Exhilarating roadtrip from Mumbai to Coorg with my favourites (Dec 2019)


Nikesh madhani
ROADTRIP - one word that rings a bell and your heart is elated like a kid. And I finally got a chance to make good of this in December 2019.

The Ultimate Loop

The Ultimate Loop


Roadtrips are an excellent opportunity to explore cities, towns, villages and sceneries which otherwise we miss out during our usual vacations. This makes it very important to choose a right destination and an exciting route. I have visited many places around Mumbai but I always craved for a long roadtrip. Thought of many destinations for a roadtrip, however such trip is a function of time, money and company. While discussing for a short vacation with a friend, we decided to go to Coorg during the Christmas vacation. This immediately made my heart pump a bit faster as it was a perfect destination for my first long roadtrip. The very next day, I opened an excel sheet and planned an itinerary. Few pointers while planning the itinerary:
  • Only had a Christmas vacation of about 10 days
  • Had to avoid night driving as I was the lone driver and with family (my wife and my 5 year-old son) in an unknown terrain
  • Had to ensure availability of Veg food (Read Jain)

Chalked out couple of routes to Coorg, discussed with few friends who were local to some of the cities en route and finalized my plan along with the travel dates.

The plan

The plan

Unfortunately, my friend had to cancel his plans because of some personal exigency, so we were the only family left for the trip. This did not dissuade me and we decided to go ahead with our plan.

Second stage was hotel bookings. Most of the destinations were popular one and finding a hotel was not a challenge. However, I did pay a premium for the stay as it was a peak vacation time. I chose makemytrip for all the hotel bookings. Next we made an exhaustive list of what we need to pack and carry. Right from clothes, winter & beach wear, first aid, food, water, toys, etc. Prepared a long playlist to play over the long drives.

(Tip: Download the Google maps offline to avoid network disruption)

As the D-day was getting closer, I was nervous as well as super excited as this would be my first ever roadtrip in true sense. Got my Creta serviced at Hyundai service centre and they assured me that on-road service is available across India. This comforted me.

This completes our planning and preparation stage. Now it’s time to hit the roads.

Day 1 – 22nd Dec 2019 – Mumbai to Kolhapur

After couple of months of planning, here comes the D-day. We stuffed all the luggage in our car on the previous night itself to avoid any delays in the morning. The first halt was at Kolhapur which is around 400 kms (approx. 7 hours of drive without breaks) from Mumbai. We started exactly at 5 am to beat the city traffic and took NH48/AH47 (Mumbai-Bangalore highway via Mumbai-Pune expressway). We had our breakfast at the food court after the Khalapur toll in Khopoli. Post that it was a non-stop drive except for couple of washroom/snacks breaks. We reached our hotel in Kolhapur at 2pm, checked in, had lunch and then rested for a while. (Check my reviews about the hotel on Google maps or on tripadvisor). On the way, we crossed towns like Satara, Karad, etc and the route had many veg outlets. The 4-lane highway was butter smooth with endless views of sugarcane farms. We wanted to explore the city a bit more in the evening but visited only Mahalaxmi Temple as my son had mild fever. Had dinner and rested as we wanted to start early the following day again.

(Tip: Visit Mahalaxmi Temple other than Aarti time to avoid long queues)


Our Bagwati - Respect dena padta hai

Creta ki Sawari

Day 2 – 23rd Dec 2019 – Kolhapur to Davangere

After our complimentary breakfast in the hotel, we started our drive to Davangere at 10am. It is 350 kms from Kolhapur (approx. six and half hours drive without breaks) and we continued on AH47 (Mumbai-Bangalore highway). Flat drive with sugarcane farms on either side and some stretch of cotton farms. We took our lunch break at Kamath Upahar somewhere on the way at approx 175 kms from Kolhapur. We reached Davangere at approx 4pm and checked into the hotel (Check my reviews about the hotel on Google maps or on tripadvisor). On the way, we crossed many towns like Belgaum, Dharwad, Hubli, etc which are economically important for the Karnataka State. Davangere is a small town which was earlier a cotton hub and is one of the cities selected to be developed as a smart city. My son still had fever so decided to rest. We found a veg hotel, Sabzi Sargam, in Davangere and were delighted with the food.

(Tip: Try the popular local dish Bene Dosa)


Mumbai - Bangalore Highway

Suvarna Vidhana Soudha - Belgaum

Sugarcane Farm

Day 3 – 24th Dec 2019 – Davangere to Madikeri (Coorg)

Day 3 started with the excitement of going to the most awaited destination of the trip – Coorg, which is about 306 kms (approx. six and a half hours drive without breaks). After a mediocre complimentary breakfast, we took off at 8:30am. About 5 kms from the city, we took right onto SH76. Mind you, Karnataka has far better interior roads as compared to Maharashtra and it is a wonderful experience to drive on them. This stretch of about 104 kms was extremely peaceful with excellent roads, no traffic and beautiful greenery all around. Since I was unaware of the route, I shared my live location with my bro in Mumbai, just in case. You can really stop by anywhere on this stretch of the road and surely think about life :). We stopped twice on this route, first to capture a breath-taking view of Bukkambuddhi kere with lake on one side and huge coconut farms on the other and then to have a quick bite. My son really enjoys to sit in the boot of our car and relish the home made snacks. The route now continued on NH69 for another 32kms and then took right on NH73 which took us to Madikeri. On the way, we crossed Santhebennur, Channagiri, Bukkambuddhi, Kadur, Halebeedu, Hassan, Kushalnagar, etc


Rare food outlet on SH76

Coconut farms on either side on SH76


Bukkambuddhi kere
Madikeri is the headquarters of Coorg district and it is at 3770 feet above sea level. Heard a lot about Coorg and the expectations were sky high. I also love to drive on hilly areas especially which has many hairpin and zigzag turns. Unfortunately, I did not find either of them while driving towards Madikeri. I never felt that we were elevated to such height and did not get any valley views on the way. Our hotel was in the middle of the town and it was very disappointing too (Check my reviews about the hotel on Google maps or on tripadvisor). Since I booked hotels little late, all the good hotels/resorts were either sold out or was very expensive. Plan was to stay for 3 nights at Madikeri and explore the district but decided to cut down our stay by 1 night and booked a hotel in Mangalore. The sight-seeing from Madikeri were far away with good amount of drive and so we settled to enjoy only those places which were close by. No problems while searching for Veg hotels for our lunch and dinner. Our 2 nights’ stay in Madikeri was disappointing and nothing to talk about.

Day 4 – 25th Dec 2019 – Madikeri

We visited local sight-seeing in Madikeri like Abbey falls, fort, Raja’s seat, etc. We initially looked for a cab for these places for which they quoted Rs. 2000-2200, then we checked with auto rickshaw which charged us just Rs. 400 and we chose it.

(Tip: Book early and chose a resort away from the main town. Try the local coffee and chocolates, you can even gift it to your closed ones)


View from Raja's seat

Day 5 – 26th Dec 2019 – Madikeri to Mangalore

Disappointed with Madikeri, we headed to Mangalore with least of expectations. It was a short drive of about 136kms (3 hours of drive without breaks) via NH275/NH73, so we started at around 10 am. The drive to Mangalore was beautiful through the lush green forest and with no traffic. We reached Mangalore at around 1pm and it was really hot even at the peak of the winter. There were CAA protests in the city and we were little worried about it, fortunately it was all peaceful when we reached. The hotel was comfortable (Check my reviews about the hotel on Google maps or on tripadvisor) and we got a veg restaurant right at the hotel. The food was delicious. The sumptuous Paper Dosa is not to be missed, it remained crispy till the last bite. Mangalore is economically and historically one of the key cities in the state of Karnataka. It is one of the major ports in the country and handles major portion of India’s coffee and cashew exports. In the evening we explored the city and visited Tannirbavi beach and experienced the beautiful sunset. After resting well at night and sumptuous breakfast in the morning, we started our drive on the coastal highway towards Murudeshwar. Mangalore was good and raised our expectations for rest of the trip.


Really good homemade dark chocolates in Coorg




Beautiful Sunset at Mangalore beach
Day 6 – 27th Dec 2019 – Mangalore to Murudeshwar

Our next destination was Murudeshwar which was a coastal town lying on NH66, about 150kms from Mangalore (approx. 3 hours of drive without breaks). NH66 is the coastal highway which connects the entire west coast of India from Mumbai to Kanyakumari. It is currently being converted to 4 lane highway and will take few more years to complete this project. Mind you, the highway has been excellent but it was heart breaking to see how it cuts through the forests chopping down decades old huge trees. But I guess that’s the trade-off. Anyways since the highway is not yet fully constructed there are many diversions throughout, toll plazas are being constructed and you find random vehicles coming on the opposite side that too on the first lane. You need to be really careful while driving as you will be easily tempted to accelerate to 100-120kmph.

We first decided to visit few centuries old 1000 pillar Jain temple in Moodbidri which is about 35 kms (an hour drive) from Mangalore via NH169. The roads are narrow and in bad condition and the buses, both private and govt, were rash so I needed to be extra careful. Once we reached the temple it was evident that it was not maintained as is the case with most of the heritage sites in India. Such sites if maintained properly can be such a great tourist attraction and sure to earn some additional revenue. Anyways after visiting this temple we headed to Murudeshwar via SH67 and then connecting back to coastal highway NH66. Enroute you will get to see many photogenic places as the route is parallel to the western coastline of the country.


Jain temple in Moodbidri

First we had a super thali in Udupi city and then we stopped at Marvanthe beach for the splendid view. It’s the stretch of the road with Arabian sea on one side and Kolluru river on the other. We reached our hotel in Bhatkal, a small town before Murudeshwar, and relaxed. Entertained my son in the hotel and crashed. Bhatkal is a very important historical town and is one of the main trade centres for spices, jewellery, leather traders and has largely Muslim population (65%).

(Tip: A thali in Udupi city is a must. Stop at Marvanthe beach and enjoy the stunning view of the Arabian sea. You will regret it later if you miss it.)


Udupi City entrance


Super tasty thali in Amber Veg


Suvarna river in Udupi


Maravanthe Beach

Day 7 – 28th Dec 2019 - Murudeshwar to Calangute (Goa)

On this day, en route Goa, we planned to cover lot of places and it was supposed to be most exciting drive. Total distance to Calangute is 240kms (approx. 5.5 hours of drive without breaks) and we started at 8.30 am from the hotel. First, we were tempted to stop at a place called Mini Maldives, however, as we took a de tour we found that the road towards this place was very rocky & secluded and I dint want to risk it especially with the family.


The only Digambar Jain temple in Murudeshwar

Next was Murudeshwar temple which hosts the grand Shiva statue. The temple is built on Kanduka Hill which has 20-storied Gopura and 123-feet Shiva idol, which is the second largest in the world. The larger-than-life Shiva statue is massive especially when you are right at its toe. It is surrounded by Arabian Sea on three sides and is a must visit. I have always seen this statue in the social media platforms to garner more likes, but today I actually got the opportunity to see it from my own eye, simply fascinating. However, the Murudeshwar beach right next to it was super crowded and can be avoided. One and half hour is enough to explore this place.

(Tip: Try to reach early by 9-10am in the morning to avoid the traffic as the approach road is very narrow.)


The humongous Shiva statue




Power and strength is very much evident


At the Murudeshwar temple complex


As we left this place, our next destination was Gokarna Beach. Gokarna along with Karwar are the twin beaches which are less explored, laid back and rustic. It offers the much needed break from the hustle and bustle of the city life. Gokarna beach is about 10kms de tour from NH66 and takes more time than the Google map’s estimation owing to narrow roads through the Gokarna town. It is one of the seven important Hindu pilgrimage centres. As we were about to reach the beach by following the Google maps, we got stuck in a very narrow (barely 1 car can pass through) and over-crowded lane with no chance of taking a reverse. Even the crowd cursed us for being there and destroying their equilibrium. But one Samaritan knocked our window and told us, "even we took our Innova through this route" and this gave me world of confidence and I proceeded despite all the curses. Indeed, it was one of the narrowest turns I have ever seen. I had to do couple of times back and forth before I could turn and there we go, the beach was finally there. One part of the beach was over-crowded as there were lot of temple visitors and the other part of the beach was empty and serene. We spent some time there and had quick bites of dry snacks that we were carrying as there were only one so called restaurant and it was very crowded. We then proceeded to our next destination - Karwar.

(Tip: Please check with locals for the way to the beach, as there was another way as well)


Painful when you see such deforestation

But then this is also required (NH66)


Sharavati river bridge


Temple on the Gokarna beach road


The crowded Gokarna beach


But peace on the other side of the beach

The Karwar beach (or the Rabindranath Tagore beach) is along the NH66 highway and is one of the cleanest beach in India. Karwar being a naval base and a port, there are not many tourists are seen around. Late evening, the locals do come to enjoy the beach and the beautiful sunset. Right next to the beach is the INS Chapal warship museum ship. With a nominal fee of Rs. 15 per adult, you can take a tour of this stationery warship, and is an excellent opportunity for us to learn about the life in a warship, especially for kids. We then enjoyed a stroll on the beautiful beach and had a street snacks while enjoying the beautiful sunset.


INS Chapal on the Karwar Beach

Beautiful sunset at Karwar beach

It was already 6.30 in the evening and we still had some distance to cover to reach our last destination of the day - Calangute. The rest of the journey was without street lights at most part of the roads to Goa and it was an experience to drive. I asked my wife to take a nap and make my son to sleep so that I can focus on driving in a pitch dark condition. We reached Panaji at around 9 pm and there was a massive traffic jam which took almost an hour to get through. We reached Calangute at around 10.30 pm and were dead tired. We had a quick dinner in a restaurant, checked-in in the hotel and ended our day (Check my reviews about the hotel on Google maps or on tripadvisor). Goa is one of my favourites and this was my seventh visit and only to be used as a stopover for the first time ever. It was one of the best days of the trip were we got to see few excellent places.

Day 8 – 29th Dec 2019 – Calangute to Ganpatipule

After we woke up in the morning, the thought struck us that, 80% of the trip is already over and it gave us a kick to enjoy the last destination to the fullest - Ganpatipule. It was 250 kms (6 hours’ drive without break) from Calangute and the route was full of diversions and bad roads. This made the drive to be more of a punishment rather than entertainment. We dint find any good restaurant for lunch on the route, except for a couple of glasses of sugarcane juice that kept us going, it was one of the freshest and tastiest juice squeezed out of sugarcanes from nearby farms. After Ratnagiri, the 25km drive to Ganpatipule took our breath away. Ganpatipule gave us splendid views with mountain roads adjoining the sea. We stopped by many points for customary pics. Pics to banta hai bhai. Especially road along the Aare Ware beach. Don’t miss the Titanic point at Ratnagiri giving a beautiful view of the Arabian sea. It is a boat shaped point, part of a private resort named Kohinoor Samudra Beach Resort, but general public are allowed to visit the viewpoint with a fee of Rs. 50 per person. We reached our resort at around 3.00 pm, checked in at the resort, had lunch and rested for a while (Check my reviews about the hotel on Google maps or on tripadvisor). In the evening, explored the beautiful and well maintained resort.

(Tip: Don’t miss Titanic point, but not allowed to carry DSLR)


Some off roading on NH66

Beautiful glimpse of Aare Ware beach in Ganpatipule

On Aare Ware road - View of the Advika beach

Day 9 – 30th Dec 2019 – Ganpatipule

The next day we went to Ganpatipule Beach and the famous Ganpati temple is right next to the beach. It was already noon and there was a big queue in the temple for darshan, so we went straight to the beach. The beach had all the basic water sports but it was very crowded. We took a speed boat (Rs. 150 per head) ride. The water was so blue that it will take your breath away. But locals also warned not to venture into the sea water as the beach is dangerous as the underwater current at few places is unpredictable. We then decided to go to an adjacent beach about 2kms from Ganpatipule beach – Neware beach to have some peaceful moments. This was a huge, clean beach and there was hardly any crowd. It had scuba diving (for Rs. 1200 per head) and dirt biking (Rs. 200 per head). We took a dirt bike ride mainly to entertain my son. We enjoyed the sea water for quite some time and then headed back to the resort. In the evening we went to explore the town and visited Prachin Kokan which is an open air museum taking you through the ancient Kokan life. We also visited Magic Garden which is basically some fun for the kids, only adults may avoid this.

(Tip: Avoid getting into the sea water at Ganpatipule and Aare Ware beach as the locals told that both are dangerous)


View from our room - Serenity


Can you locate the Ganpatipule beach


And that's the closer look of the Ganpatipule beach


So we went to Nevare beach, very pristine

Day 10 – 31st Dec 2019 – Ganpatipule to Mumbai

The last day of our trip started with sumptuous breakfast and then we dived into the pool for good 3 hours. It was then we realized that we have to checkout and quickly went to the room.

We checked out at 12.30 in the afternoon from our last hotel of the trip and this resort was the best of all. It made our trip successful as the cliché goes – All’s well that ends well. Google maps showed 2 routes to Mumbai from Ganpatipule, one via old Mumbai-Goa highway i.e. NH66 of about 350kms and the other one via the Mumbai-Bangalore highway i.e. NH48/AH47 of about 500kms, both showing the same time of 9.5 hours (without breaks). I consulted couple of friends and also at the resort reception and decided to take the longer route as the Mumbai-Bangalore highway was safer as I had to drive at night since we checked out late.


What a view!!!
I had to get the fuel tank filled before we start the drive and I reached a nearby petrol pump. I realized that I am out of cash and the card machine at the petrol pump was not functioning. But they had UPI thankfully. Tank was filled and I made the payment via UPI once, it did not work, I tried the 2nd time and again it did not work. I tried the 3rd time and again it did not work. Now the amount was debited thrice but it was not credited in the dealer's account. The petrol pump guy asked me to check the nearby ATM and he accompanied me and to my dismay even the ATM was out of service. Now I was stuck and was not able to make the payment. Suddenly it clicked and I tried IMPS and thankfully it worked immediately through ICICI. This wasted one full hour which delayed our journey to Mumbai and also was bothered if the amount debited through UPI does not get credited back to my account. I took the chance that it will get credited and finally we were all set to begin the last leg of our trip to Mumbai at 2pm from Ganpatipule.

The journey was long and we wanted to reach the highway before it gets dark. We started the route via SH106/NH66 for about 100kms passing through Amba ghat. The drive at the ghat was challenging and equally satisfying with excellent view of the mountain ranges. We then took left from Malkapur and had to cover 52kms on the worst road of the trip to reach the Mumbai-Bangalore highway at Karad. It took good 2 hours to cover that distance and was worried about the suspension of the car.


View of the Amba ghat

Once we reached the highway at around 8pm, we took a dinner break, probably the final break. And then the last 350kms was a flat drive on really good highway including the Mumbai-Pune expressway. We took couple of tea breaks as I was getting really sleepy while driving. The clock struck 12 in the midnight and we celebrated the New Year 2020 on the Mumbai-Pune expressway with some good view of fireworks at Lonavla. We finally reached home at around 3am. Huge sigh of relief to complete the epic roadtrip without any major hassle. Such extensive planning and long awaited trip suddenly came to an end with a blink of an eye. For all 3 of us, it was an extremely happy and satisfying roadtrip.


Some statistics!!!


Happy ending!!!

We crashed into the bed with only one thought – To hit the road again!!!

Booking partner: Makemytrip (It was hassle free and seamless)
Travel partner: My family and Google maps (how can we travel without it)
Car: Hyundai Creta

Trip facts
Total days: 10
Total destinations: 9
Total distance covered: 2,437 kms
Total hours drove: 60 hours


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Nikesh madhani
Wonderful travelogue but it left me craving for more photographs.
Thanks a lot, i am inspired by this forum a lot for my trip. This is the first time i have posted my experience and the forum restricted me to upload only 50 pics.


Well-Known Member
Amazing journey. I wish I could see more photos and you should put them in full size instead of thumbnails.
Interesting how you mentioned getting pained at deforestation. It happens a lot to me too. On many roads where I have driven for many years I see how slowly (actually quite fast) forests are being wiped out. I can’t stop thinking about it as I drive...


Senior Billi
Thanks a lot, i am inspired by this forum a lot for my trip. This is the first time i have posted my experience and the forum restricted me to upload only 50 pics.
I think it is 50 per post; you need to break it into several posts/replies instead of one. So you can now post more pics, if you have more...especially the food. :)


Nikesh madhani
Amazing journey. I wish I could see more photos and you should put them in full size instead of thumbnails.
Interesting how you mentioned getting pained at deforestation. It happens a lot to me too. On many roads where I have driven for many years I see how slowly (actually quite fast) forests are being wiped out. I can’t stop thinking about it as I drive...
Thanks a lot. I just realized that i have uploaded the thumbnails instead of actual pictures. Tried looking to edit the post, but could not find it. Is there any way i can edit this post?


Nikesh madhani
I think it is 50 per post; you need to break it into several posts/replies instead of one. So you can now post more pics, if you have more...especially the food. :)
I actually wanted to keep the entire travelogue in one single post. Its easier for everyone to read it in one go rather than looking for continuity in the trail.


Well-Known Member
When you are logged in, on the left hand side you will find an edit button. I guess you will have to delete your image from the post and re-insert it. Maybe the next time.

Also, when you are creating a new post, there is a “save” icon which looks like an old floppy disk. You can save your draft article without publishing it, and publish only when you are ready and complete.