From some time, I had been thinking of driving to Goa and I could do this on 23-Dec-08. Before this, I had gone by car from Bangalore to Chikmagalur, Bangalore to Bijapur, Bangalore to Mysore (2 trips), Bangalore to Sivanasamudram hence I had some prior experience of long journey which I could use it in this trip.
This was my 4th trip to Goa (and my wife’s 3rd trip, first trip was our honeymoon in Goa) and I had learnt few things by now. I am fond of beaches and had seen many beaches of Goa and missed Arambol beach in all earlier trips which I wanted to visit in this trip. I also wanted to see scenic beauty of Karnataka, Konkan route, Karwar, Jog Falls, Ghats hence did some search on internet and decided on different forward / return routes. Pls check the links which were very useful in Reference Links section below. I specially liked the information provided by Mr. Abhijit Roy, Mr. Ramesh, and Mr. Suraj, and many others in the link # 1. Do read info in these links in addition to this travelogue.
We booked resorts near Benaulim beach in south Goa (near Margao) and we also requested my wife's real brother and her 2 cousins (all bachelors) to come along with us which they agreed immediately. So we were 5 adults (me, my wife, my 2 brothers-in-law and 1 sister-in-law) with my 3 year old son who was most excited about this trip. Although all involved parents were worried but we explained them about our preparations and at last, they agreed.
Everyone gathered at my flat in Suncity (near Sarjapur junction) on 22-Dec night as we planned to start in the early morning, say, between 3 AM and 4 AM. We had all preparations done on previous day/weekend. Pls check section “Points to remember in self driven long journey”. We could complete most of the points mentioned in this link.
We woke up at 2 AM and everyone got ready within an hour or so and we started loading our car with all necessary items. We started from Bangalore on 23-12-08 at 3:50 AM in my Santro AT and briefly chanted mantras of lord Ganesha and Shiva for our safe and sweet journey which they ensured to our satisfaction.
23-Dec-08, Forward route
Bangalore (near Sarjapur junction, 3:50 AM, 0 km) – NH4 – Tumkur (5:20 AM, 75 km) – Sira – Hiriyur – Chitradurga (7:30 AM, 198 km) – Davangere – Ranibennur – Haveri (11:30 AM, 335 km) – Bankapur – Hubli (12:30 PM, 405 km) – NH4 – Dharwad (12:45 PM, 425 km) – SH34 – Alnavar (1:30 PM, 455 km) – SH93 – Bedi (475 km) – Khanapur (2 PM, 495 km) – NH4A – Londa (515 km) – Anmod (2:50 PM, 540 km) – Molem (560 km) – Ponda (3:30 PM, 585 km) – Margao (4 PM, 605 km) – Resort near Benaulim Beach (4:10 PM, 610 km)
It was good that we started early as we could avoid heavy traffic within Bangalore and due to metro train and over-bridges work, many places are congested. We reached Tumkur at 5:30 AM (take care of few diversions due to road repairing work) and Chitradurga at 7:30 AM. Roads till Chitradurga is very good and one can drive at >100 Kms due to user fee roads.
We halted briefly at Chitradurga and than started for Haveri via Ranibennur, road is good till Ranibennur with few bad patches. At Haveri, we wanted to take a diversion to Sirsi to pass through Devimane Ghats but we missed it hence we changed our route and went till Hubli. Roads from Ranibennur till Dharwad is very good and one can drive at >100 Kms speed. We reached by-pass to Dharwad at about 1:00 PM.
We did not enter in Dharwad instead took route to Belgaum (Belagavi) and after about 3-4 kms, we got one over-bridge. We took left turn below the bridge and saw a signboard which read 185 Kms to Panaji. This route took us to Alnawar.
I recollected that many bloggers and travelers had not advised for this route and found that road between Dharwad – Alnawar – Londa – Anmod is not good at all especially between Londa and Anmod, it is worst. When we reached Alnawar, we asked for directions and were advised to take turn towards Bedi and than go to Khanapur and take NH4A towards Ponda. We followed this advice and got it re-confirmed with available maps with us. Road till Khanapur is excellent and we traveled 40 Kms in only 30 min. 2 Kms before Khanapur, we found one left turn which goes to Londa. The milestones read Panaji 115 kms.
From here, till Londa, road is good. At Londa, turn right to Anmod. Londa to Anmod is good for about 10 kms and next 10 Kms are nightmare. There is no road, only ditches, go very slow, sometimes you wonder that from where we should take the car out of this ditch. We had to reverse the car in few instances and think for a while and take best possible ditch to avoid damage to car. I could successfully manage this stretch in about 30-40 mins. Do not panic as after this, road is good till Margao or Panaji.
Anmod to Molem is almost 19 kms of ghat road through forests. Excellent scenic beauty as you pass through Ghats, steep inclines / declines, sharp curves, etc. Check for vehicles coming from opposite direction.
From Molem, asked for directions to Ponda than we moved towards Margao and ultimately reached our resort near Benaulim beach at 4:10 PM (total journey in 12 hours 20 minutes).
24-Dec-08: Benaulim, Colva, Calangute beaches; Water sports (about 90 Kms)
We thought of having morning walk at Benaulim beach which went little long and after having breakfast, we returned to our resort at 11 AM. We started at 12:30 PM for Colva beach and stayed there for about an hour. After that, we went to Calangute beach which was quite crowded and has all kinds of water sports, like, Para-sailing, Para-gliding, boating, banana ride, motor boat etc. We all bathed in sea water for sometime. We did boating with full family and my relatives were planning to take banana ride as they had seen it in Roadies on MTV.
Experience with Banana ride
My wife stayed with kid and rest 4 of us went ahead for banana ride. Banana shaped boat is driven by another motor boat, you sit on the top of it and a life guard goes with you in the boat. Banana ride was really a thrill as they take you in the sea and ask you to leave the banana shaped boat and you are almost alone for some time in sea water. Nobody knew swimming hence it added to thrill factor. We were given life jackets and sat on banana ride. I was unaware of the fact that we have to leave banana shaped boat when they turn boat by 180 degree. I left it little late and landed myself in trouble. I went little farther from boat and also drank some too salty sea water. I was in real trouble for few seconds under sea water and when I came up due to life jacket, I found that boat was almost 5-6 meters far from me. As I do not know swimming, I felt it impossible to reach there. I saw my 1 brother-in-law and sister-in-law also struggling while one brother-in-law had sat back on banana ride. I somehow caught the boat side and slowly climbed up on the boat. My sister-in-law found it even harder to get boarded on banana ride and 2 of us had to lift her to banana boat. At last, everyone boarded again banana shaped boat and we went back to shore. We remembered these moments through out the trip and I think that I will remember it forever. Overall, it was good experience.
We took our lunch + dinner (together) at 5:30 PM and left Calangute beach at 6:45 PM for our resort and reached resort at 8:30 PM due to traffic and unknown roads. We could see 3 beaches and had some memorable experiences.
25-Dec-08 (Christmas day): Arambol, Vagator, Anjuna and Baga beaches; Chapora fort (DCH fort), Mapusa city (about 170 kms)
On 25-Dec, we started early at 9 AM for Arambol beach and it was almost 80 km from our resort and it took 2:15 hours to reach Arambol. It was worth spending this much time in travel. Arambol is a beautiful beach with few people mostly foreigners. The slope of beach is very less hence you can go little far in the sea. Waves are very calm hence it’s quite safe with 3 year old baby. We all did bathing for more than an hour and sat in one of the shack, had lunch and enjoyed the sun & sea. This beach is very clean, calm and no water sports hence less crowded. If one wants to be with nature in peace, must visit this beach. We started from Arambol at 2:15 PM and asked for directions to Chapora fort.
Chapora Fort, Mapusa City
Chapora fort is also known as DCH fort after 'Dil Chahta Hai' movie was shot here. A single road from Mapusa city goes to Chapora fort. We had to ask for directions many times as we did not want to waste time by going in wrong direction. We reached Chapora fort at 3:10 PM and me and my wife thought of staying down after seeing the steep incline but we lifted our spirits and went uphill. My 3 year old son “Saatwik” came with us without asking for “Godi” (he calls it Godi whenever he is tired and wants to be picked and rested in our arms which makes our climbing more difficult). We went up to the place where DCH scenes were shot and saw very beautiful scenic beauty from top. We did some photography which we were already doing all the way. One can see Chapora River dropping in the sea from the top which is amazing. Also one can see Morjim, Chapora and Vagator beaches from different directions of the fort which makes it another memorable experience. We left Chapora fort at 4:15 PM as we had to see other 3 famous beaches.
Vagator, Anjuna and Baga beaches
We reached Vagator beach in about 15 min and saw it from the top. We did not have the time to go down and play with sea water; also we had already played with water at Arambol for quite long. The sun was on its way to set and going to fall in the seawater (sunset as described by my son). We stayed for about 20 min and moved to Anjuna beach. Anjuna beach is quite rocky (rocky terrain instead of plain sand) hence we stayed again at top and sun had come more near to sea. Ladies did some shopping and we had sugarcane juice as it was hot even at this time. We left Anjuna beach in about 20 min and went to Baga beach. We reached Baga beach in another half an hour or less and ultimately we dropped the sun in seawater. We did some photography with sunset. Baga beach was very crowded with Indian tourists and local population probably because it was Christmas day. Baga beach also has all kinds of water sports. We had already done water sports at Calangute hence we did not look forward to it. We started from Baga at about 6:45 PM and came back to resort at about 9:15 PM after having dinner break on the way.
26-Dec-08: Benaulim (Dolphin ride), Tattoos, Panaji, Miramar, Dona Paula, Cruise (about 80 Kms)
We missed dolphin ride at Calangute and Colva beaches on our first day as one can see Dolphins in the morning only (say before 11:00 AM). Hence we thought of watching dolphins at Benaulim early morning. We went to Benaulim beach at about 8:30 AM by car to save time and negotiated for dolphin ride. Boat took us little deep in the sea where 4-5 dolphins were playing. One needs to keep looking continuously in all directions as dolphins make sudden appearances. We were lucky to see dolphins and followed them for some time. Many other boats had tourists and all were making noise hence might be, dolphins were scared and were not coming out regularly. We could see 4 or 5 jumps of dolphins, one had to be very sharp and alert with camera to capture jumping dolphins. Fisherman told us that usually baby dolphins take more jumps than adult dolphins, may be, because kids are more playful than adults. We were in the sea for about 30 min watching dolphins.
Every one of us was very excited with tattoos and almost each and every foreigner had tattoos on different parts of body and few Indians also had them. This raised the curiosity level of everyone and same time, one vendor came with various options of tattoos. My wife and other relatives negotiated with him for mass discount and I think that they got good deal while I sat comfortably in one of the shacks (restaurants on beaches), under the umbrella on the wooden beach chairs, ordered for breakfast and watched sea waves. Each one of them chose their design and tattoo person carefully crafted them. It took about an hour to craft tattoos on their arms (including my son who is still showing his tattoo) and we all took breakfast. We left Benaulim at about 1:30 PM.
Panaji, Miramar and Dona Paula beaches
At 2:15 PM, we left for Panaji and made few rounds in Panaji and drove along Miramar beach to go to Dona Paula. We did not feel like getting down to visit Miramar beach as it was looking similar. We did some purchasing at Dona Paula beach and purchased few T-Shirts, shorts, Capri’s etc. Dona Paula has a good view of sea from constructed tower like building. At this place, two of Goa's famous rivers meet the Arabian Sea and from top of the building one can have a fine view of the Marmagao Harbor. We also purchased Cashewnuts from one of the wholesale shop near Dona Paula beach and its size and taste is really good. We left Dona Paula at 4:30 PM and went for Cruise.
We were told that cruise starts at 6 PM and there are many kinds of cruise, like Casino Pride (500 Rs per person), Paradise (150 Rs/Person), Swastik (150 Rs/Person) and after little thinking, we choose Swastik although felt that Paradise might have been better. Swastik stands on other side of Mandovi River and one Govt sponsored boat takes you on other side free of cost hence we took that. It was nice experience on this boat as one can have their bikes, scooters, cars, jeeps, etc boarded on this boat to cross the Mandovi River. We were quite early hence could take front seats on the top of the Cruise. Cruise had about 200 people and started at about 6:05 PM and took us for one round in the river. Cruise had dance programs performed by Goan artistes and special dance songs for kids, couples, bachelors. Cruise also had facility to have snacks, disco theques etc. My son danced a lot and it was difficult to bring him down from the stage. I and my wife joined the couple dance and my other relatives joined bachelor dance sequences. It was a nice experience.
We started back to our resort at 7:30 PM, had dinner on the way and reached at 9:30 PM in our rooms. We were quite tired but had to start packing because we wanted to start early on 27-Dec so that we can visit Palolem beach (my favorite), Karwar, Devimane Ghats and Jog falls. As usual drivers (me and my brother-in-law slept early) but we could not wake up before 4:45 AM and at last, could start only at 6:30 AM from our resort.
27-Dec-08, Return Route
Margao (6:30 AM, 0 km) – NH17 – Palolem beach (or Cancona, 8 AM, 40 Kms) – Karwar (10:30 AM, 82 Kms) – Ankola – NH17 – Mirjan (1:30 PM, 140 Kms) – SH2 – Sirsi (Devimane Ghats, 2 PM, 200 Kms)) – SH93 – Siddapura – Jog Falls (3:30 PM, 260 Kms) – NH206 – Talguppa – Sagar – Shivamogga (6:10 PM, 355 Kms) – Bhadravati – Tarikere – Birur – Arsikere (10:15 PM, 475 Kms) – Tiptur – NH206 – Tumkur (12:00 AM, 560 Kms) – NH4 – Nelmangala – Bangalore (Suncity Apts, Near Sarjapur Junction; 1:30 AM, 640 Kms)
As mentioned earlier, we planned to visit Konkan way and Palolem beach is my favorite hence we first went to Palolem beach as we couldn’t see it while coming as we missed the turn to Sirsi from Haveri.
Palolem Beach, Karwar
This is one of the beautiful beaches surrounded by small hills and coconut trees. Beach is very clean, tidy, less slope and less crowded. It has huts/cottages on the side of beach where one can be with the sea always.
We stayed here for more than an hour or so and took a walk in the sea water and did some photography. Than, we left for Karwar and it was a pleasure to drive next to sea. On the way, we saw Kali Bridge where Kali River meets the sea. It is another wonderful sight and we halted there for some photography. We reached Karwar at 10:30 AM and visited Rabindranath Tagore beach for few minutes. After watching Goa beaches, you do not seem to like other beaches much.
Devimane Ghats, Brunch, Road condition
It was getting late for breakfast and we searched for good restaurant but we could not get it till Ankola and even that also did not have many options as we were in the middle of breakfast and lunch. We halted for about an hour and asked for directions to Sirsi. Till Mirjan, you are on and off with sea and once you go towards Sirsi, you are in the Devimane Ghats, dense forest, and the best scenic beauty nature can offer you. Journey became more pleasurable than thoughts to reach the destination. We drove slowly till Sirsi until we realized that we are really getting late. Meanwhile, we did a quick poll on whether we want to visit Jog Falls or not and answer was Yes as you do not come such distance very often. We turned to Siddapura from Sirsi and got petrol filled in Siddapura and moved to Jog Falls.
Roads till Siddapura are quite good and one finds few bad patches between Ankola and Mirjan. After Siddapura, the roads are under construction and its kind of OK roads till Jog Falls. We reached jog falls at 3:30 PM and stayed there for about 30 min as we wanted to reach home before midnight.
Jog Falls, created by the Sharavathi River falling from a height of 253 meters (829 ft) is the highest plunge waterfall in India. Mighty jog falls have 4 or 5 major falls adjacent to each other. Falls are named Rani, Rocket, Raja, Roarer and Mandovi. At this time, the water was very less and falls were quite thin but still the sight was memorable. There were quite good number of people who had come to see mighty jog falls.
From jog falls till Shimoga, roads are very good and we wanted to reach Shimoga in daylight which we could. Roads are under construction in Shimoga hence we had take diversion and came back to Bangalore route.
Damage to car on highway in night
Once it is night, we had to manage our speed as most of the vehicles come with high beam. In fact, we also had to put our car on high beam at times due to the darkness, curvy roads and sudden potholes. Despite all these, I damaged my car as front left tyre went in a deep pothole at the speed of 70 Kms/hr. It was about 9:30 PM and we were near to Arsikere when Rim of tyre bent and car was not at all drivable. We tried to stop vehicles on highway to seek help but nobody stopped. We couldn’t figure out for first 10 min that what has happened until we carefully examined the front left tyre with all mobiles lights. Mobiles lights really helped us and gave us one more reason that why you should keep your mobiles always with you whether you have network or not. My brother-in-law took the luggage out of backside of the car; we got stepney, jack out and started changing the wheel. It took about 30 min to complete all these and thankfully with the grace of God, we were back on roads.
We drove even more slowly as we understood that we are on the highway, in the night, at unknown places, with sudden potholes, and vehicles with high beams. We stopped at Arsikere for dinner and we could manage one roadside restaurant as we were really hungry. After half an hour, we started moving towards Bangalore and wanted to reach home ASAP.
From Arsikere till Tumkur, roads are largely good and from Tumkur onwards, you are on user fee roads hence no problem at all. We found some truck traffic near Nelmangala otherwise journey was smooth. At last, we parked our car at 1:30 AM on 28-Dec-08.
Link #1: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-travel-queries/29949-bangalore-goa-route.html
Link #2: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-travel-queries/28983-bangalore-goa-back-2.html
Link #3: http://maps.google.com/
Link #4: http://maps.live.com/
Link #5: http://www.coxandkings.com/live/destination/destination_goa.html