Monsoon Road Trip of Western Ghats

First of all this is not a trip for the faint hearts. This is one slightly dangerous route covering some of the best scenery that the Western Ghats can provide at the peak of its beauty, the Monsoons.

We covered nearly a thousand kilometres in two days through rains and forests and hills and beaches.

Itinerary- Trip Map

Bangalore -> Hassan -> Gorur Dam -> Shanivarashante-> Somwarpet -> Malhalli Waterfalls -> Somwarpet -> Shanivarashante -> Sakleshpur -> Nelpady -> Bantawal -> Mangalore -> Penambur Beach -> Moodabidri -> Charmadi Ghats -> Mudigere -> Belur -> Hassan -> Bangalore.

Vehicle Details
Fiat Palio stile SDX 1.3 with Michelin tyres and features like fog lights, defogger ,AC etc.
Kilometres - 1000 , approx 1/4 th of the distance in AC
Oil required - 60 L diesel

Day 1 : Friday
We started around 7 pm after office for Hassan and reached around 11 pm with dinner on the way.
Road Condition : Excellent toll roads till Channarayapattana, after which the toll road is under construction and there was heavy traffic.
We stayed at a cheap lodge in Hassan - Gokul Lodge (Rs 350 for a small double bedroom).

Day 2: Saturday
We started around 9 am after breakfast at Sri Krishna Hotel for Gorur Dam. We did not get any clear view of Hemavathi Reservoir, but got a decent look at the dam.
Then we started off for Shanivarashante. The road till Somwarpet was good , just a bad patch here and there. We saved a snake somehow with some furious braking in Somwarpet. Then we headed towards Malhalli Waterfalls. The roads get narrower till the falls , but good enough for cars.

Malhalli Waterfalls is a wonderful place. The falls is situated about 4 km from the entry point where one has to pay an entry fee. This road is in terrible shape and jeeps are available on hire from local home stays.

We tried to go through this road for a while but ended up with a damaged bumper and had to return and hire a jeep. The jeep took Rs 400 for a short stretch of around 2 km. After the 2 km stretch its a short trek. during the initial stages there are concrete staircases but the last kilometre is simple mud road. Since it was raining heavily and the mud road was extremely slippery we decided to skip that part and return. The waterfalls , visible from a distance was awesome. One of the best that I have seen so far.

From Malhalli waterfalls enclosed by Pushpagiri mountains we returned to Somwarpet for a late lunch and car repair.

From Somwarpet we travelled towards Sakleshpur through coffee country. I have no words to explain the beauty of the place and one has to really travel by these roads to feel it. There was a place where the panoramic view of the ghats mesmerized us. We were simply too awestruck at the place.

From Sakleshpur we decided to go to Mangalore for the night. That was on the National Highway. It was evening and it we travelled in torrential rain and mist. The visibility was down to a few metres and we drove safely through the ghat section of deep forests and mountains. We were the unfortunate witness of several accidents that happened on the way , a bus fell down probably unable to control the turns.

There were tense moments where we drove through just barely scraping the road with trucks and high beams on opposite sides. Its not possible to drive without high beams and fog lights on this road at night.

We had to stop at a place inside the forests because one of us was feeling giddy. Fortunately the rest of us were okay. After a few hours of tense and amazing driving by my friends we crossed the ghats and entered the rain side.

At Bantawal we crossed the river and joined the Bangalore to Mangalore Highway. From then onwards even though the roads were dark we felt safe and it was a quick entry to Mangalore.

The day ended at a cheap hotel again , hotel Hindustan right at the heart of the city. With room service we managed dinner and slept well for the night.

Road Condition : Hassan to Gorur Dam ( Bad at times) but manageable. Gorur Dam to Shanivara Shante is narrow but decent roads. Shanivarashante to Somwarpet was very scenic and decent roads. Somwarpet onwards roads are bad in stretches till the Pushpagiri range from where one must take a jeep.


Day 3: Sunday
We started sunday a bit late because it was pouring cats and dogs in Mangalore. We had a hearty breakfast at Moti Mahal one of the better hotels in Mangalore.
After breakfast we headed for Pennambur Beach. I must recommend everyone to visit a beach during the monsoon. It was a sight to behold. An empty beach with greenery all around. With our umbrellas turning turtle we took a few snaps and headed towards Moodabidri. This was one heck of a ride. The
road till the beach was excellent. But soon after we left the highway it became narrow and there was a stretch where we walked ahead of the car to ensure that there was a road indeed. It was fully immersed in water.
Soon we caught a state highway and entered Malnad region of the Ghats. It was the most scenic part of the trip. We crossed overflowing rivers and lakes, great greenery and wonderful views.We crossed some meadows and farmlands that were in so many different versions of green that it was a real treat to watch. We stopped every once now and then to take a few snaps. But the areas were simply beyond a picture.

At Moodabidri we decided to refuel and check tyre pressures. I decided to lower the pressure on all the four tyres slightly. Soon we entered the road towards Dharmasthala. Avoiding the rush of Dharmasthala we entered the Charmadi Ghats section of the Bangalore Managalore highway. This was another place where the scenery was breathtaking. Apart from a minor mishap where a bus and a truck scratched each other at a very narrow point on the road resulting a big traffic jam the rest of it was uneventful.

In the afternoon we entered the highest points of the Charmadi ghats. Covered in mist and fog and dense forests this was really a point of fatal beauty. The roads turned and dangerous curves were crossed. Again there were few tense moments , but all of it happened at daytime and we managed unscathed through to Mudigere.

The roads became better with wider turns and tea and coffee estates lined the roads. We drove straight and reached Belur just before evening was setting in. A quick snack in Belur and we left for Hassan. This is another beauty of a road. Its not a 4 lane road , but its excellent and has dividers around many corners reducing risk of accidents.

On entering Hassan we crossed a bad stretch within city limits and was soon in the bad stretch where the Toll road construction is going on.
As soon as we reached the good roads it was a whisker of a travel. We made 120 to 140 kmph to reach Nelamangala and then a rapid entry to Bangalore via NICE road.

The day ended with a late dinner and a trip filled with wonderful memories of the beauty of Western Ghats and the hair raising parts of the trip.

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