It was a four wheel drive again ... in my Maruti Versa on a long weekend due to Diwali holidays. We decided on the Tumakuru (Tumkur) - Shivamogga (Shimoga) - Honnavar - Karwar route to Goa and return via Hubballi (Hubli). Starting on a thursday early morning (this was the earliest I ever did - 3 AM), we hit the Tumakuru road (NH4) as early as 4'O clock. At Tumakuru we took the NH206 and sped towards Shivamogga. By 9 we were having breakfast at Shivamogga. Another 2 hours via Sagar took us to the Jogfalls. Starting early was indeed a great advantage.
At this time of the year, Jogfalls was a small spectre of what it used to be during monsoon. Couple of photos and a feast of pineapples we were heading down the ghat roads towards Honnavar. I was travelling down this ghat road for the 4th time, yet it looked beautiful. We stopped at the Sharavathi river valley view point (around 10kms past Jog along NH206) and had a look at the beautiful valley [check out the Karwar Trip page for some photos], had another couple of stops near the streams and reached Gerusoppa by 2. We had lunch at Honnavar, another half an hour away.
Honnavar is a small town where the NH206 meets the NH17 coastal highway. We had to travel northwards to reach Goa, but went down South to have a look at Murudeshwar. Around 24 kms South of Honnavar along NH17, there was a huge arch on the right side indicating a detour to Murudeshwar. Another km from there we were in front of a huge Siva statue overlooking the Arabian sea. This place is very commercialized with a lots of buildings coming up, one of them even obstructing the Siva statue. The beach is dirty and not so tempting to get down. There was a restaurant overlooking both the Sea and the Siva statue. We went to its top floor to get a good view, had coffee/tea and then started back towards North.
Karwar Trip and Gokarna Beach Trek and had become one of my favourite destinations. Others found out why when we were descending down the hills to Om beach. It was a beautiful view which you will never get bored of [check out the Gokarna Beach Trek page for details about Om beach]. Night was spent at a hut in Om beach which we rented for Rs. 50.
"The sea beach of Karwar is certainly a fit place in which to realise that the beauty of Nature is not a mirage of the imagination, but reflects the joy of the Infinite and thus draws us to lose ourselves in it".The beach was indeed beautiful with blue water and golden sand and a far view of the Devbagh island. But trapped inside a park and with people littering the 'park' it wasnt the same place that Tagore has written about. Btw ... this is where Me a Prabul turned back during our Karwar Bike Trip and that makes the road ahead unchartered waters for me!!!
|The band sung some interesting songs. Meanwhile, I spotted 'Chicken Vindaloo' in the menu [A product that I am working on was named 'Vindaloo' by a German colleague. He also had a footnote describing 'Vindaloo' as 'A very spicy if not hot Indian curry dish - very tasty but rather hard to digest for some individuals'. This stirred the interest in me to taste this 'very hot Indian curry'] and asked for it. The friendly waiter warned me with a "mind u sir, its very spicy" but I insisted. Finally, the 'Vindaloo' arrived and it was fried chicken in a paste of chilly powder, so much chilly that soon my mouth, nose and eyes started watering. I ended up gobbling gallons of water to stop the burning, but it was an unforgettable experience. By this time it was really late and we put off going to Tito's and slept. Next day morning, I realized the mistake. Sea was actually visible from the place we stayed and Baga beach was less than 5 minutes walk from there. But it was too late a realization, I got back to the room, we all got ready and proceeded further North towards some of the more famous beaches. There is a network of roads running parallel to the NH17 and close to the beaches. Some sign boards are also available, if you are trying to locate the beaches. But, you'll have to ask. Two of the famous beaches, Anjuna and Vagator, along with the Chapora fort was our next target. These places are nearby the Mapusa town. We first hit the Anjuna beach, which is somewhat rocky. One has to get down a bit for the beaches. Anjuna is famous for its wednesday flea markets. Some small shops were open there, even when we went. We picked up some shells, bracelets and some other stuff, had breakfast there and proceeded to the Chapora fort. 1]. Btw ... this site is a good source of information. Out of Old Goa, we took NH4A to Ponda and Mollem. The famous Dudhsagar water falls is located near Mollem. At Mollem we had another mess taking a wrong road and it ensured that we had further delay. Finally we reached the ghats, some beauitful views, Karnataka border and Londa. At Londa, we picked up the SH34 to Dharwad and this was the biggest mistake in the entire trip!!! We took the SH34, since NH4A joins NH4 at Belgaum, around 60kms up Dharwad. Besides, SH34 is shown as a major road in most of the maps. The moral of the story is that the 60kms from Londa to Dharwad took us some 2.30 hrs through some extremely pathetic roads. By the time we reached Dharwad, it was close to 3 and we had 430kms to go for Bangalore. Luckily from Dharwad we entered NH4, the Pune - Bengaluru section of the Golden Quadrilateral. GQ construction has not started around the Dharwad - Hubballi stretch, but the road was still good and toll was being collected there. Though it was a 2-lane road, the traffic was really low and the speed at which we moved was past 100 most of the time, covering 26kms in just 16 minutes :) We had to go towards Hubballi from the highway to find a place to have lunch. At last we settled for one meals each, finished it fast and proceeded towards Bengaluru by 4. The rest of the road was in the construction mode, with plenty of diversions, but we moved in a good speed. Some competition from a Zen and Santro made sure that we maintained that speed. Around 4.30 we had a petrol brake at Haveri, 5.30 we were past Davangere, 6.30 a tea/coffee break 30kms from Chitradurga. Soon, it was dark and the lights were on. Past Chitragurga and couple of small towns. Around 50 kms from Tumakuru, near Sira, the GQ showed signs of completion. 4 lanes were available and with clear white road markings and very well visible indicators, it was a treat to drive on. By 9.30 we were at Tumakuru and having our dinner. Tumakuru - Bengaluru GQ section was already completed and we covered it in a jiffy to reach the city limits before 11. Soon we found ourselves in front of our houses and ready to go and sleep. I had a final look at the trip meter and it showed 1567 home to home :) Was a long drive indeed!!!|