7 days of driving around Karnataka – Temples, Hills, Forests, Caves, Ruins, Forts and Highways

Agumbe, Aihole, Badami, Bangalore, Chikmagalur, Chitradurga, Gokarna, Hampi, Hassan, Hornadu, Hospet, Hubli, Idagunji, Kalasa, Kollur, Kudremukh, Mahakuta, Maravanthe beach, Murudeshwar, Pattadakal, Shivayogi mandira, Sringeri

The three of us returned on 2nd Jan after another wonderful road trip! [Sanjay, Sangeetha & Santro ;-)] We started out at around 7.00am on the 27th of December and parked back at 10.30pm on 2nd Jan 09, making it a 7 day trip around Karnataka.. 7 days of sheer driving pleasure.

Day 1 – 27th Dec 08
Bangalore > Hassan > Chikmagalur > Kalasa > Hornadu
Around 330kms
Overnight stay in Hornadu

Day 2 – 28th Dec 08
Hornadu > Kudremukh > Sringeri > Agumbe > Kollur
Around 185kms
Overnight stay in Kollur

Day 3 – 29th Dec 08
Kollur > Maravanthe beach > Murudeshwar > Idagunji > Gokarna > Hubli
Around 390kms
Overnight Stay in Hubli

Day 4 – 30th Dec 08
Hubli > Badami
Around 130kms
Overnight stay in Badami

Day 5 – 31st Dec 08
Badami > Shivayogi mandira > Mahakuta > Pattadakal > Aihole > Hospet
Around 130kms
Overnight stay in Hospet

Day 6 – 1st Jan 09
Hospet > Hampi > Hospet
Around 24kms (12 + 12)
Overnight stay in Hospet

Day 7 – 2nd Jan 09
Hospet > Chitradurga > Bangalore
Around 365kms
Back to base!


Drive details:

  • Total distance on the trip meter : 1692 Kms
  • Never drove beyond 10pm on any day [Avoided night-drives on unfamiliar roads]
  • Road conditions : around 60% good, 30% acceptable & 10% bad [Bad stretches mainly between Hornadu – Sringeri, on Agumbe Ghats, between Hubli & Badami]
  • Assumed that the average speed would be around 45kmph on country roads/state-highways and 65kmph on the NHs and planned the destinations accordingly.

Things to watch-out for while driving:

  • Unmarked speed breakers on the highways, before and after every village or town limit.
  • Seriously bad roads, potholes and craters! on the SK Border – Sringeri stretch, Agumbe Ghats.
  • Mofussil buses, Shared autos, Mini-trucks who seem to get this urge to stop suddenly without warning.
  • Trucks on NH4, NH17, NH48, NH63 & NH13, who decide to execute sharp overtaking maneuvers just when you are about to pass by.
  • Jeeps / Cabs / Buses who like to play chicken when there is no road-shoulder for you to move on to.
  • Sign-posts that are hidden behind vegetation, covered with posters or just non-existent. (Whenever you come to or cross a fork in the road with no sign-boards, stop and ask someone!)

Other comments:

  • The route is quite ‘family friendly’ with decent accommodation and food options in all the places where we stayed overnight.
  • Sleeping bags are recommended, since you will not have to worry about the cleanliness of the bed-linen, just spread your sleeping bags on the hotel beds. (Or carry your own bedsheets)
  • Bottled water (Bisleri, Kinley or local brands) is available through-out.
  • Eat light, stick to ‘tried and tested’ and well cooked stuff like Idly / Dosa / Rice & rasam etc.
  • Buy fresh bananas for a quick bite to eat during the day while exploring and chocolates for munching during the drives.
  • Carry a couple of tubes of Odomos mosquito repellant cream, else you might end up with a case of severe blood-loss by morning πŸ˜‰
  • The usual first-aid kit with some disinfectant, cotton, Electral, Band-Aid strips, pain-killers is recommended.
  • Floaters are good for walking around in most places, Sneakers for any trekking / climbing.
  • We came across SBI ATMs in most small towns on the way, as long as you have a Visa/Mastercard, cash should not be a problem.
  • We found that Airtel does not work in places like Kollur, Hornadu etc. A BSNL sim card should be useful if you need to stay in touch.
  • Avoid small and decrepit petrol stations and whenever you find a decent one, get a full-tank. [By making sure that you tank-up before the half-way mark, you are averaging out the quality of fuel, just in case the fuel quality is bad.]
  • Carrying a torch, toolkit and a tube-less puncture repair kit with a foot-pump is a safe bet.
  • When there are multiple routes to a destination, ask a couple of locals (bus/auto/truck drivers) for the best route. The shortest route may not always be the best of roads.


The prelude…

Both of us had leaves that had to be exhausted before the year end and we planned to take the time off during the last week of December 08. We would have a block of holidays starting from Saturday the 27th Dec 08 up to Sunday 4th Jan 09.


The previous week…

“So, what plans for the New year’s eve?”

“Let me plan something… you fancy Goa or Pondy or something else?”
“I’ll go with the ‘Something else’, Goa & Pondy will be too crowded”

“Ok… how about heading down south? I haven’t seen Tanjore, Kumbakonam, Madurai etc. we can drive all the way down to Kanyakumari and cover quite a few places enroute?”
“Well, mom wanted to go to Tanjore, Chidambaram etc. so it would be nice to plan that trip when they come to Bangalore”

“Ok… let me think over it for a couple of days and we’ll come up with the ‘something else’”

Vacation plans were being discussed by colleagues and friends… and someone mentioned about going to the Annapoorneshwari temple in Hornadu. I had been to Hornadu with my parents around 20 years ago and I had vague memories of an old tile roofed temple set in a green valley, I remember the driver asking us all to get down at a couple of places where we had to ford across a stream… and I remembered being served hot and tasty food in the temple verandah. It would be nice to go back there again.

“Hey, I propose going to Hornadu, its been quite a while since either of us have gone there, so why not Hornadu, Sringeri and other places nearby. Winter is a good time to drive around in Dakshina Kannada”

“I did go to Dharmasthala & Kukke early this year remember?… so skip those”

“Ok, let me find what are the other places around Hornadu and Sringeri that are worth visiting and I’ll chart out a trip”
“Sounds like a good plan!”

Spent a few hours over the next two days poring over various websites.

While searching around for places to be seen around Sringeri and their distances, I came across this webpage: http://www.kollur.com/html/services.html.
The page mentioned distances from Kollur to Sringeri, Gokarna, Murudeshwar. Hmmm! interesting… where did I put the Karnataka road map.

Initial thought was to cover all the places around Sringeri – Kollur areas, take the coastal stretch till Gokarna, reach Hubli via Ankola and then NH4 all the way back to Bangalore. I noticed ‘Badami’ was a little further up from Hubli…

I had been to Badami once as a kid and Sangeetha had never been to that area… so why not cover that too? with Bijapur and Hampi almost equidistant from Badami, I opted for Hampi.

Having spent quite some time in Davanagere, I have been to Chitradurga 4 to 5 times during my school and college days and whenever we drove past the fort on NH4, I would remark to Sangeetha that I’ll take her there sometime. Since it lay on the way back to Bangalore, I decided to include that too… googled around for the distances between all the places, noted down the ‘must see’ spots for each location, checked out holidayiq and other sites for accommodation options and got the final plan approved πŸ™‚ starting the count down to the 27th…


Day 1 – Saturday 27th Dec 08
Bangalore > Hassan > Chikmagalur > Kalasa > Hornadu

The original plan was to wind up early on Friday and hit the road by 5.00am on Saturday. But both of us got held up till late by office work and by the time we came back, finished the last minute packing etc. it was close to midnight. So decided to get atleast 6 hours of sleep and hit the road at 7.00am sharp.

Rolled out at 7.00 as planned from home on Airport road and I opted to take the NICE roads from Hosur road all the way till Tumkur road. Two reasons for this; one was to avoid the inner city traffic and mainly to get some smooth tarmac to see if the car had any alignment or balancing problems.

I had got a full service done recently, but wasn’t sure if the balancing had been done correctly. Pushed the speedo all the way up to 140kmph, car was running true, with no vibrations. Good! Reached Nelamangala by around 8.00am, turned towards Hassan.

First pit stop at Kunigal for breakfast. I just stopped at the first decent looking hotel in town with a couple of cars standing in front. Had some ‘not so good’ idlis and continued ahead. We noticed quite a few better hotels just after Kunigal… would have been better to stop at one of those.

The first of the many many Nariyal-Pani stops over the next 7 days…


Initial plan was lunch at Hornadu and Dinner & stay in Sringeri, but due to the 7.00am start, we were close to Chikmagalur at lunchtime. Decided to have lunch in Chickmagalur and stopped over at ‘Planters Court’. Saw these two old gentlemen displayed in front; one is a BSA, not sure what the green one is…



As we move up into the hills, it starts getting greener and cooler…


Stopped for a quick bio break along the way and noticed this green fella in the grass, practically invisible! He hopped onto a wall before I could click…


One of the many rivers and streams that we would cross over the next few days…


Caught a glimpse of some white-water in one of the valleys, walked down a bit to see the first waterfall of the trip…


The gopuram at Kalasa…


The Kalaseshwara temple. Had a quick darshan, a walk around the temple and moved on…


Reached Hornadu by around 5.00pm and it was crowded!!!, thanks to the weekend rush. The Annapoorneshwari temple had grown and changed beyond what I remembered… the quaint tile roofed temple complex was hidden behind the modern concrete accommodation and dining halls. The old-style entrance arch was renovated into a new structure… there were a lot many buildings around and the valley was much less greener than what I remembered. Well, the price of popularity I guess.

There were scores of vehicles parked all around and many more were pouring in. We parked close to the temple and headed to the temple accommodation only to find it completely booked. There was a waiting list for rooms and we got WL number 32. The person at the counter mentioned that rooms might get vacated at around 9.30pm and 10.30pm when the RTC buses leave from Hornadu, we should come back and check at around 8.30pm. Walked around to the nearest lodges and found them either fully booked or only 5 to 8 sleeper family rooms available.

“Should we finish darshan and proceed to Sringeri? Looks like there might be a problem with the accommodation. But since we have to have the prasadam meals which starts at 7.00pm, we will be here till 7.30pm atleast”

“If Hornadu is crowded, Sringeri might be too, let us halt here tonight. Also, you said that the road to Sringeri might not be good for night-driving? Let us first finish darshan and then worry about what next”

"Ok Ma’am, let me get a towel"

(Guys have to take off their shirts before entering the sanctum, as a mark of humility, you can put a towel around your shoulders though.)

Had a good darshan of Annapoorneshwari, proceeded to the prasadam meals hall and had a hot and ‘quick’ dinner. The temple folk at Hornadu, Sringeri, Dharmasthala have perfected the process of serving 1000s of meals every day, into a smooth and streamlined operation. All enter, plates and glasses, round 1, round 2, round 3 and all out! Not more than 15 minutes for an entire batch of a few hundreds.

Walked back to the accommodation to find that the WL was cleared upto WL-5. With more than an hour to go till the next bus left at 9.30pm, we just decided to wait in the car.

Lowered the front seats fully, put the pillows we had carried on the head-rest, lowered the windows a little and snoozed off for a while.

I woke up at 9.30pm and found that the waiting list had moved only till WL-11. I decided to check with nearby lodges again and found a double room available at the ‘Devi’ lodge a little further from the temple. Not the best of places, but the room had a clean loo and a place to spread our sleeping bags, all that we wanted. Parked in the area behind the lodge, freshened up, set the alarm for 5.30 and logged out for the night. (Hot water is available only from around 6.00am, so no point waking up too early)

Annaporneshwari temple; took this pic the next morning from the balcony of the ‘Devi’ lodge room, without any zoom. Now you get an idea of how far the lodge is from the temple… and its location in context of the temple.


One comment to...
“7 days of driving around Karnataka – Temples, Hills, Forests, Caves, Ruins, Forts and Highways”

hey due to nice trip article ,

but just wanted where exactly did u see that Humvee kind of thing ?


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