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A Travel Blog from India: February 2013

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Exciting Road Trips from Bangalore 6 - Exploring Uttara Kannada

This is a comfortable road trip from Bangalore. Being road-trippers, we love the freedom road trips provide to stop, look and explore.

We will be sharing details about 6 lovely road trips from Bangalore in this blog exploring heritage, western ghats, wild life, beaches etc....... These drives, cover not more than 300 KMs in a day. The plan is to cover for a week extendable for another two days. 

This is the sixth in the series.

This time it is a drive to explore the uncharted areas of fabulous Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka in South India.

Read on.......

This is an another gem of a road trip. 

A combination of forest, waterfalls and beaches. It is still unexplored. A great drive through western ghats with some awesome views of the mountains and valleys. An opportunity to taste the cuisine of Konkan both vegetarian and Non Vegetarian.......especially the sea food. Let us hop on and see what is in store for us as we drive in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka

Here is the circuit :-

Bangalore - Chitradurga - Dandeli - Karwar - Sirsi - Yellapur - Bangalore

Day 1 - Friday - Bangalore - Chitradurga
Distance - 210 KMs 
Road condition - Excellent

This is for those who don't want to drive all the way to Dandeli on day 1. This will also give an opportunity to see the amazing fort of Chitradurga early in the morning the next day. 

Leave after office and reach Chitradurga for Dinner.

Day 2 -Saturday - Chitradurga to Dandeli via Hubli, Dharwad and Haliyal 
Distance - 290 KMs
Road condition - Excellent till Dharwad. After that rough patch for 50 KMs. No cause to worry.

Get up early and visit the beautiful fort of Chitradurga. Early morning is the best time climb the fort when sun is still mild.

Fort @ Chitradurga
After visiting the fort, have a good breakfast of Butter Masala Dose in Mahalaxmi Bhavan which is close to the entrance of the fort.

Depart for Dandeli.

Take a nice walk along the river in the evening.
...........and quiet flows the Kali
Day 3 - Sunday - Explore Dandeli
Distance - 70 KMs
Road Conditions - Road condition is generally good. It is always better to ask the locals when you travel on interior roads depending upon season

Get up early to the bird calls. You may be lucky to hear the strange call of Hornbill. Freshen up and be ready for a safari in Dandeli forests on the banks of River Kali. You will have an opportunity to see wild animals like Indian Guar, elephants and if you are lucky the cats - Leopard and Tiger. Most importantly, this is a birders paradise. Make sure you enjoy birding. 

Rich canopy of trees in Dandeli forest
Hornbill - Pride of Dandeli

After breakfast you have an option to go for a rafting on Kali river or to take out your car - with packed lunch - to see lime stone caves at Kavala, Syntheri rocks, Kali valley view from Sykes point, Ulavi Shiva Temple visit Shiroli peak for a lovely sun set.
Sykes Point
Syntheri Rocks

Day 4 - Monday - Dandeli - Karwar
Distance - 110 KMs
Road condition - Good. Curvy road.

After Breakfast, drive through the Kali river valley of Western ghats. Enjoy beautiful vistas and on the way stop over at Sykes point and Anshi water falls. You can visit Kadra reservoir as well.

Kali river valley 
Backwaters of Kadra dam
Anshi water Falls
Reach Karwar for lunch.

After lunch and rest enjoy the beach, witness glorious sunset in the evening.

Day 5 - Tuesday - Explore Karwar
Distance - 30 KMs
Road condition - Excellent

Get up early in the morning and drive to Kali bridge for a lovely sunrise. If you are staying In Devbagh then you can watch the sunrise from the beach itself.

After breakfast, go for boating on the backwaters of Kali river.

Visit the War ship museum on Karwar beach. This is a fascinating place which gives you a glimpse how tough the life in Navy is. Kids will love it too.

Just do nothing and freak out on the gorgeous beach through the day and watch glorious sunset over Arabian Sea.

Sunrise over Kali bridge
Devbagh beach
Houseboats on Kali estuary
Warship Museum on Karwar beach
Lovely sunset in Karwar as seen from Devbagh
Day 6 - Wednesday - Karwar - Sirsi via Gokarna and Kumta
Distance - 145 KMs
Road Condition - Excellent till Kumta. Good and Curvy road after Kumta.

After early breakfast, drive to Gokarna. Visit the temple and OM beach. Drive down to Sirsi for lunch.
Lunch and rest done, drive down to fascinating sight of Sahasra Linga on Shalmala river.  Visit the famous Marikamba temple in town in the evening. 
OM Beach - Gokarna
Marikamba, goddess of Sirsi
Day 7 - Thursday - Explore Sirsi
Distance - 60 KMs
Road condition - Generally good. Check with locals based on season.

After early breakfast head to Yana. Visit Benne Hole and Unchalli falls and return to Sirsi for late lunch. After lunch and rest, head to Banavsi to visit ancient Madhukeshwara temple built by the earliest dynasties to rule Karnataka, Kadambas.

Rock formations @ Yana
Unchalli falls
Madhukeshwara temple @ Banavasi
Day 8 - Friday - Sirsi - Yellapur
Distance - 55 KMs
Road condition - Good

After breakfast leave for Yellapur. Reach Yellapur for lunch. After lunch and rest, go for boating in the river and visit calm and serene Kavadikere lake
Kavadikere Lake
Day 9 - Saturday - Explore Yellapur 
Distance - 50 KMs
Road condition - Generally good. Please check with local for latest update based on season.

Go for a jungle safari or birding tour before breakfast. Come back, have breakfast and then proceed to Sathodi falls. On the way visit Idagunji temple. Return for lunch.

Post lunch and rest, drive to Magod falls and then to Jenkallu gudda sunset point.

Sunset @ Jenkal
Magod falls
Return to hotel for night stay.

Day 10 - Sunday - Yellapur - Bangalore via Hubli and Chitradurga

Distance - 480 KMs
Road Condition - Excellent

Depart Yellapur after breakfast. 
Arrive in Bangalore late in the afternoon. 

Recommended Stay Options

Chitradurga - Naveen Residency or Aishwarya International.


Old Magazine House by Jungle Lodges and resorts has old world charm of satying in a forest lodge. Excellent naturalists. Food will be good - like all JLL resorts - but not great.

Bison River Resort - Located next to river. Spacious rooms and well run. Good staff. Very good food. 

Hornbill River Resort - Another good option. Spacious and well managed rooms. Good staff. Very good food.

Karwar - The best place to stay in Karwar is Devbagh Beach resort by Jungle Lodges. Look at the same link given for Old Magazine house above Outstanding. If you don't get place here, look out for others like Great Outdoors resortEstuary View Resort

Sirsi - Hotel Madhuvana is the best bet if you want to stay in city. We would advise you to stay in a nice home stay to enjoy the homely food and ambience. These are some good home stays to stay like  Bakula HomestayAreca Valley stayBidara  Homestay or Ajjimane where you can experience the life style of Malnad. You can also try out rural tourism options in Banavasi. Take a look at this link here 

Yellapur Banana County Resort is the best bet. Atithi is another home stay you can look at.

Travel Tips

a) The best season to explore Uttara Kannada is immediately after monsoons when it is green everywhere and water falls are a glorious sight. Except for monsoons - unless you love rains which has its own charm but be prepared for road blocks - any other time is good to explore Uttara Kannada. 

b) This is an easy road trip. The road conditions are generally good except for some interior roads. Drive safely, especially in the hills. The hill roads are curvy.

c) While driving in Uttara Kannada, don't be in a hurry. Stop and enjoy the roadside vignettes. The scenery is fabulous.

d) Carry binoculars and a good camera. 

e) Make sure you obey all safety rules while going for river rafting in Kali. Don't be adventurous in unknown waters.

f) Be prepared to walk. Carry a good trekking shoe with deep groves  This is needed when you trek to Yana and some of the water falls as the ground may be uneven and slippery.

g) Karwar and surroundings are beautiful. Make sure you take a boat ride on Kali river estuary. It is an enjoyable experience.

h) Savour the local food. Konkani food is delicious. 

i) Make sure your vehicle in in good condition and you carry maps and other required items for road trip. Here is a good link which tells you what to carry on a road trip.

j) While visiting Gokarna temple, make sure you don't fall into the trap of local priests who will offer packages. Gokarna itself need a full day to explore. If you want to do that you can extend  the trip by another day.

Hope you liked this post? Please share it with your friends if you find it will help them. If you need any help in planning a trip to Uttara Kannada, you are welcome to write @ poorna62@gmail.com


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Food Safari - In search of Tirunelveli Halwa

Like "Mysore Pak", "Dharwad Peda", "Belgaum Kunda" and "Pathankot Pallang Thod" another sweet which is popular and known by its town's name is "Tirunelveli Halwa". (Halwa is a very popular Indian dessert)

For anyone with sweet tooth, this is a must have. 

Olympia goes in search of authentic Iruttukadai Halwa in Tirunelveli town. Does she get what she want? Here is a fascinating story on the Halwa in the Sunday Magazine of "The Hindu".

The rush in front of Iruttukadai - The famous Halwa shop in Tirunelveli
Halwa under preparation
We picked up some packets of Halwa when we went to Kanyakumari in October last year. Next time when you go to Kanyakumari, don't forget to stop over to pick up some Halwa from Tirunelveli!!


Friday, 22 February 2013

Skywatch Friday - Sun rise over Ganges, Benaras

When you visit Benaras or Varanasi in India, don't miss the sunrise cruise over Ganges river. It is spiritually uplifting and beautiful.  

We were there in 2011 during our long road trip from Bangalore. This shot was taken when the sun was coming up reluctantly over the horizon as we set sail. It was a wonderful experience.


Thursday, 21 February 2013

Cherrapunji - Where wet is beautiful!

Who has not heard of this place? We all have learnt it by heart when our teachers asked us to repeat the answer to the question

"Which place gets most rainfall in the country?"


Of course that title is now taken away by neighbouring village Mawsynram. But Cherrapunji is a cute little place. Charming in every way.

My first glimpse of Cherra was way back in eighties when i was posted in Shillong for few days. It was a sleepy little village with one road in the middle. The Church was the only big building surrounded by small houses with low compound walls. The circular road in the village and the greenery around made the place resemble villages in English country side.

After i left army, we went again in 2009 as part of our North East India tour. It is a short and scenic drive from Shillong when the road wind up and you stop at Cherra. These are flat rolling hills. They look like a large foot ball ground on which you can play a game. They are not tall like Himalayas or Western ghats. This is the reason why Shillong and surrounding hills was called by British as "Scotland of the east".

Cherra, as i said is still a laid back, small village. The people of Khasi hills are very amiable and laid back. They are also happy bunch. You can see that as soon as you reach any village. The best time to visit Cherra is early in the morning when the day trippers from Shillong don't invade the tranquility of this place. 

The first thing you see on the way to Cherra is the Ramakrishna Ashram built in 1931. A small ashram, it has a nice meditation hall with shrines of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Mata Sharada Devi and Swami Vivekananda. Driving along, you will reach the view point from where you can look at the beautiful Cherra valley with myriad water falls dropping down from the flat hills. Noh Khlikai is the most prominent one but don't miss out to enjoy the myriad water falls falling on either side of Noh Kalikai. These waterfalls are at their glorious best when it rains.

Which is the best season to visit Cherra? Obviously it is immediately after rains. But anytime of the year is good too. Cherra is also at its best when it rains. Go there if you want to experience rains.   We have done this in Malnad region - western ghats - in South India and i am sure experiencing rain in Cherra should be wonderful. The best time to visit should be in late August or September when rains subside, everything is green and water falls are lovely. 

Apart from waterfalls you can also visit British built Presbyterian church, the longest cave formations in the country at Mawsmai, Thangkharang park.............and many more.

Bikers would love this place. It is a pity that most people come here for a day trip from Shillong to complete a tick in their box of "Also visited " list.  Cherra deserves at least three - four days to explore. Do mountain biking, go for treks, check out Anglican cemetery, visit a Khasi home or just do nothing and enjoy the rural atmosphere of the place.

Here are some pictures of the place.

Ramakrishna Ashram

Noh-Sngithiang Falls
British built houses......notice the chimney

The Presbyterian church. Built in 19th century by British
The theology college 
Anglican cemetery

Valley view from the road to Cherrapunji resort
Living root bridge - A natural wonder 
Noh-Kalikai Waterfalls
Travel Tips

Getting there

By Air - Guwahati is the nearest Airport which has connection to all cities in India.

By Train - Guwahati is the nearest Railway station which is connected to all the cities in the country.

By Road - Shillong is connected to Guwahati by a good road. The road journey through Khasi hills takes three hours. Buses depart regularly from Guwahati to Shillong. It is recommended to hire a cab locally at Shillong which help explore all the places. Cherrapunji is 55 KMs from Shillong. 

Stay Options

The best stay option in Cherrapunji is Cherrapunji Holiday resort. 

We would recommend this as it will help you explore the region. The drive from Cherrapunjee to this resort is one of most picturesque you can come across. Run by amiable Ryan, this a simple home stay with excellent food and clean rooms. Ryan is an expert in the region and is credited with exploring and documenting amazing "Living root bridge".

Other Information

a) If you are planning to travel during monsoon, be prepared to get wet. Carry umbrella and rain gear.

b) Binocular is a must. It helps you get a better view of the surrounding hills as well for bird watching.

c) Don't be in a hurry. Be a Khasi in Khasi hills!! Explore Cherra leisurely.

d) If you are staying in Cherrapunjee Holiday resort, explore the village nearby. Don't miss out the trek to "Living root Bridge". Ryan will also help you in arranging for walks to nearby places if you are keen to explore.

e) If you are a road tripper like us, drive on the road towards Bangladesh for some awesome views.

f) Try local cuisine - mostly Non Veg - and locally brewed Rice Beer

g) If you love trekking, there are some nice trails apart from trek to "Living Root Bridge".

h) If you love outdoors, then try out "River canyoning"

Useful Links

An excellent site on Meghalaya - Meghalaya Tourism - Official Site

If you need help in planning a trip to Cherrapunjee and Shillong, you are welcome to write @ poorna62@gmail.com. Happy to help.


Friday, 15 February 2013

Skywatch Friday - Sunrise over Gangolli river near Udupi

Early morning drive on the roads in Coastal Karnataka in South India is a pleasant experience. The road is excellent. There is a chill in the air. The greenery, the rivers and their estuaries, the sea all add to the beauty of the drive.

We were driving in Coastal Karnataka last week and happened to see the beautiful sunrise over Gangolli river on our way to Udupi from Kundapur.

The sun was coming up reluctantly.

The still waters of the river was perfect foreground for the reflecting the crimson ball in the sky.

We stopped for a minute on the bridge and clicked this picture.

If you need more details on traveling in coastal Karnataka, please take a look at the following posts

Karavali Vistas Part 1

Karavali Vistas Part II

Driving Holidays from Bangalore - Karavali and Koffee combo


India Travel Stories from others - Kushi beach in "The Hindu"

Soma Basu of "The Hindu" newspaper leaves foot prints on Kushi Beach near Rameshwaram and come back with a sack of sea shells.......

Read her story here.

A Quiet Escape

For more on Kushi beach, please take a look at this post on this blog

Kushi Beach


Thursday, 14 February 2013

Kadamane Estate Revisited

A year back we visited Kadamane estate, a beautiful plantation stay in Sakleshpur. You can read all about it here 

The main bungalow was under renovation and we stayed in the new cottage which was built in the estate. Last week on our way to Mangalore, we stopped over at Kadamane. The bungalow is now  renovated and looks every inch a "British Bungalow" of yesteryears. Long corridors, foyers, ante room with a fire place, bar, the billiard room and beautiful lawn makes this a lovely place. 

Sinnadorai Bungalow in Kadamane estate must rank amongst the largest estate bungalows. The newly renovated bungalow has six spacious rooms with fire place. 

Go there to experience a typical plantation holiday. 

Here are some pictures.

Main foyer of the bungalow
The right wing of the bungalow
Long corridors.......

The Ante room 
Lovely corners to sit and sip tea

Elegant and spacious rooms 
Dining hall
Dore Honda - Pristine pond where picnic lunches can be enjoyed

The water fall to which one can trek from the estate