- December 11, 2020
- Posted by: Planet Goa Team
- Category: Beyond Goa
Aritra Mukherjee recently drove from Panjim to Kabbinakad in Kodagu District (popularly known as Coorg) and carried on to Coonoor in Tamil Nadu. Here’s an account of the wonderful road trip that was….
THE monsoons are in full swing and the urge to get behind the wheels and hit the roads for long stretches is absolutely justified. The joys of cruising along the twisted forest roads; the whiff of fresh rain-drenched earth, the clean air pushing your hair back as you speed along and great company alongside, makes for an ideal excuse to plan your next monsoon drive. For the ones living in the state or here for a long stay or even passing by on a driving holiday, here’s a quick trip out of Goa that is picturesque, comfortable and does not take too long before you find yourself deep inside a tranquil coffee and pepper plantation or the lush tea gardens of the Nilgiris.
The sensible thing we did was to start early in the morning. The empty roads ensured we hit none of the traffic inside Goa and had
crossed Canacona way before the office crowd hit the roads. Once we crossed the Goa border and into Karnataka, we followed the coastal route, National Highway 66, past Karwar, Murudeshwar, Udupi all the way up to Mangalore. The highway has been freshly laid and is a joy to drive on whilst playing constant hide and seek with the Arabian Sea. There are no less than fifteen bridges over the backwaters and creeks with stunning views of the coconut groves and colourful fishing boats lining the riversides. Mangalore is a great option to halt for a nice lunch break complete with fresh seafood. If you are willing to take a detour from the highway to ensure incredible food, Machali, Girimanja’s or Shetty Lunch Home would be good options
Well fed and back in the driving seat, the winding roads took us to Madikeri through pastures, betel nut plantations, lakes and dense forests. Once you cross the border to enter Kodagu district, things change dramatically. Everything you look at has an added degree
of contrast and cleanliness, the air thick with the smell of spices and the sounds of the forests filtering in from a distance. Ten hours, five
hundred fifty odd kilometres and we were at a pre-booked Coffee Estate Stay by 4pm. What do you do after a ten hour drive? Shower, have a cup of the estate grown coffee and walk around. No better way to create some stomach space for the impending Pandhi Curry dinner!
After a couple of nights in a vast, quiet and therapeutic experience in the coffee plantation, we decided to get back on the road. This time the destination merely two hundred fifty odd kilometres away; Coonoor, up in the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu. From coffee land to tea paradise. Some choices are too good to be true!
As we drove out of Kodagu and hit the countryside, we couldn’t stop admiring nature at its stunning best. Not one to normally prefer straight highways, we decided to map our way through the forests and State Highways. If you love greenery and want to explore the interiors, this is the one drive you have to experience. If you are driving on SH 86, you could be anywhere in Scotland, South Africa or New Zealand.
Pretty roads, gorgeous greenery, village dwellings and their livestock, pastures, waterbodies and more, all very blissful! Through multiple reserve forests namely, Nugu, Bandipur, Mudumalai and innumerable hairpin bends, we reached the extremely crowded yet popular Ooty and carried on to Coonoor via Wellington.
A couple of nights in a cheese farm later and we were on our way back to Goa. This time though, a new route had to be discovered. Coonoor to Chikmagalur via Wayanad through the most unimaginably alluring eucalyptus and Shola forests and notably the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve. Chikmagalur is the northern end of Kodagu district and almost as important a town as Madikeri.
A week of pretty flowers, animals in the wilderness, coffee and tea plantations, amazing food and being on the road amidst lush rainy nature. Bliss can be summed up in a week of all the above. Next time you can afford a week outside Goa, get in, strap up and step on the gas. Stay Safe! Safe driving!