Monday, October 5, 2009

Jaate The Goa Pahunch Gaye Chikkamagalur

Translated, it means "Started off to Goa, turned up in Chikkamagalur". Goa, in the western coast of India, has fabulous beaches. And Goan cuisine along with the local drink "Pheni" is something to savor.

We (a group of 12 friends) started off to Goa on the weekend beginning this month. Though some of us wanted to drive our own vehicles, we booked two Toyota Qualis with drivers instead so that we have time to relax and have fun with the rest of the group. We left Bangalore at 10 in the evening, after an unfortunate incident of Corporation Bank ATM machine gobbling up a friends ICICI Bank ATM card.

We had to cross Karwar (in Karnataka) on our way to Goa. Karwar also has nice beaches and an island nearby. Actually we had also booked for a short stay at Karwar before reaching Goa. To add to our bad luck, the rain God, probably feeling insulted after being accused of nearly causing a drought, showered us with incessant rains for many days. Suddenly, after a long time, southern India had too much of water, resulting in something not so common - flood.

Karwar was one of the worst hit regions in the flood. We could not proceed further beyond just 30 kilometers before the city of Karwar. The roads were flooded and broken by the running water. After an hour long hopeful but futile wait, it was lunch time when we decided to retreat back. We tried our luck at lunch at a nearby Kamat hotel by the side of the highway (as did everybody else stuck on that highway) and quickly realized that it was chaos and the hotel staff was pathetically out numbered by the crowd and their flood of orders. We slipped out of the melee and had a lunch at a place called Ankola further away from Karwar.

It was late afternoon by the time we finished lunch. We decided to park ourselves for the night near "Om Beach" a place near Gokarna. A quick scouting of hotels got us the few rooms we needed. The resort, called Khushi Resorts where we got one cottage, was fabulous. I would love to go back there just to stay at that place. Lovely ambiance and great food. In the evening we went for a stroll at Om Beach. It was drizzling lightly all the time, the beach was dirty, and the water was muddy because of the rain water flushing mud and slush into the sea. Not very pleasant.

The rain continued even on the next day. We decided to move out and try our luck elsewhere. After a sumptuous breakfast, we lifted our lazy selves heavy with food and started back towards Jog Falls, Shimoga. The climb down the hills was scenic.

Jog falls was bursting with water and in its full glory. The misty surrounding and light intermittent drizzle was stuff of dreams (if you ignore the crowd... my dreams don't usually have too many characters). The marketplace nearby had great food (egg dosas, bhangada fish fry) that our ever hungry stomachs gobbled up. We hurried back towards the Shimoga city when it was becoming to get dark. It was not easy finding a place to stay at Shimoga on a Saturday night, that too on a long weekend and for so many people. The places that were left over were not too great, but there was no other option. We played some cards. The insignificant small nuisances were forgotten amidst the fun we had together.

The next day, our last one in this trip, started at Kemanagundi hills in Chikkamagalur. We went on a short walk on the z-point trail. The hills were beautiful lush green. And the tracks were dirty slushy brown. None of us was prepared for a hike and for the rain. The tracks were full of leeches. It was fun watching people shouting abuses at the leeches while taking them off, but equally disgusting when we had to take off a leech ourselves. I was disappointed that I had to keep my camera inside my bag to avoid it getting wet. I wish I could capture the misty peaks. Back from the walk, it took us another half an hour near the parking area to clean ourselves up from the mud and the remaining leeches sticking at impossible places. After a change on to dry clothes we headed downhill and towards Belur-Halebidu - the favorite stop over place of many en-route to Bangalore.

It was relatively sunny out at Belur and Halebidu. The setting sun was beautiful from the lawns of Halebidu. After the refreshing stop, we started on the final leg of our journey back to Bangalore.

On the way we stopped at a nice dhaba (highway restaurant) for dinner. Over dinner we reflected back on how this trip went, with our lack of planning and foresight and all the obstacles thrown in by nature. Overall we felt it was not a bad experience. Unexpected turns of events... a bit hard sometimes... but good company... different kind of fun... not bad at all.

By the time we reached Bangalore my watch just rolled over to the next day. It was time to drop dead on the bed and get some sleep for the next day at office.

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