Goa was on the cards when we planned it, but as the date of riding neared plan changed and changed a lot. I was a lonely rider on the NH 4, and wasn't sure about the place to stay on the first night of the ride. Goa isn't, like, much of fun for an introvert like me (yes introvert, else I would have been telling stories than writing ;), and so I was all ready to stay somewhere in a roadside motel en route on the first night.
Night before the ride, I received a call from Vinni minutes after I posted about my ride on Bisons’ forum and twitter etc. He not only got me a room booked at Hubli with help of Mr Sanjay Hubli’s 99Cannons Bullet group but also advised to visit Gokarna especially Om Beach. As it told (wrote) earlier, riding alone I was way ahead of time and reached Hubli well before sunset. So, I replanned the plan again and took a right turn (by actually turning left on NH 4 and then through an underpass) towards Gokarna.
It’s not a very famous beach especially amongst Indian junta, and the fact makes it a perfect get-away destination. However, it’s certainly a famous religious town associated with Shiva and his great bhakta (devotee) Ravana, and so during month of Shravana (July-August) and on Maha Shivaratri one can expect meeting millions of religious-tourist on the beaches.
There are many legends attributed to this place. While one attaches it to the Parshuram’s axe which was thrown into the sea to prevent the erosion of Southern ghats of Indian peninsula, stretching from Gokarna to Kanyakumari; another talks attribute it to Ravana’s pledge to establish his hard-earned Shivalinga in Lanka, which he had to lose a Gokarna. It says, that the linga wasn’t supposed to be put on earth except at the place where Ravana wanted to establish it. On his tour to Lanka from Kailash, where he earned it, Ravana had to stop at Gokarna for evening prayers and so had to take hel of a Brahmin kid, disguised Ganesha, to hold the linga. As conspired by Gods, Ganesha puts it down. Ravana tries to take the hold of it but in vain, in process he throws its covering to Surthkal, Dhareshwar, Gunavanteshwar, Murudeshwar and Shejjeshwar, where other Shiva temples are then established. (Courtesy: Wikipedia)
|First sight of the
(Sorry for the quality, I uninstalled that camera app)
There are number of temples in this small town, and so are the beaches. I could only visit Hanuman’s birth temple and the Mahabaleshwar temple. For the beaches, I visited Om Beach first, as advised by Vinni, but couldn’t get any place to stay. My wrong! Namaste Café/ Resort in one good place to stay just before the Om Beach. It is also quite near to another serene beach- Kuddle. I could only get a place at Gokarna International, which is situated just at the centre of the town. Except that, there was no point to stay there if you can spend a little higher and are especially with a family or bunch of friends. Still, I must appreciate that I got a good deal for the night and hospitality wasn’t that bad, otherwise I had a tiring and horrible experience of waiting for just checking into another hotel that’s situated before the Gokarna International (forgot the name!).
(A better pic is available online, I know I messed it all :'( )
|Hanuman's Birth Temple at Kuddle|
(Nobody was there to tell me the story/myth)
|Gokarna Beach in the morning|
Well, a night there, morning at beach, idli-tea-dosa as dinner and breakfast I left the town. Good was to meet another backpacker from Britain who was certainly astonished by the place as had not planned Goa but Gokarna in his India itinerary.
- Plan well, this place is awesome. If you stay in Karnataka, a day-trip would be good, but an overnight stay and time spent on beach would always be hell better.
- Book the resort, Hotels ain’t good.
- Monsoon, post-monsoon always the best time to visit!
Next day’s destination was Jog. Jog or Jog Falls is the second highest waterfall of the country. Sharavathi River falling from a height of 253 m (830 ft) creates this magnificent waterfall. Nohkalikai Falls of Meghalaya is the highest Indian waterfall with a height of 335m.
There are four distinct falls, distinct especially after a good monsoon season. Raja Fall, as the name suggests, is the highest one with a height of 250 m. At about half way it meets the violent Roarer. Rocket, the third one, is characterised by jets of water while Rani is the charming calm one. About 1500 step leads one to the bottom of the fall. It takes about an hour to get down and double the time while ascending, OK! Tested! Verified!
About the trip: I left Gokarna town at about 10 o’clock and got on to NH 17 (Mumbai-Goa Highway, now NH 66) towards Mangalore. I knew I had to take left after some 50km of ride. To be more confident about the route, I asked a person and he delightfully helped me, ‘Go straight, OneHour, Left’. Thick accent, but I could understand all except how he could be so precise about time. I asked another guy, and had same answer, ‘Go straight, OneHour, Left’. After about an hour’s ride I reached a place where I found a left sign towards Jog/Shimoga. I knew this is the place, especially when the town’s name caught my attention – “Honnaver’! Ohh! It wasn’t OneHour but Honnaver ;) Similar incidents happened many a times again when I lost in the traffic of Bangalore later in the evening.
|Somewhere on NH 69|
(just realised, it's a funny name;)
NH69 connects Honnaver to Shimoga, and little detour takes one to Jog. The day was fine with little rain. Roads were mostly single lane with curves through the northern edge of Sharavathy Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. It was such a great riding across the Jungle, enjoying the beauty, wishing to have a sight of some wild animal, especially the Lion Tailed Macaque. When nothing bestowed, I wished for at least a snake. First serpant came just across the next bend, a dead one spanning across that some 10feet road. A little later, a smaller snake was lying dead. Third wasn’t much far, lying stationary, pretty inactive on the road. I felt so sorry for it, when all of sudden it came to life and looked at me, God! It scared the hell outta me…. I didn’t wish for any wild surprises thereafter…
|Somewhere on NH 69 in the Jungle|
|Only sight of Lion tailed Macaque|
I reached Jog at about 12 o’clock riding another 60 kms. Parked Achtung near the viewpoint and planned to descend down the 1500 something steps. While going downstairs, whosoever I met was sweat-bathed and when asked about what time they took, replied in sign-language – a finger going down, two raising up i.e. an hour to reach bottom, twice to get back! Some 1000-1200 steps down; I decided not to go further. Monsoon was yet to arrive in full mood, so the falls were not that magnificent. But, at least I witnessed the Raja Fall, second highest in India! :) Weather was moist and rain was icing to the moist-cake! Inside my thick and heavy riding jacket I was literally sweating light a pig. Anyhow I managed to get back to the top and met Chandrashekhar, local kid, selling fresh cut pineapple and cucumber. Some time spent with him, clicking a few shots with my mobile cam, I left the place towards Shimoga/Bangalore.
|Yes, it's Jog!|
|Jog, when it started raining|
|Chandrashekhar and his shop :)|
- Visit Jog after a pretty monsoon, or else you would be disheartened.
- A group visit would double the fun, especially at the bottom of falls.
- One may try to stay at Jog Falls. There are a few resorts nearby. May plan for the trip inside the Jungles too, lucky one would be witnessing the Macaques, endemic to Western Ghats.
(Ek pose to banta hai)
Jog to Bangalore
My day’s stop was Bangalore, and I had still to ride over 350 km. Plan was to ride straight to Tumkur via Shimoga and got on to NH 4 (now NH48). Ride was mostly cool, nothing significant except when I had to solve the puzzle to somehow reach the NH 4 which was just there but without any entry/exit point. I won’t be able to describe it, if it wouldn’t be that local guy I would have wasted much time. Next tough job was to ride ‘along’ the Bangalore through the Old Link Road and reach Koramangla. I have almost mugged up the printed Google maps, but as I entered the MegaCity, I somehow missed the Link Road and literally ‘entered the Mega City’. About an hour of struggle with one-ways, circles, traffic, accent “straight-o, right-o, left-o, deadend-o’, I met an Angel Uncle on flying on a Bajaj Chetak, who helped me ride some 20-25 km across the town to reach my destination,
- Don’t just ride with the map, ask people. They are always savior. To my luck, I never met anybody who misguided me on any trip in any city.
- Be aware of Bangalore, it’s a huge city.
- If you curse Mumbai-traffic, Mann you need to see the other cities….