For sometime we had been planning a long trip on the roads of western coast line of Karnataka and Goa. Last weekend being a 4 day holiday, it was the best time to realize it. The plan was to take a car and leave Bangalore on Thursday evening, enter the coast near the town of Honnavara(translated, means something like 'El Dorado'!) and drive north till Panaji and return to Bangalore around Monday evening or midnight. It was actually tough to find people to fill the car(!), so at the end, there were three of us leaving Bangalore instead of originally planned four.
The problem of making decisions started even before we began the trip. The question was 'what car to take'? The options were to take my car, another fellow traveller's car or to rent one. The criterion for selecting the car were comfort, speed and tolerance to bad roads, and economics. It would cost big time to hire a car but getting a big car would mean a comfortable journey. Finally we rented a car from a travels company as this would also shield our cars from risks of a long journey. After working out our choices on the cars, we zeroed in on a Ford Ikon. Our choice turned out to be a good one. At the end of the journey, we are glad we took this car and not any thing lesser. As a good part of the journey was spent with the car, this travelog may also end up being a review of the car, and the roads we passed by. Of the three of us, only two could drive and we decided to drive alternately as directed by fatigue. But for both of us, driving happened to be more fun than tiring business :-). Since we had a car, we packed in as much stuff as we could without worrying about having to carry too much luggage. To quote an example, I took three sets of footwear with me. Without the car, I would have settled for the one I would be wearing. There was not much effort required in preparing the car, as the rental company had it in a fairly good condition.
We designed our routes with the help of tracks from india over land and maps of India. It will be of help refer to this Karnataka road map and this india over land route if you would ever like to repeat this road trip or if you are keenly interested in knowing the route we travelled.
We left Bangalore around 6pm Thursday. As usual, we were late against the planned 4-30pm. The first day's plan was to reach Shimoga as early as we can and catch some sleep there. The road to Shimoga comprises of 70kms of National Highway 4 from Bangalore to Tumkur and 200kms of National highway 206 from Tumkur onwards. The whole journey is slow and painful. The first part of the journey has very high traffic. Though the roads are empty from Tumkur, we face many bad stretches of road which makes things no better. The car performed pretty well in both parts of the road. It had the much needed pickup for overtaking in the highways. Shocks performed beyond our expectations in bad stretches. The only problem was the vibration in the steering wheel at speeds above 100. I was surprised to see that in such a sturdy car. We drove at speeds of around 70 to 120kph. Driving at 120s would normally not have been possible but we had a leader to help us out on the road. For nearly an hour, we tailed a Hyundai Accent that was going at very high speed. We discovered it is a good idea to tail another vehicle in the night than driving on the open road. That way, we have little to worry about visiblity problem and safety in fast driving. The driver of the Accent seemed to have a good control over his car and was driving at fairly high speed. We would not have managed such speeds if we had not tailed him. We reached Shimoga at around 12-45 in the might. After deciding to rise at around 6 in the morning we hit the bed thinking of the next day's drive.
The post seems to be getting really really long. I think I'll post one day's happenings every day. So, to be continued..... :-)
I am submitting pics from the trip only today. So I can start posting them after 2 days from today.