Saturday, 24 March 2012

Bro when it’s you, life’s always gonna be a dashing ride! - Part 3

Read part one and two of the posts here and here

Many people have asked me this question ‘Temples in Goa? You are kidding right?’ and have given a sheepish ‘I know’ kind of grin when I have tried to answer. So, here I am clarifying, once and for all, a little lesser known facts about the tiny state.

Before it became the popular beach tourist destination it is today, Goa was a Portuguese colony. In fact, till as late as 1961 (yes, after independence too!) it was under the control of the Portuguese. If you recall, the Portuguese were the first of the European merchant-cum-invaders who came to India seeking richness in the Middle Ages. After Vasco da Gama, we have one Mr. Alfonso de Albuqerque who snatched Goa from Bijapur sultans and established a Portuguese colony. Before all this happend, numerous Hindu empires ruled over the area and the Indo-Aryan Brahmin group called ‘Saraswat Brahmins’ had setup a large number of temples. Most of these temples were eventually destroyed in course of Portuguese rule but have been subsequently restored. Since the GSBs have a concept of Kuladevata, it is a practice to visit the ancestral temple whenever possible and offer prayers to the Lord.

For the more interested, here is the wiki link to history of Goa.
And here is the link to history of Goud Saraswat Brahmins.

23.12.2011 12:45
Nothing of interest had happened with me at the wheels. We had crossed Hubli and were on the NH 63 moving towards Ankola. NH 4 till Hubli was awesome with 4 lanes and dividers that we dint have to go below 80kmph at any point. But the NH63 was a two-lane divider less road. There were lots of places where we had to go below 60kmph and the gear changed to 3rd or less. Even then, since the traffic was not so dense, we had managed to keep pace. We had now reached Kalghatgi. And Ultra was ready for one more round of driving. He took over when the km reading on the trip meter read 436kms…

curve on NH63

23.12.2011 14:00
We just finished lunch at a small restaurant in Yellapur. Though the hotel was a small one, the meals were filling and the mango drink really helped in the hot weather. Ultra resumed on the highway while mom, dad and I tried to take a nap. We were passing through the western ghats now and there was constant green cover along the highway. The forests got denser and the road started it natural descent into the coast of Karnataka. There were a lot of curves – some of them hairpin and some of them really tough to negotiate. Bro was doing it so well that we dint get disturbed in our nap.

23.12.2011 15:30
National Highway 17 … ah!
The coastal highway connecting Kanyakumari in the southern tip of India to the financial capital of Mumbai... passing through the coast of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, is one highway which both Ultra and I have always admired and longed to drive on. We used to sit on the compound wall of our maternal grandma’s home in Thekkatte and count vehicles passing on this road. We used to memorize the names of bus operators plying on this highway, remember the places covered by this highway, visit temples and beaches which lie on either side of this highway. It was our long standing dream to drive our own vehicle together on this highway. As soon as we reached Ankola, the place where NH63 joins NH17, we both took a deep breath to take in the excitement of being on this road… NH17, you beauty!

(For the uninitiated, who are wondering what is so beautiful about the Konkan coast of India, I would strongly recommend Konkan Railway and a drive on NH17 covering the coast of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka once. I bet you wont be disappointed)

23.12.2011 16:00
I was itching to drive on the highway and Ultra was anyway getting tired after driving for more than 300 kms today. Even on a holiday we had got up so soon and started on the journey, so the eyes had gotten a little tired. I took over from him at km 563 and immediately we crossed the port of Karwar

Immediately after the coast of Karwar we crossed the bridge across river Kali and then a narrow road through the cliffs – one of the fine examples of the scenery that is available on this highway

A short while after this, we crossed the border entering the tiny state of Goa. Even on the highway, the traffic in Goa gets a bit dense and the roads are narrow. Some roads are so narrow and curvy, lined with houses on either side, that if you get stuck behind a truck at one point, you are stuck behind that truck for almost 20-30 kms… there is no way to overtake.

23.12.2011 17:00
Driving in the traffic road of Goa was tiring. We had started 11 hours ago and still had some 50 odd kms to go. So, when the signs on the road said that a ghat section would emerge, we decided it was time to take a short break and have some refreshments. The highway side hotel named ‘Karmal Ghat restaurant’ dint look such a big place anyway. So, I thought it would be better to order less and took only tea. What a refreshing tea it was – sugar, tea and milk in the right quantities and awesome taste! It was one of the best till date. This rejuvenation was enough for driving through the tough ghat section where Ultra kept saying ‘Slow Slow Slow!’ …maybe he dint have the tea :P

23.12.2011 18:25
After crossing numerous traffic hurdles in Margao, Ponda and the highway, we had finally made it to the parking lot of Shri Ramnath temple, covering a total of 665.6 kms in a span of 13 hours! It was one of the most awesome journey ever, and the fact that it was with Ultra made it even more special. We would be offering prayers to the temple deities the next day, ie on 24th . We also planned to visit Panini’s kuldevta temple at Mahalasa, Mardol and go to one of the beaches if time permitted. We managed to do all that and more. Unlike previous times, where we would end up paying a lot to the taxi walas, local transport would not be a problem anymore – the privilege of having your own gaadi! Not only that, but we also visited places like Karwar, Ankola, Kumta, etc on our way back and even stayed at my mom’s maternal home in Thekkatte. I wish I could write about all this sometime in detail. Maybe someday I will.

23.12.2011 21:00
We sat in the all too familiar Hotel Venkatesh Leela, savoring the awesome kingfish curry, fry and prawns rava fry! Visiting this place and having the signature fish and prawn dishes had almost become a tradition now. I have kept bills of all the times we have eaten there. Its worth collecting! I still have not been able to figure out what it is that makes the fish cuisine in this part of the world so delectable. Maybe it is because we get a chance to eat it very rarely. Maybe it s because the humidity makes you more hungry and the sea food is fresh because of the proximity to the sea. It could also be the coconut milk that they mix along with other spices. But the kingfish curry and rice is THE best food I have ever had in my entire life. Add to it, the side dishes like prawns deep fried in rava and kingfish fry, the meal is one whose taste would stay on for a long time. If you are a fish eater, I would definitely recommend going to this restaurant once while in Goa to enjoy the delicacies.

Ultra and I sat there in the restaurant after the meal, sipping fresh lime soda and taking a bit of saunf. I had been a long and tiring day, but one which we would remember for a long time to come. We missed having Panini there. Pulling her leg by making fun of her eating would have added a completely different dimension to the fun which we were having. Nevertheless, we were still happy having spent time together. Right from the time we had bought our car, we had this dream of driving to Goa in it. After 4 long years, with preparation and planning, we had finally managed to do it. And we had even got along skeptical dad with us! Driving in Goa for next two days would be fun. And with him by the side, life would always be a roller coaster ride!

Bro when it’s you, life’s always gonna be a dashing ride! - Part 2

23.12.2011 Dawn
One mobile started ringing at 04:26 AM and the other at 04:28 AM. For most of the familiar readers, it’ll be easy to guess which one was which. Excitedly, we both jumped out of our respective beds. Yes, we would be driving today! Ultra slept for a while while I got ready. Mom and Dad had already woken up and mom was making VangiBath (popular rice dish) early in the morning. We had packed most of our clothes and there was a little bit of hurry in the last minute charging the camera and mobiles, some last minute packing, etc. Ultra was the last to get ready and by the time he got ready at 5:15 AM, the rest of us had some coffee, which he doesn’t like to have anyway. We put all the luggage in the dicky of the car. The audio speaker deck was creating problems for large bags to be stuffed, but somehow we had managed to fit them all.

23.12.2011 5:33 AM
We planned to start at 5:30 in the morning and it was exactly 5:30 when we locked the main door and sat in the car. It was a cold, December morning and we had to close all the windows to feel comfortable inside. However, the sunrise was still faraway and we had to drive for sometime with headlights. I had this experience before so I wanted Ultra to start it off. And he did! This was the route which we had to cover:
Tumkur --> Davangere --> Hubli --> Ankola --> Karwar --> Goa border --> Madgaon --> Ponda --> Ramnath temple

Route map - click to enlarge

So, we had chosen a little circuitous route instead of a direct one and this was not without reason – many bloggers on the site had warned that the road would be very bad if we had taken the shorter route without going till Hubli. We planned to reach the temple by evening.

23.12.2011 5:45 AM
We were on the NICE road by now and Ultra was already doing speeds of 80-100 km/h. I was just sitting in the navigator’s seat and trying to help if needed by warning. We kept saying ‘Quick but safe’ to each other. But we knew we had to cruise through the city limits as early as possible to avoid the morning traffic. Although we thought we could do it, there were many toll booths on the way. Our first target was to get on NH4 and then touch Tumkur by 6:45…

driving with headlights at dawn

23.12.2011 6:40 AM
Well, we had made it almost near Tumkur but the city traffic was a little heavy. So, we would just barely make it to the bye-pass at 6:45. The dense fog before sunrise was not helping either. It would be cold if we opened the windows, but the fog would cover the windshield and reduce visibility if we dint. The AC directed towards to the windshield helped a bit but not totally. Dad and Mom had taken the backseat. As usual, Dad had forgotten the ear cap and was asking mom for the sweater and we both laughed remembering the numerous times that had happened before. Whoever said familiarity breeds contempt! It doesn’t! In fact, you start loving the familiarity and start yearning for it. We laugh that it is too familiar, but deep down, we develop a liking for it and miss it when we don’t get it. Isn’t it?

23.12.2011 8:00 AM
The sun was out now and it was already 2.5 hours since we left home. The excitement of getting up early, packing and hitting the road had slowly sunk in. We were cruising at 80-110 kmph consistently except for the toll booths where we had to shell out some 150 rupees already for as many kilometers covered. Mom and Dad were already dozing off after the initial high. Ultra was still going steady. It seems he had made ‘Quick but safe’ his mantra of the day. Some scenes like this were on offer to our eyes:

tractors on truck

Quick but safe :)

23.12.2011 9:00 AM
The hunger pangs had set in and we kept searching for the Kamat Upachar on the highway. We had crossed Chitradurga already. Mom kept saying we will have VangiBath which she had packed. The name of Vangibath excited our hunger pangs even more. We thought we will go to a nice restaurant on the highway instead of leaving the highway to get into any city. It was 225kms when we stopped on the parking lane for a quick loo break for the first time. Ultra had driven all the time. As soon as we came back from behind the bushes (:p), we saw that mom had already opened the Vangibath and started eating. None of us could control either and we gobbled it up in no time. We were good to go after that and I took over from Ultra to drive on. By 9:30, we reached the Davangere byepass and most of us were still hungry. So, we decided to get inside the town for to have the famous ‘butter dosas’.

It was a long way into the city and we struggled to find a decent restaurant till we reached the city limits. We got into some restaurant and ate heartily. By the time we finished and got out of there and back on the highway, it was already 10:10 AM. We had to make up for the lost time. I drove on and hit 80 right away. Ultra went to the backseat to take some rest…

continued in part 3 here