Reporting this trip late – the actual trip was taken during 1st week of October ’16. Better late than never; hope this helps TAIgers.
Planned for a religious trip during October – right during Navarathri/Dussehara period. Though you would certainly expect mad rush in pilgrimage places, I decided to take the trip because I could take leave for a week during this period. And me and wiffy decided to ditch the kids because they were not too keen to visit temples.
The plan was to visit Dharmasthala, Kukke Subramanya, Udupi, Sringeri, Kollur, and surrounding. After enquiries and some search on the net, decided to make Mangalore as our base and move around. As it turns out, my best buddy has a fully furnished flat in Mangalore, available for us to host. Day 1
– We set our trip on a Monday, to beat the weekend blues. Started from Bangalore (Banaswadi) at around 8AM, after breakfast at New Krishna Bhavan. The plan was to reach Mangalore by lunch, a distance of 350 KMs door-to-door, and google map showed 6:30 hours; I knew I was pushing but that’s the way I am. Of course, goes without saying – Safety ALWAYS comes first. Cruised at decent speed all the way up to Hassan when the road shrunk from 4 lane to 2 lane. I had visited Sakleshpur a year ago, hence knew the condition of the road, which gave me confidence. Maintained an average of 100~120 KMPH throughout, until the road shrunk to 2 lane. Wiffy wanted to take a break hence took a pit stop around Sakleshpur so we did (at Aashritha / Surabhi’s).
After a ~30 minute break, we resumed our journey. The road immediately after Sakleshpur is fixed now – it’s a wide cement road, passing adjacent to the river, and few small water falls. Beautiful! But it gets really bad after that – for a stretch of 20~25 KM. I saw some road construction equipment’s hence hope they’ll be fixing it sooner than later, similar to the cement road. The road gets better again after Gundya – though narrow, the road condition is decent all the way to Mangalore.
On Day 2
– we were set for a long day. Started the trip again around 8.30AM, and reached Udupi Sri Krishna Temple sooner than expected. Though there were some bad / busy stretches of road, dealing with Bangalore traffic and some assertive driving skill with presence of vehicle helps. Close to KIOCL, the truck traffic, railway level crossing, etc., slows down the traffic. But it is not as bad as one would expect. The new toll road gives you some relief and you could make up for the lost time. Little bit of wait as they release the pilgrims in batches, which took some ~15 mins.
Inside the temple complex, we witnessed the presence of Sri Vishvesha Tirtha Swamiji, and other swamiji’s. After a relaxed visit to the surrounding temples and some shopping, we set out to Kollur. The local shop owner guaranteed us good road, pleasant drive, and darshana as he had visited recently. The road to Kollur was beautiful! I must say, we hardly came across a noticeable pothole. Narrow road but very good road; it did not look like they had asphalted it recently.
Despite being Navarathri, since it was a weekday, and not on Ashtami/Navami, our visit to the temple was breeze. It was around noon. Apart from goddess darshana, we cherished sumptuous meal as prasadam. After that we decided to go to Murudeshwar, something my wife wanted to always visit.
The drive was again very pleasant, narrow but good road quality. From Baindur until we crossed Bhatkal, the road is not very good but not a hassle for XUV; some busy traffic and deviations due to construction took away sometime. Took us little over an hour to reach Murudeshwar temple. The temple was closed and it was hot afternoon (it’s a coast hence very humid). Took advantage and took some break, had a snack and cold drinks at a local restaurant.
It is one of the most attractive temple, no doubt. The gopura (tower), the shiva statue, the Surya chariot, etc., is mesmerizing. You can go on top of the gopura by paying just Rs. 10 for elevator trip. The actual temple itself is not crowded! The best part is view all around. But the afternoon sharp sun combined with humidity, drained us out. Almost dehydrated. Hence took another break at the sea lounge restaurant (the cold drinks are not really cold, as you would imagine).
By then, it was 4PM. We had plan to visit Iduganji Ganesha temple which was little over 20KM, but decided to skip as this visit would have taken another 90 minutes and we wanted to avoid driving back to Mangalore in the dark. Hence we headed straight back to Mangalore, which was close to 3 hours drive (~160 KM). I wanted to stop at Maravanthe beach for the sunset view – but sunset was perhaps an hour away and wiffy vetoed to drive non-stop back to Mangalore base. Again, the traffic in/around Bhatkal was bad, but got better after that; it was dark when we reached Mangalore and thick traffic on the highway. It was a good decision as we were able to take good rest for the day. Day 3
, we decided not to go on long trip but just relax. Decided to ditch the car and take local transport as were right in the middle of city (it’s not a big city) and could commute to anywhere within few minutes and <50 bucks. Went out for lunch, ice cream at Pabbas, some shopping, visit to shiva temple in Kudroli, one more round of ice cream at Pabbas, and lot of rest. Day 4
– we headed to Sringeri and from there to Dharmasthala. Mangalore to Sringeri was ~120KM – head out in the same direction as Udupi and then take a deviation. Again, the road was pretty good, but switched to 2 lanes and then got narrower once we crossed Bajegoli. Some ghat section, and the road gets narrowest but still good quality! I was only worried about oncoming traffic, but disciplined drivers did not pose any problem. Had to overtake some mini-buses / trucks at times, which was breeze with my Ambhari. The road passes thru a forest hence you’ll have to stop at forest check-post; mere formality and you proceed without hassle. The best part was driving along Tunga river, for a good distance.
We had very good darshana of the goddess and other temples. For the first time witnessed the presence of Sri Bharathi Thirtha Swamiji and his deputy. We were not allowed to take photos of the swamijis, which is quite understandable. But again, one of the best visits. Spent 30 minutes on the bank of Thunga river, feeding puffed rice to the fishes, meeting the temple elephant, shopping, so on. The water level was low hence did not find many fishes, as I witnessed during my last trip (ages ago). After spending couple of hours decided to head towards Dharmasthala, which was ~100KM / 2 hours.
The reach Dharmasthala had to pass thru the forest area and reach Bajegoli, and then take left towards Dharmasthala. Once we reached Belthangady, the traffic got busy and it was a slow drive. However, we managed to reach afternoon, have some light lunch, take a nap. In the evening, first we went to river Nethravathi; did not enjoy much due to the crowd hence headed back to Manjunatha temple. I took special Pooja ticket hence was treated like a VIP – almost like in a local temple – spent good amount of time witnessing the glory of the god/goddess. It was not even 6PM by the time we finished all the Darshana. One of the staff inside the temple suggested us to return around 8.30PM for special Pooja due to Navarathri. So we did. And was it worth it! The temple was almost closed down at around 9PM, except the Heggade family and small number of pilgrims (Me and wiffy spent nearly an hour right in front of the deity and special Pooja on the occasion of Navarathri, which is performed only twice a year, for nearly an hour). The best part was procession lead by Pancha Vadhya; chenda vadhya from our kerala brothers gave me goose bumps! And we listen to western rock to give us kick Amazing life time experience for both of us. After that we retired for the day.
On Day 5
, we set out to Bangalore via Kukke, our last pilgrimage stop; it was around 8AM. Someone suggested us to visit Southadka Ganesha temple, also known as ‘Gante Ganesha’ (Bell Ganesha) on the way to Kukke. So we did, as it was on the way with very small deviation. Very attractive Ganesha statue in open sky, surrounded by bell (bells offered when your prayers are fulfilled). After quick ~30 minutes visit, headed to Kukkke. The road was just ok, not much hassle for XUV but as enjoyable as Kollur/Sringeri. We spent an hour at Kukke Subramanya temple (the special offering put us on fast track), little bit shopping (buy pappad from here) and headed straight back home.
The return road was familiar. Had to slow down around Gundya but road got lot better after Sakleshpur, and really good after Hassan. Stopped at A2B for lunch (just after Hassan) and then non-stop home – at a decent speed – and reached home mid-afternoon. Ended the trip where we began, with a filter coffee at New Krishna Bhavan What I liked the most on this trip?
Pleasant and reliable drive of my car – 1000+ KM’s in 5 days (nearly ~17KM mileage!)
Memorable visit to the temples and life-long memories (I visit temple just couple times a year, and on this trip I visited 30+ small/big temples in 5 days)
The Chande Vadhya in Dharmasthala temple – I get goose bumps even now
Hogging Ice cream at Pabbas, and Mangalore Buns
And company of wiffy, without kids, after nearly 18 years PS: BTW, not all the pictures were taken by me – I had to rely on google for maps and some pictures (can’t take picture at some places). I had to rely on these pictures, to support narration of my trip. Just wanted to make it clear.