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Old 29th October 2011, 00:38   #1
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Default Seedha, ondhe roadu! - Road Trip to North West Karnataka

My id should tell you my name, the car, and the model I own. I was recently admitted to team-bhp (yippee!) and have been meaning to write ever since. The biggest procrastinator I am, it has taken me nearly 3 months after my vacation to pen this down! And, this is my first post in this forum.

Now, on to the report...

It had been many months since I ventured out on a driving vacation. With a sedate car (check my name and you'll know!), driving is not as fun as I'd like it to be. And unlike Bangalore, Hyderabad is relatively far away from nice driving holiday vacations that you can visit over a weekend. But then, there is always this hidden gene that pushes me to venture out. I cave in when a hindu festival (vinayaka chathurthi) and a muslim festival (ramzan) came together to give me a 5-day long weekend! With a wife, a 1.5 year old kid, half-a-dozen red bulls, and a few pain killers, I set out on my journey to conquer the north west of Karnataka. Let me say this up front: It was a mind blowing experience! Read on to find out more.

On a fine Wednesday morning 5:45am, the Honda came to life only to stop at a hotel in Hubli at 5:40pm! This is the route we took.

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The road from Hyderabad to Gooty (pronounced guthi as in guthi vankaya, a world-famous Andhra specialty brinjal dish) is, as many would agree, absolutely stunning! Sparse traffic, beautifully paved roads, nice scenery, all add-up.

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In fact, it is made even more pleasing due to the connectivity to this road from the Hyderabad outer ring road (this is, at the moment, Hyderabad's own Autobahn!). We gobbled up this stretch of 300 odd kilometres by around 9:30 in the morning.

The baby woke up for food and we pulled off a few kilometres on the road to Guntakal (pronounced, Gunthakalu). This is where the road stretch becomes less desirable. You will know that you've reached Guntakal when you see this giant Hanuman statue.

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As soon as you cross the border into Karnataka though, the road condition gets appreciably better and brilliant beyond Bellary but only until Hospet.

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We stopped at Hospet for a quick lunch at Hotel Malligi - at INR 50, the lunch was nothing great to write home about but our perceptions about this hotel was about to change a few days later!

Due to construction activity near the tungabadhra dam, first 30 kilometres of the road from Hospet to Hubli is not good and full of trucks. After you endure this, you're greeted with nice asphalt all the way up to Hubli. Sunflower farms on either side of the road, crisscrossing rivers make the drive very pleasant! We stopped enroute many times to click photos.
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We reached the hotel at Hubli (Hotel Hans) at around 5 in the evening! I was tired, pale, and exhausted even though the ride was enjoyable. We spent the rest of the day watching Udaya Movies!

--Day 2--
We didn't plan our trip well and that was the biggest fun factor. I was to go to Dandeli forest because I heard good things about the place. The hotel receptionist recommended against it saying that the forest will most likely be closed due to rains. He suggested that we go to Magod falls instead. Other option was to go to the world-famous Jog falls but that was about 180 kilometres away and would be another long and tiresome drive. So, we decided to listen to the receptionist and decided to go to the Magod falls. Man, was he right!

It was the drive of my life. Incredibly good roads. Every driver worth his salt in India should experience the drive here. We were driving through the ghats but it didn't feel like one! See for yourself. I just took a brief respite from enjoying the 80kmph twisties for a brief moment to capture these pictures. A mild drizzle added to the bliss!

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And Magod falls? Stunning! Blink your eyes and you'll miss the exit to Magod falls (which is about 60kms from Hubli city center). The road gets progressively narrow. And, as it was a peak rainy season, there was a lot of fog as well.

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After visiting Magod falls, we could've returned home. I thought, what the hell… let's go to Gokarna! The road threw even more twisties and some inclines as we climbed up the ghats until we hit the National highway connecting Goa to Mangalore. We took a left turn. The highway, again, was splendid. As we approached Gokarna, I became a little tired. It was close to 3. That's when something dawned on me. We were climbing down from the ghats into the beach. Suddenly, there were water bodies everywhere. Most importantly, the seemed to be well above and we were down. With an ability to swim continuously only for 40 seconds without drowning, I started feeling very queasy! I pressed on without showing it out. The long commute also had taken its toll.

But, it was well worth it! It's a quaint little town with 4 beach stretches. Om beach (because it looks like Om) is the most famous one and we had little time only to cover this. Remember, we had to get back to the hotel before it would turn dark. If you go, plan on spending some time here. The village is small and you can cover all the beaches by walking through small picturesque hillocks!

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On the way back, we stopped by at a Kamat restaurant, a couple of kilometres ahead of the intersection (where we turned left). We hurried back to the hotel only to discover that we really could not hurry back! I started pouring. I thought it was fun. But, the roads turned dark rapidly! Now, I was in the ghats, on a national highway, no street lamps whatsoever, in a dark raining night. Thankfully, the rains subsided. But, then came down the fog. And heavy rains! Visibility came down to about 5 feet in front of me, with the dipper! Ours was the only vehicle on the road for many miles. To add to this, we spotted a woman in a hazy yellow/white dress who would just stand on the road not bothered about the heavy rain as if waiting for someone. It was eerie, man! Just don't attempt this.

We did reach the hotel safely. I was silently cursing myself for attempting something very stupid and putting the wife and a little girl at risk. But, thanked my car profusely for not breaking down anywhere!

--Day 3--
Again, we didn't have a plan! So, we checked out of the hotel (oh, btw, I must tell you that the buffet breakfast spread at Hotel Hans was decent to very good! Try their tomato chutney if you happen to go. Awesome!) and headed to Badami. I had heard about Vatapi (Badami in olden days!) in my history text books and recently in a Tamil classical novel. We called up KSRTC and booked a room in their facility (Mayura Chalukya). The drive was very good again! In general, I was really surprised with the quality of the roads (non GQ) in Karnataka. We reached the place after a couple of hours' scenic drive. There were some stretches where it would appear that you're going inside a village. But, don't bother. You'll eventually find Badami.

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No matter how good the roads are, we Indians always find a way into clumsy situations, like this! 1 truck + 5 tractors: all damaged!
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The hotel was a big disappointment. Well, not entirely. When we saw it from outside, it looked great! Like a resort.
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But, when we got inside, we were given this room!
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A classic case of demand vs supply. This was the cheapest AC accommodation we could find. There was another 2-star hotel (but locals think it's a 5-star one) that charges close to 4000 bucks a day. We wished we spent the extra and stayed there.

We visited the Badami caves (cum fort) and a temple. There was not much else to do there. Strange as it may sound, they wouldn't allow me carry a tripod inside! To take it, you have to get written permission from Hubli from some KSRTC officer and carry it with you! Crazy stuff!

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It was a fairly disappointing day. We just wished the night would pass.

--Day 4--
Early next day, we checked out and drove off to Hospet. Just a few kilometres before Hospet was the tungabadhra dam. We stopped their to check it out. It was a good hike. Nice and windy! We grabbed a nice light lunch. Nothing like an idli when you're hungy.
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The tungabadhra reservoir committee members must have been a creative bunch. Or, they must have had an English professor for a chief. We found 'advices' like these littered every few yards.
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Then, we drove back to Hotel Malligi. We had called them up earlier in the day to book a room. When we went there, things were ready and we were checked in. What a pleasant surprise the hotel was! The rooms were very good and nicely appointed. They gave us a complimentary breakfast coupon for the next day and told us that the breakfast will be open from 6am. Perfect!
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We leisurely drove our way to Hampi (a few kilometres from Hospet). Mistake, big mistake! We just had a couple of hours in the evening to see all of Hampi, an entire kingdom in ruins. There was a piece of history every few yards. I just could not get enough of it. We had to leave as it was getting dark. I'd advise anyone going here to hire a bicycle and roam around the town for 2 days discovering everything about the great Vijayanagara empire. You can get a map from the Hotel reception.

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--Day 5--
After a great upma and filter coffee for the owner, the Honda City started its journey on its way back to Hyderabad. It was a long boring drive until Gooty. After which, we just flew our way into Hyderabad! The drive back was lifeless until we saw this car hurtling down at 100kmph.
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No dearth for lunatics in the great motherland!

And then, it was welcome home on the super ORR!
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PS:
Okay, I didn't tell you why this post is titled 'Seedha, ondhe roadu'! That's the response you usually get when you ask a by-stander to go to any place in Karnataka! It just means, "keep going straight"! Well, not quiet, but usually if you keep going straight you'll go to your intended destination no matter what it is!

My next report: From the autobahns, in a Mercedes!
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Old 29th October 2011, 11:53   #2
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Default Re: Seedha, ondhe roadu! - Road Trip to North West Karnataka

Shiva, enjoyed reading your travelogue and seeing the pictures of my native land. Hampi is one place I would like to visit. When would that happen is a question.

I'm an avid driver and on long distances drive about a 1000 kms a day. Have never resorted to Red-bull or any other energy drinks least of all any painkillers.

A line in your travelogue caught my eye. Why the painkillers?

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With a wife, a 1.5 year old kid, half-a-dozen red bulls, and a few pain killers,
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Old 29th October 2011, 12:43   #3
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Default Re: Seedha, ondhe roadu! - Road Trip to North West Karnataka

Whenever I start early in the morning, I always carry red-bull or similar drink. The caffeine keeps me alert. One important thing to remember though is to drink plenty of water when you take anything that has caffeine.

As for pain-killers, it's a precautionary measure. At times, I get low back stiffness if I'm driving for a long time or if I'm in a long haul flight. Thankfully, I didn't have to use them although I got severe fatigue in my right leg due to continued driving (and my car being a CVT).
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Old 29th October 2011, 13:23   #4
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Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
Shiva, enjoyed reading your travelogue and seeing the pictures of my native land. Hampi is one place I would like to visit. When would that happen is a question.
Hampi is a great place! This is probably the best time to visit Hampi as the climate will be mild.

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Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
I'm an avid driver and on long distances drive about a 1000 kms a day. Have never resorted to Red-bull or any other energy drinks least of all any painkillers.

A line in your travelogue caught my eye. Why the painkillers?
I always carry red-bull or similar drinks when I go on long-drives. The caffeine in it helps me stay alert. One thing to remember though is that one should drink plenty of water when taking caffeine as they have a diuretic effect.

Painkillers are a precautionary measure. I tend to get low back stiffness when I go on long drives or long-haul flights. Thankfully, I didn't have to use them although I got a bad case of right-leg fatigue due to pressing on the gas pedal.
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Old 29th October 2011, 13:55   #5
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Default Re: Seedha, ondhe roadu! - Road Trip to North West Karnataka

The first post and what a way to start mate...
Some very juicy photos from the dry Bellary area.
Though it was slow from your side it is worth every bit of it.


Will be eagerly waiting for your next report.
You have set yourself a high standard. You may procrastinate, but make sure you meet this standard
Autobahns are more "seedha onde roadu" kind of roads.

I agree with you that malligi is one of the best hotels in that area.

And now for the common stupid question..Kitna deti hai?
Given the good roads you have driven, What is the FE you got out of the city?
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Old 29th October 2011, 15:11   #6
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Originally Posted by hemanth.anand View Post
The first post and what a way to start mate...
Some very juicy photos from the dry Bellary area.
Though it was slow from your side it is worth every bit of it.


Will be eagerly waiting for your next report.
You have set yourself a high standard. You may procrastinate, but make sure you meet this standard
Autobahns are more "seedha onde roadu" kind of roads.

I agree with you that malligi is one of the best hotels in that area.

And now for the common stupid question..Kitna deti hai?
Given the good roads you have driven, What is the FE you got out of the city?
Thanks for your compliments!

True. Hospet is a small clumsy town with narrow roads. This hotel was a pleasantly refreshing amidst the chaos. I must mention that I spotted quite a few good hotels (at least from the outside) in this little town.

Oh, my Honda is a CVT and it turned in somewhere betwen 14-16kmpl.
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Old 3rd November 2011, 14:47   #7
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Share a lot of feelings with @ShivaCity2K6. As a Hyderabadi , originally from Mlor and having spent 3 years in Mumbai , I miss those quick weekend getaways.Not many good choices.
The ORR is indeed a runway where , for however brief a time, you can almost imagine your car is an aircraft just about to take off. You want to keep it at that point for as long as you can. Alas , a wise man coming in the wrong direction ,will show you the futility of dreaming & will bring you back to earth.

Unplanned trips , 1.5 year old child , low back and right foot pains , cant swim ! a kindred soul. It could be me !

Have many more pleasant drives
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Old 3rd November 2011, 15:33   #8
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Default Re: Seedha, ondhe roadu! - Road Trip to North West Karnataka

@Shivacity, nicely written travelogue, and some nice pics there. The one of the up-turned truck is -well, different ! But it did show how well the tractors are tied down to the truck.

I think you should write more - so drive more !
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Old 3rd November 2011, 21:53   #9
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Boy oh Boy! What a TL. Very well narrated with some nice pics to boot. Great job mate! You are off to a wonderful start with your first TL. Cant wait for your next report now
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Old 4th November 2011, 04:30   #10
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Originally Posted by ShivaCity2K6 View Post
We visited the Badami caves (cum fort) and a temple. There was not much else to do there. Strange as it may sound, they wouldn't allow me carry a tripod inside! To take it, you have to get written permission from Hubli from some KSRTC officer and carry it with you! Crazy stuff!
Nice TL Shiva, some more pics of Badami would be a treat

Yes in most of the historical places in KA, they don't allow tripods inside. I had faced the same trouble in Somnathpur 3years ago. Not sure if there is any sensible reasoning behind this though
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Old 4th November 2011, 10:54   #11
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Default Re: Seedha, ondhe roadu! - Road Trip to North West Karnataka

Shiva , wonderful travelogue to start with.
It amazes me how I have never thought of going to that side of Karnataka from hyderabad.
I always fret on lack of weekend options close to Hyderabad. Your travelogue has opened my eye and given me a very good option that is doable.
Beaches, temples, historical ruins, falls, etc I think I would love to lap it up in a single trip.
Thanks for writing this up. Loved the photos!!
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Old 4th November 2011, 12:51   #12
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The Guntakal-Bellary road is now in good condition - that is a pleasant shock!
What was the condition of the Bellary-Hospet road - also good?
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Old 4th November 2011, 14:32   #13
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Nice travelogue there . There are some amazing places with natural beauty in the Uttara Kannada District of Karnataka. Reading your travelogue makes me wanna just pick up my car keys and head there!

How is the Hubli - Bellary stretch right now?
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Old 4th November 2011, 14:32   #14
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Originally Posted by Mallya_2010 View Post
Share a lot of feelings with @ShivaCity2K6. The ORR is indeed a runway where , for however brief a time, you can almost imagine your car is an aircraft just about to take off. You want to keep it at that point for as long as you can. Alas , a wise man coming in the wrong direction ,will show you the futility of dreaming & will bring you back to earth.
Thanks for that!

Others may want to check out this video that we recorded on the ORR. It's one heckuva road.
https://www.facebook.com/#!/video/vi...50222132260925

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Originally Posted by condor View Post
@Shivacity, nicely written travelogue, and some nice pics there. The one of the up-turned truck is -well, different ! But it did show how well the tractors are tied down to the truck.

I think you should write more - so drive more !
Thanks and I hope I can do more. Tomorrow, I'm driving down to Bidar!

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Nice TL Shiva, some more pics of Badami would be a treat

Yes in most of the historical places in KA, they don't allow tripods inside. I had faced the same trouble in Somnathpur 3years ago. Not sure if there is any sensible reasoning behind this though
Yeah... strange policy! I didn't click a lot of photos at badami. But should have them. I'll post them when I get to home later today. Thanks for your encouraging words!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Santoshbhat View Post
Nice travelogue there . There are some amazing places with natural beauty in the Uttara Kannada District of Karnataka. Reading your travelogue makes me wanna just pick up my car keys and head there!

How is the Hubli - Bellary stretch right now?
The Hubli-Bellary stretch is good in parts and bad in parts.

Good: Hubli --> 25 kms before Hospet. Bellary --> about 15 kms before Hospet.
Average: The last 15 kms of the road to Hospet from Bellary.
Bad: The first 25 kms of the road from Hospet to Hubli (due to Tungabadhra dam and construction activities).

Last edited by Jaggu : 4th November 2011 at 15:04. Reason: Back to back posts, please use Multi Quote (Quote+) instead. Thanks
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Old 7th November 2011, 01:04   #15
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Default Re: Seedha, ondhe roadu! - Road Trip to North West Karnataka

Amazing TL!! So, how much time you took to reach Gokarna from Hubli and what's the road condition like?
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