I saw a blogger ( Passion for Road Trips ) write about a visit to Madikeri and decided to travel with family there. With kids vacation getting over in 2 weeks, we decided to cover West Karnataka a bit. So a plan was drawn to cover Madikeri, Mangalore, Udupi, Subrahmanya, Dharmasthala, Chikmagalur and Sharavanabelagola! 4 days in all was the allotted time! ( with a day to spare )
Though I booked and stayed at the place Subu stayed... HillTown Hotel ( Very decent hotel with parking, Costing Rs 936 a night for a double bedroom ), there was also another resort another Tamil blogger friend had stayed with his relatives, near Bhagamandala, Madikeri area.... which included food etc at a cost of Rs 1600 per person, per day while the kids stay free. I was hoping for a concession, as it was owned by an ex-colleague of the Tamil blogger friends brother, but didnt want to bother them too much eventually!
So a plan was drawn to hit the road and reach Madikeri by evening.
We started from Bangalore at around 11.45 AM and took the Mysore road, via NICE Road and had lunch near Srirangapatna. ( Macdonalds ). We took the route via Hunsur, Piriyapatna ( expensive coffee at Cafe Coffee day at Rs 57/- each! ), Bylekuppe ( Tibet settlement ), Kushal Nagar and onto Madikeri at around 6 PM, with the necessary pit stops! Road is good upto Kushal Nagar. We could have started and reached early, but the other resort confirmation took us time.... hence the delay. Well we liked the drive into the chilled weather near Madikeri ... lots of road work going on, which slowed a bit in the last stretch.
After checking into the hotel, we left for Raja's Seat - a view point with a park and a toy train. There is a dancing fountain with colours.... though smaller than Brindavan, it was nice for 20 minutes. We also drove in the toy train, for 2 rounds.... There is entrance fee for the park, and also a small charge for the train!
After a cozy dinner at Choice, we crashed into bed, with the chilly weather of 18 degrees.
We woke up in the morning at 6 AM, and by the time we started for Tala Kaveri trip it was 7.30 AM. We stopped near Spice Research institute for Breakfast, though we could have had it at Chettimani! At 8.30 AM we reached Bhagamandala, and went straight to the Triveni Sangamam, were Kaveri, meets two tributaries (names please! ).
After walking in the knee deep water in the center area, with family... left in 15 minutes for the actual birth place of Kaveri... Tala Kaveri. It is a forest controlled area, where cheetahs are expected. Nice winding roads and thrill drive. We had the Kaveri temple darshan and did not climb those 100 steps to the birth place of Kaveri as we thought it was too risky to climb. May be next time we would do it, with more time in hand.
We reached Madikeri by 11 AM and started immediately for Mangalore. It is a 4 hours drive, with a winding down ghats road to Sapaje, with too many potholes, and they are fixing it before monsoon!
We thought of reaching Subramanya, which is 90 kms away from Madikeri, but heard that the temple closes at 1 PM and with the tough roads, it would have been a delay to reach there. And we would have had to wait till 4 PM, and we would have reached Mangalore at 9 PM and would not have covered the beach, temples etc. Fuzzy Logic said, anyway you will end up spending another day....
We had missed seeing Nisargadhama and many other site seeing spots, which we have to cover in the first term vacation of kids!
We had a reservation at Nalapad Residency, Mangalore and drove straight there by 4 PM, after a lunch stop at Ganesh Restaurant at Puttur.
We started for sight seeing at 5 PM, and after the light house visit, nearby and kids playing in the slide and maze for sometime, we left for Panambur beach ( we booked an auto for the rest of the day ) spent sometime there, playing in Arabian Sea water.... and family drove atop a Camel....
We left for Kadiri Hills area and there was no power, so couldnt walk around in the park. So we left for the famous Kerala style temple of Lord Manjunatha, where there is a Ganesha idol, which gives water from tummy - that flows into a pond. Sacred!
We ate at Janata Deluxe ( Neer Dosa and Poori's ) and left for the room. Though we didnt plan much for sight seeing, the next day had a 3 temple visit plan, and a nights stay at Udupi.
We woke up and after breakfast... at 9.30 AM left for Subrahmanya ( to reach in time ). I could have gone to Udupi first, but with a beach and Island trip in mind this route was taken. We took the first route, right after 53 KMs on NH 48, and after 20 KMa, about 28 kms before the temple, the roads were are scrapped ( one blogger had written about it a - as mine blasted roads - but we forgot in the heat of the moment to take the right at 88th KM via Gundia ). It was a tough drive, and with Lord Muruga's help, I could cover those tough 10 kms distance till Kadaba in 45 minutes and made it to the temple at around 12 Noon. We spent about an hour in the temple complex, with lots of crowd on that Amavasya Friday. People do Rahu Kethu Puja there ( 6 AM to 12.30 PM for Kalasarpha Dosha Nivarthi - even Sachin Tendulkar has been there and also many famous personalities ).
We had lunch at New Mysore restaurant and left for Dharmasthala at 2.30 PM. We thought that the temple at Dharmasthala would be open at 4 PM, for darshan and after that we wanted to visit Udupi Krishna Mutt temple before staying at Kidiyoor Lodge near Udupi bus stand ( a very nice hotel ).
I could have also covered Kollur Moogambika temple, if I had gone first to Udupi and then on to Kollur and return back to stay there... and left next day... adding another day!
At Dharmasthala, the darshan for evening was not at 4 PM as informed, at it is at 7 PM only, while people are allowed inside at 6 PM. So we started for Udupi via Karkala, Manipal and went to the Krishna temple ( where there is no need to remove shirts now - for men ) and saw the Rath moved around temple complex and reached hotel at 7 PM. We had nice dinner ( Singapore Fried Rice and Neer Dosa ) before crashing - as they adviced against going to the dark beach!
We woke up in the morning and after a quick breakfast of Idly Vada, Neer Dosa and Poori's... we went to famous Malpe beach. We took at ferry to St Marys Island - a wonderful ride, where you need to set aside total 3 hours for a trip. The Island is so cool! Kids enjoyed it. Worth a visit!
We started back to Bangalore at 1 PM and I took at wrong left turn again, that led me back into Mangalore. It is 10 hours drive and I didnt want to take chances ( tired! ) and I looked at the map and decided to have a break at Chikmagalur ( known place ) before going back to Bangalore.
So I took the Belthangadi - Mudigere - Chikmagalur route. Didnt check with anyone and paid the price of driving in the tough ghats - a life time ride.... too tough and winding roads, with 42 hair pin bends probably? Mad bus drivers, almost hit you instantly! By the time I reached Chikmagalur it was 6 PM - 5 hours for 150 kms total ride from Udupi.... Stayed at Planters Court, an expensive place of stay. I should have taken the Udupi - Agumbe - Sringeri - BaleHonnur - Chikmagalur route for an easy ride. Though it would have taken the same distance, I could have saved 1 hour and the tough drive!
We met my wife's cousin brothers ( also my childhood friends at Kotagiri - while their family was vacationing at Kotagiri ) we had a late dinner at Maurya and slept.
Next day morning we had very good Idly Vada and Masala Dosa at Town Canteen, on Ratnagiri Road, very famous with all the people who are visiting Chikmagalur ( and onwards to Sringeri - only route ). Never miss it!
We started for Bangalore at 11 AM and after reaching Shravanabelagola at 1 PM, after a 100 KMs drive, we decided to climb up with socks on.... 620 steps.... Man, it was a tough excercise for me. Too giddy.... By the time we reached the top it was 30 minutes. Had Lord Mahavira Darshan, 1000 years old monolithic statue.... we had a nice view of surrounding areas from top. I wish they can have a winch ( pulley cart ) done to climb up! We climbed back down and had a late lunch at Hotel Raghu - famished!
Started back at 3.30 PM after some shopping and reached Bangalore at 7 PM - driving 170 KMs on NH 48 - via Kunigal - Magadi Road ( after Johnsons Tiles ) in heavy winds and rains.... Bought some vegetables on route.
After 100+ hours away from home, it was so nice..... to be back.