Picture this, one of your best friends at work is moving on to a different company in a different city. He is someone who craves travelling and adventure as much as you do. Moreover, he is someone who is a brother more than a friend. So, how do you bid farewell to that person? How do you wrap the sense of adventure we craved for in a farewell gift. Turns out, a long weekend, loads of patience, 3 (not so weak)buttocks, a nano and an RR310 are all you need for that perfect adventurous farewell gift. So this is about our ride to Pune from Bengaluru to bid that perfect adventurous farewell to KT and drop off his vehicles in Pune.
It all started when the three of us were staring at an empty long weekend in November 2018. KT was about to leave Bengaluru in few days and he was planning to ship his nano and the RR310 to Pune. He was all set to call the packers and movers.
Empty weekend, vehicles have to be moved. Empty weekend, vehicles have to be moved.
This kept repeating in our heads until we stumbled upon the idea of actually riding to Pune on the vehicles and drop them off. We’ll be using our long weekend at the same time move the vehicles as well. One-shot two birds.
It initially appeared to be a simple drop-off ride. But then it unexpectedly turned into an amazing adventure with so many memorable moments. Experiencing the amazing nights on Goan beaches, the calmness of Karwar, the wilderness of Sirsi forest and so many more. Certainly, for the first time, I experienced so many different things in a span of 3 days. Hop on, let me reveal it all for you.
This Way Or That Way!
Well, we made the plan but we didn’t figure out which route we should take. That’s the curse of having so many choices you see. On one hand there was a clean road to Pune, if we took the Bengaluru-Mumbai highway. 800 kilometers of concrete and tar. But we felt it was too boring to just ride. We wanted variety. We wanted adventure. I pulled out my mobile and looked at the possible routes.
Chitradurga- Shivamogga- Honnavara-Karwar-Goa-Pune sounded like a fantastic idea. But riding a two wheeler at night in those remote areas felt a stretch for an adventure. We then thought of taking the route through Dandeli. But the same concern clouded that route as well. Like a godsend, a colleague, Prashanth suggested we ride to Davangere which was around 5 hours from Bengaluru. He suggested we could take the route through Sirsi forest to reach Karwar.
Since Davanagere was only 5 hours, we could reach there early in the morning. We could take some rest and then ride through Sirsi forest in the broad daylight. That sure sounded like a perfect plan. At least it looked perfect in the beginning. But I tell you, life is such a mystery. But we’ll talk more on this further ahead.
So, with Prashanth’s suggestion, we locked in on Bengaluru-Davanagere-Karwar-Goa-Pune route. So come, 31st October 2018, we managed to leave office by 6:30 PM. I went home, packed some essentials, bought some snacks for the journey and left for KT’s house. We had a delicious dinner made by KT’s mom, kissed my bike a goodbye and kickstarted the journey at around 10 PM.
The Ice-Cold Welcome
We dragged ourselves through the evergreen traffic on Bannerghatta road and reached NICE road. Once on the NICE road, it didn’t take us much time to reach the Bengaluru-Mumbai highway. But once we hit the Bengaluru-Mumbai highway, the traffic shocked us beyond measure. There were literally hundreds of trucks on that road. I traveled on the Bengaluru-Hyderabad highway ample times but I didn’t see this kind of traffic even once.
We had mixed feelings about it. While we were glad to look at the economic activity, we grabbed our heads looking at the trafficcongestion. That continued for about a kilometer till the Nelamangala tollgate. Many trucks stopped by the road after Nelamangala tollgate, so the road was a bit clear. We wanted to go as far away from the traffic quickly. So we continued the ride.
I took the bike from Veerappan at around 12 AM. It was ice cold outside. It almost felt like the cold wind was seeping in through the gloves. But the wide open road was so welcoming that we raced past villages at a good pace. After a while the drive became monotonous, add cold to that, there was a tiny bit of discomfort. So, at around 1:30 AM, we stopped for a tea break.
While we waited for the tea, the stall guy had lit up fire. So we sat around the fire getting that much needed warmth. In the distance I saw few more fires and few more gatherings.
You see, no one around that place had anything in common, but all of us wanted the warmth.
We may get to greater heights or do lowly jobs, but the things we want and seek are all the same.
The Sudden Awakening
I got some much needed warmth and was all set to ride till Davanagere. Davanagere was still 2 hours away. But it didn’t seem like much after the hot tea and omelet I just devoured. So I started the ride on the bike, slowly ramping up the speed.
The clock ticked clockwise and so was the speedometer. At around 3 AM, I was just riding by myself on the left side of the road. Sleep was fast approaching. So I pulled the throttle to accelerate to reach quickly. I was probably riding at 90 or 100 when I braked really hard. Thanks to the ABS, it ended well. I slowed down and looked ahead.
I wasn’t sure if there was really a structure or it was my sleepy head. So, I continued the ride slowly and spotted a structure on the road. But the funny thing was that it was moving. I overtook it after opening my eyes fully. It was a freaking tractor-trailer moving at a snail’s pace without any rear reflectors.
I slowed down my pace and we finally reached Davanagere at around 4 AM and crashed instantly.
The Food From Heavens
After that nighmarish ride towards the tail end and a refreshing sleep, we woke up at around 9 AM. Prashanth told us that Davanagere is famous for Benne Dosa. I heard about it before but never had it. So we decided to walk into the town and have it.
While Prashanth ordered, he narrated story about how this dosa became famous.
It seems like, the people from nearby villages came to Davanagere for some work. It is expected as Davanagere is an important town. The dosa, people say was so tasty, that they had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The taste and the aroma of the dosa were irresistible that they ate more than they afforded or had an appetite for.
The glory of Davanagere benne dosa spread around and soon people came to Davanagere just to have the dosa. Soon, it became a recreational thing to do. To visit Davanagere, have the dosa, watch a movie or two. They say many have sold their inheritance by repeatedly doing so.
What a foolish thing to do for a Dosa, I said to myself. But soon, I remembered about all the money I had spent on travelling. I realized that’s how addictions work. They seem weird for a non-addict but the addicts go to big length to satiate their thirst- just like what we set out to do in that ride.
The dosa arrived soon and I eagerly took a bite. The dosa just melted within seconds. I quickly took another bite and before I could feel the texture and the taste, it melted again. I repeated this again and again and soon the dosa was over. The more I ate, the more I craved. So I had another plate to relish the dish. It was so tasty and melted in my mouth that I wasn’t surprised why the villagers did what they did. It was truly a dish from the heavens.
Getting High On Cocoa Beans
Our stomachs were full with the heavy breakfast. Prashanth suggested to explore their farms. His farms were about 3 Kilometers from Davanagere. Prashanth is an engineer who who took up farming while he was working. Now the farming income is at a stage where he doesn’t need to work full time, so he works on a consulting basis. Life goals right there man, I said to myself.
So he currently set up a farm for harvesting betel nuts and cocoa trees. Chocolate freaks might be aware of what cocoa is. A ripe cocoa bean looks something like the one below. The seeds beneath the white layer are the cocoa beans. Believe it or not, it tastes exactly like Custard apple.
It was very calm in the farm. The calmness was occasionally disrupted by the passing trains but for the most part of the day, it was very very calm. So naturally, we just sat there talking and eating cocoa beans and lost track of time. I took a look at my watch and it was fast approaching 12 PM already.
We quickly went back to Prashanth’s home and started the ride at around 2 PM. We chose the road through Sirsi forest trusting the Google maps to show the quickest route. It was a beautiful road with breathtaking landscapes in the front and sunflower fields on either side of the road.
So we finalized on the Karwar route and hit the highway. unlike the previous night, the truck drivers were taking rest I suppose, so there wasn’t much traffic. The highway was pretty good, with wide-open lands on either side with an occasional sunflower farm dotting the open lands.
The Nightmare In The Evening
The views got as pretty as they can get. But like all good things, this came to an end when we had to take a diversion from the highway onto Sirsi-Haveri road. This road was passing through a lot of small villages and so we just continued riding on the road.
A few minutes later, we rode over a speed breaker. Then a few minutes later, another one followed suit. Then another and another in quick succession. It felt like the contractor had mixed more concrete and didn’t want to waste it. So he laid it down as speed breakers instead. The road almost broke our back. Yes, it was picturesque. But I would’ve loved to have time at hand to witness all of it.
The speed hovered around an average of 30 KMPH.
We reached Sirsi at around 5 PM and stopped to have tea and snacks. We were worried that it was getting dark. Sirsi is almost on the edge of the forest. We had around 150 KMs of the ride through the dense forest ahead of us. And if there is anything that we were actively avoiding to do during this trip, it was this. I remembered all the plans I dropped only to avoid riding through a forest late at nights. But here we are.
We restarted the ride after setting the navigation on google maps. We took the shortest route possible between the two. I even laughed at Google for suggesting a longer route, but little did I know that would backfire soon.
Once Upon A Night In The Jungle
The road wasn’t wide enough but it was good enough to ride comfortably. Sparse traffic and an occasional sharp turn and beautiful sight of the golden forest accompanied us. We took the diversion as google maps told us to and entered a narrower road. We chose to listen to Google even though there was signage asking us to take the other route to reach Karwar.
This road didn’t have any divider marks. It was a single lane two-way road. The sun had almost set by then. Orange colour took over the sky and the spaces between trees and shrubs. The landscape looked exactly like that of an orange paper scribbled with black lines. The forest on either side got denser as we moved forward and the frequency of villages became almost zero.
The orange escaped the sky and left it black-faced. It was pitch-darkness all around. Although there was no natural light, we thanked for the decent road. But almost as if someone wasn’t too happy about this trip, we encountered a patchy road within a few minutes.
The patchy road then transformed into a path full of gravel with occasional patches of road. And only moments later, all hell broke loose. There was no road left. It was just pebbles and rocks all around. I wasn’t even getting enough traction for the tires to roll. I was just holding the bike so tight and let it slide down the road and didn’t dare to stop midway.
The darkness around was too scary. I didn’t have a mental idea of when we last saw a human. Add to the scare there was no signal. We had no clue if we were on the right road. We just continued riding.
The Karwar Innings Begin
And finally, we saw a human being after about an hour of that nightmarish ride. Never ever in my life, I felt so happy about seeing someone. It is ironic especially because I am someone who admires a solitary life. We asked him if this was the route to Karwar.
With a puzzled look, he said “yes you will touch one highway soon. Keep going forward.“
At this point, we thanked Google maps for not messing with us. Else for all I know, we’d be in the middle of a dense forest frantically figuring our way out, late in the night amidst the scary silence & darkness.
We soon hit the highway and reached Karwar by about 8:30 PM. It was already dark by then, so I couldn’t really see me riding on the beach roads.
We were damn hungry and the first thing we did after reaching Karwar town was to find a food place. And right before the Tagore beach, there was a drive-Inn. I was surprised to find a dedicated drive-inn in Karwar. Especially because not many visit this place. We loaded up on carbs from the various chats available over there.
Once the hunger pangs died down, we searched for a place to stay for the night. We found a decent hotel priced at INR 700 for the three of us and crashed almost instantly. What a crazy evening that was.
The next morning, we went out to explore Karwar. The beaches of Karwar are much cleaner and emptier than other beaches I have seen in Karnataka. The sky was so bright and blue that the entire ocean turned turquoise.
The Ride To Tranquil Karwar
The waves crashed on our feet and took away our morning laziness with them. The water was so clear that we spotted fish larvae and hermit crabs. One peculiar thing I’ve observed here is the colour of Oyster shells have a unique pattern albeit with a different colour. A single stretch of beach and there were four different colours on a similar pattern of Oyster shells. Am not sure if this is common, but I found it fascinating.
We then explored the INS Chapal warship museum.
I didn’t know what it was before I visited this museum. INS CHAPAL is a missile ship that was instrumental in the 1971 East Pakistan Liberation war. It caused damage to the Karachi base by destroying oil storages and other missile boats and frigates. This move crippled the PAF & PNS.
In retaliation, Pakistan sent PNS Ghazi, a fast attack submarine. It got destroyed under mysterious circumstances. I remembered Ghazi from the movie Ghazi attack. But didn’t know that the entire event happened because of INS Chapal.
The silver lining of this war is the participation of The first Indian Air Craft Carrier- INS VIKRANT. It’s so fascinating to note that something of such grandeur now rests in peace in the beauty and the calmness of Karwar.
It was already 12 PM by the time we left the Warship museum. I love it when I lose track of time indulging in such things.
We headed back to the hotel, took a refreshing bath and had Fish thali which was Minimal, tasty and satisfying. A must try if you’re visiting Karwar.
The Homecoming Ride To Goa
Memories from Karwar etched in my mind and I resolved to come back one day. After a peaceful stay and exploration, it was time to go back to my home, Goa. Yes, technically it’s not my home but I owe a lot of my growth to the time I spent in Goa. Four glorious years of nothing but memorable experiences.
I wanted to take Veerappan and KT to the hidden gems I found during my 4-year stay. First one was a cliff overlooking the Cola beach. The beauty of this spot is that you’re close to the beach at the same time, not in the crowd.
We then rode to another beautiful cliff fort in South Goa. It is said that Lord Rama stayed here during his exile. Due to its strategic location, it was occupied by Portuguese. You can get a clear view of the South Goan coastline from the periphery of the fort. It is none other than Cabo De Rama fort. It is in ruins today but still offers majestic views of the coastline.
I actually wanted to see the sunset from here but we were late.
I was so excited to be in Goa, that I couldn’t resist going back to my home. Also, it was around 8 PM and we were hungry. So I could definitely use some Cheese Maggi. That’s how we ended up in my college, the BITS Pilani K K Birla Goa campus. I know it’s a long name to read out, that’s why I stick to BITS Pilani. *wink*
Passing Out On The Beach
We didn’t book any place in Goa. It was too late by the time we left my campus. I figured the only place we could find accommodation at that time was either Calangute or Baga beach. So we rode to Calangute beach and found a decent place to stay the night.
I never got a chance to stay outside the campus during those 4 years due to the curfew. So I knew the party scene was pretty rad but never got to witness it. So, it was a surprise to me when I saw the ambiance on the beach. There was loud music, people all over the place on the beach(at 11PM) and when you mix people, booze and music, the result is dance and chaos. So there was that as well.
We weren’t really party people. So we wanted to stay far away but not too far away to miss the craziness. So, we asked the shack-person to set the table close to the shore. The soothing sound of the waves, music and the chilliness, we fell asleep on the beach. It was as if it was just the mighty sea and we left in the world. The shack guys patted our shoulders and woke us up and then we went back to the homestay and slept through the morning.
The Final Countdown
The next morning, we got up early. Although we had spent 2 days, we covered only 600 KMs. We had almost 600 KMs more to cover to reach Pune. So we started early and raced past Mapusa, Arambol and hit the Amboli ghat road. Amboli ghat was especially mesmerizing. The entire road was is right on the edge of a huge mountain range. The valley below was so dense and green that it felt exciting and scary at the same time.
It was drizzling, so we stopped for chai once the ghat section was over.
Google maps troubled us again after we crossed Amboli ghat. It directed us towards a road through narrow villages until we hit the Mumbai-Bangalore highway at Nipani. Once on the Mumbai-Bangalore highway, our excitement found no bounds. Within no time, we reached Kolhapur at around 5 PM. We quickly had snacks and refreshed at McDonald’s Kolhapur. A moment later, I watched the sun go down the Sahyadri range painting the sunset shades all over.
We continued the ride. But the only thing I remembered was me pulling the throttle hard until I had the Katraj tunnel in my sight. It was luckily a very smooth ride and we reached Pune safely. We spent the next day there and had some delicious Marathi food.
We headed back to Bengaluru later the next day and soon found ourselves stuck in the traffic and noise of Bengaluru. But we were ready! More than ready to face more challenges with wide-open arms (and ears).
For there are roads & destinations, elsewhere, to relieve the frustration of this jam-packed life.
And as long as you’ve buds on your side who welcome every silly plan of yours and if there’s enough money in your pocket, I tell you, there’s nothing that you should be worrying about.
Thanks for sparing your time reading it. Hope it was worth your time.
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