Mangalore Road Trip: Day 1 – Drive to Mangalore

Our first road trip on 2022 was to Mangalore, to attend a family function.

The day started with an adventure. I usually hire a car from Zoomcar for long drives. On the morning when I was to receive my car (at home), I received a call from them stating they cannot do home delivery and asking me to pick up the car. This usually is not much of a problem, except that, in this case, the car was in Hoskote, a town about 30 kilometres outside Bangalore. I had to take an Uber inter-city ride to pick up the car. Thankfully, I found the car without any issue, but on starting, found out that it had almost no gas left in the tank. I had to find the nearest petrol pump and pay that the car does not run out of gas before reaching the pump, which thankfully it didn’t. The result of all this drama in the morning was that it was 8 am when we finally left our home, while initially we were hoping to leave by 6.

I took the route via Nelamangala, Hassan, Sakleshpura and Shirady Ghat. We stopped for breakfast soon after crossing Nelamangala. The place was busy, but the food (and coffee) was decent. Our next halt was for refueling at a pump close to Hassan. We stopped for lunch at The Ossoor just before Sakleshpura. I would definitely recommend this place if you are looking for a good lunch option along this route.

I had been warned that the Shirady ghat route was not in great condition, so I was prepared for the bumpy roads that followed. But it was not that bad, and we were soon on good roads again, journeying down the Ghats into the coast of South Kanara. The change in weather was very obvious as soon as one entered the plains of the coast. But, for a person born and brought up on the coast, this was a pleasant sensation.

It was after 6 pm that we finally reached the hotel where we were to spend the night. After refreshing ourselves, we went for dinner to a local restaurant that was recommended to us by the hotel owner. It was a typical regional eatery, very busy, and the food was decent.

Road Trip: Day 6 – Mysore

I didn’t expect that it would take this long to complete this trip report. In the meantime, we have completed another road trip! But more on that later.

After relaxing at our hotel in Mysore the previous evening and enjoying a leisurely start to the day, we headed out to Mysore Palace. This was not the first time we were visiting the Palace, but it continued to amaze. Crowds were a bit lesser, due to Covid, and we were able to enjoy the wonderful sights at leisure. We also enjoyed a quiet stroll around the Palace grounds, where we spotted a camel!

After lunch at a nearby restaurant (nothing great), we headed to the next popular attraction of Mysore, its zoo. From my limited experience, this is easily one of the best zoos in the country. It was the middle of the day and a bit warm, but we still had a good time.

The last halt was one of those serendipitous ones that make unplanned travel such fun. The zoo was crowded, and the parking lot was full, so we had to park at a car park a few minutes away. This park was in an open ground, parts of which were taken over by what can be called a ‘ fun fair’. There were a variety of rides for kinds, and there was no way my kids were going to pass this opportunity by! This also meant that I got to enjoy a ferris wheel ride!

Our day (the last of the trip) ended with another good dinner at our hotel restaurant.

Road Trip: Day 5 – Coorg to Mysore

After 4 relaxing days in Coorg, we checked out of our unique Treehouse and headed to Mysore, where we would be staying for the next couple of days.

We took a long route towards Mysore as we wanted to drive through Nagarhole National Park. The first part of the drive that took us through Siddapura, Pollibetta and Gonikopalu was simply stunning. Along the way, we passed through the Tata Coffee Golf Course and a beautiful lake surrounded by thickly wooded slopes (didn’t note the location of this lake). We reached Kutta at the outskirts of Nagarhole around lunch time.

Kutta did not have any real ‘restaurants’. So we ended up having lunch at a ‘mess’ – literally a few tables in a hut. Food was simple, typical Keralan fare (Kutta being very close to the Kerala border). While my wife and I were familiar with the food, this was something very different for my kids. But, to their credit, they ate without any fuss.

After lunch, we visited a local bakery for some pastries and coffee. We also ended up buying some very tasty and reasonably priced sweets and savouries.

Stomachs satiated, we entered Nagarhole National Park. I was looking forward to this section of the drive. But, other than some Spotted Deer and Langurs, we did not see much wildlife. The drive, though, was pleasant.

We reached our destination in Mysore by early evening and spent the rest of the day at out hotel – Emerald Clarks Inn.

Road Trip: Day 4 – Around Kushalnagar

Dubare Elephant Camp – Even though we visited on a weekday, there was a long queue to enter the Elephant Camp. After about 90 minutes, we boarded the boat for the short ride across the river Kaveri to enter the Elephant Camp. The restrictions in place due to Covid meant that activities such as elephant ride, feeding and bathing the elephants were not being offered, but we still got to see elephants up close and enjoying their time in the water.

Bylakuppe Tibetan Settlement – We visited this place again for a Tibetan lunch. It’s a shame that the monastery was closed due to Covid; it was closed for renovations the previous time we visited Coorg, which means that I have not been able to enter the monastery since a visit more than 20 years ago. The lunch, though, was delicious.

Harangi Dam

Harangi Dam and Musical Fountain – I had not heard of this place until Praveen, our host, told us about it. We visited in the evening and were treated to a gloriously hued sunset. We then took our places for the Musical Fountain show, which started at 7 pm. It was very nice, except for the highly distorted music being played at very high volume. Interestingly, the choice of songs ranged from Kannada to Hindi and English!

Coffee Art – Cafe Levista

Cafe and Restaurants in Kushalnagar – We visited a few cafes, bakeries and restaurants in Kushalnagar. As always, it was fascinating to see the changes in small town India over the past few decades. There were a large number of cars on the roads, and the places we went to were clean, with all the amenities one can find in large cities. This could possibly be because this is a relatively well-to-do district which sees high tourist traffic. But I would love to continue exploring more small towns in India…

Road Trip: Day 3 – Kabbe Hills and Chelavara Waterfalls

On the third day of our holidays, we decided to explore Coorg. Our first destination was Kabbe Hills.

Kabbe Hills is located in the southern part of Coorg, close to the border with Kerala. I was looking for a short, easy hike that my kids could enjoy, and online reviews indicated that this might fit the bill. It was a 90 minute drive from our place of stay, but it was a pleasant drive on road winding through coffee estates and small towns.

The last stretch of road before we started the hike was especially narrow and winding, but it was well maintained and led to a small parking space. Commendably, there were toilets at this place.

There is a forest check-post before the start of the hike. They did a through check of our bags, as food is not allowed on the hike. We decided to leave one of our bags behind. Our kids were unhappy as they were looking forward to a picnic lunch.

From the base, the hill appeared very tall, but it did not take more than 45 minutes to reach the peak (even at the slow pace we were doing, with numerous halts to catch our breaths). The reviews were right, it was an easy hike, with some nice views over the surrounding hills and countryside. There was a steady breeze blowing, which ensured that we never felt hit, even though we did the climb in the afternoon.

Descending down and walking back to the car, we then decided to visit Chelavara falls, which we had passed on our way up.

The parking space here could only accommodate a couple of cars at a time, so I had to wait for some of the parked cars to drive away before I could park the car and walk towards the falls. It’s only a brief walk to the falls, which had a surprisingly decent amount of water flowing, even though we were not in the monsoon season. It was a pleasant spot, but probably not worth driving a long time to visit.

After lunch at a nearby restaurant, we headed back to our treehouse and relaxed with another nice cup of strong filter coffee!