Sandeep 's World >> Travelogues >> Karwar

Along the Konkan to Karwar in September 2004

Karwar is the north - west point in Karnataka, just couple of KMs away from Goa. The most obvious route to Karwar is via NH4 (Bengaluru/Bangalore - Tumakuru/Tumkur), NH206 (Tumakuru - Shivamogga/Shimoga - Sagar - Honnavar) and NH17 (Honnavar, Gokarna, Karwar) with a total distance of about 521 KMs. And we had grand plans ... 7 of us in 5 bikes - 5 forcians (now motorolans) and 2 ex-forcians (still, ex forcians).

We had some initial plans to take an off-beat road to Karwar, instead of the NHs. Actually, I had gone on a malanadu / jog falls trip couple of weeks back. Via Hassan » Belur » Mudigere » Balehonnur » Koppa » Thirthahalli » Sagar. So did Prabul, Adarsh, Ravi and Champak - to Sringeri via a similar route. These two were obviously a much more scenic route but the roads were bad. In the end, we decided on a safer / lesser travel time route through the NHs.

All of us took a friday off from the office. The plan was to start as early as 4' O clock and make it to Honnavar by night, till Karwar if the time permits. But the delay started from the first hour of the journey. It was almost 6' O clock by the time we got out of city limits.

First break was at Nelamangala and soon we continued towards Tumakuru. Nelamangala - Tumakuru road is a toll road and very well constructed. Just the right road to zoom past. We reached Tumkur before 7.30 but the trouble was only about to start. Champak's Yezdi had some issues, since its carburetor got water-logged. Champak and Bharath cleaned up the carburetor and drove slowly till Tumakuru. Meanwhile we waited in a hotel at Tumakuru and had a combination of omlette, bread and kerala porotta, which we christened 'Tumakuru roll'.

Then it was the search for a workshop and repairing the bike properly. Me, Pavan and Ravi waited outside the Tumakuru town, while Champak, Bharath, Prabul and Adarsh were at the job. Well ... by the time it got done it was 10.30 - almost 4 hours late from what we planned.

Tumakuru to Tiptur (74 kms off Tumakuru in NH206) was a trouble/break free ride. Champak kept speeding in the front as if to make up for the lost time. We all went at good pace, negotiating couple of bad patches of potholes, exchanging leads, for almost an hour, untill we had our next tea break at Tiptur. As always ... the time was running against us!!!

Past some green paddy fields, tree covered roads, couple of photo breaks, some drizzle, and the towns, Arsikere, Kadur, Birur and Tarikere, it was time for lunch. At 2' O clock, past Tarikere, we stopped at the first dhaba we saw.

Great lunch it was!!! Akki rotti, kaya chattini and some other heavenly dishes. We all hogged on ... and it was close to 3.30 when we left from there.

Past the bypasses for Bhadravathi and Shivamogga, it was some extremeley verdant stretch between Shivamogga and Sagar, strewn with paddy fields, water bodies and bluish grey coloured hills in the horizon. Sadly, we couldnt take much photo breaks, because we had to reach Sagar by 5.30 and go past the ghat roads near Jog falls before its too dark.

Another coffee break at Sagar, we continued towards Jogfalls, and reached there by about 6.30. A railway gate in between ensured that we were further delayed. It was getting dark, not so misty though but still scary. We had to do this ghat road in pitch dark!!!

From Jogfalls till Gerusoppa around 30 kms is the ghats, during which you make a 1000ft descend, past some winding roads and plentiful of hairpin bends. Utmost care was required in the dark. The fact that the traffic was very low in this road, helped us, but that wasnt enough.

At a bend with no turn indicator and hardly any banking Prabul skid out of the main road and fell down. Luckily, nothing serious happened, except for a stiff shoulder and a Fiero with a broken console, and its anatomy showing. The worst was yet to come, the bike - though started initially - went off the moment the head lamp was switched on. Prabul was convinced that it is the effect of a burnt fuse. Bikes were aligned to give enough light for the injured half engineer, fuses were taken out, shorted with a metal piece and voila ... the bike started!!!

It was still tough to transport the battered bike without headlights up till Honnavar. But, Prabul, in spite of his bruised shoulder managed it pretty well. We travelled in a group, with Ravi's Fiero F2 generating enough light for everybody. By 9.00 we were at Honnavar, checked in to a hotel there, had dinner and slept by 12.00.

All the tireness took effect on the second day. By the time, we all woke up, had breakfast and got ready to go, it was 10.30. Prabul already started off to a nearby TVS workshop and got to know that there is a decent TVS workshop at Kumta, about 20 KMs north of Honnavar, towards Karwar along NH17. As we were speeding to Kumta, me closely following Prabul's Fiero, the bike showed little fatigue and was firing in all cylinders. That cleared most of the concerns about going back.

At Kumta, we left the bike for service and continued towards Karwar around 12. The plan was to find out a beach resort where we can spend the night, book that one and then continue towards Karwar, to come back and stay at the resort. According to localites, Gokarna had couple of nice beaches - Om and Kudle. And contrary to what we heard earlier, these beaches were motorable and has huts along the beach. Perfect ambience for a night out :) ... and we speed off towards Gokarna.

Gokarna is 60 KMs from Karwar, 10 KMs off the NH17. From Kumta, it was close to 40 kms. The detour from the highway towards Gokarna was just decent, but raised doubts on an early morning return. Near Gokarna town, we took a side road towards Om beach, 2 more kms we kind of reached a dead end. To our terror, the road towards Om beach and Kudle beach was a gravel filled mud road along a hill. Extremely risky, but scenic. And that eliminated the possibility of staying there over night, because it would be next to impossible to get back to Bangalore next day by night, if we did. In the end we decided to go and checkout the Om beach, go to Karwar and then come back and stay at some other place.

The ride to Om beach was worth it. Couple of breath taking views of the sea from the hill top increased our appetite. I had some scare and a slight slip when I used the cletch and depended only on the brake. I asked Pavan to get down and started proceeding with both my feet on the ground. But, soon realized the mistake and proceeded. By 1.00 we were at Om beach, a beautiful beach amidst the hills and full of pretty things coming all the way from US and Europe!!!

I got completely lost in the beauty of the place and people there and we were to forget the final destination - Karwar. But, one reminder from Prabul pepped me up. Ofcourse, it was tough for all of us to go to Karwar and come back. But, me and Prabul decided to sneak out and come back by the time the others get out of the Om beach. After some good time in the beach, we were on my CBZ climbing up the hill back to Gokarna and then Karwar.

The climb back was smooth without stopping even once and we did it in just 15 minutes, taking us to Gokarna by 3.30. A meal there and it was 4.00 and no time to waste. So, we were ... speeding to the highway and then towards Karwar.

The road had a slight ghat touch to it, with some good turns and high altitude. Most striking aspect of this palce was that the sea was visible from the road, for most part of the journey. A good portion of the beach was used up by the Indian Navy's "Sea Bird" project. The beach was no open for public. Then it was the Karwar port, taking up some more of the beach. Finally we entered Karwar town, drove along the highway just couple of meters off the sea, stopped at beach park and returned.

Time was already 5.20 and we had to reach Kumta (70 KMs from here) by 6.30. Prabul took over and I had some scary moments in the pillion. Turns were negotiated at full throttle and gears shifted in a jiffy. We were literally yelling when we caught up with the rest of the folks almost 10 KMs before Kumta. We reached the workshop exactly at 6.30, took a test ride and settled things by the time others reached. The bike was fitted with a round head lamps and stripped of all the 'unwanted' stuff like speedo meter.

We decided to stay at Kumta and spend some time in the beach by night. Checked in to some hotel there, had dinner and by that time it started drizzling. So, we assembled in the balcony of one of the rooms instead of the beach. Had some good time and decided to start early morning by 5.00. Bangalore is a long way back, close to 450kms.

Next day morning, everybody was ready at the front of the hotel on time, at 5.00. We decided to keep a slow pace till the sun comes up ... and so we did. In half an hour we were at Honnavar and entered the NH206. Soon, the sun started showing up and the panoramic views around us started to become breath taking. We had a couple of photo sessions and coffee at Gerusoppa, proceeded and stopped again at 'Prabul point' - were the accident happened. There was a small stream on its side flowing through the rocks and looking all pristine. Another couple of km boat riding was available at river Sharavathi. Instead, we took a de-tour and reached a nearby small water fall - an ideal picnic spot it was.

One more stop at a view point to catch a glimpse and photos of the Sharavathi valley. The Jog falls is on this same river. The view of the valley was simply awesome!!!

By 8.00 we were at the Jogfalls bridge, went in, had a look at the mighty jogfalls. It had lost some of its force in just a matter of three weeks, yet looking quite impressive. Couple of bread omlettes for breakfast, some photos and we said good bye to Jog. Out of the Jog falls, me and Pavan took a wrong road, going towards Linganamakki. I realized it immediately, but thought this road is going to join NH206 somewhere, asked some localite and he said "straight hogi" ... and so we did ... but the main road was far. Some more wandering and I suddenly realised that the bike was in reserve, decided to go back to Jogfalls and take the proper road. On our way back, we saw Prabul and Adarsh coming towards us - all confused, they also have lost their way. This was going to cost us valuable time and would also mean that all the nice views on the way will have to be ignored.

The gang
The roadies ...

@ Arsikere
Roadies on the road!!!

Prabhul's bike
Before ... after ... and day after

Om beach
Awesome Ommm ...

Om beach
.... more Ommmm!!!

Sea bird
The 'Sea Bird'

Prabhul @ Karwar port
Tired ... yet satisfied Prabul

Water falls
Discovered by Prabul ... 26/09/2004

Sharavathi valley
Valley of beauty

Bharath and Champak
Here we are ...

Adarsh, Prabul and Ravi
... on the road again!!!

@ Jog falls
Raja, Rani, Rocket, Roarer and Roadies

We were speeding towards Sagar, with Prabul just in front of us and Adarsh just behind, the bike went out of petrol. I signalled Adarsh, we both stopped trying to figure out what to do. It was still 8kms to Sagar and some localites told us that there was a petrol bunk just 4 Kms ahead. We tried pulling the bike along with Adarsh's, but failed miserably to do it. Finally, Pavan dug out a bottle from Adarsh's luggage, we took some petrol from his Pulsar and the CBZ gulped it happily. This should be enough to take us to Sagar, atleast. By this time Prabul had come backed looking for us. Ravi, Bharath and Champak have already reached Sagar and waiting for us.

It was 11.15 by the time we left Sagar and the scary prospects of another night drive was looming large. It was time for me to make up for the lost time. We decided to make it quickly to Tarikere, get in to the same Dhaba and order food by the time others reach. Once again, the sceneries were ignored, full throttle became the default and gears shifted quickly. We went past Shivamogga in just 55 minutes.That was 75 kms in 55 minutes. Past Bhadravathy bypass and near Tarikere, by 1.00, we entered the Dhaba, the second time in three days, called up others to inform them about the whereabouts and ordered food.

At 2.30 we were out of the Dhaba and driving towards Bengaluru. Pavan was riding and I dozzing off behind him. Pavan drove at a nice pace without stopping anywhere, past Tarikere, Birur, Kadur, Ariskere, and we reached Tiptur at 4.00. Had another coffee messaged others, moved ahead slowly and waited at a place 10 kms off Tiptur.

We had a good break till 5.10, when others joined us. They were really tired but there was no time to spare. Tumakuru was still 64 kms and the scare of night riding set off again. We went ahead again and had another full throttle session towards Tumakuru, making it to Tumakuru, through the town and into the NH4 before it was dark. We tried calling others but they were out of range. It was already 7.00 and getting dark. The Tumakuru - Bengaluru stretch of Golden Quadrilateral was waiting for us. The traffic was high but the roads were equally good to compensate. We raced and went past every vehicle we saw in the road, finally making it past Nelamangala and to Bengaluru city limits by 7.40. Thats when I got an SMS from Adarsh saying that the Yezdi's accelerator cable got cut and they were stranded somewhere before Tumakuru. We were too far ahead to go back, wriggled through the Bengaluru traffic and made it home by 8.00.

Let Bharath narrate their side of the 'Tiptur - Bengaluru' story:
"We were late already, thanks to the long break we took for lunch. Little did we know that there was more delay coming our way! As we passed Tiptur, we caught up with Sandeep and Pavan. Believe it or not, they had been waiting for us for close to an hour. As always, they started off leaving the rest of us - Adarsh, Me, Prabul, Champak and Ravi. Champak insisted that an almost non existent speck of dirt on his visor had to be cleaned and was not willing to settle for anything less than the clean kerchief of mine. Look at that!

After some minor delay, we were outta there. I got out off Champaks's bike and took over from Ravi. Just as I was patting my self for getting these guys back on the road without a "sutta", I saw Adarsh happily parked looking for a dokaan (shop). This was less than a kilometer from the last rest spot! After all the smoking and the discussions that go along with it, we speed towards Tumakuru. This road was really bad, probably the worst stretch and bang! There was Champak frantically waving his hand and sounding his horn asking (almost begging!) us to stop.

The accelerator cable of his Yezdi had snapped and work was needed on that. Luckly for us, he had a spare cable. While he got on with getting his palms all greased, we were trying to find a spot where we could get some signal, so that we could SMS ahead to Sandeep of our fate. Fifteen minutes became twenty and Champak was still at it. It was beginning to get dark and looked as if the heavens wanted to test us - It began to drizzle ... and Champak gave up trying to fix. What he did come up was amazing and it worked. He just started the bike and controlled the accelerator by directly tugging the cable. Desparation or innovation - You decide. It worked and we got close to Nittur. The problem had not gone. Ravi and I talked to a dhaba wala and found out that there is a mechanic at Nittur. We got him to open his shop and wait for these guys to get to Nittur. While Champak, Prabul and the mechanic got the bike to shape, Ravi, Adarsh and I waited.

It had gotten dark and riding was not going to be easy. This is something we all wanted to avoid but it was not to be. We had 33 kms to do till Tumakuru after which it would not be too bad a ride to Bengaluru thanks to the Golden Quadrilateral. And Tumakuru we got to, after infinite times of opening and closing my visor. Night driving is bad, but we survived!!! We passed the toll plaza at Tumakuru, and zoomed past the toll plaza near Nelamangala in no time. Getting to our homes from Nelamangala was pretty mundane and it was almost midnight by the time I got home - visibly tired ... with my wife and parents waiting for me, so that we could all have dinner together.

Karwar was conquered and we were all back unscathed, beating all dis-beliefs. This was one of the most eventful bike trips for me, more because of a larger crowd, at the same time it was also one of the most memorable!!!

© 2017 Sandeep Unnimadhavan