Road Trip n. A journey in an auto-mobile, usually impromptu or unplanned. Road Trip n. A journey,usually coincides with a long weekend, undertaken because there is an auto-mobile. The first is the dictionary meaning, the second, the meaning according to my roomies and myself. A lot of jaunts have been because there is an auto-mobile and a long weekend. I went on this trip some time ago. 12th August 2005 was the date. And now that summer is nigh, I figured, it is a good time to remember, that there are cooler climes on the other side of the Heat.
August had been kind, and there were 3 long weekends to choose from. We chose the first, on the principle, that when it comes to holidays, tomorrow is not tomorrow. We had planned a long circular trip to the Karwar coast on the West and back. We started on 13th Morning at 6 AM. Our original destination was Gokarna, 250 kms north of Mangalore and 420 km east of Bangalore. There are two ways of getting there. For those who are interested in the scenic route, the NH 247 to Hassan is the ideal way. Right up to Chickamaglur, the road is drivable, the scenes great, and what’s more, if you are the journey-is-the-destination kinda person, you can stop over at Belur and Halebidu. Both of these places have temples built in the 12th century AD. The Halebidu temple is smaller, and it is dedicated to Lord Shiva. There is an excellent guide there, who for 50 Rs. will give you a run-down on the temple and also impart such nuggets of wisdom as what Love is. For those interested, according to him, it is Look, Observe, Verify and Enjoy. Most of us in the group figured that we can skip from look to enjoy. The temple at Belur is dedicated to Lord . It is also much bigger. It is a collection of temples in a large compound. The central temple is the one dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is known as the Chennakesava Temple. It is not as intricately carved as the one at Halebidu, but at least it is complete. Legend has it that the Halebidu temple was sacked by a rival emperor before it could be finished.
Onwards. When we set out, there was no stated destination nor a stated idea. The whole journey-is-the-destination might not work for people travelling in mixed company. Women like to have a firm answer on where we are going and why are we going and so and so forth. However, we were not thus encumbered. The road between Triptur and the turn off to Chikamagalur is quite bad. Once you cross this however, it is excellent. Both for the driver and others. We passed through some excellent scenery, where the driver wanting to appreciate it closely, got a little too close. I believe there is a dog out there with a bad back to prove it.
Jog Falls, is an excellent place. If you can see anything that is. That is the impression we got when we reached there. Having chosen a period when the monsoon was getting active, we could hardly see anything at the site. There is however, an alternate viewing point, which very conveniently, is also not so crowded. To get there, ignore the signs which prompt you to cross a bridge to view the Falls. Just a little beyond the bridge, is a road that goes up which leads to an alternate site. This is relatively empty and if it is possible, cleaner.
Honnavar was the halt for the night. By the simple process of elimination. That was the nearest town to Gokarna. There are a lot of hotels around, there is a Kamat just across the junction where the NH 247 meets the Bombay Cochin highway. Word of advise, the last stretch from Jog Falls to Honnavar is a NH. Even if it gives a feel and width of a village track. Since we chose a long weekend, we ended up staying at Kumta, 20 kms north of Honnavar. Excellent rooms at 500 + taxes. For four people.
The next day was the coast drive. The ideal way would be to start from Bhatkal and drive up to Goa. Since we all know the ideal way is never the realistic way, we did the contrary thing. Driving down from Gokarna to Mangalore. This stretch boasts of some excellent beaches. These are not crowded, they have reasonably cheap hotels around, and for most part, are good to go to any time of the year. Gokarna is also a temple town and unless there is another way to the beach, there is an extremely narrow and convoluted entry to the beach. And at first pass, it is not even worth the effort. Move around a bit, and you will be rewarded. For those who are up to it, there is an excellent half day trek along Gokarna, which will cover Uma, Kudle, Om and Paradise beaches. Just take something to eat along with you. There are a couple of huts on Uma and Kudle which will serve you your basic fare.
The next beach driving down is the Murudeshwar beach. This again is a temple beach, but walking along the beach is much more interesting. The Maravanthe beach is the best of all. It suddenly comes upon you as you are driving along the not-so-excellent road. And it is each to miss. It is just a spit of land between the highway and the sea. Add an excellent river next to the road, and you have the perfect setting. For those who want to take a break, the Turtle Bay Resort is the only choice, so book in advance. The resort is nice and prices range from 500 to 1200 for double occupancy. It is also on the beach, but a little further along where you would stop.
The last part of the journey is also the most painful. The drive from Mangalore to Bangalore would be heavenly; and would be, considering that the PWD and the truckers are trying to get you there any way. The roads are bad all along the ghat and quite a way beyond. I might’ve missed out on a couple of beaches, the Malpe beach at Udipi is also considered good, but attempt this drive only if you have more than 3 days. Otherwise all you would have are memories and trouble sitting anywhere for a couple of days.