This road trip features a trip to India’s beautiful western coast to Mulki (Near Mangalore) in the Konkan belt, including a camping and Kayaking trip across the Shambhavi river.
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Of Pinkish Sunsets
When I started the road-trip on a Thursday evening, I was cognisant of the fact that I had a lot of time, before I reported for kayaking on Saturday morning. Some of my friends who were to join me for Kayaking, were starting from Chennai on Friday evening to arrive in time for Saturday morning, while I chose to start on Thursday evening. I planned it roughly, to be able to stop at Hassan by Thursday night.
As I neared the Nelamangala bypass on the Bangalore-Mangalore road, a beautiful sunset greeted me which turned into a pinkish-blue-violet sunset in minutes. I chose to pause and admire the colours of the sunset, and then drive on. I still had 160 kilometres to cover in about 3 hours to stop for the day, as I did not see the point of driving late night. I had also done some research, and learnt that the Hassan-Sakleshpura stretch has heavy mist in the night, and its avoidable to be driving under such conditions in the November winter.
Of Broken Frames
We stopped at Hassan, by turning right into the city, from the bypass, which goes near the railway station. I found a good deal for an AC+TV single room. My son has this habit of stretching and going all over the bed, and it meant I had a lesser area to sleep against the wall, and I ended up cramping my head on my spectacle frame, and as soon as I heard a crack, I knew my trip was in jeopardy. I saw my spectacle frame crack on one side, while the other side was proper. The broken side, still would fit on my face, but if I moved or swerved, it would come off. With a power in excess of -3, I could not drive without the spectacles, so the fact that the frame just still sat on my nose meant, I could drive.
I woke up pretty late at 730 am, and started the car, after cleaning the windshield from last evening’s dew. After an unsuccesful hunt with finding cash in an ATM, we proceeded to hit the highway
For The Love of Pakoda
As we drove about 10 kilometres out of Hassan, I came across a small tea shop by the highway. I just quickly wanted to have tea, but Nandu and my mother saw freshly made Pakodas. They ate a couple of plates, loving the taste of the Pakodas. I had a bite, but wanted to have proper breakfast somewhere in the hills of Sakleshpur.
Sunflower Spotting at Sakleshpur
As we made our way from Hassan to Sakleshpur, we came across some very verdant drone worthy landscapes. Maybe for next time, I thought, and proceeded to drive slowly, as the road was passing through villages and had potholes on the drive. We stopped a kilometre before Ossoor Estates in Sakleshpur to go spot some sunflowers (or so, we thought). Nandu loved the garden, and wanted to linger there a little longer, so I thought I would also wait for him to run around. I mentally made a note to self to stop at a shop to buy the following things
a) Quick Fix adhesive for my spectacle frame
b) Spike buster for my multiple devices to charge (Since I forgot mine back at home, due to charging till the last minute)
c) ATM for cash withdrawal, as PayTM/Cards and Google Pay doesnt work mostly on road trips into semi-rural landscapes. Cash is still king!
Perfect Scenic Road Trip In The Wrong Direction
Post Sakleshpur, there was a police manned outpost, and I saw a road laying lorry, so I assumed that road was not active, and thats why it was guarded. I was wrong, and I realised after I went 20 kilometres in the wrong direction. It’s easy to make this mistake, and I show it here so that you dont make this mistake. I went off on the Kyanahalli road, admiring the myriad homestays, the little plateus and fields side by side, and when the lady voice in Google Maps was revolting too much, I realised I had missed a turn somewhere, after an energetic breakfast by the hillside of Surabhi NX.
The route marked in Blue is the right road, and I ended up on the other road. I brushed off the 2 hour detour, as research for a future trip sheepishly.
Ambling till Yermal Bada
After Sakleshpur, I had multiple stops to purchase the 2-3 items, I had on my list. Nandu too started feeling unwell due to the Ghat section, so I pulled over and stopped over at Gundya. The road trip went really slow, and I reached Mulki at 3:30 pm, and wanted to take up a hotel, close to the camp. The easiest place to find one was at Kalyani International, which is in a crowded and cramped street, but due to some marriage happening in Mulki that weekend, all of the hotels were booked (sans Swagat hotel, which had no hot water, TV and no lift).
After I found out that I had no hotels to check-in to, I drove further past the Udupi road toll at Hejamady, and relied on Google Maps to check if there was any beach resort, and it pointed me to a small resort at the beach facing road at Yermal Bada Village.
At INR 2500 a night, a beach facing hotel with big rooms, TV, comfortable beds and Air Con, I thought it was a steal. I wanted a room with TV, to catch the Women’s T20 World Cup that was starting in West Indies. The hotel had ample space within the resort for Nandu to take out his skateboard and play with it.
I had not managed to find a ATM, so had to figure out a way to pay the hotel manager the money for the stay, and he asked me to try Google Pay, since he did not have a card swiping machine, nor PayTM. I was surpised that an old school resort like this knew about Google Pay, and I went on to add the hotel on IMPS through Google Pay and with the little internet that was available on my phone, I managed to pay the money (Jio worked better at this spot than Airtel 4G)
With that out of the way, we freshened up, and hit the beach till the evening chill forced us out of the sea and it was time for an early dinner, after a long road trip. I must also admit, that I was quaking with fear on how tired Kayaking would be for me, as I have heard its really meant for fitter bodies.
Read more in Part 2 and Part 3 of this series!