How to begin your vacation even before you reach your destination!
Mangalore to Goa: The next time you drive from Bangalore to Goa take the longer route along Karnataka’s coast (via Mangalore) and don’t make any bookings in Goa. Make Udupi your first pit stop – its home to one of India’s most serene Krishna temples and is a foodie’s paradise (yes that includes the world famous Masala Dosa).
The highpoint of your drive awaits about 50 kms ahead at Maravanthe, where the road splits with the Arabian Sea on your left and the Sauparnika river and the backdrop of the Kodachadri hills on your right. It’s where a five minute photo-stop usually lasts for a couple of hours. Further north awaits Gokarna, a coastal town full of contrasts – where pilgrims rub shoulders with rave party hoppers at the local flea market. Drive up the cliffs and get a stunning view of the Om beach or check into the SwaSwara – 27 Konkan style villas in a sprawling 30 acre resort with soul food (no meat and no hard liquor but full of fresh local seafood paired with an impressive wine list) and yoga to help you destress.
As you approach Karnataka’s northern coastal tip where the Kali river meets the Arabian Sea, seek inspiration at the same spot that is believed to have triggered Rabindranath Tagore’s literary genius at Karwar. The Devbagh beach resort may not be the most luxurious getaway but it’s nestled inside a Casuarina grove on the Devbagh beach, one of India’s finest snorkelling destinations. As you pull into Goa you might wonder why a few hours jouney turned into a few days.
Chennai to Pondicherry: Sometimes the road trip becomes the destination as is the case with the East Coast road (ECR) that connectsChennai with Pondicherry. There are multiple stretches when you drive along the sea with beaches studded with casuarina trees and also cut through saline backwaters which look dramatic on your rear-view mirror.
Start your ECR odyssey from either the Vivanta by Taj Fisherman’s Cove or the Radisson Blu Temple Bay resort. Both resorts have plush beachside villas from where you can count the waves or embrace the elements as you ride the waves in a Catamaran. The legendary shore temple at Mamallapuram is nearby and so are scores of shacks like Moonrakers that dish out the best catch of the day.
Halfway down the road is one of ECR’s better kept secrets full of photo opps – the remains of the Alambara fort on a deserted beach. When you get closer to Pondicherry you can either turn right and explore Auroville, the experimental International township or look for Dune an eco village and spa spread over 35 acres with a 700 metre long sea front, eclectic fusion cuisine and interiors that fuse modern and traditional elements. Once you get to Pondicherry and check into one of the many intimate boutique hotels there’s much to do in White Town (The original French quarter) from shopping for furniture and trinkets to savouring classic French cuisine or improvised versions at restaurants like Sat Sanga.