Category: Photologues

Bangalore Goa Road Trip (via Jog Falls, Bhatkal, Murudeshwar, Gokarna)

Bangalore Goa Road Trip (via Jog Falls, Bhatkal, Murudeshwar, Gokarna)

 

In January of 2018, I and wifey finally set out on our Goa Trip. We’ve been wanting to visit Goa for the past 5 years but the plan never came about. But this time, we finally decided that we’d visit Goa and do so on a road trip. Yay! So, here it goes the planning and execution of our Bangalore Goa Road Trip.

Palolem Beach, South Goa - Bangalore Goa Road Trip
Bangalore Goa Road Trip Preview – Palolem Beach, South Goa

We finalized the itinerary in November 2017 and made our hotel bookings. Since this was our longest road trip to date, and I am the only driver among the 2 of us, we decided to have a night-halt on the onward journey. So, our final itinerary looked something like this:

Day 1 – 26th-Jan: Bangalore to Bhatkal (En-route visit Jog falls)
Day 2 – 27th-Jan: Bhatkal to Vagator (North Goa) (En-route visit Murudeshwar, Gokarna)
Day 3 – 28th-Jan: Spend the day at Vagator, Baga, and head to Palolem (South Goa) in the evening.
Day 4 – 29th-Jan: Spend the day at Palolem just relaxing at the resort or explore the nearby area on foot.
Day 5 – 30th-Jan: Start back from Palolem in the morning and reach Bangalore before 6 PM.

While planning the trip, we wanted our night halt on the onward journey to be around midway between Bangalore and Goa. That’s not how it turned out though as we couldn’t decide on such a place and finally settled for Bhatkal. There was no particular reason to choose Bhatkal except that it was on the coast and fit in with the overall theme of our trip which was sea, beaches, and the beautiful Konkan region.

The day before the trip:
I had planned to get everything ready well before the trip, but as usual, there were multiple things pending on my list on the night before the drive. The most important was to get the car ready. So, on the evening of 25th Jan, I popped the hood open and checked all the fluids and belts. And then took her out to get the tank topped up. Filled her up and got the air pressure checked in all four tires and the spare. As it turned out, the front left tire had a leak. I got the tire fixed and headed back home. Once home, I checked all the documents in the car and packed some essential things like snacks, charger, water bottles etc.

By the way, if you like road-tripping then do invest in a few emergency accessories for your car: A tubeless puncture repair kit and an air pump is a must for long trips. Also, learn to swap the tyre. Knowing the jacking points in your car and learning how to swap the tyre will go a long way in assuring a safe and convenient trip.

We had decided to leave early the next day as it was a 3-day weekend and we wanted to avoid the usual rush of Bangaloreans trying to get out of the city. We planned to leave between 04:30 and 5 AM, set the alarms and went to sleep. I follow a very strict policy of driving only during the day, thanks to the moronic drivers who are always on high beam with their fog-lamps on.

Day 1 (Bangalore to Bhatkal via Jog Falls):
I had trouble falling asleep just like I always have before a trip. Needless to say, we were late the next day. Got up at 5 AM and got ready hastily, loaded the bags into the car and started our long journey. By now it was 05:45 AM and sunlight had crept up. We knew this meant long queues at the toll booths on our way out of Bangalore.

 

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We were starting from Electronic City and took the Nice Ring Road towards the Tumakuru highway. As expected, we were hit by heavy traffic going out of Bangalore on the Tumakuru highway toll. The queue of vehicles was about 2KM long, but it wasn’t due to the toll itself. There was an upturned lorry at a bend just before the toll booth, which was causing the bottleneck. Luckily, we found a small side road that bypassed the bend and we joined the main road just before the toll booth. Beyond that point, the roads opened up and the traffic was behind us and we were off.Some pictures:

We stopped for breakfast at around 08:40 AM at a place called Hotel Sai Palace about 172 KM into our trip. It’s a decent place, however, due to the long weekend, it was super crowded and finding a seat or getting service was an arduous task. Didn’t take many pictures here.

ODO Reading at Breakfast - Bangalore Goa Road Trip
ODO Reading at Breakfast

Finally, after spending 45 minutes where we had planned to finish in 20 minutes, we started again. The roads again, were very welcoming with only occasional traffic and smooth tarmac, with lovely views of green fields, ponds, and small hills all around us.

We continued on towards our next destination, which was Jog Falls. We traveled on the NH (Mumbai Highway) for another 4 hours and about 210 KMs, till Haveri, at which point, it was time to get off the NH and take on the slower State Highway to cross the ghat section. We decided to take this route towards Jog Falls. Right after getting off the NH, we stopped for a short break in a village and had fresh coconut water. It was refreshing. We also found a fuel station in the village and decided to tank up, given that the fuel gauge was below the 30% mark and we did not know if we’d find another fuel station for the next 200KM or so.

The ODO read:

397.3KM at 1:09PM - Bangalore Goa Road Trip
397.3KM at 1:09 PM

Started again after the fuel top-up. Beyond this point, as expected, our average speed went down drastically. The roads were alright, but there were just too many villages en-route and that meant a lot of speed bumps. So, we had to slow down quite often. We had also made the grave mistake of not stopping for lunch before getting off the NH. The SH stretch between Haveri-Jog Falls does not have any decent places to eat, at least none that I could spot from the car. Thankfully, we had packed a lot of snacks and water for exactly this situation and it proved very useful.

Given the time of the year, we didn’t have high hopes of finding any water in the falls. We finally reached Jog Falls around 03:40 PM and as expected, it was completely dry save for a few small streams. By this time, we were very hungry and were desperately looking for a proper meal. Thankfully, Jog falls being a tourist spot, we found this (Prakruthi Yatri Nivas) restaurant near the viewpoint and decided to have lunch there. The place was nearly empty. The service was quick and the food tasty. After hours of munching on potato chips and sweet cake, it was nice to have a proper meal.

Prakruthi Yatri Nivas restaurant and lodge near Jog Falls viewpoint. - Bangalore Goa Road Trip
Prakruthi Yatri Nivas restaurant and lodge near Jog Falls viewpoint.

We started our journey again after spending some time in the restaurant’s backyard at 04:30 PM. We took this route towards our hotel The Royal Oak, Bhatkal as suggested by Google Maps. The route was very scenic as we passed through the Sharavati Valley Wildlife Sanctuary during the golden hour. At the same time, I was a little bit worried as the sun was setting and the thick jungle was already bringing in an early dusk. There was no traffic at all on this stretch of the road and it felt pretty spooky at times with all its twists and turns and not a single soul in sight. Still, we were not able to pick up speed as the road was very narrow and had a lot of blind curves.

Well, after about 2 hours of driving through the forest area, we finally arrived at Bhatkal. The hotel has a prominent building bang on Bhatkal Circle and we had no trouble finding it. They don’t seem to have covered parking available and we were asked to park in the open parking space available right in front of the hotel building.

The clock showed 06:40 PM and we had finally arrived at our final destination for the day after exactly 13 hours on the road. What a relief. We were tired and I was hungry. So we freshened up and ordered some tea and snacks and went straight to sleep by 8.30.

Our room at The Royal Oak, Bhatkal - Bangalore Goa Road Trip
Our room at The Royal Oak, Bhatkal

Day’s Summary:
Total Distance Travelled: 535KM
Total Time Taken: 13 hours

The next day was gonna be less taxing as we only had about 250KM of driving to do. Or so we thought.

Continue to Day 2 of Bangalore to Goa road trip. Subscribe to my blog so you will not miss new posts.

Travelogue: Bangalore to Munnar – A trip to God’s own country

Travelogue: Bangalore to Munnar – A trip to God’s own country

We visited Munnar during the 15th August long weekend in 2017. We were a group of 4; me and my wife along with a couple we’re friends with.
We hadn’t really done any detailed planning for this trip except booking our transportation and stay in Munnar. We just wanted to get away from the city hustle and bustle and the monotonic daily office schedule. So, we booked our train tickets and hotel stay 2 months in advance and started waiting for the Iday long weekend.

Finally, the day arrived. Our itinerary included taking a train from Bangalore to Aluva and from there traveling via road to Munnar. We had booked the Bangalore-Kanyakumari Express (16526) for travel on Friday (11-Aug-2017) night. We were boarding the train from KR Puram station in Bangalore. We arrived at the station at 7:30 PM, an hour before the scheduled arrival of the train. Soon after, it started pouring rain. The station was already jam packed, and when it started raining, people started crowding under the relatively small covered area on the platforms and the overhead bridge. We somehow managed to cross to our intended platform using the crowded overhead bridge. By the time the train arrived, we were completely drenched. We changed into dry clothes and settled onto our berths. We then had some tasty biryani, which we had ordered and before we left home, and went straight to sleep.

Saturday (12-Aug-2017)

The train takes a slightly longer route than the road route. The scheduled arrival of our train in Aluva was 6.50 AM, but it was running about 30 mins late. I woke up at 6.30 and was greeted by this beautiful first view of god’s own country.

God's Own Country - Beautiful Kerala

This was the first time I was visiting Kerala, and I was already mesmerized by the amount of green there. It was captivating, beautiful and lush and it was everywhere.

We arrived at Aluva at around 7.30 in the morning. We found a nice restaurant near the train station and had our breakfast there. The KSRTC bus stand is located about 300mts from the train station. By the time we reached the bus stand and enquired about the next bus to Munnar, it was 8.15. We were told the next bus is scheduled in 15 minutes. The bus arrived right on time and we boarded. It was a normal non-AC seater bus. The ticket to Munnar cost us Rs. 344 for 4 people = 86 per head.

And so the second leg of our journey started. The road was beautiful, with little traffic and beautiful homes on both sides. It took us approximately 4 hours to reach Munnar including two 10-minute breaks. We reached Munnar at 12.15PM. Here are some pics along the way.

Beautiful landscape on the way to Munnar from Aluva by bus.

 

Beautiful landscape on the way to Munnar from Aluva by bus.

 

Beautiful landscape on the way to Munnar from Aluva by bus.

 

 

Beautiful landscape on the way to Munnar from Aluva by bus.

 

Beautiful landscape on the way to Munnar from Aluva by bus.

We had booked our stay in Elysium Gardens Hill Resort (GMaps). We had selected this hotel mainly for its location. It is perched atop a small hill, around 1.2KM from the bus stand. We reached the hotel at around 12.45PM on Saturday.

Hotel Experience

After reaching the hotel, the check-in process was quick. They took copies of our IDs and then asked us to wait in the lobby till they get the rooms ready. We settled down in the lobby, tired from the almost 16 hour-long journey. Soon after, we were served the welcome drink – extra sweet strawberry milkshake.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait too long in the lobby and our rooms were ready in about 15-20 minutes. We checked into our rooms and then came the surprise: no hot water before 6:30 in the evening. Mind you, they have this hot water policy even when their check-in time is 12 PM. I discussed this with the staff, and they said they can give us hot water in buckets. Even the buckets they have in the bathroom and the ones they bring hot water in are very small – roughly half the size of a normal sized bucket we use at home.

I was already regretting my choice of stay. We got ready and headed down to the restaurant for some lunch. We were very hungry and tired also. As we entered the restaurant, we found another group of guests frowning over the restaurant staff. Apparently, they had been waiting for their order for over 40 minutes and still hadn’t been served. They started shouting at the staff and walked out. The restaurant manager mediated and got them to come back in the restaurant.

After witnessing all this drama, we were assured that it would take forever for our order to get served, but the manager assured us that they will get us our food in under 30 minutes. We did not want to wait so long, but none of us had the energy to walk at least 1.5KM to the nearest restaurant. So, we stayed put, and finally after 25 minutes, got our food. We finished lunch at 3.30 PM, a full hour after we entered the restaurant, not bad. We then decided to get back to our rooms and get some rest and then head out to Munnar town in the evening by around 5.30.

We had paid above Rs. 2400 per room per night for a balcony room. I have had better hotel experiences for lesser prices in the past. But, for 2400/night, you would expect better facilities than what is offered here. The hotel from our experience turned out to be pretty average.

Pros:

  • Clean rooms and bathroom.
  • Very good location.
  • Courteous staff.
  • Tasty food.

 

Cons:

  • Limited hot water supply – 6.30 to 10.30 in the morning and same time in the evening.
  • Even when the hot water supply is on, there is a lot of variation in the water temperature continuously.
  • Slower restaurant
  • No laundry facility – This could be a seasonal thing.
  • Patchy room service – although, I and my wife did not face any issues with room service, the couple we were traveling with did.
  • Extremely limited selection of TV channels in the room. They do not even have the basic set of channels subscribed. All Hindi/English movie channels I tried were not available.
  • No hair drier / bathroom slipper in the room.

We had some much-needed sleep after the lunch and woke up at 5.30 PM. We got ready for a walk to the town and left the hotel at 5.45 PM. Munnar town is a small area where major roads meet. There are multiple spice shops, “home-made” chocolate shops, restaurants and other regular stuff. We were looking for a travel agent to plan our next two days in Munnar.

Taxi Experience

We eventually found the Taxi Union’s office which is very near to the bus stand. We discussed with the person there in detail about the available packages. He explained that there are four possible directions to take while exploring Munnar.
1. Kochi Direction
2. Coimbatore Direction
3. Mandupetty Direction
4. Thekkady Direction

Each direction has several points and stretches anywhere from 35 KM to 65 KM. For our next day’s travel, we chose the Coimbatore direction, which ends at Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, about 65 KMs from Munnar. And for the third day, we booked the Mandupetty Direction which ends at Top Station View Point, about 35 KMs from Munnar. Each day’s travel cost us Rs. 1500 for a Toyota Etios car, so in total 3000 for 2 days. We paid 500 as advance and headed out for some shopping.

After a few hours of shopping, we had dinner in a Marwadi restaurant and headed back to our hotel at around 8.30 PM. We had a full day’s travel the next day, so we slept early. And that marked the end of our first day in Munnar.

I will be writing a separate post detailing our next two days, with many more pics and route and other important information. Stay tuned.

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