Driving to Goa?

Why road trips? Why drive half a day to goa? Why not just fly?

For us, the best part about road trips is the chance to enjoy and explore the simple but beautiful sub urban/rural landscapes and lifestyles. Driving gives us the freedom to stop anywhere and take in the simple vistas that surround you. Add a few like minded friends + families to the mix and it becomes a completely different experience. The joy of experiencing a place – can be a small steam by the road or a beautiful view from a hilltop, is only enhanced multiple fold when you share it with other like minded folks. Add to that the anecdotes, stories and playful banter and you have an almost perfect recipe for great memories.

Green fields near Hosadurga

Introducing the Characters

This trip was fun only because of all the people involved. A lot of our recent trips have been dont with my friend CSK. He and his wife Dr.S are travel adventurers who dont shy away from the remote, unreachable locations and go the extra mile to turn a journey into an experience. SSG is another travel junkie who drives half way across the length of India every year to visit his parents. His stoicism shouldn’t be mistaken for indifference. A couple of beers and you cant help but share his abundant mirth and joy for life. SSGs sister MGT joined us on this trip and we have to say that she is a live wire 🙂 PCR and his Wife LKS were the other couple on this trip and we have to bow down to their abundant patience when it comes to dealing with their children – twins.

The four steeds at Talakalele Dam.

Whats the Plan?

The plan was very simple – get to Palolem and chill. No driving around, absolutely no exploring. We almost did manage to do that except during our onward journey to Palolem.

A complicated set of arrangements through CSKs friends ensured that we managed to get permissions to visit some of the restricted areas in and around Sharavathi valley/jog falls. We did spend a lot of time wandering around the valley trying to figure out routes and best roads that can get us to the various spots of interest. Given the paucity of time, we were only able to visit:

  • Vadanbail Padmavathy temple – simple but delicious lunch served as prasad ensured that we don’t go hungry for a long time.
  • Talakalele Balancing reservoir – drove over the dam and enjoyed the cool breeze.
  • Linganamakki power house and dam – the dam is about 4kms long with the main gate sections located right in the middle – 11 gates of which none were open when we visited. We were able to drive over the sluice gates to the main gates but were not allowed to drive over the main gate section. We did spend time walking over the main gates admiring the surroundings.

All of the above ensured that we had a long night drive ahead of us as we started from Jog falls at 6.45 pm. The drive to Honnavara was pure bliss at night with minimal traffic and great roads. Honnavar – Karwar was the exact opposite and extremely bad experience with unmarked deviations, lots of bad sections et al. We managed to deal with all of that and reached our destination by Midnight.

River view from Talpona bridge

We had reserved our stay at Sobit Sarovar Portico at Paloem and that was probably the best decision we made. Separate review of the resort posted here.

Sobit Sarovar Portico – Palolem, Goa

Explored Palolem beach, The old bridge on Talpona river and Talpona beach over the next few days. Drove back via Yellapura – Kalaghatgi – Shiggaon – Davangere.

Route and Road Conditions

Onward: BLR – Hiriyur – Ajjampura – Tarikere – Shimoga – Honnavara – Karwar – Palolem

Gmaps: https://goo.gl/maps/bYwMkYvWh7cwrx9s5

Total distance: ~570 kms
Drive time: ~9 hours 25 min

BLR – Hiriyur – Ajjampura – Tarikere – Shimoga: Probably is the best route to Shimoga with beautiful roads. Could easily get to Shimoga in less than 4 hours with a 4.30 am start. Small stretch of road near hosadurga is bad but doable in any vehicle.

Shimoga – Sagara – Talguppa: Very good roads. Drive time ~1 hour

Talguppa – Gerasappa – Honnavara: Overall the road is in great shape as we were able to drive comfortably even in the dark. Well-marked roads with reflectors and road signs. One section of the ghat around Uppooni is bad with potholes and loose gravel, which needs to be driven with care. Drive time ~1 hour 45 min

Honnavara – Karwar – Goa Border: Was a nightmare in the night with a lot of unmarked deviations, sudden deviations/bad section and single side traffic in multiple sections of the road. Would not recommend this section of the road post sunset. Drive time ~2 hours

Goa Border – Palolem: NH66 is good and was a breeze at night without a lot of traffic. Drive time ~40 min

Return: Palolem – Karwar – Yellapura – Kalaghatgi – Tadas – Shiggaon – Davangere – BLR

Gmaps: https://goo.gl/maps/5KzpatAZVXwgyJXV6

Total distance: ~570 kms
Drive time: ~9 hours 20 min

Palolem – Karwar: Good roads till the border. Post that need to negotiate the WIP sections. Drive Time ~1 hour

Karwar – Baleguli – Idgundi – Yellapur: Average to good roads especially after the turnoff at Baleguli. Need to watch out for sections of the roads that have been stripped off by heavy traffic. Artibail ghat section is in bad shape and low GC cars will struggle as there are deep deep ruts along the curves and center of the road is just lumps of tar. Needs care and patience while crossing this section. Drive Time ~1 hour 20 min

Yellapura – Kalaghatgi: Very good roads till you hit Kalaghatgi town. Drive time ~30 min

Kalaghatgi – Tadas: 1.5Lane road with some bad sections while passing through villages. Most of the road is good and very much drivable. Drive time ~30 min

Tadas – Shiggaon: SH1 after Tadas is a beautiful 2L road and before Dhundsi, Gmaps will show a small road as deviation to join the main Hubli – BLR highway. This road is very much drivable and leads through some beautiful fields to the NH. Drive time ~20 min

Shiggaon – DVG – BLR: Known evils of road expansion all the way till Chitradurga ensure that your avg speed is around 60 kmph. Haveri – Chitradurga took about 2 hrs 20 min and was no fun. Thankfully Chitradurga to JAS toll is still good and we were easily able to do the same in little less than 2 hours.


Preferred Pit Stops

  1.  Essar petrol pump, Tarikere – very clean restrooms.
  2. Aramane Vaibhava, Tarikere – good food, clean restrooms.
  3. Meenakshi bhavan, Shimoga – amazing dosa, avalakki etc
  4. Saanvi, Shimoga – good food, clean restrooms.
  5. Green embassy, Sagara – small detour from the highway but a good pitstop for food
  6. Shiv Sagar, Honnavara – probably the only decent option around Honnavara
  7. Ratna Sagar, Karwar – on the NH with ample parking. Good stop for a quick bite