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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Solo Tour Diary: Trip 3 - Coastal Karnataka - The planning

I'm blogging after a couple of months and this time, it's about another solo trip I went on - a highly exhilarating, detoxifying and recharging one :)

I was still trying to get over the hangover of my recent business trip to the US and as I read online, the best way to beat travel hangover is to plan your next trip :D Planning a trip is nearly as thrilling as the trip itself :)

I caught up with my good friend Shithil when I was in New York this September and he told me the good news that he was going to get married. So I decided right then that I would be attending his marriage in Kundapura. He then told me the date after a few days - Nov 28th and it happened to fall on a Friday.

So when an event is on Friday or a Monday, a techie's mind automatically thinks - LONG WEEKEND! :P ...and thus, I decided to check other nearby places to visit. I knew right then that this would be my next solo tour. Why solo?

Again, same reasons:
1. Due to some reason or the other, I hardly have any friends here who can / will accompany me on these kind of tours that I plan. Let's face it - I'm no longer in college - I'm old! I'm not at an age where friends go on tours. I'm at an age where friends are getting married by the day and are even starting families :) So, I'm a part of the highly rare species that's still single at this age! :) Salman Khan ki jai !!!!

2. More than the lack of company aspect of it, I've begun to love solo tours to a point that I would rather go on a solo tour than with company :) The reasons are simple - the kind of freedom, the kind of flexibility, the absolute lack of dependence on anyone that a solo trip gives you is just priceless :) Things happen exactly according to your plan or sometimes, better than the way you had planned, things happen exactly as per your will :) So when you get used to such freedom, compromising becomes slightly difficult! :)

3. You can decide your plan and book all travel tickets and hotel rooms months in advance, without waiting for confirmation from anyone else and peacefully continue your other work without leaving anything hanging.

Call me selfish, self-centered or uncompromising, but that's pretty much the way I like my travel :)

So yes, I began to plan the places I wanted to visit - Initially, my list had Kundapura (where the wedding was going to take place), Murudeshwara (I always wanted to visit this place ever since I saw the giant statue of Lord Shiva by the seaside), Udupi (I wasn't able to cover St.Mary's Island and the Krishna temple during my previous visit), Jog Falls (since it's not far from Honnavar and I have never seen it until now!) and Gokarna.

But I then realized that all this would be way too much for just 3 days. So I had to cut out a few places. The first one to be eliminated from the list was Jog Falls - I searched for some recent pics and there was hardly any water. So this was an easy decision to make - I decided I would go when there's water in full flow.

After much thought, with a heavy heart, I decided to strike Udupi off the list. I tried various permutations and combinations to my level best to somehow squeeze in Udupi in my plan, but it was just ruining every other thing, being off the course of my travel. Gokarna simply had to be there - a lot of folks on my Facebook friend list had gone there trekking and camping and what not. I had seen the pics and decided that I had to go there for sure.

Another thing that struck me was the fact that unlike my South Tamil Nadu solo tour, I wouldn't have a rest day this time. I had to come back on Monday and work. So I decided to space out my travel and reduce the pace. As you grow old, you realize the importance of rest :) - something you neglect way too casually when you're in your early twenties. As you near 30, you finally come to terms with the fact that your body needs rest, it can't go insane like it used to. So yes, it was going to be a less-packed trip.

This was what I had initially planned:

Thursday night - Leave from Bangalore

Friday - Kundapura temple, Koteshwara temples (the wedding hall was in Koteshwara), Kodi beach and Maravanthe beach (Again, I've seen a lot of beautiful pics of this beach on my Facebook timeline)

Saturday - Murudeshwara temple, Apsarakonda (fell half in love with the place on noticing that it has a temple, falls as well as beach and three-fourth in love after reading reviews online)

Sunday - Gokarna's 4 beaches and 2 temples...return to Bangalore by night bus from Gokarna itself.

For the onward journey, I went ahead with my personal preference, the known devil - Durgamba motors. Affordable, convenient (with a pickup from RR Nagar itself!) and comfortable.

For the return journey, the only sleeper bus option I had was VRL, so went ahead with that. I've traveled by VRL earlier and I've had very good experiences with their buses.

Now, the hotels - Shithil told me that he would book a room in Kundapura for me for Friday, up to Saturday morning. So yes, that's why I decided to come back to the hotel on Friday, after visiting Maravanthe. Otherwise, since Maravanthe is en route Murudeshwara, I would've gone ahead and stayed that night in Murudeshwara itself, but yeah, wanted to save money and utilize the booking full time :P So yes, Kundapura it was, for Friday night!

For booking in Murudeshwara, I had several options - I was going through The RNS group of hotels, Kamat Yatri Nivas etc - Kamat Yatri Nivas did not have a working website. In the RNS group, there was a guest house, which I was interested in, but didn't have online booking :-/ There was the RNS residency, by the sea, which was super-expensive, so it was ruled out.

There was the RNS highway hotel, but I wasn't sure how far away from the temple it was, but it was still my last resort. It was then that I stumbled upon Dhenu Athithya - I read the reviews on TripAdvisor, I took a look at the hotel website - pure veg etc and then I read about their famous "Gou Pooja" everyday. That intrigued me a little :) and they also had a working online booking mechanism and the room was at 1k, decent in comparison to the others (RNS residency was around 2.5k!)

I'm a fan of online reservations, I really don't like booking via phone, worrying that when I land up there, they say they don't have any such reservation :P (I've had a similar experience with a taxi service in the US early in the morning, when I had to catch a flight! Scary). So yes, I always prefer online booking, so that, again - there is nothing hanging :D

I wish I were as organized, meticulous and systematic about other things in life too, as I am in planning travel :D So yes, I made a reservation for Dhenu Athithya and that was the end of my trip plan. Well, not quite.

As the day approached, my neighbor aunty told me to visit the famous Idagunji temple near Murudeshwara, if I had time. My 2nd day was relatively less crowded, so yes, Idagunji was added to the afternoon slot.

Finally, after many months since March, I was looking forward to another few days totally bereft of my laptop, internet and net connectivity on phone. I turned off my data. I had to free my cluttered mind and shut down my brain for a few days.

I applied for leave of absence for Friday. Finally, on Thursday evening, the 27th of November I set out to the Durgamba Travels pick-up point at RR Nagar.

Okay, that's about the planning :D

The travelogue begins with Day 1, here.

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