Sumi and I drove from Hyderabad to Colva in Goa to celebrate Christmas. After Christmas we drove via Coorg and Bangalore to Pondicherry and then back to Hyderabad.
This is a Photo diary of our trip concentrating on the major portion from Goa on the West Coast, across the Indian Peninsular to Pondicherry on the East coast.
The drive to Goa from Hyderabad is quite long and ends with the curvy Western Ghat roads, so we decided to make a night halt at Belgaum. Stayed at the Marriot just outside the city. This was a great choice as the hotel was really comfortable and provided a good night’s rest. Their buffet breakfast was excellent and fueled us up for the day ahead.
We left after a leisurely breakfast. The drive from Belgaum to Colva took about four hours and we reached well in time for lunch.
We had booked an apartment near Colva beach through Airbnb. This was just two minutes drive from the Colva beach which was really convenient.
We left Colva at about 10 in the morning and planned to stop at Udupi in Karnataka for the night. This is a seven hour drive for the 293km. The roads were two lanes for most of the trip. Expansion work to make it four lanes was in progress and this caused delays due to diversions. However, it is a really picturesque drive through the western Ghats, forests and along the west coast.
We stopped briefly at Karwar just after the Goa border to see the beach. Quite a nice stretch of sand with lots of covered seating. Unfortunately, not very clean. There is also a Naval base there.
The next stop was Malpe beach just outside Udupi. This beach was narrower than the beaches of South Goa with many rocky outcrops.
We then drove into Udupi, to our hotel – Treebo Vijaya Grand. Chose this for its proximity to the main Krishna temple which Sumi wanted to visit.
After checking in we walked down to the temple – a 10 minute walk. The temple complex itself was traffic free, which was a blessing. We had a nice walk round the temple. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed inside.
Left Udupi after breakfast for the drive to Madikeri in Coorg. (We decided to go via Madikeri rather than directly to Bangalore). The drive is about 190km and takes just over 5 hours. The road up to Mangalore is a four laned highway. After that it becomes a two laned road which was mostly fine with a few potholed patches.
The drive is nice and scenic as you approach Madikeri, with Rubber plantations on either side. These eventually give way to pepper and coffee plantations.
We reached Madikeri at around 3pm and went to our Airbnb which was situated near the town center. It was a lovely house owned by Pavita and Subbaiah.
After setting in we took a walk to town, checking out the shopping possibilities! On the way back we had an early dinner at Tiger Tiger, a family owned eatery which serves authentic Coorgi cuisine.
After a good nights rest, we decided to explore Madikeri town.
First walked to Raja’s Seat where The King used to sit and watch the Sunset. You get good views of the valley from the ‘seat’.
We then walked down to the Madikeri Fort also called Mercury Fort. This fort has a long history, was built using mostly mud, by Muddu Raja in the second half of the 17thcentury. This fort was eventually taken over by Tippu Sultan and rebuilt in Granite. It presently houses a number of government offices. There is also a small museum which has some interesting artifacts.
We then walked to the town center and ended up buying coffee and other local products at a recommended shop called Ainmane Café. The owner gave us a lot of insights into varieties of Coffee. Most interesting was Luwak Coffee made from Coffee beans which have been partially digested and defecated by the Asian Civet. This is the most expensive coffee bean!
We decided to visit the Tibetan Namdroling Monastery Golden Temple, about 55 minutes from Madikeri. This temple has three big Gold coated statues of Buddha. It is a few kilometers off the highway leading to Bangalore. The monastery is quite impressive and I’ll let you see for yourself from the photos.
After the monastery visit we went to a Tibetan restaurant called Potala, which was highly recommended, about 4 km from the monastery. You get good Momo’s, Thupka and other Tibetan specialities. Food was very good, but be prepared to wait a long time to be served as it is a family run diner with minimum staff!
After an excellent, but greatly delayed lunch, we drove back to Madikeri.
Started our day driving to see Abbey Falls, which was a 20 minute drive from Madikeri. Being off season, with no recent rains, the falls had little water. However, it is worth a visit.
We then decided to drive to TelaCauvery – the source of the Cauvery river. Nice drive through coffee estates. Road was OK, bad in patches. Took a little over an hour from Madikeri. There is a temple at the peak where the spring water is collected in a pond from where it flows out as the Cauvery river. Eight kilometers down the road you can see and take a dip in the actual river.
Having seen this also by 2.30 pm, we decided to drive to the Nalknad Palace. Some patches of the road were quite bad, and the drive took 1 hour and 20 minutes. This is actually a palace where the Raja used to hide. Palace was quite nice, small with old paintings on the walls and ceilings. Let the photos speak!
After that visit we drove back to Madikeri – which took just over an hour, getting there in time for tea.
Today was all driving to Bangalore (Bengaluru). Reasonably good roads, which improved as we neared Bangalore, so did the traffic! The drive of 250 km took just over 6 hours.
Having spent two nights relaxing in Bangalore, we decided to drive to Pondicherry (Pudducherry) via Salem. The highway to Salem is excellent with 4 to 6 lanes all the way. This is quite a scenic drive through the Thoppur Forests, where dacoits used to roam in earlier years. This distance of 200 km takes about four hours.
There are a number of hotels in Salem if you wish to spend the night. We stayed at the Grand Estancia as I got a last minute deal. The Hotel is good, large clean and well-equipped rooms.
From Salem you have the option of visiting Yercaud, a small hill station 32 km away – about one hour drive. Good for a night halt. There are a number of hotels and resorts to choose from, as it is advisable to spend the night if you go up.
Drove to Pondi via a combination of State Highways, reaching late afternoon. Reasonably good roads all the way, getting narrower as we approached Pondi. The drive takes just over four hours for the 220 km. there are three options for driving to Pondi, via Cuddalore or Villupuram or Tindivanam (246 km).
There are lots of places to stay at Pondi, from old French villas to modern hotels.
Pondi is a great town with a good Promenade which we love. Lots of eateries and quaint streets to walk through in White Town.
After a break of two weeks in Pondi, we drove back to Hyderabad via Chennai. This was quite a long drive and took nearly 15 hours for the 820 km. luckily roads are very good for most of the way, except for about 200 km between Ongole and Nalgonda. I had planned to halt midway for the night, but the lure of getting home got the better of me.