Of the many experiences, during this long vacation, the road trips undoubtedly stood out, as one of the key takeaways. If someone were to ask me, if I would like to do this again? My answer would be a definite, “Yes”. If you love the sight of tarmac, stretching out into the horizon, surrounded by natural wonders, then this chapter of The Goa Diary, is just for you.
So, let’s get started.
Out of the road trips that we had done during this vacation, including the ones within Goa, I have picked the 3 trips listed below, to share my experiences with you, because they were the most significant and memorable:
- Bengaluru – Belgaum
- Belgaum – North Goa
- South Goa – Shivamogga
Note: there are multiple links in this article, which are easily identifiable by the font color. These include route maps, places, hotels etc and if you are interested to read further on any specific item, please do click those links and it will take you to the appropriate page.
Bangalore – Belgaum
There are several routes that you can take to reach North Goa from Bengaluru and these routes could take anywhere between 12-14 hours, depending on the route you take and the time you start. Since, I had a 4-year-old backpacking with me, there were a few things which I did not want to do:
- Drive at night post 7 pm
- Drive more than 10 hours in a day
- Drive through isolated places in the evening
Considering the above, I felt that a night halt at Belgaum on the way to Goa would be the safest bet. My intent was to reach Belgaum as quickly as possible and save all the energy for the adventures ahead.
There are 3 routes that Google shows you to reach Belgaum from Bengaluru. The fastest and shortest route is the NH44/NH75 and NH48 route (click link for the route map).
Distance – 510 kms
Time – 9.5 hours (without breaks)
The other routes are considerably longer and will take a further 1.5 hours. There are multiple tolls on this route, but you would be predominantly driving on 4 and 6 lane roads. Also, the well-known towns of Tumkur, Davanagere and Hubli are on the way, thus making this route a viable option, when travelling with family.
We started at 6:00 am on Saturday, October 5th. Since, our vacation had coincided with the Puja holidays; a mad rush was expected at the tolls. Despite staying close to the NH, by the time we cleared the toll and headed out of the city, it was 7 am.
One thing, that you will immediately notice on this route, is the absence of decent breakfast joints. There are 2 Kamat Upachar restaurants on the way though. One is closer home near Tumkur, 1.5 hours from Bengaluru (when you aren’t that hungry) and the other at Ranebennur, 5.5 hours from Bengaluru (when you are very hungry). Unfortunately, there aren’t any good options available in between. There are Southern and Rajasthani style Dhabas, which only open post 12 noon. Hence, the best thing to do is to carry your own supplies for breakfast.
Although, this route to Belgaum is the fastest, after the first 100 odd kms, the highway is dug up at many places, owing to flyover constructions. This means diversions every 4 to 5 kms. It will take some time for this work to be completed and tourists should be mindful of this, when taking this route. It is still the fastest route, although you might get a backache at the end of the day, after having spent hours on service roads, which aren’t in great condition. I am sure, once the work is finished, this route would save a lot of travel time.
Pic: After lunch at Apoorva resort
Unlike breakfast, lunch is not a problem, since there are a lot of options available close to Davanagere. The place that we stopped for lunch was Apoorva resort, which is on the highway. The restaurant of this resort is spacious with an extensive menu. Also, there is enough outdoor space for kids to run around. The prices are on the higher side though and a plate of chicken biriyani, might cost you upwards of Rs 300.
In terms of nature and scenic beauty, there is not much to talk about on this route except for the windmills that we saw on NH48. This wasn’t really a put off for us because we just wanted to reach Belgaum, as quickly as possible. Nature and adventure were saved for later.
Since, we had taken multiple breaks on the way, we reached Belgaum around 7 pm. Belgaum has a few good hotels which you could try, but the one that we had chosen was Native by Chancery. This hotel has clean rooms and good service. It is a good option for those heading to Goa, because it is located on the route to Goa. The complimentary breakfast next morning is nice with an elaborate spread.
Pic: Sunset on the highway
Belgaum to North Goa via Chorla Ghat
All routes to North Goa from Belgaum, take approximately the same time, so you could take any route based on your priority, but we decided to take the Chorla Ghat route.
Distance – 120 kms
Time – 3.5 hours (without breaks)
Route – Belgaum-Jamboti-Kankumbi-Chorla-North Goa (click link for the route map)
Pic: Into the wilderness
The Chorla Ghat is a part of the Western Ghats or the Sahyadri mountain range at an elevation of 800 metres. This is a two-lane forest route and it offers you some spectacular scenic views. The road though, was a bit scratchy at places due to the rains. So, do not make the mistake of over speeding. Be wary of the many blind spots, heavy vehicles and potholes on this route.
However, the adventure more than compensated for the slight discomfort caused. My advice would be to drive at a leisurely pace and soak in all the good energy.
Pic: View of the valley from one of vantage points on this route
There are many vantage points on this route from where you could get some great shots of the valley. Do have a heavy breakfast before taking this route, since there aren’t many restaurants on the way, until you cross the Goa border. We managed to reach our resort, near Baga Beach in North Goa, after a leisurely 4-hour drive, well before lunch time.
Pic: The meandering roads of this route
South Goa – Shivamogga
Distance – 310 kms
Time – 6.5 – 7 hrs (without breaks) depending on what time you start.
The route from South Goa to Shivamogga via NH66 and NH69 (click the link for the route map) is a straight one. But it meanders through beaches, rivers, jungles and passes by one of the most famous waterfalls in the country. What else could you ask for? This drive was undoubtedly one of the highlights of our vacation.
We were put up in Mayfair Hideaway Spa resort in South Goa, which is 10 kms from Cavelossim beach and we left the resort, post breakfast at around 9:30 am. The idea was to get to Shivamogga before sunset.
Pic: On the road leading us out of Goa.
You will exit Goa via Palolem and pass by the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary before you cross over to the Karnataka side and into Karwar Port. In case you are hungry, then a short diversion towards Palolem Beach or into Karwar town would be a good option to take.
Pic: Entrance to the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Goa
For a brief stretch after Karwar, there is deep excavation work happening through the hills to build a six-lane highway, but don’t worry you won’t be hassled much, since the roads are quite wide in this area.
Pic: Boats lined up on the coast at Karwar
Pic: View of the Karwar beach from the Highway
Then, the Ghat section starts and the roads slowly become desolate. As you keep going ahead on this route, the chirping of birds and screeching of the lion-tailed macaque become prominent. The road keeps meandering through multiple hair pin bends. It’s a challenging yet adventurous drive.
This two-lane road is in excellent condition, and the road engineers have put in a lot of thought to eliminate blind spots, primarily by splitting the road at corners into one-way zones at multiple places, thus minimizing the risk of head on collisions. You might be seduced to test your driving skills but try to curb your instincts and stick to the speed limits, prescribed on the sign boards, despite the beautiful tarmac and great sightlines.
Pic: Beautiful tarmac
Pic: The luring roads. Challenging yet adventurous.
This route is not for those who are in a hurry to reach their destination. It is for nature lovers. Whether you like it or not, you will be forced to stop multiple times, during the journey and marvel at the scenery, as well as take photographs.
Pic: A spellbinding view from one of the vantage points.
Around 100 kms before you reach Shivamogga, is the magnificent Jog Falls. One of the highest waterfalls in the country with a drop measured at 829 feet. It has been created by the watercourse of the Sharavati river. A big arch on the right of the highway, welcomes you to the Jog Falls. It’s a very small diversion to the falls and you should take it.
Pic: The Magnificent Jog Falls
Pic: Another view of the Jog Falls
There is ample parking space available here and it is just a 2-minute walk from the parking lot to the spot from where you can clearly see the waterfall. There are several shops at the parking space, from where you can buy refreshments. This diversion won’t cost you more than 30 minutes and its worth your time and effort.
The Ghat section continues after you cross the Jog Falls until you start making the descent to the small town of Sagar, where there are restaurants which are famous for its Veg Thalis, in case you reach this place at lunch time. From here, Shivamogga is around 70 kms and it takes around 1.5 hours to reach your destination.
We reached Shivamogga by 6:30 pm in the evening, just as the sun was setting in the background.
Apart from the above road trips the others we had done were:
- North Goa to South Goa
- Shivamogga – Bengaluru
I will be briefly touching upon these in the subsequent chapters of the Goa Diary.
In Chapter 2 of the Goa Diary – I will be telling you about the places we visited in North and South Goa. So, do look out for that piece. It will be published soon.
Thanks for reading.
Kavita Joshi Krishnan