Pilgrimage @ Karnatak !

7th Sep 2013

Trip : Chennai - Mangalore - Dharmasthala - Sringeri - Kollur - Murudeshwara - Udupi - Mangalore - Chennai 

 Trip Dates : Sept 7, 8 and 9, 2013 

Trip Mates : Karthik, Ilangathir, Shivi and Balavasanth

Day 1

This was a planned destinations trip but little offbeat in planning. We decided to goto each destination and figure out way to the next destination. Mainly 2 reasons, did not get sufficient information in Internet and a strong belief that all these places are too popular and should not worry about connectivity. I will touch these 2 points once again at the end ! We had booked confirmed tickets Chennai to Mangalore and return. We had planned to use the public transportation in Karnataka for all travels. On getting down, we made use of the clean Mangalore railway station; Rs.10 for a bath. After refreshing, we 4 went to by an auto for Rs.30 (Rs.20 for Rs.10 for 1 extra person). Had a quick breakfast at the bus stand and there was a bus to Mangalore express bus stand Dharmasthala ready for us. 

The journey started at 9:45 and we reached Dharmasthala around noon. It was raining all the way and all the time. Its a distance of 80 kms covered in 2:15 hours. We put our baggage in the cloak room near the bus stand and went to the temple. There was a small queue and took us around 1 hour to have a satisfactory Dharshan. We then went to the temple food hall and had food. Treat the food as prasadham and do not expect anything more. We were out around 2:45. After taking out the baggage, we started probing how to go to Sringeri !?!?!?!?!

One ticket conductor asked us to go to main bus stand and go to a place called Kottigehara. Dharmasthala to Sringeri in this route is 120 kms. Many in the bus stand (KSRTC employees/drivers/conductors) told that there are lots of frequent buses to Sringeri from Kottigehara. Dharmasthala to Kottigehara is 48 kms and expected to take 90 minutes. We boarded a bus to Chittor (AP) at 3 PM, for which the first stop is Kottigehara ! The path is Ghats road and excellent views and either side. Very good roads, excellent views, very misty and the bus was crowded like anything. We had our own fun in the bus because apart from conductor none knew Kottigehara !

Day 2

We reached Kottigehara around 4:00 PM. Once we got down there, what we saw was a bus stand that can accommodate 3 buses and 4-5 shops around. Nothing else; just a typical stop for a long running bus and a very rural part in the ghats ! Many from the shops around said, there is never a direct bug to Sringeri from Kottigehara ! We were taken aback ! One person said there is a mini-bus going to a place called Balehonnur. From there, there are "frequent" buses to Sringeri. Now, this is our clue. "Frequent" - we are not ready to bite the dust again. So, we enquired an omni-van and bargained a drop to Sringeri from Rs.2500 to Rs.1500. We ended up paying Rs.1700, which was a good instant decision we took. Started from Kottigehara at 4:45, we reached Sringeri at 7 PM. Sringeri - present at a much higher altitude, was really cold, but bearable. We were wet most of the day - September is a month, when sky is going to be open all the day and night and the views are spectacular everywhere. We got 2 rooms just opposite to the Shri Sharadamba temple at temple's guest house. Each was Rs.300 per night. They are very spacious, easily could accommodate 5-6 adults; had 2 single cots. We were really tired and had more travel plan for the next 2 days; so took 2 rooms. The temple is open until 9 PM. We had a dharshan and some food in the temple. We also want to have some more hot food given the climate and hunger and went around the place. There are many vegetarian restaurants. Back to room, had a sound sleep.

Started the day at 5 AM, refreshed and reached the temple for another quick dharshan by 5:45. We were the only devotees in the temple. So calm, serene and super dharshan of Lord Sharadamba, we walked around the temple peacefully, near the river and came out at 6:45. Had some idlis and chowchowbath and learnt the previous day that there is a direct bus to Kollur at 8 AM. We walked to the bus stand and lucky enough that we got comfortable seats. Sringeri to Kollur took us 4.5 hours and reached at 12:45. The bus took a big route through Agumbe, Hebri, Brahmavar, Kundapura and then to Kollur. Normally, if someone go by car, they can go through Agumbe, Hiliana, Halady, Kollur in 2 hours ! The bus stopped at Kundapura for almost 30 minutes :(.

Reached Kollur, and put our bags at a chappal stand and joined the long queue. The temple was closed for some puja and there was a long queue. It took almost 1:30 hours to have a Dharshan and then went to the temple food hall to have prasadham food. Next comes, the move to Murudeshwar. We believed that both so closed located - only 64 kms and the proximity to the main highway, and many also claimed frequent buses to Murudeshwar from Kollur. Next surprise came on reaching the bus stand. No direct bus and one had to go to Byndoor,34 kms from Kollur to reach the highway and from there, buses to Murudeshwar. It was around 3 PM by then and was starting to rain heavily. If one has to goto Byndoor and then the Murudeshwar, it would take round 3.5 to 4 hours totally to reach !

Again, took a new car - a Toyota Etios from the stand for a Car union rate of Rs.1500. We reached Murudeshwar by 4:30 and checked in to RNS Guest house. We took one guest house for Rs.1600 and ordered 2 extra beds. It was worth to get the car and save almost 2 precious hours. We divulged for a bath in Arabian Sea and then went to temple to take a lift to the top, which I missed during my previous stay ! We reached at 6:45 and by then, the lift which has to operate until 7 PM had stopped taking people to the top as there are many people already in the top ! Could not understand the logic but no other option :(. After having a good Dharshan of the Lord Murudeshwar and the Shiva statue at the top, we had dinner at Naveen Beach Restaurant and strolled around for some quick shopping.

A sleep amongst mosquitoes in the guest house ruined a pleasant night. Again, started the day at 5 AM, took bath and had quick walk around the place. Did have quick breakfast at Naveen restaurant and started to Udupi. An auto took us to the highway for Rs.40 and boarded the bus to Udupi at 7:45.

Day 3

Reached Udupi around 11 AM - a distance of 102 kms. Took an auto to the temple, had a very good Dharshan in 20 minutes. Back to the bus stand by 12, boarded the bus to Mangalore. We reached Mangalore around 1:15, went to the railway station, put our bags in the cloak rooms. Do note that cloak room keeper does not accept the luggage without locks ! We bought locks and checked-in our bags. We went around in a search to have some good food; few recommended Hotel TajMahal and turned out to be horrible food !

Thus ended our tiresome trip in Karnataka. Coming back to the 2 points in the beginning of the blog. 1. No proper information about buses in Internet - because buses are NOT there. Poor operation of buses by KSRTC ! 2. Tourist places - who cares ! If you want to tour in Karnataka, take a package or drive your car/rent a car.