Road Trip from Bangalore to Goa, April 2012

The summer vacation for children is always special. To make it special for my seven year old daughter, we went on a road trip from our residence in Bangalore to our parents’ residence in Goa from the 26th April to 5th May, 2012. Having my ten year old nephew and my parents along on the journey made it all the more enjoyable. Our plan was to drive from Bangalore to Shimoga, take an overnight break there, and continue to Goa.

Initial Leg: Bangalore – Shimoga

Accordingly we started from our residence in Banerghatta road in Bangalore on Thursday, 26th April at around 9.30 AM. Within a few minutes we reached the NICE road at the Gottigere junction on Banerghatta Road. The NICE road is a pleasure to drive on, and in around half an hour we were at the other end, at the Tumkur Road junction near the Bangalore International Exhibition Center (BIEC). From here our plan was to get onto the Tumkur Road (NH4) highway, take a left before Tumkur and join the Tumkur – Shimoga highway (NH73). The map for this leg of the journey (courtesy Google maps) is below.

On Tumkur road, we stopped at a Kamat Upachar for coffee and then proceeded ahead. The important thing was not to enter Tumkur town and take the left prior to reaching the town. Fortunately the persons at the toll booths were helpful and so were the signs. The road was not great but after around 20-30 minutes we hit the main highway again at around 11.30 AM.

On the highway, the main observation was that there was no divider – which required the driver (yours truly) to be alert. This was accomplished with significant contributes from the better half sitting alongside and recommending caution every now and then; and the two children at the back keeping up a steady stream of chatter. After about an additional hour of driving, we crossed the town of Tiptur and on the outskirts, parked the car at the side of the road for a lunch break.

Post lunch, we resumed the journey at around 1.00 PM. We now drove through the towns of Arsikere, Kadur, and Bhadravati and reached Shimoga at around 3.30 PM. The entire journey was very picturesque with a lot of greenery on both sides of the road, the photos below illustrating the point. While the roads were fine, the main observation was that the road passed right through the towns on the way, and this slowed down the progress.

The overall driving distance via this route was around 320 km and the driving time was around 6 hours – however we drove quite leisurely and I believe this stretch can easily be covered in less than 5 hours.

Shimoga

Shimoga, known locally as ShivaMogga, gets its name from “Shiva – Mukha” meaning face of Shiva. We stayed at Royal Orchid Central (http://www.royalorchidhotels.com/royal-orchid-central-shimoga/overview.asp) and had signed up for their ‘Hidden Wonders of Shimoga’ package – two nights stay with local sightseeing and complementary breakfast. The hotel was good – comfortable stay and food. For sightseeing, we visited the Elephant Camp, Lion & Tiger safari, Gajanur Dam, Shivappa Nayaka’s palace. Overall it was a great time – it had apparently been raining every evening for a couple of weeks, and rained for the two evenings we were there. This was probably the reason for the entire area being lush green, which was quite surprising for summer. The rain also resulted in an adventure at the Lion safari – our bus wheels got stuck in the mud in the middle of the jungle. We had to get off and wait for another bus to come along. Luckily the only animals close by were the spotted deer.

The photographs tell the story. In clockwise order:

Top Left: Meaow! On the Lion and Tiger Safari. Thank god we were inside the safari bus.

Top Middle: Our safari bus gets stuck due to the wet mud, and we come out waiting for a replacement. Oops – we don’t want to see any wildlife right now.

Top Right: A deer came over to say hello, and then bounded off

Bottom Right: At the Bhadra Dam

Bottom Middle: Receiving blessings at Sakrebylu Elephant Camp

Bottom Left: Back at the hotel, enjoying dinner

Second Leg: Shimoga to Goa

We started from Shimoga at 9.30 AM on Saturday, 28th April 2012 with the planned route being Shimoga – Sagara – Honnavar – Karwar – Goa. If the earlier route was picturesque, then this one was even more so. Forest areas, lush greenery on both sides of the road and some amazing views were in store for us. The overall route is shown in the map below.

The first stop was at Jog falls. The way to the falls is fairly straightforward – from Shimoga, after reaching Sagara, there is a T junction. The left turn takes you to Jog falls and is also the road to Honnavar. We followed this road – one disappointing aspect was that it was a bit bumpy and narrow. Considering that the falls are famous over the world, wish we could have had better roads. But perhaps that might be asking for too much. Anyway, the road to the falls is just off this road to the left and the sign is pretty prominent too. Just after the left turn to the falls, we were on a bridge with a lovely view on both sides – take a look.

The falls themselves were not spectacular with very little water – but considering it was end April, we had not expected much too. Our photo is shown below – nice, but not at all like some of the breathtaking photos taken by people during and after monsoons. With another visit planned in mid October, let’s see what the falls look like again.

Resuming the journey towards Honnavar, we passed through a forest area with ghats; the road was quite a winding one and we had the kids come over from the last seat to the middle seat. This worked out well since we noticed a few cars stopping with passengers unwell and throwing up, probably because of the winding road. One other good thing was that we were on this leg of the journey just before lunch and therefore on relatively empty stomachs. On the way, again the greenery on both sides was just amazing, with signs to watch out for the Lion Tailed Macaque, which is an endangered species. However we were not fortunate enough to spot the animal. What we were fortunate enough was to see a breathtaking view of the Sharavathi River and Gersoppa valley at a particular place in the road where there is a viewing tower constructed for the purpose. See for yourself in the photo below.

At Honnavar, just before entering the town, there is a right turn where the highway continues on to Karwar. At the corner there are a couple of restaurants – appeared a good place to stop for lunch / snacks. We had lunch in the car and then left Honnavar at around 1.00 PM, proceeding onwards to Karwar. With the ghats behind us, the road was now quite flat and we made good progress. As we approached Karwar, the views of the sea were beautiful and the road passed along the coast, offering some wonderful views – those of you who have traveled this way would be familiar with some of these.

The last stretch of the journey was from Karwar to Panaji. After entering Goa, we passed through Cancona. While the roads were still quite good, they were narrow in some stretches. The greenery however continued and South Goa proved to be a very beautiful drive. After reaching the city of Margao however, we encountered a lot of traffic towards Panaji. This last portion of the journey took more than an hour and it was around 5.30 PM that we finally reached our destination at Panaji.

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