September 6, 2009


DAY ONE: Thursday, 6-11-2008. PUNE to BENAULIM (GOA).

We left home at 6.30am, having finished our packing the previous day. It is a good time to leave the city as all the traffic signals are still asleep. Got on to NH4 via the Katraj bypass. The road was good and we had reached Nipani in Karnataka by noon. After Nipani we had to get onto a state highway(SH), since we wanted to take the Panjim-Karwar-Mangalore route(NH17). NH17 runs along the west coast of India and is supposed to be one of the most scenic roads in India. We took the Uttur-Ajra-Amboli-Savantwadi-Panjim road, as this is supposedly the shortest route to Panjim from Pune.

The road was bad in parts and it took us 3 hrs to reach Savantwadi, a distance of 110 kms from Nipani. We stopped at Kamat’s at Savantwadi for refreshments. We entered the sunny state of Goa around 4.30pm and reached Panjim after an hour of driving through increasing traffic of locals returning home from work. By the time we reached Margao it was 6.30pm and had already become dark and we decided to head towards the beaches to find a pleasant place to spend the night. In the dark we had some problem in remembering the roads from our previous visits.

Finally we found a nice place called Rosario’s Inn near Benaulim beach. The room was small and could barely accommodate an extra mattress - Rs.400 for lodging for the three of us. Instead of walking to the beach for dinner we decided to try out their ‘home’ fare. The dining area was in a nice round open-air tiled shack, and one foreign couple was already enjoying their supper at 8pm. We ordered drinks (feni and wine) and starters (golden fried prawns), followed by fish fry, rice and salad and the bill amounted to only Rs360.

The room was a bit cramped but we were so tired that we were soon fast asleep.

DAY TWO: Friday, 7-11-2008. GOA to MARAVANTHE.

It was quite pleasant in the morning, maybe around 22° C. Komal and I went for an early morning walk on Benaulim beach. It was high tide and only one foreigner was swimming in the sea. There were quite a few (including locals) taking their morning walks.
For breakfast (room service) we ordered cheese omlettes (Rs30-double egg) and toast butter, and drank milk straight from the sachet. There was a lovely garden outside our room, and a football ground outside the compound. We took our first snaps of the trip.


We departed from Rosario’s at 10.30am, and stopped on the way to buy some booze and snacks. Bought a souvenir mug, and a bottle of feni and wine to smuggle into Karnataka. Got onto NH17 via Chinchinim.

After Canacona, NH17 was in a bad state and as we approached the border with Karnataka it kept getting worse. About 20% of the road was in such a bad condition that I had to get into first gear. Every 20km of good road was followed by 2km of bad road, which slowed us down considerably.

For lunch we stopped near the Karwar warship museum and had the cheese sandwiches which we had packed from home. The scenery of the sea and hills around Karwar was beautiful and I took a few snaps with the digicam.

Further progress was slow and it was 5pm when we arrived in Murudeshwar to do darshan of the world’s biggest Shiva statue. It was indeed awe-inspiring and the temple too was of giant proportions. After darshan we had dosas and coffee at the ‘Naveen’ restaurant which was constructed on stilts in the sea.



By the time we reached Maravanthe it had become dark. Maravanthe is the famous causeway where you drive on a narrow strip of land between a river and the deep sea. People and lorry drivers stop at sunset to admire the scenic beauty. Unfortunately, we missed this because at 7pm it had already become quite dark.

It took us a while to locate the ‘Turtle Bay Resort’, which was down a right turn and located just next to the beach. The setting was nice and rustic, and you could hear the waves crashing on the beach. They had three types of rooms; ordinary-Rs.1500, Deluxe with 3 beds-Rs.2500, and a/c.-Rs.2500. In spite of not having a reservation we got a room easily as it was Friday and the weekenders from Bangalore had not yet arrived.

We had dinner sitting outside in their thatched roof beach shack, with a bold cat for company, purring and begging for scraps. There were posters hanging around the shack with loads of information on the different kinds of sea-life around. After dinner we walked on the deserted beach and listened to the pounding waves in the dark. We could see the protruding rocks in the half moonlight and feel the cold sand in our feet.

Back in the room power kept tripping, but they had a noisy generator which saved us from having a stuffy night in the room. The room itself was a cozy cabana, and a mattress was provided for the extra person.

Went for an early walk on the beach with Komal. She enjoyed running in the sand near the water’s edge. It was a secluded beach with only the locals around. We could see the trucks moving on the highway near the beach. One fishing boat pulled in with a couple of fishermen. They had a catch of some tiny fishes.


Tourists started arriving at the resort around 9.30am. We had been the only guests last night, or so it seemed. We had aloo parathas for breakfast and checked out at 10am.
First, we had to go back to the spot on the highway where it squeezes between the Sowparnika river and the Arabian sea, as we had missed witnessing the scenery in the dark, last evening. It was indeed a fascinating sight and it seems many truck drivers also make it a must-do stopover for refreshing the body and soul. After having coconut water we were on our way towards Mangalore. However, since we were already running behind schedule and also I’d heard that the road from Mangalore to Madikeri was in bad shape, we decided to turn left to Manipal from Udupi - destination Chikmagalur.
We reached Udupi around 12 noon, but decided to skip visiting the Krishna temple, even though it is a must-see in Udupi. Again we found NH17 to be very bad in parts, and we had to slow down to a crawl to avoid any damage to our little Zen.

Manipal seemed to be a town with a character totally different from the rest of rural Karnataka. In fact it looked much like Pali Hill (Mumbai), with a lot of good college and university buildings. There were also a number of high rise residential buildings coming up. However, all too soon we were out of Manipal and back into rural Karnataka.

Our next stop was Karkala, where we saw a giant Gomateshwara statue. We couldn’t get up close as the entrance gate was closed. We had lunch at an air-con restaurant called ‘Rockside’, which served up an excellent ‘Surmai masala fry fish’.

We were now on a state highway, and most of the direction boards were in Kannada (the local language). Asking for directions was also sometimes a frustrating experience as we couldn’t understand the local lingo. So I just picked up the name of next destination from the road maps we were following and asked them to point, at each junction. In this way we could manage to reach the small town of Mudigere by nightfall, still 30km away from Chikmagalur.

Mudigere had only one hotel in the marketplace. But after asking around at Horticulture Research station, one lab assistant guided us to a Govt. Rest house. The room had a high wooden ceiling, a six-seater dining table, a comfy sofa-set, but only one bed. But the room was huge and airy, in an old style ‘dak-bangla’. And the care-taker accommodated us for Rs.100 only.
We had dinner at Hotel Atithee in the marketplace. Simple rice-plate for Rs.25, and dosas for Rs.12. We were so tired that we crashed instantly, Komal sleeping on the sofa.

DAY FOUR: Sunday, 9-11-08. MUDIGERE to MADIKERI.
I went for an early morning walk in Mudigere. It is a small one street town with three petrol pumps. Had buns and tea for breakfast. Had the car washed. It had become quite dirty., and one of the hub-caps had fallen off, god knows in which pot-hole. Filled ‘Speed’ (Rs.61.25 a litre), and we were on our way to Belur at 9am.

We reached Belur by 10.30am. We were quite impressed by the architecture and carvings. We had a proper brunch after seeing the sights. We got dosas, wadas and upma at Rs.10 per plate (substantial) and followed it up with coconut water, also at Rs.10 each. In fact the tender coconut is cheaper here than even in Kerala!

The architecture and carvings in Belur and Halebid are comparable even to Khajuraho. The temples were built around the 13th to 14th century by the Hoysalas. One could spend hours inside the monuments just admiring the intricacy of the carvings. Here are some of the pictures taken by me.



From Belur we took the road to Hassan. This was one of the best roads we encountered after leaving NH4 and we had reached Hassan in 45mins from Belur. After Hassan the road was narrow and bad going to Arkalgud, Mallipatna, and Somvarpet. After Somvarpet it got better but very undulating. We were now in Coorg district. We had a late lunch at a restaurant in Somavarpet.


We reached Madikeri and Club Mahindra’s Kodagu Valley Resort and got a fabulous reception. In our room we opened the feni and wine bottles we had smuggled in and celebrated. It had been four long days of hard driving on good, bad and middling roads.
We had covered a distance of about 1150 kms. Our Zen had given us an average of about 19 km/litre.




Now I had five days at Kodagu Valley resort to plan the return journey route.

1 comment:

  1. You have many good picture, madikeri is the best hill station, coffee is the main commercial plantation. cofee exporting to abroad from coorg. thanks for the your great trip experience.