It was summer holidays for the kids and a vacation was impending. After much deliberation and discussions the consensus was a drive along holiday from Bangalore to Goa. The trip was a fantastic experience. We stayed in a banana plantation in Yellapur, a wooden seaside cottage on the Benaulim beach, a 200 year old Portuguese heritage house in Curtorim and atvDevbagh Island in Karwar. We chased dolphins, explored a war ship in Karwar, lazed on the beaches of Benaulim in South Goa and in the magnificent Devbagh island. The most amazing discovery of this Bangalore Goa trip was how cunningly foxes hunted crabs by using their tail as a bait on Devbagh island!
The fastest and smoothest route from Bangalore to Goa is via NH-4 (Tumkur, Chitradurga, Hubli) and then via Yellapur to Karwar. Karwar to Goa is the final leg via NH-17. The distance is 570 Kms to South Goa and the drive will take between 10-12 hours depending on the breaks being taken. Coffee break can be taken at Coffee Day outlet in Bankapur 50 Kms before Hubli. If you prefer to take a break for the night instead of driving to Goa at one stretch, then Banana county resort at Yellapur is a convenient break. It is located off the Hubli Karwar road. Contact number is +918419 262838.
The homestay experience during this trip was excellent. For some suggestions of homestays in India, visit India Holiday Ideas.
We stayed at the following places during this trip and here are the contact details.
Fern Beiramar at Benaulim can be contacted at +91832 2772837. Arco Iris boutique homestay in Curtorim can be contacted at +91832 2786800. Devbagh Resort in Karwar can be contacted at +9180 40554055
We left Bangalore on Saturday morning and took NH-4 and headed towards Hubli. The roads were fantastic and traffic non existent after Nelmangala. Our plan was to take a break at Yellapur, a village between Hubli and Karwar. We were told that the route via Bankapur and Mundugod to Yellapur was much shorter than via Hubli. However, as luck would have it we had to survive 15 KMs of broken roads! However, the rural scenery made up for the bumpy ride. We finally reached Yellapur after 7 hours of drive which included a 45 minute coffee break.
The stay was planned at a Banana plantation which also had a few cottages. The plantation was set in a picturesque part of rural Yellapur. We spent the rest of the evening just walking through the plantation. There were a few ducks, cows and dogs for company in the plantation. Post sunset, we decided to open the newly acquired Monopoly game with electronic banker! Instead of the usual cash transactions, this version had a credit card swiping machine. But all the excitement faded when we ralised we needed sa screw driver to put the batteries into the electronic banking unit. As luck would have it, the resort in the plantation did not have the cross screw driver we required. So reluctantly we put it away for Goa. After dinner as we set out towards our cottages, a thunder storm began and the lightening and thunder lasted for 2 hours. It was one of the most fearsome downpour i had seen in a long long time.
We woke up on sunday morning all excited for sun-kissed Goa. We reached the shores of the Arabian Sea after a couple of hours drive and entered the port town and naval base Karwar. The first view of the Arabian Sea was magnificent as we spotted the tides from the windshield. There was also a long ship which looked magnificent in the backdrop of the Arabian Sea.
As we headed towards Goa, we took another halt to explore the War Ship Museum which was actually a decommissioned vessel INS Chapal. It was fascinating to have a close look at how the crew lived in this magnificent ship. During its hey days, it was a Chamak class missile boat of the Indian Navy. It was on service from 1976 to 2005.
The road from Karwar to Benaulim in South Goa was picturesque and we reached in 2 hours. Goa was scorching hot! What a contrast from the thunderstorms of the night before at Yellapur. The wooden cottages at Fern Bairamar looked fantastic and this was to be our residence for the the next 3 days.
It was still too hot for either the pool or the beach. So we tired our luck again for a screw driver to open the Monopoly game. Our ordeal continued as even this hotel did not have a small screw driver and being a Sunday shops were closed for a siesta! We proceeded for lunch and finally by 4pm managed to get hold of a tester at a shop nearby which served the purpose. Finally after 2 days of waiting, we opened the game and the electronic banking unit was a cool surprise. The game was fun with credit card swipes for all debit and credit transactions whether one was purchasing property or paying rent to other players!
It was time to head for the beach at Benaulim. The beach was clean and not very crowded except for a few Russian tourists. The water was cool and inviting. The sand was moist enough for building castles.
We also managed to visit the BITS campus in Goa to meet some friends. The drive from Benaulim to the campus was splendid as we passed through villages dotted with colorful houses. There was even a large meadow right in the middle of the town.
After having our fill of the pool and the beach at Benaulim we moved to our next abode, Arco Iris. This was a 200 year old Portuguese style heritage house now converted into a homestay. The house is surrounded by lakes and paddy fields. Run by Benny and Ganesh who live with here with their 2 daughters, it was a fantastic experience living in this quaint house. There was mango plucking happening as soon as we reached and so we all joined the excitement. We carried a bagful with us on our return and is serving as a perfect pickle with curd ride.
The house is built over 7000 Sq feet and is set in a 1 acre property. Like a typical Portuguese house it has a entrada, sala, dining room, 5 bedrooms, lounge, library and a kitchen. The dinner table had a lovely view of the village behind the house.
The food was awesome with some Goan specialties like the Konkani syle cookies and brinjal.
After a sumptuous lunch, we headed out to Chandor village to see the 300 year old Braganza mansion. This is the longest house in Goa with 24 windows! In the 17th century Menezes Braganza used to represent Goa under Portuguese Government as Vice Consul General. He was gifted this land by the Don Luiz the King of Portugal. The house is made of laterite and has a garden with mosaic seats and fountains.
Today this mansion is opened to tourists who can marvel at the ancient heritage mansion filled with antique furniture, chandeliers, paintings, porcelain and crystals.
The lush green fields and villages in Curtorim surrounding Arci Iris tempted us for a walk. We took a short walk through the villages till to the river bank. It was a lovely experience as we passed through colorful houses. The village dogs were surprised to see visitors in their dominion and barked a few times, but thankfully none chased us. A sudden shower of rain prompted us for a quick retreat back to the house. But the rains were a welcome relief to the heat.
Dinner was planned at Nostalgia, a boutique cafe in Raia. The cafe was very colorfully designed and full of Portuguese memorabilia. There were photographs of hosts and guests with the Figo, the legendary Portuguese footballer. and former captain.
There was an interesting map of conquests of Portuguese seamen across the world.
Our last leg of this vacation was planned at Devbagh, the island in Karwar. A 2 hour drive brought us to the parking lot in front of Jungle Lodges office which runs this resort. A ferry took us to the Devbagh Island which is surrounded by Arabian Sea and the Kali river. We had visited this island 5 years back and nothing much had changed, thankfully. The island is full of casuarina trees and has one of the cleanest beach in India. Our cottage looked elegant surrounded by casuarina trees.
After a typical Konkani lunch at the Gol Ghar we decided to take a ride over the Kali River over a speed boat. Our boat whizzed past a group of fishermen who were leisurely plying their trade. The ride was bumpy but fun as the boat made past the waves.
It was beach time during the evening. It was fun walking along the beach which goes all the way past the resort to a fisherman's village and past a hill before entering the Goa border.
There was a damaged house boat parked near the beach which used to be operated by Jungle Lodges. In its abandoned state, it reminded me of Treasure Island!
We woke up early the next morning to take a walk through the island. After hearing the sound of Peococks since we landed, we sfinally spotted a few of them perched right on top of the trees. Other birds spotted were babblers, kingfishers, drongo and cormorants. There were many tree mushrooms in exotic colors.
The most fascinating story of this trip was told to me by the nature walk guide about how foxes on Devbagh hunt the crabs. He took us to the river and showed us the spot which becomes a hotbed of action at night. The foxes of the island love crabs but the latter are always inside the river in the day time. So at night the foxes come to the river bank and drop their tail inside the river! The unsuspecting crabs bite the tail. In a split second the fox flings its tail and the crabs are thrown outside the water on the land. It is a matter of seconds before the foxes devour the crabs. No wonder we associate "cunning" with the fox.
The last item on itinerary was an exhilarating one. We took a boat ride on the Kali river and adjoining Arabian Sea to spot Dolphins. We were lucky to spot a group of 3 Dolphins. Although they did not do their playful dive out of the water, we did manage to spot their snouts and back over the surface of the Sea.
The only thing i hate about vacations is that they eventually get over. After a smooth 9 hour drive through Hubli and Chitradurga, we reached back Bangalore to get back to the routine.