Mumbai – Goa – Coonoor – Mumbai : An Epic Roadtrip

Road trips are always fun, and when you combine the sea with the mountains, it’s something else!

End of December, 2014, we had some work in Goa, and after much pondering, we decided to leave. It was already 2pm and I never like to drive at night, but work is work! We took the NH4 (Mumbai – Pune – Bangalore Highway) because I prefer it over the single laned frustration that is the NH17 (Goa Highway). From Mumbai till Kolhapur, the journey has become un-scenic and boring, with construction on both sides of the road.

Our first stop was Kolhapur, but since it was the Christmas Eve weekend in Goa, all the hotels around these natural stopovers were booked. We were lucky to just find one place which had a room for us. Nothing too great, but good enough to spend the night. We started early next morning, and thankfully the Kolhapur – Belgaum- Goa, the route was much better.

Goa was beautiful. One has to look for the non touristy beaches, and there are still a few left, like this one at Talpona.
Food at Goa is nice, when you know where to eat.
Food at Goa is nice, when you know where to eat.
What is road tripping without a good dose of photography. Especially on film!
Beautiful drive next to a White Lotus stream. Goa.
This time around, we visited the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary. We had reached late, couldn’t spot any wildlife, not even decent birds. Wonder if anything is left.

Since it was the Christmas – New Year week, not much was happening work-wise, in Mumbai, and we planned to extend our trip and visit The Kochi Muziris Biennale. So after three days in Goa, we left early morning for Kochi. Our first stop was a Kamat’s at Honavar for breakfast.

Somewhere near Honavar, the road is a narrow strip of land with sea on one side and backwaters on the other.
Somewhere near Honavar, the road is a narrow strip of land with sea on one side and backwaters on the other.
On one side of the road there is the sea and on the other are these backwaters.
On one side of the road there is the sea and on the other are these backwaters.

Around lunch time, we spotted an interesting looking place called ‘Fish Land’, at Nayimpally, just before Udupi. We decided to check out the food. It looked good, and we had an impromptu lunch break here.

Hotel Sharadamba Fish Land
On the way from Goa to Kannur, we stopped at this authentic fish curry rice place at Nayimpally, just before Udupi. The owner was a kind gentleman, and the food superb!
Delicious fish curry rice at Hotel Sharadamba Fish Land
Delicious fish curry rice at Hotel Sharadamba Fish Land. Do not miss it. (The fish is in my tummy).

The drive from here till Kannur was terrible. The NH17 is a very very bad drive, the road being very narrow, single laned most of the way, and the traffic unbearable. We even got stuck in a 45 minute jam. We reached Kannur at night and we stayed at Amban Heritage Home.  Lovely place, if you don’t mind being away from the beach.

Amban Heritage Home in Kannur, Kerala. Built in 1904 AD, it is an excellent home stay option.

Meanwhile, a friend was visiting Coonoor and her constant stream of pictures of the misty rolling tea gardens made us want to move to Kotagiri instead of Kochi. Who wanted to drive on this bad highway anyway! Suresh, whose family owns and runs Amban, was kind enough to suggest an absolutely amazing route to Kotagiri.

From Kannur  – Putukaramba – Kannavam – Needumpoyil – Mananthawadi – Panamaram – Sulthan Batheri – Gudalur – Ooty – Dodabetta – Kotagiri.

First stop for breakfast out of Kannur. Some yummy Puttu and stew curry.
First stop for breakfast out of Kannur. Some yummy Puttu and stew curry.
The entire drive on the suggested route from Kannur to Kotagiri was stunningly beautiful.
The road has hills and plantations on both sides.
As we approach Kotagiri, the road passes through these huge trees. Looks like  silver oaks plantations.
We stayed at The Ridgeway Cottage in Kotagiri. Another century old cottage.

We did not like Kotagiri. So we came to Coonoor and stayed with friends.We had an amazing time with chilly mountain winters (17 degrees indoors) and barbecues for New Years’.

But like all good things, this trip was coming to an end. And we left on the morning of January 2nd, to head back to Mumbai. Unfortunately we took a terribly boring route, which we won’t recommend to anyone. We left from Coonoor and towards Bangalore via Salem. Terrible route. Great roads, but terribly bleak industrial landscape on either side. Nothing to photograph but depression.

After crossing Bangalore, we came on to the NH4 (Mumbai – Pune – Bangalore Highway) and picked Chitradurga for our stop over. Next morning, we went to take a look at the Chitradurga Fort. It was beyond our expectations. We thought it must be yet another fort, but it turned out to be one of the best forts we have ever visited in India. Deserves a UNESCO World Heritage Status, we feel.

The Chitradurga Fort is unbelievably gorgeous.

Having missed the drive through Masinagudi/Bandipur (from Coonoor to Bangalore), one part of us wanted to visit the Ranebennur Blackbuck Sanctuary. The great thing about road trips is, you make your own itenary. So from Chitradurga off to Ranebennur we went. Another disappointment. The poor Blackbuck Sanctuary is surrounded by human ‘development’, schools, villages, houses, farms etc. Couldn’t see a single blackbuck, and the only birds we could see were Shrikes and Bulbuls. Of course, we didn’t go inside the sanctuary, just drove around it. But in Velavadar, we saw enough Blackbucks around the Sanctuary as well.

Ranebennur Blackbuck Sanctuary is kind of deserted.

After next stop was Pune. We spent some time at the Film and TV Institute of India, lazying around, photographing birds and meeting friends. And when we came back home to Mumbai, we realised we had clocked 3088km. What a journey!

11 thoughts on “Mumbai – Goa – Coonoor – Mumbai : An Epic Roadtrip”

  1. Long, road trip, eh?!

    Lovely pictures.

    That road in between 2 bodies of water reminds me of Marwanthe. It’s got the Arabian sea on one side and the Souparnika river on the other. There are a couple of shacks by the highyway, too, Could that have been Marwanthe?

    The white lotus stream looks very inviting. 🙂


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