Whenever my father does anything, it has to start at 5:00 in the morning. And so it was 5:00 a.m. in the morning that we got out our home. We were to reach Bombay on the 3rd day. The entire National Highway 17 would be covered in this time.
Day 1 – Cochin to Magalore , 420 Kms
Day 2 – Mangalore to Panaji , 410 Kms
Day 3 – Panaji to Mumbai , 537 Kms
The total distance was about 1350 kms and we planned to cover 500 kms per day. We saw Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharastra.
Though I always pull my father’s legs with this 5:00 am stuff, but I too firmly believe that all long drives must start at 5:00. The reason being that almost everybody is sleeping at this time. No schools , offices etc. Even the night drivers generally stop by 4:00 in the morning. So this is the ideal time to start the drive. If we start 5:00 generally one can cover anything in between 250 to 300 kms in the first 3 hours.
They say that a picture can say a thousand words. So instead of writing everything, I’ll just put up the pictures.
Day One – 22nd Oct. 2002. Cochin to Udupi .
Our first halt was for breakfast at about 7:30 in the morning close to Kottakal.
My mom and wife at Indian Coffee House (ICH), Kottakal.
From Calicut we moved towards Kannur and Thalassery . Kannur is a crowded small town and we lost our way there. So we took circles there for about 45 minutes and finally managed to get out. Just out of Thalassery and the Highway police caught us.
Apparently we were over speeding. If I see anybody over 60 km/hr on those roads, I’ll gladly give him Rs 500. The police incident became a strong competitor for the highlight of the day.
It was already 2:30 by then and my mom and wife were getting hungry. We crossed Mahe which is famous for cheap alcohol and fuel. We fueled the car there. Later we were told that the fuel is generally adulterated there. Fortunately we faced no problems. Then we all have lunch.
It was about 5:00 in the evening when we reached mangalore. We were supposed to stop there but right after Kerala the roads become great and one can really speed up. So we thought we’ll go till Upudi instead. That was a good decision.
Coastal Karnataka has a lot of beaches if one wants to visit. We reached Udupi by 6:30 and took a room in a hotel called Karavali. It was the biggest hotel there but it is no way comparable to a hotel in any major city in India. However, the place is clean and really cheap. That is one of the best things about Udupi everything is really cheap. We had a good Thali dinner there which would have cost us something like Rs 60 per person in Cochin, cost us only Rs 30 there.
We went to the famous Krishna Temple there. It was a wonderful place and worth the visit. Mom had a slight problem there with her sugar level reducing. But then the prasad there helped. And she was perfect quickly.
The highlight of the day was surely the Temple.
Day Two – 23rd Oct. 2002. Udupi to Ratnagiri
Starting early from Karnataka really helped. We had are breakfast somewhere between Ankola and Karwar.
The national highway 17 is the best in this area. Though not a broad highway. The roads are very good and the traffic is not very high. Generally a safe and fast highway.
Coastal Karnataka is very beautiful. Most of us think Bangalore when we talk about Karnataka.
Karwar is famous for water sports. It is the border between Goa and Karnataka.
By about 10:00 in the morning we were getting out of Karwar.
The moment we were to enter Goa it started drizzling. One interesting thing to be noted is that when we cross the Kerala – Karnataka border nobody even sees the car. However, when we enter or leave Goa , they have something like 3 check posts. And all the guys guys want some bribe or the other. Fortunately, they ask for Rs. 5 or 10. Unlike Kerala Police. While going we paid nothing as we had no alcohol with us.
Goa is a lot like Kerala. The people are similar and the food is almost the same taste and preference. My wife being a Konkani wanted to eat Goan food. Both my Mom and wife love Fish. Goa is the ideal place for fish lovers.
The roads were quite bad and I kept driving. At about 2:30 we were to cross the Goa border. But on popular demand we I had to turn back and look for a hotel. Finally we all settled for a small hotel where all the truck drivers stop. It was not bad. They gave some good Fish. Both me and my Father are vegetarians so we had nothing special.
The original idea was have our halt in Goa. But I wanted to move further. Since the steering wheel was in my possession, others had no say. However, I must confess one thing. This was not a really good idea. After Goa one has to go about 200 kms to get a decent hotel to stay in and in Maharastra the National Highway is just Ghats. Most of the highway has 2 common signboards “Ghat Suru” or “Ghat Samapt” (hill drive ahead/end) and “Gav Ahe” (Village ahead).
We had our stop at Ratnagiri. Ratnagiri is famous for Mangoes. The hotel was a useless one and I would not recommend anybody to stop there. One the way actually we had seen a Taj holiday resort in Chiplun but we did not believe that it was Taj. Later we realized it was. It would have been a good idea to stop there instead.
We were all very tired by then and had dinner there in the hotel itself. That is where I realized that Tuckie loves lime.
Day Three – 24th Oct.2002. Ratnagiri to Bombay
It was really a pretty time in the morning when we started. The entire road is through hills and it misty. So it looked like a dream.
It was a short drive. By about 12:00 we reached Bombay. We made one mistake of taking a CD player with us which works on batteries. This meant that by about 8:00 in the morning the batteries drain out and we had no option to listen to music. Just some old cassettes. In the morning we hear the CD and later we switch back to the music player. On the Ratnagiri – Mumbai stretch we were listening to some old songs which my father and mother like a lot and in no time we had papa singing “Chingari koyi bhadake”…
We completed phase one of the trip. It was one of the rare moments in my life when I could spend quality time with my mother, father , wife and nephew together.