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Old 19th January 2019, 19:25   #1
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Default Road Trip: Heritage Karnataka

Heritage Karnataka - Road Trip

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This was the first road trip since we got the S-cross home in November 2015. It was long overdue.

Initially, we had planned to do only Hampi and return back. But as we went on reading and exploring, the itinerary was finalized as follows:

January 2: Pune to Badami
January 3: Badami > Patadakkal > Hampi
January 4: Hampi
January 5: Hampi > Hubli
January 6: Hubli to Pune

Facts & figures:
* Total Distance covered: 1,260 KMs
* Average fuel efficiency: ~21 kmpl
* Total Diesel expense: ~4000/- INR
* Total toll fees: ~2,000/- INR
* Heritage Resort, Badami: 3,900/- INR (one night, including breakfast)
* Hyatt Place, Hampi: 22,000/- INR (For two nights, including breakfast, dinner and full day Hampi sightseeing with chauffeur)
* President Hotel, Hubli: 4,000/- INR (one night, including breakfast)

Picture credits: Wife, daughter and me
Cameras used: Nikon D5200 (18-55, 55-200), Sony P&S, Samsung S8 Plus

Somehow, the entire trip turned out to be a total Heritage trip. Badami, Patadakkal and Hampi are hubs of heritage culture, not just in Karnataka, but across the country. I will explain this point later.

All our previous long trips have been flights, cabs and all that. This was the first trip where we enjoyed freedom of stopping anywhere, doing anything, spending as much as we want without much restrictions. It was a different experience. We feel both experiences are great in their own context. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so there will not be any comparison points. Only motto is enjoy the trip !

Preparation:
The only major preparation to be done was to get the car services well. the 30k service was due anyway, so got the S-cross serviced two days before the trip. Even though it was Sunday, I got a fantastic service at Sai Service Hinjewadi, Pune. Besides the standard tasks such as replacing engine oil, filters, and other stuff, I also got wheel balancing, alignment and rotation and brake bleeding done. Rechecked the thermostat valve and coolant setup, based on the horrifying experience in the last Kolhapur trip, where we were stranded on the highway with entire coolant leaked on the road. There is a separate thread on this topic.

Other part of the preparation was hotel booking. Badami has literally 3 choices only, whereas Hampi has many choices of hotels spread across various locations and all budget ranges. We had to make one stop at Hubli to avoid excessive driving stress from Hampi to Pune in one shot. Hubli also has many hotels being a proper city.

Hotels and their official websites:

Final checklist items were full tank of diesel and tyre pressure. We were all set for the exciting road trip.

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 21st January 2019 at 08:49. Reason: Minor correction
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Old 19th January 2019, 20:00   #2
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Day 1: January 02, 2019 Pune to Badami

Originally, we had planned to stick to NH-48 for as long as possible and then move to Badami. However, Google showed us a shorter and lesser traffic route from Kolhapur onwards. So we chose the first option from Google's suggestions and it turned out to be a great choice. This route was a mix of NH and SH roads.

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So final route was Pune > Kolhapur > Nipani > Mudhol > Badami. Except few town places, this route was fantastic. Brilliant and empty roads. For almost 80% of the time on this route, we were the only ones on the road. Literally, there was not even a dog on the road. We were wondering "where are the people in these towns and villages?"

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We stopped at Sai Food Court which is right on the NH48. We would recommend this place for a good variety of breakfast items and fairly good taste and service.

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From here onwards, we entered Karnataka state.

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Yours truly

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First sight of the Badami hills
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We reached the Heritage Resort, Badami around 3 PM, instead of the planned 1 PM. But the journey was not tiring at all. We were welcomed by the resort manager. This resort is a small resort with just 14 rooms/cottages. We got room # 1, which was very spacious and had all required amenities. There were quite a few foreign tourists at this hotel. One reason why I would highly recommend this hotel is because of its distance of the central Badami town. It is just about a KM distance from the main junction, but is very peaceful and has direct view of the Badami hills from the reception area. The other hotel, which is supposed to be # 1 hotel in Badami, called Clarks Inn, is right in the middle of the mess at this main junction of Badami. Thank God we did not book this hotel. Make sure that book this hotel well in advance. All rooms were fully booked and the hotel management had to reject few walk-in customers.

Resort photos

The room
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South Indian Thali. This was really tasty and was much more than sufficient for one person. We totally loved this thali.

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Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 20th January 2019 at 23:52. Reason: Typo corrected. Thanks
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Old 20th January 2019, 11:39   #3
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Day 1 continued...

Badami Caves
The name Badami (Like Almond) originated from the color of the rocks/soil found around this place. Look at the photos below to relate to this fact. The caves were a revelation. If you are in Karnataka, it is a must see place. There are fundamentally two types of caves. One type includes sculptures carved out of the stone locally and other type is assembled type. Badami-Patadakkal-Aihole are the places where temple art was groomed and bloomed and soon became the hub in terms of education and manufacturing of temple art then. Even the Konark Sun Temple's design and inception happened here and then it was assembled at Konark, as per the local guides.

Only sore point is that the approach road to this beautiful place is through a very narrow lane crowded with small houses on both sides. I feel that Government should not have allowed people to live near such an important archaeological monument. At least an area of half a kilometer radius should have been guarded so that tourist can enjoy this place without much trouble. The road can accommodate barely one car at a time. The parking at the foothill of the caves is sufficiently big, however approaching the parking is a bit of pain IMO.

We reached the parking spot around 4:30 PM and it was really crowded, because two big school groups. There were a lot of foreign tourists too. You have to pay for entry (15 years and above, kids go free) and camera (still, video both). The entry fee for foreigners is 15 times that of the fee for Indian citizen. Crazy !!

The view of the Bhootnath temple and Agasthya lake from the Badami caves is stunning. However, it has not rained well in Karnataka for last 3 years. So the Agasthya lake is half dry and the Bhoothnath temple, which is usually covered by water from three sides, was far from any water. Nonetheless, it is a beautiful site. I feel that the best time to visit would be early morning when the Sun light is not too harsh and you would be able to capture stunning photos of the caves.

Some cruel rulers in the past have destroyed lot of sculptures and have stolen some of the statues of the deities from the temples inside the caves. It feels sad to look at empty praying places without the idols in those.

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One suggestion / caution - DO NOT play around with the monkeys at Badami caves. One moron caught hold of a monkey and tried to take a picture with it. That monkey bit the moron so hard, he was almost going to s*** in his pants. Do not act too smart and let the monkeys and other tourists, live in peace.

After the caves, we visited a "MUST" visit temple as per the locals. Our hotel manager was especially a bit hyper about visiting this temple. It is called Banashankari temple. More info here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banashankari_Amma_Temple. Again the road leading to the temple is narrow, so you have to drive carefully.

After the temple visit, we were back to the hotel. In the evening, the restaurant at the Heritage resort serve a-la-carte menu, unlike lunch, which is strictly South Indian thali. While having the dinner, there was some utterly silly movie was aired on some channel. The movie was out of the world silly, but our waiter was proud of the movie. Why because, the movie was shot around Badami. LOL moment !

End of day one !

Last edited by ajay_satpute : 20th January 2019 at 22:44.
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Old 20th January 2019, 14:21   #4
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Day 2 - Badami > Patadakkal > Aihole > Hampi

We got ready, packed our luggage and went for breakfast around 8 AM. The breakfast was very limited, two Indian snacks and toast, butter, jam and tea and coffee. But considering that this hotel is an economy hotel, you cannot ask for more. Our initial plan was to go to Patadakkal and then Aihole , before traveling to Hampi. However, Patadakkal was so mesmerizing, we ended up spending a lot of time at this place. Badami, Patadakkal and Aihole are all approximately 25 kms apart from each other.

The difference in the two archaeological sites, Badami and Patadakkal was huge. While Badami was not managed well and the surrounding area was a total mess, Patadakkal was grand, clean, neat and well maintained site. Badami is managed by Archaeological Society of India, while Patadakkal being declared as a UNESCO heritage site, it is probably well maintained and managed. I may be wrong, but the difference was evident.

The site of the 10-15 temples is enthralling. My daughter though this place is right out of Bahubali, the kingdom of Mahishmati. I can easily spend an entire day clicking photographs here. However, unfortunately, many of the idols and sculptures here were either stolen or in broken state, because of some cruel rulers in the past. But, this does not take away the beauty of the place.

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After spending almost two hours at Patadakkal, we cancelled visiting Aihole, due to time constraint. So we decided to head to Hampi. After coming out of the temple site, Google showed us two options, either go back to Badami, take the highway and go all the way to Hampi. Or, take the shorter route. We later repented taking the shorter route.

On the way to Hampi, there were few sections which were under construction or few section which cannot be called as a road. We followed Google maps to the T and ended up driving in ditches, extreme sand and rocks, potholes or craters, and finally through a 50 meter sections covered with thorns from all sides, up & down, left & right. I drove through the thorny section furiously to escape the mess quickly and go on a NORMAL road. The thorns scratched the car from all directions. However, luckily all scratches were temporary and went away after a good wash at Hampi.

Bottomline, while driving through an unknown place, stick to State or National Highways as much as possible.

After a tense and mentally tiring drive, we reached Hampi around 2 PM. The reaction three of us had after connecting the State Highway, cannot be expressed in words here. It shows how much our life is used to comforts of the world and any variance in those comforts, puts us in an uneasy situation.

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Old 20th January 2019, 15:23   #5
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Day 2 - Part 2

We were so glad and relieved when we reached our hotel in Hampi, Hyatt Place. This hotel is inside the Vijaynagar campus, which is a self-sufficient suburb or a town, established and maintained by Jindal Steel company. The entire area after entering the Vijayanagar is so immaculately made and maintained. There are five star hotels, luxurious guess houses, malls, temples, lakes, hills, airports, 4 railway lines entering into the town and everything one needs in a town. Kudos to JSW group for developing this excellent town.

Hyatt Place Hampi is a 4 star luxurious hotel with every amenity you would expect a star hotel to have. It is also spread over a huge(actually humongous) area. The security guard greeted us, called up the bell boys to carry the luggage and parked our car. Check-in process was smooth. Hotel staff gave us an offer of upgrading to a private pool room at minimal cost. We checked out the room and took the deal. It was totally worth it. The room was huge with a King size bed and a sofa-cum-bed, and every top notch stuff. The other door opened into the private pool, which was facing the big garden in the backyard of the hotel.

We decided to take it easy for the remaining day and planned all sightseeing activities for the next day. As part of the offer, we also got one day sightseeing from the hotel. So we decided to go for it, as it will give us rest from driving around Hampi town in our car. However, it was not a good experience. More of that later in the thread.

After resting for few hours, we headed out to explore the area around the hotel. As I mentioned above, it is seriously well made town. We walked to the lake and the Panchavati temple nearby.

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Old 20th January 2019, 15:52   #6
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Day 3: Hampi sightseeing

Finally the day arrived, around which the entire trip was planned. After a superb breakfast at the hotel, we started for heritage tour around 10 AM. Please note that Hyatt Place, Hampi is approximately 45-50 minutes from the main heritage sites of Hampi. So essentially, it is probably the farthest hotel from the central attraction of Hampi. But no regrets.

On the way to ruins, there is another 5 star resort called EVOLVE BACK, Hampi, which is a true 5 star super luxury resort, with room rates starting from 20,000/- INR per night, depending on the season. In peak season, this rate can go upto 35,000/- INR per night. Link to hotel website: https://www.evolveback.com/hampi/. Evolve Back group recently took over all the Orange County resorts across the country, the most famous being Orange County resort in Coorg.

We reached our destination at around 11 AM. You have an option of opting for a battery operated cars which takes you to the main Vitthal Temple and back, which is a distance of about 800 meters or so and back. As it was sunny and hot, we opted for the vehicles, You have to buy a ticket of 20 Rs INR per person for the return journey. The car drops you at the door of Vitthala Temple which is the entrance to the main campus of Hampi ruins. This car can easily accommodate 12-13 passengers at a time. We distinctly observed one thing. All foreigners preferred to walk all the way and all Indians queuing up for the transport. There were few who had rented bicycles to ride around the campus.

This campus hosts around 6-7 temples including the main Vitthala temple and the iconic Chariot at the entrance. You will find a picture of this chariot on the new 50 Rs currency note. You again have to pay an entry fee of 25 Rs per person and 40 Rs per camera (mobile camera excluded).

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Due to shortage of water, there were no coracle rides. We were looking forward to the ride, but as i mentioned earlier, it has not rained well in Karnataka for the last few years.

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Old 20th January 2019, 17:13   #7
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Day 3 - Hampi Sightseeing, continued...

Virupaksha Temple

From the main site, we moved to another important and iconic temple, Virupaksha temple. It is set of 3 temples in one campus. As is the norm, you have to pay an entry fee and camera fee at the entrance.

Excerpts from Wiki page:

Virupaksha Temple is located in Hampi in the Ballari district of Karnataka, India. It is part of the Group of Monuments at Hampi, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple is dedicated to Virupaksha, a form of Shiva. The temple was built by Lakkan Dandesha, a nayaka (chieftain) under the ruler Deva Raya II of the Vijayanagara Empire.

Hampi, capital of the Vijayanagara empire, sits on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. Virupaksha Temple is the main center of pilgrimage at Hampi, and had been considered the most sacred sanctuary over the centuries. It is intact among the surrounding ruins and is still used in worship . The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, known here as Virupaksha, as the consort of the local goddess Pampadevi who is associated with the Tungabhadra River


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There is a Ganesh temple on the top of the hill near the Virupaksha temple. This Ganesh was a revelation and surprise to us. The temple has a HUGE 15+ feet high monolithic Ganesh idol/sculpture. It is simply breathtaking ! Do not miss this temple.

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Day 3 - Hampi Sightseeing, continued...

From Virupaksha temple, we moved to Ugra Narsimha and Shiva temple nearby. Just like the Ganesh idol, Ugra Narsimha and the Shivlinga at this temple are monolithic (carved out of a single big stone) and are gigantic. In fact, the Shivlinga is the 2nd largest in India.

Ugra Narsimha

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Shivlinga

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Pushkarni (Step well)

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Before heading back to our hotel, we had a fantastic lunch at Hampi Paradise Restaurant (https://hampi-paradise-restaurant.business.site/). This place is really popular and crowded. But the service is really good and you may not have to wait too long. We had two South Indian thalis and one plate of fried momos. Thali was damn good. Momos could have been better. This restaurant has a wide variety of dishes catering to not just Indian tourists, but also foreign tourists. Almost, 30% of the crowd at this restaurant was foreigners. This is a recommended restaurant as per many travel sites and even local people.

Hyatt Place in the night

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Last edited by ajay_satpute : 20th January 2019 at 18:34.
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Old 20th January 2019, 18:15   #9
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Day 4 - Hampi to Hubli

It was time to checkout of Hampi and move to Hubli. Checkout time was 11 AM, so we used the morning time leisurely. Daughter enjoyed the private pool and I was roaming around the garden clicking photos of flowers, insects and birds, which were aplenty.

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We started for Hubli around 11:30 AM after having a hearty breakfast and completing all formalities. This time we decided to stick to the SH67 route all the way without taking any shortcuts. SH67 is not completely done and there were few bottlenecks on the way due to construction work.

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Last edited by ajay_satpute : 20th January 2019 at 18:51.
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Old 20th January 2019, 19:02   #10
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Day 4 - continued...

After checking in and dumping the luggage in the room at President hotel, we set out in search of another heritage temple, Chandramouleshwara temple. Boy, it was a task finding this temple. This temple, even though a UNESCO heritage site, is completely surrounded by small houses with very narrow lanes. It is what we say a hidden gem in Hubli.

After spending time at the temple, spent the evening at the Unkal lake, which was bang opposite our hotel. It is a nice and serene place to spend early morning and late evening.

After the lake visit and dinner, it was end of day 4.

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Day 5 - Hubli to Pune

Time to return home after an exciting 4 days of heritage tour of Karnataka. We checked out of the hotel after an excellent breakfast. Driving from Hubli to Pune was a piece of cake. From our hotel, we reached NH-48 entry point in about 20 minutes and then it was a straight road on the great NH-48 right until our home. We took two stops on the way, one near Belgaon to buy the famous Belgavi Kunda and Pedha. Recommended place to buy Kunda is PUROHIT SWEETS. We made another stop at a restaurant, just before Kolhapur and then it was a non-stop journey back home.

Morning view from the rooftop restaurant at President Hotel

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Vidhan Saudha, Belgaon en route

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Overall, an exciting and the first long road trip with the S-cross. The car handled everything thrown at without any hiccup. Saving the best shot for the last.

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Last edited by ajay_satpute : 20th January 2019 at 19:18.
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Old 20th January 2019, 23:23   #11
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A random selection of high resolution photos from the trip. In the above posts, i used the least possible size of the photos, so they get uploaded sooner and fit into the Team-bhp size limit. But this list of photos is all 4k resolution and higher. Enjoy! Let the pictures do the talking.

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Last edited by ajay_satpute : 20th January 2019 at 23:31.
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Old 21st January 2019, 00:12   #12
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Default re: Road Trip: Heritage Karnataka

Note from Support: Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues section.

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 21st January 2019, 08:36   #13
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Default Re: Road Trip: Heritage Karnataka

Congratulations on putting up this detailed essay on Hampi, Badami and other places along with excellent photos. I am sure this will be most useful to other travelers. My son who got engaged recently wants to get married in Hampi! Looks like a new trend in the next generation.
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Old 21st January 2019, 08:47   #14
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Default Re: Road Trip: Heritage Karnataka

I love ancient architecture and that includes buildings of all types - temples, churches, palaces, railway stations among others. Your thread was a treat to see..and as you can imagine I was all eyes for the pics. There's one pic with vignetting (DSC_429 I think) which frames the temple perfectly. It's my favorite. Lovely thread. Thanks for sharing mate.
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Old 21st January 2019, 14:05   #15
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Default Re: Road Trip: Heritage Karnataka

Fantastic post containing useful information for travelers. This post has helped me to finalize a destination and places to stay. In the beginning of the thread, you mentioned:
"Badami, Patadakkal and Hampi are hubs of heritage culture, not just in Karnataka, but across the country. I will explain this point later.".

I may have missed it but didnt come across any further explanation. I would be interested to hear the same.
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