Sunday, November 15, 2015

2254 : Travelogue 7th Nov -14th Nov - Mumbai - Hubli - Harihar - Shimoga - Madikeri - Mysore - Bangalore - Hubli - Mumbai (2497kms)

Sonny, Missus and I started on 7th Nov 2015 on a road trip to nowhere. We started driving at 730am very early by our standards and we did not take too many breaks. Yet given the condition of the roads between Satara and Hubli - we reached only by 730pm at night.
The highlight was as we approached Hubli - we got caught in a jam that did not move for over 45 mins. When such a jam hits you on the last leg of your journey, its always very frustrating.
We were put up at the Taj Gateway (5k a night for 3 of us), and quite easily the meals here are one of the best I have eaten. Remember to eat "their local homemade food". (Overall rating 4.5 out of 5, food excellent, breakfast great, price good and service outstanding.)
A good 588km drive.

8th Nov
We started towards Madikeri. There are essentially 3 options.
1) hubli - hiriyur - shimoga - madikeri (530km)
2) Hubli - davangere  - shimoga - madikeri (490km)
3) hubli - harihar -shimoga - madikeri (480km)
The first one though longest should have the best roads. A local driver told us to choose option #3. The ROADS are TERRIBLE between Harihar and Shimoga. BAD.
If you are driving from Mumbai or Pune, best drive till Chitradurga or Bangalore on day 1, and then drive Bangalore-Mysore-Madikeri - thats like a fantastic ride. Clean roads, very few villages.
Loos and eating places dont exist on this route at all. Everyone including missus have to use the tree foliage for nature's breaks.
We reached foot of madikeri (90kms from the town) by about 630pm. By then its a pitch dark, and you are driving the last 100kms (the most difficult ones) in complete isolation and darkness. I was a little terrified of the prospect of having a flat or a breakdown, especially with the kid in the car.

9th Nov
We were staying at Taj Vivanta Madikeri. Food is excellent. Rooms are good. Service is brilliant. Only side effect - food is expensive and you have to eat inside, since the property is 40kms away from nearest living isles. Negotiate hard with the hotel and get all your meals included. Thats best.

We drove to Bylakuppe, which was a complete disappointment. The shrine is badly lit, and the temple is noisy like a bazaar. Lots of tourists. We only visited Namdroling and I could not take the disappointment - so did not go to other places.

The markets nearby are a sad place.

10-11th Nov
We are basicially trapped within the hotel, because the rest of the city was curfewed out...due to the Tipu Sultan issue. Basically the state governement wanted Tipu Jayanti to be a state holiday, and Kodagus the natives of Madikeri felt that Tipu had killed 70,000 of their numbers and hence cannot be a hero in Coorg.

3 innocent folks were killed in the protests. Completely un-necessary in my eyes, but who am I to judge their passions.

11th Nov
We started our drive to bangalore at 7am. Reached Bangalore 280km by 2pm. We stayed at Halcyon at koramangla. They gave us a 3bhk apartment for 4500per night. Rooms are stuffy and smell of old carpet. Very strong stench. The food is ok. Service is horrible. I would say avoid Halcyon unless its the cost which drives you there. The location though is fab, everything is walkable from here.

13th Nov
We started our drive to Hubli (422km) via Tumkur. We reached Taj Gateway by 3pm. Food is outstanding. Do eat their local homemade food. Its truly a delight.

14th Nov
We started from Hubli to Mumbai via NH4 (588km). We started at 840am and reached home at 730am.

No loos and restuarants on KA side, once you reach MH, the place is full of eating places. So be aware.
Joshi Wadawale is a good stopping point near Pune. Loos are terrible. Kamat is a better choice.

Taj Gateway at Hubli - must visit. Brilliant food and service.
Taj Vivanta at Madikeri - must visit.
Halycon at Koramangla - avoid except for location.
Coorgi Coffee with palm sugar at Taj Vivanta. Drink oodles of it, must for the soul.
If you stay at Gateway and travel from Mumbai, enter via Dharwad and not Hubli, you will save 30 odd kms.
If you at the Taj Vivanta, do take the nature's walk by Abhishek Jain (2 hrs, 3.5kms through the forest) - truly educational and fun.
Be prepared to use the trees and bushes for loos while in KA. Carry tons of toilet paper and drinking water.

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