2500 kms of Road Tripping - Tips and Takeaways

I'm not much of a road trip person. I do believe that the journey is as awesome as the destination, but for some reason, I haven't got caught on to the concept of road trips. Last time, I slept off, lost control of my neck, and next day had a bad stiff neck. This time, my feet felt a little numb, and I had to keep doing these ankle exercises to keep the blood going to my feet.

We were forced to take a long detour, via cotton fields and sunflower fields.

But I know people who absolutely love road trips (my husband is one such person) and while I was tempted once in a while to whine how we could have just taken a train or flight, I have to say it's an amazing experience. To have the wind on your face, to be able to do that wave thing with your hands when you're going at 140, to be able to see the India sans cities, to be able to stop for sugar cane juice when you want, or coconut water, well, I can't complain too much !

We passed through Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka before finally reaching Goa.

A road trip in South India isn't complete if you haven't tasted local delicacies or the famous cuisines. The Konkan route is like a food trail - each area having it's own specialty. We initially stopped at Udipi and went to Hotel Woodlands. I was surprised to see such a long waiting queue. There were people sitting on the stairway leading to the restaurant. I had high expectations, and with all the people sitting on the stairway as it was the commonest thing to do, the hype built on. In spite of such a huge inflow of diners, the service was brilliant, and the food did not disappoint me.

We couldn't find any hotels to stay, everything seemed to be packed full owing to the Christmas weekend, both in Udipi and Mangalore. and we were forced to look at other options.
We were apprehensive, but we finally booked a room at Hotel Highway Castle in Kasargod - via make my trip. I think this was the biggest surprise of our trip. The hotel exceeded our expectations, the bathrooms, beds, the breakfast - everything was amazing ! Their service was great too.

The next day, we stopped at Thalassery, what with all the jazz about the biriyani from this place. We went to Hotel Rara Avis. Again jam packed, I obviously ordered the veg biriyani. And it was one of the best I have had. No surprises, just a confirmation of a widely heard belief. I am not sure what goes into the biriyani, spices or some age old secret ingredient, passed down from one Thalassery family to the next, but it tasted so good, I had to eat on even once I knew my tummy was full. Neither was it spicy, nor over the top masala laden, it was just perfect.

Below is our route - a good 2500 kilometers.

On our way back, we drove by the coastal route - a drastic change from the 6 lane highway, part of the golden quadrilateral project.

After a long conversation with Navin, who has done many more road trips than I have, and after my own 2500 km experience in the last 10 days, I've put together some tips for your next road trip !

- Take water and money - some stretches don't have ATMs, however they do have tolls.
- Have (or buy) those window shades that get sold at signals. It really helps keep the car cool, especially if it's the tropical states, the summer seems to be 12 months long.
- Have a play list on your phone. (especially on long road trips.) What I usually do, when I go jogging or on my morning commute, is listen to the same songs, on loop, because I am too lazy to update the list. But on a road trip, you may land up listening to Adele say Hello some 50 times if you don't have a good play list ready. If you don't know where to start, check this and this out by Holidify.
- Obviously take sunglasses too, to reduce the fatigue.
- Keep a small plastic (polythene) bag in your car. This way you won't be tempted to throw all those waste covers and lays packets and used tetra packs outside. This way, you'll also contribute to making your country a little cleaner :)
- Best part of a road trip is stopping when you want. So when you see something that you want to capture, don't shy out. You'll regret it if you don't stop ! We were in two minds whether to take those tiny detours, (example: Bekal Fort) on our way back, but guess what, the view from the fort is extra ordinary -  the waters are blue green.

I have always wanted to visit the Bekal fort, and lo and behold, the mighty fort overlooking the gorgeous sea.
- Keep those toll tickets saved up and I'll tell you why. There are some state police which will stop you when they see your car is not registered in the state you're traveling through. The toll ticket is proof you're only passing through ! (This works in Bangalore)
- Carry Gelusil and Eno and some other basic medicines - you never know which meal starts acting up in your tummy.
- Since you never know when the next pump is, fill when you can a full tank. Also, keep the air in the tyres full.
- Listen to the local radio (I totally recommend Indigo near and around Bangalore) - Maybe not for long, but it'll be nice to get a whiff of the local flavor.

We saw a bee farm on the way, and they had all sorts of farm animals, there was also a friendly dog :)

- Have a pair of socks (as I said, my feet get cold and weird), tissue, sanitizer and a moisturizer. I hate when my hands get dry, and since the AC is on pretty much the whole time, my hands do get twitchy - so I keep some nice lotion for the hands.

While writing this, I am realizing how each region, fragmented as it could be, offers a different geography, topography, soil, vegetation, people, language, dialects of the same language and cuisine - how a similar dish tastes so different just owing to the difference in preparation, take sambhar for instance, it's so different in Udipi vs in Kochi vs in Bangalore vs in Coimbatore. We passed through sun flowers beds, cotton farms, arid zones, bee farms, a drive-in beach (obviously in Kerala - where else ?), forts, temple festivals, great food, even a strike/protest - which caused a major detour, swarms of goats blocking our way, a cow crossing the road like it was his own, coastal cities, villages - a good experience in retrospect !!

The Muzhappilangad beach, between Kannur and Thalassery (Kerala). This is the longest drive-in beach in India.


Note :
While driving through Kerala - look out for Indian Coffee House - they have 52 restaurants all over Kerala and the food is really nice.
While in Tamil Nadu, A2B (Adyar Ananda Bhavan) is a good choice.
We had some trouble finding a hotel after Bangalore, but there are a few dhabas, also, you can find a chain of Kamat Hotels which serve good food.
The coastal belt of Karnataka and Kerala offer amazing options, including really nice eateries in Udipi, Mangalore, Thalassery and so on.

I got back 2 days ago, and we had a lovely long holiday ! How was your Christmas ? I would love to hear. When was your last road trip ? Also, if you have been on road trips, especially in India, I'm sure you'd also have some great tips. Do leave a comment, I'd love to hear :)

4 comments

  1. Thalassery on my radar now after reading this.

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  2. Very informative post Shruti!! Thanks for the share :) We wish a very happy new year

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  3. Thank you so much ! Happy New Year to you guys too :)

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