Travelogue August 14th to 19th – Bangalore-Agumbe-Kundapur-Marvanthe-Goa-Jog Falls-Bangalore Leg 1:
Bangalore to Kundarpur, via Agumbe Date:
August 14th Distance:
431 Kms Time taken (with pit breaks):
9 hours 47 minutes Route: https://goo.gl/maps/s8i9Sb271uC2 About the road:
The road from Bangalore to Nellamangala (NH48) is good. We started at about 4:30 AM so were able to beat most of the traffic on this stretch. At Nellamangala we took the diversion on to NH75. The road a good and we were on this stretch till Hassan. We stopped for breakfast at CCD just off Bellur.
At Hassan we took a quick coffee break at Hotel Raama. The place looks good, but somehow I did not like their service nor their level of cleanliness (cutlery, restrooms).
From Hassan, the road is a 2 laner (SH57) that takes us to Belur and Chikmagalur. For the most part the roads is good, except for a few rough patches. From here we take the NH173 for a short hop and then turn on to the Chikmagalur-Sringeri road. These are the twisty hill roads, so best to take it a bit easy. We did witness an accident on this stretch. A bike rider rammed into the back of a Tavera taxi who had just stopped right bang in the middle of the road to ask directions. I had stopped to click a few photos when there was a bang/crash. We called a 108 ambulance that arrived within 5 minutes. The rider (no helmet ) seemed to have suffered head injuries.
We climbed on till we reached Agumbe in rainy conditions. The road, as we reach the Agumbe Sunset Point, is quite narrow. Officially no one is supposed to park in the area, but hordes of tourists do, causing a major headache for the cops trying to keep the traffic flowing. The worst are the TT cabs, who mostly don’t give a hoot what happens to other people using the roads.
We did find a spot to park and spent about 20 minutes with the rain playing hide and seek. It was fun. The sights are good and the shutterbugs and nature lovers will adore the place.
The way down from Agumbe is a tricky drive down. Tight switchbacks and taxis honking and hounding from the rear, rain, and throw in the young/teen brash drivers showing off to their friends. A sure shot concoction for accidents. Keeping a cool head and letting the guys who want to race off do so by getting out of their way is best.
As it was close to lunch time, we headed down and asked for a good (relatively) place to get some grub. Some folks directed us to head to Hebri, which about 17.6 kms from the view point, to a joint called Kubera Bar & Restaurant. The food was good, the place ok, given the India highway hotels state of affairs.
We doubled back to an intersection for about 10 kms to get on to the Kundapur-Agumbe highway to get to Kundapur (not on the map link above). Nice roads, state 2 laners, which pass though some villages and small towns. The XUV:
The Black Chariot performed well. NH, SH, hill roads and tracks, it maintained composure and was easy to handle and point around the corners. We started with a full tank (70 lts) of diesel. Watering holes:
Sights to see:
- Bellur: Café Coffee Day
- Hassan: Hotel Raama
- Agumbe (actually, Hebri): Kubera Bar & Restaurant
Obviously, the Agumbe switchbacks themselves are a great sight to see along with the waterfalls and streams and mountains of the great Western Ghats. Along the way there are some lakes and ponds, so if you are interested in birds, then look for some of the migratory populations there.
Once in Kundapur, make the 15 odd kilometer drive to Marvanthe Beach, especially in the evening around sunset. The road is being expanded to a 4 lane so a lot of rough sections and slow moving traffic. Lots of trucks as well. Leg 2:
Kundapur to Goa Date:
August 15th Distance:
247 Kms Time taken (with pit breaks):
5 hours 48 minutes Route: https://goo.gl/maps/TyXcEbV5uA12 About the road:
With the aforementioned upgrade to the NH17 in progress, the route was slow. Many rough sections, traffic jams and slow moving overloaded trucks. Funny thing, though. As soon as we crossed into Goa the road conditions got better as did the drivers’ demeanor! The trucks were gone too (they take a different route as the NH through Goa is narrow) so the jams and slow-moving traffic was gone but the speeds were still on the lower end due to the narrow twisting roads.
Our halt in Goa was for 3 days/3 nights. So, after doing a bit sightseeing, beaching and relaxing we started back on leg 3 to Jog Falls on the 19th. The XUV:
Filled the tank up at Honnavar (HP Petroleum, LKS Shroff), took 49.89 lts to brim it. We’d done 602 kms at an average of 12.05 km/lt (brim to brim calculation).
As before, the Black Chariot kept up well on the Goa roads. It did look a tad big compared to all the other vehicles on the road there (mostly 2-wheelers & hatches with a few buses and trucks). I did notice that the battery charge indicator was showing whit (needs charging) even after such a long drive and at times the horn (Roots Spiders) sounded as though it was being choked. Will get this looked into as soon as my return to Bangalore. Watering holes:
Well, I am no alcoholic, so no feni joints from me. Look around and you will get quite a few good food joints in and around Goa. As usual, the sea food is great and there is lots to choose from. Sights to see:
Beaches, beaches and beaches. As this was our 3rd trip down here, we reduced the beach trips and went to see other stuff. There is the Arvalem Caves, the Butterfly Conservatory (Ok kind, not really at the level of the Bannerghatta Butterfly Park), did a river cruise and some cashew shopping. Leg 3:
Goa to Jog Falls via Honnavar Date:
August 18th Distance:
223 Kms Time taken (with pit breaks):
5 hours 17 minutes Route: https://goo.gl/maps/1iscuzkmyVw About the road:
The road from Goa to Honnavar was the same as on the northern trip. But from Honnavar we turn east on to the NH69 to Jog Falls (about 60 kms). The road is the twisty hill road and is pretty bad in certain sections. Again, there is a lot of repair/expansion work going on. The XUV:
The rough patches were not really a problem for the XUV, nor the almost dirt tracks we got in some sections between Honnavar and Jog Falls. The battery/horn issue is still on. The battery is good to start the vehicle but somehow the horn goes all cracked up especially with the fogs on or when I brake and horn at the same time. Watering holes:
Between Goa and Honnavar, there are some hotels and a couple of CCDs. We stopped by the Ankola CCD to refresh. We did have breakfast (Udupi style) at a joint on the Karwar section. The food was ok, but the place itself was iffy.
Between Honnavar and Jog there is not really much. Once you reach Jog, there are a few home stays (veg only) that serve very good local food. Sights to see:
Well, it is the Jog Falls itself. Other than that, look out for the Sharavathi Valley View point ( about 48 kms after Honnavar) on the way to Jog Falls. Also, the sights of the misty rainy hills and the greenery around is hard to forget. Leg 4:
Jog Falls to Bangalore Date:
August 19th Distance:
402 Kms Time taken (with pit breaks):
7 hours 54 minutes Route: https://goo.gl/maps/FgBVZseFBLG2 About the road:
The way back home via Shimoga. The route till Bhadravati is ok. After that, there are very bad patches that are best crawled over in 2nd gear. But the roads are good for a major portion of the route. Mostly 2 lane roads till you hit NH48 at Tumkur. The XUV:
No worries with the Black Chariot except for the horn/battery issue. We topped up the tank at Shimoga (60.72 lts after a 700 kms run, average of 11.52). Watering holes:
Well, once you get down to Shimoga there are several good options to eat and refresh. There are couple of CCD along the way (one just before Arsikere another a little before Gubbi and one more just before Dabaspete). Sights to see:
Not much other than the short way down from Jog Falls to Sagar.
Overall, a good trip with the family (wife daughter and son with me the lone driver). No major issues with the car. The minor issue with the horn/battery was more of an irritant than a worry. With all the sightseeing and the overall trip, we clocked 1,590 kilometers in about 39 hours 45 minutes drive time. The drive itself was not tiring, thanks to the vehicle ride, dynamics and ergonomics. An auto box can make it more desirable but then the trade-off on the mileage is something to think about. The family too did not complain about sore backs or necks or anything else.
Like with most of our trips, the sore point is poor availability of hygienic toilets (ladies & gents) and good food options. While we make do and bear with it (and have taken to signing petitions) we do wish that the country does wake up and see the need to improve this part of the infrastructure. The god part is that things are changing, though slowly.
Hope that this helps others who may be looking run such a trip themselves. Happy driving, all!