long Road trip from Bangalore to Panjim
The picturesque South Indian city of Bangalore is located at an altitude of 949 mts above sea level and is situated on the Deccan Plateau. Bangalore's temperate climate has earned it the sobriquet of the "Air Conditioned City of India". The city prides itself for its immaculately landscaped gardens, parks, wide tree-lined avenues, a plethora of flowering trees, shimmering lakes, all of which has endeared the city to the discerning international traveller. It is among the five best Garden cities of the world and cosmopolitan Bengaluru is the number one city in the Indian deep south, blessed with a benevolent climate and a burgeoning drinking, dining and shopping scene. It's not necessarily a place you come to be wowed by world-class sights (though it has some lovely parks and striking Victorian-era architecture), but instead to experience the new modern face of India. The meteoric rise of the city from a sleepy pensioner's haven to the forefront of world's technology (IT) industry is the stuff that dreams are made of. The city is home to all the big guns in the domain of Indian and global corporations like IBM, Seimens, Cognizant, Dell, Infosys, Wipro, etc.
The harmonious blend of cutting edge technology living in peaceful existence with the city's rich past, is unmatched by any other city in India, in fact, the whole of Asia. It vies with Mumbai as the nation's most progressive city, and its creature comforts can be a godsend to the weary traveller who has done the hard yards. It's a big student town where you'll encounter hip locals chatting in English while drinking craft beer and getting around in '80s metal band T-shirts.
The past decade has seen a mad surge of development, coupled with traffic congestion and rising pollution levels. However, it's a city that has also taken care to preserve its green space and its colonial-era heritage. So while urbanisation continually pushes its boundaries outward, the central district (dating back to the British Raj years), remains unchanged.
What to See: Bangalore Palace, Cubban Park, State Assembly Hall, High Court Building, Lalbagh, Fort, Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace, Bull Temple.
Where to Eat: Here Idli, Dosa and Sambhar compete with McDonalds, KFC and Barista. Some popular eating joints are Food Street, Gramin, Olive Beach, Fatty Bao, Karavalli, Windsor Pub, Queen's restaurant, Sunny's, Nilgiri's Cafe, Koshy's Bar, MTR, Sue's Food Place, Church St Social, Ebony, Ullas Refreshments, Yoko, Fava, Caperberry, Harima, Bbq Nation.
Enjoy the entertainment at Pecos, Skye, Monkey Bar, B Flat, Hard Rock Cafe, Plan B, Humming Tree, Windmill Craftworks, Beach, Big Pitcher, 13th Floor, Ranga Shankara, Vapour, Indigo, Roadhouse, Counter Culture, Legends of Rock, Tao Terraces, Opus, Habanero, Take 5, 1522, Happy Brew, Urban Solace, Pebble, The Warehouse, Puma Social, B'lore Turf Club.
What to Buy: There are glitzy shopping malls to emporiums that sell a variety of handicraft items, and the main shopping districts are located at Brigade Road, Commercial Street and MG Road. Shrungar, Barton Court, Spencer's, Coir Board Showroom, UB City, Mysore Saree Udyog, Fab India, Saree Kemp, Kynyny Art Gallery, Cauvery Arts and Forest Essentials are great shopping destinations.
From Bangalore city, exit via NH 4 (Tumkur Road) towards Yashantpur and a brisk 68 Km drive will bring you to the quaint town of Tumkur – one of Karnataka's busiest towns. A lot of industries have set up units here. The town is blessed with fascinating natural vistas consisting of undulating hills, shimmering streams and lush green vales. The climate is very much like Bangalore's, neither too hot nor too cold.
The golden crowns for some of India's most renowned beauty pageants like Miss India – Universe, Miss India – World and Miss India – Earth are manufactured in Tumkur that is sponsored by "Tanishq".
What to see: Guluru Ganesh Temple, Marconahalli, Kaidala Chennakeshava Temple, Sri Siddaganga Mutt, Namadha Chilume, Devarayana Durga, Bhoga Narasimha Swami Temple, Goravanahalli Maha Lakshmi Temple, Kote Anjeneya Swami Statue, Pavagada fort, Basadi Betta, Channarayana Durga, Kaidala.
Where to Eat: Woodlands Hotel, Nanjundeshwara Hotel, Dwarka Hotel, Hotel Hutt and Hotel Ashoka serve delectable South Indian and Tandoori fare.
From Tumkur drive upfront on NH4 for 81 Km via Hiriyur to reach Chitradura.
It is ideally located in the heart of the famed Deccan Plateau and historically this town is renowned for its rich virile past. Its royalty were known for their valor.
The town is replete with rocky hills and breathtaking valleys. The landscape is dreamy and undulating. The earliest mention of Chitrdurga is found in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, where a man-eating demon by the name of Hidimbasura lived and terrorised everyone.
What to See: Chitradurga Fort, Kallina Kote, Sampige Siddeshwara, Hidimbeshwara (Cave Shrine), Ekanathamma, Phalguneshwara and Gopalakrishnan temples.
Where to Stay and eat: Some of the popular places to stay at Chitradurga are Amogha International, Hotel Green Park, Dwarka Hotel, Naveen Regency, Hotel Sukh Sagar. Lakshmi Tiffin Room's food is much preferred by discerning travellers.
What to Buy: Kannadiga handicrafts.
From Tumkur continue driving on NH4 all the way to the quaint town of Sira located at a distance of 53 Kms.
Sira is a Taluk in the district of Tumkur. During the days of the British Raj, Sira used to be a strategic town and in the days of yore it used to be ruled by the Kings of Bijapur, from 1638 to 1687. For some time this charming town was occupied by Haider Ali and he declared himself as the Nawab of the province. The Marathas captured the province and ruled Sira from 1766 until 1774. However, it was left to Tipu Sultan to once again capture Sira in favor of the Mughals.
What to See: Sone Kalas Makan, Basavangi Betta and Fort, Kasturi Fort, Jamia Masjid, Mallik Rehan Dargah, Kaggaladu herons, Edgah, big Banyan tree.
Where to Stay: In private lodges.
Where to Eat: Roadside eating joints that offer authentic Kannadiga fare.
From Chitradurga continue to drive on NH4 past Devanagere (70 Km) and then drive upfront for Haveri via Ranibennur. The distance from Chitradurga to Haveri is 133 Km and is two and half hours by car.
Haveri is one of the cities of Karnataka that comes under the ambit of the "Nirmala Nagara" Project. This charming Karnataka town is ideally located at an elevation of 602.5 meters above sea level.
What to See: Haveri's most enduring landmark is the Siddeswar Temple, which is a National Monument. Also visit Hukkeri Math and Utsav Rock Garden.
Where to Stay and Eat: By far the most reliable place to stay is the Hitaishi Palace Hotel (Tel: 08375-236800) located at Ashwin Nagar, 2nd Cross near Corporation Bank. Its restaurant offers decent dining options.
What to Buy: Handloom and handicraft products by local artisans.
Your next stop is Hubli which is a 72 Km drive from Haveri on the NH4 via Bankapura, Shiggaon and Hubli Bypass.
Hubli is significant to the discerning traveler as a major railway junction on the routes from Mumbai to Bangalore, Goa and north Karnataka.
What to See: Bhavanishankar Temple, Asar, Nrupatunga Hill, Sayeed Fateh Shah Vali, Unal Lake, Glass House and Banashankari Temple.
Where to Stay, Eat: Dharwad Hotel, Central Park, Kamat, Hotel Guruprakash, Hoysala, Natraj, President Hotel.
From Hubli continue to drive along NH4 for 82 Kms and before Belgaum, turn Left on SH31 and cross Bhendigeri and Gajapati to reach Khanapur. From Khanapur take NH4A and cross Gunji to reach Londa. The journey from Hubli to Londa is all of 124 Kms. Londa is a miniscule Karnataka town bordering Goa and is surrounded by lush green forest cover of the famed Sahayadris. It is located at an elevation of 2139 feet above sea level and the climate is salubrious. After a longish drive from Hubli, most travelers treat Londa as a resting place on their way to Goa's capital – Panaji.
After a refreshing break at Londa, you enter the last leg of your journey to Goa – India's beach paradise. From Londa drive upfront along NH4A for 74 Kms. via Aanamod, Sangod and Curti to reach Ponda. Here you have the option of taking a break. From Ponda it's a matter of a mere 29 Km for you to reach Panaji, Goa's charming capital city.
Panaji is one of India's smallest and nicest state capitals. Situated on the south bank of the Mandovi river, the city has preserved its Portuguese heritage remarkably well and parts of it still consist of narrow winding streets, old houses with overhanging balconies, red tiled roofs and numerous small bars and cafes. Signs in Portuguese over shops, cafes and administrative buildings are still visible in many places. People are friendly and the atmosphere is easygoing. If you are staying in Panaji rather than on the beaches of Goa, then the nearest beach to Panaji is the Miramar, 3 Km from Dona Paula.
What to See: Panaji City: Idalco Palace, Mahalakshmi Temple, Altino Hill, Panaji Museum, Miramar Beach, Dona Paula, Rajbhawan, Reis Magos, Mapusa.
Old Goa: Se Cathedral, Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Bascilica of Bom Jesus, St. Cajetan Church, Church of St. Augustine, Church of St. Monica.
The Beaches: Goa is justifiably famous for its beaches and Westerners have been flocking them since the early 60's. Goan beaches are magnificent and most visitors find them extremely vibrant. The only problem is deciding which one to head for. Palolem in the south is quieter while beaches like Arambol are quite busy.
Where to Eat: There are a large number of restaurants of every shape, size and cuisine to cater to every taste and budget. Some of the popular ones are Sher-E-Punjab, Ritz Classic, Delhi Durbar, Ernesto's Bistro, Mum's Kitchen, Sea Pebble Restaurant, Pastry Cottage, Kamat's Restaurant, etc.
What to Buy: Terracotta, shellwork, curios, tiles, brassware, beachwear, carved furniture, Cashew Feni and Goan drinks. Visit Anjuna Flea Market, Mapusa Market, Calangute Market Square, Saturday Night Bazaar at Arpora, Mackie's Night Bazaar, Friday Market and Glastonbury Street.