Road Trip to Gokarna, Murudeshwar and South Goa
We were planning for a Konkan trip since a long time, but finally in the year 2016 during monsoon time we settled ourselves to visit beaches with famous temples in Karnataka and Maharashtra which can be covered in 5 – 6 days of a trip. So we finalized the list of places.
PUNE – GOKARNA – MURUDESHWARA – KARWAR – SOUTHGOA (PALOLEM) – PUNE
Murdeshwara is a town in Bhatkal Taluk of Uttara Kannada district in the state of Karnataka, India. Murdeshwara is another name of the Hindu god Shiva. This place is famous for the world’s second-tallest Shiva statue, the town lies on the coast of the Arabian Sea and is also famous for the Murdeshwara Temple.
Gokarna is a small temple town on the western coast of India in the Kumta taluk of Uttara Kannada district of the state of Karnataka. The main temple deity is Lord Shiva, who is also known as Mahabaleshwara. This temple houses what is believed to be original linga of Lord Shiva (Atmalinga). There are many other temples all over this small town. Ankola and Kumta on National Highway 17 are the main towns near Gokarna, Bhatkal and Karwar are the main cities near Gokarna.
Karwar lies on the west coast of Southern India at the mouth of the Kali river. Its geography creates a natural harbor with protection against monsoon weather. Being a port town, Karwar is a centre for agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism.
Palolem Beach is largely unspoiled and is inhabited by both local fishermen and by foreign tourists who live in shacks along the shore or in the main village itself. It is about one mile (approximately 1.61 km) long and is crescent-shaped; one can view the entire beach from either end.
How we started planning this trip:
The first step we started collecting information where we have to go on what day, what would be our halting-places, what all things we can explore and yes what local dishes we can get.
So we tightened all of our necessary stuff on the bike, wore all riding gears and started our beautiful road trip at 3:00 pm from Pune-> Amanora Park Town towards Pune –Bangalore highway and the halting destination was “Karad” for the first day.
Here the journey starts: –
DAY-1 Pune – Karad (172 km)
It was a 569 km stretch from “Pune to Gokarna” and we did not want to start with a heavy dose, so we split it to Pune-Karad-Gokarna.
We started post noon around 3:00 or 3:30 pm from Pune Magarpatta city, faced little traffic near Katraj Bus depot and continued from there. Crossed the old ghat section and took a break after covering approx 100 km to have quick snacks and tea.
After that, we continued towards SATARA and meanwhile saw a beautiful big rainbow.
We reached Karad at 7:30 pm. Here I stayed at my cousin’s place, enjoyed the meal and slept over as we had to get up early in morning to start out next day ride.
DAY-2 Karad – Gokarna (405 km)
Next day we started early morning at 5:00 am. Before Belagavi, the road was beautifully smooth and we were riding in the rain. We got heavy showers in few patches but it was amazing riding experience on such a nice road surrounded by beautiful lush greenery. Now we were approaching Hubbali, till now it was a great highway after that we had to take left on SH1 to NH52 and move on a two-way road towards Yellapur NH52 which goes between towns and villages.
After some km, we were riding between a wildlife sanctuary and there were many cows coming in between of the road. Again the ghat started, there were potholes in between and very sharp curve, so I had to ride very carefully. It was an awesome experience to ride through a thick forest with amazing ghat section. We took another break at a petrol pump for refueling and rested for 10-15 minutes and moved on to Mirjan – Ramnagar Rd/SH 143. For a small patch, we got the experience of offroading 😀
Finally around 1:00 pm we reached Gokarna. We had already booked a room because of the 15th August long weekend; otherwise one can easily get a room there without prior booking. We quickly freshened up in 30-40 minutes and moved out from the hotel to taste the local food. We settled for an Udupi restaurant where we had a typical Udupi thali. It was simple and delicious.
As we reached the beach, heavy showers welcomed us for few minutes and it was all set then. Nice breeze with ocean waves creating (JAL-TARANG) music. Gokarna beach is a mostly clean beach with very less commercialization. There were so many small Shiva-lings carved on the beachside rocks.
After a while, we went to the most famous beach of Gokarna, OM beach. It was 7 km away from Gokarna town but you have to cross zigzag sharp curves with a narrow road, where you have to be a bit careful. After a 20-30 minutes ride, we were on OM beach (Om beach is named so because it is shaped like the auspicious ॐ Om symbol). It has a few shacks and eateries, and also one can take a boat ride to nearby beaches.
Gokarna is a small and laid back town where most of the visitors are actually pilgrims. We hardly found a restaurant open for dinner at 9 pm. You might get a beer at the beach shacks only not in the town.
DAY – 3 Gokarna – Murudeshwara – Paradise Beach – Gokarna
We visited Mahabaleshwara temple early morning around 7 and it was reasonably crowded. It took us at least 60 mins for the darshan. They have a small gau-shala as well and they also sell ayurvedic products in the temple premises. Although, we didn’t try they also serve food during lunch time as Prasad. After darshan, we had Banana buns or Mysore buns (must try) for breakfast. It is a typical Kannada breakfast made with ripped banana and flour dough which is fermented overnight.
After a hearty food along with filter coffee, we started for Murudeshwara temple around 10 am. The road was almost patchy throughout the Murudeswara due to the rain. The highway was under maintenance and only one lane was open. It is 60-70 km away but took us almost 2 hours to reach there. By 12 noon we reached Murudeshara and what a place! It is simply wow, one side beach and another side is a big temple with very tall Shiva statue. Indeed a very scenic view. There are plenty of places available for stay and food. We did not get a chance to visit the actual temple because there was 4 hours waiting queue. The place was very crowded and hot, so after spending a couple of hours, we decided to go back to Gokarna.
After returning back to Gokarna, we headed towards the Paradise beach to spend our evening watching the sun go down. It is a very nice beach, peaceful, with very few shacks. Late evening we were back to town and visited the local market. In the market, one can shop for souvenirs, trinkets, clothes, puja items etc at very reasonable price since it is a small town.
DAY – 4 Gokarna – Karwar – Palolem Beach
On day 4, we started at 6 am towards Palolem beach, Goa via Karwar on Kanyakumari – Panvel highway. Starting road was not that good but as we touched the Karwar region, the road was smooth as butter. We stopped at a highway hotel which was beside the beach for some chai and snacks. There were lots of people fishing to sell in the market. We spent an hour here and moved on our way to Goa.
By 3 pm we reached Palolem and checked into the hotel. Without any wait, we headed to the beach to have some lunch. Many shacks were still closed due to the rainy season since it is an off season for Goa and many were getting geared up for opening soon. But still, there were plenty of eating joints operational. There is a small market on the way to the beach. The beach was comparatively quite and relaxing. With the sun playing hide and seek behind the monsoon clouds. We decided to do some reading and napping right on the beach under the palm trees.
We spent two days in South Goa. There was not much to do and primarily our purpose for this visit was to take it slow since our monsoon trip was coming to the end. Next day we visited a couple of nearby beaches and did some shopping. Our Goa trip is never complete without buying some port wine and Bebinca. Bebinca is a traditional Goan dessert made with eggs, flour and sugar. This evening was our last and we were heading home next day early morning.
Day-5 Palolem – Ponda – Belgavi – Kolhapur – Satara – Pune
Today was a big day for us; we had to ride approx 600kms to reach Pune. We started at 7 am and selected the “Ponda Ghat” which directly goes to Belgavi. It requires quite an expertise to ride on this ghat. You will mostly see logistic vehicles on this road. After covering 100 km, we halted for a quick break. We were almost in between the clouds at that place and could hear “Dudhsagar waterfall” sounds as castle rock was just 7-8 km away from there. We moved further, had lunch in Karad and reached Pune, Amanora by 7 pm. It was indeed a tiring day but very thrilling too. It was our first time of same day 600 km ride.
Concluding this blog post with this beautiful picture of Ponda ghat. This was indeed a memorable one.