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Old 11th January 2014, 23:02   #1
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Default Drive to Tan @ Varca, Goa

Darasa holidays wonít be satisfying without having a great outing. After a long debate on holiday destination for 2013 Dasara holidays, we decided to visit Goa. We usually plan our holiday trips a bit late and end up visiting near by drivable places - never disappointed though. Since Goa is 650 kms from Bangalore and we were going with mistresses and kiddies, we didnít want to end up in a mess, hence better planning was needed.

Next thing was to decide the place, route and mode of transport. We did some research on good resorts in Goa. We were told South Goa is primarily for relaxed and lazy vacation, whereas North Goa (close to Panaji) is full of life and activities. We were not very keen on sight seeing, hence decided to stay at North Goa for a day and come down to south Goa to unwind for 4 days. We booked a beach resort at Varca called Le Palms Resort for Oct 15th to 18th. It belongs to Usha Lexus Group.

Since most of us are from Shimoga, we decided go via Shimoga, so that we can spend some time with parents, celebrate Dasara and start early morning on Oct 14th. is around 330kms from Shimoga. I wanted to drive till Goa, but popular decision Panaji was to rent a tempo traveler from Shimoga so that we all can be together throughout the trip. I agreed unwillingly :-(

We booked a luxury tempo traveller (modified with gizmos, curtains, push back seats etc). Route decided was Bangalore => Shimoga => Sagar => Jog Falls => Honnavar => Karwar => Margoa => Panijm.

Four families with 7 kids was indeed a big gang, we could see the enthusiasm in kids, sharing their plan in schools and neighboring friends. Ladies were trying hard to shed the weight unsuccessfully. It seemed a herculean task to lose even couple of kilos. Lot of shopping for swimwear, beach wear, kids wear, caps/hats, goggles, sunscreen and the list goes on.

Each of us had different plans to reach Shimoga. We agreed to meet at Shimoga on 12th Evening. My family had gone to Shimoga 1 week early due to school holidays. I started driving alone from Bangalore on Oct 12th early morning in my trusted Hyundai Vena. My Verna was raring to go fully equipped with New 15Ē LENSO alloys, New Apollo Tyres (from Sai Iyengarís), New seat covers (from Pensee Leathers), Headrest Video Panels (Reliance Autozone) and fully serviced. I enjoyed driving alone as there were none to speed govern inside the car or outside on the roads

Took couple of breaks for coffee at Raghavendra Bhavan at Tiptur and again at Birur (Not at Preethi Canteen, they are closed most of the time).

Here are few pictures taken at beautiful Amrutheshwara temple at Amruthapura near Tarikere.
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Reached Shimoga for breakfast, first gave the car for a full body wash for Ayudha Pooja and kept inside safely
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My father drives a Wagon-R (with I drive Safe Sticker), that was my spare car until pooja is done on Sunday. I went to the travel agency to pay the advance for the TT, to my surprise he said, the vehicle has some problem and he is searching for another TT for us. I knew their game, but we had finalized the plan and made reservation at the resort, so we had no choice, we had to go. Due to peak season no other TT was available, finally we had to agree for a higher rate and compromise on the vehicle as well. We didnít want to pay advance until we see the TT. He told weíll be able to see the TT only on Monday, we said fine as we were already thinking of driving our cars on the back of our head. Sunday one of our friends said he had to drop out due personal reason. Though we were disappointed with his decision, knowing the situation, we tried to postpone our trip but it didnít work out. We all had a discussion and decided to drive 3 families in two cars - Verna and Wagon-R. We really missed our 4th friend and his family throughout the trip.

We did Ayudha Pooja on Oct 15th , especially the vehicles would be decorated with lots of flowers in that part of the state.

Below picture shows the worship of the rides.

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Pretty morning on 14th, just after the Vijaya Dashami, we started towards Sagar, which is at 65 kms from Shimoga. We reached hotel Chaya for breakfast. There are no better hotels at Sagar.

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All kids jumped into my car for watching the movies on headrest video and we continued our journey further from Sagar.
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Old 12th January 2014, 12:48   #2
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Default Re: Drive to Tan @ Varca, Goa

Road was very good, though curvy. I was pleasantly surprised to see the roads in that condition even after heavy rains this year. We had to cross Jog Falls which is 2 kms deviation from main road. We couldnít resist a quick visit to famous Jog Falls (Sharavathi River).

Deviation to Jog Falls:
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In-front of the beautiful Jog Falls:
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We joined back to BH road (Bangalore Honnavar Road) towards Honnavar. It is a ghat section, obviously, we had to come down get to the sea level. We could feel the change in the weather as we approached sea level.

After reaching Honnavar, we drove towards a small place called Apsarakonda. It is a slight deviation towards Udupi. It has a temple, well maintained park, cave, pagoda etc, highlight is it has a waterfalls very close to sea. I havenít seen a waterfalls and a sweet water pond so close to sea. We played in the park for a while and returned to the temple. As it was lunch time, we finished our lunch in a small hotel opposite to the temple. Food was very tasty, buttermilk was damn good.

Here are some pictures of Apsarakonda:

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It was 1:30pm we realized we were still 200 kms away from destination. Packed up and drove back to Honnavar, unfortunately Honnavar town was closed due to a sudden communal clash, we were sent back!!. Nowhere to go and nothing to do, we found another park next to the beach. We had to wait there endlessly, no one knew when the roads will be cleared to public. We played, some lied on sand.

Park was good and well maintained in that remote place:

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Somehow at 5pm we got the news that vehicles are being allowed thru the Honnavar town. With big relief, we reached Karwar a beautiful sleepy beach town.

Roads are excellent, curvy, scenic and absolute pleasure to drive:

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By then, we knew that our plan of 1 day sight-seeing at Panaji was screwed up. We had some refreshments at hotel Bhadra, Karwar and continued our journey.

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Attached Thumbnails
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Old 12th January 2014, 15:25   #3
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Default Re: Drive to Tan @ Varca, Goa

Goa border is just 15-20 kms away from Karwar town. Entry fee is Rs.500 for private cars. Though it is national highway, it was very narrow with no space for stopping the vehicles. Road signs were clear, we reached Panaji at 9pm after crossing the long Mandovi river bridge. We didnít have any problems in locating the hotel Menino Regency. We checked into the rooms, took quick bath and got ready for dinner. Hotel & rooms looked decent, but service was horribly slow, we were starving from hunger, kids were impatient, it was the same scene on all tables. Finally we were served dinner at 10:30pm. Putting the family into the sleep, guys came out for a riverside walk. Time was little over 12am, it didnít seemed like that late. Night life was full active and streets were glittering with lights, carz, eateries. We also saw Kamath and Bombay Shiv Sagar very near to Menino Regency. I donít remember seeing any traffic lights in Panaji (or may be I didnít observe). We had a goodnight sleep.

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Got up bit late and came down for breakfast. It was a buffet Breakfast, hence no service nightmare. Finished breakfast, checked-out. Packed our stuff into the cars.

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We had a list of places, but we didnít know where to start. Our final destination was Varca at south Goa (near Margoa), so we wanted to start from a northern sight-seeing point, drive towards south and cover on-the-way attractions till Varca. We spoke to hotel front desk, few cab drivers etc but all were insisting on hiring a cab for 1 day sight-seeing without giving right information. We didnít want to waste another day, so started out to explore on our own. Visited Miramar first:

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Then aheaded directly to Aguada Fort. After crossing the Mandovi river, we experienced too much traffic, then we saw a Bangalore registered Fiat Sienna on fire. It was on the other side of the road, fire being extinguished. We didnít get a chance to get any more details.

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Way to fort is a narrow stretch, we had to drive thru heavy traffic. Aguada fort used to be a prison. From the fort we could see a light house and end-less sea waters, somewhere in the end we couldnít see the fine line joining the sea and sky.

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We went to Calangunte to experience crazy crowd. Too many tourists and had to run around a lot for parking. Not a place to visit, it was 3pm by then.

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Enough of sight seeing, we wanted to relax at Varca. Had lunch at a hotel, drove southwards to Margoa, asked for directions, and finally reached Varca Le Palms at 6pm.

It was a pleasant sight in the night though we couldnít see everything clearly. Cottages were looking good in-front of the pool. Inside the cottage also, rooms, bath/toilets were neat and tidy. Each cottage unit had 2 bedrooms + 1 hall.

Dumped all the luggage at the cottage, ladies and kids ran to beach at night itself. They didnít want to waste any more time. Guys took sometime, had snacks and coffee before joining. Fantastic view of the long beach at night with clear white sand. Water was bit cold due to light rain that day. Played till 9pm, we had to rush back before dinner closes at 10pm. Kids came out unwillingly.

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Old 12th January 2014, 15:48   #4
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Default Re: Drive to Tan @ Varca, Goa

Dinner was decent, went back to cottage after full stomach. I just remember lying on the bed, next woke up alone in the morning as kids and wify had gone to beach again. Restaurant was on the way to beach, so I couldnít have missed coffee. We spent full time at the beach (came for a quick breakfast in the middle), all played till lunch. After lunch again to pool till evening. It was only beach and pool till next day evening. We all were ďTannedĒ to some extent.

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We went to Panaji in the evening for Boat cruise, I felt it was sheer waste of time. Booking office was somewhere, cruise dock was somewhere else, booking guy told it is walkable distance, but it was a marathon for us. Too much crowd and long line for boarding the boat. There was a stage on the top floor of the boat, you may see some folk dances and few events, final call for dance enthusiasts to dance on stage for some loud music. After getting out, we had to hire a cab to return to where our cars were parked.

We came to ďBombay ShivsagarĒ for dinner. We had to wait there also. My son had severe headache, there were no medical shops nearby, thanks to hotel owner Mr.Rai, he took me to a medical shops on his bike. It relieved the headache so we could have peaceful dinner. We drove straight back to resort.

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Next morning we had to check out after breakfast. No one was in a hurry, we took our own time and checked out by noon. There was a wedding planned that evening at the resort. Resort staff was friendly and flexible. We did some shopping on the way to Margoa, had lunch at Margoa.
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Took some pictures near the gorgeous Kali river bridge in Karwar.
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Stopped at Karwar for booking a KSRTC bus ticket for one of our friends from Shimoga as they had return to Bangalore the same night. Took another break at Honnavar for coffee at 7pm. It was dark by then, started driving thru ghat section towards Jog Falls/ Sagar. It was raining heavily in few stretches almost till we reach Sagar. Reached Shimoga around 10:30pm, simple home food tasted much better, dropped my friend to KSRTC bus stand after dinner.

We took full day rest on Saturday and returned to Bangalore on Sunday. Took some pictures on the way back.

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Overall it was a great drive, wonderful places and satisfying tour. Goa is a must visit place and will drive again sometime later. Drive Safe.
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Old 13th January 2014, 08:42   #5
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Default Re: Drive to Tan @ Varca, Goa

Nice Pictures and very well narrated. Boy o boy I could not stop ogling at those wheels of your ride. Loved them too much.
You would have had a blast driving the Verna on these highways. Iam envying now .
Thanks a Lot for sharing.

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Old 13th January 2014, 12:46   #6
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Default Re: Drive to Tan @ Varca, Goa

Hey hummer,
That is a very good account of your journey indeed. I have traveled on a few of these roads and visited some of these places, like Shimoga, Jog Falls, Honnavar and Karwar in the past, but its been a very long time. Your pictures are really tempting me to get in the car and drive down immediately!
Thanks for sharing.
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Old 15th January 2014, 23:00   #7
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Default Re: Drive to Tan @ Varca, Goa

Nice travelogue Hummer with some lovely pictures to boot ! Thanks for sharing, I will be driving to Goa sometime beginning February, so not too long to wait !
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Old 15th January 2014, 23:08   #8
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Nice Writeup Hummer, do you mind sharing the pricing for Vacra resorts.
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Old 19th January 2014, 19:30   #9
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Default Re: Drive to Tan @ Varca, Goa

Thank you all.

#win, I booked it thru Hammock Holidays. The tariff given to us was under corporate discount and additional discount given since we opted out pick up and drop facility from resort. Approximately ~Rs.5000/night per cottage with breakfast and dinner inclusive.

Each cottage has two bed rooms + one (common) living room with a double bed.
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