool with exploring the places on the way, as it is full of little villages, waterfalls, off-road tracks, and some stretches even have hairpin bends if you are confident enough about your biking skills.
You will also come across a beautiful valley leading to an impressive vertical cliff, and as you continue towards Thekkady, the scene changes from plantations to forests.
“While riding to Thekkady you will use NH185 and SH19. There are mainly two routes to reach your destination but the one I suggest is one which takes you through Chithirapuram, Anachal, Rajakkad, Karitode, Nedumkandam and finally, Thekaddy. The entire ride will take about three hours, depending on the weather conditions and traffic. You also better watch out for the narrow roads on the route, which can become a major nuisance during the monsoon season. Just keep riding slowly and fight your instinct to go full throttle!” Shankar tells South First.
Enroute Thekkady you will come across magnificent sights such as the Kolukkumalai Tea Estate, the Karadippara Viewpoint which will show you some of the most gorgeous sunsets, and the Sree Narayanapuram waterfalls, which is a lesser-known pitstop to many riders.
Distance: 91 km.
Duration of ride: Approximately 3 hours.
When one thinks of beaches in Kerala, the name that pops up — after the internationally known Kovalam — is that of the beautiful Varkala beach, known for its fascinating stretch of golden sand, mostly sought by those who crave a holiday filled with solitude.
But what if I told you that just a bike ride ahead of Varkala was another charming little beach that not many people know about?
Kappil Beach is around 7-8 km away from the main town of Varkala, and the road to get there is perfect for bikers who see themselves as daredevils.
If you are heading from Kochi towards Kappil Beach, then get on NH66 and it’s a straight hour-and-a-half ride to Alappuzha. Or you can take a more scenic route, which is the spectacular coastline road through Chellanam-Andarakanazhy-Marari, which is mostly peppered with beaches, backwaters, and little villages, which make for amazing views as you ride.
From Alappuzha, Varkala is about 105 km and it’s pretty much a straight smooth road to Kollam. Once you reach Kollam beach, you can either continue on the highway or ride alongside the Arabian Sea, which will be a heavenly ride for any biker, with tall coconut trees bordering the narrow road on both sides, and the backwaters in the backdrop.
And once you reach Varkala, Kappil Beach is just a short ride away.
“The road above the natural blending cliffs with the Arabian Sea in Varkala is not really suitable for bike rides as it is too narrow and way too crowded. However, sometimes, I go off-road through a non-tarred road on my way to Kappil beach and am treated to a magical view of the sea,” 22-year-old PR executive Vishal Matthias from Kochi tells South First.
“Riding on the beach road is a particularly awesome experience, with the beautiful Edava Narayana Lake on one side and the blue Arabian Sea on the other. Do not miss it at any cost!” Matthias adds.
Distance: Approximately 160 km
Duration of ride: Approximately 5-6 hours.
The route from Kochi to Vagamon takes you through the Western Ghats and is picturesque in every way imaginable.
Vagamon is a perfect weekend destination from Kochi and if you have a bike, take NH85 and make your way through Muvattupuzha and on to Thodupuzha and drive on to Moolamattom and the Kanjar-Pullikanam road or the Koovappally road in Kanjar. Continue on the route and then ride to the Pullikkanam-Elappara road in Vagamon.
Watch out for the hairpin bends on the route, as even though they can be exhilarating, the steep turns are actually quite dangerous if you are not a skilled rider.
If you really want to enjoy a misty route, it’s best you set off early in the morning.
Of course, once you reach Vagamon, get ready for a whole world of off-road detours which will take you to lesser-known destinations you won’t really find online. What more could a true biker ask for?
Distance: Approximately 102 km.
Duration of ride: About 3-4 hours.