We reached at Bandra Tel. Exchange around 4pm and the bus fellow said the can’t transport the cycles! Made a few calls to the bus booking fella to ensure our cycles were on-board or on-ceiling. At Vashi when the bus made a stop, it loaded around 100+ boxes of Apples, Grapes and other fruits, our cycle unstrapped and restrapped later.
Feb 14, 2015 – Day 1 to Palolem Beach, Goa
Bus stopped, we were half asleep, uncomfortable. Probably it was past midnight.. It was around 3am at Lanjha, Ratanagiri. It was cold! The Bus moved on and I had to flush out things luckily bus had stopped early morning for diesel. It reached Mapuca waited for another 30mins to get the fruits off its ceiling and moved ahead for Panjim. We started at Panjim around 8.30am heading for our first halt of the trip at Canacona.
We stopped at Margao and had breakfast. A little chat with my sister in Goa, and she suggested we should stop at Palolem beach instead of Canacona. The ride from Margao to Cancolim was through towns, villages… But then… The first ghat on our trip welcomed us.. It was hot around noon and the ghat never seemed to ease. It climbed and climbed… The road, NH-17 Panvel-Edapally was just wide for 2 way traffic and in this section through barren hills.
It was just too much for me. At a point I started pushing the cycle, Surya too followed suit. A little further as it seemed it eased, we mounted back on and started only for another winding climb. Our heads throbbing with the excessive climb and HEAT! we stopped for relaxing ourselves. Another 10mins later we were back. Probably the inadequate sleep in the night and first day of our trip was taking its toll.
Later however, the road had to descend for the beach.. and it was much relaxing for us. We reached Palolem beach around 2pm and got into a shack for lunch. Which wasn’t great at all! My food-experience in Goa wasn’t ever good. Today just seemed same. Later we found a home-stay and got to cleaning. Washing clothes then having bath. This would be our defacto Standard-Operating-Procedure after finding a lodge / room.
Later by 5 we moved to get to Palolem beach, walked around and got into walking in the water till we reached that “honeymoon island” as labelled in Google Maps
Early morning Bananas had given us enough solid food to get going, We left Palolem around 7.30am navigating through a familiar route of small up and downs into villages, roads bordered with trees, Coconut trees randomly but beautifully landscaping the entire scene in the crisp air . Goa – no wonder is beautiful. It reminded us a lot of our Mumbai – Goa Cycle trip. We halted to get some snaps near Talpona river. One thing me and Surya both observed – People strive to keep the waters and the adjoining area clean. It was the first time we were riding early morning on this trip. A few more days and it’d be a routine. A beautiful one too.
I was constantly check Google Maps (with GPS lock) to see where would we be crossing into Karnataka, Approximately it’d be a place called Majali. Sooner we started to see South Indian style temples, with big entrances and boards written in Kannad. Karnataka was closer. After few ups and downs on the road, we had straight, flat stretch, Surya dislikes such roads a lot with no character. Plain straight and boring. We saw some sort of toll naka / check post. I was sure it was the state border. When we reached the border check-post and tried some snaps, the KA police stopped us from taking snaps, later when we told we’ve come from cycle all the way and going down south towards Murudeshwar, he softened and allowed us. He screamed at me when Surya was taking my pic
अरे टोपी तो उतारो, चेहरा दिखना चाहिए !
Further a gorge invited us into its gully, This was the entry into Karwar city. Post the gorge a long bridge over Kali river followed and took us straight along Karwar beach. I had told Surya, the road is right next to the beach and we’ll see a ship as a museum as well along the coast. We stopped at the Warship Museum took a few snaps and headed further along the road to have breakfast at an Udupi Restaurant around 10:00 am. I expected a lot from this one but the vada sambhar and onion uttappa reminded me of udupi hotels in Mumbai. Nothing special. Either Mumbai hotels were good or this one was just average.
There on we headed ahead towards Ankola, first – the immediate ghat ahead of Karwar, but it was beautiful climbing over the coastline. But then on the road again turning barren, perhaps the time around noon made it even more uninspiring to ride. We stopped for refreshments near Todur, where we took a few snaps of the shop and the lady owner as well. She was too shy pose solo along with her shop, so it had to be all of us in the ‘selfie’ mode. Outskirts of Ankola arrived around 2pm where a biker with a pillion rode along us asking us questions about our native place, our next halt and our final destination. This kindof interaction while riding would follow us all the way to Kanyakumari only thing that would change would be the language. We were already in a state where language was alien to us. From now on it would be just hand gestures, English nouns and Hindi verbs.
We spent about 1 hr for a lunch at a road side restaurant where the guy suggested we could also go and see a very famous “Arya Durga Temple”. But the heavy Dal fry, rotis and jeera rice had other requirements of its own. We couldn’t budge from the place, lazing till 3. When we finally got up and moved along towards Kumta. The next stop was near Shirur where we had climbed up a little and were running along the hills overlooking Gangavali river below. It was beautiful as there was hill on the other side as well and the river flowed right through the valley. After crossing the bridge over the river we saw a right for Gokarna, another tourist attraction. But it was 10km off from the highway, that would take 20km extra riding with around 2hrs extra. So we had to skip it.
The roads had improved a lot in Karnataka, not that they were bad in Goa, but since the hilly terrain had reduced. there was a greater chance of widening which was reflective in constant road widening projects along NH-17. Kumta came by around 5pm before that we crossed another river Aghnashini. The terrain had changed to hill again and traffic had worsened with trucks and buses moving at neck break speeds on the narrow NH-17. We found a lodge just opposite to the Bus stand, where the manager even allowed us to put our bikes in one of his shops which was getting built.
We got down on the road again in the evening after our routine of washing clothes and bath to explore the town. But it was really a small one. The only tourist attraction could’ve been a railway bridge running right over the centre of the town. We had tea near the bus stand and had an early dinner to get back on our beds.
The alarm buzzed normally around 5.30am and I woke up, getting through the early cycles necessary before the long riding of the day, which included stuffing ourselves with Bananas. Surya usually woke up around 6.15am. Today I was already awake around 5.15am, the body already accustomed to this early routine. It was close to 7 Surya just finishing off his share of bananas when he looked at the watch and cribbed
ये घड़ी आलसी बिलकुल भी नहीं है !!!
We laughed over it and head straight to our cycles and leaving Kumta around 7.30am. Today we had a tourist spot to visit, so we were excited about it however the road wasn’t any bit interesting.
Slowly and steadily riding right along the edge of the Panvel-Edapally highway, getting down from the road on the red sand and pebbles when a truck zipped a little close for our comforts we moved along till we came close to Murudeshwar. My GPS showed that we were around 3 – 4 kms away when we started looking for the Shiva statue on the right towards the west. Soon Surya spotted it, but before I could have a glimpse it hid itself behind trees. We were excited on the highway when we both had a clean view of the temple and the statue. Just ahead of the statue stood an astoundingly tall gray trapezium, most probably a temple. Murudeshwar Railway station was on the left, the closest railway station yet in our trips, we head straight towards it, it was around 10.30am. Took a few photos inside and outside the station came back to the booking office where Surya showed to me…
त्रिवेन्द्रम मात्र १३२ रुपयों में पहुँच सकते हो
Outside, we headed straight to the temple, a typical tourist sight with hordes of crowds, vehicles and buses. We were hesitant to lock our cycles outside but one of the flower vendors assured us and we got inside, climbing a little bit and looking back at the magnificent Murudeshwar beach. Clean water and a beach over a kilometer long. The trapezium shaped temple was 19 floors tall and had a lift / elevator charge of Rs. 10 per person if anybody wanted that sight. We then entered the cave (for a small ticket fee) which probably portrayed the story of Ravana in sculptures and paintings. Sunny outside we looked up at the huge Shiva statue, which somebody told us was the biggest in Asia. We came outside it was close to 12pm and thought we should have lunch before we ventured further.
We stopped at a Pure Veg. Kamat restaurant where I gestured with my hands for food. The girl at the counter understood that part but said she’ll have to check and went in and came back with a sad face saying
no cook… no dosa, no vada
to that I replied, that I wanted lunch. She happily nodded
yes … meal only … sit
We had our first taste of Rasam. A soup like warm spicy drink made up of Tomatoes, spices and chilly powder. Even though it was hot and spicy it gave us great feeling ! After lunch we waited there too cool ourselves nearly spending half an hour after lunch and leaving the place around 1pm.
The road as expected was bad, almost immediately we stopped for Surya who had to purchase clothing line clips to hoist his wet clothes on a bungee chords on the cycle. Bhatkal soon followed which we thought was a town with less no. of trees, too many dumping yards of metal objects, machinery, etc. We carried on till it was already past 5 and Marvanthe Beach was yet another 15kms away. We finally reached the beach around 6pm. NH-17 turned rightwards from the mainland towards the west, climbing down with the beach in sight !! It was a fabulous view. The highway was next to the beach with just the tea vendors separating the beach from the road. We saw a lot of truck drivers stopping for tea and snacks at these vendors.
We saw just one Resort there, we thought lets check if its OK for us, since there were only 20mins or so for the sun to set. It seemed OK for us and post laundry and bathing we headed straight to the beach. Today was our longest day, probably since we had spent around 3 hours at one place, Murudeshwar. We were tired initially. But the routine of cleansing and having a nice cold shower adds back 20-30% of energy back to the body.
We headed straight for the beach, sat there looking at the drowning sun then headed to the Resort / Hotel. At night the hotel guy had promised us our dinner of dal fry, rasam, mixed veg. subzi and roti on our orders. We sat outside our rooms under the trees while the cook made the food inside. He came back with really piping hot dal fry, Rasam with taste so good that it still waters my mouth as I write it. The food was probably the best we ever had on our trip. As we ate our food the guy serving us told that if we crossed the river next to the temple we would be in Padukone, the village of Deepika Padukone. Alas we didn’t have as much time !
Badagani River, Haldipur, Karnataka
Badagani and Shravati River Estuary, Honnavar, Karnataka
We started off on regular time around 7.30 and when we reached Kundapura we stuffed ourselves with Bananas. I asked the banana vendor that in Mumbai we get those bigger bananas, till now we’ve been eating the small yellow bananas. And the skin of these bananas was less than half of the thickness of the bananas we ate in Mumbai. To that the vendor replied with a strong repulsive face
वो !? इधर कोई नहीं खता ! छे !अच्छा नहीं !
We moved further on till we reached Udupi around 10.20am. We had a breakfast of vada, dosa, masala dosa in the land of the birth of Udupi Hotels. While relaxing, I saw there was around 20km stretch from Malpe to Uchila through a long strip of land where there was sea on one end with backwater on the other. We enquired few people and got to Malpe’s Harbour. There everybody directed us to St. Mary Island Ferry. With a lot of hand gestures and broken conversation, we got the bad news of there isn’t any ferry for Padukare. However Surya was insistent on that route and didn’t want to continue on the highway, A little more enquiry and we found the right ferry.
On the other side, it was heaven. A land strip that followed North-South direction with Arabian Sea on the west and the Udayavara River-Sea backwater on the inside with coconut, mango trees all around. I said to Surya,
शहरों में लोग अच्छे व्यू के घर के लिए इतना पैसा देते हैं. इधर देखो, भगवान ने सब equalize कर दिया !
लोग तरस जाएंगे पर ऐसा दृश्य नहीं मिलेगा
It was close to 12, however we were happily roaming along the cement road, at times the landstrip was no wider than 200m. With kids running alongside us asking about our whereabouts, holding out their hands to high-five us, Surya said, this was the best part of our trip yet. We stopped at Kaup beach with a lighthouse, a few snaps and later moved on to Uchila, where we confirmed directions for Karnad, even though Google Maps was bang on, a small interaction with a local is never fruitless. We asked a grandpa on a cycle about Karnad, our next stop to have lunch. He replied with a big concern on his face
अय्यै यो !! 500m highway, straight Karnad !
Joining the highway was hell after the canopy of 20km stretch, Back on the sweltering tarmac, red soil on the edges and trucks buzzing. Karnad’s junction, Mulki came by 3.00pm where had our lunch of Rice plate with 10 or more different bowls of vegetables, chutney, sambar, rasam, etc.
After the food, we followed NH-17 cutting through Suratkal checking its NITK institution. Mangalore came by 5.30pm, We had to go through chains of Chemical plants and typical outskirt landscape of factories. We found a lodging right inside the city but close to the highway. The manager was a grumpy old man who wanted to keep things in his restaurant-cum-lodge clean and in control. When we took a lot of time to unpack the bags on the cycles in his store house he shouted right at us in his strange hindi.
इतना क्यों टाइम ? पैले करने का
After the bath, we ventured out for tea and little exploration of the city. It was Mahashivratri day and Surya thought of going to a Shiv temple. And it was a great idea, We hired a rickshaw to temple with lots of people. Wading our way through seas of flower stalls, food stalls we saw a strange looking mandap, It was only serving Gobi Manchurian. A guy adding oil and more spice to dry gobi-balls and serving them. It was like the dish of the decade. Not just kids but men and women alike falling for the taste of the Indian Chinese cuisine.
The temple was decorated with lights and more. We followed a sound of beats to see a Bharatnatyam performance by a tall beautiful performer. The crowed and Surya were equally spellbound by the performance. We waited there till her performance was over and some other performances as well. I said to Surya later
अब में समझा राजा लोक नर्तकाओं के प्रेम में कैसे फस जाते थे!
On our return we asked for a Veg. restaurant and guy directed us to a restaurant which even after 15mins of our walking wasn’t in sight. We asked a sardar about it, he instantly replied
आप नार्थ इंडिया से हो न ? वहां मत जाओ, खाना अच्चन नहीं मिलता वहां। में आपको बताता हूँ वहां जाओ अच्छा खाना मिलेगा
We followed his directions to some hotel Yunkonmein, I can’t even remember its name. Surya was sure that we’d sure end up in a snack-serving restaurant serving Butter-Chicken. He was right ! After veg food in sardar-run restaurant, we headed back to our lodge.
Last night was a mosquito mayhem. Both of us had got up a few times irritated by the insects. Yet we leave on time, and use Google Maps to zip thru the Mangalore city and get on to the highway. But the state of the highway isn’t good at all. Potholes, dirt, etc. makes the road highly tiring. Almost an hour of riding and we are tiring. Crossing the Netravathi River, Surya says, I don’t understand why Karnataka has water problem. And it seemed true whole of Karnataka, we had so many river crossings and each river seemed clean and full.
But, its Thalapady. The border of Karnataka and Kerala. We stop for our banana break and take a few snaps. We’re in Kerala! We check with the KL Police if the road continues in the same dysfunctional manner, but he says its good ahead. North of Kerala seems to have high muslim population, a lot of Masjids, Madrasas are encountered. But as soon as we’ve hit Kerala, the scenery has changed, from the slightly hilly and rocky terrains in Karnataka, its now flatter. The roads seem to have narrowed a bit and passing through many greener patches and going over rivers / water bodies.
Most of the milestones had Kochi showing 400km+. It was one of our stops, and it felt so far! I concentrated back on the road and the immediate destination.
We reach Kasargod around 10.30 am and stop for breakfast. Here Surya encounters the Red and warm water served in restaurants. We have another round of Dosas, Onion Uttappas. We leave Kasargod for Kanhangad. Today we seem to have covered a lot of distance with another 30km for Kanhangad. Through the Kasargod town, we get to a point where we encounter a ghat, where I stopped to verify with Google Maps, to my fear, we have gone more than 8km off road towards the east from Kasargod instead of South. Surya decides we’ll take the ghat route and join back on the NH-17 near Udma, there was no point in doing the bad hot city road again.
Coming from the Easter ghat of Kasargod, we land up in Udma cover almost 20 km. Had we gone the right route, Udma was just 5kms. There on at every small town that we encountered I was checking Google Maps. We reached Kanhangad around 2.15pm. We stopped for lunch which seemed like a good restaurant. It was AC, when I entered it I immediately stepped out. It was way too cold for us cyclists riding in the heat of the noon. We waited for some time and got inside where the guys had just one or two subzis and chappathi. Even for a good restaurant that with clean table cloth and nice furniture, it didn’t have much for us veggies. The food was strange, we finished it off early and wandered back on road wondering if we should stay in Kanhangad or move ahead, we thought of getting to Nileshwar.
However we thought of visiting the Bhagwan Nityanand Swami Ashram. Here an old man guided us along the ashram, showing us the 44 caves and narrating the history of Bhagwan Nityanand.
There on we reached Nileshwar which was around 12km / 30mins away. At Nileshwar we were for a shock none of the Lodges had an empty room. A resort before had an AC cottage with Rs. 3500 for a night which we didn’t want. Luckily with help of few locals we ended up finding another lodge with just Rs. 400 / night.
After our baths and wearing clean clothes (which seemed like we’ve been wearing all our lives) we headed to see a local temple, where people were just lazing and relaxing under a big banyan tree. Next up was food, we got into a boat shaped 3 storied hotel. We first had juice, having Pineapple juice (the first of many to come) we headed a tier below where food was served, the topmost only served Ice-cream and juices. Here with broken language and hand movements we asked the waiter-uncle to get Masala-dosa and one neer-dosa. He got us 2 neer-dosas. Later again we asked him to get something and he got something of his own choice. There onwards, we referred to Nileshwar as the place where the waiter didn’t care for our choice just ordered what he thought we ordered.
Back in the room, the bed sheet was sticky with our sweats, it was so hot and humid, we could hardly sleep with comfort. Google showed the humidity close to 90% ! With odomos on our skin and blasting ceiling fan, the night dwindled.
Netravathi River, Mangalore
Backwater near Poyaa, Uppala, Kerala
Chandragiri River, Shiriya, Kerala
Mogral / Madhuvahini River, Mogral, Kerala
Chandragiri puzzha (Chandragiri Backwater), Kasargod, Kerala
Getting up without the alarm was now a norm, and similarly mounting on our bikes by 7.30am. We took a right after Pilicode leaving the highway on the left and heading towards Payyanur. The inner roads obviously peaceful and the early morning ride meant getting to see lots of young students mostly in their primary grade leaving for school. Typical uniform was dark shorts and light chequered shirts for boys and for girls same dark coloured dress with a gray jacket. The lively children were always a pleasant sight to watch with them extending their hands to give a clap to the riding travellers. Girls didn’t do that they just had a smile which they tried to hide.
We joined NH-17 at Payyanur and soon we left the NH at Pilathara. The road just kept going through small villages where we saw आलिशान bunglows each with a unique design and really well maintained. The small villages were plush with small malls, furniture shops. Each village seemed to be independently developing. The bungalows never stopped fascinating us, I found a very typical colour scheme though – White and shades of Gray.
By the time we reached Pappinseri, we were dehydrated. Even though the ride was through early morning, we kept going at a faster pace not really stopping for drink breaks assuming it was cool enough to ride harder. At Pappinseri we had a glass of Sugarcane juice. The pleasure that it gave to Surya was evident on his face. We couldn’t say no to another big glass. Loaded with 2 glasses of Sugarcane – the sugar rush prompted us to ride faster and harder.
We reached Kannur around 11.30am, having covered almost 60km. We stopped for our brunch. It was too late to have just breakfast and we were famished. The waiter was nice to ask
English ? Hindi ?
We had a nice comfortable conversation with him about the road, places along the way, etc. Leaving after an hour long break we reached Thalassery around 1pm. We rode along the beach. This trip was wonderful in a way that the national highway itself takes you along the beaches, first Goa, then Karwar, Marvanthe, now Thalassery.
We were tired and got into a beach side park where we relaxed in the shade of the trees and enjoyed the breeze from the sea. As we dried I suggested we might as well fill in our stomach with little so that we can do the next 20 km to Vadakara in a stretch. Just next to this park was another public park where we found a beach side shack serving refreshments and snacks. First up, we ordered juices, me going with my pineapple and Surya with orange. Then we asked him about veg. food (In Kerala unless you tell the guys you want veg. food, they’ll start with non-veg dishes). He listed standard veg. snacks of vada, etc. then his eyes lit up as he said
Gopi Chilli and Gopi Manjuri !
It took us a moment to realize that Manjuri was a reference to Manchurian. We had to order it this time, so did we with fried rice. Even though we didn’t want to go the Chinese cuisine – we had no choice. His Gopi was not a Cabbage the normal ingredient in Manchurian balls, but it was Cauliflower, with big pieces of the vegetable lathered with the brown chilli like sauce seemed to be the most popular dish in south India.
After our first encounter with Gopi Manjuri we headed southwards, first we checked out the Thalassery fort, which wasn’t much. It was more of a chillout zone for school kids who either had bunked or waiting for their periods to start
A little further we crossed a very beautiful and clean Mahe river. We noticed on the board, that Mahe was part of the Union Teritorry – Puducherry (Pondichery). This meant a lot of liquor shops! Vadakara wasn’t far, by 5.20 we were looking for lodging. The lodge we found had a common TV viewing area with benches neatly laid for viewers to experience the nuisance called the TV.
After our long ritual of cleaning, we headed into the town for tea, food and some touristy destinations that it offered. First we roamed to find medical shop to purchase skin creams to keep my घमोरी in check. Then checked out the railway station hoping to be a small lovely one like Murudeshwar was a quite well built one, we disheartened finally got into a veg. restaurant where a busy, dark, thin waiter offered the only veg. dishes as vada, dosa, nai roast, masala dosa, tomato fry, chilli gobi and gobi manchuri. We couldn’t brave another gopi dish so went for tomato fry.
At the lodge, we re-planned our itinerary as we were running around 60kms ahead of our schedule. Our new plan was as follows