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Old 16th January 2010, 23:04   #1
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Default Christmas to New Year - East Coast to West Coast - Circular trip

So, here it is. A fortnight into the new year - our story of the X'mas to New Year 2010 vacation.

A new car - 3 months old. Lets do Goa! Why not Mumbai to my in-laws place after that?

The west coast has always enchanted me more than the east coast (where I am a resident for the past decade.) The rich greenery, the monsoons which hit the konkan ghats and render the whole west coast from Mumbai to Trivandrum green, very much like the green pastel I used to love to paint on the outline-map of India for the question "Where is the Konkan region?". We spent the first 20 years of our lives in Mumbai and each summer vacation on our to-and-fro train trips to our native place we used to relish the views of the Kandala ghats. More so reason to spend our vacation there. 5 yrs of college life in Bangalore took me to Gokarna, Kemmangundi, Kumarpharbhata. And I hail from Kerala. So it was not easy for me to chalk down a plan - and below is what I thought I should cover.

A mix of quite a few things: Meet relatives in Calicut, attend an engagement, see a mallu movie, eat sea-food/beef-curry-parotta at a mallu restaurant, see Bekal, take my car to the hills, drive it thru a beach, see a couple of historic monuments, jog-falls, om-beach at Gokarna, have long-drives, include parents (from Coimbatore) for part of the trip if not full.

Wife's uncle was visiting Calicut from Canada and we were keen to meet him. Also, we needed to attend to an engagement of my co-brother's cousin at Calicut. That changed the plan a little and instead of doing Southern Kar, North-coastal Kar and Goa, (Mumbai some other time), we planned to do North-Kerala, Southern-Kar and North-coastal Karnataka. Map attached.

Ok. So here we go: Full tank on 24th night at a BP bunk 27.24 L @48.65

Day1: 25th December 2009 - Start from Chennai to Coimbatore. Plan was to stop over at Coimbatore at my parent's place and proceed to Kerala the next morning. I wanted to avoid night driving and we started at 5 AM in the morning.
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Old 22nd January 2010, 19:11   #2
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Hi Jeev! Why no progress in this travelogue! I returned to net after 4 days and saw it., looks very interesting to me. Looking forward to more of it. Pl keep it up.
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Old 22nd January 2010, 21:40   #3
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Looks like an interesting travelogue. I am glued into it. Waiting for the remaining travelogue.
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Old 22nd January 2010, 23:51   #4
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Day 1: Ok. So we started at 5 am attempting to do a 500 odd km stretch for the first time. Btw, got one more Thoppur toll ticket of Rs. 48 with a timestamp of 09:16, which did not make it on to the first snap of all the tolls of day1. I mentioned to my wife into 1 hr of our journey that I was not very comfortable in doing night journeys and good that we had only started early in the morning. We started in darkness and soon past Porur, Poonamallee, Nemmeli. Headlights off and at 7:23 we were at the Pallikonda toll. The best time to have breaks are just after toll plaza, since one is at 10 kmph and not at 100 kmph - where one does not feel like stopping - its only go, go, go when one is at those speeds. We had a 10 min coffee break (from the flask.)

9:00 am - We hit the famous "T" junction of Krishnagiri. We had hit this point on our Diwali Bangalore trip as well. Then we had taken the right to Hosur and this time around we had to take left towards Salem. At this junction one can find vehicles, people - with confused slowness in their movement with a where-next kind of expression on them? Salem has always been a psychological landmark for me. Its just 3 hrs to home from here if one is travelling by train. But we did not know how long till we get to Salem.

At around Thoppur ghat 8 bends marked as 1/8, 2/8 with lots of rumblers. From high speeds crossing these at low speeds was frustrating initially but got interesting and infact I appreciated those because these downslope curvy roads
needed those. Lots of monkeys there too.

10:03 am - Omalur toll - We are close to Salem just as the train and it should take just 3 hrs from here and I was pretty happy at how much we had covered since morning. What about breakfast? Yup, we missed it, mainly because one does not like to slow down from high-speeds, secondly dont like to go ahead and take the next possible "U" to a hotel (we had seen an A2B on the other side,) we had some biscuits which we had carried and thought of having lunch at home (poor wifey and daughter)
We saw a diversion which many were taking, this is probably the Mecheri diversion, but we just followed the signs to Coimbatore, had to switch lanes across the dividers to one-side because of construction happening.

There was an incident when we went over a fly-over when others were taking a diversion - but nope - we were just going to Coimbatore - no one was going to stop us - but alas it ended up in a place were there was the bridge construction going on and it was the end of that road. What next? We took a diversion thru a muddy-road and under the under-construction-bridge and onto the other side of the flyover. And to our surprise there was no one taking this route - looks like they were diverted
well before this and were allowed to connect well after this. We had a free run for atleast 10 km, with absolutely 0 traffic.

12:30 am - We just crossed Avinashi (infamous for the roads from here to Coimbatore) and it turned out to be exactly that. Very hot conditions - lots of truck both ways on the traditional non-divider one-lane-up-one-lane-dn highway. Not at
all a pleasure to drive on this stretch. We had a coconut-drink break here. Felt good to my to-be-ulcerous stomach.

1:15 pm - Petrol break - HP - 29.83L @ 48.68

At around 1:45 pm we reached the Y, the left going to Palakkad and the right into Coimbatore city. I was feeling fresh even now and thought Calicut in one stretch would not have been difficult had we intended to do it. Anyway, took the right - now this 6 lane road is really good. I had some landmark in mind to cut left from this road into Trichy road and further into Nanjundapuram road towards Parsn colony. I felt we took an early left but no harm done.

We reached home at 2:15 pm. Mom had prepared a great lunch for all of us. The rest of the day was off for me as a driver. Lots of chit-chat that whole day and some local visits in the evening in my Dad's 800. We were to leave 5 am the next day to Calicut.
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Old 23rd January 2010, 00:14   #5
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Really nice travelogue dude - I am glued.

Could you please comment on how the Spark performed on such a long journey?

cheers
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Old 23rd January 2010, 01:25   #6
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Anekho: Read on. Look for my post on "New Spark PS" on team-bhp and you will find more about my Sparky thus far.

Day2: It was going to be a short day. To enter and enjoy Kerala roads fresh, first-up in the morning.

We started at 5:28 am. I was mentally prepared for the change in road pattern in Kerala. There are no 4 lanes here and in the monsoon the roads are known to be bad. But this is winter, lets see how it goes.

Christmas to New Year - East Coast to West Coast - Circular trip-day2.jpg

Just close to Palakkad town there is a bypass to Calicut. This bypass was not good at all. A nightmare I would say. However it was not a long stretch and soon we were heading to Mannarkad, the roads were winding and undulating and made for a nice roller-coaster kind of ride. Totally different than the previous day straight road, fast speeds drive. Very scenic this one. We reached Perinthalmanna (Malappuram district) at 8:30 am. We were not going to miss out breakfast today. We just had say another hour's drive left for the day as it was meeting-relatives day.

We stop by at Hotel Sabrina, as we saw some other cars stop by and people walking out. We got an indication that this hotel might be good as they looked like locals and probably this was a good hotel in town. Anyway, I asked the sweeper at the ground floor about where we could get breakfast and she directed us to the first floor. Enter the room and there were many people sitting in there. They were having aapam, kadala-curry buffet. I was told there was no a-la-carte. We stood in queue, had quite some appams. Finally when I try to settle the bill, the manager says its all taken care of and we did not have to pay. Actually it was a marriage party. I tried to explain that we were outsiders. He did not get it. He insisted that we need not worry about the bill ;-) Finally an other person understood this and we were successful in paying the bill.

Off from Perinthalmanna and to Malappuram town and just before Ramanattukara, take the right by-pass road (this road avoids the crowded old-road into Calicut via Meenchanda/Feroke.) A couple of km into this by-pass was our final destination (wife's aunt's house.) We reached there at 10 a.m.

In the evening we went further up on the by-pass to a resort called "Kadavu". They were all decked up for the upcoming new year's eve celebrations. Its just on the backwaters. Fantastic views (been here before during the day.) We went there for dinner thrown out for all the family members by our visiting Canadian mama. Nothing to shout about in the dinner. But the dinner entertainers - ghazal singer, tabla and harmonium (3) did make their presence very much audible - a little too much for my liking.

Day3: later...

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Old 23rd January 2010, 11:44   #7
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HI Jeev,

Another great travelogue. Beautiful, excellent narration will all the details covered. Eagerly awaiting the remaining trip. Awaiting snaps.
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Old 23rd January 2010, 12:32   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeevmenon View Post
We stop by at Hotel Sabrina, as we saw some other cars stop by and people walking out. We got an indication that this hotel might be good as they looked like locals and probably this was a good hotel in town. Anyway, I asked the sweeper at the ground floor about where we could get breakfast and she directed us to the first floor. Enter the room and there were many people sitting in there. They were having aapam, kadala-curry buffet. I was told there was no a-la-carte. We stood in queue, had quite some appams. Finally when I try to settle the bill, the manager says its all taken care of and we did not have to pay. Actually it was a marriage party. I tried to explain that we were outsiders. He did not get it. He insisted that we need not worry about the bill ;-) Finally an other person understood this and we were successful in paying the bill.
.. Indeed very funny incidence. It must have been shocking for you to realize that you are eating at a marriage party. The Manager must be a worried man, thinking why this guest (from goom's side ?) is try to pay for the breakfast ??

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Old 23rd January 2010, 18:56   #9
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Day 3: Whats in store? Meet Sreejesh, his parents and others at Parambil bazar. Drop Ani as well. Then attend Vinod's cousin's engagement at Nadakkavu, Bilathikulam. After lunch go to Kottakal for a mallu movie where chechi, Babu-mama, Sreeshreshta would be waiting for us, their plan was to attend a wedding at Kottakal. On Day 2, I had promised 10 yr old Sreeshreshta about the movie.

This is how it looked on the map:

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Ok, so we start at 7:53 a.m and into the NH17 bypass from F to B, crossing the Chaliyar over the Arapuzha bridge (Kadavu resort is just on the right of this bridge at the Toll - Rs.5/- one-way,) its an excellent road - I suggest people of North Malabar to enjoy this stretch atleast once. However, the work is not complete looks like and does not bypass Calicut completely, it goes into the city on the eastern side.

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We reach Parambil bazar and then something interesting.

Me: "Ani, are you sure this is the road to your in-laws' house?"
Ani: "Yes, I am sure."
Me: "Can you call up Sreejesh?"
Me: "Has a car gone thru this street? Its so narrow."

<Ani was calling him up> It was a road of the width of my car + 1 inch on both sides and brick-walls 4-ft high on both sides. I said, ok, lets go. Went thru the 100m with fingers crossed. Oops - now I hit a T junction, I had to take left - another similar stretch of maybe 50 m and now into his house. Uff! Well done. Met them all and on the dining table was spread all kinds of bakery stuff, putt, tea and what not... (hospitality at its best!!) Enjoyed talking to Uncle and others. Tata bye bye - now to take the car out. The car had to be in a particular position before getting out of his gate if it has to successfully navigate out to the main road. I hope you understand what I mean. My car should be exactly at 180 deg (opposite direction) and at the same spot as I had parked if I had to get out ;-)

Anyway... off to Nadakkavu (B to C). Thats another 9/10 ft kind of road to his house - for stretches as long as 200 m. Any one coming in the opposite direction you are dead. I mean someone has to do the reverse for a long distance or try and get the enterance area into some house as a side-giving-area. That was fun too.

Just gives a sense of how densely populated, people-wise, vegetation wise Kerala is. Attended the Bilathikulam engagement, and then we were getting calls from Sreeshreshta - "The show is at 2:30 at Sangeetha".
We had our lunch, wished the couple, tata-bye-bye to all and could leave the place (C-D-E-F-G) at 1:40 PM.

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I sped fast thru into Kottakal, asked for the theater and after a small overshoot and return we were told to get into a big descent road for say 100m. After the morning experience this was too much off experiences in a day one can handle - it was 2:30 p.m and had to get into the hall asap. One more deep breath - here we go, we go down the descent and just to the side of the slope (which goes further down) - was the part of the hill which was chiselled and flattened to create a theater. Wow! All this will put to shame some of our famed hill-stations, Ooty, Shimla. The movie: A Mohan Lal starrer. We met the 3 relatives we were to meet. Movie over: I was just imagining people scaling the up-hill, bikes, cycles, cars going up and the next show folks in similar modes of transport coming down. And I did not want to take a chance and asked a Skoda driver - whom I met at the interval to help me out of the slope. We had another week of trip to go, I did not want a mishap of any form and spoil the whole vacation and mentally too I was just 3 months into driving.

Now, Sreeshreshta told - lets go to Kottakunnu at Malappuram (G-H). It was already 5:30 after the movie. We sped very fast, Babumama was in his Swift. We reached at say 6:00 pm. But it was Sunday night and there were loads of people there. There was an exhibition of some sort atop the hill. But for me personally going to the top of the hill lost its charm since I was just interested in the view and it had gotten dark, so no point. We aborted the plan and headed towards Vengara.

Now, this Sreeshreshta - an intelligent man - but a bit young we felt at times when giving directions to me - he was my co-pilot. He was someone who appeared to know Malappuram at the back of his hand. Co-pilot says - "I see the mile-stone (7 k.m to Vengara)" - "Yes, go straight. I know this route." OK. We go straight - Lets give him an other chance -

from Kottakal to Malappuram at one point there was a decision to be made, left or straight. Co-pilot said left and we waited after taking the left for Babumama to follow. I was watching my rear-view mirror and saw the golden Swift zipping past on the straight road from left to right instead of approaching us. OK, U-turn and left-turn and follow them.

and after a km we dont see anyone around us, all the cars on the highway had deserted us. Were we on the right track? No village junction in sight. Ok, lets move on. Babumama is not behind us. We go up-hill and down-hill and again up-hill and lucky to see a junction with a few folks and they said "2 km to go further". We join the main road again after the 2 km. Then what was it that we were on for say the last 5 km? ;-)
We had discovered a new route! Hurrah! Sreeshreshta was excited and so were we. This bubbly kid is fun!

(H-I) We reached Vengara and went to the Hotel Red Rose. Ordered for Pepper-chicken, squid-masala, prawns-fry, parottas & peas-masala for co-pilot. The pepper-chicken curry stood out. Rs 510/- for 6 guys. Not bad. Reached Babumama's house - closeby from the hotel and retired for the day.

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Old 23rd January 2010, 23:29   #10
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Day 4: Co-pilot was getting read for his school. We decided to see him off at the location where he usually gets on to his school bus. It was 8:00 am or so.

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Wonderful breakfast by chechi - putt/curry + poori/bhaji and at

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8:53 am we started off on our coastal sojourn up till the northern most district of Kasargod, till Kanhangad stopping off at different tourist places.

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10:45 am: Coimbatore station. Mom and Dad get on to the train to Mangalore and they were to get off at Kanhangad at 8 pm and we meet them there to join us on our further journey. They could not join us before as they had to attend to a marriage reception in Palakkad on the 27th night.

We were bored of taking the NH17 bypass and thought of taking the traditional route thru Meenchanda / Feroke. At Francis junction took the left to the Calicut beach and take the beach-road till WestHill.

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Our first stop was the Kappad resort. Very nice beach + the monument of Vasco landing here at 1498.


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At 11:49 we leave Kappad after tea at the resort.


Now our tank was nearly empty and what better than Mahe approaching. Mahe is part of the Pondicherry UT and the cost of petrol here is 43.29. Full-tank = 30L at the IBP bunk. Very interesting place - I had last visited Mahe about 12 years back. The road just after the Calicut district ends is a big dip and at the minima we had 3/4 petrol bunks and 3/4 bunks which had human-petrol - the 2 things which are most readily consumed by vehicles and humans - once these shops are done we come out of the valley and up-hill into Kannur district (Thalassery/Tellichery.)

It was 1:05 PM. We were hungry. Ok, we were going to eat at Thalassery.

2:11 PM - We leave Thalassery - Hotel Surya. Menu - Fulfilled my wishlist of culinary delights mentioned at the start of this thread. Mussels-fry, beef-curry, fish-meals. All swimmers and land-movers covered!!

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Next stop - the Muzhupillangadi beach. The drive-in beach which I had done in Gans car 12 yrs back with Gans and Vipin. This is amazing. One of its kind. We were here around 3-ish. Camera battery down! Take out the video camera. Captured this section on the handycam. Will convert this to digital form and will take snaps/capture out of it and post it some other day. It was an amazing 4 km drive out there. Tyres crunching thru shells on the beach. Too close to the sea and its soggy sand and too away and its soft sand. Drive at the right range and enjoy the drive. Other features on the beach - a huge hammer&sickle on the rocks which jutted out of the sea and a picture of Che Guevera - the Latin American revolutionary. Amazing - so different than any other place in the country. Kannur district is known for a very strong communist history and the most extreme people emotionally. If they love you they will kill you with love and if they hate you they will... For Hindi readers - Dil-wale hain, dost ke liye kuch bhi karenge. True to their hearts! I remember - once there were 20 people to see me off at the Kannur station on my way to Chennai by the mail train.

3:45 PM - next stop: St. Angelo's Fort, Kannur. Spend around 45 min there clicking snaps. One feature here: there were atleast 4 to 5 couples with the video graphers busy filming them with the laterite fort or the flower-garden (maintained by the ASI) as the background to make their wedding video CDs. This is a tradition all over Kerala - its either the paddy fields as the background - the bride is asked to walk thru it and wave their hands thru the flouroscent green outgrowth or the coconut . Felt good seeing this.

4:24 PM - Leave St. Angelo's towards Kanhangad. As we leave Kannur district and enter the final frontier it starts to rain. Wifey is looking thru Lonely Planet for the hotel name at Kanhangad. At a railway crossing we ask for the exact location of this hotel - Hotel Bekal International, but they recommend some boat house at Nileshwar. There were many people advising from Auto-drivers to cyclers to bikers. One even addressed me "Swami" (an effect of my beard, December, TN regn.)

7:30 PM - We are at Hotel Kanhangad. Good hotel - 1 km from the railway station. What a timing to reach the hotel! Mom and Dad would be reaching within an hour. Wow! Great. We check-in. We call Dad on the cell and ask them to take an auto from the station to the Hotel. We were new and did not want to break our heads in the rain to get directions. We infact had a slight problem to reach the Hotel. I tell the reception of our desire for 2 rooms only for the night. He says - we might have to stay for 2 nights. Reason: There is a Hartaal in Kerala by the BJP / BMS against the price-rise and the parties are very influential in Kasargod. I was thinking - I have seen bandhs and we should be able to move around easily - if not by 8 AM atleast by noon as things would die down as the day passes by. Read next day description which follows to see what actually happened...

OK. Dad and Mom arrive at 9 PM and we go to the 1st floor "Ootapura" restaurant. It means "Dining hall". Parotta/Chicken-masala/Fried-rice - Rs. 250/-. Good dinner. Keeping fingers crossed. Will we be able to proceed to see the magnificient Bekal Fort 10 km up north and the Kappil beach 6 km up further north and then via Panathoor get into Coorg? Can we execute the plan?...
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Old 26th January 2010, 20:59   #11
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Day 5: (29th Dec 2009) Get up and look outside. How is the Hartaal? Watch local TV channels to see if we get more info. The news says that the Hartaal is on. Look outside the window

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Will we lose one day? We ask the hotel staff. They ask us not to take a risk. We found another NRI who had brought along a foreigner along with him and they were held up as well, just like us. There was another family whom we had seen last night who had left the hotel before mid-night - they got out of Kerala. Be it Mangalore or into Coorg - Karnataka was not too far from this place and to get over the border could be done in a couple of hours.

The hotel staff said they would serve breakfast. We thought of taking a walk into town (1 k.m) and see for ourselves. I was amazed to see how successful a Hartaal could be. As we got out of the hotel, we saw a KSRTC bus' back wind-shield broken and as it went towards its depot the broken glass fell on the street. That put to rest any hope of getting to Bekal today.

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The street was completely deserted.

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We saw a closed restaurant with an interesting sign board - usually its "meals ready" or the mallu equivalent "oonu thayaar". But here I see "oonu theernnu" - which means - there is no food.

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A police van with a couple of constables were at the junction. They repeated what the hotel staff said. It was sad that they could not help the situation as well. The max they did was to drop us back to the hotel. Had breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Went back to the room. I was going thru the map and Lonely Planet, others watching TV. Went back for lunch to the restaurant within the hotel again. It was evening. We thought of going for a walk. The hotel staff said the beach was close by. However it took a good 30 min to the Kanhangad beach.

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We were lucky to get an auto from the beach to town. It was past 6 pm. We did some purchases from the bakery which had opened up. Took an other rickshaw to the hotel and had our dinner again at the restaurant within the hotel.

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So, all and all a very uneventful day. Lost 24 hours. But in hindsight its the time where you can not rush even if you want to. In you daily life you rush to work and back, weekends - shopping, eating-out, movie, beach/park, other errands... everything is a little rushed up to meet up within the given time. However, this was a very remote place with no one around - never ever been to this place before - never planned to be here for 36 hrs and we had to.

Mentally got ready for the next day's trip. Bekal Fort was to open at 8 am. We should probably do the Kappil beach which is 6 km north first and then come to Bekal - as soon as it opens and then drive 10 km south from there to reach our current place to take the eastern road to cross Kerala and into Coorg. Will have to catch up for lost time.
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Old 15th August 2010, 20:52   #12
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Day 6: 30th December 2009: We started early from the hotel. The idea was to go Kaapil beach further north from Bekal and then return to Bekal before the fort premises opened at 8 am. Kapil beach was among a coconut grove which ended into the beach. Great location. Found a small dried star-fish which we still have with us.

Christmas to New Year - East Coast to West Coast - Circular trip-bekal0.jpg

After Kaapil (8 am) we reached Bekal at 8:30 am and were the first to get into the fort. There is a temple at the entrance. Quick darshan and into the fort. There were some restoration work on going. One hour of early morning bliss at the fort almost with no crowd around we could soak in the atmosphere to the fullest. Some great views and architecture. Its a marvellous piece. There were thoughts during the previous night that we could probably skip Bekal since we had lost time due to the Hartal but after the 1 hr fort views everyone found this to be a must-visit.
Christmas to New Year - East Coast to West Coast - Circular trip-bekal1.jpg
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Christmas to New Year - East Coast to West Coast - Circular trip-bekal5.jpg
Christmas to New Year - East Coast to West Coast - Circular trip-bekal6.jpg
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Christmas to New Year - East Coast to West Coast - Circular trip-bekal8.jpg
Christmas to New Year - East Coast to West Coast - Circular trip-bekal9.jpg

We were hungry and needed a quick munch and as we got out found the Kia-Ora restaurant and Nirvana resorts. We had some poori, masala-dosa, tea/coffee. Service took time but the ambience was perfect. After breakfast we were on the road to Kanhangad again so that we can take the diversion to Panathoor.

Christmas to New Year - East Coast to West Coast - Circular trip-bekal10.jpg
Christmas to New Year - East Coast to West Coast - Circular trip-bekal11.jpg

Last edited by jeevmenon : 15th August 2010 at 20:55.
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Old 16th August 2010, 14:54   #13
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Nice description,kept me hooked.Thanx for sharing.

Have a q for you,I see mention of the LP in all your tlogues,which edition of Lonely Planet do you have?The road guide or something else?could you please let me know the precise title.Thanx
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Old 16th August 2010, 15:42   #14
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@Jeevmenon - Good that you opened up this thread; What's the road condition from Malappuram toward Mangalore? Any idea how good/bad the roads were? We're looking forward on this route from Perinthalmanna to Mangalore soon. Any tip is greatly appreciated. Tks.
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Old 16th August 2010, 16:19   #15
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Incidentally, 25th dec last year I set on a long trip from Pune to Tirunellveli and back.
I was in Udupi from 26th till 30th. Then was in Sringeri for a week.
Don't think we'd have crossed paths.
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