Welcome to this mini travelogue and photo tour of our recent road trip.We (Mrunal and I) covered several places in Karnataka between Dec 26th and 30th, 2021. It was a road trip that took a form of its own once we hit the road- figuratively speaking. The origin and the destination were known, and we had some idea about the places to visit in and around Gokarna (based on our previous 2018 road trip and recent recommendations from a few folks). But along the way, we added an extra day and a couple of destinations to our trip. More on that later.
Mrunal’s cousin and his family had flown down from Mumbai to Goa, they joined us here. I was originally scheduled to visit Ahmedabad during this period, for the Ten Year Reunion of my class at IIM Ahmedabad. But family time trumps everything else, especially in these COVID-ified times. Below is daywise list of places we visited. Even though we left Bengaluru on Sunday December 26th, we begin the photo tour from the 27th. Scroll to the end to read why.
Monday Dec 27th
Coconut Plantations and some fresh coconut water to start the trip! Our neighbour in Bengaluru is developing a small resort on his land. He also was in Gokarna that week, and he invited us to visit his property. The freshly plucked coconuts were the highlight of the visit!
*Visit to coconut plantations to start the day*
*Jog falls – a sight to see*
*On way to Idagunji temple*Maharashtra has Ashtavinayak, similarly, the coast of Karnataka and Kerala, there are six Ganpaati Temples. Idagunji is the fifth as we go from south to North. We had visited three out of the six in 2018. In this trip, we covered two more. (Idagunji and Gokarna). The southernmost temple in Kerala remains.
*Statue of Lord Shiv*.
Murudeshwar offers some great experience. The huge statue of Lord Shiv- What a sight !
*Lord Shiv’s statue all lit up at night*In the foreground you can see the statues of Ravan (King of Lanka) and Ganapati as a small boy. This is representation of how a Shivaling and a temple became established at Gokarna.
*The Imposing temple and statue of Nandi match the gigantic statue of Lord Shiva at Murudeshwar*
*Route Taken on Day 2 of Road Trip*
Tuesday Dec 28thAfter a rather hectic day on the 27th, Tuesday was a little relaxed. It began with Darshan at the Gokarna Mahabaleshwar (Shiva) temple, followed by the Ganapati Temple. Post that, we visited Om Beach and had lunch at the popular Namaste Cafe. The day ended with a visit to Patanga Beach and campfire at the place we stayed.
Ganapati Temple at Gokarna
*Colourful boats in bright sunlight appear gorgeous*
*Amar and Minu at Om Beach , Gokarna*We also saw the estuary- where the river Gangavali meets the Arabian Sea. It was an okay ish site. We missed the sunset at the beach in the process.
*Estuary at Gokarna- River Gangavalli meets the sea*
*Path to Patanga Beach*
*Campfire to celebrate the trip*
Wednesday Dec 29thWe were scheduled to leave by 8:30 AM, we ended up leaving at 11 AM instead. The joys and perils of traveling with family! 🙂 Anyways, we took a different route- Gokarna to Kundapur, which is a coastal highway. A few kilometres after exiting the coastal highway, the drive through the hills began. And the scenic drive through the hills remained with us through Agumbe and Shringeri and for nearly 2 hours after leaving Shringeri. Our darshan at the Shringeri Temple happened by chance- while having lunch at Agumbe. Mrunal asked me if we could take a detour. Checking the directions and routes on google maps, I saw that it was doable. The temple closes in the afternoon, and opens at 4 PM. We reached Shringeri Temple complex at 3:50 PM. The timing for the darshan could not have been better.
Shringeri*Shringeri old temple* *Entrance to Shringeri Temple* *Route taken from Shrinegri to Halebeedu* The road between Shringeri and Halebeedu is beautiful till about half way point: it travels through Coffee and Tea plantations and some forests. But towards the end, it began to get dark and google maps took us through some desolated areas with very bad roads. Literally there was not a soul in sight on the road for kilometers altogether. Luckily it was only between 7 PM and 8 PM, and we reached our hotel without much hiccups. Therefore all is well that ends well. As I looked at the maps later, I realized my mistake: originally, we were scheduled to go to Belur, see the temple and then head to Halebeedu. The Agumbe-Belur road is quite good. So is Shringeri-Belur. I had instead entered Shringeri-Halebeedu in the trip planner. That made a lot of difference. >Tip: You can take the same route we took- but at Aldur, travel North east towards Chikamagalur and then south towards Halebeedu.
*Original route planned from Agumbe to Belur*
Thursday Dec 30th Halebeedu, Belur and back homeOn the final day, we were planning to see Kondajji Lakshmi temple as well, but we skipped it. Instead, we decided to see Three temples in Halebeedu- the main Shiva Temples, Jain (Basadi) temples and Kedareshwar temple. We could see the first two. Road to the third is blocked by farmers using a public road for storing their harvested grains. Ugh! After breakfast,it was onwards to Belur. The two places are less than 20 kilometres apart. By the time we completed the darshan at the Belur temple, we had mentally checked out and were keen to return home. We left Belur arund 11 AM. By then, traffic was building up- revellers from local area going to Bengaluru for New Year’s, and folks from Bengaluru coming to these parts for the same reason. Did anybody say travel restrictions due to COVID? We also had to pick up Buddy from his pet boarding, and that area sees a lot of traffic in the evening. Our aim was to avoid just that. We managed to reach Bengaluru by 3 PM, and with Buddy in the back seat, it was back to Home sweet Home by 4 PM.
HalebeeduStone Carved Idol of Nandi at Halebeedu Temple. There are two such Nandi’s in the complex, one each for the two Shiva temples.
*Shiva Temple at Halebeedu*
*Jain Basadi Temple Halebeedu*We learnt that in the 11th and 12th centuries, the Kings at Halebeedu Hoysala empire were Jains. Influenced by Ramanujacharya, they converted to Hinduism and moved their capital to Belur.
*Channakeshava Temple at Belur*
*Shesh Nag at Belur-Channakeshava Temple*The road from Belur to Bengaluru is quite good. But some patches have occasional potholes and lane closures.
And now, we come to the beginning of this trip.
Starting on a false noteWhen we began our journey on Dec 26th, we had planned to eat Benne Dosa (butter dosa) at Davangere., and visit the Temple at the town of Hangal. As the name suggests, the latter is the place from where the singer Gangubai Hangal and possibly the actor A K Hangal came. We even went in search of these places, somehow that as not to be. Alas, visiting those two places was not to be. But the rest of the trip made up for the disappointment on Day 1. We did see the beautiful statues of Kittur Rani Channamma and Basavannna in Hangal though. The former is a local legend, similar to Rani Laxmibai. The matter is a religious leader who created the Lingayat clan.
*Statue of Kittur Rani Channamma, Shri Kumareshwar College in Hangal*The road upto Gokarna is quite good to drive, except for a bad patch between the towns of Haveri and Sirsi. That was a disaster. Literally, a moon buggy ride for over 25 kilometres.
*Route taken on the way to Gokarna*
*We experienced a Moon Buggy Ride from Haveri to Sirsi for over 25 Kilometers.*This was very taxing, since we had been driving non stop for over 7 hours and were really tired. When I saw images of Tarakeshwar Temple at Hangal, and couple of other temples in the area- a trip just for these temples is probably worth it! Post Covid wave 3, plan is to do just that.
Parting ThoughtsTotal distance covered over 5 days was nearly 1,250 kms. Out of which, I drove for nearly 1,000 Kms. Fortunately at Gokarna we had a cab to take us around. That way I could enjoy the sightseeing instead of worrying about the road or parking. And… I would recommend starting each day early. Say, by 7 AM at the latest. This time around, we started the longest legs of the journey (Bengaluru- Gokarna and Gokarna- Halebeedu) at 9 AM and 11 AM respectively. This happened for a variety of reasons. Plan your trip in such a way that atleast two persons can drive the car. Single person driving – I would not recommend, even though you may love your time behind the steering wheel. Highways are overall good. Rural roads are okay, manageable. But the detours and road construction work can take their toll. No Pun intended.
*Roads in North Karnataka are quite good even after a long spell of monsoons*>Thanks for checking out this photo tour of our trip! Hope you will get inspired to share travelogues of your own. – Amar and Minu
*”Two travellers” in Belur, December 2021*
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This post was updated on 2022-03-29